Is Ms. Turner the Victim of An Anti-Christian Government Teacher?
Friday, August 22, 2014, 9:12 AM

Dyer County High School is a government-run school located in Newbern, Tennessee, a small town of 3,300 souls in northwestern Tennessee.  Prior to a recent event, Newbern was best known as the site of a terrible tragedy that took the lives of sixteen people, who were killed by a tornado on April 2, 2006.  In recent days, Kendra Turner, a high school senior at the high school, was suspended for breaking an important class rule.  What was the serious infraction that merited her suspension?  After a classmate sneezed, Ms. Turned said, “Bless you!”  Please note that she did not say, “God bless you!” which might have earned the umbrage of strict separationists of church and state in the educational establishment.  However, because she said “bless you,” Ms. Turner implicitly invoked the benediction of a Supreme Deity on her classmate, so that was close enough to actually saying “God” in a government-run school.  Accordingly, such speech cannot be tolerated, even in small-town Tennessee.  As a result, the unnamed teacher told Ms. Turner that such language should be confined to church.  According to media reports, Ms. Turner said that the teacher then announced, “We’re not going to have godly speaking in her class!”  (Would anti-godly speaking be permitted in class then?)  When Ms. Turner affirmed her constitutional right to free speech, she was sent to a high school administrator.  School administrators later told Ms. Turner’s parents that the “bless you” was a classroom distraction.  However, the school administrator made no statement regarding whether the instigating sneezing student was a classroom distraction.

Media reports indicate that the high school teacher has demeaned other Christian students since the beginning of this academic year several weeks ago.  In fact, Rev. Becky Winegardner, Ms. Turner’s youth pastor, spoke with a number of other high school students who complained to her about the same teacher and her prior remarks.  Rev. Winegardner reminded the students of their constitutional rights.  In response to Ms. Turner’s suspension, a number of other students wore shirts to school emblazoned with hand-stitched “bless you.”  (Kudos to them!)  Attempts by this writer to obtain a statement from school administrators or Ms. Turner’s teacher regarding Ms. Turner’s suspension were unsuccessful.

Just as the alleged conduct by Ms. Turner’s teacher, anti-Christian opponents regularly attempt to privatize religious expression confining such statements solely to church.  Some extremists would not permit any religious sentiment or expression in the broader society, such in privately-owned places of business or even in political discourse.  I urge that the local school board and superintendent of the Dyer County School District undertake an independent investigation to determine whether Ms. Turner’s teacher violated her constitutional rights.  If they were, then disciplinary measures should be taken against Ms. Turner’s teacher.  If you wish to telephone the high school to express your views, you can reach them at 731.627.2229.  However, the high school was not answering the telephone yesterday.  But it seems to me that if the teacher’s conduct against Ms. Turner can occur in small-town Tennessee, it can happen anywhere in the United States.



Threats Made Against Pastor Steven Khoury
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 11:09 AM

On these pages, I recently told the story about my friend, Rev. Steven Khoury, who pastors several evangelical churches in Israel.  Pastor Khoury is an Arab Christian, and he recently traveled to the Israeli-Gaza border to pray for peace.  In addition to visiting Messianic Jews and Arab Christians in southern Israel, he also visited Jewish families.  Each of these families bear the brunt of the rocket and tunnel attacks from operatives of Hamas.  Many of the families in this area are poor, and Pastor Khoury brought tangible aid for those families.  However, showing the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to Jewish families has incited supporters of anti-Christ Hamas to threaten Pastor Khoury.  As a sample of a few of the comments left on his Arabic-language Facebook page, we read the following:

“You are a failure and a disgrace to the Arab Palestinian world.”
“We know your efforts to evangelize the Moslems in our land Palestine.  You will pay the price.”
“This pastor Steven, we know his location, and we should all rise up against him and protest outside his church.  He needs to be taught a lesson.”
“Why are you telling the Jews about your Jesus and helping them?  You are a traitor for comparing us [Arabs] to the enemy, the Jews.”

