• Blog – 2015 4th Quarter

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    Weekly Commentary   December 20-26, 2015

    Here is your last report for 2015. Your next weekly report will be published in the year of our Lord 2016 – may that prove to be true!

    Many of the stories this week concern Christmas. Christmas celebrated in ghettoes, in refugee camps, in captivity, under police surveillance, under police protection, and under assault. The number and variation of Christmas celebrated by suffering Christians are astounding.

    Christians were killed in Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda, and threatened with death in Bangladesh, India, and Turkey.

    Christians were released from captivity in Iran and Nigeria, but abducted or imprisoned or continued to be so in Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Thailand, and Ukraine.

    We will end on a good note, with an account of Kenyan Muslims who were able to save most Christians aboard a bus from being killed by Muslim terrorists. Ordinary people stood up and stopped a massacre. The circumstances were a bit unique: the terrorists feared that the military might arrive at any moment, and so lacked the time to act against the Muslim passengers, but still! Please pray for more repetitions of such courage in the coming year.


     

    Weekly Commentary   December 13-19, 2015

    As we approach Christmas we rejoice with the good news that Christians have been freed from captivity in China, Egypt, and India, as noted on this week’s report. The Indian case was especially odious, since the accused sat in jail for 8 years awaiting trial on charges for actions that should never have been criminalized.

    Unfortunately this week we also report on the abduction, arrest or continued detention of Christians in Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Egypt, North Korea, Uganda, and Vietnam. Please pray that these and others will be released soon.

    Worse, Christians have been killed in Egypt, the Philippines, Syria, and Uganda, and nearly so in Bangladesh. Please pray for the healing of the D’Cruze family in Dhaka, and for consolation for the families of the murdered.

    We have a report of severe beatings of Christians in India, and of a Pakistani family now in hiding due to a false blasphemy accusation.

    Other acts of persecution and discrimination were reported in China, Egypt, Tanzania, Ukraine, and the United States. The Ukraine and U.S. cases are particularly interesting, because they were committed by Christians or by people claiming to be so. Please read this week’s report to review and access the full stories.

    We pray that everyone have a blessed and even merry Christmas.


     

    Weekly Commentary   December 6-12, 2015

    Our report this week (click here to read) is rather muted. The worst story is the attempted assassination of two brothers in Bangladesh, who were left in critical condition. Next would be the abduction of a 10 year old boy in Egypt.

    Christians continue to be held in captivity in China and North Korea. Iranian Christians have been released from captivity and then told to leave the country. Christians in Kazakhstan continue to be fined for worshipping God. A Christian has been beaten by police in Vietnam.

    The plight of Mideast Christian refugees continues, with refugees in Lebanon falling deeper into debt and some refugees in Iraq unable to leave due to the overflight of Russian missiles.

    Homes and church buildings have been demolished or are under threat of demolition in Nigeria and Pakistan.

    Church leaders have spoken up in defense of Christian principles or against discrimination in Syria, the United States, and at the United Nations.

    Advent in Pakistan is also muted this year. Few public decorations can be seen in Lahore, the location of a major terror attack nine months ago. Christmas has become a somber time for these oppressed people. Please keep them in our hearts and pray for their recovery and their safety.


     

    Weekly Commentary   November 29 – December 5, 2015

    We will begin by citing this week’s report’s account of the Islamist attack in San Bernardino, California. A number of followers of Jesus Christ (Christians and a Messianic Jew) were killed. While the attack was undoubtedly a blend of motives – basically it was anti-anything-not-Islamist – it is certain that Christians were one target.

    Other accounts from the United States include the killing of a police officer who was a co-pastor at his church, another social media discrimination against Christians, and the settlement of Iraqi Christian refugees in Denver. The last U.S. story is of a speech by Canon Andrew White, in which he spoke about the collapse of society and the beginning of the Third World War.

    Christians were also reported to have been killed in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Uganda.

    In Syria an archbishop has given an analysis of the refugee situation and the possible futures of Christianity there.

    In Nigeria an archbishop has given a detailed analysis on the rise of the Boko Haram terror group that is well worth a read. A story from 2014 concerns a young woman who was captured by them and forced into an Islamic marriage.

    Several stories from Pakistan detail various acts of oppression, including accusations against a teacher – Mary Javed – who is the wife of a civil rights attorney previously threatened with death, the abduction and beating of an 8 year old girl, and a police attack and robbery against seven impoverished brick workers, one of whom said “Our lives have been worthless but we thank God for them even then”.

    The Palestinian Authority is now forcing Christians to mourn the terrorists killed by Israeli security forces instead of fully celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem.

