christians

Thoughts and prayers are not enough

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This article appeared on TheTorontoSun.com

It is time to build a bridge

By Rev. Majed El Shafie, President & Founder, One Free World International

I have not stopped thinking about the 49 innocent victims whose lives were savagely cut short in Sunday morning’s terrorist attack in Orlando. I have not stopped thinking about the dozens of people from the LGBTQ community who are receiving the medical care they need and will hopefully recover from this horrendous attack. I have said prayers for the victims and their families. But thoughts and prayers are not enough.

As a Christian and a Reverend, my heart aches for the families and friends who have lost loved ones. A man motivated by homophobic hatred committed this attack as he professed allegiance to ISIS and its radical Islamist ideology. In carrying out the largest terrorist attack on North American soil since 9/11, we must renew our commitment to battling the radical Islamist ideology that wages war in Iraq and Syria. We must battle the evil that has struck closer to home from Ottawa to Orlando, Paris and Brussels.

The attacker targeted the patrons of Pulse nightclub because they were different. As a former refugee who faced persecution for converting to Christianity and being different, I am too familiar with the barbaric lengths those motivated by hate will take against those they view as different.

During this time of sorrow and suffering, now is the time for people of faith to unite with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in love. As a Reverend, for years I have witnessed the perception that LGBTQ people cannot be loved by people in religious communities. While there may be disagreements on certain issues, that does not mean we cannot love each other. In response to these tragic events, people of faith need to reach out to the LGBTQ community and let their brothers and sisters know they are loved. In the aftermath of this tragic loss of precious human life, this cannot be swept under the rug. No one deserves to die to because of who they love, the colour of their skin, or what they believe.

We must come together in defence of each other and our shared values. We must come together and build a bridges between people of faiths and our LGBTQ communities. People of faith need to find the courage to reaffirm our ability to love one another and strengthen our sense of community. The victims of the Orlando attack were targeted for the same reason ISIS targets Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in Iraq and Syria in their aim of carrying out genocide. We are all different in the eyes of the enemy and must confront it together.

We will rely on the strength of our values: the recognition of the dignity of each human life, honesty, respect for human rights, and a determination in ensuring we can all live safely in pursuing our hopes and dreams. We must defend these shared values. And this must start by building new bridges to unite.

Our political and religious leaders need to be forthcoming in condemning this hatred and having the courage to identify its roots. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of other faiths need to speak out to condemn this violence and seize an opportunity to end the historical tension the LGBTQ community has felt for too long, and begin to fight for each other. For if we do not fight for each other, we lose our humanity. After you’ve had some thoughts and said your prayers, it is time to pick up the phone.

Rev. Majed El Shafie Shares His Story on Fox News Radio

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Listen to Rev. Majed El Shafie share his powerful story on the Vipp Jaswal Report (Fox News Radio).  Rev. El Shafie was severely tortured and sentenced to death for his conversion to Christianity and bringing awareness to human rights violations related to religious persecution. Belonging to a very prominent legal and political family inEgypt, Rev. El Shafie had tried to work within the Egyptian system to reform the country’s human rights regime.  Hear Rev. El Shafie's powerful story of victory in persecution here.  

“An Attack against the Egyptian Society”: The Case for Egypt, Part II

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Dear Friends and Partners, As the situation in Egypt continues to unfold, we would like to provide a follow-up to our earlier alert about the removal of President Morsi from office (in case you missed it, that alert is available on our website if you click here).

The evening news continues to bring you stories of how hundreds of people have been killed over the past few days by Egyptian security forces firing live rounds against “peaceful demonstrators”. We cannot stress enough that we are against killing – we do not rejoice in the killing of any human being and certainly not innocent civilians. Moreover, we are not against Muslims – we are opposed to extremists. With this in mind, the news reports require some context and background.

As we have said before, despite the common refrain that President Morsi was the first democratically elected president of Egypt, Morsi does not represent democracy. The electoral process was formally democratic but, not merely flawed, it lacked the fundamental substance of truly democratic elections. Yet even if Morsi was democratically elected, his actions once in office disqualify him from continuing in that office and demand immediate and forceful action on the part of the Egyptian military, which is the only institution capable of taking the necessary steps. Finally, seven weeks ago an estimated 30 million Egyptians flooded the streets or signed petitions in peaceful protests demanding the military fulfill its responsibility and remove Morsi.

On the other hand, the demonstrations by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters have been far from peaceful. For several weeks the military leaders and international negotiators have tried to negotiate the peaceful removal of the protest camps. As we write this alert, the media are finally giving some attention to the casualties suffered by police after an incident in which 25 police were killed execution-style. But even before this incident, over 70 security personnel had been killed, from the very first minutes of the authorities’ action to remove the “peaceful” camps only a few days ago to just before the attack on police in the Sinai.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists have also taken the Christian community’s support for the army’s removal of Morsi as an excuse to justify unprecedented attacks on Christian targets. Over 40 churches and Christian institutions and countless homes and businesses have been burnt and destroyed in these past days. Three nuns were paraded in the streets like prisoners of war by a Muslim mob that burned their Christian school and attacks such as these are happening daily across Egypt.

The media have covered most of these points in some degree, but the tone and focus of most of the coverage seems to be intended to condemn the actions of the military and promote support for Morsi. We at OFWI are saddened by the deaths and do not condone violence on either side. However, we are deeply concerned about the situation as a whole and about any possible resolution and would like to ask some burning questions:

• Why does the international media ignore or downplay the estimated 30 million Egyptians who filled the streets of Egypt a few weeks ago, demonstrating peacefully and demanding that Morsi step down? In a country of a little over 80 million people, this is nothing short of true democracy in action but we hear very little about it.

