Persecuted Christians | November 2019
1. Updates, Initiatives, and Sit Briefs
Turkey / Syria.
Frank Gaffney, President of Save the Persecuted Christians, shared our great concern for what is happening in this area.
Fr. Andre shared that our foreign policy has experienced a major change and introduced a new component to encourage greater responsibility and accountability for other countries to provide needed support for stability and peace in the region. The current administration is very pro-Christian and religious freedom. The US will not work for internal reform, but use the economy as pressure, reward and punishments in relationships to affect change in this area. The White House is committed to solve the problems of the Kurds and manage this crisis. ISIS is dismantled and they believe that Turkey will hold the area.
Frank G. asked if it is in fact it the case that Turkey is actively targeting Christians and Curds. Summary of responses: Some of the Christians cities are being hit because they are close to the military zone. There is evidence of execution of some Christians with lots of war crimes. The Turks were going house to house but that the Russians were there to protect the Christians.
Jorge Parrott, President of Christ’s Mandate for Missions (CMM.world) gave an update from a brother in Syria/Iraq. There was never a ceasefire in the city… Turkey is going house-to-house killing Kurds and Christians. The Russians said they would protect the Christians and that has brought hope to the people in northern Syria. Reports from the ground say nearly 100 are missing and 100,000 fleeings Syria, each paying $500 to get across the border. There is aid coming in from Switzerland both money and aid. We help trusted friends working in the areas of Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria where many have been martyred. We raise funds to send in aid including medicines, equipment, food, water, clothing, heaters, etc. In the last five years, we helped raise funds for a ‘hospitainer’, a mobile surgical/medical facility, bakery equipment able to bake up to 20 tons of bread per day, along with many other survival supplies. We help send in medical teams, brave ministry teams for evangelism and trauma counseling.
Charmaine Hedding, Founder of the Shai Fund, reports her organization has aid going in last Friday and today. They also said the ceasefire is not holding. Aid into NE Syria: Shai Fund is getting aid into NE Syria. We work with and through the Christians in this area and give out aid – at the moment we are giving out food aid to displaced Christians as well as Kurds, Yezidis, Arab tribes, etc inside Syria. We have more aid going in this weekend and hopefully at the end of next week. (Charmaine has provided a map of Christian communities in Syria. That resource is attached.; She also shared the following Middle East Forum article link on atrocities committed and possible war crimes being tracked: https://www.meforum.org/
Faith McDonnell, Director of Religious Liberty Programs and of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan for the Institute on Religion & Democracy notified the group of a prayer hour held Friday evening at their offices.
Dee Cook (Indigenous Ministries) made offered a side-note on Iraq. Indigenous Ministries have teams in Irbil to respond to Syrian refugees coming across the border and are providing needed aid to these refugees.
Tomorrow, in Iraq, they are expecting a 1-million person protest against the government because of all of the money from the oil industry has gone into the pockets of the politicians. The army has promised that the streets will run with blood.
Fr. Andre (Mission of Hope & Mercy) spoke about the multi-faith protests happening in Lebanon as a response to massive government corruption. Called for prayers and support for the democratic process to be strengthened and lifted up as a model for the Middle East. Lebanon must not fall like Syria and Iraq. Reporting on a recent White House Faith Leaders call and his question about Lebanon, he said the White House is aware of the protests in Lebanon and are following developments there. The State Department, he noted, runs hot and cold for religious freedom. The White House aims to protect Lebanon and keep it sovereign. They want all terrorist groups to leave Lebanon. The short term will be painful but good long term. The White House is working with people on the ground and it is positive. The State Department does not seem to have a similar plan. We should help maintain the people of many religions and freedom.
Marte Hudson, formerly with the U.S. State Dept. and a human rights activist working closely with Fr Andre, gave some additional background. The protest started small and now more than 1 1/2 million in the streets of Iraq representing all religions and people. They are demanding the removal of the corrupt government. This the 8th day and growing with more conflict. The government is Hamas/Hezbollah controlled. These protests are important to maintaining Lebanon because Lebanon itself is an important message to the whole world and an example of where people of all religions are living together.
Faith McDonnell introduced Jenny Noyes, Director of New Wineskins Ministry gave a brief report on the New Wineskins Anglican Missions conference held at the end of September which included a display of STPC’s “People of the Cross” exhibit. She and the participants were deeply impacted by the display and spent time in prayer before each banner.
Jenny then spoke about a Pakistani friend of hers who had come to the United States to speak at the conference. Before returning to Pakistan, he and Jenny went to Washington, D.C. where they reported on the dangerous situation that arose out of his giving testimony there before members of the administration and a large gathering of civil society leaders. The man and his family had fled to Thailand from the persecution they experienced in Pakistan arising from threats from Islamists. They lived in Thailand for 5 years, where they were never granted refugee status and where they continued to suffer persecution as Christians. They were unjustly put in prison on trumped-up charges for a noise violation. After a month, they were released without charge but were sent back to Pakistan where they continue to be threatened. While in Thailand, Jenny built a relationship with him and has been trying to help him and his family. Miraculously, he was allowed to travel to the United States for the conference and spent more than a month in the States. In Washington, D.C. he told his story but was confronted in front of the participants at the meeting by a Pakistani lawyer and advocate for Muslims in Kashmir who called him a liar and threatened actions against him back in Pakistan. Jenny reports concern for his safety has led him to seek asylum in the United States, but he is gravely concerned for his family’s immediate safety back in Pakistan. Jenny discussed various options they are exploring for legal assistance and noted funding is an issue they are trying to resolve. Dede is exploring options with them via STPC Coalition partners regarding legal assistance and help for his family. Coalition partners who may be able to lend help to this situation are encouraged to contact Dede (dede@
Also in Pakistan, the historic Christian mission Edwardes College has been taken over by the government and nationalized against the petitions of the mission to remain a private institution of higher education with a self-appointed board of governance. Protests have been ongoing, but western media has been silent. David Salik, a Pakistani human rights activist, and documentarian who has worked with Burma refugees in Nepal gave a report on the situation for Edwardes College and Pakistani Christians in general. David’s father, Julius Salik, has been a longtime politician and a Congressman in Pakistan. Ann Buwalda reported to Dede the elder Salik fought for the rights of Christians in Pakistan. He led Pakistan to remove reference to religion on national identity cards. David reports his father was jailed and spent many years defending his innocence before being vindicated through the courts. David says Christians in Pakistan are losing their rights more and more. They are making laws against Christians because they have no real representation. Representation for religious minorities is appointed rather than elected. And, the government keeps taking the Christian institutions of higher learning a little at a time. He reports at least 225 believers are still in jails waiting for their cases to be heard. Unjust actions against Christians are perpetrated by the government and extremists. The issues are not about blasphemy, but a desire to control their property. Christians are not allowed to hold office or have democratically-elected representation. Christians are second-class citizens.
