Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The Wall Street Journal reports that Yemeni and Western officials are concerned about Iran’s growing influence in Yemen.
This comes of no surprise to my CBN News colleague Eric Stakelbeck, who has been reporting for at least four years about al Qaeda and Iranian involvement there.
In early 2009, Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policytold Stakelbeck, “The one area that has not received significant attention, ironically, is that Iran does have some type of relationship with members of al Qaeda."
Testifying before Congress this week, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce revealed details of a foiled al Qaeda bomb plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange. Seems the plot originated in Yemen.
Joyce did not say if Iran had ties to the al Qaeda terrorist who planned the attack, but U.S. intelligence officials are believed to be gravely concerned about Iranian support of Shiite rebels and terrorists there.
That’s because not only do they use Yemen to train and plot attacks against the United States, but the Bab al Mandab strait—the narrow waterway separating Yemen from the Horn of Africa—is a crucial choke point for ships entering the Red Sea (and the Suez Canal) from the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Iran and its Yemeni allies could possibly close off that strategic shipping lane in response to an Israeli or American air strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Earlier this year, the Yemeni government confiscated illegal Iranian arms shipments being sent to Shiite rebels in southern Yemen. The shipment included 199 explosive packages used for IEDs, Katyusha rockets, and surface to air missiles (SAMs).
The narration is in Arabic, but you can view video of the confiscated weapons here:
Also, in October 2009, a leading Yemeni cleric warned about Iranian involvement in the Yemeni civil war. View the Al Jazeera story here:
So, as President Obama steps up military support for Sunni rebels fighting against the Iranian-backed Assad regime in Syria, it also may be time for America to act more aggressively to counteract Iran’s foothold in Yemen.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Chen Guangcheng (Photo courtesy China Aid)
China is demanding that the United States explain its internet monitoring and hacking activities, but perhaps the American people are due an explanation from China about it's efforts to threaten academic freedom at one of our country's most nororious universities.
Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng has been given the boot from New York University. He claims the Chinese government pressured the university into demanding that he leave his position.
Chen escaped China last year after enduring months of house arrest and abuse. A diplomatic tug of war ensued when he fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Eventually he was allowed to leave China and was granted a visa to the United States and a fellowship at NYU.
Why won't Chen be allowed back at NYU for the next semester?
Apparently NYU is getting ready to open a school in Shianghai this fall. Perhaps Chen's dismissal is an attempt by the university to gain favor with the Chinese government in advance of that school opening.
But NYU denies China pressured it to dismiss Chen. It says it had only agreed to retain him for one year. That year has now been completed.
Regardless, this isn't the first time NYU has been caught up in a China controversy. Last month, three NYU researchers (funded by the federal government) were charged with conspiring to accept bribes from a Chinese company interested in obtaining information about magnetic resonance imaging technology.
As for Chen, he says the Chinese government began unrelenting pressure on NYU last August when he had been "in the United States just three to four months." That's when "NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us."
Chen says, "The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine."
Here's Chen's complete statement:
Recently, there have been some reports that my family and I are leaving New York University, and friends both in China and elsewhere abroad are very concerned about this. So I want to especially thank my friends. At the same time, I want to explain a few things with regard to what’s happened:
1. It is true that New York University has asked us to leave before the end of June.
2. In fact, as early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University, so much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us.
3. The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine, and some scholars have no option but to hold themselves back. Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.
4. I’m very grateful to NYU for its help when my family was in a difficult period and for its good support of us when we first arrived in the United States. We thank Professor Cohen and other friends for trying their best to help us. This assistance has allowed us to have a smooth transition to the United States. For this, we have always wanted to thank the president of NYU in person. Regrettably, to date, we still have not had the chance to meet him. Although NYU has arranged many of our activities, to date, it has not arranged a meeting for us with the president. Therefore, I can only show my gratitude to him in this way.
5. China’s Communist rulers hope to use these means to disturb our normal life, and even want to make me so busy trying to earn a living that I don’t have time for human rights advocacy, but this is not going to happen. Whether it was the dangers I faced in China or the current momentary difficulties we face, I will never bow my head to evil or to lies. I will always do everything I can for my compatriots back in China who still are not free and who are now being oppressed.
