Monday, December 26, 2011

Eve of Christmas Attack on Church in South-West of Iran

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

AHVAZ, IRAN (ANS) -- Two days before Christmas, State Security agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, attacked the Assembly of God Church in Ahvaz, and detained the pastor, the Rev. Farhad Sabok-Rooh, and his wife.

Rev. Farhad Sabok-Rooh

According to the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN) – the attack took place on Friday, December 23, 2011, at 11:00 local time, during the weekly service in the church located in the city of Ahvaz, the center of oil rich province of Khuzestan, situated about 559 miles south-west of Tehran, when a large number of State Security agents surrounded the building and raided the church, located in Kianpars 3th street.

“All those present, including children attending their Friday school, were arrested, mobile phones confiscated, and church building thoroughly searched by the plainclothes agents who refused to identify themselves,” said the FCCN story.

“A number of computers, all audio-visual equipment, and hundreds of copies of Christian books, were seized and removed; Church attendees were relieved of their mobile phones and were taken on two buses to an unknown destination.

“A number of armed State Security agents of the Islamic Republic stayed on who continued their search for a considerable time afterwards.”

FCNN reports that almost all detainees, after a thorough searched and considerable verbal abuse, were released a few hours later.

However, Rev. Farhad Sabok-Rooh, his wife Shahnaz, and two other Christian workers, named David and Naser, have not been released but are being held in an unidentified prison.

“The released church attendees have been told to be ready to be summoned back, and if it is deemed not to be harmful to the security of the Islamic Republic, their mobiles may be returned then,” said FCCN.

However, the whereabouts of Rev. Farhad, his wife Shahnaz, and the other two church workers is as yet unknown, and the “authorities” have thus far not given any reason for their vehement Anti-Christian activities in Ahvaz.

“During the months of January and February of this year; many house churches in Ahvaz and Dezfool were raided and during a wave of attacks against Christians,” added FCCN.

“Many have been detained while many more were called-in to the Ministry of Intelligence offices in Ahwaz. According to one source at least three have been detained and more than 20 were called in for interrogation and intimidation.”

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My mother's birthplace July 1918

Click on the title for it. I have a collection of postcards from my grandfather in the army in Germany to her as a baby at this address. I believe my great grandfather was a labourer on the Ewart Park estate with the females of the family in service. There name was Lillico, an unusual one but commoner in Northumberland for it is a corruption of Linlithgow.

Mother married a local Graham. I have just found the name is notorious.

'I was drinking tea and idly watching Alistair Moffat's The Reivers and The Making of The Borders on ITV. This particular episode was all about the Reiving Graham Family and what became of them...(I bet you can guess the punchline by now but I certainly hadn't). The fate of the lawless Graham/Grahem family involved them being expelled to Ireland. How did they respond? They simply changed their name and got back over here. They had changed their surname to Meharg and so they quietly slipped back into England hoodwinking the authorities yet again. Of course, when I heard this, I nearly choked on my cup of char. The Reiver descendant's name which had so flummoxed me was - Grahem Meharg (a veritable palindrome). The answer to the riddle had been staring me in the face all along!

Fast forward to this month - September 2010..with Mr.H. loving the history of this area as much as I do. . .

We had some Scottish guests staying with us who had not heard of the Border Reivers. This is understandable as they came from a coastal part of Scotland far from the Border area. (The Reivers are not widely known outside this region although many Americans, who are researching their family history, come over to learn more about their ancestors and know a lot about them.)

When Mr. H. got onto the subject of the Reiving Grahams/Grahems' name change the Scottish lady spluttered into her tea too when she heard the story! It turns out that they know some Mehargs as well. Those Mehargs, it seems, may well be unaware of their Border roots as they think their name was McHarg or something similar given that it is so unusual. The Scottish lady's husband who was also present, plies his trade in linguistics and dialects so he too was extremely taken by all of this. "A palindromic riddle solved" as Mr.H. so aptly put it.

