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THE AID AGENCY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

www.barnabasfund.org

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Pakistan’s Christians Under pressure from all sides

IN THIS ISSUE

Pakistan

1 Peter

Children

Its downtrodden and vulnerable Christians

Helping us prepare for persecution

Sponsor a needy Syrian child


Av Ja ailab nu le ary

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Front cover: A Christian boy protests against the killing of Christians in Pakistan To guard the safety of Christians in hostile environments, names may have been changed or omitted. Thank you for your understanding. Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version®. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and obtain permission for stories and images used in this publication. Barnabas Fund apologises for any errors or omissions and will be grateful for any further information regarding copyright. © Barnabas Fund 2014


WELCOME FROM THE DIRECTOR

The limits of tolerance he martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:54 – 8:1) is marked in the calendar of the Western Church on 26 December, Boxing Day. For most people this is a day of celebration rather than a day for remembering an act of suffering and martyrdom. The martyrdom of Stephen raises an intriguing question for us today. In matters of religion and society, should there be a limit to tolerance? Is there a point at which intolerant behaviour should be deemed unacceptable? Or should we accept every form of intolerance towards others, either for the sake of tolerance, because of political correctness, or out of the desire to maintain good interfaith relations? Stephen was killed for blasphemy (Acts 6:11). The blasphemy law was and in some contexts remains one of the most brutal of laws. In ancient Judaism, blasphemy was a capital offence. Today, Islam continues to practise (or at least endorse) the tradition of punishing blasphemy with death. Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian mother, was sentenced to death in 2010, having been found guilty under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law”. Although it is widely recognised that she did not blaspheme against the Muslims’ prophet and that the charge was trumped up by her fellow-labourers or a local Muslim cleric, she remains incarcerated in prison, on death row. The world is silent. Whilst the British and other governments have made appeals to the Pakistan government, some Pakistani politicians, judges and Muslim leaders have insisted that she must die. If Aasia is executed, supposedly tolerant societies as well as international bodies such as the UN will in effect have condoned a major act of intolerance. Even if she

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“only” continues to live on death row for year after year, the intolerance still flies in the face of all justice and humanity. Young Malala Yousafzai has rightly gained international fame for her stance against the Taliban and for her defence of the education of girls in Pakistan. Books have been written; a film is being considered; the possibility of a Nobel Peace Prize was mentioned. She has met Queen Elizabeth II and numerous world leaders. All have hailed her for her courage. Malala is a Muslim, and she well deserves this praise. But what of her compatriot Aasia Bibi, a Christian, a simple and uneducated woman, whose husband and children have been forced into hiding? Why is there no international outcry, no television programme, no offer of prizes and recognition? On Sunday 22 September 2013, All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, was attacked; over 100 Christians died and 200 were wounded. The Pakistani Taliban blamed the attack on American drone strikes killing Pakistani Muslims in Waziristan. They said that so long as America continues to kill Muslims they will continue to kill, attack and maim Christians. The cry of Pakistani Christians now, to their own government, to their institutions, and to countries such as the US that wage war on Pakistan’s soil, is: “Stop killing us.” There comes a time when intolerance must be rejected; true tolerance requires the courage to say no to intolerant attitudes and behaviour. If there is any lesson we can learn from the killing of Stephen, it is that in matters of religion there is a line that must never be crossed. However much we disagree with particular individuals, they must never be harmed, and if they are, then such an act must be exposed for what it is.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo International Director

Contents

4 Compassion in Action Medical care for isolated Christians in South Sudan Country Profile Christians in Pakistan face discrimination and violence Preparing for Persecution Inspiration and guidance from 1 Peter

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Child sponsorship Suffering Christian children in Syria need your help

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Newsdesk Murderous attacks against Christians in Egypt and Nigeria

PULLOUT

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In Touch Celebrating 20 years of God’s faithfulness

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Who we helped Statistics from our work in the past year

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COMPASSION IN ACTION

how bar ba barnabas arna naba bas as £2,559 to support Kyrgyz missionary family in Russia (US$4,113; €2,989) £6,000 to support Christian orphans in Syria (US$9,666; €7,147)

Spiritual support far from home

Orphaned by conflict, supported by Barnabas

£5,850 for food and basic needs for victims of violence in Nigeria (US$9,401; €6,834)

Helping hand for victims of violence Barnabas’ support is bringing hope to George and Fadi and their mother

Barnabas Fund’s support for Christian orphans in Syria is bringing much needed practical and spiritual help to young lives that have been shattered by violent conflict.

A missionary family from Kyrgyzstan is proving a great spiritual support to the Kyrgyz Christian community in Moscow.

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“You have proven to us that the body of Christ is one!” A church leader expressed how much a desperately needed emergency relief programme has meant to traumatised Nigerian Christian communities.

Project reference 43-1030

BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Barnabas Fund is making sure that many of the most vulnerable victims of conflict and anti-Christian attacks are not left to struggle. We are providing extra financial support to at least 278 Christian orphans, of whom dozens are the children of martyrs. Some have fathers who were kidnapped months ago, and no one knows whether they are dead or alive. We also recently funded a very successful workshop that trained 35 Christian leaders and volunteer family counsellors to provide trauma counselling to children.

Project reference 00-1032 (Middle East Fund to help Christians in Syria)

For example, Barnabas Fund is helping George (6), Fadi (4) and their mother, who were left displaced and destitute after their father was shot dead and their home destroyed. (In Syria, children who have lost one parent or two parents are equally regarded as orphans.)

Some of the Kyrgyz believers moved to Russia to escape persecution, and many came to seek work and are living in overcrowded conditions. A thriving Kyrgyz church has grown up as a result of “Marat” and “Aygul’s” outreach. Barnabas Fund contributes to the couple’s expenses, allowing them to devote themselves full-time to ministry. The church is showing the light of the Gospel to other vulnerable Kyrgyz expatriates. One man who visited the church became a Christian after seeing how the believers live and love each other. When he went back to Kyrgyzstan, his friends and relatives pressured him to renounce his new faith, but he stood firm and was baptised when he returned to Moscow.

A Christian victim of violence receives a relief package

Barnabas-funded emergency kits containing rice, beans and ground cassava as well as clothing and bedding were distributed to 229 needy families who had been victims of violence. Over a hundred Christians were killed and thousands displaced when two areas of Plateau State were devastated by violent attacks in June and July 2013. Local Christian leaders believe the attacks were carried out by nomadic Muslims who aim to Islamise the area. Our partner described how the Christians who received the kits were “full of praises to God for the gift items from their unseen Christian family”.

Project reference 39-772

The Kyrgyz church in Moscow


iis helping

£4,608 to provide cows for converts from Islam in Burundi (US$7,408; €5,382)

£16,086 to construct a brick church building with a boundary wall in Bangladesh (US$25,851; €18,791)

COMPASSION IN ACTION

Thank you for standing with Barnabas Fund alongside our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Your prayers mean so much to them, and your gifts, as well as blessing suffering Christians in practical ways, show them that their Christian family around the world loves them and cares for them. On the following pages you can read about those who have benefited recently from just a small selection of Barnabas Fund’s projects. Please pray as you read their stories. £7,790 to support the Institute of Theological Education by Extension in Nepal (US$12,523; €9,098)

Theological education for isolated believers

Blessed by a secure church building

Cows bring income for converts

The “Abundant Light and Abundant Life” course has been a great blessing to these Nepali Christians

Four of the converts are impoverished young widows with large families, and the remaining eight have all returned to Burundi after having previously fled violence and unrest in the country. All have been marginalised by their Muslim neighbours since becoming Christians.

Project reference 00-113 (Convert Fund)

Joselyne Hakizimana is one of twelve vulnerable converts from Islam in Burundi who were each given a cow paid for by Barnabas to help them to support themselves. The converts use the cows’ manure to fertilise their land, and thus improve their harvest.

A new, Barnabas-funded church building has brought much joy to a needy congregation in Bangladesh. Previously the believers, who sit on the floor during services, met in a tin-roofed building with a mud foundation. Their original building was unsuitable during the rainy season and unprotected from the church’s hostile Muslim neighbours. The church is just 500m from a mosque, and its windows have been broken in the past. But thanks to their new brick building and boundary wall, the church can now meet in safety and comfort. One member said, “We are praising God every day and remember Psalm 127: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.’”

Project reference 04-1127

Barnabas Fund replaced this tin shed with a safe and secure brick church building

“I praise God that I have been given this cow. I am now able to fertilise my land. Moreover, I get two litres of milk every day and an income of 1,200 Burundi Francs (£0.48; US$0.77; €0.56) from selling the remaining two litres of milk.”