    Christians in China, Cuba, and Norway have suffered various acts of persecution.  Please click here to read the full report.

    As we approach the Christmas season we look forward to the celebration of our salvation in the person of an innocent baby. We wish for happy endings to our modern troubles, forgetting that Christmas did not have a happy ending either, with that innocent baby a refugee in Egypt along with His parents, and other babies sacrificed on the whim of a dictator. Yet we know deep in our hearts that Christmas is a joyous time, and so we must conclude that happiness and joy are not the same things. Pray that we will not worry so much about our happiness, and that we will find joy in the promises of Christ and in the inspiration of His saints and martyrs.

    God bless.


     

    Weekly Commentary   November 22-28, 2015

    This week’s report (click here to read) includes the death of two Christians in Egypt. One was a female convert, and the other was a military conscript who was subjected to a possible staged suicide – the third such occurrence this year. An abducted Christian girl was rescued by police.

    The wife of a pastor in the United States was also murdered in a common crime.

    The most far-reaching story is undoubtedly the opening of a new military offensive in the Myanmar (aka Burma) state of Kachin. Once again the Christian majority there is the subject of potential attack, atrocity, and abuse. There is an urgent need for prayer for the Christians in Myanmar, and perhaps some action to help protect them.

    In Syria a Patriarch gave an analysis of the ongoing war in which he laid the cause for it directly on the Western governments that continue to press for the removal of the Assad regime. Perhaps more importantly, this interview also described the conflicting movements within the Muslim world and their effect on Christians. Another story gives the name of a deacon currently held (and tormented) by the Islamic State.

    In Pakistan we have the ongoing story of Sarfraz Masih Gill, convicted of blasphemy in a railroaded trial, another disappearance of a young Christian woman, and the destruction of a Christian television station.

    Several other stories cover examples of discrimination in the West and persecution in the rest of the world. Please let us use this time to seek Christian unity in our hearts, and to work against the earthly divisions that hinder us and give advantage to our persecutors.


     

    Book Review   November 26, 2015

    The past to mercy, the present to grace, the future to Providence.  Let us ask for grace… – Enrico Petrillo

    Today is the celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States.  Today also marks the completion of four years of publication of Today’s Martyrs, and the beginning of the fifth year.

    We would like to note these anniversaries with a review of a book published two months ago.  Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy is the story of the life and death of a young wife and mother in Rome, Italy.  In just under five years of marriage Chiara and her husband Enrico lived through the birth of a daughter and then a son who both died of unrelated congenital illnesses.  Their third child developed normally, but then Chiara was diagnosed with cancer during the pregnancy.  She elected to preserve her son Francesco’s life by delaying more radical treatments until after his early delivery.  She died in June 2012 at age 28 just after his first birthday.

    2015-09 Chiara Corbella PetrilloThe photograph on the book cover shows Chiara within months of her death, after the final prognosis was known.  She is seen with an eyepatch worn to prevent the double vision that resulted from pressure from one of the many tumors.  Throughout the story she showed the normal emotions to be expected in such a time, but also a faith in God and a desire to help others that can only be described as transcendental.  The sanctity of the vocation of marriage and the true value of loving friendships illuminates the book.  This is a book that needs to be read by all Christians, including those who do not like hospitals or Italian Catholic piety.  It is a story that gives thanks for the present moment.  It also shows us that at the end, and in the end, all we have is God, and if we are truly blessed, each other.


     

    Weekly Commentary   November 15-21, 2015

    A bit of good news this week: an Egyptian teenager arrested in May 2015 after his Facebook account was hacked with an anti-Islamic post has been released from jail.

    On the other side of the moral ledger, seven Iraqi Christian refugees drowned in the Aegean Sea near Greece, including four children.

    Two priests were murdered, one in China and one in Mexico. A third priest survived an assassination attempt in Bangladesh.

    We received a detailed report of the beheading of a Christian by Hindu radicals in the 2008 Kandhamal pogrom. More recent events in India include the miscarriage of a Christian woman during a beating by Hindu radicals, and a statement of incitement by an RSS paramilitary leader that Christians have been colluding with Maoist guerrillas (the truth as documented in the Today’s Martyrs archives is that Christians have been persecuted by the Maoists).

    Convert Nissar Hussain survived a possible attempt on his life in Bradford in the United Kingdom – and it appears that Christians there are finally waking up to his ongoing plight. Another convert in Kenya survived a possible attempt on his life but saw his family abducted by his in-laws. Another 13 year old Pakistani Christian girl has been abducted.

