Friday, April 11, 2014
Shagufta and Shafqat photo courtesy Rescue Christians
Pakistan's archaeic 295 Blasphemy Law has claimed two more victims. They're Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagufta Kauser.
Last July, the couple was arrested for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages against Mohammed to a local imam in Gojra. Probelm is they lost their cell phone several days earlier and had reported that to the manager at the local phone store. Also, Shafqat is crippled and bound to a wheelchair. Shagufta is illiterate.
Despite a lack of evidence, a judge recently sentenced them to death. The couple has four children who they've not seen since the arrest nine months ago:
- 12-year-old Zain
- 10-year-old Danish
- 8-year-old Joshua
- 6-year-old Sara
Keith Davies of Rescue Christians says the judge admitted privately that he'd be killed if he did not order the execution of Shafqat and Shagufta. The Christian couple has appealed their case.
Watch my full interview with Davies here:
Also, President of International Christian Concern, Jeff King asks Christians to pray for the couple and he urges Americans to contact their representatives in the U.S. Congress to demand that pressure be put on the Pakistani government to bring about justice in this case.
Like most of these blasphemy cases, these are false allegations; there is no evidence against them.
This poor, innocent Pakistani couple deserves to be freed from prison and reunited with their precious, heartbroken children.
Watch my full interview with Jeff King, and then please pray for this couple and their children!
Friday, March 21, 2014
It's not everyday that Evangelicals, Catholics, and Muslims get together. But when they are faced with a crisis and have a common goal, God uses the rare occurrence of unity to accomplish great things.
That was the hope this week as a three-man, multi-religious delegation from Central African Republic visited Washington, D.C.
I talked with Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga, Pastor Nicolas Guerekoyame-Gbangou, and Imam Omar Kobine Layama after their meetings with members of the U.S. Congress and Obama administration.
They expressed hope that the violence and killings in their country will soon come to an end and that more help will come to hundreds of thousands of their homeless countrymen. Bishop Dieudonne told me they want to see the dignity of the people restored.
They can't do it alone. These men said they are praying for peace, security, and a political settlement. They're also in need of Good Samaritans to come and help them.
With their American visit now behind them, they'll start praying. Let's join them.
To learn more about the conflict in Central Africa Republic, watch my full interview with these three religious leaders.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
We rejoice for his life and homecoming, but our hearts are heavy here at CBN News over the loss of another champion of religious freedom.
Rev. Keith Roderick passed into glory Monday night at his home in Springfield, Ill. Please pray for his family.
An Episcopal priest, Roderick was secretary general of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights. He was a committed encourager of the oppressed who called for church unity, and rallied Christians of all denominations to support their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
I first met Roderick in Washington, D.C., as he stumped Capitol Hill defending the Christians of South Sudan. He tirelessly lobbied members of Congress, insisting that they enact legislation that would help the South Sudanese overcome sharia law imposed on them by the Islamic regime in Khartoum. Prior to his Sudan work, Roderick served as an advocate for Soviet Jews and prisoners of conscience.
Father Keith often urged Christians to rise from their church pews, put their faith into action by organizing demonstrations, contacting legislators, and writing letters. Why allow oppressors of religious freedom in the Middle East to define the terms of the global religious freedom debate?
Not only should Christians go on the offensive in the debate, Roderick said, but they should also take their protests to the doorsteps and homes of the supporters and defenders of the oppressors.
Speaking before the Faith Under Fire conference in Chicago in March 2012, Rev. Roderick urged Christians to get involved:
Rev. Roderick was an occasional guest on our Christian World News program. We'll miss his insights and advocacy, and Christians around the world will miss their friend who gave a voice to the voiceless.
Father Ketih was like a tenacious bugler calling a Christian army to advance. Now that the bugler has fallen, who will be the next advocate to stir the troops? Who will sound the trumpet and lead the charge?
Watch as he describes what is at stake:
Monday, March 03, 2014
Karen Short, the wife of Australia missionary John Short, says there will be plenty of hugging going on when she joins her husband Tuesday in Beijing.
It's been three weeks since she last saw him. That's because the North Korean government arrested John Feb. 16 for leaving Christian tracts at a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang.
The 75-year-old missionary apparently apologized and asked for forgiveness, so the government decided to deport him and send him on his way to China.
