OFWI delegation returns safely from Afghanistan
Dear Friends and Partners,
Since visiting Canadian troops in Afghanistan in 2007, Rev. El Shafie has spent three years planning a return mission, assembling a delegation including a Canadian member of parliament, and building a plan of action. We are delighted to announce that, despite many challenges along the way, the mission took place June 25-30 and Rev. El Shafie and our delegation have returned home safely.
The delegation met with some Canadian soldiers and presented them with the cards of support that you had signed. They had a priceless opportunity to encourage the troops and pray with them, letting them know they are not forgotten and their hard work and sacrifices are appreciated back home. They met with Afghan officials and opposition leaders, including high level officials in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, among others, as well as women’s rights and human rights activists. They also met with victims of human rights abuses and paid a visit to a girls’ school.
The meetings with Afghan officials were critical. Rev. El Shafie confronted the government with evidence of its efforts to execute converts from Islam during the last several years. He also raised concerns over the new Shi'a personal status law which, among other things, allows husbands essentially to starve their wives if they refuse to submit to their sexual demands, and the issue of the sexual slavery and abuse of young Afghan boys through a practice known as bacha bazi or "boy play".
The issue of converts was particularly timely. There are very few native Afghan Christians. All are converts from Islam and worship in secret to avoid being killed for apostasy. Rev. El Shafie carried with him evidence provided by Afghan refugees who have fled their homeland because of death sentences for their conversion. As if to prove our case, while we were busy preparing for this mission the Afghan government was busy cracking down on Christians. On May 27, 2010, only a few weeks before our mission was scheduled to take place, a television program claiming to show Afghan converts being baptized and praying triggered demonstrations against converts. In response, pledges were made in the parliament and supported by President Karzai himself that all Afghan Christians would be found and executed and Christian aid organizations involved in converting Afghans would be punished.
In the last few weeks, at least 24 Afghan Christians have been arrested and the operations of over a dozen western aid organizations suspected of converting Afghans have been suspended. Homes and offices have been searched and Muslim family-members of suspected converts have been investigated and some arrested. There are reports of torture and of threats against family-members in an effort to force Christians to renounce their conversion and to betray other converts.
Our delegation has returned but this mission is far from over. The Afghan Christian community is in great turmoil. They need our urgent help. Please write to your Afghan embassy and demand that authorities immediately release all converts and their families, drop all charges, and ensure the religious freedom of all Afghans in accordance with international human rights standards. Demand also that authorities repeal the discriminatory sections of the shi’a personal status law and that they take effective measures to eliminate the practice of bacha bazi. The ultimate success of this mission depends on your willingness to take action and build on the work that we have begun. WE MUST NOT ALLOW OUR SOLDIERS’ SACRIFICES TO BE IN VAIN.
Finally, OFWI has significant expenses related to this mission that we must meet. Please join us and share in helping our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan by shouldering part of the financial burden of this mission and sending your special contribution today.
• for the tiny Afghan Christian community, that they would remain strong, steadfast, and faithful in the midst of this great trial and that they would have courage to stand up for their beliefs regardless of the consequences, in order to bring light and truth to the Afghan people;
• for the families of Afghan converts and the people of Afghanistan, that they would see the injustice in these attacks on their family, friends, and neighbours simply because of their beliefs. Pray that they would be moved in their hearts to seek and pursue truth, justice, and righteousness, and be rewarded with true peace;
• for the women and children of Afghanistan, many of whom suffer terrible abuse at the hands of family members and those whom they trust and depend on, that they would experience healing from the physical and psychological wounds inflicted on them by those who ought to be protecting and nurturing them and that they would be set free from the bondage in which they live; and,
• for Afghan authorities, that they would govern their country with truth, justice, and righteousness, and that they would ensure the Afghan people the freedom to seek and worship God in accordance with their conscience and protect the vulnerable women and children of the country.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• to the Afghan embassy in your country, demanding that authorities immediately and unconditionally release all converts and any family members being held, drop any and all charges and cancel any outstanding death sentences against converts, and ensure the right and freedom of all Afghans to worship in freedom and to convert to other religions in accordance with their conscience and international human rights standards. Demand that the authorities repeal the discriminatory sections of the Shi’a personal status law and that they take effective action to eliminate the practice of bacha bazi (“boy play”). Remind them that we have sent our young men and women to Afghanistan to fight for freedom for the Afghan people, not for continued oppression;
• to the authorities in your country, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs or Secretary of State, Minister for Defence, and the Prime Minister or President: our men and women are sacrificing their lives in Afghanistan daily on behalf of freedom and democracy for the Afghan people – our governments must demand that Afghan authorities honour international human rights standards, release converts immediately, ensure the full religious freedom of all Afghans, and protect vulnerable Afghan women and children (girls and boys); and,
• finally, help us cover the costs of the mission by sending your donation today to the address indicated below.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Rev. Majed El Shafie President and Founder One Free World International El Shafie Ministries
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon Minister for Foreign Affairs 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 992-5516; Fax: (613) 992-6802 Email: Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca
The Honourable Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence National Defence Headquarters Major-General George R. Pearkes Building 101 Colonel By Drive, 2 NT Ottawa, ON K1A 0K2 Tel.: 613-996-3100; Fax: 613-995-8189 Email: MacKay.P@parl.gc.ca
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2 Fax: (613) 941-6900 Email: email@example.com
In the United States:
His Excellency Said Jawad Embassy of Afghanistan 2341 Wyoming Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008 Tel.: (202) 483-6410; Fax: (202) 483-6488 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Also, Mr. Ashraf Haidari, Political Counselor Email: Haidari@embassyofafghanistan.org
Secretary Hillary Clinton U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520 Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard) Webform:http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php?p_sid=F5OZZa6i&p_lva=&p_sp=&p_li
President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Tel.: 202-456-1111; Fax: (202) 456-2461 Webform: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact