Persecution Fridays – Pakistan – Praying in Prison

March 2, 2012 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Pakistan: Praying in Prison

What do you do while imprisoned in solitary confinement for more than two years? The answer for one Pakistani Christian is “pray.” Asia Bibi has spent almost three years in prison on charges that she blasphemed Islam’s prophet Muhammad. She was convicted and sentenced to death, and she now awaits the ruling on her appeal. To protect her from other inmates, she has been kept in solitary confinement. She cooks her own food to ensure that no one tries to poison her.

VOM has supported Asia’s family during her long imprisonment and has stayed in touch with Asia through her faithful husband, Ashiq. In January, a VOM staff member was able to visit Asia in prison for the first time since she received the death penalty. Ashiq and the VOM worker spent 25 minutes with Asia, but they were separated by a tight metal screen.

“She had a smiley face full of joy and thanksgiving,” said the VOM worker. Asia said she was thankful for the visit and that she was happy and fine. She reported that jail officials were taking good care of her and that the superintendent, sympathetic to her extreme loneliness, promised to bring her any books she wanted. A female guard is with her at all times.

Asia told the VOM worker about another way she has been blessed. “There is a beautiful thing that happens every day in my cell. Two days after they announced my death penalty, I was brought into the death cell [death row]. Every morning around 3:30 or 4, a brown bird with a long beak appears and sits on the boundary wall. This bird also comes every evening around 5. He sits there for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Later on he became my friend. I talk to him and he also talks to me.

“As I watched this bird every day, I tried to understand the meaning of him coming day after day. I think this is a messenger from God giving me his message. When the bird comes, I feel encouraged and peaceful. I feel comforted after his visit. I think this is very significant sign from God.”

Asia is allowed to walk in the courtyard every day for a few minutes, but she is always accompanied by guards. Other prisoners attend religious services in the jail every week, but Asia is not allowed to attend. So in her loneliness, she prays.

“I am praying every day,” she said. “I am strong in my faith. I know that this is a test of my faith and I know to make gold, it must be purified; it has to be put in the fire.

“I am not worried about myself, but I am worried about the VOM workers who are helping me, which is very dangerous. I pray for them every day.

“I don’t know the names, but I know the people from USA are helping me; I pray for them also. I pray for the people around the world who are praying for me.” Asia also prays for the families of two men, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, both of whom were killed for their support of Asia.

“I am very thankful to them that they sacrificed their lives for me,” Asia said. She is also thankful for the financial support provided to her family. “I know you are the people helping me and my family and fighting my case in the court. I am very thankful to Lord for this.”

Asia asked how her two young daughters are doing. She wanted to make sure they are going to school and church, concerned they might stray from what she wants for them. Ashiq assured her that the girls are attending school and church. “I am thankful they are doing this,” she said.

Asia, Ashiq and the VOM worker finished their time together with prayer. They prayed for the court, the judge, the attorneys and the jail’s staff. And Asia prayed that God would bless her and make her life an example to the other prisoners.

She ended with, “I pray that God will forgive the people who blamed me. … I know God helps his people and he will release me. I want to appeal to the world to pray for a miracle to release me from jail and that I stand strong in my faith.”

Please join Asia in her appeal for release by signing the petition at www.CallForMercy.com. And above all, pray.

Persecution Fridays – Pakistan

June 17, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Pakistan: The Power to Forgive

Shaken and still feeling the effects from an attack on their service, Numseoul Presbyterian Church publicly forgave the men who attacked them on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Armed with guns, the nephew of a former legislator, Muhammad Shoaib, and four other men disrupted the church service three days earlier. “They were just out of control,” Pastor Ashraf Masih told Compass Direct News. “Shoaib and his men broke the glass altar of the church, threw copies of the Bible towards the wall and desecrated the cross.” The gang also beat three elderly Christians with bamboo sticks.

The attackers cursed the congregation for disrupting the peace by worshipping on loudspeakers, Masih said. However, the church uses loudspeakers only inside the church building, located in a rural area outside Lahore. “The loudspeakers on mosques are used all day long for prayers and sermons,” he said. “I fail to understand why this man has turned against us in the last few months.” Continue Reading Persecution Fridays – Pakistan…

Persecution Friday: Pakistan

March 11, 2011 at 9:26 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Pakistan: Christian Minister Killed

A pamphlet left by Taliban forces at the scene of the crime.

