Dear Friends and Partners,
We at One Free World International would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and to our Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah! As we look forward to our continued cooperation in 2009, we would like to share with you some of the things we have been able to accomplish thanks to your prayers and support through this eventful year.
As you are aware, religious persecution is a serious and growing problem in the world today. Yet due to the nature of our work and the dangers facing those we are helping, we are only able to share with you some of the cases we work on.
You may remember Magdi, a Coptic Christian refugee whom we were able to rescue in 2007 from Egypt where he was tortured after being deported by Canadian authorities. Although we were able to bring most of his family with him, his daughter had to remain behind with her husband and child. In the summer of 2008, however, Egyptian authorities began to punish Magdi by harassing his daughter and then severely torturing his son-in-law. In a highly sensitive and top-secret operation we were able to rescue the family and reunite them with Magdi in safety here in Canada.
An event we organized in support of Ola, a Nigerian woman who had been living in sanctuary in a Mississauga church for two years hoping to avoid deportation and separation from her Canadian daughter, turned into a celebration when events took an unexpected turn. Ola was arrested but after discussions with border authorities her deportation was postponed. As a result Ola is able, subject to certain conditions, to live at home with her daughter until immigration officials can make a decision in her case.
You may also recall the case of Rania, a young Saudi woman who was killed by her own father when he discovered her secret conversion to Christianity. Many of you wrote letters to the Saudi government making it clear that this was unacceptable and demanding that appropriate action be taken to bring the father to justice.
Rev. El Shafie made a second a trip to Pakistan, where he was shown labour camps where poor Christians and other religious minorities and their families are forced to live and work essentially as slaves in appalling conditions. Behind Enemy Lines, a one-hour documentary on the persecution of Christians, will include footage from Rev. El Shafie’s travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere and continues to be a significant part of our work throughout 2009.
In the spring, Rev. El Shafie was invited for a second time to present evidence before the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Canadian House of Commons. The Committee members were challenged to take a closer look at religious persecution in Iraq, Egypt, and Pakistan, as well as elsewhere, as a result of the testimony presented by Rev. El Shafie and some of OFWI’s friends and partners. In particular, Rev. El Shafie shared never before seen evidence that he was able to obtain from the slave camps in Pakistan.
The 2008 Olympic Games were in Beijing and OFWI took the opportunity to encourage our members to boycott Chinese goods until China shows significant and lasting improvements in its human rights record. Many of you took up the challenge and are doing what you can to avoid purchasing goods made in China in order to avoid supporting an economy and atheistic system which oppresses its own citizens for their religious beliefs, including by putting religious prisoners to forced labour and “re-education” programs.
In addition to monitoring what happens around the world, we must also be vigilant on behalf of our own country. In early December Rev. El Shafie was asked to speak at a rally on Parliament Hill in the face of a parliamentary crisis in Canada. We were pleased to see many of our friends and members, some driving from as far away as Toronto for the day, brave the bitter cold on “the Hill” to stand up for righteousness in our halls of government.
Our annual conferences took place in Winnipeg (“The Road to Victory”) and Toronto (“The Horizon of Hope”). We paid tribute once again to Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan of whom over 100 have now given the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of peace and freedom for the Afghan people. Our speakers included Members of Parliament Joy Smith (in Winnipeg) and Jim Abbott and David Sweet (in Toronto), as well as Faytene Kryskow of The Cry, Willard Thiessen, and Pastor Bruce Martin, and of course 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.
The OFWI family would like to thank you for being partners in our work in 2008. Without your active participation, prayers, and support none of this would have been possible. We undertake our work by faith, knowing that it is the call of the Lord and that it must be done, making great sacrifices and trusting that He will provide. Our conferences, travels, advocacy, and rescue missions require tremendous resources and are only possible because of your generous support. Please prayerfully consider making a special year-end donation to OFWI or committing to support our work on a monthly basis in the coming year (the address for your donation is included below).
Finally, to all of our friends and partners we wish the richest blessings in 2009. As we look forward to the New Year and all the challenges that lie ahead, we trust that you will continue to support our work, both in prayer and financially, and to 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