Wow! It has been a long journey to get to this point. Starting tomorrow, our Advocacy Officer and Regional Manager to Africa will be heading to Capitol Hill on an advocacy tour, speaking up for the 35 Ethiopian Christians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia (you may have read about them in our April issue of Persecution.)
Would you continue to join us in prayer as they advocate on behalf of our brothers and sisters in prison?
- that God would touch the hearts of the government officials who they are meeting with;
- for the immediate release of the Ethiopian Christians;
- that God would comfort and strengthen the Ethiopian Christians in their time of need.
Thank you so much for being a part of this journey with us!
Right now, as I write this, there are 35 men and women sitting in a jail in Saudi Arabia for committing a “crime” that, not only is nonexistent in most countries, is not even on the books in Saudi Arabia. A little more than four months ago, these 35 men and women gathered together for a prayer meeting in a private residence and emerged to find the Saudi “religious police” waiting to arrest them.
They were accused of “illicit mingling” between genders, which as I mentioned, is not codified in Saudi law. But no one is really fooled by the official explanation. The fact is, the men and women arrested are Christians and they were arrested for having the audacity to hold a prayer meeting.
Since their arrest, they have faced everything from strip searches to violent interrogations. They have been accused of being “unbelievers” and pressured to convert to Islam. Worst of all, they do not know when or if they will be released. This completely flies in the face of official Saudi policy, which is supposedly to respect the private worship practices of all faiths.
Next week, ICC is going to Capitol Hill, the State Department, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in order to draw some attention to this case. Over the course of three straight days we will be meeting with at least two dozen congressional offices, explaining what took place, and asking for senators and congressmen to start exerting serious pressure on the Saudi Arabian government to respect basic human rights, like the right to worship according to the faith of your own choosing.
In the past, we have seen Christians set free after advocating on their behalf, so join us in prayer as we go to our nation’s leaders and speak up for the Christians who can’t.
Throughout the Islamic world, Muslims are coming to Christ like never before. How? Through radio broadcasts and satellite television. Just take a look at these revealing 2012 statistics from ICC ministry partners. In January through March, Muslims were told about Christ by ICC-supported ministers almost 4,000 times by phone, over 50,000 times by e-mail, and over 100 times during face-to-face visits. In all those conversations, over 300 former Muslims were led into a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus. Praise the Lord!
How does it work? Many Muslims respond to a Christian media broadcast by calling the number that is given at the end of the broadcast. They are then directed to an ICC partner who will share the Gospel to them. It is only through your generous donations that ICC is able to support Christian television and radio broadcasts as well as ministers in the world’s most persecuted countries to share Christ with Muslims.
“I left the darkness of Islam and came to the light of the Lord Jesus after watching a Christian television broadcast,” a new Egyptian believer recently told an ICC sponsored representative. “Even though my life is threatened and my husband has thrown me away and does not support me financially and in spite of all my problems I am facing after coming to Christ, yet my life is full of joy because I belong to Jesus and I am God’s daughter.”
Month: January February March 2012 Totals
Calls to Muslims: 1,150 1,100 1,679 3,939
E-mails to Muslims: 9,135 13,352 29,903 52,390
Face to face visits with Muslims: 54 31 32 117
New believers connected to church: 14 11 12 37
Declared salvations: 126 93 89 308
Note: the statistics are given to ICC from ICC ministry partners. The numbers are only those that our partners are aware of, but do not account for all of the Muslims who receive Christ as a result of ICC-supported media broadcasts or through ministries not supported by ICC. Just think of how much more God is doing that we’re unaware of!
The Lord is doing amazing things through our missionaries in India. In the past three months alone, 34 people have come to Christ.
One of the converts is a former Hindu priest. Kumar* was well-known Hindu priest in his village as well as other surrouding villages. When he was tormented with the evil spirit, he came to realization that he needed help. One of our missionaries fasted and prayed for Kumar.Praise God for salvation of souls!
*name has been changed for security
On an investigatory trip to Asia last month, Regional Manager Ryan Morgan stepped into the shoes of Bible smugglers, Con Dau refugees, and orphaned children rescued from Burma’s militant dictatorship.
Part One: China
I’m sitting on a sticky black leather couch in a small office space surrounded by boxes of Bibles. It is hot, hotter than I expected, and a few feet away three people I have yet to meet are snoring soundly in their bunk beds. After 19 hours of flying I’ve finally made it to my destination, and although the jet lag is doing its best to knock me unconscious, I can’t help but feel a tinge of excitement that I’m actually here. This is China, and those people sleeping soundly in the other room are Bible smugglers.
The next morning, my contacts and I pile into a crowded city bus that winds its way to an unassuming business district. The Bibles piled up at the office were just the tip of the iceberg, and here, in a dimly lit storage room I find myself staring at thousands upon thousands more, all waiting to be transported into the hands of believers across China. Every year ICC moves tens of thousands of Bibles into China, but the demand keeps growing.
The following day I become a smuggler myself, loading a suitcase full of Bibles that I pray will make it into the hands of one of my Chinese brothers and sisters who has never had one to call their own. I cannot help sweating a bit as I ignore the x-ray machine at the checkpoint and walk past a group of sullen-looking customs officials with a suitcase full of what they consider illegal contraband. The crowd is thick though, and they don’t seem to notice my “absent minded” mistake of skipping the x-ray check. I’ve made it through customs, and along with the flood of relief I’m suddenly hit with a startling realization: I live where people excitedly line up for the latest iPad while not giving a second thought to the Bible sitting on their bookshelf. And here I am, halfway around the world, being forced to quietly sneak the Book in that millions still cannot wait to get a hold of. It is a humbling realization.
Read the rest of Ryan’s journal May 1 in our free newsletter, available online and in print.
More than 150 Christians were gathered to worship Christ in a Muslim majority city of Mtwapa, Kenya. Muslims also organized a worship service only 900 feet from the place where Christians were holding their service. The Muslims’ meeting was to counter the Christians and to ‘teach’ them that they follow false religion. Christian could hear the vilification coming from the Islamic preachers. Undeterred, the Christians continued to worship.
At 7 p.m. local time it got dark. All of a sudden, Muslim radicals threw a grenade in the middle of the gathering. The blast killed two Christians and wounded more than 30. Church leaders called for peace. A pastor who talked to ICC said, “[I urge Christians] not to retaliate. [Rather] they should show love even when they are attacked.”
Photos courtesy of the Associated Press