However, despite the threats, he is unafraid.  His father, also an evangelical pastor, was shot by Islamists, and his uncle, a devout Christian believer, was martyred for his faith.

It is a truism that Pastor Khoury, in showing love and kindness to the Jews, the enemy of Hamas, is a grave threat to Hamas and other radical Islamists.  It is the default position of Hamas that all Arabs, including Christians, must hate Israel and desire its complete destruction, and Moslems must work to kill all Jews, wherever located.  As many of my readers have heard, the Charter of Hamas, which is part of the Moslem Brotherhood, has declared that “Israel will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”  Further, Article Fifteen of the Hamas Charter declares, “The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem.  In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of jihad be raised.”  You can read the entire Hamas Charter here.

Please pray for Pastor Khoury and his family, and for the peace of Jerusalem as we are instructed in Psalm 122:6.  Pastor Khoury, in seeking to be a Good Samaritan to people in his nation, has become a target of threats by radical Islamists of Hamas.  If you want to learn more about the ministry of Pastor Khoury, you can learn much more at www.holylandmissions.org. I also encourage you to watch the introductory 15-minute video.



Paying Forward Mikey Weinstein’s Support
Friday, August 15, 2014, 4:32 PM

I was pleasantly surprised at the support by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”), and in its founder and president, Michael ”Mikey the Whiner” L. Weinstein, Esq., to my recent blog post regarding the removal of Bibles from the rooms at Navy Lodges and base hotels.  For those readers who may have missed my blog from earlier this week, you may read it here.  In response, there were some interesting comments, both supportive of Bible removal and in opposition.  Further, there were numerous Facebook likes which disseminated the blog widely, for which I am always grateful to my readers.  You can find the MRFF link to Mere Comments here.  Of course, it was wholly appropriate that MRFF would link to my blog at Mere Comments as I did their homework for the almost 62 MRFF members and supporters.  The supporters were encouraged to contact Rear Admiral Robert J. Bianchi, the head of NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command), to express “sincere thanks that he continues to stand by the U.S. Constitution.”  Admiral Bianchi ordered housekeeping staff to impound all Bibles from the 34 Navy Lodges and the 24,000 rooms at the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites.  Admiral Bianchi’s directive came after MRFF filed a formal complaint over the placement of Bibles in the Navy hotel rooms.  Of course, given that Mr. Weinstein is apparently an “advisor” to the Pentagon on religious matters for military personnel (no, I am not making this up!), I presume that Admiral Bianchi just did what he was told by senior Pentagon officials who had free time to work on this important matter since nothing of significance is going on in the world today requiring their attention.  But after all, who can blame Admiral Bianchi for not wanting to screw up a high six-figure Navy pension?  (Did you know that an admiral’s pension after 40 years of service is 100 percent of their base pay, so approximately $10,000 to $16,000 monthly?  Plus lots of other free stuff.  I also bet they can jump the queue at the Veterans Administration hospitals.)

So to pay kindness forward and as a reciprocal courtesy to the MRFF, I would encourage each of my readers to go to the MRFF website and sign up for their newsletter.  You can find the link to subscribe here: http://www.mrff.org/.  Finally, in an utterly shameless, but related, commercial plug, tomorrow night, Saturday, August 16, 2014, former governor Mike Huckabee, a tireless advocate for the constitutional rights of all Christian believers, will examine the Navy’s plans to remove Bibles from the base hotels on his Fox News program.  Please check your local listings.  I just might stay in this Saturday night to watch Governor Huckabee’s program.  And if you wish to contact Admiral Bianchi or his deputy, Michael Bockelman, you can reach them at 1.757.631.3600 or 1.757.502.7496, respectively.



