Israel Update

JERUSALEM-ON-THE-LINE
July 16, 2012

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Ps 34:18

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.

US STATE DEPARTMENT CALLS FOR RELEASE OF PASTOR SENTENCED TO DEATH IN IRAN: It has been more than 1,000 days since a Christian pastor was thrown into an Iranian jail for leaving Islam and sentenced to death for following his faith. Last week, the US once again called on Iran to release Youcef Nadarkhani. "Pastor Nadarkhani still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith, and we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately," said a statement from State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. His next scheduled court date is September 8. Nadarkhani, born to Muslim parents in the Iranian town of Rasht, converted to Christianity when he was 19. Later he was ordained as a minister and led a network of house churches in Iran. He was arrested in October 2009 after he lodged a protest with local education officials upon learning his child was being forced to read from the Quran in school. He was charged with apostasy and convicted in a provincial court, which sentenced him to death. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which said Nadarkhani's sentence could be overturned if he recanted his faith.The 34-year-old pastor has refused to do so. (CNN) Continue to intercede for Pastor Nadarkhani’s release and for his faith to be strengthened in the testings and trials he presently endures. 

KENYA: 17 KILLED AS CHURCHES ATTACKED BY ISLAMISTS: Suspected members of the Islamist terror group, Al-Shabaab, on July 1, killed 17 worshipers in coordinated attacks on churches in Garissa, Kenya. The two blasts wounded at least 45 others. The violence took place during morning worship services, when Islamists threw grenades into the African Inland Church and Garissa's Roman Catholic Church. “Many people were injured and rushed to Garissa Provincial hospital," said Ibrahim Magunyi, Pastor of the East Africa Pentecostal Church. "We have written previously of Al-Shabaab's infiltration of Kenya and are extremely saddened by these killings of the Christian worshipers. The actions of the Islamists show their complete disregard for human life. We urge Kenyan authorities to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice." (Reuters/Worthy News) May those who have lost loved ones and friends be comforted and those who are guilty of such brutality and murder be brought to justice.

THREE CHURCH BLASTS IN NIGERIA KILL 21 PEOPLE: Suicide bombers killed 21 people in attacks on three churches in Nigeria during Sunday services on June 17, exacerbating religious tensions in a West African nation that is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. It had been the third Sunday in a row that deadly attacks had been carried out against Christian churches in northern Nigeria. No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram because it took responsibility for the two earlier weekend assaults. More than 560 people have been killed in violence blamed on the sect this year alone. During the June 17 attack, the suicide bombers drove explosive-laden cars to the gates of two churches in the city of Zaria and detonated them within minutes of each other. A similar assault targeted a church in the city of Kaduna a half an hour later. The attacks in the northern state of Kaduna killed a total of 21 people and wounded at least 100. (AP)

NIGERIAN MISSIONARIES TRAPPED AS TERRORISTS EMBRACE CHRIST: A group of Nigerian missionaries and Christian converts in late June managed to escape a battle field in northern Nigeria where several terrorists embraced Christianity - but elsewhere believers face Islamic attacks. A June 28 report from a leader of the Christian Aid Mission’s group said, "As word came that native missionaries under siege had escaped from Muslim terrorist murderers, Gospel workers from another mission field called in to report they were under attack." An unidentified Nigerian mission leader reported a whole village in southern Kaduna was fighting. He said five missionaries were there, whose work among local unreached Muslim tribes had been very successful. The mission leader explained the Gospel workers had come there to comfort and shelter unprepared villagers who fled in terror as armed Muslim terrorists invaded without warning. Missionaries said as many as 400 people have died since Islamic group Boko Haram, bombed three churches in cities Kaduna and Zaria, in mid June. One leader assured however there is still much good news: “All our Muslim converts, trapped since last week, are secure and protected now in our discipleship center. The village chief wants us back when he knows it is safe," he said. (Worthy News) “The power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. Ps 37:17

SUDANESE AUTHORITIES DEMOLISH TWO CHURCH BUILDINGS: Authorities in Khartoum demolished two church buildings in the third week of June after confiscating three Catholic schools. Officials from the Ministry of Planning and Housing of the local government authority on June 18 sent bulldozers that destroyed a church building belonging to the St. John Episcopal Church of Sudan, in the Haj Yousif. A Catholic church building in the area was also demolished the same day. “The government wants to remove all churches from Khartoum,” the source said. The majority of the population of Sudan adheres to Islam. (Compass Direct News)

