FAITH LEADERS TELL U.N. THAT CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IS THE GREATEST CRISIS ON EARTH TODAY

The persecution of Christians has reached “historic proportions,” Rabbi Jonathan Cahn said when recently addressing the United Nations about what he called one of the “greatest crises in the modern age.” Cahn, the best-selling author of The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah said. “It is happening all around the world, yet very few are doing anything to stop it.” At the event, Christian and Jewish leaders, businessmen and high-ranking military officials spoke out against the worsening Christian persecution in the Middle East and around the globe. The historic event came amid growing concerns regarding widespread crucifixions, beheadings, kidnappings and the torture of Christians in the Middle East by the Islamic State, or ISIS. 

In the last couple of years, thousands have died at the hands of ISIS – more than 24,000 in the first eight months of 2014 alone, according to a U.N. report. The slaughter of Christians in the Middle East isn’t just a recent phenomenon. A century ago, Middle Eastern Christians represented about 20% of the population. Now they represent about 4%. In Iraq before the Gulf War, there were about 1.4 million Christians. Today, there are only about 200,000 left. Best-selling author Joel Rosenberg wrote “We are literally watching the genocide of Jesus’ followers in the Middle East. We are living in a time of unprecedented persecution of Christians around the world. 

Kevin Jessip, president of the Global Strategic Alliance, a ministry that stands against the campaign to delegitimize the nation of Israel, said ISIS is seeking to abolish Israel and is a growing menace to Jews and Christians throughout the world. “The Islamic ideologies of ISIS is a danger that mirrors the Holocaust aggression of world domination seen in World War II,” Jessip said. “ISIS has declared Christianity as its No. 1 enemy. I think Christian persecution is happening just as Jesus said it would. I would say the persecution we are witnessing today is known in the Bible as the Antichrist spirit. What we are seeing with Islamic jihadism is really an attempt by Satan himself, to unleash an Antichrist spirit and create an Islamic caliphate worldwide. 

Recent studies reveal that Christians are the most persecuted religious group today, with the worst form of persecution occurring in Muslim lands at the hands of extremists. Christians in Syria and Iraq are facing more persecutions than ever with the political upheaval in the region and the emergence of ISIS. A majority of Christians in Syria and Iraq belong to the ancient Assyrian or Chaldean churches which trace their spiritual heritage to the prophet Jonah. Beyond the carnage wrought by the Islamic State, Christians are being persecuted throughout the world—often by their own governments in North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Cahn said “In North Korea, Christians are imprisoned, sent to labour camps, tortured and killed, for the crime of owning Bibles. In Nigeria entire Christian village populations have been massacred. In Orissa, Indian, 70,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes. In Syria, 80,000 Christians have been quoted ‘cleansed’ from their homes. In Indonesia, Muslims have put 10,000 Christians to death. And now, after almost 2,000 years, some of the most ancient communities of Christians, from the Copts of Egypt, to the Nestorians and Assyrian believers of Syria, to the Chaldean and Assyrian believers of Iraq are now in danger of extermination, genocide.  

As the evil of ISIS and its allies sweep across the Middle East, an ancient civilization is being annihilated, its people perishing, crucified, decapitated, and buried alive in their ancestral soil. The Vicar of Baghdad recounted this year how ISIS ordered four Christian children to renounce Jesus and follow Mohammed. ‘No,’ they said, ‘We love Yeshua … He has always been with us.’ These were the last words the children were ever to speak in this life as ISIS beheaded them.” Each year, 100 million Christians suffer persecution, imprisonment and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ. According to The Voice of the Martyrs, “more people have died for their faith in Christ in the last 100 years” than in the previous 19 centuries combined.

“This very body, the United Nations, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declares that everyone has the right to ‘manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance,’ Cahn said. “In the World Summit Outcome Document of September 2005, paragraph 139, the United Nations declared that the international community has the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. “So the question must be asked, ‘Where are all the resolutions?’ ‘Where are all the troops?’ ‘Where are all the actions taken to protect the most persecuted people on earth?’ ‘And where’s the universal outcry?’ 

It’s a strange and immoral silence, the same strange and immoral silence that allowed 6 million Jews to be delivered to their deaths. We must not repeat the mistake of the last century. Evil never stays put. The same darkness that destroyed 6 million Jewish lives would end up destroying over 60 million lives throughout the world. The media, until recently, has largely ignored the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere. Kevin Jessip, president of the Global Strategic Alliance said “The plight of Christians globally is a growing threat and the frightening situation facing Christian minorities in Muslim countries and elsewhere should cause grave concern for all peace loving free societies.”