Mikey Weinstein Strikes Again
Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 9:55 AM

Screen Shot 2014 08 13 at 9.54.43 AM 300x211 Mikey Weinstein Strikes AgainA number of years ago, I had the privilege to stay overnight in room 19 at the Central House Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin.  In 1898, John H. Nicholson and Samuel E. Hill shared this room in the crowded hotel.  They realized that both were Christian believers and had their evening devotions together.  That night, the two men decided to form an organization dedicated to Christian evangelism.  And on that meeting, Gideons International, a Christian organization devoted to evangelism through the distribution of Bibles, began.  From that humble beginning, Gideons presently operates in 194 countries and disseminates Bibles in at least 93 languages.  Perhaps best known is the fact that the Gideons place Bibles in hotel and motel rooms, but they also distribute Bibles to hospitals, colleges and universities, and jails and prisons.  Among the hotels where the Gideons’ Bibles were placed were hotels operated by our nation’s military.

On these pages over the past several years, I have written numerous times about the mischief caused by Michael “Mikey the Whiner” Weinstein, Esq., the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”), a decidedly anti-Christian group.  While completely ignored by the Pentagon during the presidency of George W. Bush, he has been given an open door by Mr. Obama’s civilian leaders at the Pentagon and sycophantic generals and admirals.  You may recall that several years ago, Mikey Weinstein stated that U.S. troops who proselytize for their Christian faith are guilty of sedition and treason, and should be punished, by the hundreds if necessary, to stave off what he called a “tidal wave of [Christian] fundamentalists.”  Of course, there is a small, pesky issue raised by the First Amendment to the Constitution, but I digress.

Now by September 1, 2014, housekeepers at Navy Lodges and base hotels are being instructed to remove Gideon-placed Bibles from the rooms.  This comes from a directive from Rear Admiral Robert J. Bianchi, the head of NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command).  Admiral Bianchi ordered housekeeping staff to impound all Bibles from the 34 Navy Lodges and the 24,000 rooms at the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites.  Admiral Bianchi’s directive came after MRFF filed a formal complaint over the placement of Bibles in the Navy hotel rooms.  This decision is particularly jarring as President Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, wrote the introduction to the Armed Forces’ Gideon Bible that was given to every soldier, sailor, and Marine during World War II.

Of course, our Lord Jesus had a hard time getting a room at the inn, and now, His Holy Word will no longer be welcome either.  It seems to me that if the MRFF doesn’t want to see a Bible in the Navy hotel room, they can simply leave it in the drawer.  In 2012, the U.S. Air Force tried to remove Bibles from its hotels and lodgings, but reversed its decision after great public outcry.  If you wish to contact Admiral Bianchi, or his deputy, Michael Bockelman, to ask him to reinstate the Bibles in Navy hotel rooms, please call 1.757.631.3600 or 1.757.502.7496.  I have already left my message for Admiral Bianchi, and I am sure that he will enjoy hearing from “regular folks,” as our president refers to us.  Navy veterans are particularly encouraged to call.  Oh, I think that your congressman and senators might have an interest in this topic as well.  The Navy hotels are apparently simply throwing out the Bibles.  It should not be so.



Ebola Crisis Brings West Africans to Church
Monday, August 11, 2014, 9:54 AM

Many of us remember the aftermath of the Islamist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.  In the weeks following the attacks, churches throughout the United States were packed, at least for a time.  During our national time of desperation and sadness, and the loss of thousands of murdered Americans by al-Qaeda, many Americans sought solace from God against the forces of evil.  In a similar way, many West Africans filled churches this past Sunday seeking God’s mercy and salvation.  They gathered together in worship and prayer despite official warnings to avoid public gatherings.

Since I asked for prayer last week for the victims and families of those afflicted by the Ebola virus, hundreds more have died.  Both Sierra Leone and Liberia have declared states of emergency to face the highly contagious and incurable Ebola disease that kills up to 90 percent of those infected.  Pastor Martee Jones Seator of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Monrovia, Liberia, said, “Everyone is so afraid.  Ebola is not going to shake our faith in any way because we’ve been through difficult times.”  The Reverend Marcus MacKay said, “We are in trouble here.  We are in trouble.  But you know what?  There is no way this devil is going to do its work!”  Bishop Abu Aiah Koroma of the evangelical Flaming Bible Church of Freetown, Sierra Leone, called Ebola “a devil.”  Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria and many other clergy around the world have offered prayers for a “quick divine intervention” against the Ebola.