So there you have it. Here is a short history of the Grahams/Grahems (for a lengthier version the BBC has done a sterling job here) - I've quoted an extract from this brilliant website - The Debatable Lands Beyond The Wall:

"A couple of tales exist relating to where the Graham clan came from. One states they were descendents of a man called Graeme, who in Roman times helped to breach the Antonine Wall which ran between the Rivers Clyde and Forth. However it is more likely that they were of Norman French origin and initially settled in Grantham in Lincolnshire from which they took their name. Their original name is likely to have been De Grantham, which over the years changed to De Graham and finally shortened to Graham.

It is known that the clan moved to Scotland in 12th Century where a William de Graham is recorded in 1127. The Grahams were accepted as Scottish citizens after one of the clan married into the native Scottish family of Strathearn. Whilst spread throughout areas of both Scotland and England, The Graham clan were mainly associated with Dumfriesshire and Cumberland.

The Grahams are one of the most notorious of the Reiver families and often raided the lands of their arch enemies the Robsons of North Northumberland. By 1552 legend states that the Graham clan was at least 500 strong occupying 13 Pele towers.

Following the Union of England and Scotland in 17th Century, some of the most ruthless Grahams were sent to Ireland with other tribesmen including Kerrs, Armstrongs and Eliots and forbidden to return." ' -

Thursday, December 15, 2011

50 Christians killed amid Syria unrest; many families need humanitarian aid

Barnabas Fund international director visits Syria, hears concerns of Christian leaders

Around 50 Christians have been killed in the anti-government unrest in Homs, Syria, by both rebels and government forces, while many more are struggling to feed their families as the violence brings normal life in the city to a halt.

Iraqi Christian refugee in Syria receives a food parcel from Barnabas Fund

In one tragic incident, a young Christian boy was killed by the rebels, who filmed the murder and then claimed that government forces had committed the act. Another Christian was seized by the rebels, taken to a house and asked, “How do you want to die?” The man completely broke down and was released but has been left in severe psychological distress.

Many Christian families have fled Homs because of the violence between government troops and the rebels, which has claimed around 1,500 lives in the city. They have left behind their homes, possessions and jobs, so are now struggling to find the means to feed their families. Some of those who are staying in the city are too afraid to leave their homes to go to work, so they too are in great financial hardship. Few dare to go out after 3pm or on Fridays, when the streets are most dangerous.

A Christian leader in Homs said that the Christian areas of the city are surrounded by rebels. They sometimes try to “disappear” into Christian neighbourhoods, which are generally expected to be peaceful, but they are hunted down there by the army, and violence ensues.

Barnabas director meets Christians in Syria

Barnabas Fund’s International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, returned earlier this month from a visit to Syria. He met with senior Syrian church leaders, who expressed the concerns of the country’s Christians about the ongoing unrest.

Christians comprise a significant proportion of the Syrian population, around ten per cent (two million); this includes thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees who have been forced from their homeland by anti-Christian violence and persecution.

The Syrian regime may not function according to Western standards, but it has afforded the Christian community equality and religious freedom; Syria is one of the few Arab lands where Christians have enjoyed respect and been allowed to live peacefully among their Muslim neighbours.

But the current crisis has destabilised that harmony as Christians are perceived as supporters of the Assad government, having been well treated under his regime. And, as in other countries affected by the “Arab Spring”, radical Islamists in Syria – with backing from Saudi Arabia – have seized the opportunity created by the unrest to pursue their agenda, increasing the danger for Christians.

Christians fear repeat of Iraq

Christians fear that their precarious position will only worsen as the international community intensifies pressure on the Syrian government and appears to be moving towards military intervention. Weapons and militants from outside are already coming into the country, strengthening the rebels’ campaign.

