Wedding Bells for Little Huma: Forced Conversion and Marriage in Pakistan

This blog was submitted by ICC representative Sylvia Thompson.

Sajidah Masih had worked alongside Muhammad Imran for years.  The two farmhands were no strangers to the red-rimmed glare of the Pakistani sun and the back breaking pull of the plow.  Although Muhammad was a Muslim and Sajida was a Christian, the proud mother still felt comfortable asking her coworker to help prepare and organize her son’s wedding.

When the day of matrimony arrived, Sajida was a ball of nerves.  Her only prayer was for everything to go as planned–for her son to have the wedding he had always dreamed of. After vows were exchanged and rice was thrown, Sajida ordered her twelve-year-old daughter, Huma, to run outside and see if the wedding car had arrived.  Huma nodded her head and skipped out of the church. 

However, instead of finding a decorated wedding c ar, Huma saw Muhammad Imran staring at her from the back of a small motorbike.  Immediately, the young girl’s arms broke out into a frenzy of goose bumps–something didn’t feel right.  The Muslim man ordered Huma to get onto the back of his bike.  Huma refused until Muhammad Imran wielded his gun–silently letting the Christian girl know that she didn’t have a choice.  With shaking limbs and tear-filled eyes, Huma climbed onto the back of the motorbike and sped off.

When Sajida Masih found out what had happened, she immediately ran to the local police department–begging the apathetic officers to find her daughter.  The callous policemen smirked at Sajidah and threw her case into the bottom of the basket– they were in no rush to help the Christian woman.  Twelve-year-old Huma was eventually found, yet never returned.  Muhammad Imran had forced the Christian girl to convert to Islam and marry him.   Sajida Masih did everything she could to get her daughter back, but according to Islamic law Huma was now a married, Muslim woman.   Please pray for little Huma and her family.

Click here to read more.

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

The Ultimatum: Dasappa’s Story

This blog was submitted by ICC representative Sylvia Thompson.

Dasappa could not stop staring at the clock. His weary eyes refused to turn away from the timekeeper’s “ticking and tocking.” For the past three months they had come to his house. For the past three months they had pounded on Dasappa’s door–demanding that he give in to their blasphemous ultimatum. Dasappa cringed when the pendulum stopped swinging–alerting him to the fact that ten o’clock was fast approaching.

“Maybe they will not come,” he whispered to himself. “Maybe they have given up.”

Suddenly, the sound of angry boots barreling through Dasappa’s entryway permeated the Indian sky. “Open up,” screamed a gaggle of Hindu radicals as they pummeled Dasappa’s door. “Let us in!”

Dasappa gasped and shoved his fingers in his ears–desperately trying to block out their enraged wails. Yet, this time the Hindu radicals were not taking no for an answer. Using the butts of their rifles, the incensed mob broke through Dasappa’s door and charged into his living room–searching furiously for the man who would not give in to their concessions.

“There he is,” yelled a Hindu radical, pointing his gun at Dasappa’s shaking body. Then he pushed his rifle into Dasappa’s chest and growled, “Give us your land so we can build our temple.”

Dasappa looked down at the simple cross hanging around his neck then slowly raised his head. “Never,” he said softly. “This is my home.”

“We don’t want you here!” “There is no place for Christians in this village,” screamed the Hindu radical as he grabbed Dasappa by the collar and dragged him outside.

Tears fell from Dasappa’s eyes as the angry radicals doused his home with gasoline. An unexplainable feeling of helplessness filled his heart when a single match was lit–turning Dasappa’s home into a ball of flames.

“Next time, you’ll listen,” remarked one of the Hindu radicals as he kicked a pile of ashes into Dasappa’s face. “Next time, you’ll give in.”

Never,” whispered Dasappa as he stared down at the simple cross hanging around his neck.

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Faith or Food?

This blog was submitted by ICC representative Shane Bazinet.

 

As I was searching news stories to write about for ICC’s newsbites last month, I came across a story that really stood out to me.

A Christian mother in Egypt faced the choice of her children’s starvation or her conversion to Islam.

What I find so interesting about Christian persecution is that when someone or an area faces Christian persecution, you discover who the real Christians are. Real Christians are willing to be tortured and killed for their faith in Christ. Non-Christians who claim to be Christians care more about their own safety.

Another interesting issue with Christian persecution is that Christians cannot lose their faith. The persecutors don’t understand this when they give the Christian a choice between such-and-such and their Christianity. The Christian will never lose their faith! God has given them a new heart with new desires and they can’t change that!