Sadly, as in any crisis, charlatans, false prophets and teachers, and other unscrupulous persons prey on vulnerable victims and their families.  Elements of the Nigerian government have warned the public to be wary of some clergy who claim to have a cure for Ebola.  Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Senior Pastor of Trinity House Church in Nigeria, sparked outrage for posting recently on his Facebook page his solution to Ebola, which involved the laying on of hands for those infected.  The senior pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations of Nigeria, T. B. Joshua, said that he would donate 2,000 bottles of his “Anointing Water” to the affected countries of West Africa.  There is no information that the special water has been sent to West Africa.

Please continue to pray for the thousands of living victims of Ebola.  Please also pray that an outbreak of Ebola does not come to the United States.  Media reports indicate that in the event of a widespread Ebola outbreak, our nation’s doctors, hospitals, and medical system is not prepared.  But when it does come here, as was the case after 9/11, I suspect that our churches will again be packed to overflowing.  At least until the crisis subsides.  May God save us all.



Pastor Saeed Abedini Urges Christians to Stay Strong for His Glory
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 9:24 AM

On these pages over the past several years, I have written about the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini.  Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, has been imprisoned under the Islamic mullahs of Iran since September 2012.  He is presently serving an eight year sentence for his Christian activities in one of the most brutal hell-hole prisons in Iran.  Although his case has garnered international attention and many have advocated on his behalf, he remains in prison for his Christian faith.  Pastor Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, has said, “Nothing has given Saeed and our family more strength than knowing that we are not forgotten, and that many are praying for us and taking the time to write letters and encourage us.”  We are admonished in Hebrews 13:3 to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”  But in addition to Pastor Abedini, there are numerous other Christians who are imprisoned in Iran for their Christian faith.

Over the past several months, the United States and a number of European nations have released billions of dollars of frozen Iranian funds to the mullahs based upon their assurances that Iran would “halt” some aspects of its nuclear program and continue to “negotiate” their nuclear program in exchange for easing of international sanctions.  Although I am skeptical that the Iranian mullahs will ever want to give up their nuclear program, no efforts was made to release Pastor Abedini as a precondition to release of the frozen funds.  Mr. Obama has only made one public statement regarding Pastor Abedini at a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., last February.  In his remarks, Mr. Obama said the following:

We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini.  He’s been held in Iran for more than 18 months – sentenced to eight years in prison on charges relating to his Christian beliefs.  And as we continue to work for his freedom today, again, we call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Abedini so he can return to the loving arms of his wife and children in Idaho.

However, the Iranian mullahs ignored Mr. Obama’s appeal.  But they sure took the billions of cash.  Pastor Abedini’s young children have pleaded with Mr. Obama to help bring their dad home.  You can watch the poignant video of heartbroken children here.  Pastor Abedini also wrote a deeply powerful and beautiful letter to his wife, which you can hear in this video.

Please pray for this beautiful and great saint of God and for his family.  Please also pray for the many other Christians imprisoned in Iran.  And during this congressional recess, when your elected representatives are holding town halls in your community, please ask them what they are doing to bring back Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, held by the butchers of Teheran.



