Blog – 2015 3rd Quarter
Weekly Commentary September 20-26, 2015
This week’s full report can be seen by clicking here.
The Assyrian Church of the East has elected a new patriarch, who has decided to move the church’s headquarters back to Iraq from Chicago, where it has resided since 1933 due to persecution. This is, to put it mildly, quite an expression of faith given the current events there.
Another Christian has been released in Vietnam, and has found asylum in the U.S. Another Christian from China has found asylum in Canada.
A shooting in an Alabama church in the southern U.S. ended without death or serious injury as the pastor and parishioners disarmed the shooter.
Oasis Tabernacle Church, East Selma, Alabama, USA
A story from Egypt is similarly mixed, though the outcome so far is not as positive. Police attempted to evict a group of Muslims from land they had stolen from a Christian three years ago (usually the police are active collaborators with the thieves in such cases). The Muslims resisted with force, and the police withdrew after killing one of the Muslims. The Muslims then proceeded to attack local Christians, at least one of whom suffered critical injuries and may be crippled for life if he survives. Since the police did not protect the Christians it fell upon their Muslim neighbors to do so, which they tried to do.
The remaining news is tempered only by Christian fidelity and witness.
People have been detained or remain detained in China, Egypt, Laos, and Thailand – the last as refugees.
A Christian family in Pakistan almost died after they were locked in their home and it was set afire. Only God’s grace and the desperate actions of the father saved them.
A convert to Christianity in Tanzania was stabbed – by his three brothers.
Christians in India have again been severely beaten, and a nun was killed.
Dozens of Christians were killed by Muslims in Nigeria in just a matter of a few days.
We just received word of a Christian killed in a Chinese prison in 2012 because he defended a Bible from an attack.
In a case that takes the Irony Prize, a Mr. Tiang died after release from a Laotian prison this week. He had been arrested in June 2014 after praying at the bedside of a dying Christian and later convicted of ‘unlicensed professional medical care’. Despite the fact that the poor woman had received medical care for two years prior to her death, the government claimed that Tiang had denied her needed medical care by praying for her and so deserved prison. Now Mr. Tiang has died – because the government denied him needed medical care while in prison.
All of these cases show how much your prayers are needed. Please do not cease offering them
Weekly Commentary September 13-19, 2015
This week’s full report can be seen by clicking here.
Over half of this report deals with the ongoing persecution in India. Two Christian children were reported this week to have been poisoned there, and multiple attacks are reported. The history and breath of Communism and Islamic extremism can lead us to overlook India, but in fact Hindu extremism is just as large a perpetrator of Christian suffering in the world today. Particularly worrisome is an increase in death threats against Dr. John Dayal, a major defender of Christians and a correspondent of ours. If you pray for anyone this week, please pray for him. This report also shows how the Maoist rebellion in India is also producing martyrs, which puts India alongside North Korea as a place where Communism is killing Christians (given the fact that China, Cuba and Vietnam rarely kill Christians these days).
We also have a murder in Laos, a shooting in South Sudan, more on the continuing persecution in China, an attempted church demolition in Egypt, harassment of Protestant Christians in Mexico by syncretic Christians, and a minor case of discrimination in the United States.
The final news is from the United Kingdom, and it shows how Western leaders’ views of the Mideast are either callous or out or touch with reality. The Prime Minister announced a plan to bring into the country 20,000 Syrian refugees. Church of England leaders immediately responded with charges that the plan discriminated against Christians. Their reasons are simple (again, please click here to read them) and so should be known to the political leadership. Implicit in their criticism is the real possibility that more Islamic extremists will be brought to the West as a result.
Weekly Commentary September 6-12, 2015
This week’s full report can be seen by clicking here.
We have some slightly better news from Syria, where two stories from two regions show that the Islamic State (aka ISIL) has decided, at least for now, to follow a slightly less extreme policy toward Christians. Certainly it means little difference in the near term, but it does bear watching. Perhaps some captives can be saved as a result.
Naghmeh Abedini has begun a fast for the release of her husband Saeed Abedini from prison in Iran and of all Christians around the world. Please consider joining her. On this week’s report we have accounts of abduction or imprisonment in Iran, Syria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, India (briefly), Laos, Mexico (briefly), Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, and the United States (briefly).
