Monday, July 27, 2015
China's recent crackdown against human rights attorneys and advocates (more than 200 arrested and or interrogated since July 9 of this year) and its continued campaign to remove crosses from church buildings (more than 1500) have created some people-powered responses that are now gaining some legs.
In China, a growing number of Christians are now participating in acts of civil disobedience. Some are strapping themselves to crosses to protect them from removal.
One of the most recent occured on July 22 as a large group of Public Security Bureau officers (PSB) forcefully removed the red cross from a church compound at Yongqiang Chuangcun Christian Church, Longwan District, Wenzhou city, Zhejiang Province. In June, after government officials removed the cross from atop the church building, church members stood it up on the church grounds. They strapped themselves to the cross when the PSB came to remove it from the church compound.
Watch this video as other Christians weep and sing hymns as their cross is removed from Tengqiao Church, also in Zheijiang:
In response to this latest wave of persecution against Chinese Protestants and Catholics, some believers are making wooden crosses, painting them red, and are placing them atop their homes and along roadways.
Take a look here:
So, what should be done by the United States? Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled for an official state visit with President Obama in September.
Should Xi be given the red carpet treatment by the U.S. president? Listen to how Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and China Aid President Bob Fu suggest America should respond:
Meantime, pray for wisdom for President Obama and other U.S. leaders. Pray for Chinese Christians, the human rights attorneys, and others who are now experiencing what may be the worst wave of persecution since China's Cultural Revolution.
Chinese government officials launched the crackdown because they fear Christianity and outspoken opposition from human rights advocates.
But this latest crackdown may actually be creating the very situation Beijing was hoping to prevent.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
It's been a long and difficult six years for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi.
And now the Supreme Court of Pakistan has overturned both the sessions and high court decisions to execute Asia for comitting blasphemy against the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
Yes, thank God!
But as this gives Asia, her family, and Pakistani Christians new hope, let's not rush to judgement for Bibi and the future of the church in Pakistan. The high court has yet to set a new trial date for Asia and that means she may languish in prison for possibly many more months (or years) while this case drags on.
And after a new hearing, if she is released based on time served, she'll face the danger of possible execution--not from the Pakistani government, but by militant Muslims pledged to murder her for committing blasphemy against Mohammed.
But Bibi will have hope of resuming a new life with her family if she is moved covertly from prison.
Several years ago, I interviewed Asia's husband Ashiq and their two biological daughters, Isha and Isham. They've moved from place to place over the past six years because of threats against them for being relatives of the "infidel" woman who comitted blaspemy against Mohammed. Asia was arrested in 2009 after she verbally defended Jesus and her Christian faith when it was challenged by some hostile Muslim co-workers.
Please pray for Asia, that God will give her good health and perseverance during the horrid imprisonment she'll continue to endure. Pray that her faith will remain strong and that God will keep working on the hearts and lives of her family members. Pray Asia will be a bold witness for Christ.
Continue to pray for Pakistan's minority Christian community. They face discrimination and persecution in their daily lives in a country dominated by many hostile and intolerant Muslims.
And watch my interview with Asia's family members from August 2011:
Thursday, July 16, 2015
The Chinese government is at it once again - this time, launching the biggest crackdown against human rights advocates since 1983.
That according to Bob Fu, president of the Midland, Texas-based China Aid organization.
This latest wave of persecution is extensive and involves the arrest, detention, interrogation, and even disappearance of more than 200 attorneys and human rights workers in more than 24 Chinese provinces and municipalities.
The roundup began last July 9 with the arrest of human rights lawyer Wang Yu. After she disappeared, more than 100 attorneys signed a letter demanding to know her whereabouts. That's when many of the signatories were targeted and some also "went missing."
The Chinese government contends many of the lawyers have received support from foreigners and are involved in a plot to cause public disturbance throughout China.
Why is the crackdown happening now? The new National Security Law grants officials more flexibility in targeting perceived threats to Chinese Communist Party rule. Also, the recent economic downturn may be to blame. Party officials fear a few lawyers--and perhaps Christians--could easily stir up public sentiment against the government at a time when many citizens are suffering from unemployment, or financial loss.
