Israel Update

March 12, 2012


“I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh. I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church.” Col 1:24

FIRST THE SATURDAY PEOPLE, THEN THE SUNDAY PEOPLE: Islamic terror groups have had a favorite taunt for several decades which says, first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people. This means of course, first the Jews then the Christians will be targets for terrorist persecution, subjection and elimination. Vision for Israel is endeavoring to keep you informed monthly of growing Christian oppression across Islamic controlled lands that you may pray for both the victims and their persecutors.

According to a new study, the number of American mosques has increased dramatically in the last decade despite protests aimed at Muslim houses of worship in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Researchers conducting the count found a total of 2,106 Islamic centers, compared to 1,209 in 2000 and 962 in 1994, the increase reflecting Muslims moving into the suburbs and the arrival of newer immigrants from Africa, Iraq and elsewhere. About one-quarter of the centers were built between 2000-2011, as the community faced intense scrutiny by government officials and a suspicious public. In 2010, a protest against a mosque near the former World Trade Center site erupted into a national debate over Islam, extremism and religious freedom. Anti-mosque demonstrations spread to Tennessee, California and other states. Ihsan Bagby, a professor at the University of Kentucky and lead author of the study, said the findings show Muslims are carving out a place for themselves despite the backlash. (Washington Times) America, wake up!

2030: THE YEAR BRITAIN WILL CEASE TO BE A CHRISTIAN NATION: Britain may no longer be a Christian country in just 20 years, a report said at the beginning of March. If trends continue, the number of non-believers is set to overtake the number of Christians by 2030. Christianity is losing more than half a million believers every year, while the count of atheists and agnostics is going up by almost 750,000 annually. Research by the House of Commons Library found that while Christianity has declined, other religions have seen sharp increases. In the last six years, the number of Muslims has surged by 37% to 2.6million; Hindus by 43% and Buddhists by 74%. The findings help explain the increasingly forceful warnings from people of faith about the state of religion in the UK. (MailOnline)

ISRAEL IS ONLY MIDEAST STATE SAFE FOR CHRISTIANS, ENVOY SAYS: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is safe for Christians, Israel's ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote in a column for the Wall Street Journal on Friday, comparing what he said was the suppression of Christian communities in Arab states to the twentieth-century expulsion of Jews from these nations. Oren cited the continuing violence against Egypt's Coptic Christians, the burning of Iraqi churches, a Saudi ban on Christian worship and the desecration of the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank as instances indicating a threat to Christianity in the Muslim world. He added that conversion “to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death.” Oren went on to compare what he called a sweeping action against Christian communities in the Arab world to the expulsion of 800,000 Jews from Arab countries, mostly following the Six-Day War. Ultimately, Oren concludes, the only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered, but are actually flourishing, is in Israel. (Ha’aretz)

IRAN COURT CONVICTS CHRISTIAN PASTOR CONVERT TO DEATH: A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team. Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years. It is unclear whether Nadarkhani can appeal the execution order. “The world needs to stand up and say that a man cannot be put to death because of his faith,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). “This one case is not just about one execution. We have been able to expose the system instead of just letting one man disappear, like so many other Christians have in the past.” It is also feared Nadarkhani will be executed in retaliation as Iran endures crippling sanctions and international pressure in response to its nuclear agenda. The number of executions in Iran has increased significantly in the last month. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 89 members of Congress, along with the EU, France, Great Britain, Mexico and Germany, have condemned Iran for arresting Nadarkhani and have called for his quick release. (Fox News) Place yourself in Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani’s position, not knowing on what day or at what hour execution might come. Intercede for his miraculous release. Pray for his protection from torture in prison and for the safety of his family and fellow Christians in Iran.

JAILED IRANIAN PASTOR’S HEALTH DETERIORATING: The health of a jailed pastor of one of Iran's largest evangelical house church movements is deteriorating and there are increasing fears he may die. Behnam Irani, who was jailed for what critics view as trumped up charges of “crimes against the Islamic state” is experiencing an intestinal disorder, said Jason DeMars who supports the family as director of advocacy group, Present Truth Ministries. “His family is very concerned because his brother died from intestinal cancer,” DeMars added. Irani, who is in his 40s and married with two children, has been behind bars in a prison of Karaj city, where he led a congregation of the Church of Iran house church movement. Christians said he was detained in April 2010 when security forces raided Irani’s house in Karaj during a worship service. Iranian Christians said at the time that security forces beat Irani and confiscated Bibles and other Christian literature and DVDs. In October, three days prior to his scheduled release, Iranian judicial authorities extended the prison term for Pastor Behnam Irani by five years. (BosNews)

CRACKDOWN ON MUSLIMS TURNED CHRISTIANS IN IRAN: Clergyman Mehdi Karbalaee recently fled the Islamic Republic and is waiting for his trial to take place in Iran’s capital Tehran on charges linked to his Christian activities. His colleague, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, who was acquitted for “crimes against the order” in an Iranian court, is however being put on trial again for the same crime, according to one human rights leader. “There were 11 others put on trial with him and they are now going to have to go to court for the second time. Their second trial, after being acquitted of these crimes previously, will be in March.” The official added that the latest developments highlight the human rights abuses of the corrupt Iranian regime. Iranian agents have denied wrongdoing, saying they defend the values of the strict Islamic state. The account comes amid a wider reported crackdown on house churches. (BosNews) “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief. You consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” Ps10:14.