A senior Syrian church leader has written:

The people of Syria do not want the international powers to interfere in their lives and so divide the country as they did in Iraq. Any such hidden agenda of the superpowers will mean the end of Christianity in the Middle East. Simply look at what happened to the Christians of Iraq after the war began there… A great number of them had no choice but to leave the country forever, and those who stayed remain marginalised to this day. Not to forget that many of them were persecuted and their churches bombed. Accordingly, Christians in Syria are very suspicious of the interference of the superpowers, because their destiny stands to be no different than that of their Iraqi brothers and sisters.

Western and Arab media have presented a distorted picture of the unrest in Syria. The undeniable atrocities being committed by the government have been well documented, but equally despicable acts by the rebels do not make the headlines. And while some reports suggest that the country is in a state of civil war, in reality the conflict is at present mainly concentrated in Homs. Such one-sided reporting is fuelling international pressure against the government.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

The tragedy facing Syria, especially the Christian community and other minorities, is potentially another Iraq. It is now recognised that the war in Iraq was not only misguided but also illegal, with devastating consequences for the peoples of Iraq, especially the Christians. This must not be allowed to happen again. Christians must now pray for peace and stability, but also urge their governments not to engage in actions in Syria without considering the consequences.

Christians in Syria, including Iraqi refugees, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance as sanctions and the unrest are beginning to cripple the country’s economy. People who have lost jobs and homes are coming to the churches asking for food. Barnabas Fund has created a special Middle East Fund to help those who are being affected by the crisis across the region. A family of four needs £3 a day for food (€3.60, NZ$6.20).

Please Pray
  • For all those in Syria who have lost loved ones or are suffering hardship as a result of the unrest.
  • That peace will quickly be re-established and that the international community will carefully consider the effects on the Syrian population of any economic and military actions.
  • For the Christians in Syria, that the Lord will protect His Church there and maintain for Himself a strong witness in that land.

Give Today

If you would like to help Christians affected by the unrest in the Middle East, please send your donation to the Middle East Fund (project 00-1032). Please click to donate online using our secure server.

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference Middle East Fund(project 00-1032).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference Middle East Fund (project 00-1032).

For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) textBarnabas/1032 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

First attacks on Christian 'safe haven' in Kurdish north

Attacks on Christian businesses in the Kurdish north of Iraq have caused deep concern among local Assyrian Christians for whom the region has been a safe haven.

Riots broke out on Friday in the northern town of Zakho in Dohuk province in the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan – after a Muslim mullah spoke out about the sale of alcohol. Reuters news agency reports that gangs set fire to more than 30 shops and bars and damaged three hotels, most of which are Christian-owned businesses.

Later on Friday, rioters tried to attack Christian quarters of Zakho, but the authorities intervened to protect these neighbourhoods. Further violence erupted the following day in the provincial capital, Dohuk, where groups attacked shops and a cultural club in two Christian areas. On Monday, minor incidents of similar violence were reported near the Kurdish capital, Erbil, and in Sulaymaniyah.

Local sources alleged that the attacks in Zakho had been organised by a pro-Islamic political party.

Canon Andrew White, the vicar of St George's Church in Baghdad and President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, told Release: 'We had placed so much hope on the fact that there was one place in Iraq where Christians could find security and a future. That place was Dohuk.

'Sadly, with the violence in the last few days, this hope has now gone. People are petrified and are saying, 'What happens to us now?' Will we stand with them and support them in this great difficulty? Faith shines a light into the darkness, hope into despair, gives a future where there is no future.'

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled north to areas such as Kurdistan, which became largely autonomous in 1991.

For more news and a country profile about Iraq, click here

(Sources: Compass Direct, Reuters)

• Pray for peace and religious tolerance to be restored in Iraqi Kurdistan.
• Pray that this latest violence will prompt Christians in Iraq to draw even closer to God rather than be tempted to leave their homeland. Ask God to
bless the peace-building ministries of Canon Andrew White and the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.

Please forward this email to Christian friends so that they can pray too.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

IPC Churches: Distinctives

Presbyterian churches differ from evangelical ones with independent government in that there is no doctrinal test for members, only for office holders. However there is a need to let those interested in the church know for what we stand. So our presbytery has produced the following document to state our beliefs.