In addition to the crackdown against the human rights lawyers (many have taken religious liberties cases) is a continued crackdown against government registered, Three Self Patriotic Churches. Several have been destroyed in recent months, and at least 1,200 (according to China Aid sources) have been forced to remove crosses from atop their church buildings.
However, there is some good news. The Chinese church will continue to grow despite--and because of--this latest round of persecution. Keep praying--and watch my interview with Bob Fu to learn more.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Occasionally during my international travels, I meet people who touch my heart and encourage me to remain strong in my Christian faith. I met such a person during my most recent visit to Iraq--only this time it was not an adult who inspired me; it was a young, 11-year old from Qaraqoush.
Last summer, Islamic State jihadists chased Maryam Behnam and her family from their home. They're now among more than a million displaced Iraqis living in the northern state of Kurdistan.
This little Iraqi girl says she forgives ISIS and shares words of faith which she says were given to her by The Holy Spirit.
If you missed it, you can view the July 10 edition of Christian World News to see my recent report about Maryam.
And you won't want to miss watching this video to hear the angelic voices of Maryam and her 10-year-old sister Zamarod as they sing one of their favorite Christian hymns:
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Here we go again. Trouble is brewing in South Carolina over the Confederate Battle Flag.
I first wrote about this in 1994 when the issue was placed before Republican primary voters of the Palmetto State.
At that time, three-quarters of those voting said the battle flag should remain atop their state capitol.
That was then, this is now.
First, let me make it clear. I was not born in the South--I'm a carptebagger. But I've lived south of the Mason-Dixon line for more than 30-years. I love living in the South despite the hot summers here (nearly 100 degrees as I write this) and the people here are among the best I know anywhere.
My view is an American view, not a regional one.
150-years after the end of the Civil War, it's now time to stop flying the rebel battle flag at the South Carolina Capitol.
Should it be brought down because nine African American Christians were gunned down at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church by a white supremacist?
No. It should be taken down because African American taxpayers of South Carolina--offended by what the flag represents--should not pay to fly the flag over their capitol building. Many Christians are opposed to their tax dollars being used to support Planned Parenthood and abortion. African Americans can make a similar argument about Confederate Battle Flag flying.
My southern friends tell me the rebel battle flag represents the sacrifice of those who fought to defend the Confederacy and state's rights. True, but for many Americans--many southerners included--it is also a constant reminder of racism and slavery.
Think about it. It's like Germans continuing to fly the flag of the Third Reich over their state assembly buildings. The Third Reich period is just as important to German history as the Confederacy is to the history of America. But I'm sure many Jews (and non-Jews) are offended when they see the Nazis flag displayed. While the Confederate Battle Flag reminds African Americans of slavery, the flag of the Third Reich reminds Jews of the holocaust and the 6-million who perished in concentration camps.
My southern friends might not like this, but guess what? The Confederate States of America lost the Civil War. Let it go. The Union was victorious, and the U.S. flag was raised over the capitol building in Richmond.
Continuing to fly the flag at the South Carolina State Capitol would be like continuing to fly the Mexican flag at the capitol building in Austin, Texas. Sam Houston would never have tolerated that--neither would most Texans. Santa Ana was defeated, and eventually the American flag was flown throughout the Lone Star State.
The First Amendment allows you to freely express yourself by flying the Stars and Bars at your home, or on the back of your pickup truck. Although some will be offended, few people may try to prevent you from doing that.
But it's time South Carolina--and any other state--stop government sanctioned flag flying of a defeated nation.
One flag, one nation. Not two.
Proudly may we wave the Stars and Stripes!
Friday, June 19, 2015
Never before has the world experienced so many refugees and internally displaced persons. They now number nearly 60 million. And Turkey has now become the top hosting country, according to a United Nations annual report.
Recently CBN News Chief International Correspondent Gary Lane shared more about this crisis and what the world, and the church, can do to help below:
In 2014, 14 million people were forcibly displaced because of fighting, war, and persecution. That number was 8 million higher than in 2013. That means the crisis is deepening.
