"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed;We are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Dear Friends and Partners,
We at One Free World International hope that you have had a wonderful, peaceful, and joyful Christmas and would like to take the time to wish you a very happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year! As we look forward to the New Year, we would also like to take the time to reflect on some of the highlights of the year that is coming to a close and thank you for your prayers and support through 2010.
Every year and again throughout 2010 your response to our alerts is remarkable. Never forget that your prayers and letters are invaluable in keeping our brothers and sisters around the world on the minds of our policy-makers. They also keep the pressure on foreign governments to change their policies and respect international human rights standards.
The year got off to a joyful start hot off the heels of little Neeha’s rescue as we all shared and rejoiced in the fact that Neeha and her family were finally able to freely celebrate Christmas in peace and without fear. Her story was carried by CTV’s W5 program in March and can be viewed at http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/WFive/20100311/w5_saving_neha_100311/. Just after the success of her rescue, highlighted in our 2009 year-end alert, we were appalled to hear of the massacre that occurred in the town of Nag Hammadi, Egypt on Coptic Christmas Eve. Six Coptic Christians and one Muslim security guard were killed as Muslim extremists attacked worshippers leaving Christmas Eve services by shooting at the crowd with an automatic rifle from a moving car.
We were able to share some good news as well, when Maryam and Marzieh, two Iranian Christian women imprisoned for their faith were finally released. Some of the other situations we brought to your attention were focused on Pakistan where massive flooding left large parts of the population devastated and vulnerable. Minorities such as Christians, Hindus, and Ahmadiyya Muslims were doubly victimized, however, as they were in some cases refused aid because of their religious beliefs. Several weeks later we also noted the Pakistani case of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who was sentenced to hang for blasphemy when a dispute erupted with local Muslim women over a cup of water after she refused to convert to Islam. Her appeal is pending and we continue to monitor the situation.
Missions and Other Activities
In one of our most significant undertakings of 2010, OWFI assembled a human rights delegation including Mario Silva, a Canadian Liberal member of parliament, and returned to Afghanistan on a fact-finding mission from June 25 to 30. While in Afghanistan, Rev. El Shafie and the delegation had the opportunity to meet with victims and hear firsthand their stories of wife abuse, child sexual abuse, and religious persecution. They were also able to confront government and opposition officials about the government’s role in perpetuating abusive laws and human rights violations. Our team also had the opportunity to meet and encourage Canadian soldiers, fulfilling Rev. El Shafie’s earlier promise to the troops that he would return. They presenting the troops with new cards of support, like those we took on our first mission in 2007, which were signed by some 2500 Canadians, including Prime Minister Harper and several Canadian members of parliament as well as many of you.
At the end of November Rev. El Shafie had the opportunity for the third time to testify before the Canadian Parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights (video of his testimony is available here scroll down the page for Meeting 35), this time about what he discovered on his mission to Afghanistan. He focused on the abuse of Afghan women and children and about the government’s murderous campaign against converts to Christianity. In the context of this rare opportunity OFWI hosted a reception, in collaboration with Mario Silva, where we presented our concerns directly to the Canadian people, including members of parliament and senators, human rights advocates, members of different religious and ethnic groups, and concerned members of the public.
Besides Rev. El Shafie and Mario Silva, other speakers at the reception were Justin Trudeau, and Toronto immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges. The keynote speaker was the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister for Citizenship and Immigration. Minister Kenney acknowledged that the Canadian government can and should re-double its efforts to use Canada’s influence to help the women, children, and Christians of Afghanistan and he invited OFWI to continue bringing these issues to the government’s attention both in parliamentary and other public fora.
As always, we would like to give special thanks to our OFWI team, those partners and volunteers who work anonymously behind the scenes, sacrificing their time, sleep, effort, finances, and even putting their lives in danger, to ensure that the work moves forward.
Finally, the OFWI family would like to thank all of you for being partners in our work in 2010. 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 it must be done, making great sacrifices and trusting that He will provide. Our educational events, advocacy, and particularly our fact-finding 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 (OFWI’s address and banking information are included below).
To all of our friends and partners we wish the richest blessings in 2011! 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 by taking action with us on behalf of our brothers and sisters around the world who continue to suffer injustice, abuse, and persecution because of their beliefs. Together we can work toward a world where everyone can live in peace and freedom, seek truth, and worship according to their conscience and beliefs.
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