Thursday, January 29, 2009

Open Doors: Iran, Pakistan (Direct Post)

Three Iranian Christians Arrested from Homes in Tehran

Jamal Ghalishorani, his wife Nadereh Jamali, and Hamik Khachikian were arrested on January 21st and are being held without charges by Iranian authorities. These Christians were taken from their homes in the early morning. Their families have not been notified as to where they have been taken or how they will be charged, according to a Compass Direct News report. Arrests and pressure on Christians from authorities have ramped up even further in the past few months, the source said.

“We are quite sure that these arrests are part of a bigger operation from the government. Maybe up to 50 people were arrested. In Tehran alone already some 10 people were arrested all on the same day.”

The arrests are particularly disturbing in light of the Iranian parliament’s approval last September of a new penal code calling for a mandatory death sentence for “apostates,” or anyone who leaves Islam for another faith (i.e. followers of Jesus Christ). Under the new penal code, male “apostates” would be executed, while females would receive life sentences.

Read the full story>>

Pakistani Christians Acquitted in ‘Blasphemy’ Case

This is a historic victory for Christians in Pakistan … the first victory of its kind, according to Compass Direct News.

“This case can set a precedent for future blasphemy cases against Christians,” stated Shahzad Kamran, a case worker for SLMP (Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan). SLMP advocated for the men through reconciliation meetings with local Islamic leaders.

Nearly two years ago in March of 2007, during a religious holiday celebrating Muhammad’s birthday, Salamat Masih, his son Rashid, Ishfaq, Saba and Dao Masih were arrested and charged with “blasphemy” against Islam. Join us today in thanksgiving for the news of their release.

“This is a wonderful sign that has made history,” said Shahzad Kamran. The Islamic clergymen agreed to issue a fatwa (religious edict) declaring the accused men innocent of blasphemy. The Muslim witnesses in the case withdrew their testimony and the five Christian men were acquitted. “The cleric said he would do it because he did not want to bring harm and injustice to the community.”

Read the full story>>

Please Pray for:

  • Pray for persecuted Christians in Iran, Pakistan and all over the globe to be encouraged and strengthened as they give their all in service for Christ.
  • Pray for the families of the three Christians arrested in Iran.
  • Pray for their comfort and for the intercession of the Holy Spirit for all of their needs.
  • Thank our heavenly Father for the example that Islamic clerics recently set in Pakistan.
  • Pray that their heart for peace and justice will serve as an example to the entire Muslim community.
  • Pray that all Christians wrongfully accused of "blasphemy" will be the beneficiaries of this new precedent of reconciliation at the local level between Islamic leaders and Christian organizations.
  • Pray for open hearts, open minds, and a new beginning of revelation in Christ through reconciliation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Open Doors: Pakistan, Eritrea (Direct Post)

Young Pakistani Sisters Returned Home
The ordeal of two teenage Christian sisters in Pakistan is over, but difficult times still loom ahead. Parvisha Masih, 18, and Sanam Masih, 14, who were kidnapped and assaulted last November, said “We are happy to return to the family, but we are feeling ashamed because there is no respect for us in society now.” In addition, these young girls face a long legal battle that will inevitably bring them into contact with their captors. “We feel very afraid, and we are still receiving threats,” Parvisha Masih told Compass Direct News. “I don’t ever want to see those men again.”

According to Javaid, a Pakistani member of parliament based in Karachi, Christian girls from poor families make easy targets, and many cases go undocumented. High legal fees often make it impossible for poor families to bring a case to court. On top of this, a biased legal system that favors Muslims over Christians is particularly reluctant to pass judgments that would undermine conversion to Islam.

This is the second known case of its kind in recent months. Saba and Aneela Masih underwent a similar ordeal last July, and although 10-year-old Aneela has been returned to her family, her 13-year-old sister, forced to marry one of the men who kidnapped her, remains with her captors. Read more

Dark Month for the Church in Eritrea
In early January, Open Doors learned of the death of two Christians under the harsh conditions in the Mitire Military Confinement. Mogos Hagos Kiflom (37) died as the alleged result of the continued physical torture he endured for his refusal to recant his faith. Mehari Gebreneguse Asgedom (42) died in solitary confinement. Sources say he died as a result of ongoing physical torture and complications from diabetes.