Those speaking at the event called on the U.N. Security Council to sponsor a resolution regarding the protection of Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East. They also called on President Obama to appoint an envoy to begin taking action against persecution around the globe and for an International Day of Prayer in solidarity for the plight of Christians. “The Lord will not hold us blameless if we pretend this isn’t happening. We must act and we must act soon. We have been called by the Lord to serve at this critical time, not only in the history of our nation, but in the history of the world. 

Source: Charisma News

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A YEAR LATER, THE PARENTS ARE STILL CRYING

On April 14, 2014 militants of the radical Islamic group Boko Haram kidnapped about 275 teenage school girls from Chibok, a predominantly Christian village in north-eastern Nigeria. Some 232 of them are still missing, and for much of the year, little has been heard of their fate. Some parents of abducted girls are now in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. About 30 are in Yola, in north-eastern Nigeria, but most remain in Chibok, in Borno state neighbouring Adamawa. Some have been killed, or have had their homes burned, by militants. Boko Haram, meanwhile, is finally being challenged by multi-national military forces. And Nigerians, partly because of the kidnappings and the government’s failure to deal with the insurgency, have chosen a new president.

As government and coalition forces push Boko Haram back, gruesome reports of bodies – many of them female – dumped into wells, have emerged. The question is whether the dead include any of the girls abducted from Chibok. “We don’t know whether we will see them again, but we hope the new President will bring back some of them alive” said one parent. Most of the missing girls were Christians, members of the Church of the Brethren. Joyce, 17, is one who got away. She recalled the night the men came. “We were still awake in the school dormitory when several vehicles, arrived. We thought they were military. “They ordered us to gather in one place, before setting fire to our buildings. Even our own personal belongings were not spared.” 

The men loaded Joyce and her classmates onto the vehicles, threatening to shoot anyone who opposed them. She said “the insurgents drove off into the forest, where they had set up camps. They gave us drinks and we were asked to prepare food to eat,” Joyce said. “At about 2 p.m. the next day, as I pretended to go to the toilet, I managed to escape, along with two other classmates.” The girls ran for hours before reaching a camp of an ethnic group of largely nomadic herders, at about 8 p.m.. The three girls spent the night at the camp, and then reached their homes the following day, exhausted. The disappearance of the Chibok girls eventually generated headlines around the world and fuelled a social-media storm.

Joining the campaign were public figures such as American First Lady Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived a 2012 assassination attempt by the Taliban. Political leaders, such as Gordon Brown, the former UK Prime Minister, also raised their voices. Last year, during a visit to Nigeria, Brown launched a “safe schools initiative” aimed at providing security for around 500 schools in northern Nigeria. Ahead of the first anniversary of the kidnapping, Brown said, the “fight to bring back our girls must continue”. “I want them to know we have not and will not give up on finding them,” he wrote. 

Nigeria’s Army Chief, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah, said that despite recent territorial gains against Boko Haram, there’s no sign of the girls. “In all the liberated areas we have also made enquiries, but when the Boko Haram fighters flee they take their dependents with them.” In a video that surfaced shortly after the mass abduction, a man identified as Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed that the missing school girls had been converted to Islam and forced to marry Muslim men. “I am the one who captured those girls and will sell all of them,” the man in the video said. “I sell human beings because it is Allah who says I should sell human beings. Yes, I will sell women.” 

For weeks, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said nothing about the abduction. On May 17 he announced he would visit Chibok, then cancelled the trip. Eventually he heard some of the parents’ anguish first-hand. There was no mention of the girls in his official speech on the nation’s Independence Day in October 2014. As a result some 500 people marched in the streets, accusing Jonathan of ‘‘insensitivity’’ and of failing his oath of office. Criticism also came from Nigerian Catholic Bishops. “In the face of Boko Haram and other criminal militias arming themselves and brazenly killing innocent, defenceless citizens, our government must do more to safeguard our lives and defend our nation,” read a statement issued by them. 

On several occasions, rumours of an imminent release of the missing girls surfaced, but came to nothing. In October, the Nigerian government announced a cease-fire with the radical group and the release of kidnapped girls. The reported truce was reached after a month of negotiations, mediated by Chad president Idriss Deby and officials from Cameroon, two countries that border Nigeria’s northeast.  The claim was cautiously welcomed by Nigeria’s Christian, and Chibok community leaders, but it turned out to be false. Since the girls were abducted, at least 11 of the parents have died. New President, Muhammadu Buhari, pledged in his acceptance speech to end Boko Haram’s insurgency, with no specific reference to the Chibok girls. 