    Finally we have a story of a theatrical production in Germany in which pro-life leaders were identified by photograph and name and then described as zombies who should be killed. Following the play two of them suffered arson attacks on their vehicles and a home. A Christian blogger and doctor of philosophy who wrote about the attacks has himself been threatened with death. Western libertines portray themselves as all about love and tolerance, but under the surface the truth has been very different.

    Please read this week’s detailed report and pray for all of these people.


     

    Weekly Commentary   November 8-14, 2015

    The ten pages of this week’s report list the names of 38 Christians who have been freed from captivity, one in Iran and the remainder in Syria.

    Also, two Ukrainian Christians whom we have previously reported on are named for awarding or being awarded a medal for humanitarian work, in an act of ecumenical fraternity.

    The rest of the news this week is unpleasant.

    An eight year old Pakistani Christian girl was disciplined for using a toilet that was reserved for Muslims. Apparently this is the latest trend in Pakistani schools and is not an isolated occurrence.

    A Chinese Christian human rights attorney had been denied the right to visit a dentist, out of fear that the visit would result in documentation of the torture he experienced while in prison. A Chinese writer has been placed under house arrest.

    A Muslim mob attempted to burn alive four Bangladeshi Christian families, thankfully all escaped.

    Many other stories can be seen in this week’s report.

    Sadly, we have to report on the blockbuster story of the week, and perhaps the year. Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, announced via email to her supporters that she was suspending her four year campaign to see her husband freed due to “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography)”.  She claimed that this abuse had continued during his imprisonment in Iran.  She later said that she regretted sending the emails and called Saeed “a treasure”.  Her claim that this abuse has continued during his imprisonment does not match previous reports which state that Saeed’s contacts with the outside world have been very limited.  Something is definitely wrong, but it is impossible to know at this time what the full truth is.  All we know for sure is that Saeed Abedini’s life continues to be in danger, and that it is highly likely that this allegation will now be used to increase pressure upon him by the prison authorities.  The Abedini family now needs prayers as never before.


     

    Weekly Commentary   November 1-7, 2015

    In this week’s report we once again see the arising of the Saffron Swastika, as the extreme Hindu nationalist organizations in India have been called.  On October 31, 2015, the RSS paramilitary organization issued a statement calling on the government to study means of enacting population controls to ensure that the percentage of the population that is Hindu remains where it is today.  Since the ruling BJP party is a spin-off of the RSS – both operate under the Sangh Parivar umbrella – it is unlikely that the government will refuse to ‘study’ the proposal.  Should it be enacted it will undoubtedly result in the forced sterilization of large numbers of Christians and Muslims.  Christian leaders immediately condemned this statement; one said of current anti-Christian trends: “It is coming to you, it will be too late if you wait till it comes to you”.

    Russian authorities have been arresting Christians from unofficial churches under a law that prohibits certain religious activities. The law’s vagueness has resulted in both convictions and acquittals for Christians from one church who follow a standardized evangelism in different localities; the difference of outcome has depended on the level of independence exhibited by the particular judge.

    Two Christians in Kyrgyzstan were released from house arrest over a year after they were acquitted in a fraud case called ‘fabricated’ by the judge. The prosecutors had appealed their acquittal.  On the day of the hearing the secret police twice attempted to detain the Christians’ attorneys, and then they invaded the judges’ chambers in an attempt to influence the ruling.  Fortunately the secret police lost.

    A story from Cuba concerning a church demolition shows that people are increasing their resistance to repression there.

    The Iraqi refugee situation continues.

    An Egyptian Christian was abducted and tortured when he refused the invitation to Islam. An Iranian Christian was returned to prison halfway through her hospital stay.  A Christian family in Kazakhstan is still under threat from an unjust deportation order.

    In the West Christians have been affected by anti-Christian actions in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

    Please click here to read the full report.  Please pray for all Christians, especially for those opposing forces of irrational domination and control.


     

    Weekly Commentary   October 25-31, 2015

    This week’s report – which can be viewed by clicking here – continues the saga of Christian persecution in the Middle East, with accounts from refugees in Jordan and Syria. We also have a story of a shell which hit a Syrian church during Mass but passed through it and exploded outside with only minor injuries. Elsewhere in the Middle East are stories of a vicious attack on a 10 year old Egyptian Christian by his teacher, and the destruction of two churches in Sudan.

    St Francis of Assisi Aleppo Syria

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    St. Francis Assisi Church, Aleppo, Syria

    In South Asia we have two stories from Pakistan, both concerning rape of Christians.

