Saturday, March 30, 2013

12-year-old girl rescued by a Christian Organization in India from the clutches of her perpetrators who were selling off her virginity

By Jacob Philip
Assistant Correspondent in India for ASSIST News Service

MUMBAI, INDIA (ANS) -- The Indian Rescue Mission, a Christian organization that rescues young girls sold, trafficked and forced into prostitution, successfully rescued a 12-year-old girl from being sold off for her virginity in Mumbai, India, on Monday, March 25, 2013.

The Red Light district of Mumbai
Indian Rescue Mission, who were investigating the case, discovered that a pimp had offered to sell Rekha* [name changed for security reasons] to a wealthy customer and make money out of the immoral transaction.

One learnng this, a member of the Indian Rescue Mission's undercover team organized a trap and acted as a "rich customer" and then worked towards the rescue.

Speaking to ANS about the operation, James Varghese, Founder of the Indian Rescue Mission, said that the girl had initially been trafficked to Mumbai city from another state in India.

"She was assured of a false promise; that she would be offered a job as a housemaid in Mumbai," said Varghese. "Her own sister, and her husband, tried to sell the young girl to a rich customer and then earn money out of the deal. They had told Rekha that they would, in return, give her some money to buy her a pair of dresses and some good food if she agreed to sleep with a customer for a day.

He went on to say, "Our team set a trap on this trafficker and her sister to rescue the girl. On the evening of Monday, March 25, the girl was brought and then, as the money transaction was made, the police who had been standing buy, raided the place and rescued the young girl."

A purposely blurred picture
of the rescued girl
Speaking to ANS, the young girl said "I did not know what was going on with me. I was told that I will be given some dresses and a one day's food treat at a hotel to sleep with a person whom I did not know. I refused at first, but they insisted that did I did so in return for what they had promised me."

She added, "I am thankful to the Indian Rescue Mission for rescuing me from these people who were trying to sell me to another person. I am glad that I am safe. The people who were doing this should be sent to prison and taught a lesson."

The Indian Rescue Mission has given new life and set free almost 238 girls from brothels in India. They are on a special mission and risk their lives in order to get these young girls out of this kind of slavery. Several times they have been beaten and attacked, but still they do this because of their passion and commitment to God. They are heroes who are on the front lines fighting injustice. They are real men of God.

If you would consider supporting the work of Indian Rescue Mission, then please visit their website -- -- or write to them at

Religious Fanatics Invade Home, Brutally Attack Indian Christians during Holy Week

Mother's Hand Cut Off, Family Severely Beaten

Gospel for Asia
For Immediate Release

CARROLLTON, TX (ANS) -- On Wednesday, March 27, in the middle of the Christian observance of Holy Week, a band of religious fanatics burst into the home of Indian Christians, beating all of the family members and maiming the mother. The family had just sat down to dinner in their home in an undisclosed area of Uttar Pradesh, India, when the attack began.

Prayer meetings in homes, like the once pictured here, are common in India, but they can be very dangerous for those attending
Every member of the family suffered brutal injuries. Mrs. Survati, the mother, was severely maimed. The attackers severed her hand, cutting it into two pieces. Their 22-year-old daughter, Archana, was badly beaten and her hand fractured. The father, Ramnath, and daughter Antika were also beaten, and Arvind, their 20-year-old son, suffered injuries that rendered him unconscious.

Neighbors came to the aid of the family and admitted them to a hospital where they are all currently receiving medical aid.

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church," said K. P. Yohannan, Gospel for Asia ( founder and president. "Persecution and suffering, the way of the Cross-this is what Christ promised us, and I am convinced nothing is going to stop his Church."

Bablu, a Gospel for Asia-supported pastor, ministers to about 200 believers spread over this area of India. Because some live long distances away, the pastor conducts prayer meetings in various locations in believers' houses, including the home of this persecuted family. Religious militants have targeted these prayer host homes for attacks.

All evidence points to a strategy of violence to eliminate Christians from this village. The group of fanatics is currently focused on a planned attack on Pastor Bablu, waiting for him to return to other houses in the area where he often preaches or holds prayer services.

Indian Christians in this area are actively joining believers around the world focusing on the most holy week of the Christian calendar, commemorating the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

"John 12:24 tells us, 'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.' Jesus died and rose again. Through our choice to enter into the suffering of Christ, we are given the privilege to bring the Good News of hope," said Yohannan. "This family experienced this privilege, and the Lord will use it to build his Kingdom."

