Gary Lane

CBN News Senior International Reporter

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Pastor Saeed One Among Many

You don't often see people gathered around the White House praying for an imprisoned pastor in a far off land.

But Thursday night in Washington, D.C.--on the second anniversary of his imprisonment--religious freedom advocates gathered to pray for American Pastor Saeed Abedini. People in 500-cities in over 30 countries have also committed to pray for the Iranian-born Abedini.

Prayer vigils draw attention to the plight of this one imprisoned American pastor, but what about others who are also suffering in Iranian prisons because of their faith in Christ? Where are the mass rallies and vigils just for them?

Christians like:

--Pastor Benham Irani of Karaj, Iran:

Imprisoned since May 2011, he was recently beaten and placed in solitary confinement for several weeks. He's also suffered from bleeding ulcers and colon complications. Last February, after many months of delays and deterioriating health, authorities finally relented and provided Pastor Benham with the surgery he needed. His family has not heard from him since August 25th. He's now charged with spreading corruption on earth and could face execution.

-- Farshid Fathi of Tehran, Iran: 

The Christian convert from Islam was arrested in December 2010 and spent nearly one year in solitary confinement.     Last April, a prison guard stomped on Farshid's foot and broke it during a prison riot. This past summer, Farshid was transferred to a prison in Karaj, Iran known as a detention facility for the country's most dangerous criminals. Fellow inmates have said they've been impressed by Farshid's "sweet spirit" and Farshid even wrote a letter drawing attention to the plight of other suffering Christians worldwide. "...When I look at all these heroes of faith, how can I complain about my suffering?" he asked.

-- Pastor Silas Rabani:

Imprisoned in Karaj, Iran Pastor Silas is also charged with spreading corruption. He could be sentenced to death if convicted..

-- Pastor Matthias Hagnejad. 

 Also imprisoned in Karaj. He's been charged with waging war against God. He may also face death. 

--Alireza Seyyedian:

Imprisoned in March 2012. He's a former Muslim who became a Christian in 2006. Video of his baptism in Turkey was discovered on a computer when security police raided his apartment. Charged with crimes against national security, 37-year old Alireza has been confined to section 350 (political prisoners section) of Evin prison.

Religious Freedom advocates know of at least 40 Christians imprisoned in Iran for their faith. As you sign petititons, and gather in vigils for Saeed Abedini, please remember these other Iranian believers.

Their only crime is their devotion to Jesus Christ.

 

* Photos courtesy of Present Truth Ministries.

Additional links to learn more about Iranian prisoners:

Prisoner Alert

Elam Ministries

posted @ Friday, September 26, 2014 10:00 AM | Feedback (1)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Turkey's Welcoming Response to Kurdish Refugees?

As U.S. bombs fall on Islamic State positions in Syria, Kurdish refugees from the northern town of Kobani are continuing to pour over the border into Turkey.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Nurman Kurtulmus warns the latest wave of Syrians fleeing the advance of ISIS jihadists could swell "to hundreds of thousands."

Already since last Thursday, an estimated 150,000 have flooded into Turkey. It's the largest mass wave of internally displaced since tens of thousands of Yazidis fled Sinjar last month.

What should be done?

First, the Turks should be more welcoming to these Kurds in crisis. Kurdish media reports Turkish border guards initially responded forceably with chemicals, rubber bullets and cannisters of tear gas as the refugees attempted to push across the border.

Apparently the Turkish government fears some of the Kurds may be PKK rebels who have fought an independence inspired insurgency against Turkey since the mid-1980's. So, was this simply a matter of crowd control, or a response inflicted by deep wounds from the past? Regardless, this NATO country should respond more humanely. ISIS is the enemy, not the Kurds.

Secondly, the U.S. should direct air strikes against the Islamic State militants who are terrorizing the innocent women and children of Kobani. President Obama has already decided to strike ISIS in Syria, so it would simply mean repositioning some American Special Forces into the area to target the jihadists for attack. (Update: airstrikes were reportedly launched against ISIS positions 20-miles west of Kobani Tuesday evening).