This is an attempt to summarise what is distinctive about the churches of the International

Presbyterian Church, both those which already exist and those we hope to plant in the


As Reformed churches, our understanding of the gospel is set out in the Ecumenical

Creeds and the Westminster Confession of Faith, all of which are subordinate to the Bible

as God’s word. None of what follows is intended to detract from or disagree with anything

in these documents.

1. Gospel Distinctives

These are some key points and distinctives of our grasp of the gospel:

a) The gospel is about knowing the Sovereign, Transcendent, Trinitarian God

The gospel is about how the almighty, great and glorious God, who made everything and is

infinitely exalted above all his creation, has called his people to know him. The Triune God

calls us to know the Father through the incarnate Son by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is God’s

summons to know himself through himself. All the blessings of the gospel, now and for

eternity, are to be understood as coming from the Father, won for us by Jesus Christ, and

enjoyed in Spirit-given fellowship with him.

b) The gospel is inseparable from the Word of God

The gospel is good news (Mark 1:1): that is, it is a message to be verbally proclaimed.

Furthermore, this message is the word of God (Acts 6:7), defined by the Scriptures. The

Scriptures are God’s covenant constitution for his church, through all of which the Holy

Spirit brings the Church into existence and onwards to maturity. We therefore treat the

Scriptures as having the full authority of God himself, and aim to understand it in continuity

with the Church throughout history. For this reason we are a confessional church: not only

must we say that we believe the Bible’s teaching, but we must state clearly what it is we

believe the Bible teaches. Therefore we hold to the ecumenical creeds and the Westminster

Confession, as encapsulating the content of the gospel.

c) The gospel is about forgiveness of sins

As the angel announced to Joseph before his birth (Matthew 1:21), and Jesus himself said

after his resurrection (Luke 24:47), the principle blessing he came to give to those who

receive him is the forgiveness of sins. Specifically, forgiveness of us by God for the sins we

have committed against him, through the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus at the cross, saving

us from future judgment and justifying us for eternity. Important as other blessings of the

gospel are, this is never to be neglected, eclipsed or displaced as the centre point of what

salvation in Christ means.

d) The gospel is about the whole of life

Once the central place of forensic forgiveness has been affirmed, it is necessary to say that

the gospel is not merely that. The gospel is that God in Christ is restoring and completing

his creation: restoring what was has been damaged by sin, and completing his original

purposes when he created the world and placed man over it to rule it and fill it. This has

been accomplished by Christ in his death and resurrection and will be brought to

completion in his body, the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). The church is therefore humanity

recreated in the image of God (Ephesians 4:24).

Forgiveness and justification are therefore the essential beginning of the work of

redemption and transformation that encompasses the whole of human life. This means not

only the whole of the life of the individual Christian (there is no area of a Christian’s life

which is not to be transformed in the power of the Spirit into the likeness of Christ), but the

whole of human society throughout the world. The Church is an international body united in

Christ (Colossians 3:11). Jesus gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness and to

purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus


e) The gospel is about the return of Christ

While we have a foretaste of these things now, we do not expect their full realisation now

but only at Christ’s return when Christians will be united with him in a resurrection like his

(Romans 6:5). What Christians receive now from the risen and ascended Christ is a

foretaste of these things, in their new birth in their ‘inner man’ (2 Cor 4:16) and in the life of

the church, which is the nucleus of the new creation.

f) The gospel is about the church and vice versa

God’s plan of salvation has always centred on his covenant people, the Church. The

members of the Kingdom of God are the members of Jesus’ Church; the Church is the

sphere of redemption. It is not merely the meeting-place for converted people; it is the

nation God has chosen for himself, the race who are being restored into God’s true image,

because it is the body and bride of Christ the true image of the invisible God. As such the

Church is the nucleus of the new creation and salvation is all about being part of the

Church. To be saved is to enter the Kingdom, to join the covenant people of God.