Let Us Pray for the Victims of Ebola Outbreak
Monday, August 4, 2014, 9:37 AM

It is now 38 years since the first recorded outbreak of Ebola virus in 1976.  Today, we are experiencing the worst Ebola virus epidemic in world history.  According to the World Health Organization, more than 826 people have died in the African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in the forests of eastern Guinea in February.  Among those who have died was an American of Liberian descent from Minnesota.  In addition, more than 60 physicians, nurses, and other health workers assisting Ebola victims have died.  My friends from Liberia have written to me asking for prayer for their fellow citizens as they live in great fear.  Containing the virus is made more complicated because the disease has spread across different countries.  On Saturday, Dr. Kent Brantly, a 33-year-old missionary doctor with Samaritan’s Purse and the first Ebola victim brought to the United States, arrived in Atlanta to be treated at Emory University Hospital.  His Samaritan’s Purse colleague, Nancy Writebol, is scheduled to arrive from Africa on Tuesday.  Dr. Brantly’s wife, Amber, said in a statement, “It was a relief to welcome Kent home today.  I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S.  I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital.”  Press reports indicate that Dr. Brantly was flown from Africa to Dobbins Air Reserve base outside Atlanta in a small jet equipped with a special, portable tent to contain highly infectious diseases.  Accompanied to Emory University Hospital by a small police escort, upon arrival at the hospital, Dr. Brantly climbed out of the ambulance dressed completely in white protective clothing.  Although some have questioned the federal government’s wisdom and motivation in bringing Ebola victims to the United States, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, said that Dr. Brantly’s condition is “improving.”  Nevertheless, Dr. Frieden also stated that it was too soon to tell whether Dr. Brantly would survive.

There is presently no known cure for Ebola, and in Africa, the virus kills up to 90 percent of infected people.  Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever, headaches, and weakness that can escalate to vomiting, diarrhea, and then kidney and liver problems.  Often patients will bleed both internally and externally, including from their eyes.  Fighting Ebola is difficult in Africa as people who become ill are often stigmatized by others in their towns and villages, and so there is often reluctance to come forward until it is much too late.  Further, in parts of Africa, some believe that the disease is caused by witchcraft.  The president of Liberia has closed his nation’s schools and government offices.  People are no longer shaking hands, and chlorinated water is now used for people to wash their hands regularly in an effort to stem the epidemic.  This is now the practice in churches as well.

Please pray for the end of this terrible outbreak of Ebola.  Please also pray for the victims and their families of this terrible disease, including our brother and sister in Christ, Dr. Brantly and Ms. Writebol.  Let us also pray for the Christian and other charity workers who courageously serve those affected by this dreadful disease with the love of Jesus Christ.  The Lord Jesus warned us in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 that among the signs of His imminent return were pestilences in diverse places.  Please pray for God’s protection over our brothers and sisters in Christ in accordance with Psalm 91, which serves as a promise and blessing against pestilence for those who “dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”  Maranatha!



During Ramadan, God Pours Out His Holy Spirit
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:51 AM

Earlier this week Moslems around the world celebrated the feast of Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.  During Ramadan, Moslems set aside time to seek their god by abstaining from earthly pleasures.  Moslems pursue the cleansing of their souls through fasting from sunrise to sunset, and refrain from bad habits (I guess blowing up stuff and killing folks doesn’t count as bad habits for some).  At the beginning of Ramadan, I wrote on these pages asking for prayer for Moslems around the world that God would move in the lives of millions of Moslems to introduce His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior.  This Ramadan, the Moslem world is in great chaos.  Christians are being driven from their homes and are being martyred daily throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa.  Fighting between Islamists in Gaza and Israelis threatens to engulf that region in a larger and more dangerous war.