The last three accounts are of particular interest.
Norwegian immigration authorities attempted to deport an Iranian Christian convert back to Iran despite obvious evidence that she would be persecuted. The deportation failed only because she refused to provide the minimal cooperation. As an aside, the Norwegians decided to use a Middle Eastern airline to deport her – previous accounts involving European airlines ended with the crews refusing to take off until the persecuted Christian was removed from the aircraft.
The Pakistan story is particularly horrendous. A Christian was accused of blasphemy by business rivals. When the police came to arrest him he could not be found, so the police proceeded to invade the home of every Christian in the village and to beat every Christian until they obtained information on his whereabouts. The beatings were administered regardless of age or physical condition. Reading accounts such as these explain why so many are trying to flee that country.
While the U.S. has been preoccupied with the imprisonment of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, the news reports show that she is only one of several such cases. As usual, thanks to selective reporting the mainstream media is depicting only one side in a favorable light, and that side is not the Christians. This is nothing new: during the Dutch euthanasia fights in the 1980’s the media there depicted Christian opponents as near-Nazis even though some were real anti-Nazi resistance fighters. We can expect the U.S. media will be tempted to move in the same direction.
The Norwegian and U.S. stories portray a secular world that is no longer neutral to Christianity. Please pray for any mitigation of these real and potential evils.
Weekly Commentary August 30 – September 5, 2015
On this week’s report we find a great amount of courage by Christians in China as they fight for their rights in the continuing church demolition campaign. A church was also destroyed in Albania by the government.
St. Athanasius Church, Dhermi, Himara, Albania – courtesy himarriotonosociety.org
Christians have been killed for their faith in Indonesia, Nigeria, and the United States.
Christians have been released from prison in Cuba and Vietnam.
An Egyptian secondary school student is continuing her struggle against the unknown forces in the education bureaucracy that have decided to sabotage her education; some high ranking Muslims have apparently come to her assistance.
Another blasphemy case has occurred in Pakistan, with the police arresting the defendant’s legal counsel.
To round out this list we have acts of persecution or Christian struggles against persecution in Belarus, India, and Somalia.
Please read these accounts and lift up your prayers for all of these people.
Weekly Commentary August 23-29, 2015
Seven identified Christians were reported killed this week, but many more were not identified by name.
Most of the 11 pages of this week’s report is of Christians being arrested, abducted, or threatened with the same. A few were forced to go into hiding or were threatened with eviction from their homes.
There is a heartfelt prayer request from a pastor in Australia.
The report ends with a disturbing story from Chicago concerning the prosecution of an immigration attorney who has been helping Christians escape from persecution. The source article states that the U.S. government’s position in the case is that the accounts of persecution are untrue. This position raises some fundamental questions about…well, you decide what it means. The conclusions seem obvious.
Weekly Commentary August 16-22, 2015
Two clergy were killed in Nigeria, and another Christian was killed in Tanzania for carrying a Bible.
In what may be the most disturbing story, more details have been published on the murder of a Christian couple by India’s paramilitary police. This police force is locked in a conflict with Maoist guerrillas, and has been accused of multiple sexual assaults on Christian women. This couple had walked to a hilltop to get better cell phone coverage, and it was there that they were attacked. Their son at school heard the entire attack until the phone went dead. Police claimed no knowledge of the attack until Christians and their allies protested and blocked roads, and then they produced the bodies.
Several Christians are missing in Egypt. Three female captives of ISIL in Syria have begged to be ransomed before they are sold as sex slaves.
Christians were arrested in China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan. That Pakistani story is another example of the oppressiveness of Islamic law: imagine your father was a man who was right about many things, you say “He was a prophet”, and then you are arrested because Muhammad was the last prophet!
A Christian was stabbed multiple times by a homosexual activist in Canada.
Vietnam is drafting a new religion law that will make almost all religious activity illegal. All religious meetings will need to be filed for approval a year in advance.
Positive stories include an act of forgiveness by Christians in Oregon, the escape of two Christians from Sudan, the release of a priest in Syria from captivity, and the escape of two clergy in a bombing in Iraq, and (yes) the incredible sacrifice of U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller, who decided to not escape Islamic State captivity so as to give two Yazidi girls a better chance to avoid recapture.