In his covenant God chooses a nation as his own, calls them to himself, binds himself to

them and them to him by his words and comes to dwell with them, to be their God and to

have them as his people. Far from being something which was scrapped with the coming

of Christ in favour of a whole new mode of salvation (applied atomistically to individuals

through faith outside of any context of covenant), the glory of the new covenant is that the

gentiles have come to share in the blessings of Israel (e.g. Rom 15:27). Individual faith is

vital because the promises of the covenant must be received in faith; and for just the same

reason, faith must be in the covenant promises, made to God’s people as a whole. The

goal of salvation is the building of the Church, rather than the other way round.

This means the Church is the sphere where the whole-life gospel is put into practice.

Calling people to salvation is calling them to Christ, which is calling people into his Church.

Of course church membership must never be divorced from faith in Christ; but nor should

faith in Christ be divorced from church membership. The Church is to be a counterculture

where God’s design for humanity, for all human relationships is restored and displayed for

the world to see.

Because there is one Church, the one covenant people of the Triune God, connection and

mutual accountability between congregations is important. Gospel unity needs to be

maintained by appropriate accountability of elders to the wider church, and spurred on by

mutual encouragement in the gospel. The Biblical pattern appears to be that these twin

functions should be fulfilled by a council of elders from many churches – a presbytery (1

Timothy 4:14). Presbyterian church government is, therefore, both a court for the good

government of the church and a catalyst for the growth of the church.

The individualised gospel of much of evangelicalism, while in God’s grace having led to

countless conversions, has unwittingly led to the growth of secularisation, as the Lordship

of Christ has been successively excluded from the public domain, and the values of the

Enlightenment seen as supreme instead. In our day, when this dominance of secularism is

beginning to turn into active persecution of Christians, it is more important than ever that

the Church learns to counter secularism by proclaiming Christ not merely as a saviour of

individuals but as Lord of all who is building his Church as the nucleus of the new creation

he will surely bring about at his return.

2. Church distinctives

All the above is simply an attempt to articulate a Reformed vision of the gospel and the

Church as the covenant people of the Triune God. Our aim is to apply this vision to the

world we live in today.

The practical application of this can be summarised under two headings.

a) The Holy Spirit applies the blessings of the gospel through the means of grace.

While the visible church, as seen by us in the present, is not to be identified with the true

Church of those of genuine faith (which is invisible to us), nevertheless the ordinary means

by which God gives Christians the blessings of salvation come through the visible church.

Therefore the normal Spirit-filled Christian life is lived in the church and it is through the

means of grace found in the church that the Holy Spirit brings people to faith in Christ and

grows them to Christian maturity.

Therefore our churches, and future church plants, should have the following distinctives:

i) Preaching

God has always built his Church through his word; Jesus rules his Church through the

written word, written and illuminated by his Spirit. Therefore the preaching of the word of

God to the assembly of the church is the central act of the church’s worship and the central

means through which she submits to her Lord. Both expository and doctrinal preaching are

important; expository preaching is of particular value in keeping the church under the

authority of God’s word. Both must constantly proclaim Christ crucified, risen and

ascended (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

ii) Sacraments

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not dispensable additions to the Christian’s life; they

are given and commanded by Christ as sure signs of his grace and, when received with

faith, means of communicating that grace to us. Thus while they are of no value if received

with no faith (in fact they increase condemnation), and salvation does not depend on them,

they are in ordinary circumstances essential parts of the life of the Christian and the life of

the Church. They are (as the Westminster Confession says) signs and seals of the

Covenant of Grace: Baptism of entry into that covenant, the Lord’s Supper of continuing

life within it.

As such, the Lord’s Supper is to be a regular feature of our services and Baptism should be

administered as soon as possible after a credible profession of faith. In line with their nature

as covenant signs, infants born within the family of the church are rightly baptised to show

their membership of the covenant people in which they will grow; and children giving a

credible profession of faith, as judged by their parents and the church’s elders, are rightly

given the Lord’s Supper.