I talked with Karen by phone Monday and she said she is surprised by her husband's atypical behavior.
Former North Korean prisoners who have defected say the government coerced them into writing statements of confession, or admissions of guilt for their alleged anti-state crimes.
I first met John Short many years ago, and though I think he would willingly apologize for offending someone, I doubt he would beg forgiveness or apologize for handing out Gospel literature or for trying to introduce someone to Christ. Even under great duress, he would never view those actions as criminal. It's not in his nature.
So what made the difference for Short's quick release?
Prayer, prayer, and more prayer. God's people responded and He answered. Karen said the prayers of people around the world brought her peace; she never feared for John or for their future.
She believes her husband's detention was God's will, and that He has used it to bring awareness about North Korea, to inspire and encourage people to pray for their brothers and sisters in Christ and for the North Korean government leadership.
So keep praying! John said he's exhausted. Your prayers and all those wifely hugs will make a big difference!
Watch my full interview with Karen Short to learn more about how prayer and emails encouraged her during John's ordeal.
Friday, February 28, 2014
It isn't often that we have good news to report about persecuted or imprisoned Christians.
Today is one of those rare exceptions.
We're pleased to inform our readers and viewers that Present Truth Ministries has learned the Iranian government has finally allowed doctors to perform much needed surgery on imprisoned Pastor Benham Irani.
Irani has been jailed in Karaj, Iran since May 2011--more than a year longer than Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini. Pastor Benham needed urgent medical care because he suffered from a herniated disc and frequent intestinal bleeding. It's likely that both conditions were at least aggravated, if not created by the torturous beatings he endured while in custody.
Friends and family members worried that Pastor Beham would die without urgent medical care. PTM's Jason DeMars says Irani is now doing much better since the Feb. 22 surgery.
The house church leader was first arrested in December 2006 on charges that he was acting against Iranian national secuirity. His five-year sentence was suspended, but was later re-imposed after his third arrest and conviction in 2011.
Rarely does the Islamic government arrest and imprison Christians on charges of prosyletism, or conversion. The charge is always "crimes against the state" or against "Iranian national security." The government apparently feels Christians sharing their faith with their fellow countrymen threatens Iranian national security. That's because the ayatollahs fear Islam--and their privileges as rulers--would likely disappear if Christians were free to share Christ with Muslims.
So, Beham Irani's wife Christine, daughter Rebecca, and son Adriel are forced to endure more painful and lonely nights without him. But at least today they--and we--can be thankful for this delayed act of compassion and mercy.
Rejoice! It's answered prayer. Keep writing letters on behalf of Pastor Benham and keep praying for this faithful Christian prisoner and his family.
Watch this Pastor Beham update from Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries:
Thursday, February 20, 2014
John Short: Australian. Christian. Godly man. Missionary to Asia.
Now add "Prisoner for Christ."
North Korean officials stormed into Short's Pyongyang hotel room Sunday and arrested him for possessing Christian tracts. Horror of horrors! Get the nuclear arsenal ready!
This incident demonstrates the paranoia now dominating the pysche of the Kim Jong Un regime.
What threat could this 75-year-old missionary possibly pose to North Korea? Perhaps it's not Short, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the real threat.
Just imagine what would become of Un and his cohorts if the entire population embraced Christianity instead of worshiping their great leaders (Juche) -- who really aren't so great are they?
I've spent time with John Short on several occasions. He's a wonderful, humble man who loves God. I'm sure his decision to bring Gospel tracts to North Korea was an act of obedience to God. I'm also certain--if Short has the chance--he'll be sharing his faith with inmates and guards in the North Korean Gulag.
Let's pray that he remains healthy and faithful to Christ during this ordeal.
Let's not pray for his freedom. John would say he is already free in Christ--no matter where God sends him.
Pray that he'll be reunited soon with his wife Karen at their home in Hong Kong. Also prayGod gives Karen the strength to endure this time without her husband, not knowing his exact whereabouts or status.
Watch my interview with International Christian Concern President Jeff King to learn the real reason behind John Short's arrest:
Thursday, February 13, 2014
It's hard to believe that last year's winner (the first American) of the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice would be the subject of a federal investigation. But that's exactly what happened recently to the man known as "The Machine Gun Preacher."
Last week, as Pastor Sam Childers was busy rescuing South Sudan civil war orphans, FBI agents were raiding his home and ministry headquarters in Somerset County, Pa.
