Israel Update

JERUSALEM-ON-THE-LINE
May 29, 2012

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” 1 Pet 4: 7

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, in an ongoing endeavor, is keeping you informed monthly of growing Christian oppression across Islamic controlled lands that you may pray for both the victims and their persecutors.

NEW ARAB BOOK FURTHERING ANTISEMITIC BLOOD LIBELS: A new book, entitled “Jewish Hostility Towards Christ and Christians” and written in Arabic by Assad Azzouni, has been gaining much Jordanian media publicity. According to recent articles, the book accuses the Jews of trying to destroy Christianity and convert all Christians to Judaism. It alleges the Talmud is dedicated to starting wars and writes of the authenticity of the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The reports however, do not even show the slightest bit of skepticism about Azzouni's claims. Furthermore, Azzouni published one article furthering the age-old antisemitic blood libel, calling on his readers “not to forget the Jewish need to kill Christian children and knead their blood in dough on their Passover festival.” He continues to profess the Talmud says if Christian blood is not available, Muslim blood is acceptable because many Christians converted to Islam. No comments on the article; no one protesting this throwback to the antisemitism of the Middle Ages in Europe. It is simply accepted as a fact in the Arab world. (Arutz-7)

IRANIAN GOVERNMENT DEMANDS DETAILS ON CHRISTIAN CONGREGATIONS: According to a report May 25, Iranian authorities have told church leaders to submit the names and National ID numbers of their members, threatening the security of Christian converts. Under duress, leaders of the Assemblies of God church in Tehran were "asked" to provide personal information on new members by Iranian security officials. Being known to the authorities as a Christian, especially a convert, could have detrimental effects on the employment prospects of non-Muslims. Even worse forms of persecution, such as imprisonment, are a threat. Assemblies of God churches in Iran have been under surveillance for decades. The Ministry of Intelligence previously demanded the names and personal data of congregational members 20 years ago, but church leaders refused to comply. In 2009, the church was banned from holding services on Fridays in Farsi, the Iranian national language, a prohibition that has since been imposed on other congregations in the capital. Although this continued campaign of harassment has forced Christians out of official churches, many now attend a growing number of hidden house churches that authorities have been unable to harass. (Worthy News)

IRANIAN PASTOR YOUCEF NADARKHANI SENDS A LETTER FROM PRISON: The Christian pastor currently sentenced to death in Iran for apostasy wrote a letter this month thanking his supporters. It is the first time in a year he has been heard from since being jailed. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces the death penalty for abandoning Islam and converting to Christianity. In his letter, he said that he wanted to thank all of his beloved brothers and sisters for their prayers on his behalf and to inform them that he is in good health in the flesh and spirit, despite difficulties in prison. “This is the day of exam and trial of my faith,” wrote the pastor of the Church of Iran, one of the nation's largest evangelical house church movements. "These days are hard, but to prove my loyalty and sincerity to God, I am trying to do the best in my power to stay right with what I have learned from God's commandments," he wrote. (INN) Intercede for Youcef Nadarkhani's strength, courage and release from prison. Pray also that his captors might come to faith. “I have suffered much - preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.” Ps 119:107

IRAN DETAINS LAWYER OF PASTOR NADARKHANI: Jailed Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faces execution for converting from Islam to Christianity, will be soon without a lawyer as his defense attorney has been sentenced to nine years imprisonment. A council member of Nadarkhani’s Church of Iran house church movement said lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was detained briefly earlier this month and then released. However, according to the verdict, he is supposed to serve the sentence very soon. The attorney was convicted of acting against national security, spreading propaganda and keeping banned books at home. His expected imprisonment in one of Iran's notorious prisons "is also bad news for Pastor Nadarkhani's case," stressed the church official. Without the lawyer, it will be even more difficult to prevent the execution of Pastor Nadarkhani, according to the spokesman, who himself is hiding citing security reasons. (BosNews)

IRAN HOUSE CHURCH PASTOR STILL BEATEN IN PRISON: Prominent Iranian house church pastor Behnam Irani is still beaten in his prison but less frequently, an official assisting him with advocacy said May 14, just weeks after his family expressed concerns he may die. Irani reportedly has had intestinal bleeding, or bloody stool, for roughly six months among other ailments. He has asked to visit a doctor and they have denied his requests, an advocacy representative has disclosed, adding that his group has urged supporters to "Please pray for his healing and deliverance from the bleeding."  According to reports the jailed pastor, despite his difficult circumstances, remains strong and joyful in the faith. 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. He has been held on charges of "crimes against the Islamic state" apparently linked to his involvement in the unauthorized house church. (Worthy News) Intercede for Behnam Irani that he may be both healed and set free from prison. Pray also for his wife and children that they may be protected, comforted and receive every necessary provision for their daily lives.

