August 30, 2014
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The Persecuted Church
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Slaughter of Nigerian Christians rises sharply
NIGERIA (BP) -- Boko Haram extremists and others have killed nearly as many Nigerian Christians in the first seven months of this year as were killed in all of 2013, the advocacy group Jubilee Campaign reported Tuesday (July 29).
'Staggering' number of believers in China, Christian workers say
EAST ASIA (BP) -- Alexander and Maggie Kirkpatrick* moved to East Asia in 1989 -- the same year as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Their wedding anniversary shares the same date. During their 25 years of service, the Kirkpatricks watched China change and the church boom. The Christian workers say the number of believers in the country is "staggering."
Christians in Iraq 'facing extinction' at Islamists' hands
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Islamic militants have eradicated virtually every trace of Christianity from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, said July 23.
"What is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide."
-- Rep. Frank Wolf
"There are no Christians left in Mosul," Shea told CBN News. "They have all been driven out. They have been told to convert to Islam or die, or to leave." Mosul has been the center of Iraq's Christian community for two millennia, but it is also a site with a significant place in biblical history. Ancient Mesopotamia was the location of both the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, as well as the ancestral homeland of Abraham. The city of Mosul is located on the site of the ancient city of Nineveh, the capital of the brutal Assyrian empire and the location of Jonah's preaching in the biblical account. Nineveh, according to the Bible, was established by Noah's grandson Nimrod. Mosul became a familiar location to Southern Baptists in 2004 when four Christian aid workers, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, were ambushed there. Larry and Jean Elliot, David McDonnall and Karen Watson died in the attack. Only Carrie McDonnall, David's wife, survived, though she was seriously wounded. Shea, who formerly served as vice chair for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marked the property of Christians in Mosul with the Arabic word "Nasrani," or "Nazarene" -- a clear reference to Christianity. Christian property owners were then driven out. Last month militants offered Christians in Mosul the opportunity to enter into a dhimma, an agreement which would have allowed them to practice the Christian faith behind closed doors after they paid a hefty tax and agreed not to proselytize. However, multiple sources in the region said that offer was later withdrawn and all Christians were told to leave or face execution. Members of Assyrian Christian and Chaldean Catholic groups streamed out of Mosul when the final ultimatum was delivered this week by ISIS militants, Shea said, and they left empty handed. Militants confiscated all of their possessions, including homes, cars, clothes "and even their wedding rings, sometimes with the finger attached if it would not come off," she said. Shea also said she saw reports of ISIS militants destroying or defacing ancient Christian sites, such as the supposed tomb of the prophet Jonah, fourth century monasteries and churches. She added that militants tore down crosses in the city and burned ancient Christian manuscripts. "There is zero tolerance for the religious other on the part of this group," Shea said. "They are rabidly bigoted against Christians. They hate Christians. ...
Meriam Ibrahim gains freedom from Sudan
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman whose death sentence caused an international outcry, arrived safely in Italy this morning (July 24).
Boko Haram's Islamic motives 'ignored'
ABUJA, Nigeria (BP) -- The United States and other western nations have ignored the religious motivation of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and must understand the theological dynamics in Nigeria in order to curb terrorism in the western African country, the archbishop of Nigeria's Anglican Church told Baptist Press.
Newly abducted Nigerians escape Boko Haram
NORTHEAST NIGERIA (BP) -- More than 60 Nigerian women and girls Boko Haram abducted from northeast Nigeria two weeks ago have escaped and are reunited with their families, the Associated Press reported today (July 7).
PERSECUTION: In Sudan, Meriam Ibrahim afraid for life; also reports from Nigeria, Laos
KHARTOUM, Sudan (BP) -- Persecuted Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim is staying at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, for her safety, she told CNN by phone, and is unable to leave the country that in May condemned her to torture and death because of her faith.
Christians flee as violence spreads to northern Iraqi cities
MOSUL, Iraq (BP) -- Iraqi Christians came under fire again as the bloody campaign of Islamic militants spilled over from Syria into Iraq's northern cities last week.
"All the faithful have left [Mosul]. Who knows whether they will ever be able to return."
-- Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona
An estimated 10,000 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant), also known as ISIS and ISIL, advanced rapidly on Mosul and other northern Iraqi cities, such as Tikrit and Kirkuk, leaving a wave of destruction in their path and sending the Iraqi army reeling in panic. By June 15, ISIS terrorists had begun to approach Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers, policemen and government officials captured by ISIS have been summarily executed, as have some Chaldean Catholics, according to reports from sources inside the besieged region. Those same sources claim nearly all of the remaining Catholics have fled Mosul. "All the faithful have left the city," Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona told the Catholic World Report. "Who knows whether they will ever be able to return." Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein, nearly 1 million Christians have left the country. An estimated 500,000 remained in the northern portion of the country among the Chaldean Catholic community, which has existed there for 2,000 years. Nona said there were "35,000 faithful living in Mosul" in 2003. "Three thousand were still there in early 2014," Nona said. "Now, probably no one is left there and that is tragic." Haitham Jazrawi, pastor of Kirkuk Evangelical Church, confirmed the report. "Ninety nine percent of the Christians have left Mosul," Jazrawi told World Magazine June 10. The region's Catholics have been under pressure for some time, according to Catholic News Service. The agency quoted an Iraqi Catholic identifying himself only as "Danny," who said Christians "have been the objects of kidnapping, torture and killing by extremists, hoping to extort money from us or to force us to convert to Islam, for several months." Father Khalil Jaar, who is responsible for aiding Christian refugees who have reached Amman, Jordan, told Catholic News Service that ISIS forces have killed many Christians, but also Muslims who oppose their efforts to impose strict Sharia law. "All the people are suffering. But as we are a minority -- minority Christians -- it is normal to suffer more than others. But even the Muslims are suffering from these fanatic people," Jaar told CNS. "They don't have mercy on anyone, Christian or Muslim. The only answer they have is to kill them." According to the newspaper La Stampa, whose Vatican Insider project reports daily on Catholics around the world, at least one church under construction in Mosul has been demolished and the fourth-century monastery of Mar Benham is in the hands of ISIS militants. Vatican sources published the e-mail correspondence of a Dominican friar in the area, who told his superior the situation was "critical and apocalyptic." "They murdered adults and children. Hundreds of bodies have been left in the streets and in the homes, without any mercy," the Dominican friar wrote in his e-mail. If not killed for their faith, Christians who remain in occupied Mosul will likely see the imposition of a "dhimma" by ISIS if the group holds onto the city, just as Syrian Christians experienced when the Islamists took control of the ancient Christian city of Raqqa in March. Under a dhimma, a protection agreement much like those between mafia families and businesses, Islamists agree to offer "protection" to religious minorities in exchange for money. If the agreement is not signed, subjects are faced with the choice of converting to Islam or facing the sword. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in March that Christians in Raqqa, Syria, had signed the agreement, which committed them to a biannual tax of "four gold dinars" -- about $500 per person. In addition to being required to practice Christianity behind closed doors, Christians in Raqqa were told to follow 11 other directives in order to keep the agreement with their Muslim overlords. Among those directives, Christians were prohibited from building new sanctuaries or restoring ones damaged in the civil war there, and they were forbidden from aiding any faction or government opposed to ISIS, Haaretz reported. The U.S. State Department condemned the agreement in Raqqa as a violation of "universal human rights." Nina Shea, writing in National Review Online, said the situation in northern Iraq shows "the religious cleansing of Christians from Iraq is entering the end game." "President Maliki is vowing that Iraq's army will regain control, but this may take time. ISIS has controlled parts of Ramadi, the capital of Sunni Muslim Anbar province, and much of Fallujah for the past six months. When the army does eventually succeed in reversing jihadi control in Mosul, it may be too late for the Christians. Once Middle Eastern Christians flee to the West, they don't return," Shea wrote. "This is a profound development for the Christian church, of course, which has had a two-thousand-year-old presence there. But it will have long-term national-security implications for the West. American political leaders have so far failed to distinguish the religious cleansing from its surrounding context of terror and conflict. They overlook the fact that religious pluralism and diversity are among today's casualties." ISIS disavows any notion of freedom of religion. The group, which began as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, has morphed into a sect deemed too violent even by Al-Qaeda's spiritual leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was second in command to Osama bin Laden. Zawahiri has supported a group in Syria called Al-Nusra, which -- though it has committed atrocities of its own -- has been more protective of civilians.
Boko Haram kills 100s; military implicated
NORTHEAST NIGERIA (BP) -- Boko Haram terrorists posing as soldiers and preachers have killed hundreds of civilians since kidnapping more than 200 Christian school girls in April, amid unsubstantiated reports that 15 Nigerian military officers have been court-martialed for aiding the terrorists.
Christian mother's death sentence condemned
WASHINGTON (BP)-- The U.S. Senate has unanimously condemned the death sentence of a Sudanese Christian woman and called for the immediate release from prison of her children and her.
Abedini threatened with more jail time over Gospel witness in prison, wife says
TEHRAN, Iran (BP) -- Iranian authorities are threatening to extend the prison sentence of jailed U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini because he leads people to faith in Christ everywhere he is detained, Abedini's wife Naghmeh told Baptist Press.
CALL TO PRAYER: Persecution from a Chinese Christian's perspective
Stirred by a Chinese Christian's comment on the value of persecution, longtime Baptist leader Jimmy Draper asks fellow Christians in America, "Do we continue on our present trajectory of self-absorbed arrogance, confined to our self-contained little worlds and reap the inevitable consequences, or do we humble ourselves and plead with God for revival?"
2nd Sudanese woman jailed for her faith
JUBA, South Sudan (BP) -- A 27-year-old Christian mother on death row for alleged apostasy has given birth to a daughter while another Christian woman is jailed in Sudan on a similar charge, Morning Star News reported.
Nigerian girls' location learned, military says
NIGERIA (BP) -- The Nigerian military has learned the location of more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian Christian girls but has not managed to free the captives, Reuters News reported, while Boko Haram continues to slaughter Christians.
2nd VIEW: Violence, unrest continue in Venezuela; Gospel spreading
CARACAS, Venezuela (BP) -- In recent years, IMB missionaries in Venezuela have struggled to spread the Gospel amid ever-increasing difficulties. In the capital of Caracas, rampant poverty, random violence and food shortages are a part of everyday life, and simply walking down the wrong street at the wrong time can be a fatal mistake.

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