Dr. Sayo Ajiboye, President of Mission Africa International reports that he has been praying with contacts in South Korea. South Korean media reports translated into English make it clear the S.K. administration is aligning with China and North Korea on issues of religious freedom. They are trying to adopt Chinese-like draconian rules outside the control of the legislative branch of government. Dr. Sayo reports there is important religious freedom legislation coming up for a vote on Oct 29, and the Christians are asking us for prayer. This vote would restrict religious freedom in line with that of China and North Korea.
Frank- we need to have something written about this. He concurs it does appear the South Korean President is lining up with China and North Korea. They are moving toward repression like that in North Korea.
Dr. Sayo then briefed the advisory board on a situation being experienced by his mission team in northern Nigeria. He reiterates what is happening in Nigeria is not a farmer/herder conflict. It is important that we dispel that idea. His organization is providing Bibles translated in the Hausa language to Christians in Nigeria. His team has been threatened via video posts calling on Muslims to stop the distribution of these Hausa Bibles. Dr. Sayo reports Islamist from other countries are increasingly getting on social media to condemn the Christians of Nigeria. They are influencing the government of Nigeria. Dr. Sayo has sought to move some of his team to safety, but they have refused, opting instead to continue their work. They want to stay and die if necessary because they refuse to give up and quit preaching the gospel. Dr. Sayo says they baptized 31 Muslim converts this week and my people are not giving up or backing down.
Doug Burton, Co-founder of War Desk News and the Prayer News Network briefed the advisory board on the visit to Washington, D.C. by H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo. He reports the former President had 2 recommendations 1. The president recommended a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad region be immediately appointed. 2. He spoke of the danger of Fulani joining with Boko Haram. Combined, they are a potent force in all of central Africa and they could easily take over a failed state like Libya. If that were to happen, all of the countries north of the Congo River would be in danger and the area destabilized.
Doug also reported on the status of schoolgirls taken captive earlier this month by a suspected combined force of Fulani & Boko Haram. The (8) students were taken and are still held in the bush. The kidnappers want a $27000 ransom. The families have provided approximately $9k. They receive calls from the kidnappers who abuse the girls during the calls to compel the families to ante up the ransom. The kidnapping of schoolgirls continues and may increase.
Frank G. asked about plans for Obasanjo’s return to the States. Dede reported there is a plan in the works for Obasanjo to return possibly as early as sometime next month if arrangements can be made. It is hoped the next trip would also include a delegation of current elected leaders who also support the appointment of a special envoy. Dr. Sayo said he has by a Nigerian governor who wants to protect his Christian population and supports the idea of an envoy. Something extra is needed, said Dr. Sayo, to bring Nigeria back to a peaceful state…the special envoy is the answer. Frank G. agrees we need several leaders from the leadership of Nigeria to join the former president to join in the request for the envoy
Frank G. reports VP Pence made a speech about China this afternoon slamming Nike and the NBA for siding with China against protestors in Hong Kong and against American values. He speaks about the import of American corporations to take a stand against China’s human rights abuses and for American values. Says Congressman Frank Wolf has suggested several things that we could be doing. He has urged us to increase pressure on state legislatures to affect the termination of the arrangement that the state universities have with the Chinese Communist Party’s sponsored Confucius Institutes, which are active on American campuses and have received U.S. funding. While many of these institutes have been shuttered, others are still operating. We need some model legislation for us to look at and recommend to others. Wolf and Maria Zack (Nations in Action) suggest a letter to state governors and legislators to inform them and ask that these Communist-propaganda organizations be closed. Wolf has said numerous times this must be a state-by-state effort. Frank G. says to watch this space for developing initiatives.
2. Good of the order
Doug Burton- Said a meeting was held today for Leah Sharibu on Capitol Hill. Sen. Cruz spoke boldly about helping her and they all prayed with Leah’s mom, Rebecca. The Leah Foundation, which advocates for Nigeria’s captive schoolchildren and the return of Leah Sharibu, is in D.C. for an Oct. 26 prayer rally to ask for continued prayer for Leah and her release. (More information and to sign a petition, please visit http://prayforleah.org)
Charmaine Hedding (Shai Fund) said Elezebeth Kourie, a Syrian member of the board of the SDF (governing executive council) is going to be in Washington, D.C. through early November. Please reach out to her if you’d like to coordinate a meeting with Ms. Kourie. (charmaine.hedding@
Dede- Reported the “Christian Persecution is Real” event planned last night at St. Peter’s in Monument, CO was canceled because of the snow. It will be rescheduled.