Friday, June 14, 2013
We've received word this week from The Voice of The Martyrsthat Muslim extremists have attacked another pastor in Tanzania--this time in the northwestern town of Geita.
According to VOM contacts, Pastor Robert Ngai of the Evangelistic Assemblies of God of Tanzania was assaulted at his home June 3 by several assailants armed with machetes. Pastor Ngai was critically injured when he attempted to shield his head from repeated blows of the machetes. Injuries to his hands and arms were so severe, he was rushed to the hospital in nearby Mwanza for treament in the ICU.
An attempt on the life of another pastor in the same town occurred just three nights earlier.
Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania Pastor Daudi Nzumbi phoned the police when he noticed a mob of angry Muslims breaking into his home. According to VOM, Pastor Nzumbi says the officer on duty told him the police "cannot potect every pastor" in town.
Police were not immediately dispatched to the pastors home, but Nzumbi was uninjured because the assailants ran away after they became frightened by the pastor's guard dogs.
Muslim extremist attacks on Tanzanian pastors and their churches are now becoming commonplace.
President Obama needs to raise the issue with President Jakaya Kikwete when the two leaders meet in Dar Es Salam at the end of this month.
And Christians need to keep praying for the Tanzanian church!
View one of my reports on Tanzania persecution (broadcast earlier this year) at Tanzanian Pastors.
Friday, June 07, 2013
Pastor Benham Irani & Family
While the recent speech of Naghmeh Abedini before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva raised greater awareness about her imprisoned pastor husband Saeed, little attention has been given to the plight of another pastor, Benham Irani who has suffered in an Iranian prison longer than Pastor Saeed.
Benham's wife has not testified before the UNHRC, and the White House and State Department have made no major public denunciation of the Iranian regime because of his arrest and imprisonment.
But Pastor Benham is once again in urgent need of prayer and attention. We've received this update from our friends at Present Truth Ministries:
"He has advanced hemorroids and as a result he is bleeding each and every day. We have learned he has a skin disorder that causes him pain if he even spends five minutes outside in the sunlight. He also has a disc out in his back and is walking with a limp. Despite all this -- and being confined with murderers and violent drug dealers -- he is full of joy. He faces these terrible circumstances with joy because God is with him, comforting him at every turn."
Like the advocacy effort for Pastor Saeed, you may also sign a petition for Benham Irani. The goal is to obtain 100,000 signatures by June 22.
Here's the link to the online petition effort, Pastor Benham Petition
And please, when you pray for the Holy Spirit to bring comfort, encouragement and peace to Pastor Saeed and his family, don't forget to pray the same for Pastor Benham and his wife and children--and for other Iranian Christians who are suffering for their faith in Jesus!
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Amnesty International has just released it's annual report on worldwide human rights abuse and the conclusions are startling.
Migrants and refugees face the greatest danger, but people residing in the Gulf States are subjected to rampant abuse--especially women.
The civil war in Syria is also of major concern. Amnesty reports that, "The world stood by while Syrian military and security forces continued to carry out indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians, and to subject to enforced disappearance, arbitrarily detain, torture and extrajudicially execute those deemed to oppose the government, while armed groups continue to hold hostages and to carry out summary killings and torture on a smaller scale."
But in the Gulf States, where there is no war, people suffer ongoing abuse. Governments in that region of the world have clamped down on free speech rights and have jailed political activists and critics without trial.
Saudi Arabia is perhaps the worst offender. Amnesty International reports that Saudi women and female foreign workers are inadequately protected against violence.
Read Amnesty International's full 2013 report HERE.
And view their world summary video below.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
This morning we received disturbing news from The Voice of the Martys just minutes before The 700 Club broadcast my story about Christian persecution in Nigeria. We learned that Boko Haram terrorists ended the life of another prominent church leader.
Pastor Pama's assassination occurred in broad daylight, around 2PM yesterday, at his home in Maiduguri.
Pastor Pama was the Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria of Borno State.
In 2012, more Christians were murdered in Nigeria than in any other country. It's the most fatal place on earth for followers of Christ, or for those who befriend them.