GROWING NUMBER OF CHRISTIANS IN AFGHANISTAN DESPITE DEATH THREATS: A growing number of Afghans, including politicians, are embracing Christianity and meet in house churches despite death threats and attacks by Islamic terrorists. A Christian news agency, on May 4, quoted informed Afghan authorities as saying that Christianity has obtained a special place "among youth and other layers in society." The officials said house churches are growing tremendously. An advocacy group assisting Christians living in difficult areas, explained that it learned from an independent Shi'ite website that an Afghan official concluded, “There is evidence of widespread Christian propaganda in Afghanistan.” The unidentified official was quoted as saying it had been proven "more than 10 churches operate secretly in residential houses." (Bosnews) Pray for a continued move of the Gospel in Afghanistan and for the courage and protection of God’s people there.  Pray also for the growing move of God taking place in the Islamic Republic. Iran is ranked 5th on the Open Doors 2012 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. Despite the Iranian government's ongoing crackdown of Christians, the number of Muslims converting to Christianity is growing at an explosive rate. There is talk of witnessing a Christian revival in Iran, especially among young people living in the country.

INDONESIAN ISLAMISTS CONTINUE TO PERSECUTE CHRISTIANS DESPITE POLICE: Even with police on hand, hundreds of Islamists last week attacked the prayer house of the Protestant Batak Church in Jakarta. The congregation was forced to travel to the site on foot after Islamists blocked-off the building from street traffic. Meanwhile, the mob threw sewage, mud, rotten eggs and sticks. "What scares us most is that the number of police was so small compared to the angry mob," said Rev. Palti Panjaitan. "It is clear they did not have the strength to repel the attackers." The latest assault follows an Islamist onslaught in mid-May when Muslims threw stones and bags filled with urine at the congregation. For three days a mob also set fire to homes and vehicles in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in Jakarta as dozens of families fled in terror. At least 44 people were injured in the attacks. (Worthy News)

27 CHRISTIANS KILLED IN NIGERIA ATTACK: On Sunday, April 29, three church services in Northern Nigeria were targeted by suspected Muslim terrorists in attacks that left 27 people dead. Witnesses said the assailants arrived at Bayero University by motorcycle and a car, hurling explosive devices and opening fire. There has been no claim of responsibility, but the radical Islamic faction Boko Haram has targeted Nigerian Christians in the past. The group has said it wants to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and does not recognize the government or the country's constitution. It also demands that Christians leave the northern regions. Nigeria's population of 150 million is about evenly divided between Muslims, who mostly live in the north and Christians who populate the south. Hundreds died last year in bombings and shootings blamed on Boko Haram, according to Christians and rights activists. (BosNews/Barnabus-fund)

ISLAM IN AFRICA: THE INVISIBLE GENOCIDE OF CHRISTIANS: According to Philip Jenkins, a leading expert on Christianity in Nigeria, what is at stake in this besieged country is the balance between Islam and Christianity. Nigeria is the largest Muslim country of Africa, a global leader in oil production and a country where the future of religious co-existence is precarious, since the nation is divided between Islam and Christianity. The Islamic conquest of Africa began in the seventh century, when the Umayyads spread the faith in the Mediterranean lands which had long been Byzantine. But in deeper Africa the penetration was difficult, and for centuries Islam was unable to climb over the Horn of Africa. Now, with modern methods of warfare, the world is witnessing a wave of Islamization with unforeseeable, tragic consequences. Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania are already 90% Islamized. The goal is to create a big African-Islamic continent. Christians must be killed or expelled. Over 13,750 Christians have been killed by Muslims in northern Nigeria alone since the introduction of Sharia laws in 2001. In the northern states that have adopted Sharia law, five million Christians are under severe repression. Islam has planted the idea that the Muslim religion is “original in Nigeria” and that the spread of Christianity is “a threat, an enemy to destroy.” From the Gulf of Guinea to the Red Sea, via northern Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia, Sharia has become the only law in many regions. Today Islam is the first religion in a dozen African countries. (Arutz-7)

TARGETING CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD: In April many Christians around the world celebrated Easter, taking it for granted they can congregate and worship in peace. Not so in the Islamic world. Christian holidays celebrated in church are increasingly a time of death and destruction, a time of terror. Nigeria, for example, saw some 50 Christians killed "when explosives concealed in two cars went off near a church during Easter Sunday services in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna. Muslim assaults on meeting places during the holiest of Christian holidays are not limited to Nigeria but occur throughout the Muslim world. There are some Muslim nations - Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait - where one rarely hears of Islamic violence against congregations; but that is because they have nipped the "church problem" in the bud by not allowing them to exist in the first place. While church attacks are efficient ways to ensure the deaths of maximum numbers of Christians, intentionally targeting churches during the highest Christian holidays is also a reminder of the malevolency that drives such onslaughts. (Middle East Forum)

“And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Mt 24: 14
 

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 http://www.visionforisrael.com/

 

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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