The last story is about another attempted church bombing in New Mexico. Again, this tells us that Christians in the Western world must become more security conscious.
Weekly Commentary August 9-15, 2015
More good news from this week’s report: one more Christian in captivity in Vietnam has been released, a Christian in Nigeria escaped her abductors, and two detained in Ukraine were released.
The bad news:
Two elderly Chinese Christians drowned when the church they were guarding from government demolition was flooded during a typhoon. Other Christians throughout the country continue to resist oppression as best they can.
A fifteen year old Indonesian Christian was killed and twelve were wounded by police when they opened fire on them; the Christians had asked a mosque to lower the volume on their loudspeakers during their church service.
Attacks by the Islamic State (ISIL) continue in Iraq and Syria. The first report of the likely deaths of two priests missing since 2013 was filed. Other attacks occurred in Pakistan and Uganda.
Christians were imprisoned or continued in captivity in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, and Ukraine.
An interesting story from India by a Christian activist: the Gujarat state government issued a textbook on the life of Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Dalit [“untouchable”] father of the Indian Constitution, only to find that it included information on his conversion to Buddhism. The books were hastily recalled. Another story concerns protests against the continued discrimination against Christian and Muslim Dalits.
A Christian summer youth camp in Kazakhstan was raided and shut down by the government, and the American and South Korean staff forced to leave the country. Worse, compliant television media broadcast stories linking the camp with terrorism.
Finally, a story from Lebanon with Robin Hood overtones: a vehicular convoy of church officials was stopped by armed gunmen. Please read the report for the surprising outcome.
The full report may be accessed via this link.
Announcement August 10, 2015
The Catholic bishops of France are organizing an initiative to express solidarity with the suffering and persecuted Christians of the Middle East. They are planning to have all church bells ring at noon on Saturday August 15, 2015, which is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Roman Catholic and some Lutheran churches, the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God in the Eastern churches, and the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin in the Anglican churches.
If you are clergy of any denomination please consider this appeal. If you are close to members of the clergy please consider passing this notice on to them. This is an idea that just might help, especially if connected with a call to prayer.
Here is the link to the original article on an Orthodox church web site: http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/2015/08/10/church-bells-to-ring-for-christians-in-the-middle-east/
Weekly Commentary August 2-8, 2015
Some good news this week regarding Christians in captivity: one person was released in Iran, two in the Sudan, and two in Vietnam.
The bad news is that 250 Christians were made captive by the Islamic State in Syria.
An Iraqi bishop gave a moving account of the sacrifices being made by Mideast Christians in safe locations to aid their brethren: the story of 71 people living in a 3 room house should be read from every pulpit in the West.
Two churches in New Mexico were attacked with explosive devices. People in the United States must begin to take church security more seriously.
Two Mideast bishops spoke at a convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this week. While they took different stands on the issue of Christian emigration to the West, they agreed that the situation in Syria and Iraq has become dire.
It needs to be said: evidence as cited by the Iraqi bishop in Philadelphia regarding U.S. immigration and refugee policies and the comments of Christian leaders in the United Kingdom on this week’s report shows that the bureaucracies of Western countries are being captured by anti-Christian forces. There is no kinder way to describe what is happening. Christians in the West need to find their voices and use them, or else things will be very different in a generation or two.
As usual, the full report may be accessed via this link.
Weekly Commentary July 26 – August 1, 2015
We know from statistics that the real number may be 10-100 times this.
One story does need to be repeated in full. Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church (which has many members in Iraq and Syria), has published a prayer that he asked all Christians worldwide to pray on August 7, 2015. The prayer reads: “Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to pray to the Father in your name, and you assured us that whatever we asked for, we would receive. Therefore, we come to you with complete confidence, asking you to give us the strength to stand fast in this violent storm, to reach peace and security before it is too late“.
One can only imagine what “before it is too late” really means
Weekly Commentary July 19-25, 2015
Here are some stories from this week’s report – click here to read it.
In Egypt Bishoy Armiya Boulous, who is being held illegally in prison for having converted to Christianity and for requesting that the government officially recognize his conversion, has been told that he cannot see his attorney more than once a month. This is an obvious attempt to further psychologically isolate and break him.