Church walls go up, then torn down by local government

Muslims protest construction; Indonesian town says church lacked permit
Taman Sari, March 25 (World Watch Monitor) — Cheers went up as a backhoe tore down the barely finished walls of the Batak Protestant Church near Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday.

The pile of rubble that remained was only the latest setback to Christians trying to retain a toehold in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

The church, in the Bekasi subdistrict of Jakarta on the Indonesian Island of Java, had been meeting in a residential house every Sunday for the past 13 years. When the congregation swelled to about 600 members, Pastor Adven Leonard Nababan applied early this year for a building permit. The church obtained signatures of 60 non-Christian neighbors, as required by law.

Certain the church had met all the permit rules yet mindful that local governments in Indonesia can be slow to approve them, Nababan ordered construction to proceed — a not uncommon practice among churches in a country where applications often languish.

But when the walls began to go up in January, about 750 Bekasi Muslims took to the streets in protest. On March 5, police sealed the site and told church elders to demolish what had been built so far. They refused.

Bekasi officials declared the 60 signatures to be fake, and sent their own demolition crew to the church building site last week, in a sector called Taman Sari. About 150 members of Batak Protestant Church, commonly referred to as HKBP, were waiting, singing hymns and praying.

“They locked arms and stood together in front of the church to stop the demolition team,” a witness to the demolition said. “The HKBP pastor stood in the midst of his congregation. He said to them, ‘We are part of the Body of Christ.’”

“Not far from the HKBP pastor were about 300 Muslims who clapped their hands and shouted ‘Alahu Akbar,’ ” he said. “Some are members of the Islamic Peoples’ Forum and the Islamic Defenders Front. They wore white robes.” The witness, a Christian who said he ministers to Muslims who have converted to Christianity – a touchy subject in Islamic societies – asked not to be publicly identified.

Civil Service Police Chief Dikdik Astra said he was simply following district orders. He denied assertions by the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation and HKBP leaders that he and Bekasi officials were pressured by Islamists.

Christian churches often have difficulty navigating the bureaucracies of local government.

Several kilometers from the demolished Taman Sari church is HKBP Filadelfia, denied a building permit in 2007. Among the country’s most notable cases is the GKI Yasmin church in nearby Bogor, whose building permit was revoked in 2008 due to opposition from residents. Members of both churches hold their Sunday worship in the street opposite the Jakarta State palace.

A pastor of the Rahmani Indonesia Church in Bekasi told World Watch Monitor he had considered applying for a building permit, but decided to postpone it until a new mayor was elected.

“One candidate promised that he would grant me the permit if he was elected,” the pastor said. As with the witness to Thursday’s demolition of the HKBP church, the pastor asked not to be named because of his work with Muslim converts to Christianity.

Indonesia held provincial and local elections Jan. 22. Most candidates in West Java came from political parties with conservative Islamic leanings, such as the Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, to which incumbent provincial Governor Ahmed Heryawan belongs.

“A young, dynamic party with an Islamist outlook, the PKS made great gains in the 2004 parliamentary elections,” said a 2005 Council on Foreign Relations report on local Indonesian elections. “It has strong support on the western island of Sumatra. The party says it supports diversity, openness, and freedom of religion, and has won widespread respect for its disciplined organization and strong anti-corruption message. Experts say, however, it is not yet clear if the PKS is really as tolerant as its members claim, or if a more restrictive agenda will emerge more strongly in the future.”

Indonesia’s presidential election is scheduled for 2014. Several Christian leaders in Bekasi told World Watch Monitor they expect tensions to rise as Islamic political parties use religion to win votes. Ninety percent of Indonesians citizens are Muslim.

“Islamist militant groups, such as the Islamic People’s Forum and the Islamic Defenders Front, have been implicated in attacks and arson on houses of worship and homes of members of minority religions,” according to a Feb. 28 Human Rights Watch report. “Such groups seek to justify violence by espousing an interpretation of Sunni Islam that labels most non- Muslims as ‘infidels,’ and Muslims who do not adhere to Sunni orthodoxy as ‘blasphemers.’ ”

The Bekasi subdistrict of Jakarta dispatched a backhoe
 to the Batak Protestant Church on March 21 to knock
 down church walls that had been under construction
 since January 2013.
In 2012, Indonesia’s Setara Institute, which advocates social, ethnic and religious tolerance, reported 264 cases of violence against religious minorities, a 20 percent increase from its 2011 figures. On Jan. 31, the prosecutor’s office in Sumedang, West Java jailed Pastor Bernard Maukar of the Indonesia Pentecostal Church for three months for operating a church without a permit. Maukar denied the charges against him, but later told Open Doors International, a worldwide ministry to Christians under pressure for their faith, that he signed a prefabricated affidavit admitting the charge in a police station as members of the Islamic Defenders Front stood by.