And more than half of all refugees are children...
The war in Syria has caused the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Four years of fighting has resulted in 4 million refugees and 7.6 million internally displaced.
The numbers are staggering, but think beyond numbers. Each one is a person. One of every two is a precious little one, growing up without education, with little hope of returning to their homes and a normal life. They're kids in crisis like this young Yazidi boy I witnessed collecting a few more drops of water for his thirsty family members.
Or, these two Christian girls I met in Kurdistan....
We must not grow weary from "donor fatigue." They still need our help and prayers--now, more than ever.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
It's now Ramadan throughout the Islamic world--the annual Muslim time of fasting, praying, and seeking God.
A number of Christian groups are asking Christians to pray for Muslims and Christians in Muslim countries during the next 30-days.
Pray they'll find the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Pray they'll find God's son Jesus, who shed His blood for all mankind. Pray Christians will be safe during Ramadan and they'll have opportunities and boldness to share their faith with Muslims.
We'll be giving you regular updates here at The Global Lane to help your prayer efforts.
For now, watch my interview with VOM Radio's Todd Nettleton to learn why, and how we should pray for Muslims during the Ramadan season.
And log on to persecution.com to discover how you can get copies of a special 30-Days prayer book to share with your family and friends.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Sudan's Omar El Bashir is a wanted man. But when he entered the South African house this weekend, he was welcomed, offered a comfortable bed, and maybe even a hot meal or two.
There was no arrest, not even a whimper of displeasure about his inhumane acts committed against his own people.
Bashir was free to attend the African Union party in Johannesburg, and when the party was over, he was allowed to venture back home to Khartoum without complaint, with disregard to a South African court order and International Criminal Court arrest warrant. And by the way--we didn't hear any of the African Union leaders speak out about this. Apparently they didn't want to see the arrest of one of their members ruin their party.
So much for South Africa's commitment to its own judicial system and the authority of the ICC.
It's leaders--and the ANC--placed their friendship (and Sudanese oil) above adherence to international law.
They should be ashamed. Their actions actually made them Bashir's accomplices.
So, what would happen to you if you welcomed an accused felon into your home and provided shelter and comfort to him? You'd likely be arrested for helping him evade the law.
Bashir's crimes are well known around the world.
First, he seized power in a coup, and then waged holy jihad (for more than 22 years) against Christians in South Sudan. In 1998, I interviewed several of his soldiers who had been captured by the SPLA. I was surprised to learn they were actually university students who were told they would not be awarded their degrees until they went south and "waged jihad" against the Christians.
Bashir's jihad ended up claiming 2 million lives, left many more southerners displaced, and their villages in ruins.
Then he moved on to Darfur. At least 300,000 were killed and 2 million displaced in that part of Sudan.
He's acted aggressively to spread radical Islam throughout Africa, and has inflamed tribal differences in South Sudan.
Bashir continues to direct unrelenting aerial bombardments and attacks against the people of the Nuba Mountains. Thousands of innocent civilians have died there. I've met several who were maimed in one of the attacks, and visited a Catholic school were children and their teacher were killed when a Sudanese government Antonov aircraft dropped a bomb on their outdoor classroom.
By allowing this wanted criminal to return to his life of luxury in Khartoum, the South African government has become just another one of Bashir's partners in crime.
How will the United States and the world respond? Most likely with indifference.
More partners in crime.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Iran's Evin Prison and Pastor Farshid Fathi
As the United States attempts to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran, more evidence of the Islamic Republic’s brutal treatment of Christians and other religious minorities is surfacing. The latest concerns the case of Iranian Christian prisoner Farshid Fathi.
When family members of the four Americans imprisoned in Iran urged members of Congress to link the nuclear deal to the release of their jailed loved ones, Farshid was in the midst of losing his appeal against serving an extra year in prison and receiving 74 lashes.
He’s been imprisoned since Iranian agents raided his house church in December 2010. Farshid was ori"inally given a five-year prison sentence for actions "against national security."
Translated, that really means he was guilty of leading Muslims to Christ.