In India numerous attacks continue against Christians.
The Mideast refugee situation continues to worsen, in part due to ‘donor fatigue’. Two-thirds of Syrian Christians have now fled the country.
Three more Christians have been abducted in Libya by the Islamic State aka ISIL.
Pakistan has seen numerous abductions and attacks on Christians; on the positive side an elderly Christian couple did recover their home after court action, and Aasiya Noreen aka Asia Bibi did see the Federal Supreme Court stay her execution and order a rehearing of her case.
Two priests were reported murdered, one in horrific fashion in Venezuela and one in South Africa; the South African case seems connected with local opposition to immigration from other parts of Africa.
Finally, a pastor in Niger reflected on the January 2015 destruction of his church and home in anti- Christian rioting: “If my life consisted of material belongings, maybe I would not be here today?” Any meditation on the price some Christians pay for our faith should strengthen all of us. As always, your prayers are most needed: please read these stories and allow them to inspire the prayers you lift up to God.
Weekly Commentary July 12-18, 2015
Here are a few highlights from this week’s report.
China is about to put an elderly U.S. citizen Peter Hahn on trial for ‘counterfeiting receipts’. Hahn’s real crime was helping escapees from North Korea.
Two elderly Spanish priests were stabbed to death one day apart by men with likely psychiatric problems, one in Spain and one in Colombia.
A report from India shows that the RSS paramilitary group is trying to raise anti-Christian emotions in Kerala state. Recall that the RSS and other Sangh Parivar groups believe that Christianity is an alien religion, and recall that Kerala is where the Apostle Thomas preached the Gospel in the middle of the First Century. If Christianity is illegitimate in Kerala then it is illegitimate everywhere on the planet.
We also have an article (unpublished in this week’s report because no one was named in it) stating that a soccer ball filled with explosives was left in a Christian school yard near Kolkata (aka Calcutta). Fortunately a student threw it against a wall; the ensuing explosion caused three minor injuries. This sort of depraved act has not been seen in India before now.
Angel Ariel Escalante Perez was a 12 year old boy in Guatemala City who was killed because he refused to kill another person.
Finally, today is Christina Khidr Ebada’s fourth birthday. No one is celebrating it, because almost a year ago she was taken from her mother by Islamic State fighters. No one has been able to find anything about her since. Miracles do happen, and it will take a miracle for Christina to be reunited with her parents. Let us all pray together for a miracle.
Weekly Commentary July 5-11, 2015
Many cases of people imprisoned or abducted in this week’s report.
China as usual gives with one hand and takes away with the other with regard to Christians. The original story of the three closed religious schools has a poignant photo of Chinese Christian teens trying to salvage artwork from the bulldozed wall of their former school. Follow the link inside the report to see it.
Pope Tawadros II has been threatened in Egypt.
The Christians of Faisalabad, Pakistan feel they are at risk of attack.
Please pray for all of these people.
Finally, to end with joy: two accounts show Christians at their very best. Please read the stories of Dr Wadie Ramses in Egypt and the Rev Joshua Tuwan in Nigeria.
Peace to all!
Weekly Commentary June 28 – July 4, 2015
We will start with the good news from this week: two prisoners have been released, one in Iran and one in Vietnam. An abductee in Egypt has also been freed. We pray that they will be able to continue their faith and work without further harassment.
Now for the other news…
Belarus, China, India, and Israeli forces in Palestine all were involved in acts that hindered church activities.
Baptist Church, Bhiwani district, Haryana state, India
Refugee situations in Jordan and Thailand have been documented – so much suffering!
The legal situations in the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States have deteriorated to one degree or another.
A number of churches in the United States have been destroyed by arson.
The war in Syria took another turn for the worse, and in the middle of it a church Patriarch gave an eloquent description of martyrdom. The war in Nigeria has opened a new phase against Muslims who refuse to support Boko Haram.
An extended family in Pakistan was persecuted then rescued by police – it appears at present that they will not be prosecuted.
In a demonstration of seriousness all church schools in one state in India closed in protest over the rape of a nun.
And finally, an accomplished musician and candidate for monastic life in Egypt has been murdered while fulfilling his military obligation, apparently because he refused to abandon the faith.
Please pray for them all.
Blog – 2015 3rd Quarter