    In the Far East, China continues its current persecution, while the resistance of Christians and their allies prevented the Vietnamese government from destroying a Catholic school.

    A story from Nigeria recounts missionary deaths over the last four years.

    Finally, Canadian Christians have been denied the use of a public square used by other religions because the government deemed that Christian songs violated its policies.

    It must be pointed out that in recent weeks there has been a decline in stories of Christian persecution. It is doubtful that there is a real decline; rather, it would seem that there are just fewer reports. It appears that we not only must pray for those who suffer, but also for those who make the initial reports on such suffering. If we can no longer bear to see what is happening in the world, how will we be able to face the victims, posterity, or God?


     

    Weekly Commentary   October 18-24, 2015

    In this week’s full report we have more evidence of the slide of the Mideast into insanity: the refugee situation in and around Iraq and Syria persists, and the news from Aleppo in Syria is most serious and threatening.

    Pakistan is not much better, despite the lack of overt warfare.

    Sweden has refugees from both locations, but like much of Europe is progressing on its slide from secular democracy to anarchy, as it continues to deport the Christian refugees back to persecution and fails to protect former refugees from the influx of persecutors.

    We have the murder of a Christian in Uganda, a woman who was the sister-in-law of a previously martyred Christian.

    Additional stories of persecution from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, and Indonesia round out this week’s report. Please click here to read it. Please continue to pray for the world.


     

    Weekly Commentary   October 11-17, 2015

    In this week’s full report (click here to read) Christians have been killed for their faith in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Syria, and Uganda.

    Christians have been assaulted or otherwise threatened with death in Argentina, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, and Sweden.

    Christians continued to be arrested, driven from their homes, or threatened with the same in China, Cuba, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Syria. Their churches have been destroyed or threatened with the same in Indonesia and Vietnam.

    The good news? A priest escaped from Islamic State captivity in Syria, and a Christian has been released on bail in Pakistan.

    Please read this week’s report and lift up your prayers for these people, our brothers and sisters in Christ


     

    Weekly Commentary   October 4-10, 2015

    This week’s full report can be seen by clicking here. Listed below is a summary of the report.

    In the United States a gunman attacked a college classroom in Oregon and killed a teacher and eight students, and wounded several more. While it appears that some of the dead students were not practicing Christians, Christians were targeted in the attack.

    Christians in India condemned the lynching of a Muslim man and his son for eating beef (the son survived).

    A pastor in Bangladesh was almost killed.

    An extended Christian family in Egypt was attacked by a large mob over a bullying incident in school.

    A Christian school headmaster in Pakistan was beaten by three Muslim teachers who disputed his right to have authority over them.

    People are starving in at least two cities in Syria, and the Iraqi refugee situation continues.

    Finally several other stories are reported. There is no end to it, and so let us resolve to have no end to our attention and prayer for us all.


     

    Weekly Commentary   September 27 – October 3, 2015

    This week’s full report can be seen by clicking here.  Listed below is a summary of the news this week.

    A Christian aid worker was assassinated in Bangladesh, and ISIL – the Islamic State – claimed ‘responsibility’; if true this is the first ISIL attack in that country.

    Another Christian was killed in Iraq.

    A priest was killed in the Philippines by a mentally ill man.

    Dozens of Christians were killed in rioting in the Central African Republic, and more were threatened with death.

    The Muslim attorney of four Pakistani Christians charged that that the lack of security for their upcoming court hearing on blasphemy charges is a deliberate attempt to allow vigilantes the opportunity to lynch them. Another Christian is in hiding after being falsely accused of blasphemy and after being cleared by the local Islamic authorities – the charge was made after he protested attempts by a local radical to convert his children.

    Christians in India protested the murder of a Muslim by a Hindu mob for allegedly eating beef (it was actually mutton); they also protested a land seizure, a cemetery desecration, and reported on continual harassments.

    A Christian has disappeared in China, another is under house arrest after details of his torture while in prison became public.

    Pastor Saeed Abedini has again been tortured in prison in Iran, and his wife has called out the deceptions in the Iranian president’s comments concerning his possible release.

    A Christian church in Indonesia shuttered by the government in 2008 continues to be closed.

    Christian refugees in Germany have been harassed by Muslim refugees.

    Christians has been denied entry to Australia and Belarus.

    Churches and monasteries have been burnt in Palestine and Tanzania.

    The ‘best’ news this week is that a clinic for Iraqi refugees continues to be operated by Iraqi Christians, but they are running low on medicines. At least they are still in business.

    Please continue to pray for these people, Christian and non-Christian alike.

     

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