Thirdly, the world needs to reach out to help these fresh Syrian refugees. Once again, Christians have an opportunity to act urgently as first responders.

Watch this Kurdsat Broadcasting video showing the inital response as thousands of refugees sought a safe haven across the Turkish  border:

 

posted @ Tuesday, September 23, 2014 1:56 PM | Feedback (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Obama's Partners against ISIS Insincere

Human rights activist Nonie Darwish is a former Muslim who says the United States cannot trust its Arab partners in the fight against the Islamic State.

She suggests they are more committed to the Quran than they are to defeating the ISIS terrorists.

Ms. Darwish is the founder of Arabs for Israel, and the director of Former Muslims United. She's an author of several books, including Cruel and Usual Punishment and The Devil We Don't Know.

Also, in her recent article for American Thinker, she says President Obama ignored the ISIS terrorist threat "until it blew up in our faces with the beheading of two Americans."

Why? She says the president was torn between his duty to America and his "dream of becoming the hero of the Muslim World who taught the West a lesson on how to treat Muslims."

Darwish doubts the sincerity of the anti-ISIS coalition's Arab partners saying that "no Muslim nation will seriously attack ISIS" because "according to sharia, a Muslim leader who stands against the Islamic State is automatically an apostate who must be killed."

Read her article, and then listen to Nonie Darwish's comments here:

posted @ Tuesday, September 16, 2014 3:24 PM | Feedback (0)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

ISIS Terrorism Imitated by Middle East Kids

ERBIL, Iraq -- American kids are obsessed with violent video games. Some who play them continually seem to live in a fantasy world far removed from reality.

And then we become surprised when periodically some bullied, lonely, or depressed gamer shoots up a school or movie theater.

Whatever happened to the less graphic games of yesteryear like Pong or Mario Brothers?

The innocence of some young Arab kids is also being stolen by graphic images recently seen on television, or social media about the murderous practices of The Islamic State. The terrorist's evil has now spread to children's games.

Watch. This is not your Cowboys and Indians game played during childhood. This is evil engrained into the minds of young Arabs. It was sent to The Global Lane by ABNA.

Now take a deep breath after watching that astonishing video. Relax and smile as you watch some Yazidi refugee children in Zakho, Iraq having fun as most Middle East children should do. They're pretending they are acrobats jumping on a trampoline.

Much better for their future (and ours) instead of playing the ISIS terrorist game, don't you think?

posted @ Tuesday, September 02, 2014 6:07 AM | Feedback (0)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Iraqi Christians: 'If Everyone Leaves, Who Will Speak Truth?'

ERBIL, Iraq--This past weekend I met with Ankawa Evangelical Church Pastor Ghassan Yalda who told me he is saddened when Iraqi Christians talk about leaving the country for America or elsewhere in the West.

“Christians are salt and light. If everyone leaves, who will be speaking the truth to the people who need us? Sin is everywhere, people are killing each other. “

Who will be left to ask God to pour out his mercy on Iraq?

But every displaced Christian I’ve met here has told me they want to leave. They say they can no longer live with Muslims when a percentage of them are trying to exterminate anyone who does not believe the way they do.

Yalda also told me he appreciates the partnership CBN Disaster Relief has made with his church to help displaced Christians and others. Each day church volunteers provide food and other necessities for 60-80 families. CBN has stood alongside them.

The daily demands on Yalda’s church body are overwhelming. Just two months ago their main effort was conducting a weekly church service and doing outreach work with Syrian refugees. Now, in addition to the daily outreach efforts, 100 Christian refugees reside at the church in Sunday school classrooms.

Pastor Yalda asks us to pray for more volunteers to come to Iraq to help and encourage the people here.