One course, entitled “Abundant Life and Abundant Light”, aims to help students to grow in their Christian life. The course has not only encouraged Christians in Pelma village to become involved in church activities and leadership; it has also inspired them to build a bridge leading out of their village. The students’ heart for their village is a witness for Christ to their neighbours, and officials have praised their work. ITEEN, which is supported by Barnabas, provides theological education to thousands of Christians each year in Nepal. Nepali believers are vulnerable to discrimination and hostility and to being ostracised by their communities.

Project reference 89-946

A Nepali pastor in an isolated district where ITEEN (Institute for Theological Education by Extension in Nepal) has been running courses had no hesitation in saying, “God’s kingdom has reached this remote village!”

Giving a vulnerable convert a cow helps to ensure good harvests

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COMPASSION IN ACTION

bringing hope,

Focus on Pakistan Education today; hope for tomorrow Educating the next generation is vital if the vulnerable, impoverished Christian minority in Pakistan is to build a brighter future. A Barnabasfunded Christian school in Lahore is providing a loving, Christ-centred education to children from Christian families who might otherwise have had to attend an Islamic school or miss out on education altogether. The children live in a strongly Muslim-majority area, and the Muslim community controls most of the local schools. Muslims visit Christian families to offer their children free education, uniforms and books. At these schools, the children would be exposed to a heavily Islamic curriculum and would experience discrimination in the classroom. Now, needy Christian parents can be confident that their children are receiving a quality education and are being encouraged in their faith. Barnabas

Fund pays the salaries of the teachers at the Christian school, enabling it to provide education either for free or at a minimal cost that families can afford. Christian father Zahid said, “I was very disappointed when I was not in a position to pay my children’s school fees. My wife and I decided we would have to stop their education, but we are very thankful to the school’s management, who encouraged and helped us. Now our children are going to school regularly.” The school is helping to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in which many Pakistani Christian families are mired. And the employment it provides is also a great blessing. Ms Sadaf, a teacher at the school, said, “It was very difficult for me to support my family… I am very thankful for the support that my monthly salary brings.”

Zahid’s daughter, along with her three siblings, can now attend school regularly again

£600 to support a Christian school in Pakistan for six months (US$965; €701)

Project reference: 41-1094

God’s Word for young hearts Many children from impoverished Christian communities in Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad in Punjab province had never seen a children’s Bible before. But thanks to a Barnabas-funded project, 5,000 needy children will be able to access the Word of God in a child-friendly format for the first time. The Bibles, which cost just £2 each to produce, are written in simple and contemporary Urdu and feature attractive and colourful illustrations. Many children have grown in their understanding of the Christian faith as they pray and read their free Bibles, and have come to

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BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

know Jesus Christ as a result. Some have even encouraged their parents to read it too. Barnabas Fund’s partner on the ground said, “It is very heartening to hear children tell their own testimonies. One child said, ‘We should never eat a meal without first thanking God.’” And one mother told of how her children always ask her to tell them a story before they go to sleep. Before, she had to think of a story to tell them, but now she can teach them about God by reading them a Bible story.

These children’s Bibles are bringing God’s Word to needy children

£9,476 for printing Urdu children’s Bibles in Pakistan (US$15,263; €11,298)

Project reference: 41-1067


COMPASSION IN ACTION

transforming lives Vital medical care for isolated Christians in South Sudan he impoverished Christians in four isolated villages in South Sudan once had no access to medical care. Now, a Barnabasfunded mobile health clinic is bringing care and compassion to these deprived communities.

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The need for healthcare in Yei County was desperate. South Sudan has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate; one in five children die before their fifth birthday; and malaria, a preventable disease, is a leading cause of death. The country’s infrastructure was ravaged by decades of civil war with its Islamic northern neighbour Sudan, as the mainly-Christian South tried to resist having sharia imposed on it by the North. The road system is minimal, and Yei County’s remote villages can be cut off completely during heavy rains. Now, weekly clinics held at local churches are helping needy believers to survive. As well as providing treatment, the team provides preventative measures such as child immunisations, health education and mosquito nets that prevent malaria.

This Traditional Birth Attendant (left) spoke of how much she has gained from the training she is receiving from the mobile health clinic

desperation he gave Bade powdered cow’s milk, which is not recommended for young babies.

A total of 645 patients were treated between June and August 2013, the majority of whom were young children or pregnant and nursing mothers. As a result, the child death rate in the area is falling.

Bade’s father will now regularly receive milk and vitamins for his son as well as help and support. A visiting doctor said, “The relief on the father’s face that he was not alone in caring for his son was beautiful to see.”

One frantic father brought his undernourished baby son, Bade, to the clinic. His wife had been tragically drowned; it is thought she had a convulsion and fell unconscious into a shallow pool with three-week-old Bade strapped to her back. The child was thankfully unharmed, but his father had no satisfactory way to feed him. In

With no midwives in the area, a high-risk pregnancy might once have been a death sentence. Now, pregnant women at risk of complications are taken for treatment at the Maternity Unit in Yei. The clinic is also training local Traditional Birth Attendants to recognise high-risk pregnancies.

The mobile health clinic at one of the remote villages

The care the Christians receive at the clinic has also been a great blessing spiritually. Church leaders support the patients with prayer and teaching when they attend for treatment, and many believers are now praising God for the provision of the mobile clinic. £7,000 for mobile healthcare in remote villages in South Sudan (US$11,249; €8,176)

Project reference: 48-1119

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COUNTRY PROFILE

Pakistan’s Christians Under pressure from all sides

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he deadliest-ever attack on a Christian community in Pakistan targeted All Saints Church in Peshawar on 22 September 2013. More than 100 worshippers were killed or died later of their wounds when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the end of a worship service. Many of those killed and injured were children, and some Christians who had gone to church with their entire immediate families returned with no-one. This devastating attack illustrates the pressure faced by persecuted Christians in Pakistan, pressure that is perhaps more intense now than ever before. Our brothers and sisters comprise a small minority (around 5 million or 3%) in a country that is 95% Muslim and endure harassment from the authorities, discrimination by the majority community and violence from radical Muslims.

Oppressed by the authorities The plight of Christian mother Aasia Bibi, who is languishing on death row for blasphemy, seems to have all but dropped off the global political radar. Aasia was falsely accused of making derogatory remarks about Muhammad during an argument with fellow female field-labourers in 2009. Her appeal against the controversial death sentence she was given in November 2010 is unlikely to be heard for at least another two years because of a large backlog of cases at the Lahore High Court. After two politicians who spoke out against Aasia’s conviction were assassinated in 2011, it seems she has no-one left in Pakistan to speak out for her. Pakistan’s “blasphemy laws” are perhaps the source of the most devastating official pressure faced by the country’s Christians. Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code prescribes a mandatory death penalty for anyone found to have defiled the name of Muhammad, while desecrating the Quran carries a sentence of life imprisonment under section 295-B. False accusations of blasphemy are often made to settle personal scores, and members of the despised Christian minority are particularly vulnerable to accusations by Muslims, as a Christian’s testimony in court may not be given as much credence as that of a Muslim. Although no executions have been carried out, at least 17 people remained on death row for blasphemy during 2012.

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Christians throughout Pakistan staged protests in the wake of the suicide bombing that targeted All Saints Church in Peshawar


COUNTRY PROFILE Even being young and vulnerable does not protect Christians from false accusations of blasphemy. Two teenagers, Rimsha Masih (whom doctors have said has an even younger mental age) and Ryan Stanten, were separately arrested for blasphemy in 2012. Widespread corruption and the influence of rich and powerful local figures can often make it slow or difficult for the falsely accused to obtain justice. Sajjad Masih Gill, a young Christian man, was beaten, tortured and sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2013 for sending blasphemous text messages, despite his accuser having withdrawn the accusation and there being no other evidence against him. Three Christians accused of blasphemy have recently been acquitted, however, raising hope for others awaiting appeal. The case against Rimsha Masih was thrown out after witnesses came forward with evidence that she had been framed by her accuser, the local imam. The imam was not punished, however, because the witnesses later retracted their statements following threats from Islamists. Two other Christians, Barkat Masih and Younis Masih, were also acquitted in 2013. Those accused of blasphemy continue to be in danger from Islamists despite being cleared; according to a recent report, 52 people accused of blasphemy were extra-judicially murdered between 1990 and 2012. Discrimination in state education is also very damaging to the Christian community. Although government schools cannot legally force Christian students to participate in Islamic religious education, no legal provision is made for Christians to be offered teaching in their own faith. And in the unlikely event of Christian students being able to attend school and complete their education, they may find it very difficult to obtain a place at university without a qualification in Islam. For example, Haroon Arif achieved top grades in his exams but was nevertheless denied a place at a government medical school because he lacked the extra 20 marks awarded to Muslim students who had memorised the Quran. Haroon’s three certificates in Bible education were not considered to be a valid alternative. Christians in Pakistan also face pressure from the authorities when trying to build places of worship. For example, one church was finally opened in 1992 after being evicted from its first two locations because of pressure from Islamist groups. A plaque was produced for the celebration ceremony at each location, and a display of all three plaques at the church’s final