Childers says they drew their guns and then proceeded to pillage through a shipping container of clothing searching for arms allegedly being smuggled to Africa. Problem is, there were no guns.
Childers says it's crazy to suggest he's a gun runner; he's just a preacher called to help orphaned East African kids. He blames his former son-in-law who is currently in a lot of "hot water" for allegedly embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from Childer's Angels of East Africa ministry.
I first met Childers a decade ago when I profiled him and his orphanage in my 2005 CBN News report about the LRA:
The FBI office in Pittsburgh has yet to respond to my telephone inquiry asking for the Fed's perspective of the raid.
In the meantime, watch and listen to Childer's comments via telephone from Nimule, South Sudan:
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
That was the one word reply VOM's Sabina Wurmbrand gave when a friend of mine once asked her to describe the tragedy in Sudan.
Tears are what I have today for Syria's children.
The United Nations has just released its first report on children in Syria's civil war and it comes of no suprise that kids there are suffering. What is astonishing is that not only have thousands been killed, but many have been maimed, tortured, and some have fallen victim to sexual abuse.
The U.N. report examined the period from March 1, 2011 (around the time the civil war started) to November 2013.
The conclusion? According to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Assad government has been responsible for the "arrest, arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of children."
Children as young as 11 years old were reportedly beaten with "metal cables, whips and metal batons." The report also states that electric shock was administered to their genitals, fingernails, and toenails were ripped out.
Syrian children have also been victims of "sexual violence including rape and threats of rape." Cigarette burns, sleep deprivation, tied up and suspended from ceilings. The list of tortures inflicted on the children goes on and on.
Moon also says armed opposition groups have recruited and used children "in both combat and support roles."
In Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan--I've seen the trauma in the blank stares of many Syrian refugee children. Without counseling, these kids will continue to suffer for a lifetime. An entire generation is now growing up without education.
What will the future bring for these precious little ones?
You and I can make a difference. Relying on diplomats to negotiate peace in Geneva is not enough. As Christians, we need to get on our knees and pray, and then ask Christ how He wants us to respond.
Helping is not an option. It's a requirement of our faith.
Watch this short video of some of these wonderful Syrian kids. The heart of each one breaks from the "unspeakable horror" they've endured. Yours should too.
Friday, January 24, 2014
I always enjoy sitting down and talking with former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. He worked for President Ronald Reagan at the State Department, and more recently as Deputy National Security Advisor for President George W. Bush.
These days he serves as a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and as a Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Abrams always has some interesting and insightful views on U.S. foreign policy--particularly for the Middle East.
I talked with him in Washington this week about the start of the Syria Peace Talks in Geneva and the Iranian nuclear agreement that was implemented on Monday.
Here's my full interview, not a shortened, edited version that fits more comfortably into our 30-minute news shows.
Abrams predicts the Syria Peace Talks will go nowhere because Assad's the problem; how can rebels sit down with those who have slaughtered tens of thousands? He also thinks Iran will continue moving forward little-by-little with nuclear weapons development despite the recent sanctions-lifting agreement with the U.S.
Monday, January 13, 2014
If you think Muslims are the only ones who resort to violence against Christians, then you need to view this video. Buddhist have a reputation of meditating and expressing themselves peacefully. Not so in Sri Lanka.
On Sunday, a mob led by some outraged monks decided they'd had enough of their Christian neighbors in the resort city of Hikkaduwa. They attacked and vandalized two Christian prayer centers saying they were operating illegally after administrative authorities had ordered them closed.
The prayers centers were operated by the Calvary Free Church and the Assemblies of God. They insisted the center were registered--eviction would be illegal
So, the peaceful and tolerant monks decided to take matters into their own hands and along with their followers, they pushed past police and smashed Christians signs and windows, destroyed Bibles, books and paperwork, and ransacked the prayer buildings.
A church near Colombo was also reportedly attacked.
This is nothing new for Buddhist Sri Lanka. Monks have often incited their followers to attack Christians and churches.
The nation is ranked #29 on the Opend Doors annual World Watch List.
Sri Lanka Police say they intend to arrest the attackers. The country guarantees religious freedom in its constitution, but the monks obviously haven't gotten the message.
They're goal is to reach nirvana, but apparently they first plan to eradicate Christianity from their island nation before they get there.