CHURCH OF NATIVITY NAMED AS FIRST PALESTINIAN WORLD HERITAGE SITE: UNESCO's World Heritage committee on June 29 approved a Palestinian bid to place the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on its list of sites of World Heritage in Danger - a move seen by several nations as dangerously mixing politics and culture. Palestinian spokesman, Hanan Ashrawi, said the vote was an affirmation of Palestinian sovereignty over the spot where many Christians believe Yeshua was born. The drive to get the Nativity church quickly recognized as a World Heritage site is part of the Palestinians' bid to win international recognition since attempts to establish a Palestinian state through negotiations with Israel are frozen. While the building needs minor repairs, it was not seen by the experts committee as being in imminent threat of destruction - the criteria usually reserved for the emergency procedure. The US ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said the US is "profoundly disappointed" by the World Heritage committee's decision. He noted the candidacy was opposed by a UNESCO experts committee, whose conclusions are almost always heeded. The three churches acting as custodians of the site had also been opposed. (Ha’aretz)

FORMER EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SAYS MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD WILL TERRORIZE CHRISTIANS: Former presidential candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, hit hard at the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization prior to Egypt’s recent presidential elections. He warned an Islamist victory would lead to terrorizing Christians and accused the Brotherhood of trying to make “Palestine" the central issue for Egyptians. Shafiq was a close aide to ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, did indeed win the bid to become Egypt’s new president, the results of which were announced on June 24. It will be very hard to convince Coptic Christians, secularists and many women – as well as Israel - that he will not simply follow the Brotherhood’s directives. (INN) Pray for the empowering of the Holy Spirit in Egypt's Christian communities. May they may be a light in the midst of that nation's growing political and religious darkness. Pray for their protection against Islamist violence.

CONVERT FROM ISLAM TO CHRISTIANITY BEHEADED: Video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims has been shown on Egyptian TV. The graphic incident was aired on a program called Egypt Today. The footage shows a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. One man chants a number of Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity. The man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat begins to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”). The Egypt Today presenter was visibly distressed by the scenes. Then, referring to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, who together held the majority of seats in the country’s parliament at that time, he asked, “How are such people supposed to govern?” The footage of this brutal beheading is the latest alarming indication of the violent threat to religious freedom in the post-Arab Spring order. (Barnabas) May the courage of this martyred brother, and his faith that would not waver unto death, touch the hearts of his killers - also those who have seen the footage of his death. Pray many will embrace the good news of the Gospel as a result of his witness.

EGYPTIAN COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCE FOR CHRISTIAN ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY: Officials in Egypt recently upheld a three-year prison sentence against a teenage Christian student for posting a drawing on Facebook that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohamed. Muslims reacted angrily to Massoud’s cartoons by attacking Christians and burning houses in the Manqabad village in the city of Assiut, which is home to a large Christian population. (Reuters)

US-BACKED REBELS COMMITTING CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE IN SYRIA: The US-backed Syrian Army is sacking churches and issuing threats that all Christians will be cleansed from rebel-held territory. According to one clergyman who described the plight of believers in Qusayr, near Homs, “Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants who fled without taking anything.” Asked whether it was the Free Syrian Army that was telling Christians to get out, a nun at the Monastery of St. James in Homs said, "Yes, it was commander on the ground, Abdel Salam Harba, who decided there was to be no more negotiations with Christians." She added that Christians refused to back the rebels, so the rebels used them as human shields. Most of the 10,000 Christian residents of Qusayr, Syria have already fled according to a recent report. Qusayr, is situated in a mountainous area overlooking Syria's border with Lebanon. (Worthy News) Pray for the safety of the persecuted church in Syria and that those who are homeless will find shelter. In addition to engaging in destructive attacks against Christians, Syrian rebel forces have warned that should they seize control of their country, Israel will continue to be regarded as Syria's number one foe.

PA CHILDREN TAUGHT TO HATE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS: Palestinian Authority TV chose to rebroadcast a program featuring a little girl reciting a hate poem targeting Jews and Christians as "inferior and smaller, more cowardly and despised." It was televised in May and again in June. In addition, Palestinian Media Watch reported that earlier this year, PA TV broadcast a young girl reciting a poem that included the words: "Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail." Weeks later, PA TV aired an even younger girl reciting the poem with the same hate speech, adding that the child had already recited it at the opening of a Palestinian exhibition of educational tools. (PMW) Many young Palestinians have only terrorist-controlled networking of children’s programs to view. These presentations often promote religious extremism, violence, and hatred. This is done via Disney characters and other teddy-bear creatures. Pray for Palestinian youth to be presented with learning and viewing materials that promote positive viewpoints.

“A little while, and the wicked will be no more….” Ps: 37:10

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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