The persecutor also doesn’t understand that they can strip the Christian of everything they have (their family, money, food, house, clothes, etc), but the Christian still has everything! They have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! They have a relationship with Jesus Christ! They’ve been forgiven of their sins! They’ve been granted eternal life! Hallelujah!

Paul Washer, in a powerful sermon, said Christians make the mistake of telling non-believers, “You have a beautiful wife, beautiful children, good health, a great job and a nice house. You just lack one thing: Jesus.”

Do you see the problem with that? If you don’t have Jesus, you have absolutely nothing!

Finally, the persecutor doesn’t understand that Christians have a special love toward other Christians. We care deeply about Christians like this poor Egyptian woman. Sadly, the persecutor does not experience this brotherly love.

Please pray for this Egyptian woman and send ICC a donation at www.persecution.org to help a brother or sister in Christ facing persecution. The Lord loves a cheerful giver.

Amen.

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Fingerprints: Volunteer Recalls Old Life in Egypt

This blog was submitted by ICC representative Sylvia Thompson.

Every story I read about Egypt brings up a mixture of extreme emotions.  My heart flies quickly from one end of the spectrum to the other as my eyes take in stories of Christian persecution–terrible tragedies emanating from the heart of Cairo.  Memories of living as a devout Muslim in Egypt seem to come alive as I study each article–places I had frequented being described before my eyes.  Sometimes I wonder if my footprints are still there–if my fingerprints are forever emblazoned upon some corner fencepost or discarded tea kettle. 

Today I read about two young Christians being arrested for distributing Bibles at Cairo’s International Book Fair.  Mina Adel Shawki and Essam Kedees Nassif risked life and limp to distribute God’s Word–the Holy Bible.  I wept when I read about how they placed themselves in the center of the Muslim-filled fairgrounds–arms laden down with the Word of God.   I cried, because it forced me to remember the time I spent at this exact book fair–my head covered in a long, black scarf and my heart covered in a thick, black veil.  If these two men had approached me during this time I probably would have given them an angry sneer coupled with a few choice words.  I would have relished in the sight of metal handcuffs being snapped on their wrists and celebrated in their arrest. 

Now all I want to do is fly to Egypt and save them.

Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Another Agenda: Thieves Rape Daughter in Front of Parents

This blog was submitted by ICC representative Sylvia Thompson.

 

Naomi slipped under the bed and waited.  She was too scared to move—too scared to breathe.  She gritted her teeth in fear as a cacophony of terrible sounds reverberated around her.  “Please don’t come in here,” she whispered, pulling her knees into her chest. 

 

And then she heard them—barreling through her door like deranged animals.  They knocked over her humble dresser and began to search its drawers.  Tears fell from Naomi’s eyes when she heard the familiar melodic tune of her jewelry box.

 

“Jackpot,” said one of the men as he grabbed Naomi’s gold necklace and shoved it into his pocket.  “Be quiet now,” yelled the robber, throwing the musical box onto the floor—quieting its innocent “tinkling” sound forever.

 

Naomi remained motionless until the men finally left—until the only sound she could hear was that of her mother weeping in the next room.  She ran through the dark house and fell sobbing into her mother’s arms.

 

“It’s okay,” whispered Naomi’s mother, cradling her daughter in her arms.

 

But it was not okay. Hours later the men returned, but this time their agenda had changed.  “We heard you were Christians,” snarled one of the men, grabbing Naomi by the arm while the other men bound the girl’s parents in the same room. 

 

“Please don’t hurt my daughter,” Naomi’s mother begged.

 

“We won’t hurt her,” laughed one of the men pushing the young girl to the floor.

 

The sounds of ear-curdling screams mixed with wailing sobs penetrated the Pakistani sky as Naomi’s body was gang-raped through the night.  When the young girl fell unconscious, they left—caring nothing for the lives they had just mercilessly ravaged. 

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Pastor’s Wife Gang-Raped in Bangladesh

A Quiet Night in Vennabari
This blog has been submitted by ICC representative Sylvia Thompson.

It was a quiet night in Vennabari, Bangladesh.  Reverend Shankar Hazra and his wife did not hear a sound as they stumbled through the darkness–trekking slowly along the dirt path that led to the church toilet.

“You may go first,” whispered Reverend Hazra’s wife, nudging him forward.

Reverend Hazra slowly reached for the outhouse handle, but his hand never made contact with the wooden shaft.

“Oh, no!” he cried as the barrel of a gun pressed against his chest.

The enraged man behind the trigger snarled at Reverend Hazra and said, “Keep quiet or we will kill both you and your wife.”

Reverend Hazra nodded in compliance as cords of rope were wrapped around his hands and feet–assuring the attackers that their prisoner would not escape. 