“We need each other,” the pastor told me. “And our country cannot be saved by military action. It can only be saved by Jesus Christ.”

Watch my full interview with Pastor Ghassan Yalda by clicking on the video here:

posted @ Monday, August 25, 2014 5:03 PM | Feedback (1)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Iraqi Heroine Risks Life for Desperate Yazidis

Many of us will never forget Vian Dakheel's impassioned plea to the world on behalf of the Yazidis.

Last week, the Iraqi lawmaker--herself a Yazidi--collapsed after making a tearful speech before Parliament.

"Our families have been slaughtered...set aside your political differences...In the name of humanity, I call upon all of you to save us, to save us!" she exclaimed.

Her emotional plea may have inspired the United States and other Western countries to respond with help to northern Iraq.

Many of the stranded Yazidis have now been rescued from atop Sinjar Mountain thanks to American airstrikes and daring members of the Syrian Kurdish Army. Some of them are now safely residing in a U.N. refugee camp in Mailikiya, Syria.

Ms. Dakheel was determined to do more to help her people, so earllier this week she boarded a Russian-made M-17 helicopter and flew with the Iraqi Army to Sinjar Mountain.

They delivered humanitarian relief to the people, but the dehydrated and malnourished Yazidis desperately demanded rescue from the mountain; many had been stuck there for more than a week, having fled the clutches of crazed Islamic State jihadists.

The Yazidis pushed and shoved their way to the open doors of the helicopter--too many of them clawed their way onto the deck of the departing chopper. Weighted down, the aircraft could not get enough lift, so it toppled over and crashed into the mountainside.

The pilot was killed. Lawmaker Dakheel and others were injured in the crash.

Please note. It's not just suffering Yazidis and displaced Christians who need intercession..

First responders--those who risk their lives in service to others--desperately need our prayers as well!

Watch this dramatic Iraqi Army rescue video of Vian Dakheel (at 1:50) and others, moments after the helicopter accident.

And then keep praying for Iraq!

posted @ Thursday, August 14, 2014 10:55 AM | Feedback (0)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

American's Final Goodbye in Cuban Prison?

Did American Alan Gross bid a final farewell to his wife and daughter recently when they visited him at a Cuban prison?

Friends and relatives fear the worst if the U.S. government doesn't step in to help the 65-year-old contractor.

That's because Gross is apparently giving up. Depressed over his mother's recent death and despondent over his prolonged imprisonment, Gross told wife Judy and daughter Nina that he can no longer endure prison life. He's also refusing humanitarian visits from members of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 for delivering Internet communications equipment to the country's small Jewish community. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for committing "crimes against the state."

Nearly five years later, he's lost vision in one eye and is reportedly in deterioritaing mental and physical health.

In an expression of urgent concern, 300 American Jewish rabbis reportedly sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he secure the "immediate release" of Gross.

Christian leaders should do the same.

When I last interviewed Judy Gross two years ago, she remained hopeful that proposed talks between the Castros and the U.S. government would lead to her husband's early release. I asked readers of this blog to pray that Gross would be returned home in time for a joyous Hanukkah holiday celebration. That was in September 2012.

Let's keep praying that God will encourage Alan Gross and his family, and that the Obama administration will do more to negotiate the release of this aging, ailing man whose only crime was trying to help some Cuban Jews communicate with the outside world.

Learn more at Bring Alan Home.

posted @ Tuesday, August 05, 2014 3:43 PM | Feedback (1)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sackcloth & Ashes: Asking God to Stop Ebola in Liberia

Starting Thursday, 500 Christian leaders in Liberia will gather at Dominion Fellowship Church in Monrovia, Liberia for three days of fasting and prayer. They're calling it Sackcloth And Ashes.

The pastors and other church leaders will ask God to to stop the Ebola outbreak that is plaguing the country (and now contracted by two American health workers). All Liberian churches will join in for a full week of prayer beginning Monday, August 4.