The smallest of these four plaques reads, “These three plaques were unveiled at different locations… milestones in the eventful journey by which Almighty God enabled this church to be completed”

location illustrates the story of the local hostility that it endured for a number of years. As well as actively discriminating against Christians, the Pakistani authorities often fail to provide justice and adequate protection for Christian victims of crime. Sometimes they are themselves the perpetrators of anti-Christian violence. Adnan Masih, a young Christian man falsely accused of being involved in the disappearance of a Muslim woman, died in police custody in June 2013 after allegedly being tortured. The officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Many Christians are trapped in crushing cycles of poverty and illiteracy: parents cannot afford to send their children to school, and so the next generation have no chance of improving their families’ condition. And even when Christian children can go to school, they are at risk of discrimination, harassment and even violence in the classroom. Some Muslims do not stop at marginalising the Christians in their midst and also attempt to drive them out. In March 2013, a rampaging, 3,000-strong Muslim mob destroyed 178 Christian homes and businesses in Joseph Colony, Lahore after a Christian resident was accused of blasphemy. In the five months following this incident, there were three more mob attacks on Christian communities, each apparently sparked by the flimsiest of pretexts.

A despised and marginalised minority Christians in Pakistan are generally mistrusted and discriminated against by their Muslim neighbours. For example, even those Christians who are able to find work may not be paid as much as a Muslim doing the same job or may find themselves passed over for promotion. Part of the reason is that Christians are afforded a second-class status under sharia law; for example a Christian’s legal testimony is worth only half that of a Muslim. Moreover, although the Church in Pakistan has existed for centuries, many of the country’s Christians are descendants of Hindus who converted to Christianity in the 19th century. These converts were mostly from the lowest sections of the Hindu caste system, and would have performed only the dirtiest, most menial work. The feeling that they are “unclean” and untouchable continues to this day. As a result of the discrimination they experience, many Pakistani Christians are very poor. Some must work as bonded labourers – virtual slaves – in brick factories. Their Muslim employers have a hold over them because of the debt that the Christians apparently owe them, a debt which is often undocumented and sometimes dates from generations ago.

A Muslim-majority state that protects religious minorities: an impossible aim? The current vulnerability of Pakistan’s Christian minority illustrates the failure to achieve the aims set out at Pakistan’s creation in 1947. The white stripe that appears on Pakistan’s flag represents religious minorities, symbolising that while the country was created to be a homeland for South Asian Muslims, it would be a secular state in which the rights of minorities would be protected. An accelerating process of Islamisation nevertheless began soon after independence. The secession of Bangladesh in 1971 both diminished Pakistan’s then-significant Hindu minority and encouraged Muslims to unite around the banner of Islam. When General Zia ul-Haq imposed martial law in 1978, Islam became Pakistan’s state ideology. Now, sharia law holds an important place in the country’s legal system and Islamic groups are a formidable political force; as a result, the rights of religious minorities have been increasingly diminished.

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COUNTRY PROFILE Individual Christians are also the targets of violence. For example, Younas Masih was gunned down as he made his way home from work in February 2013; his murder followed an argument with his co-workers in which he resisted their attempts to pressure him into converting to Islam.

Targeted by radical Muslims

“foreigners and non-Muslims” until US drone attacks in Pakistan are stopped. The TTP is just one of many extremist groups active in Pakistan. Broadly, these groups are affiliated with one of two ideological movements: one that aims to remove what it sees as superstitious practices from Sunni Islam, and one that aims to preserve the way Sunni Islam has traditionally been practised in Pakistan.

What hope for improvement? When Pakistan’s current Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was running for election in early 2013, he promised to give equal rights to minorities, and his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, reached out to help the victims of the antiChristian attack in Joseph Colony. It remains to be seen, however, if these positive noises will translate into genuine change.

Perhaps a greater sign of hope is the more Islamist groups associated with the former Because Pakistan has proved fertile ground affirming attitude adopted by some Muslims ideology aim to Islamise the country and to for extremism, Christians are at risk not only of towards Christians. discrimination and Following the violence from their suicide bombing in hostile neighbours Following the suicide bombing in Peshawar, Muslims rushed Peshawar, Muslims but also from acts of to donate blood to help save wounded Christians, and many rushed to donate abuse and terrorism in spoke out against the atrocity blood to help save the name of Islam. wounded Christians, and many spoke out against the atrocity. spread an extreme and intolerant form of Islam. Pakistani Christian women and girls are Muslims also joined Christians in forming Groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Ahle Hadith particularly at risk. Some Muslim men believe human chains of protection around churches in and those affiliated with the Deobandi movement it is a legitimate act to kidnap a Christian girl, (such as the TTP) all have violent jihadi wings that a show of solidarity. subject her to sexual abuse, forcibly convert have been responsible for numerous attacks on her to Islam and marry her against her will. It Meanwhile, it is feared that the withdrawal religious minorities, especially Shia Muslims and is estimated that 700 such cases occur each the Ahmadiyya. Christians in north-west Pakistan of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014 could year, and the police will often do little to help are particularly at risk from the TTP, which is able have a negative impact on Pakistan’s stability. the victims. Our brothers and sisters are also If the inevitably reduced capacity of the to field some 40,000 fighters in the region. targets for terrorist attacks, partly because Afghan security forces to combat terrorism they are assumed to be loyal to the “Christian” leads to an increase in the strength of violent Groups associated with the latter ideological West rather than Pakistan, and so are made extremist groups such as the Taliban and scapegoats for its actions. The Jundullah branch movement (Barelvis) advocate strong veneration of Muhammad. These groups strongly oppose any al-Qaeda, more incursions by these groups of the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban into Pakistan’s tribal belt could follow, further reform of the blasphemy laws; Salman Taseer, a Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the endangering the country’s Christians. suicide bombing at All Saints Church, Peshawar, Muslim governor who spoke out on Aasia Bibi’s behalf, was assassinated by a Barelvi. and said that it would continue to target

How Barnabas Fund is helping A Christian community facing pressure from all sides needs varied and often longterm support. Barnabas Fund’s projects in Pakistan include a regular feeding programme, Christian schools, a women’s health project, safe houses, leadership training, literature, disaster relief, constructing church buildings, small business start-up and legal support for needy Christians. We also provide support for pastors and evangelists, for victims of violence and for vulnerable converts. Please turn to page 6 to read more about two of our projects in Pakistan. Project reference: Pakistan General Fund (41-980)

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Barnabas helps 2,072 needy Christian families in Pakistan with regular food parcels


LIVING IN BABYLON

Image source: watersoluble, Flickr

Living in Babylon The message of 1 Peter

he fires of anti-Christian persecution rage on around the world. Through most of the Middle East, and in large parts of Africa and Asia, our brothers and sisters continue to suffer discrimination, ill-treatment or violence because of their love for Christ. Research by the Pew Forum and the World Evangelical Alliance has estimated that around 200 million Christians, some 10% of the global total, are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their faith.

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Compared to such acute pain and distress, the low-level contempt, prejudice and partiality currently experienced by some Christians in the West seems very insignificant. But the Western churches are facing increasingly serious challenges: from an aggressive and intolerant secularism, from a confident and determined Islamism (political Islam), and from legislation and law enforcement that threaten our traditional freedoms. Violent or statesponsored repression may still be only the remotest of prospects in the West, but social pressure to compromise or renounce our faith is already a reality, and for the foreseeable future it is likely only to intensify. So how are Christians to live under persecution, whether this is the intense ordeal endured by believers in other countries, or the social rejection and bullying that now threatens us in the West? And how are our faith and discipleship to be sustained in the face of such trials and the resulting temptation to give up? In this context (as in every other), the New Testament provides us with invaluable encouragement and guidance. A number of its writings are addressed to Christians who are experiencing persecution of different kinds, exhorting them to stand firm under it and advising them on how to do so. For example, the first letter of Peter is written to churches that are facing social pressure quite similar in some respects to what contemporary Western society inflicts upon Christians today. So in this issue of Barnabas Aid we are beginning a new series of pull-out supplements on 1 Peter, looking at how it inspires and directs us to persevere in the teeth of persecution.

BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

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LIVING IN BABYLON

The Message of 1 Peter

“She who is in Babylon” One key verse for understanding the message of 1 Peter is found at the end of the letter, where the author writes, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings” (5:13). The reference is probably to a church rather than an individual woman, and most commentators believe that “Babylon” is a symbolic reference to Rome, from where the letter may well have been sent. The primary significance of Babylon in first-century Jewish thought was as a place of exile, where the inhabitants of Judah were taken after the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century BC. The name was applied to Rome after Jerusalem was overcome again by the Romans in AD70, and this usage was then taken over by some of the NT writers. So the use of the term in 1 Peter is tied to the first verse of the letter, where its recipients are described as “exiles” or “foreigners” of the “dispersion”, scattered through a land that is not their home. Exiles and foreigners are often treated with contempt and rejected by wider society because their values and customs are different, and so it was for the first readers of 1 Peter. These Christians were mainly converts from paganism (that is, former Gentiles rather than former Jews). They had given up the beliefs and practices of pagan society that they had previously embraced and were living instead as citizens of their heavenly home, trying to do what was right and good before God. Because their home was now elsewhere, they had in effect become exiles and foreigners, living in an alien land. As a result they were under great pressure from their pagan neighbours, who no longer respected them but saw them as threatening the unity of their local communities. They were suffering ridicule, slander and social ostracism and were accused of sinning against society. Much anti-Christian hostility today has the same basic characteristics, whether the more severe and overt kind endured by the 10%, or the more slight and subtle type experienced in the West. Because we too are exiles, living in a land that is not our heavenly home, many 21st-century Christians do not have the respect of society at large, and we are often seen as fostering disunity by our rejection of its norms. We too may suffer mockery, insults or exclusion, and we may even be accused of being a socially harmful influence. The purpose of such treatment is to bully and shame Christians into rejecting our faith and the lifestyle that belongs to it and turning back to our own ways. In the face of disapproval or hostility from our society we may question the value of our faith: would we do better to discard it, or at least to compromise with our neighbours’ expectations? Do the present blessings and future promises of the Gospel make the current distress of our exile worthwhile? Or should we just conform ourselves again to our society’s values and customs, rejecting our heavenly citizenship and making our home here again? In the face of this pressure, 1 Peter is written to show us just how valuable our Christian faith really is, and on that basis to encourage and guide us in maintaining our distinctively Christian confession and lifestyle in the midst of our exile – our Babylon. It reminds us of what we have already received from God in Christ, which is so much better than the life we had before, and it points us to our glorious future, which will put our present sufferings into perspective. It warns us not to lose all this by reverting to our past ways, but instead to hold fast to the faith and obedience that guarantee our present and future blessing.

1 Peter 1 Introducing ourselves (1:1-2) The letter begins with a solemn opening that follows the conventions of ancient letterwriting by identifying both the author and the readers and conveying a greeting. But each of these elements is expanded so as to lay a foundation for what follows in the rest of the letter and to identify its main subjects. The description of the readers is especially significant for our theme. They are elect, a community chosen by God to share the privileges and responsibilities of His people. They are exiles, living in a strange land and not at home in their society, because their beliefs and behaviour do not reflect its character; they live in one place (Pontus, Galatia etc.) but are

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BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

“Babylon” in Revelation In the book of Revelation, “Babylon” is a symbol of something worse than exile. It still stands for Rome, but Rome is here seen as demonic, claiming for itself and perhaps its emperor the worship that properly belongs to God alone, and ruthlessly persecuting those who refuse to offer it. So in Revelation, Babylon/ Rome is portrayed as the centre of wickedness and of the ill-treatment of God’s people. It is a place of confusion and chaos, of cruelty and corruption, a crucible of suffering for the saints (see chapters 17 and 18). The imagery emphasises the vulnerability of Christians to evil in general and state-sponsored persecution in particular. Some commentators believe that these more sinister associations also underlie the use of the term “Babylon” in 1 Peter, and that this therefore implies an official form of persecution that is more intense than the social pressure described left. Others argue that the author has a generally positive view of Roman government (2:13-17) and does not challenge the legitimacy or present use of imperial authority. We can however say with confidence that “Babylon” stands in 1 Peter for the place of exile for God’s people and for the contempt, rejection and pressure we experience there.


LIVING IN BABYLON citizens of another. They are dispersed, scattered throughout the world, but waiting to be joined in a single community under the reign of God. But they also have an exalted status resulting from God’s predetermined purpose and activity. They are set apart for God to live transformed lives in submission to His will, and enjoying the fruits of Christ’s sacrificial death on their behalf. In order to endure persecution and sufferings in faithfulness to the Lord, Christians need to be encouraged by a clear understanding of who we are: of our character as God’s new people, which is created by the Father, redeemed by Christ and sanctified by the Spirit. But we must also recognise that this exalted status puts us out of step with the world that surrounds us and so makes us vulnerable to its criticism and hostility. The end of our exile, our homecoming from Babylon, still lies in the future, and while our status as foreigners persists, we have to suffer its consequences. The good news is that because of who we are and what we hope for, that hardship is well worthwhile, as the letter goes on to explain.

The hope of salvation (1:3-12) Faith proved in the fire

Sustained by hope The Kachin, a mainly Christian ethnic minority, suffered an unremitting and brutal attack from the Burmese army for two years, including indiscriminate bombing, gas attacks and abuse of civilians. Christians were forced from their homes into the jungle, women abducted and raped, and children orphaned. Despite moves towards peace, raids, kidnappings and killings are continuing. Yet the faith of many Christians has been strengthened through their afflictions, and a Barnabas Fund partner told us, “Some have seen and experienced horrific things – and even now are living in uncomfortable circumstances – but still they have hope and joy in the Lord.”

The Message of 1 Peter

Saeed Abedini, an Iranian pastor who now lives in the US, was sentenced in 2013 to eight years in jail for planting house churches. He has suffered appalling treatment, including threats, beatings and torture, but in a letter to his wife he testified to the refining power of these trials. “I always wanted God to make me a godly man. I did not realise that in order to become a godly man we need to become like steel under pressure. It is a hard process of warm and cold to make steel. These hot and colds only make you a man of steel.”

In this section the subject-matter of the whole letter is introduced and developed in a preliminary way. In the form of a blessing of God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, it explains how God has created us as His new people and what the consequences are for us. Verses 3-5 tell us that God has begotten us all over again, and spell out the results: a living hope through Christ’s resurrection, an enduring inheritance through God’s power, and a salvation through God’s action in the end time. At the beginning of the letter we are immediately made aware of the great blessings that we can anticipate as members of God’s family. Our lives now are characterised by hope, because of God’s raising of Christ in the past, His protection of us in the present, and His revealing of His salvation to us for the future. That hope has the power to sustain our faithfulness in trials for Christ’s sake during our exile; it shows us what our homecoming will be like. This point is made more explicit in verses 6-9, which contrast the present testing of our faith with its future outcome. We rejoice in these blessings, even though right now we are grieved for a short time by various necessary trials. Why are they necessary? Because our testing by hostility and hardship is for a purpose: that our faith might be proved genuine and result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed at the last. So although we have not seen Christ yet, we love Him, and although we do not see Him now, we believe and rejoice greatly in Him, because even our trials are bringing us closer to the goal of our faith, our salvation. By setting our short-term persecutions and sufferings for Christ in the context of our long-term hope of return from exile, the letter throws them into a positive light and so equips us to withstand them more easily. But in verses 10-12 the letter also looks to the past as a source of strength for us. The Old Testament prophets were prompted by the Holy Spirit to search for and seek out this coming salvation. True, they were able to discern only its basic elements; a fuller revelation had to wait. But their search proved that our salvation was part of God’s foreordained plan: a plan that has now been fulfilled in the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow; a plan that has been made known by the Spirit in the proclamation of the Gospel. It is so wonderful that even angels long to look into it! Despite what we may have to suffer for Christ in the present, our salvation has been safe in God’s hands from long ago. Our sufferings will lead us to a glorious homecoming, as Christ’s sufferings led Him on to glory. So this section describes the great hope of salvation – of return from our Babylonian exile – that God has given to those who belong to His new family in Christ. It reveals that the testing of our faith through persecutions actually helps us to obtain that salvation. And it tells us that the salvation we await is guaranteed as part of God’s age-old purpose for us. In short, it sets our sufferings for Christ in their proper context to enable us to respond rightly to them. From a worldly perspective our circumstances may be difficult or even dire, but from the divine standpoint we are greatly blessed.

The call to holiness (1:13-25) After explaining our hope of salvation, the letter then encourages us on that basis to a life of holiness that reflects the character of God our Father. Our experience of hope, of grace, of being set apart for God, must be worked out in daily life, and doing this involves our abandoning the sinful practices of our pre-Christian existence and resisting the pressure to revert to them.