Reverend Hazra’s wife cried softly as they staggered through the darkness–trekking slowly along the dirt path that led back to the church.  Her cries morphed into sobs as they thrust her into the church–leaving her husband tied to a pillar on the porch.  The Reverend wailed with horror as they gang-raped his wife repeatedly through the night–her screams reverberating into the Bangladeshi sky. 

Hours later the attackers left–their arms filled with Reverend Hazra’s money, clothes, and valuables.   When he thought it was safe, the reverend freed himself from the tight cords and ran into the church.  He bumbled over looted trunks and ransacked chests until he found his wife–unconscious, beaten, and bleeding.  With tears running down his cheeks, Reverend Hazra gently lifted his wife off the floor and cradled her in his arms.  “I am so sorry,” he sobbed, nuzzling his face into her neck.

It was a quiet night in Vennabari, Bangladesh.  The only sound Reverend Hazra could hear was that of his wife’s breathing–her quiet respiration proclaiming the fact that she was alive.

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 12:55 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

Why Help the Persecuted?

This blog was submitted by ICC representative Shane Bazinet.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

This may seem like a silly question, but it does make sense to ask such a question: if Jesus said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted,” why help the persecuted if they’re already blessed?

In August, I was listening to Way of the Master Radio, and during the news segment the reporter broke the story about the persecution in Orissa. It sounded quite serious to me.

Of course, I prayed about the situation, but after I said, “Amen,” I decided to find more information about the situation. I googled it and clicked on a link that brought me to International Christian Concern (ICC)’s website.

After I read about Orissa, I then read about ICC, and after learning about what they stood for, I immediately became interested in helping my brothers and sisters in Christ facing persecution.

Why did I want to help out?

First of all, I must say I am overly blessed living in Canada. I can own as many Bibles I want, go to church every Sunday, share my faith in public, hold Bible studies – all without facing hardly any persecution at all. I would like to share at least a bit of this blessing with a Christian in another country.

Secondly, I can’t think of anything more important to have than a Bible. This is God’s Word we’re talking about. It contains the Gospel message, introduces us to the Savior, teaches us how to live a Christian life, and so on. ICC sees Bible-smuggling as a huge priority, and I support it all the way.

Finally, I just want my brothers and sisters in Christ to be in good enough conditions to simply read their Bibles and fellowship with other believers. How can they do this if they’re constantly being harassed? We can help through prayer, signing petitions, writing to governments, et cetera – all of which ICC makes known.

As the song says, they will know we are Christians by our love. The persecuted will certainly receive quite a reward in heaven, but in the meantime, they’re suffering and they need our love and support.

One of the reasons Paul wrote to the Philippians was to thank them for sending him a contribution when he was in the Roman prison (Philippians 4:10-18). There is so much joy expressed throughout this letter.

When I read about Christians who have lost their families and their homes as a result of persecution, but they jump for joy when they’re given a Bible, I ask myself why I complain about anything when I have the Word of God.

No wonder the persecuted are so blessed. May we keep them in our prayers and seek to support them.

Pakistani Sisters Lured into Horrific Trap

Two Trusting Sisters are Too Trusting

This blog has been submitted by ICC representative Sylvia Thompson.

 

Pastor Sharif Alam looked sadly at his two daughters and sighed.  “I don’t know,” he said shaking his head. 

 

Parvisha set the tea kettle down and gently clutched her father’s wrinkled hands.  “Our family is struggling, Papa,” she whispered. “Let us help you.”

 

Pastor Alam closed his weary eyes and thought for a moment. Although he hated the idea of sending his precious daughters to work, he couldn’t neglect the fact that his family was close to starving.  “I relent,” he said softly. “Just be careful,” said Pastor Alam nervously.  Then he turned to Parvisha and asked, “Can we trust Muhammad Irfan?  Is the job he speaks of a legitimate endeavor?”

 

“Muhammad has been our neighbor for years, Papa,” replied Parvisha.  “I am sure we can trust him.” 

 

Parvisha and Sanam waited restlessly on the front stoop–anxiously anticipating the arrival of Muhammad Irfan.  When a car finally pulled up, Sanam grabbed her sister’s arm and whispered, “Why is there another man in the car with Mr. Irfan?”

 

“Do not worry,” Parvisha whispered back.  “I am sure there is a reasonable explanation.”

 

“Hello,” said Muhammad Irfan as he opened the door for Sanam and Parvisha.

 

“Good morning,” Parvisha said gently as she stepped into the car.  Then she turned to Muhammad Irfan and said, “Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity. My sister and I will work very hard for you.”

 

“Yes, you will,” snarled Muhammad Irfan as he put the car into drive.