These deaths came amid the government’s continued campaign against Christians across the country. Late November, 34 members of the Kale-Hiwot Church in Dekemhare were arrested. Shortly before Christmas, at least 49 key leaders of underground churches in Asmara were rounded up over a two week period. The government arrested 15 members of the Kale-Hiwot Church in Keren on January 11 and around the same time closed down a printing press while arresting the owner. Read the full report on the events in Eritrea.

Please Join In Prayer For:
  • Parvisha and Sanam in Pakistan. Pray for God’s strength to help them endure judgment and criticism from their community.
  • Pray also for their family as they bravely stand alongside them.
  • Pray for Saba and Aneela.
  • Pray for Saba to be supernaturally protected from the mistreatment by her captors.
  • Pray for young girls in Pakistan and other parts of the world who face similar fears. “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
  • The passing of our brothers Mogos and Mehari in Eritrea. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15
  • The many Christians in Eritrea that they feel God’s mighty presence.
  • Pray for Him to protect and comfort them that “We may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6.

Open Doors: Egypt, Bangladesh (Direct Post)

Egyptian Wins Rare Legal Victory to Revert to Christianity
Fathi Labib Yousef, who had long ago converted to Christianity, spent 31 years officially identified as a Muslim but has now won a rare legal victory to be officially registered in his “new” faith. According to Compass Direct News*, changing one’s official religious identity from Islam to any other religion in Egypt is extremely difficult. Religious reversion cases are difficult to win, but it is far more difficult for Muslim-born converts to Christianity to officially change their religious status. Read more about Yousef’s case on our website.

Bangladeshi Muslims Threaten Pastor for Evangelizing
A Christian pastor in Meherpur district suffers continued torture and harassment at the hands of 4,000 Muslims. Jhontu Biswas, 31, said residents of Fulbaria town accused him of misleading Muslims by distributing Christian booklets. They confronted him on Dec. 9 as they gathered for the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival of sacrifice. “They also accused me of converting poor people by offering money,” said Biswas. “They called several local journalists in that massive assembly to publish news against me and my activities. They took my photograph and interviewed me but did not publish anything in their respective newspapers.”

Biswas denied the accusations against him, and the Muslims threatened to harm him and others who converted from Islam to Christianity. Read more on the continual persecution Biswas endures for his faith.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mexican Church Facing Lawsuit for Speaking Out - OneNewsNow (Direct Post)

Charlie Potts
OneNewsNow (1/24/09)

Mexican socialists are threatening the Catholic Church for opposing abortion, homosexual "marriage," and euthanasia. Mexico's Social Democratic Party members say they will file suit if the church does not keep quiet.

Dr. Gary Cass of the
Christian Anti-Defamation Commission says the socialists are practicing humanist religion. "So it's just basically an example of one religion trying to lord over another religion, and it's a violation of any sense of equity and fairness," he explains. Cass adds that the church cannot afford to be intimidated into submission. "The church has a responsibility to God to speak to all issues as it pertains to our values: our family values, our corporate values, the activities of the church," he notes. He says a good example is John the Baptist "who spoke out against Herod because of living in open adultery." "It cost John the Baptist his head," Cass points out.

Free Shuang Shuying - China Aid (Direct Post)

Free Shuang Shuying

Shuang Shuying, a 79-year-old Christian grandmother, has been imprisoned by the Chinese government for almost two years, because of her family's work helping the poor and oppressed. Read more.

She has become extremely thin and fragile and her health is deteriorating from the harsh conditions, almost to the point of death during the past two years in prison. However, the greatest injustice is that her husband Hua Zaichen, 90, is dying and authorities have denied her a last visit with him even though her prison sentence ends February 8.

Government officials mock Shuang Shuying’s desperate longing to see her husband. They have told her that if he dies, they will escort her in prison uniform, handcuffed and shackled, to see his body for 10 minutes.

You can bring aid to this family as Shuang Shuying’s husband struggles daily to stay alive in the hope he might see his wife before he dies. Will you let your voice be heard on behalf of this elderly couple who have laid down their lives to serve others?

» Two ways you can act now to bring justice.