Pakistan’s only Christian cabinet member, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated by gunmen on March 2, 2011. Shahbaz, a member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, ardently advocated reforming Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which is often used against Christians. He is the second politician killed for criticizing the blasphemy law and calling for the release of convicted Christian Asia Bibi. The governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was killed on Jan. 4 after he publicly spoke out against the law. Several armed men opened fire on Shahbaz’s car in a residential neighborhood of Islamabad. Two of the men pulled Shahbaz’s driver out of the car while the third man repeatedly fired his Kalashnikov into the vehicle. Shahbaz was killed instantly. Pakistani television carried images of his bullet-riddled car. 

 Pamphlets attributed to Al-Qaeda and a branch of the Pakistani Taliban were distributed at the scene, warning that anyone who criticized the blasphemy law would be killed. Last November, Shahbaz joined Governor Taseer in championing the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Shahbaz had been receiving death threats since the governor’s murder. He said in several interviews that he was “the highest target right now,” but he vowed to continue his work and trusted his life to God, according to Compass Direct News. “I don’t believe that bodyguards can save me after the assassination [of Taseer],” he said. “I believe in the protection from heaven.”

Shahbaz was a committed Christian. In a BBC video recorded just four months ago, Shahbaz said, “I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of cross. And I am following the cross.” He joined the Pakistan People’s Party in 2002 and was appointed the Federal Minister for Minorities in 2008, the first Christian to hold the position. According to Release International’s CEO, Andy Dipper, “Shahbaz was an uncompromising supporter of minorities in Pakistan who face abuse and unfair treatment. He was fully aware of the risks in speaking out. Extremists have succeeded in destroying another good man.”

Newslinks 12/12/10

December 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

2 More Christians Killed in Baghdad
Iraq’s Christian minority took another hit Sunday evening when gunmen shot and killed an elderly Christian couple in their home.

Prop. 8 Appeal Goes Before Federal Court

Pakistan Minister Condemns Reward for Killing Christian Woman

Colson: Prison Rate Up Due to Moral Breakdown

WCC Head, Pope Benedict Discuss Church Unity

Somali Teenage Girl Shot to Death for Embracing Christ Continue Reading Newslinks 12/12/10…

Persecution Fridays: Pakistan

December 10, 2010 at 10:07 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Pakistan: Mullah Requests Murder

On Dec. 3, 2010, a mullah in Pakistan offered more than $6,000 (U.S.) to anyone who kills Asia Bibi, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts.

VOM contacts are concerned for Asia’s safety. In the past, Christian have been killed in jail, on their way to court, and even after being released from jail. “There is threat that she can be killed even after her releasing from the jail,” VOM contacts said. “It’s not just a statement by mulana, but we have examples of previous blasphemy cases.”

Following the mullah’s statement, Muslims, including representatives from extremist groups, protested against Asia and a proposed amendment of the blasphemy law. Protests were held in many major cities in Pakistan.

Asia was arrested by police in June 2009 following an intense discussion between her and her co-workers about their faith. Asia told the Muslim women about her faith in Christ, explaining that he had died on the cross for our sins. Then she asked them what Mohammed had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them Jesus is alive, but Mohammed is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”

Upon hearing this, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey. Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan.

Asia was charged with blasphemy, and on Nov. 8, 2010, she was sentenced to death. Pray for Asia’s protection during this tense time. Pray for Asia’s release from prison and for her safety after her release. Ask God to minister to her family, especially her children.

Persecution Fridays: Pakistan Asia Bibi Death Sentence

November 12, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Pakistan: Asia Bibi—Death Sentence

On Nov. 8, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a judge in Pakistan, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. The judge also fined Asia $1,190 (U.S.) and told her she had seven days to appeal the decision. VOM contacts reported that her attorney will appeal the sentence. Asia was arrested by police on June 19, 2009, and charged with blasphemy after she engaged in a religious discussion with co-workers. Many of the local women, including Asia, worked on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees. During their work, many of the Muslim women had pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam.

Her family is one of only three Christian families in a village of more than 1,500 families.

On June 19, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam, and, according to VOM sources, Asia responded by telling the Muslim women that Christ died on the cross for our sins. She told them Jesus is alive. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them. Upon hearing this response, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room.

They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey. Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She is currently being held at the police station in Nankana city. Christians there had urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed that they had to go forward because of pressure from local Muslim leaders. VOM is assisting Asia’s family and urges you to continue praying for Asia and her family during this difficult time. Pray that her appeal will be successful and that God will act on her behalf. Pray that Christians in Pakistan will continue to stand for Christ.


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