When understood in this way the sacraments are a powerful visual proclamation of the

gospel both to believers and unbelievers.

iii) Elders

Elders, also called in the New Testament overseers, shepherds and teachers, are Christ’s

ordained means of equipping the saints for the work of ministry so as to build up the body

of Christ, and so bring his church to maturity. They do this through their example, their

teaching, and their government of the church (Ephesians 4:11-16). Elders are to meet the

standards set for them in 1 Timothy and Titus and obey Paul’s exhortations in Acts 20. A

healthy church should have a plurality of elders according to the New Testament pattern. It

is the responsibility of elders to teach the Bible to their church and to dispense the

sacraments appropriately. This includes the discipline of believers when necessary.

Eldership is to be seen as an immense blessing to the whole church; a gift from the

ascended Christ to his people (along with the Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists), as the

principle route through which he applies the blessings of his word to his church, through

preaching, teaching, governing and pastoral care.

Being instituted and ordained by Christ, the office of elder is not to be tampered with.

Elders hold a delegated authority from Christ, and as such it is only an office for men, the

distinct roles of male and female in human society being clearly laid out in Scripture.

The office of Ruling Elder, as one who exercises the authority of an elder without having the

regular duty of teaching, is less prominent in the New Testament than in the Old, but still

appears to be present (1 Timothy 5:17) and is to be preserved.

There are many godly brothers in Christ who do not hold to a covenantal view of the church

as set out above, and therefore are unable to subscribe to the Westminster confession (for

example, they might refuse to baptise the children of believers). Such men and their

families are most welcome as members of our churches. However, since it is essential for

the good governance of the church that elders hold to a common vision of the church, and

the Reformed view of the church set out above is of great significance to the character of

our gospel preaching, it is not acceptable for such men to be elders in our churches. At the

same time, those with such convictions who are elders of other orthodox churches are to

be treated as brothers and fellow-elders and dissension is to be avoided.

iv) Deacons

Deacons are entrusted with the care of the needy, starting with those in the church. Each

church should aim to appoint deacons, to enable the elders to concentrate on the ministry

of the word and prayer.

b) The Holy Spirit drives the church to Mission

i) Mission is essential

The covenantal view of the church held by Reformed churches demands active

involvement in mission. The covenant with Abraham was always intended to bring blessing

to all the nations of the earth; ever since Pentecost Christ has been gathering his people,

through the witness of the Spirit to the word as it is proclaimed by the Church, from all

across the world. It is therefore inconsistent and unbiblical for churches with Reformed

convictions to be satisfied with self-preservation and not see winning disciples from the

unbelieving nation in which they are located, and partnering with churches doing the same

worldwide, as a high priority.

ii) Mission means drawing people into the covenant by the gospel

The covenant of grace is a counter-culture; it is not our ambition to assimilate to the culture

in which we find ourselves but to transform those who join the church into the radically

different culture of the Kingdom of God. British Christians have more in common culturally

with fellow-Christians in Kazakhstan, and with fellow-Christians who lived in the Roman

Empire of the first century, than with their non-Christian British neighbours.

iii) Mission requires laying aside stumbling blocks for those coming from within

contemporary culture

At the same time, our desire to guard the apostolic gospel and live in a distinctive Christian

way is not to be confused with a desire to preserve subculture, which may be no more than

the relic of non-Christian culture of an earlier age. There is of course great wisdom in

learning from where Christians in earlier ages have learned things from Scripture that we

have missed; but there is no virtue in preserving (for example) forms of dress, or language,

from an earlier age merely because it is from an earlier age. While finding our identity in

Christ, and always wanting to reform all of life according to Scripture, we should be willing

to do so in ways which lay no unnecessary stumbling blocks in the way of non-Christians

coming to church, hearing and understanding the gospel, repenting and believing in Christ

and joining his Church. Our passion and desire is that sinners in a world ruined by sin may

hear and believe the gospel of Christ and find salvation as they come to him, join his

church, and wait for his return.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Council Prayers

