Dear Friends and Partners,
As the year 2007 comes to a close we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights of this eventful year, beginning with wonderful news about the Saudi woman we wrote to you about last month. We have just confirmed that the young woman, who was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for her own rape, has been pardoned by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Please thank God and continue to pray for the Qatif woman as she will face many challenges in the months and years ahead. While the Saudi kingdom’s treatment of women remains unchanged, this is a small, but exciting victory with which to close the year.
The Saudi woman was just one of many individuals on behalf of whom we intervened in 2007, including our continued advocacy on behalf of Egyptian Coptic Christians seeking refuge in Canada. Magdi Youssef, one of the refugees, was deported by Canadian authorities in 2006 to Egypt where he was tortured on several occasions, but One Free World International was able to bring him back to Canada in 2007 along with his family. Many others still face deportation and fear they will share the same fate or worse. The Ottawa Citizen carried an article about Coptic Christians in May in response to which the Ambassador of Egypt launched a fierce and unjustified attack against Rev. El Shafie. A lengthy exchange followed on the editorial pages of The Citizen, with Rev. El Shafie successfully challenging the Ambassador with the facts about the situation facing Christians and other religious minorities in Egypt.
We also showed our solidarity with Montreal’s Jewish community after a small bomb exploded outside a community centre during Passover and asked you to intervene on behalf of human rights in Nigeria after a Christian teacher was killed by a mob for allegedly desecrating a Koran. These are just some of the cases that we have monitored or intervened in during the past year. Some of those on behalf of whom we will continue to advocate into 2008 are a Nigerian woman seeking refuge from deportation and separation from her Canadian-born daughter and a 4-year-old Pakistani girl who was raped at age 2 because of her family’s Christian faith and who is forced to live in hiding with her family.
Behind Enemy Lines
A major focus for One Free World International this year was Rev. El Shafie’s mission to Afghanistan. In order to show his support for Canadian troops risking their lives daily and to express his thanks to Canada, Rev. El Shafie travelled to Afghanistan where he met with and encouraged the soldiers and presented five giant greeting cards signed by our members and partners, as well as several Canadian political leaders including Prime Minister Harper. Rev. El Shafie was interviewed about his mission by CTV’s Canada AM and a link to the interview, which also featured video footage of the mission provided by One Free World International, is available on our website.
The mission to Afghanistan was also part of a larger project One Free World International is pursuing to produce a full-length one-hour documentary about persecution of Christians. The video, titled Behind Enemy Lines, is being prepared in cooperation with a professional video production company. It will include footage from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and Iraq and will continue to be a significant part of our work in 2008.
Our annual conferences took place in Winnipeg and Toronto this year with the theme The Price of Freedom. We paid tribute once again to Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and showed footage from Rev. El Shafie’s mission. Our speakers included television hosts Bill Prankard and Willard Thiessen; His Excellency Alan Baker, Israel’s ambassador to Canada; the Honourable Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity; Sister Gwen Shaw, President and Founder of End-time Handmaidens and Servants International; and our very own Rev. El Shafie.
We would like to thank everyone who participated in our conferences, from the worship leaders with their teams to all of our speakers and contributors. We would also like to extend our special thanks to our partners, Willard Thiessen and New Day Ministries in Winnipeg and Pastor Steve Long and Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Toronto, for their generous support and cooperation in making this year’s conferences a great success.
Finally, the One Free World International family would like to thank you for being partners in our work in 2007. Without your active participation, prayers, and support none of what we have accomplished would have been possible. As we enter the year 2008 we have many important projects some of which, like Behind Enemy Lines, require significant resources in order for us to accomplish our purposes. Our work is only possible because of your generous support. Please prayerfully consider making your year-end donation to One Free World International or committing to support our work on a monthly basis in the coming year (the address for your donation is included below).
We wish you a very Merry Christmas and richest blessings in 2008, and as we look forward to the New Year we trust that you will continue to support our work and take action on behalf of the persecuted church.
Remember, that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
One Free World International El Shafie Ministries