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The Message of 1 Peter

LIVING IN BABYLON Verses 13-16 call us to action, the act of setting our hope on the grace that will be given to us when Christ is revealed. In our former life, we knew nothing about this grace, and so our lives were governed and directed by various sinful passions. But now, as obedient children of our heavenly Father, we are no longer to conform ourselves to these; instead, because the God who called us to share this grace is holy, we are to adopt a holy lifestyle, in submission to His command in Scripture. In other words, if we truly hope for the inheritance that God has prepared for us, we must act in ways that are appropriate to His people. Persecution can put us under pressure to revert to our former practices; these verses warn us against doing so. In verses 17-21 the previous command is restated in terms of a life of reverence or godly fear and supported by an appeal to God’s nature as the impartial judge of all. These verses re-emphasise that we are exiles, people who are no longer at home in the world, and tell us that we have been set free through the sacrifice of Christ from our futile way of life shaped by worldly values. And it again locates our salvation in the context of God’s eternal plan in Christ, which He has now fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation, thus giving us grounds to believe and hope in Him. Given that we have rejected the norms of our society and so are in effect foreigners within it, some kind of hostility or persecution at its hands is only to be expected. But these verses give us plenty of reasons to maintain our new way of life. Finally, in verses 22-25 the letter directs us to love one another within the family of believers, deeply and from the heart. This kind of sincere sibling love is the proper outworking of our purity and obedience, and it follows from our new birth (literally “begetting”) through the word of God. A quote from the book of the prophet Isaiah (40:6b-8) is used to demonstrate the enduring nature of that life-giving word, which is identified with the Gospel that has been preached to us. Because that word abides for ever, it has been able to beget a whole new life within us; and so our relationships with one another must reflect and express that life in mutual love. It is also imperative to maintain that love in the face of persecution, when it can be most under strain. Our mutual love encourages and strengthens us all to stand firm in the midst of trials.

Conclusion

We have seen that according to 1 Peter, Christians are exiles, living in a land that is not our own and facing hostility and pressure at its hands. The first chapter of the letter helps Christians to live in this “Babylon”, and it does so in two different ways. First, the chapter sets our sufferings as Christians in the context of our new status as God’s people and the hope of salvation that we have been given through Christ. This perspective does not remove or lessen our trials, which are a necessary part of our Christian experience during the time of our exile. But it does enable us to understand and endure them. Indeed, it even shows us that those trials prove the quality of our faith and so help us to attain our goal of salvation, a homecoming to our heavenly land. Secondly, this chapter sets out the implications of our status and hope in terms of a lifestyle marked by personal holiness, reverence for God and love for one another. This new life involves the permanent renouncing of the sinful and futile practices of our pre-Christian past. This change makes us foreigners in our own society, which reacts by pressurising us to conform to its norms once again. But we have excellent reasons to persevere, and our mutual care and support can enable us to do so. As we shall see, in its following chapters 1 Peter will bring this exhortation down to earth in practical guidance for living in our Babylonian exile and facing whatever persecutions it may inflict upon us.

Pressure to re-convert A militant Islamist group slipped a note under the door of a church leader in northern Cameroon. It called on all Christian converts to return to Islam at the mosque on Friday or “face Allah’s wrath”. A few days later the leader’s house was searched by two turbaned men who threatened his safety. His family fled the village, and the other converts went into hiding. This incident is typical of the extreme pressure that is sometimes brought to bear on converts from Islam to abandon their Christian discipleship and revert to their old way of life.

Loving one another in distress In the desperate sufferings of the Church in Syria, there have been many moving stories of Christians caring for each other. In the devastated city of Homs, a large group of young people has been working hard to distributing aid to hundreds of families, while a Christian care home for the elderly has continued its ministry even after all other institutions in the city stopped operating. In Aleppo, one formerly rich donor gave the last of what she had to provide food for others and then had to ask to be added to the distribution list herself. Church leaders are coming up with creative ideas for income-generation projects to help more displaced Christian families become self-sufficient in their new locations as needs increase and resources run out.

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SYRIA UPDATE

Christian children in Syria need sponsors As the violent civil conflict in Syria rages on, Christian families, and children in particular, continue to suffer greatly. Barnabas Fund recently received the following updates: attempted to leave were liable to be kidnapped, killed or forcibly converted to Islam, and those who remained continued to be in constant danger from rebel mortars and snipers.

Aleppo: Rebels blockaded parts of Aleppo for months, restricting access, worsening shortages of food, fuel and other essentials (which had been scarce since heavy fighting began in the city in June 2012), and fuelling the already rampant inflation. Water, electricity, phones and internet were cut off much of the time. The besieged area contained over 2 million people, including 400,000 Christians. Many became malnourished, especially children. Christians who

Although the security situation had improved slightly at the time of writing (early November 2013), and small quantities of fresh food had begun to come into the city, supplies were still very expensive, and the rebels were not allowing people to bring flour, petrol or fuel into the city. Ar-Raqqah: Fighters from an Islamist group stormed two churches on 26 September 2013, vandalised them and hoisted a black flag, a symbol of Islamism, over one of the buildings. Most of Ar-Raqqah has been held by the alQaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since March 2013. The group imposes sharia law on areas it has seized.

Saidnaya: Islamist rebels have been carrying out raids on this historic Christian village, which is north of Damascus. Two Christians have been killed in the attacks, which are apparently intended to frighten the community into fleeing their homes. The raids follow the siege of Maaloula, an important and historic centre of Christianity, in early September. At least seven Christians were killed in the siege, and most of Maaloula’s 3,000-strong population were forced to flee. Saddad and Haffar: Dozens of people were killed after Islamist militants invaded these Christian villages on 21 October 2013. The rebels set up sniper posts and launched a campaign of shelling; 40 bodies were later discovered dumped in mass graves, and 3,000 people, including children, were used as human shields. The weeklong siege forced 2,500 Christian families to flee the area, which had previously been relatively safe. After government forces liberated the villages on 28 October, the believers were able to return.

You can help persecuted Syrian Christians Sponsor a Syrian Christian child No child should have to grow up surrounded by traumatic events such as those depicted in these news items. As Christians are both caught up in the violent conflict and deliberately targeted by Islamists, their children are suffering particularly acutely. They may have seen loved ones killed or have been forced to flee their homes with their families. Many are malnourished and living in desperate conditions. Christian girls are particularly vulnerable to kidnap and sexual abuse.

Could you spare just £18 per month to provide food and other basics for one persecuted Christian child? You can reach out to a Christian child by making sure their basic needs are provided for. Barnabas Fund is still looking for sponsors for hundreds of needy children. Sponsors will receive a prayer card with the name and photograph of one Christian child; please pray for the child whose picture you receive.

(Because of security concerns, direct contact between sponsors and children is not possible.) To begin sponsoring a Christian child in Syria, please use the gift form on p.19, indicating that you would like to give regularly and using project number 00-1147 as a reference. Alternatively you can set up a regular gift for a child in Syria by contacting your nearest Barnabas Fund office or by visiting www. barnabasfund.org/donate-online, selecting “Direct Debit” and choosing “Sponsor a Persecuted Christian Child – 00-1147” from the drop-down list.

Write to your elected representative We must continue to raise awareness about the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria. A potentially very effective way to do this is to write to your elected representative or to another politician. Please feel free to use the sample letter that Barnabas Fund has produced, which is available at www.barnabasfund.org/ syria-sample-letter or from your nearest Barnabas office, as a basis for expressing your own concerns.

Please return petition forms Thank you so much to all those who have signed and circulated Barnabas Fund’s Syria petition. Please return your petition sheet(s) to your nearest Barnabas office by 31 December 2013 or as soon afterwards as you can.

BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 11


NEWSDESK

WORST ATTACK ON CHRISTIAN MINORITY CLAIMS 100 LIVES PAKISTAN – The deadliestever attack on Pakistan’s Christian minority, on Sunday 22 September 2013, claimed the lives of around 100 people. Two suicide bombers attacked All Saints Church in Peshawar as some 400 worshippers were greeting each other at the end of the service. A further hundred people were wounded, and many of those killed and injured were children. The Archbishop of Canterbury described all the dead as “martyrs”. The figures comprise a host of grievous personal tragedies. Teenager Shalom Nazir lost his entire family in the attack. He said, “I came [to church] in the morning with my whole family for prayers and worship but returned home with no-one. My mum took her last breath in my arms; my dad and sister died.” Two siblings, Naiher (8) and her brother Eshan (11), were killed along with their grandmother.

But survivors have also testified to their faith in Christ in the midst of terrible suffering. One of the injured, Robin, speaking on the phone from his hospital bed, said, “I was in a horrible state – it was like the end of the world for me but when I came to my senses I realised that I have been given a second chance in my life and I am very thankful to my Lord Jesus Christ.” The threat of an attack against All Saints Church had been known for a number of days before the bombing, but the usual guard of two policemen was not reinforced. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for one of the group’s factions, said, “[The Christians] are the enemies of Islam, therefore we target them. We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land.” All Saints was built in 1883 and is one of the oldest churches in

Pakistan. Christians, who comprise around two per cent of the population, have long suffered discrimination and violence, but the suicide bombing has

dramatically escalated the threat to them. A local politician warned, “Now after this attack Christians across Pakistan will fear for their lives.”

