christianity

Endowment for Middle East Truth Luncheon Address

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On November 16 Rev. Majed El Shafie spoke to a luncheon gathering of the Endowment for Middle East Truth in Washington, D.C. about the suffering of religious minorities in the Middle East. You can watch his presentation here:

[embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD3WQ18cgBI[/embed]

One Free World International Delegation Returns Safely from Iraq

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Dear Friends and Partners,

We are pleased to report that Rev. El Shafie andMajed El Shafie with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi (photo: OFWI) his delegation have returned safely from a successful mission to Iraq. During this mission the delegation discussed the threats facing Iraqi minorities with high-level government officials including the Vice-President, the Deputy Prime Minister, the President of Parliament (equivalent to our Speaker of the House), the Minister of Human Rights, the Minister of the Environment, senior Foreign Affairs officials, and others. With a Canadian member of parliament and senator along as observers on our delegation, this was the highest-level Canadian visit to Iraq since the war.

Our Lady of Salvation Church Bombing in Baghdad Rev. El Shafie also visited Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad and spoke with and encouraged victims shaken by recent attacks on their communities. Our Lady of Salvation Church was the target of a hostage-taking in which more than 50 people were killed over several hours during Sunday mass on October 31, 2010. Despite some calming of the overall security situation in Iraq, minorities continue to be threatened as evidenced by the attacks that took place last month against churches in Kirkuk which we mentioned in a recent alert.

Approximately 50% of Iraqi Christians have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries and other destinations since the American-led invasion. The Mandaean community is even harder hit with only about 10% of their people remaining in Iraq. Like many Iraqis, Christians and other minorities have fled the violence associated with the invasion and ensuing insurgency but those who remain face further danger… Their churches and communities have been targeted specifically by bombs, kidnappings, and threats, including threats to either convert to Islam, leave, or be killed. Authorities make a show of responding when an attack is too scandalous to ignore, but Iraqi minorities point to indications that the authorities themselves are often complicit in these attacks.

Our delegation has returned but this mission is not over as Rev. El Shafie will be bringing the plight of Iraqi minorities to the attention of Canadians and Americans and our decision-makers in the weeks to come. In the meantime, OFWI has significant outstanding expenses from this mission and we need your help urgently. If you are able, please help shoulder part of the financial burden of this mission and send your special contribution today. As you know, OFWI is fully supported through the contributions of our friends and members without whose support none of our work would be possible. We regret that OFWI is not able to issue tax receipts for your donations; however, US residents wishing to make a significant donation and requiring a tax receipt can contact us at info@onefreeworldinternational.org for information on how to donate.

Thank you for your faithful support for the work of OFWI through your prayers and financial contributions. Without your support on both levels we would not be able to do what we do, so please stand with us as we stand with the people of Iraq who deserve to live in peace, freedom, and equality regardless of their religious beliefs.

Please pray:

• for the besieged Iraqi Christian community and other minorities, that they would remain strong, steadfast, and faithful in the midst of the great trials and dangers they face daily;

• for the Iraqi people in general, that they would be able to put aside their differences and work together to re-build their country after decades of war and oppression and that they would find true peace in the Prince of Peace; and,

• for Iraqi authorities, that they would govern their country with truth, justice, and righteousness, and guarantee for the Iraqi people the freedom to seek and worship God in freedom and in accordance with their conscience.

ACTION:

The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and help us defray the costs of this mission by sending your donation today to:One Free World International 20 Bloor Street East, Box 75129 Toronto, ON M4W 3T3Or by direct deposit to:Bank: Royal Bank of Canada Institution Code: 003 Transit Number: 5452 Account Number: 1008507 (Canadian deposits); 4003232 (U.S. dollar deposits) Swift: ROYCCAT2

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.

Fatima

Save Hamoud and Yemane in Saudi Arabia

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Save Hamoud and Yemane in Saudi Arabia  Dear Friends and Partners,

Saudi Arabia MapA few months ago we sent an alert about a young Saudi woman who had been killed by her father after he discovered her conversion to Christianity. On the heels of that incident, a Saudi convert was arrested and a foreign Christian forced into hiding in January. While we receive reports from the Saudi kingdom about such incidents on a fairly regular basis, these two incidents in Riyadh, the capital city, have Christians particularly worried about the direction of Saudi policy even while the kingdom projects a moderate image by sponsoring inter-faith dialogues in the international arena.