Click on the title for a Grauniad piece which has no sympathy with the National Secular Society's attempt to stop prayers when Bideford Council meets. This week judgement was reserved in the case. I trust the judge recognises that in a country with an established church it is out of order to wish to remove things Christian from public life. Once again a case is based on human rights. A judge is to decide if the right to be secular trumps the liberty to be Christian. This burden should not be one placed on judges. Human rights law is fundamentally flawed when it is to be the basis of overturning the practice of centuries and the wishes of a democratic majority. The National or Negative SS might be a better name for this small but exceedingly vocal little pressure group.

Christian Leader Shot Dead in Pakistan in Suspected Islamist Attack

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: -- E-mail:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

MCLEAN, VA. (ANS) -- A leading figure in the Christian community has been shot dead in Pakistan, having previously received death threats.

The Funeral of Jameel Sawan

According to a news release from the Barnabas Fund, Jameel Sawan, a preacher, evangelist and champion of minority rights, was gunned down in Karachi on Nov. 16.

He was a city businessman, but spent a lot of his time pastoring Christians and sharing the Gospel with Muslims.

The Barnabas Fund said Sawan had also been a close aide to Saleem Khursheed Khokhar, who is chairman of the Standing Committee on Minorities Affairs in the Sindh Assembly and president of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance in Sindh.

Both men had received death threats from Muslim extremists because of their involvement in campaigning for minority rights and support for policies initiated by the assassinated Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

The Barnabas Fund said Khokhar initiated a two-minute silence at the Sindh Assembly for Sawan, as well as three Hindu doctors who were killed in Shikarpur a few days earlier. He also appealed for protection and financial assistance for Sawan’s family.

Sawan leaves a wife, two sons and three daughters. His family believes that he was targeted by a radical Muslim group.

Barnabas Fund provides hope and assistance for the persecuted church. For more information go to

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995) -

[W]e have not been scuffling in this waste-howling wildness for the right to be stupid.-- Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995) "The Salt Eaters," 1980.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NIGERIA – Militant attacks spread

Release partners report that Islamist militant group Boko Haram has launched fresh attacks on churches in Yobe – while militants continue their attacks on Christian villages in Plateau.

Stefanos Foundation says eight churches were destroyed in Geidam in Yobe state on Saturday. Police headquarters were also attacked in a series of bombings and gun attacks. This follows a familiar pattern in attacks by Boko Haram who target security forces and Christians in their campaign to establish strict Sharia (Islamic law).

Stefanos also reports that its own staff were caught up in an attack on a Church of Christ of Nigeria congregation in Barkin Ladi town, Plateau state, last Wednesday. Four Christians died in the raid.

'Fulani Muslims were shooting at Christians from the hills and then police moved in in armoured cars to defend the village,' said a Stefanos spokesman. 'Villagers and police were being fired on from all sides. We had to withdraw for our own safety. We later saw houses being set on fire.'

Compass Direct news agency is reporting that at least 45 ethnic Berom Christians were killed in Plateau in the week leading up to last Monday. Their
attackers were reportedly Fulani Muslim herdsmen and military.

Compass said that these 45 casualties included nine Christians killed in a further assault on Barkin Ladi last Thursday and 26 killed in nearby Kwok village on the same day. Churches in Barkin Ladi were very poorly attended on Sunday as so many Christians have fled the area.

For more news and a country profile about Nigeria, click here

(Sources: Compass Direct, Stefanos Foundation, Vanguard – Nigeria)

• Ask God to comfort all those bereaved, injured or affected by recent attacks in Yobe and Plateau. Pray that Christians in those states will know God as their rock and their Saviour.
• Thank God for recent reports from Stefanos that, in some areas at least, police and security forces are protecting Christian villages from
attack. Pray that this will continue and will help persuade the many Christians fleeing the area to return home as well as deter militants.

Please forward this email to Christian friends so that they can pray too.

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