Rebecca Dali said parents continue to wonder why the government neglects them, and why it is not pursuing efforts to bring back their daughters. “We don’t know about their fate,” she said. “If Boko Haram married them off, as they claimed, and took them as their wives, some of them may be killed by now. In recent weeks, as the Army advances against them, witnesses report that militants have slaughtered lots of their wives. They said they don’t want infidels to marry their wives. “We fear that some Chibok girls may be included. We don’t know whether we will get them all back, but we hope that the new President will do his best to bring back some of them alive.”

Source: World Watch Monitor

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ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS KILLED BY DAESH

A new video purports to show the killing of 30 Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (Islamic State) in Libya. Their murders mimic the deaths of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya on 15 February. The video refers to the victims as “worshippers of the cross”. The video includes scenes depicting the destruction of churches in Syria and Iraq and condemns the doctrine of the Trinity as a form of apostasy. Prior to the executions an English-speaking narrator warns that “nations of the cross” must either embrace Islam, pay the jizya tax or face death. The Ethiopian government, which is still attempting to verify whether the victims were Ethiopian citizens, has nevertheless condemned “the atrocious act” and says that it will assist any of its citizens who wish to leave Libya. 

In a statement, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said: “The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness.” The statement went on “These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith. As people of faith who respect humanity and life, we must continue to speak out against such appalling and senseless violence. 

The statement continued “As Christians, we remain committed to our initial instinct following the murder of our 21 Coptic brothers in Libya, that it is our duty to ourselves, the world, and even those who see themselves as our enemies, to forgive and pray for the perpetrators of this and similar crimes. We pray for these men and women, self-confessed religious people, that they would recognise the sanctity of human life and the damage these acts of brutality cause to so many, including to their own humanity.” We also mourn with the communities in Ethiopia who have lost loved ones and we pray for their families and loved ones.”  

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

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SYRIA: SITUATION CRITICAL

In September 2014 the US government resumed sending weapons to the ‘moderate Syrian opposition. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are also planning a military alliance to aid the ‘moderate Syrian opposition’. They believe the US-Iran nuclear deal will empower Iran and regime-change in Damascus must happen now before the window of opportunity closes. Over Easter al-Qaeda forces shelled Christian districts of Aleppo, killing dozens and wounding many more. Meanwhile, Islamic State (IS) has launched offensives in both Aleppo Province and Damascus. A coalition of al-Qaeda and IS fighters now controls Yarmouk, a southern suburb of Damascus. The war is escalating markedly at a time when escaping from Syria is virtually impossible. 

Please pray for Syria’s remnant Christians that:

* the Holy Spirit will move powerfully amongst the precious, faithful people of Syria to provide comfort, assurance, peace and grace amidst hardship, terror, uncertainty and betrayal. 

* the Lord will lead his threatened and imperilled people through these dark days; pray He will give all Christian leaders great spiritual discernment, wisdom, courage and conviction to lead His people according to His good will and purpose. 

* God will intervene in Mesopotamia, so that Western powers will stop backing regional powers and fuelling the conflict; may they instead start supporting the region’s vulnerable minorities and establishing safe havens for the prevention of genocide.

Source: Religious Liberty Monitoring

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HILLARY CLINTON’S BIG SHIFT ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Last year, Hillary Clinton’s position on same-sex marriage was “leave it up to the states.” She said, “I fully endorse the efforts by activists who work state-by-state and in fact that is what is working.” The comments didn’t sit well with gay rights activists who strongly oppose the idea of letting states decide on same-sex marriage as many have banned the idea. A year later, Clinton is officially running for president, and appears to have shifted her view toward embracing marriage equality. “Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality and hopes the Supreme Court will soon guarantee that constitutional right,” Adrienne Elrod, a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, said in a statement. 

It is a notable shift for Clinton and it comes as the Supreme Court is being asked to rule this year that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry regardless of what voters in their state want. One of Clinton’s potential Democratic opponents, Martin O’Malley, is touting his efforts as governor to make Maryland one of the first states to legalize gay marriage. Clinton is trouncing O’Malley in primary polls. Several Republican presidential candidates, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have said they support letting states decide whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage.

Source: Intercessors for America

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