Eshan and Naiher were both killed in the Peshawar church bombing

“TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE” AS CHRISTIANS CONVICTED OF MURDER INDIA – Seven Indian Christians were sentenced to life imprisonment after being unjustly convicted of the murder of a militant Hindu leader in 2008. A court in the Kandhamal district of Orissa handed down the sentence to each of the seven on 3 October 2013. A senior Christian leader described the verdict as a “travesty of justice”. Laxmananda Saraswati was gunned down by a large mob on 23 August 2008. A Maoist group claimed responsibility for the attack, but militant Hindus blamed Christians instead and turned violently against them. In the horrific violence that followed, around 60 Christians were killed and thousands more injured, while about another 30 died later from their injuries or through having to live

in the jungle. Over 56,000 were left homeless as houses were looted and torched, while nearly 300 churches and many other Christian properties were destroyed. Only a handful of people have ever been convicted of involvement

languished in prison for nearly five years. Anti-Christian violence has continued sporadically in Orissa since 2008, including in Kandhamal. Thousands of Christians in the state are still homeless five years later, and some have been unwilling to

Two brothers in Chhattisgarh were beaten up and chased away from their village when they refused to deny their Christian faith in the anti-Christian violence, and the authorities disregarded thousands of complaints. Yet the seven Christians were arrested only months later. Despite there apparently being no evidence against them, they then

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return to their villages knowing that their persecutors may still be at large. With so many churches destroyed and others closed, it is also difficult for them to meet for worship. But hostility against Indian

Christians is not confined to Orissa. Attacks in Karnataka, another state notorious for anti-Christian aggression, increased in August and September 2013; various church gatherings were targeted, pastors beaten up and Christians arrested. In Chhattisgarh state a Christian man was beaten unconscious in a brutal attack by suspected Hindu extremists on 9 October. Earlier, on 22 September, two brothers in Chhattisgarh were beaten up and chased away from their village when they refused to deny their Christian faith. In Rajasthan state, police sided with Hindu extremists against a pastor whom they falsely accused of forcibly converting people. An inspector threatened the pastor with physical harm if he did not leave his village.


NEWSDESK

ANOTHER ISLAMIST REGIME PUSHED OUT OF POWER TUNISIA – Tunisia’s Islamistled government has agreed to resign after the assassination of two opposition politicians sparked months of mass protests. The ruling Ennahda party had initially resisted calls to step down. But under mounting pressure, they agreed on 28 September 2013 to hand over to

a caretaker administration ahead of new elections. The opposition has accused Ennahda of failing to rein in Islamist militants and of mismanaging the economy. Secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid was murdered in February, and Mohamed Brahmi, leader of the left-wing Popular

TWO GIRLS KILLED IN ATTACK ON CHRISTIAN WEDDING EGYPT – Christian wedding guests leaving a church in Cairo, the capital of Egypt, on the night of Sunday 20 October 2013 were targeted in a drive-by shooting. Masked gunmen on a motorbike fired indiscriminately at them, killing two people at the scene; two others later succumbed to their wounds. Among the dead were two girls: Mariam Ashraf Messeiha (8) and Mariam Nabil Fahmy (12). Samir Fahmy Azer (45) and Camelia Hilmy Attiya (56), the mother of the groom, were also killed. All four were members of the same extended family. Other family members have turned to the Lord in their grief, and said that the attack has only strengthened their faith. A number of other Christians were injured in the attack. A church leader said that the church had been left without a police guard since the end of June. The next day, the authorities arrested five men in connection with the incident; one of them was said to belong to a terrorist organisation, while the other four were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In another brutal incident in October, a Christian from Dalga in Minya province, Iskander Toss, was

kidnapped, severely beaten and dragged through the streets until he died. A few days later, members of the Muslim Brotherhood opened up his grave, seized his body and dragged it through the town once again, causing terrified Christian families to flee. Christians have suffered unprecedented violence at the hands of angry Islamists since the ousting of Mohammed Morsi at the beginning of July. Attacks against them and their property began immediately after his removal, but they became much more severe after the authorities dispersed the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-in protests on 14 August. The Brotherhood has destroyed scores of churches, Christian institutions, homes and businesses, and several Christians have been killed. They have accused the Christian community of being instrumental in the protest movement that resulted in Morsi’s fall. The leader of the Coptic Church, Egypt’s largest denomination, has been forced into hiding by death threats, while another senior church leader narrowly escaped assassination when his car was showered with bullets on 30 September in el-Sario in Abou Qorqas, Minya province.

Movement party, was assassinated on 25 July. Tunisia has become increasingly polarised over the role of Islam in the state. Ennahda, which was long established and well organised, had initially enjoyed electoral success following the so-called “Arab Spring” of 2011; it had also sought to alleviate

concerns that it intended to impose a strict Islamist agenda on the country. But the opposition believed that Ennahda was betraying the democratic ideals of the revolution, and after a mass uprising in Egypt brought down the Islamist regime there, it was emboldened to force out its own government.

CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHRISTIAN OFFICIAL BECAUSE OF HER FAITH

Islamists are campaigning against the appointment of Susan Jasmine Zulkifli (Source: The Asian School of Change)

INDONESIA – Islamist protestors have mounted a campaign to force a Christian local authority chief in West Java out of office. Susan Jasmine Zulkifli’s appointment as the sub-district head of Lenteng Agung, a strongly Muslim area, has been opposed purely on the grounds of her faith. Islamists have staged protests and gathered a petition demanding that she be removed, and on 25 September 2013 around 600 residents staged a rally, carrying a coffin and yellow flags, which are often associated with death and disease. Mrs Zulkifli was appointed in June by Joko Widodo, the Muslim Governor of Jakarta. He has stood by her throughout the protests.

Christians elsewhere in Indonesia are also facing opposition from Islamic extremists. A church in Ciledug, Tangerang regency, Banten province, received a building permit on 11 September, enabling it to reopen after nine years. But as soon as Islamists found out, they launched a protest campaign, demanding that the place of worship be sealed up again. They took to the streets carrying signs, chanting and making threats. It is extremely difficult for churches to obtain a building permit in Indonesia; the process can take five to ten years, and local officials often reject applications for “unspecified reasons” because of pressure from Islamic groups.

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NEWSDESK

CHRISTIAN WOMAN MURDERED IN HER HOME SOMALIA – The dead body of Fatuma Isak Elmi (35) was found in her home in Beledweyne, Hiran province, on the evening of 1 September 2013. Her young son had been crying for an hour before a neighbour came to the house to investigate and found him outside the house in tears. Fatuma’s husband, Mumin Omar Abdi (36), discovered what had happened when he returned home later that night. He had received that morning a threatening note, believed to be from the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab. It said, “We shall come for you. You are friends with our enemies and you are polluting our religion.” Mumin fled the area with his son. Al-Shabaab is also suspected of kidnapping Mustaf Hassan, a 13-year-

old Christian boy, in Qoryoley, Lower Shebelle region, on 3 September. He was seized by armed, masked men as he made his way home from school.

“We shall come for you. You are friends with our enemies and you are polluting our religion” His aunt and uncle had previously been murdered by al-Shabaab. Christians in Somalia have to practise their faith in extreme secrecy. Those suspected of following Christ are targeted by al-Shabaab, which has vowed to rid Somalia of its underground church of converts from Islam.

CHRISTIANS KILLED AS ANARCHY RAGES CENTR AL AFRICAN REPUBLIC – As the Islamist Seleka militants continue to wreak havoc across the stricken Central African Republic, Christians in the city of Bangassou organised a protest against them on 8 October 2013. But armed Muslims stopped the protestors by force, and ten people were killed in the ensuing violence. Further attacks on 12 October left four more Christians dead. These are just the latest in a grim series of attacks on Christians that have followed a coup by the Seleka rebels in March. Rape, murder and machete attacks have become common, and whole villages have been abandoned or destroyed. More than 400,000 people have now been displaced. The Islamist government installed by the Seleka has failed to

curb its brutal excesses. The severe danger faced by the country’s Christian majority has been heightened still further by an influx of other militant Islamists from neighbouring countries. Sudan is

The severe danger faced by the country’s Christian majority has been heightened believed to have encouraged the coup, and its Janjaweed militia have reportedly crossed the border already. Other terrorist groups from Mali, Libya and Nigeria may also be active on the ground. An EU commissioner has warned that the country could turn into “another Somalia”.