On January 13, 2009, Hamoud Bin Saleh, a 28-year old Saudi national, was arrested after posting comments on his blog describing his conversion to Christianity and criticizing the Saudi judicial system. Several years ago, after Hamoud witnessed three Pakistanis convicted on drug charges being publicly beheaded, he became disillusioned with Islamic justice and began researching comparative religions while traveling and studying abroad. As a result of his study, he converted to Christianity and began advocating equal rights for Christians in Saudi Arabia. Hamoud has been arrested previously for nine months in 2004 and for a month in November 2008, at which time he was released for the duration of a Saudi-sponsored inter-faith conference in New York and immediately re-arrested. Hamoud’s blog has now been blocked by Saudi authorities.

In the meantime, Yemane Gebriel, a 42-year old Eritrean house-church pastor who has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 25 years, has been forced into hiding because of threats to his life in three separate incidents last month. On January 10, 2009 he found a note on his windshield saying that he would be killed if he didn’t leave the country. Three days later he was stopped by a member of the religious police, accompanied by a police officer, who asked why he was still in the country and threatened him with unspecified “measures”. Two days after that he was forced out of his van by four masked men who again threatened to kill him if he didn’t leave the country. For about 10 years Yemane led a house-church that he and three others had founded, with about 150 foreigners meeting weekly in his villa. In 2005 he was arrested along with 16 other foreigners, but was released after a few weeks because of diplomatic pressure.

As we have mentioned in earlier alerts, Saudi Arabia is an important western ally in the war on terror. Despite some very public international gestures by the new Saudi king in the name of inter-religious dialogue, the kingdom’s Islamic Shari’ah-based legal system is one of the most repressive in the world. Apostasy (conversion) and blasphemy (insulting Islam or Mohammed) are punishable by death and all public non-Muslim religious observance is prohibited. Even private observance among foreigners, while officially tolerated, is severely restricted and reports of raids on private worship services are not uncommon. The government controls all media and Saudis have no access to Bibles or any non-Muslim religious literature apart from specifically seeking it out on the internet or, like Hamoud, by traveling abroad. Any conversions take place in utmost secrecy and the number of Saudi Christians is impossible to determine.

Saudi Arabia’s “religious police” or “mutawwa’in”, officially known as the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, ensure strict compliance with Islamic rules. The government has reportedly relaxed some of its constraints on criticism of the mutawwa’in and made some attempts to restrain them but abuses continue. In any event, we must not rest before everyone under Saudi jurisdiction, Saudi or foreigner, Muslim or non-Muslim, has full freedom to explore any religious or non-religious beliefs and to freely change their own beliefs and to express them, not only in private but also in public teaching, discussion, or observance.

Please pray:

• for Hamoud Bin Saleh, that he would find strength and comfort in the Lord in the midst of darkness, and that he would be released quickly and proceed to be a strong and courageous advocate for religious freedom and human rights in a closed and repressive society;

• for Yemane Gebriel and his family, who have been living apart since his wife and children were able to relocate to Egypt in August 2007, that they will find courage and comfort in their faith and security from threats of violence and that those who have threatened them would realize the wrong in their actions and begin to seek true peace and justice;

• that the Saudi authorities would recognize the importance of respecting human rights and religious freedom and guarantee their citizens the ability to freely research, question, and change their beliefs as they desire; and,

• that the Saudi people would begin to question and challenge the beliefs that allow such oppression and injustice and that they would discover true freedom in the Prince of Peace.

ACTION:

The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):

• to the Saudi ambassador, demanding that Saudi authorities release Hamoud Bin Saleh ensuring his right to religious freedom and freedom of expression, and that they guarantee both his and Yemane Gebriel’s safety. Encourage Saudi authorities to respect international law and human rights standards by ensuring religious freedom for both foreigners and Saudis in their country; and,

• to your foreign affairs minister or secretary of state encouraging them to raise these issues with the Saudi authorities and to demand Saudi compliance with international human rights standards in general by ensuring religious freedom for all citizens and foreigners in the kingdom and specifically by releasing Hamoud Bin Saleh and guaranteeing his and Yemane Gebriel’s safety. Our need for support in the war on terror is not an excuse to ignore wrongs committed by our allies.

Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at: info@onefreeworldinternational.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

Sources: Compass Direct News and One Free World International

CONTACT:

In Canada:
His Excellency Abdulaziz H. Al-Sowayegh Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia 201 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON   K1N 1K6 Tel.: (613) 237-4100; Fax: (613) 237-0567The Honourable Lawrence Cannon Minister for Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Canada 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON   K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 992-5516; Fax: (613) 992-6802 Email: Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca

In the United States:

His Excellency Adel A. Al-Jubeir Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia 601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20037 Tel.: (202) 342-3800 Email: info@saudiembassy.net

Secretary Hillary Clinton U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520 Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard) Webform

Father Kills Saudi Woman for Converting to Christianity

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Father Kills Saudi Woman for Converting to Christianity

Dear Friends and Partners,

We would like to thank you for your terrific response to our China alert and to encourage you to stay committed to boycotting Chinese products particularly as the Olympics end and the world’s attention turns away from China. We know from personal experience what a challenge avoiding products made in China will be, but a great challenge holds an even greater opportunity. This small inconvenience will generate numerous occasions for discussion with friends and family about what is happening to Christians and other minorities in China and, after all, spreading the word is one of our best weapons.

In the meantime, we would like to bring to your attention a recent case from Saudi Arabia. In the beginning of August a young Saudi woman who had apparently learned about Christianity on the internet and secretly converted was killed by her father after a heated debate about religion. The woman had contributed to internet discussions about Christianity under various nicknames including “Rania” and her family had become suspicious when her brother discovered some of her postings and a cross on her computer. A few days before her murder, “Rania” had indicated in one of her internet postings that her life had become unbearable after her brother’s discovery.

“Rania’s” father is a member of Saudi Arabia’s so-called “religious police”, officially known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Against Vice, charged with ensuring compliance with Saudi Arabia’s strict Wahhabi brand of Islam. He had reportedly cut off his daughter’s tongue before burning her to death. News reports indicate that he was later in custody being investigated for “honour killing”, a charge which generally results in a sentence of six months to three years in jail, rather than murder. According to OFWI sources, however, the father has been released and has effectively been assured that he will be cleared of all charges and granted a promotion.

As we have mentioned in an earlier alert, Saudi Arabia is an important western ally in the war on terror. Despite some recent and very public international gestures by the Saudi king in the name of inter-religious dialogue, the kingdom’s Islamic Shari’ah-based legal system is one of the most repressive in the world. All public non-Islamic religious practice is prohibited in the kingdom and even private observance among foreigners is severely restricted. The number of Saudi Christians living in the kingdom is impossible to determine. Any conversions take place in utmost secrecy as apostasy, or the act of leaving Islam, carries the official death penalty. As in “Rania’s” case, however, family members of the apostate will often seek to reclaim the family’s honour by killing the convert themselves.

Also, please PRAY:

• that Saudi officials would see this father’s act for what it was, an act of murder and not one of honour, and that by sentencing him accordingly they would do justice for “Rania”;

• for “Rania’s” family, including her father, that they would see the senselessness of a religion based on hatred and intolerance and that they would come to know and experience true love, mercy, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ; and,

• that news about this incident would spread like wildfire through the Saudi kingdom. Pray that the Saudi people would be inspired by “Rania’s” curiosity and courage to begin questioning a belief system that permits and even encourages such barbaric acts and that they would discover truth, love, and mercy so that “Rania’s” death would not be in vain.

ACTION:

The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write to (contact details are included below):

• to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia insisting that Saudi authorities investigate this matter fully and ensure that “Rania’s” murder and other so-called “honour killings” are properly dealt with as murder and that those responsible, including “Rania’s” father, are brought to justice and not rewarded. Urge Saudi authorities also to take effective measures to implement international human rights standards regarding freedom of religion and ask them to begin by repealing the death penalty for apostasy; and,

• to Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, insisting that they take a strong stand with their ally and do not let larger political issues get in the way of truth and justice on behalf of “Rania” and religious freedom and human rights for all other converts in Saudi Arabia.

Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at: info@onefreeworldinternational.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

CONTACT:

In Canada:

Mr. Abdullah Saleh A. Al Awwad Counsellor & Chargé d'Affaires, a.i. Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia 201 Sussex Dr. Ottawa, ON K1N 1K6 Tel.: (613) 237-4100; Fax: (613) 237-0567 Email: office@saudibureau.org

The Honourable David Emerson Minister for Foreign Affairs 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 943-0267; Fax: (613) 943-0219 Email: emersd@parl.gc.ca

In the United States:

His Excellency Adel A. Al-Jubeir Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia 601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20037 Tel.: (202) 342-3800 Email: info@saudiembassy.net

Secretary Condoleezza Rice 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