In addition to writing for Mere Comments, one of the great privileges in my life is to correspond with and disciple new Christian believers from around the world who were formerly Moslems.  As I wrote on these pages at the beginning of Ramadan, today there are areas of the Moslem world that never had one church before, but now there are dozens that started in the past several years.  Unbeknownst to most Christians, missiologists estimate that more Moslems have become Christ-followers in the recent past than in the previous 13 centuries.  During this year’s Ramadan, I have exchanged email correspondence with numerous new Christians from the Moslem world.  (Although I have changed the names to protect both their security and privacy, the cities and countries cited are correct.)  Among the new Christians, there was Farhad and Daniyal from Teheran, Iran; Aahil from Islamabad, Pakistan; Aaban from Al Sulaymaniah, Iraq; Rehan from Rabat, Morocco; Rayyan from Shiraz, Iran; Usman, Bilal, and Zaroon from Dhaka, Bangladesh; Zeeshan from Qusantinah, Algeria (incidentally, the most beautiful city you have never heard of); Hamza from Kabul, Afghanistan; Arisha from Kuwait City, Kuwait; Imran from Tunis, Tunisia; Ali from Sanaa, Yemen; Shahzaib from Doha, Qatar; Ashaz from Khartoum, Sudan; and Ibrahim and Waqas from Jakarta, Indonesia.  We can rejoice that God is pouring out His Holy Spirit throughout the Moslem world.  As St. Paul taught us in his epistle to the Romans, where evil doth abound, grace even more doth abound.

One of my observations in corresponding with these new Christian believers is how much their hearts and minds parallel what St. Paul wrote about the Jews of his generation in Romans 10:2, “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”  As we learn from 1 John 4:8, the God of the Holy Bible is love, an impossibility for Allah.  In fact, among Allah’s 99 attributes, love is not one of them.  The Koran never says that Allah loves all mankind, much less sinners.  But the God of the Bible is loving and merciful, and ready to forgive anyone who will come humbly and in repentance to God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And Moslems are drawn by the love and forgiveness offered by Isa Ibn Maryam, the al-Masih (the Messiah).

We rejoice with the angels in Heaven over each lost sinner who comes to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  I urge you to please remember in prayer our new brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ from Moslem backgrounds.  As one can expect, the formerly-Moslem Christian believers will be severely persecuted.  But despite great persecution, imprisonment, and martyrdom, with many others losing their homes and loved ones, my prayer for them is that these new Christians will boldly serve our Lord Jesus without fear.  They have truly counted the cost, and know the pearl of great price of their newfound faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  May God bless each of them richly.



Please Pray for Asia Bibi
Monday, July 28, 2014, 9:56 AM

101206ff68d51dc7393ddec436495735277ccf Please Pray for Asia BibiMany around the world rejoiced at the arrival in Rome last week of Mariam Ibrahim, accompanied by her husband and their two beautiful children.  Many of us were moved at seeing the family’s meeting with Pope Francis.  And while we rejoice that she and her family will be coming to the United States soon (her husband is an American citizen), we must remember that there are many who continue in chains for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  On these pages over the past several years, I have written about the plight of one such victim of anti-Christian persecution, Asia Bibi.  Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam.  She is a Roman Catholic rural farm worker and mother of five.  In June 2009, while working in the fields, she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers.  Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.”  Her co-workers then complained to the authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed.  What was the derogatory comment she purportedly made against Mohammed?  The Moslem women claimed Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind.  What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”  Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.  Islam teaches that one cannot know and experience assurance of eternal salvation.  Of course, her hearers had no ready answer to her simple question.  But six days after this incident, a violent mob came to her family’s home, damaged it, and assaulted and beat her and members of her family.  In response, Pakistani police arrested her, and she spent more than one year in jail awaiting trial.  Finally, in November 2010, The Honorable Judge Muhammed Naveed Iqbal sentenced her to death by hanging, and he fined her the equivalent of $1,100, a large sum in rural Pakistan.  Her verdict was later upheld by the Lahore High Court.  Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari refused to pardon her after large demonstrations were held against her.  My readers may remember that several Pakistani government officials who publicly called for Asia Bibi’s release and the abolition of the Pakistan’s blasphemy law have been assassinated, including the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was murdered by his bodyguard.  Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet, was assassinated for speaking out on her behalf as well.  Moreover, each time that a Christian villager is accused of blasphemy, Christian neighbors are forced to flee the area out of fear that they are next in line to be accused of the same “crime.”

