Dear Friends and Partners,
You will recall that a few weeks ago we sent an alert about a pregnant Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for apostasy in the Sudan. Recently we were delighted that we would finally be able to report that Meriam, together with her toddler son and newborn daughter, had been released from prison. Unfortunately, before we could release the alert, the family was detained at the airport as they tried to leave the country for safety. Meriam’s husband and children were shortly released but Meriam continued to be detained under accusations of forging travel documents for trying to leave the country relying on her husband’s South Sudanese papers. She has now been released although the situation remains fluid and it appears the charges remain outstanding but, since her husband is also a U.S. citizen, embassy officials are actively involved in the case. Until they can leave the country, however, the family continues to be in danger from Muslim extremists unhappy with the decision to release her. Please continue to pray and speak out for safety and freedom for Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her husband and children.
In other news, we are thrilled that we can now report the success of our latest rescue operation, this time from Iraq. When Rev. El Shafie led an OFWI delegation on a fact-finding mission to Iraq in 2011, he visited Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad which had been the target of a hostage-taking several months earlier in which more than 50 people had been killed during Sunday mass. Father Karam, one of the priests at this parish, has since faced an assassination attempt but thanks to OFWI intervention he is now safe and beginning to rebuild his life in Canada.
Other Iraqi Christians are not as fortunate. You have seen and read the news reports about recent and on-going events in Iraq as the extremist group ISIS has taken effective control over large sections of northern Iraq and is pushing south toward Baghdad. However, few of the news reports discuss in depth the impact these events are having on the remaining Christian community. Christians have been forced to pay jizya, a form of protection money, they have been killed, Christian women raped and kidnapped, graves have been desecrated and churches bombed. We are particularly concerned about new ISIS militia movements in the region of Mosul which indicate that the extremist militias are beginning to target Christian towns and villages outside of the city. Some of these towns have been left undefended by Iraqi troops and are relying on support from nearby Kurd regions for their defense.
While the Christian community has faced on-going attacks over the last several years, in just these last few days and weeks the attacks have escalated at an alarming rate and Iraqi Christians are once again fleeing their homes by the thousands. Also, the latest movements appear to indicate a significant change in the nature of the threat. Iraqi Christians desperately need your prayers and support – please join with us in making sure that their plight does not go unnoticed.
As we prepare to celebrate our independence and freedoms in Canada and the United States this week, please join us in remembering our brothers and sisters around the world who are not as fortunate as we are and who are still struggling to achieve their most basic freedoms.
- For Meriam and her family, for their safety and freedom, and a swift exit to a safe country; pray also for her lawyers and the judge who decided to release her who may now be targeted by Muslim extremists unhappy with her release;
- For the Sudanese people, that they would be able to live in freedom, peace, and unity, regardless of religious differences, and that the religious extremists would find true peace and purpose in life through the Prince of Peace;
- For Father Karam as he begins to build a new life for himself in Canada, that he would be able to use his freedom and experiences to share the pain of Iraqi Christians and to help break down religious persecution and hatred in his homeland;
- For the Christians and other religious minorities who remain in Iraq, that they would be protected and kept safe from harm in the face of renewed fighting and that they would be strong and courageous and never lose hope or faith in the midst of their difficult circumstances.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
- To the Sudanese embassy, thanking Sudanese authorities for cancelling the death penalty for Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and demanding that they allow her and her family to leave the country safely and without further delays; the government must also guarantee the right of all Sudanese to freely choose and observe their religious beliefs and worship;
- To your Foreign Minister or Secretary of State, particularly thanking U.S. officials for their intervention and encouraging them to continue to put pressure on Khartoum to secure the freedom and safety of Meriam and her family; tell our officials that they must remain vigilant over the issue of religious freedom in the Sudan and must continue to pressure Sudanese authorities into guaranteeing and protecting the right to freedom of religion for all Sudanese.
- To the Iraqi embassy, demanding that Iraqi authorities protect the Christian and other minorities from extremist attacks and from ISIS action;
- To your Foreign Minister or Secretary of State, urging them to continue pressuring Iraqi authorities to protect their minorities, whether from ISIS or any other extremist groups, and to support religious freedom for all Iraqis regardless of their beliefs.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence to 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
Mr. Osman Abufatima Adam Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Embassy of the Republic of The Sudan 354 Stewart Street Ottawa, ON K1N 6K8 Tel: (613) 235-4000; Fax: (613) 235-6880 Email: email@example.com
His Excellency Dr. Abdulrahman Hamid Al-Hussaini Ambassador Embassy of the Republic of Iraq 215 McLeod Street Ottawa, ON K2P 0Z8 Tel: (613) 236-9177 ext. 2; Fax: (613) 236-9641 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The Honourable John Baird Minister for Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Canada 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 996-0984; Fax: (613) 996-9880 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the United States
Mr. Elhafiz Eisa Abdalla Adam Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Embassy of the Republic of The Sudan 2210 Massachusetts Ave. Washington DC 20008 Tel.: (202) 338-8565; Fax: (202) 667-2406 Webform: http://www.sudanembassy.org/index.php?option=com_breezingforms&Itemid=13
H.E. Lukman Abdulraheem A. Al Faily Embassy of the Republic of Iraq 3421 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20007 Tel: (202) 742-1600; Fax: (202) 333-1129 Email: email@example.com
Secretary John Kerry U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520 Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard) http://contact-us.state.gov/app/ask