Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Although Iranian house church Pastor Benham Irani has returned to prison, he remains a free man--free in Christ.
Benham is free to share his Christian faith with prison guards and inmates in prison, but not without a cost. He may be beaten, deprived of food or sleep. His prison sentence may be extended as a result.
But Benham Irani is no stranger to suffering. He knows the cost of following Christ and for sharing Him with Muslims in the Islamic Republic.
Last month--perhaps because of the Iran nuclear negotiations--Benham was allowed to leave prison to spend time with his family. Now, after one month on the outside, the government has returned Benham to prison.
Saying goodbye to his wife and two children must not have been easy for the pastor.
According to Present Truth Ministries, Benham Irani is confined to a 40x40 prison cell with 39 other prisoners. Most have been convicted of drug smuggling or for committing violent crimes against society.
Pastor Benham's crime? He was leading Muslims to Christ. Government officials consider that to be against Iranian national security.
Present Truth also says Benham suffers from poor health--pain in his knees and lower back and ongoing digestive track issues. His eyesight is poor.
Pray for Pastor Benham. He has 13 months left to serve of a 6 year sentence. Pray that God will heal him and that he will endure his remaining time as a prisoner of the Islamic Republic. Pray that he will be bolder and stronger in faith. Pray for his family.
And pray for his early release. I'm sure Pastor Benham would not want you to pray that he will be free. Reunited with his family, yes.
Although he is incarcerated once again, he remains a free man in Christ. No one can take that away from him!
Monday, August 17, 2015
Steve Maman is a modern day Oskar Schindler. Only instead of liberating Jews from Nazi Death Camps, he's rescuing Iraqi Yazidis and Christians from ISIS sex slavery:
Maman is a Moroccan Jew who resides in Canada. Eight months ago he founded the organization, Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI). Since then, he has freed at least 128 females from the clutches of the Islamic State.
One of them was only 9 years old. She had been raped so brutally, reconstructive surgery was required on her internal organs.
Why is ISIS doing this? Watch as he explains their motivation:
Maman says the going rate for purchasing a Yazidi or Christian sex slave ranges from $50-$500 depending on the age and beauty of the girl. He wants to liberate as many as he can.
Here he talks about Oskar Schindler and how the German industrialist's example motivated him to act:
Schindler liberated at least 1,200 Jews from the Nazis during World War II. His story became the subject of Steven Speilberg's award winning movie "Schindler's List."
Many people looked the other way and ignored the Holocaust against the Jews saying they didn't know it was happening. Maman suggests there's no excuse to ignore the raping and enslavement of Iraqi and Syrian girls by ISIS today in this modern age of television and Internet:
Let's remember to pray for these sex slaves. And these girls--and this modern day Schindler, desperately need our help.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Last summer, Christians around the world embraced--and displayed--the Arabic letter nun (N) as a sign of solidarity with Iraqi Christians persecuted by ISIS. The movement became known as #WEAreN. Nun was the letter the Islamic State jihadist painted on Christian homes and businesses to identify them as "Nazerites," or Christian infidels.
Now, a growing number of Christians around the globe are displaying red crosses in solidarity with the Chinese church.
Take a look at what some young Americans did at the recent Rock the Desert music festival in Midland-Odessa, Texas:
Their red crosses are a show of unity against China's forced removal of church crosses. According to China Aid, crosses displayed at more than 1500 churches--most of them in China's Zhejiang province have been forcibly removed in recent months by government officials.
Because Catholic and Protestant registered churches --not just unregistered, underground churches are being targeted, a growing number of Chinese Christians are resisting this latest wave of persecution.
Take a look at this video taken just several days ago in Wenzhou:
Yes, from Zhejiang to West Texas, China's Red Cross movement is now the new "N".
*Photos and video courtesy China Aid
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.