Pastor Emery David of Triumphant Christian Church told The Global Lane by phone that God has responded in the past when Liberians have humbly confessed their sins, repented, and asked for divine intervention to spare their nation.

He said Liberians would like American Christians to join them in prayer, so God will once again "heal their land."

Watch and listen to David's comments, and then join Liberians during this time of prayer--not only for their nation, but also Sierra Leon, and Guinea.

More than 1,200 cases of this fatal virus have been reported and nearly 700 people have perished from the disease in West Africa since last February.

posted @ Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:09 PM | Feedback (0)

Monday, July 28, 2014

No New Churches in Sudan

Just days before the government of Sudan allowed Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim to leave the country, it imposed a new ban on church construction.

Because many Sudanese Christians fled the north and moved to South Sudan once that nation gained independence in 2011, the government insists the few who remain in Sudan have enough existing churches to meet their needs.

But Christian Headlines.com reports that Sudanese Christians were angered by the government decision. It quotes Rev. Kori Elramla Kuku, general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, who described the ban as shocking and misleading.

"We (Christians) have the right to have new plots of land and building of new churches," he said.

"We need the churches for the growing of Sudanese Christians."

Religious freedom groups say the church ban is a violation of the right of freedom of religion and worship.

Also, Tina Ramirez, executive director of Hardwired recently told CBN News, Sudan's apostasy law needs to be overturned if more cases like Meriam Ibrahim's are to be prevented.

The 27-year old mother of two was sentenced to death for marrying an American Christian, and for abandoning the Muslim faith. Ibrahim insisted she never practiced Islam, but instead embraced the Christian faith of her mother.

Meanwhile, as Sudan moves forward with its ban on church construction--its northern neighbor--Egypt is negotiating with Christian leaders to develop plans to facilitate new church construction. Under the Mubarak regime, Egyptian Christians were required to petition the government for permission to repair or build churches. Rarely were new church buildings allowed.

So far, church leaders are optimistic that changes in the Egyptian constitution allowing church construction will be honored by new President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

posted @ Monday, July 28, 2014 9:46 AM | Feedback (0)

Friday, July 25, 2014

#WeAreN: Christians Marked for Modern-Day Holocaust

My father--a World War II veteran--often told me that history has a strange way of repeating itself.

Seventy years after the Nazis forced Jews to wear Yellow Star of David patches on their clothing to mark them for persecution and extermination, another holocaust is under way.

This time, it's Middle East Christians instead of European Jews. But the evil tactics are much the same.

Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)--now known simply as The Islamic State (IS)--have marked Christians for dimmi status and extinction; their goal is to eliminate all Christian presence from their new caliphate.

As their predecessors did 1,400 years ago, Muslims in the IS have given Christians four options:

1. Convert to Islam.

2. Live as dimmis under sharia law and pay the jizya tax.

3. Forfeit their homes, possessions, and flee the IS.

4. Die.

Christian homes and businesses have been marked with the Arabic letter Nun. It stands for "Nazarene," or Christian. This symbol has now gone viral on social media and Christians around the globe are using it as a symbol of solidarity with the Christians of Mosul and Iraq.

They've also started the hashtag #WeAreN.

I too, have adopted the Nun symbol as my Facebook photo www.facebook.com/GlobalLane.

But it will take more than just hastags and symbols to stop Caliph Ibrahim (Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi), his cohorts, and other Islamic extremists from committing atrocities in the Middle East.

Sir Edmund Burke said, "Evil prevails when good men do nothing."

Just ask survivors of the Jewish concentration camps.

Hashtags and symbols are excellent tools to raise awareness, but good men--and women--will need to do more to rescue these ancient Christian communities from this modern-day holocaust.

Watch this video of Islamic extremists blowing up the Mosul mosque that housed the tomb of the Biblical prophet, Jonah:

posted @ Friday, July 25, 2014 1:28 PM | Feedback (10)