The Islamic regime is determined to stamp out house churches because it believes Christian "extremists" are using them as part of a plot to transform Iranian society.
That is somewhat true. If more Iranians come to Christ—and tens of thousands are each year—who will need, or want the ayatollahs in power?
Farshid was given the additional one-year sentence along with the 74 lashes after alcohol was found in his cell during an Easter 2014 prison raid. Farshid denied the alcohol was his—it was likely planted there by resolute prison guards ordered to take action to extend his jail time.
I produced a story about Iranian Christians shortly after that raid last year. Watch this edited portion of it to learn more about Farshid Fathi, and then keep praying for him--and the estimated 89 other Christians who are currently suffering for Christ in Iranian prisons!
Monday, June 01, 2015
Yat Michael and David Yein say they are unafraid even though they face possible execution in Sudan.
The two Presbyterian pastors are accused of spying in Khartoum, and have been jailed since last December (Yein) and January (Michael).
On trial since May 19, they've been officially charged with "inciting organized groups" and "offending Islamic beliefs." Sudanese law (sharia) requires them to be executed if they are convicted.
Both Christians--who are from South Sudan--say they had no hidden agenda while visiting Khartoum; they were only answering God's call to share the Word with the people of Sudan.
In an exclusive CBN News interview, Senior International Correspondent George Thomas talked to the two pastors via telephone from their Khartoum prison cell.
Yat Michael told Thomas while he has not suffered physical beating during his imprisonment, he has experienced psychological intimidation. Also, he said it has been two months since he's been allowed to talk with his family.
Speaking mostly in Arabic, David Yein told Thomas he is "not afraid of anything" because "God chose me to suffer."
He asks that Christians pray that his suffering will "be for the glory of God" in the prison.
You may watch and listen to each interview here. I've also provided a transcript of both interviews and a translation of Yein's comments which were spoken in Arabic:
Reverend Yat Michael: We are fine thanks be to God. We were being here for five to six months since we were arrested. David Yein Was arrested 14th of December up to today. And I was arrested on 11 January up to today.
George Thomas: Have they done anything to you, have they beaten you, have they tried to intimidate you?
Yat Michael: No. They were…it was just only a psychologically incitement because we were being separated from our families for two months without hearing them. That was a tough problem to us.
We came from South Sudan and because of the war in South Sudan we came here in Sudan and we just go to go do our ministry training in our church and then they came to me-especially myself-- they arrest me in my house. I don’t know why they do that. When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here. I say I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God. They say no, you don’t need to preach the Word of God with a hidden agenda. I said no, I don’t have any hidden agenda. They accused me because I’m a spy here. They say like that.
George Thomas: How are you doing inside the prison, how is your faith?
Yat Michael: Yeah, it is my destination. My faith, I don’t, I don’t even I don’t have a sense of patience 15:28 I must call on my faith. It is not a new thing to me. They just keep us for nothing. They just keep us in the prison for nothing. And they are terrible to us. We are staying in, for confinement without any crime that we commit.
Reverend David Yein:
George: Are you afraid that you could be killed for this?
David Yein: No, I am not afraid of anything….I am never afraid of anything because it is my love, it is my being, because I believe. God chose me to suffer.
(Arabic translated to English)
I’m not afraid from doing my ministry and my message I’m chosen by God. I serve him in any circumstances, be instant in season, out of season.
George Thomas: I’m sure you miss your wives a lot…
David Yein: I missed her. We can’t be together because there is a legal restriction, but she sees me from the window, and she is sure that I’m here. I’m really here with a good condition, but I’m waiting to be outside.
George Thomas: Will you still continue to preach The Gospel?
David Yein: I preach and serve and I’m sending the message of the gospel to the whole world as the lord said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
George Thomas: Have you had a chance to preach The Gospel in prison to other people?
David Yein: We have a church in the prison and we pray with the prisoners and the sentenced and the accused people.
George Thomas: Pastor, how can we pray for you, how can we pray for you and the other brother?
David Yein: We want you to pray that this test be for the glory of God in this place… and for us to be in peace with our people and the ones who are against us.