• The media focus on the large number of women and children among the hundreds of dead – but why don’t they ask why the Muslim Brotherhood would bring women and children to a demonstration which they know and fully intend will turn violent?

• President Obama has cancelled joint military exercises with the Egyptian army to protest its actions. Will he stand for the will of the people, even if it requires the army to enforce it? Or will he and our other western leaders stand with an Islamist despot determined to make Egypt into an Islamic theocracy where non-Muslims have no place, simply because the man won an election? Not all Muslims involved in these demonstrations, or even everyone involved in the Muslim Brotherhood, are terrorists. However, the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization is a terrorist organization and its leadership is driving a terrorist agenda. There is no question that the Middle East will collapse if the Muslim Brotherhood wins in Egypt. As pro-Morsi demonstrations spread to Turkey and other Muslim countries and the West debates supporting the “democratically-elected” Morsi, the future of the Christians and peace in all of the Middle East hangs on the outcome of this battle.

On Sunday Rev. El Shafie spoke at a rally organized by the Egyptian-Canadian community in Toronto. We would like to thank Ghada Melek, one of the organizers, who stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood’s battle “is not an attack on Christianity, but rather an attack on the Egyptian society as a whole”. Rev. El Shafie has also been interviewed by Canada’s SunTV several times about the situation in Egypt. You can watch some of his interviews and hear more about these issues by clicking these links for The Arena with Michael Coren and The Source with Ezra Levant.

Finally, the Christians in Egypt desperately need medical supplies and we are trying to help meet this need –please help us send medical supplies to Egyptian Christians by sending your donation today. Please see below for donation information.

 

Please pray:

• for peace and security for all Egyptian people, and especially for the Christians and other minorities, at this time of unrest and violence; and,

• that democracy, human rights, and religious freedom would win the day over all forms of tyranny and intolerance in Egypt, and that the military and interim leaders would be guided by the best interests of all the Egyptian people and succeed in defeating religious extremism.

ACTION:

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

• to your Prime Minister and Foreign Minister or your President and Secretary of State, demanding that they support the principles of true democracy and not just the appearance of democracy; urge them to stand behind the Egyptian people as they did two years ago and to support the actions the Egyptian army has taken to try to restore democracy and support the will of the people; demand that they use every means possible to support the Christians and other minorities who are under attack; and,

• to the ambassador of Egypt in your country, expressing your support for the people of Egypt and for the army’s efforts to support the will of the people; ask them to ensure protection for Christians and other minorities in light of the threats from the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists; and,

• help us provide medical supplies and other humanitarian aid for Egyptian Christians by sending your donation today.

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.

One Free World International El Shafie Ministries

CONTACT:

In Canada: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A2 Fax: (613) 941-6900 Email: pm@pm.gc.ca

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: john.baird@parl.gc.ca

His Excellency Wael Aboul-Magd Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt 454 Laurier Avenue East Ottawa, ON   K1N 6R3 Tel.: (613) 234-4931; Fax: (613) 234-4398 Email: egyptemb@sympatico.ca

In the United States: 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

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

His Excellency Mohamed M. Tawfik Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt 3521 International Ct. NW Washington DC  20008 Tel.: (202) 895-5400; Fax: (202) 244-5131 Email: embassy@egyptembassy.net

Urgent Support Needed for Sensitive Intervention

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Dear Friends and Partners,

As we write, we are preparing a sensitive rescue mission in a very dangerous part of the world. You will recall the efforts that went into saving little Neeha and her family and Magdi Youssef, and the danger that accompanied those interventions and others we have carried out. Your prayers and support enabled us to complete those successful missions and the current operation will require every bit as much care, trust, and attention from our team at OFWI headquarters and support from you, our family.

In order to ensure the safety of all those involved, we regret that we will not be able to give further details until after the successful conclusion of this intervention. But in the meantime, we urgently need your help: we need your prayers and financial support for this operation without delay. The success of the mission and the lives of your brothers and sisters depend on it. Please pray for Rev. El Shafie and the success of this intervention and, if you are able, give generously to secure the success of this operation. We look forward to being able to provide a full victory report, but we need your confidence and support. Thank you for your faithfulness and love and we trust that we can count on you to help in any way you can.

In the meantime, you can take the opportunity to view Rev. El Shafie’s recent testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the United States Congress where he testified on March 21, 2012 about the experiences of religious minorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This opportunity follows on the heels of his testimony before the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the U.S. Congress in October last year. Click here for the video.

As we work on completing this critical mission and look forward to sending you a victory report, please pray:

• for Rev. El Shafie, that he would have the wisdom and boldness to successfully carry out this mission and for his personal safety throughout;

• for the victims, that they would be filled with peace, hope, and courage and, most importantly, strengthened in their faith in the midst of this trying time;

• for the local authorities, that we would find favour in their eyes and that no one would be able to prevent this rescue;

• that God would supply the resources, from the right people to all the material resources needed for the success of this mission; and,

• for all those involved in planning and executing this mission, that they would have the wisdom, understanding, and spirit of cooperation to be effective agents for rescuing God’s precious faithful ones.

ACTION:

The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and send your financial support for this mission to:

One Free World International 20 Bloor Street East, Box 75129 Toronto, ON M4W 3T3

Or by Direct Deposit to:

Bank: Toronto Dominion Bank Institution Code: 004 Transit Number: 12492 Account Number: 1249 5002036 (Canadian deposits); 1249 7200215 (U.S. dollar deposits) Swift: TDOMCATTTOR

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