ISLAMIST VIOLENCE AND OFFICIAL HARASSMENT AFFLICTS CHRISTIANS NIGERIA – Christians in Northern Nigeria and the Middle Belt are continuing to suffer merciless violence at the hands of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and other Muslim extremists. One of the worst-affected areas in 2013 was Kafanchan in Kaduna state. The attacks broke out in March, prompting church leaders to ask the authorities for help. But initially no protection was provided, and around 100 Christians were killed, over 500 homes destroyed and more than 10,000 people displaced. For example, a Christian man named Asa Zakka was brutally murdered in a machete attack on 16 September. Two Christians who were also attacked with machetes three days earlier were badly injured but survived. On 24-25 September, the Christian residents of Tajak were forced to flee

their homes as armed Fulani Muslim herdsmen laid siege to the village; a number of properties were burnt down. However, the security forces worked hard to bring the situation under control by imposing a curfew on Kafanchan town, and this proved effective in preventing further planned violence. Christians in Nigeria are also facing official harassment. Nine of Nigeria’s 37 states have introduced sharia law since 2000, although they interpret it differently and impose it to various degrees of strictness; three more have it in some Muslim-majority areas. In Kano state, Islamic police are deploying 10,000 officers to ensure that rules regarding “indecent dress” are enforced for all citizens, male and female, including Christians. Men with hair that is considered too long have been forced to have it cut.

14 BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

In Borno state, the authorities have announced a plan to demolish 25 churches and Christian schools, ostensibly to make room for new housing. But no development plans

have been produced, and Christian leaders believe that this is another attempt to persecute the Christian minority in the state.

Christian-owned houses in Tajak village, Kafanchan, were torched by Muslim extremists


NEWSDESK

PASTOR FREED, THEN REARRESTED INSTANTLY

CHRISTIAN WOMEN RELEASED FROM JAIL BY NEW REGIME

Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev has been detained again on new charges (Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

KAZAKHSTAN – A court ruled on 7 October 2013 that Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev (67) should be transferred from prison to house arrest after five months in detention. The following day, he was freed and reunited with his wife and other relatives, whom he had not seen since his arrest. But officials were waiting at the prison gate and immediately detained him again on extremism charges. His son, Askar, told Forum 18 News Service, “These new accusations are complete rubbish. They’re trying to turn my father into a terrorist.” Pastor Kashkumbayev’s family

are extremely concerned about the state of his health. As well as suffering physical ailments, he has been

He was freed and reunited with his wife and other relatives… But officials were waiting at the prison gate and immediately detained him subjected to abusive psychological examinations while in custody. Grace Church, which was led

by Pastor Kashkumbayev until his retirement in 2012, has been subjected to a long campaign of state harassment. It has been accused of numerous offences, and a new criminal investigation has now been launched against unnamed members of the church. Pastor Kashkumbayev was previously charged with inflicting serious harm to the health of a church member, Lyazzat Almenova. Her mother claimed that Lyazzat had suffered psychological harm after attending Grace Church, although Lyazzat herself has repeatedly insisted that she is psychiatrically healthy.

IRAN – Two Christian women, Maryam Jalili and Mitra Rahmati, were among eleven prisoners of conscience and political prisoners released from jail in Iran in September 2013. They were set free from the notorious Evin prison six weeks before the end of their two-and-ahalf-year sentences for evangelism among Muslims and membership of a Christian group. Then on 23 September, Iran announced that it had released 80 prisoners arrested in political crackdowns. Iran’s new President, Hassan Rouhani, who took office in August, had promised in his election campaign to free political prisoners, who reportedly number around 800, and to uphold the rights of religious minorities. The release of the prisoners was an encouraging indication that he is prepared to follow through on his pledges. When the Iranian president visited New York to address the UN, the wife of jailed pastor Saeed Abedini, who lives in the US, was able to handdeliver a letter to the delegation, urging his release. In the letter, written by Saeed to the president, he describes his eight-year jail term for his Christian activities as “unjust” and in violation of the principles of freedom of religion, law and human rights, and calls for a review of his case in line with the country’s constitution.

For news of recent events in Syria, please see page 11.

BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 15


IN TOUCH

arss ye 20 g tin ra b le e C l: fu f hf ith fa is d o Our G Fund of God’s goodness to Barnabas 2013, Barnabas Fund celebrated 20 years of serving the persecuted Church. We are so grateful to everybody who helped us to mark this milestone. At events in several countries, we:

In

● Reflected on the past 20 years of Barnabas Fund. We learned what led Patrick and Rosemary Sookhdeo to respond to the cries of Church leaders in Muslim-majority countries, and about how God enabled the work to expand into an international ministry ● Gave thanks to God for sustaining and blessing the work over two decades ● Considered examples of how our brothers and sisters are suffering for the Name of Christ, including how world events are currently impacting Christians in the Middle East, and of how Barnabas is helping them

Australia Barnabas Fund Australia sends its thanks to all those who attended anniversary events. We are also very grateful to two denominations that formally embraced our cause during our 20th anniversary year. The Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Perth passed resolutions sending assurances of prayer support to Christians in Syria and Egypt, and proposing significant financial support towards Barnabas Fund’s work if funds permit. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria similarly resolved to assure suffering Christians in Syria and Egypt of their prayers and concern, and also encouraged its congregations to give generously to Barnabas Fund “…as a practical expression of our love and concern for our fellow Christians”.

New Zealand In New Zealand, eight events took t place over six days in Auckland, Invercargill, Nelson, Dunedin, Christchurch and Timaru. At afternoon events our International Director, Patrick Sookhdeo, shared his vision and heart for Barnabas Fund’s work. At larger evening events, Patrick gave an insight into the after-effects of the Arab Spring. The Barnabas team was thrilled to talk with people who had travelled great distances to celebrate with us, some of whom have supported us for the last 20 years. We are grateful to all our supporters, who so faithfully pray for and give to the persecuted Church.

16 BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

United Kingdom In the UK, over 800 people attended four major events in Newcastleupon-Tyne, Bristol, Tamworth and Eastbourne. As well as offering reflections on the last 20 years and the current challenges facing the persecuted Church in general, these events provided particular insights into the issues faced by Christians in Pakistan. One supporter said, “I would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks to Barnabas Fund’s staff for the inspiring afternoon we all enjoyed together at Tamworth. Everything was so well organised and your staff were so welcoming and friendly.” We at Barnabas Fund UK are very grateful to all those who made the journey to join with us in remembering our persecuted family and in giving God praise for the work He is doing through our ministry. Our thanks also go out to supporters who kindly joined us for Barnabas events in Scotland and Northern Ireland during our anniversary year.

United States A 20th anniversary reception held at the Barnabas office in McLean, Virginia on 7 September was well attended by supporters from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Everyone was eager to meet International Directors Patrick Sookhdeo, Rosemary Sookhdeo and Caroline Kerslake, and to hear about the work of Barnabas Fund (which is known as Barnabas Aid in the US). A PowerPoint presentation given by Caroline, covering a range of projects from the past year, gave supporters a better understanding of the work and of how the gifts we receive are used. Then Patrick gave a very moving account of how the ministry began, sharing the vision and history of Barnabas from its inception through to its current work. Barnabas Aid would like to thank everyone who attended, and especiallyy those who travelled long distances to join with us in celebrating the past 20 years of God’s goodness to Barnabas.

as part A concert was held in Melbourne, Australia, s ration celeb ersary anniv s of Barnabas Fund’

helped guests Barbara Tarvid (right) eption in rec y sar ver nni h-a at a 20t A US McLean, Virginia,


IN TOUCH

to Young pianist reaches out persecuted children

n a e for a s madne, Australi a w e r k a u c o l lb u f e onder nt in M This wersary eve iv n n a

at an irectors tional D ne Willett (far a rn te d’s In by An r as Fun anised upporte Barnab vent org d dedicated s e ry a annivers ngstanding an lo right), a

is reaching out to a gifted young lady from Essex, UK, We were delighted to hear of how s of the world. needy Christian children in other part a concert in which ist and was able to raise £80 from Rebecca (14) is a very talented pian than herself, nate fortu Christian children who are less she took part. She wanted to help difference real a e mak nabas Fund. Her donation will and so she sent the proceeds to Bar and Bethlehem. to persecuted children in Pakistan istian children, and Rebecca for remembering needy Chr Barnabas Fund’s thanks go out to t us her donation. sen uted Church Prayer Group, who also to The Woodford Green Persec

Dates for your diary

The next Suffering Church Action Week will take place between 26 Octobe r and 2 November 2014, with the Barnabas Fund International Day of Prayer on Sat urday 1 November.