Asia Bibi’s case is now up for further appeal by the High Court of Lahore, Pakistan.  In fact, for the fifth time over a number of years, the hearing for her appeal didn’t happen.  No reasons are ever given for the delay, and no new hearing dates are set.  The excuses given for the delays have been varied; there have been sick judges and sick lawyers who couldn’t make it at the appointed day and hour.  As you can well imagine, the government fears the people if she is released, and the government further fears that financial donors from the international community will cut off or curtail foreign aid if she is executed.  Pakistan, an erstwhile ally of the United States in what used to be the war against terrorism, has received tens of billions of our tax dollars in foreign and military aid over just the past decade, and continues to receive large sums.  Thus, with the moral courage of Pontius Pilate, the High Court judges find every excuse not to give Asia Bibi her day in court.  And justice delayed is justice denied.

Mariam Ibrahim’s recent visit with His Holiness in Rome reminds me of a Christmas letter sent to Pope Francis by Asia Bibi last November.  She thanked Pope Francis and all the churches praying for her and credited the prayers of God’s people for her survival after more than four years in prison.  She wrote the following in pertinent part:

I am very grateful to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom.  If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me.  I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything, that all is possible.  Only God will be able to free me.  Holy Father, I want for you to accept my best wishes for the New Year.  I know you pray for me with all your heart, and this gives me confidence that one day my freedom will be possible.

She expressed her desire to be in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to pray with Pope Francis for Christmas 2014.  Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family, and let us work together so that we can see her worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Rome later this year.



100 Days of Captivity for Nigerian Students
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 10:56 AM

MichelleObamaBringBackOurGirls 100 Days of Captivity for Nigerian StudentsJuly 24, 2014, is the 100th day of captivity for the remaining 219 teenage girls still held by Boko Haram terrorists.  On April 14, nearly 300 school girls were kidnapped from a school near Chibok in northeast Nigeria.  Approximately 57 students managed to flee shortly after they were captured when Boko Haram terrorists went to attack another village.  According to a mediator working with Boko Haram, two of the girls have died of “snake bites,” while another twenty are seriously ill.  Rallies to support the young women will take place today around the world.  There will also be a rally today at noon at the Nigerian embassy in Washington, D.C.  Among the invited speakers at the Washington, D.C., rally will be Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas.  Chibok and nearby villages are particular Boko Haram targets because they are enclaves of devout Christian believers in the predominantly Moslem northern Nigeria.  Further, the leader of Boko Haram released a video in which he mocked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign famously championed by Mrs. Obama and Secretary John F. Kerry’s Department of State.

Sadly, since April, international attention for the school girls has waned, and media reports indicate that the 219 students are being held captive in the Sambisa Forest, which is an area of thick jungle and open savannah, bordering on sand dunes at the edge of the Sahara Desert.  There have been reported sightings of the girls and their captors in neighboring Cameroon and Chad as well.  Adding further tragedy to the kidnappings, eleven parents have died since the mass kidnapping.  Seven of the girls’ fathers were among 51 killed earlier this month after another attack by Boko Haram in the village of Kautakari.  Further, at least four more parents have died of heart failure and other illnesses blamed on the trauma caused by the kidnapping.  The British Daily Mail reported that community leader, Pogu Bitrus, said one father of two of the kidnapped girls simply went into a coma-like condition, where he repeated the names of his daughters until he eventually died.  Every village in the area of Chibok has been attacked and ransacked, along with all the villages bordering Cameroon.  The Boko Haram attacks continue despite the fact the Nigerian military has placed the area under a state of emergency since May 2013.  Although the Nigerian military presence has increased dramatically in the area, soldiers often refuse to deploy to villages under attack even when there are advanced warnings, which is typically the case.  In addition, transportation in the area is hampered because the frequent Boko Haram attacks have left the roads impassable with burned-out automobiles and other debris.

On this 100th day of the captivity of the school girls, please remember to pray for their release, and to pray for their families who are suffering greatly.  Please also pray for their persecutors that they might turn from their wickedness, and come to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.


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