EGYPT: CHRISTIANS TARGETED AS ISLAM RISES: As Islamist parties gain power in Egypt, the country has seen a wave of lawsuits accusing various figures of “insulting Islam.” In the latest case, a group of lawyers belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood have accused high-profile Egyptian women of provocative behavior. The lawyers argue that the women “encourage sexuality and other inappropriate behaviors.” A Christian man recently received a six-year prison sentence for making offensive remarks about Mohammed, who Muslims revere as a prophet. Egypt’s Christian community has also been hit by kidnappings targeting young women. According to Christian community leaders, many Christian girls have been kidnapped by Muslim men and forced to convert to Islam. Police often decline to intervene. Christians held a protest over the issue outside Parliament in February. Protesters called on MPs to look into the kidnappings and enforce the law. (INN)

PROTESTERS AT SAUDI EMBASSY DEMAND END TO CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION: Dozens demonstrated at the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Washington at the end of February demanding that Ethiopian Christians imprisoned for their beliefs be released. Dr. Kassa Ayalew, an organizer of the demonstration said the religious discrimination Christians face in Saudi Arabia has been going on for a long time. He added that the US government should urge the Saudi government to release all of the people who are in jail for exercising their religious rights. The embassy protest was in response to a police raid in Jeddah where 35 Ethiopian Christians were arrested during a prayer meeting held at a private home last December. According to International Christian Concern, their treatment has become even worse since the arrests. Sources indicate they have been imprisoned without trial and have not been told when or if they will be released. The women report they were strip searched upon their arrest and that unsanitary conditions during the search have led to illnesses among some of the prisoners for which they are unable to obtain proper medical treatment. Saudi Arabia is listed by the US State Department as a “Country of Concern” for human rights violations second only to North Korea. (Christian Post)

KUWAITI LEGISLATORS CALL FOR BAN ON CHURCH CONSTRUCTION: A Kuwaiti parliamentarian will soon draft legislation banning the construction of churches and other non-Islamic places of worship in the tiny emirate. Kuwaiti Member of Parliament Osama Al-Munawer first announced that he planned to submit a law calling for the removal of all churches in the country. He later remitted the proposal saying that existing churches will remain as only the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship should be banned. (WCN)

KASHMIR HIGH COURT STAYS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ANGLICAN CLERGY: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has stayed further proceedings against an Anglican clergyman. Last November, an Islamic court summoned Pastor Chander Mani Khanna to answer charges he had forced seven young Muslims to convert to Christianity in exchange for money. Both Khanna and the converts rejected the allegation. Khanna was arrested and then released a week later. The court has recently ordered his expulsion, along with other Christian missionaries. “With the court order, the pastor can finally leave the state,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians. “Because of the threats from the Islamic court, his family has already left. They are no longer safe there. The atmosphere is increasingly tense,” Sajan said. “The situation is precarious and unstable. Islamic fundamentalists have threatened to seize all the properties of the families of the converts in order to have them go back to Islam. Intimadations have had their effect, at least partly. Three of the seven converts have decided to abjure Christianity.” The Islamic court has no legal authority in Jammu and Kashmir. Yet, the grand mufti's charges have led to a major case of anti-Christian persecution. (Worthy Christian News) Pray for the courage of Christian converts in Jammu and Kashmir - that they will stand strong in their faith despite Islamic persecution.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4

Blessings from Israel 

Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff 


As international speakers and messengers of the Good News through music, Barry and Batya Segal are at the forefront of what God is doing in the present day nation of Israel. With strong ties in both the nations and Jerusalem, the Segals are weaving the deepest roots of our biblical heritage together with the fresh Spirit-filled worship of today to create their rich harmony of Scripture and song.

The Segals have a vast vision for God's purposes in the nations and to the people of Israel. In fact, their longing to help rebuild Israel both spiritually and physically inspired them to pioneer the non-profit charity organization, Vision for Israel and The Joseph Storehouse. This arm of their ministry focuses on assisting the poor and needy, widows and orphans, and reaching out to the new Jewish immigrants coming into the land of Israel. Vision 's most challenging project to date is "The Joseph StorehouseŽ", humanitarian aid center, located in the hills of Jerusalem. The Joseph Storehouse functions as a channel of blessing to all of Israel, Jewish and Arab, through the gathering and distribution of emergency medical supplies, food, clothing, and other basic life necessities. USA office contact info: Vision for Israel, PO Box 7743, Charlotte NC 28241, 866-351-0075. The Segal's web site is


Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.    


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