Prayer warrior aged 86 challenges others

Supporte rs in Bristo l, UK, hea Patrick So r from okhdeo

Ever thought that you would like to start a prayer meeting for the persecuted Church but feel unsure if you have the energy? Ruth Boulton from Adelaide, Australia, is an inspiration. God has given Ruth a heart for our suffering brothers and sisters, and in February this year she started a monthly prayer meeting – at the age of 86. The photograph below shows Ruth at a Barnabas Fund event encouraging others to attend her prayer meeting.

New Year, new way of giving?

Is your New Year’s resolution to tidy up your finances? Are you thinking of updating the way that you give? We at Barnabas Fund are so grateful for all the gifts we receive, whatever form they take. But we always aim to keep our running costs down, so that as much as possible of the gifts we receive goes to help our persecuted brothers and sisters. One way to help us do this is by considering the way in which you give. Unfortunately, as a larger charity Barnabas Fund does not qualify for free banking. The bank charges we have to pay are as follows: ● Credit card: up to 1% of your gift ● Cheque: 18p per gift ● Online bank transfer: 12p per gift ● Debit card: 12p per gift ● Direct Debit: 11p per gift

As you can see, the most cost-effective method of giving is by Direct Debit. Once a Direct Debit is set up it is quick and easy ffor us to process. This helps us to keep oour administrative costs down. Receipt of rregular direct donations also helps us to pplan for the future with more confidence. T The most cost-effective methods of one-off ggiving are by internet bank transfer or by d card. Again, these methods help us to debit keep our administrative costs down.

of Barnabas Fund ergetic supporter Ruth, 86, is an en

Thank you to all our supporters who purchased Christmas cards, and especially to those who included a donation with their purchase. Your support and gifts are very much appreciated.

BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 17


HOW WE HELPED

What Barnabas has achieved under God 2013 we gave thanks to the Lord for all that He has enabled Barnabas Fund to achieve through the first 20 years of our life. I am also deeply grateful to Him for all our supporters, whose prayers and gifts have made our work possible during this time. Through your faithfulness and generosity God has graciously used us to bring spiritual hope and practical aid to the persecuted Church in many parts of the world.

In

The needs are great, and in some places they are growing rapidly, but with the Lord’s continued help we are expanding our work in response. On this page we present figures for the past year from many of our key project areas. Please join us in praise for all that has been achieved under God, and in prayer that He will continue to enable us to serve His suffering people. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director

In contexts of pressure and persecution during the past year*:

Barnabas Fund supported:

31,911 More than 31,911 Christians who were victims of violence Leadership training for 12,585 Christian leaders in 20 countries

Over 511 Christians with smallbusiness and income-generation projects

Over 7,576 Christian children in Christian schools or educational programmes

7 medical centres/care homes

14 safe houses

438 pastors and evangelists

12,585 persecuted Christian converts in 13 countries

Barnabas Fund provided:

Food and basic needs to over 144,640 Christians

780 houses for Christian victims of violence.

64 churches and other Christian buildings, constructed or repaired

16 wells

193,000 pieces of Christian literature, including 55,000 Bibles

*Fi F gur gures s correc correc ct Octo c berr 20 012 1 – Octo Octo ctober ber 2 20 01 13 3


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Signature.................................................................................... Date ................................................... Please inform us if you want to cancel this declaration, change your name or home address or no longer pay sufficient tax on your income and/or capital gains. If you pay Income Tax at the higher or additional rate and want to receive the additional tax relief due to you, you must include all your Gift Aid donations on your Self-Assessment tax return or ask HM Revenue and Customs to adjust your tax code.

A Gift of Love for the Persecuted Church

D

Mag 01/14

Please return this form to Barnabas Fund at your national office or to the UK office. Addresses are on the back cover. Barnabas Fund will not give your address, telephone number or email to anyone else. Supporters in Germany: please turn to back cover for how to send gifts to Barnabas Fund. Phone 0800 587 4006 or visit our website at www.barnabasfund.org to make a donation by Direct Debit, credit or debit card. From outside UK phone +44 1672 565031. *If the project chosen is sufficiently funded, we reserve the right to use designated gifts either for another project of a similar type or for another project in the same country. Registered Charity number 1092935 Company registered in England number 4029536

A Gift of Love for the Persecuted Church

If you would like to make a donation as an alternative gift for a friend or relative, we can supply you with an attractive “Thank you” card, which you can send to the person for whom you have made the donation. Please fill in the details as you would like them to appear on the card. “Dear ................................................ A gift of £ ............... has been received on your behalf from............................................................................................. This gift will assist Christians who are persecuted for their faith. With many thanks on behalf of the persecuted Church” Tick here if you do not want the amount to be stated on the card Tick here if you do wish details about the project to be included on the card Please state your preferred card choice (see left): ..........

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F

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Suffering Church Action Week: thank you for taking part! Thank you so much to everybody who took part in Suffering Church Action Week 2013 and the Barnabas Fund International Day of Prayer. Events were held in at least 25 countries, with supporters from at least 635 churches participating in the UK alone. Our Children of Courage prayer guides were accessed online by around 1,834 people, and over 3,000 printed guides were distributed by our UK offices. During Suffering Church Action week, more than 15,000 people viewed prayer requests and other information on our Facebook page. However you took part in the week, your support and prayers mean so much to our persecuted brothers and sisters. One of the messages Barnabas received was from a group of Afghan Christian converts who are refugees in a neighbouring country. They told us:

Suffering Church Action Week events were held in: Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Mali, New Zealand, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States

"We had a wonderful time of prayer on 1st November, there were 15 of us, and we prayed for two hours... It was really encouraging because we were feeling in our spirit that other people of God were also praying together with us in different countries."

It’s not too late!

Don’t forget that Suffering Church Action Week events need not be held between the suggested dates - they can be held at any time that suits your church. Inspiration packs, containing everything you need for a Suffering Church Sunday church service, a prayer meeting or a fundraising event, are still available.

How to Find Us

Christians in India pray for persecuted Christian children around the world as part of the Barnabas Fund International Day of Prayer

You may contact Barnabas Fund at the following addresses:

UK 9 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX Telephone 024 7623 1923 Fax 024 7683 4718 From outside the UK Telephone +44 24 7623 1923 Fax +44 24 7683 4718 Email info@barnabasfund.org Registered charity number 1092935 Company registered in England number 4029536 For a list of all trustees, please contact Barnabas Fund UK at the Coventry address above.

New Zealand PO Box 27 6018, Manukau City, Auckland, 2241 Telephone (09) 280 4385 or 0800 008 805 Email office@barnabasfund.org.nz Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland PO Box 354, Bangor, BT20 9EQ Telephone 028 91 455 246 or 07867 854604 Email krisb@barnabasfund.org

Australia PO BOX 3527, LOGANHOLME, QLD 4129 Telephone (07) 3806 1076 or 1300 365 799 Fax (07) 3806 4076 Email bfaustralia@barnabasfund.org

Scotland Barnabas Fund Scotland, PO Box 2084, Livingston, EH54 0EZ Email scotland@barnabasfund.org

Germany German supporters may send gifts for Barnabas Fund via Hilfe für Brüder who will provide you with a tax-deductible receipt. Please mention that the donation is for “SPC 20 Barnabas Fund”. If you would like your donation to go to a specific project of Barnabas Fund, please inform the Barnabas Fund office in Pewsey, UK. Account holder: Hilfe für Brüder e.V. Account number: 415 600 Bank: Evang Kreditgenossenschaft Stuttgart Bankcode (BLZ): 520 604 10

Singapore Cheques in Singapore dollars payable to “Barnabas Fund” may be sent to: Kay Poh Road Baptist Church, 7 Kay Poh Road, Singapore 248963

International Headquarters The Old Rectory, River Street, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5DB, UK Telephone 01672 564938 Fax 01672 565030 From outside UK: Telephone +44 1672 564938 Fax +44 1672 565030 Email info@barnabasfund.org

barnabasaid the magazine of Barnabas Fund Managing Editor: Steve Carter Published by Barnabas Fund

The Old Rectory, River Street, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5DB, UK Telephone 01672 564938 Fax 01672 565030 From outside UK: Telephone +44 1672 564938 Fax +44 1672 565030 Email info@barnabasfund.org

USA 6731 Curran St, McLean, VA 22101 Telephone (703) 288-1681 or toll-free 1-866-936-2525 Fax (703) 288-1682 Email usa@barnabasaid.org © Barnabas Fund 2014. For permission to reproduce articles from this magazine, please contact the International Headquarters address above. The paper used is produced using wood fibre at a mill that has been awarded the ISO14001 certificate for environmental management.

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To donate by credit card, please visit the website or phone 0800 587 4006 (from outside the UK phone +44 1672 565031).


Barnabas Aid January February 2014