 

Parvisha looked over at her sister and gulped–something didn’t feel right.  When the car pulled up into the parking lot of a seedy hotel the elder sister knew that they were in trouble.  “Remain calm,” Parvisha whispered to Sanam as Muhammad Irfan shoved her and her sister through the doorway of a dingy hotel room. 

 

“I thought we were going to work in your beauty salon,” said Sanam as tears rolled down her face. 

 

“Be quiet,” growled Muhammad Irfan’s cohort as he pulled out a large, black, gun. 

 

With the barrel of a gun aimed at their foreheads, Parvisha and Sanam tried not to scream as the two Muslim men raped them repeatedly.  The next morning the two men thrust Parvisha and Sanam back into the car and drove them to an Islamic school.  Once there, they dragged the beleaguered sisters inside and forced them to convert to Islam.

 

“Are they going to kill us,” whispered Sanam?  “Maybe death would be better than this.”

 

“Have faith my sister,” Parvisha whispered back.  “The Lord Jesus will save us.”

 

A few days later, Sanam found a cell phone and quickly called the police.  Within minutes, officers arrived and rescued the two terror-stricken sisters.  

 

On January 2, 2009 Parvisha and Sanam were asked to give a statement of their harrowing ordeal to the local Magistrate.  With a quiet confidence both girls stood up and said, “We were abducted, raped, and forced to convert to Islam.  But let it be known that we are Christians.  We live as Christians and we will die as Christians.  This will never change.”

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

In the Dark, Yet Not Alone: A Young Mother Suffers While Children Starve

This blog was submitted by ICC representative, Sylvia Thompson.

 

The distraught mother laid her head against the cold, metal, bars and wept.  Her salt-filled tears dripped down her cheeks and plopped onto the concrete floor—slowly pooling around her bare feet.  The Egyptian jail was eerily quiet—alarmingly silent.

 

“Have mercy on them!” cried the young mother, banging her fists against the metal bars. “What have they done to you?” she screamed.

 

Suddenly, a barrage of lights flooded the jail cell and the sound of angry footsteps could be heard coming down the hallway.  “Shut-up!” shouted a red-faced prison guard, shaking his fist up and down. “Have you not had enough, woman?  Shall I teach you to be quiet?” he screamed, shining his flashlight at the young mother’s face.

 

The bereaved woman winced with pain as the glare of the flashlight fell upon her red, swollen, eyes—eyes that had been mercilessly beaten the night before. 

 

“Please, sir,” cried the young mother, falling to her knees.  “Please, just feed my children.  They are only two and four—mere babies.”

 

The prison guard glared at the woman with clenched fists and snarled, “Leave your Christianity and come back to Islam.  Then we will feed your children.”

 

“I cannot,” breathed the young mother, beginning to sob. 

           

“Then your children will not eat!” growled the prison guard, shaking the metal bars with all of his might. Then he flipped off the light switch and left the distressed woman in the dark—yet she was not alone.

 

“Lord, give me strength,” she breathed into the night.  Then she clasped her weary hands together with renewed vigor and whispered, “He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 62:6).

Published in: on January 16, 2009 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christianity in Light of Persecution

This blog was submitted by ICC representative, Shane Bazinet.

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:54-60

The stoning of Stephen, a brutal act of mob violence, is known as the first case of Christian persecution in history.

Why was Stephen stoned to death? For condemning the Jewish leaders for rejecting Jesus – for being a defender of the Christian faith. After the stoning, Saul of Tarsus “made havoc of the Church (8:3).”

Today, more Christians are being persecuted than ever before.

On Nov. 1, a Bangladeshi woman and her family, who converted from Islam to Christianity, were beaten with sticks, iron rods, knives and machetes, when a group of Muslim neighbors demanded “owed” money from the mother. The attackers then filed a false case against the family and threatened to burn their house to the ground if they attempted to file a case against them.

When we see stories like this, a good question that arises is: why become a Christian? Certainly not for peace, joy and happiness. For what then? So you can go to heaven? So you don’t have to go to hell?

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.”  Matthew 5:6a

We don’t need peace, joy and happiness. What we need is a right standing with God, because we will all stand before God on the Day of Judgment. Praise be to God that He made a way for us to get right with Him. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross so we wouldn’t have to go to hell – so we could have a right relationship with Him and receive the gift of eternal life. It’s the kindest thing that anyone has ever done.

How can we get right with God? Through repentance and faith – turning from our sins and trusting in the Savior.

Once we understand the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, we’ll view persecution in a much different light, and it will never drive us away from the Lord, but bring us closer to Him.

Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm  Leave a Comment