So far this year, Muslim extremists have killed more than 150 Christians.
Sadly, we can now add another pastor to the list.
Watch my phone interview with Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation to learn more.
Friday, May 10, 2013
While I've read many books about Christian persecution over the years, none of those I've encountered provide a better historic and contemporary context of Christian suffering in Muslim countries than Crucified Again:Exposing Islam's New War on Christians.
The book's author, Raymond Ibrahim is an Egyptian American, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Ibrahim and I had the privilege of moderating religious freedom panels at the Coptic Solidarity conference in Washington, D.C. last year. Because we were busy "moderating," we were unable to meet and share our common interest and passion for the suffering church.
But this week, we conversed during lunch after Ibrahim appeared on The 700 Club. We discussed the troubling mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East and the motivation of their persecutors.
I interviewed Ibrahim for several of our news shows, including Christian World News. We didn't have time in those news programs to bring you the full interview, so I'm posting it here.
Watch the complete Raymond Ibrahim interview and then consider reading his book which Pat Robertson calls "incredibly important."
Monday, April 29, 2013
It's an alarming statistic that came across my desk here at The Global Lane--one I wish I didn't have to share with you.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, 28.8 million people were displaced in their own countries in 2012 because of armed conflict and human rights violations. That's 2.4 million more than in 2011 and the highest figure ever recorded by the IDMC.
The world is truly facing an IDP crisis.
That's an astounding figure because 29 million internally displaced are as many people as the combined populations of Israel, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Botswana and Cyprus! Each person needs food, shelter and clean water.
The hot spots for 2012? Syria and Congo. More than one million people were newly displaced in the eastern DRC last year, and the IDMC says the ongoing civil war in Syria is causing the greatest IDP crisis in the world today.
So, what are we to do about it? Yes, prayer is important, but faith without action is dead.
Our response begins with prayer. God will speak to each of us as we pray and He'll tell us what he expects us to do collectively and individually. Maybe he'll call some to serve in places like Mali. Others may be required to write letters to people in government. Some of us may be called to inform our churches and raise money to help. God may also ask us to give of our (His) treasure.
To find out how Operation Blessing International is helping IDP's, click here.
And to read the IDMC report on internally displaced people, click here.
Click, and then pray!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Iraqi Pastor Jamal's (Abdi Ali Hamzah) story is truly remarkable.
It has all the elements of a compelling novel of international intrigue: Muslim turns Christian, begins ministry, leads many to Christ in the midst of war, imprisoned on charges of spying for Iran, freed by the hand of God who uses a Canadian missionary from Tulsa and a U.S. Senator to convince Kurdish leaders to free him from prison because he may die from a brain tumor!
Yes, truth is stranger than fiction.
To learn more about this amazing story, watch my full interview with World Compassion President Terry Law:
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
We've received an update from Revival Chinese Ministries International announcing that missionary Dennis Balcombe is safe in China.
In a statement posted on the ministry's web site and released to the media today, Balcombe thanks "everyone for their prayers..." and says he spent a day in his hotel room "speaking with authorities."
Balcombe has served as a missionary to China since first arriving in Hong Kong in 1969. He admitted the house church meeting he attended in Nanyang April 20th--raided by religious police-- was illegal. "...We had broken the regulations on religion by conducting a Christian meeting of over 30 people not first registering with the RAB."
Balcombe says authorities raided the meeting because someone informed them that foreigners were attending a "religious cult" gathering.
Pastor Balcombe says the next day, he went to another hotel on his own and while he had been arrested nearly 20-years ago in Fangcheng Count, he says "given the greater degreee of religious freedoms in other parts of China, I was surprised this would happen to us."
Authorities returned Balcombe's passport and invited him to preach in the future in official government Three Self Churches, or even some house churches, but first he must inform them of his intentions when he comes to Henan Province.
Balcombe says the experience was not enjoyable, but he considers it an honor and blessing to be in the same place where so many missionaries and Chinese preachers worked and gave their lives fore the Gospel.
He says the experience reminded him of the Book of Acts, 5:41:
"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."
Read Balcombe's full account of his "detention" here.