Open Doors has recorded an average of 66 cases of church incidents per year since 1998, the end of former Indonesian President Suharto’s reign. Fifty-three years ago, church attacks averaged nine cases a year.

Indonesia is No. 45 on the 2013 World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 of countries most hostile to Christians, published annually by Open Doors.

On Thursday amid the rubble of Batak Protestant Church in Taman Sari, the witness to the event said he managed to get a private moment with pastor Nababan.

“I managed to get closer to him and we prayed together,” the witness said. “This Sunday, he said that they will still meet at the church ruins, even though there are no roof and walls.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Imprisoned Pastor after Beatings and Torture Said He Didn't Recognize Himself

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

WASHINGTON D.C. (ANS) -- There is a new letter from imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini written to his wife, Naghmeh, and his family in Iran.

Pastor Saeed Abedini
In it, as in his previous two letters written inside the brutal Evin Prison, he documented the results of his continued abuse and torture.

According to a story by Jordan Sekulow for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the letter, most likely written weeks ago, was just received by his family.

The ACLJ said written on the margins of scraps of newspaper, it is only the third letter Abedini has been able to get to his family in almost 180 days of imprisonment.

It underscores the difficulty of getting any information from Iran about his condition.

The ACLJ said Abedini wrote he was unable to recognize himself from all the beatings and torture he has endured. He said, "My hair was shaven, under my eyes were swollen three times what they should have been, my face was swollen, and my beard had grown."

After multiple beatings in interrogations at the hands of his captors, the ACLJ said Abedini wrote that the nurse who was supposed to treat injured inmates told him, "'In our religion we are not suppose to touch you, you are unclean. . . . Christians are unclean!'"

He explained, "They would not give me the pain medication that they would give other prisoners because I was unclean."

The ACLJ wrote this further confirmed that until this week, Abedini had not received any medical treatment.
Because of the immense pressure from the international outcry of hundreds of thousands who have demanded his release, Iranian officials have promised him medical treatment. The ACLJ said this new letter shed light on how difficult it will be to ensure that Iran keeps its word.

In his letter, the ACLJ wrote, Abedini also shared how he had personally witnessed the toll his imprisonment has taken on his parents and how he longed to once again be with his wife and children.
He wrote, "You, my wife, on the other side of the world, alone with the kids. Alone and worried. My family here in Iran, being interrogated, tired and under so much pressure."

Even through all the persecution, the ACLJ said Abedini remains resilient in his faith. He wrote of the importance of forgiveness, even to the point of forgiving the interrogators who beat him and the doctors who refused to treat him.
He said we must all forgive, "So that we don't become like the person we despised and who persecuted and tortured us."

He told of the power he had witnessed through forgiveness when after telling one of his persecutors to his face that he forgave him, the interrogator came to "respect" him.

"Love is as strong as death," the ACLJ said Abedini explained. He concluded, "The joy of the Lord is my strength."

The ACLJ commented, "This is another powerful testament of his Christian faith and his eternal hope that one day he will again be free to return to his wife and kids in America. It is critical that we redouble our efforts and do all we can as a nation for this imprisoned pastor, one of our own, a U.S. citizen."

Not surprisingly, Abedini's captivity is having a huge effect on his family. According to a story by CBN News Washington Correspondent John Jessup, Abedini's wife Naghmeh explained how difficult it is to explain to their two children, Rebekka, 6, and Jacob, who just turned 5, why their daddy suddenly lost contact with them.
"We didn't know where he was for a week," CBN said Naghmej testified Friday before the Human Rights Commission House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

"They kept coming to the computer saying, 'Mommy, can we see daddy? Can we hear his voice?' And I kept saying, 'No, you can't.' I couldn't explain to them why -- that he was physically taken to prison," she continued.

"And finally they kept saying, 'Does daddy not love us anymore? Does daddy not want to hear our voices anymore?' And I had to tell them that he was imprisoned because he loved Jesus," CBN reported Naghmeh said.
CBN said Friday's hearing highlighted the plight of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran -- especially for Baha'i and Christian converts. Many are arrested, detained, or executed.

Abedini's attorneys said his eight-year sentence amounts to a death penalty. His family in Iran said he's been tortured, beaten, and is now bleeding internally.

However, hope could be on the horizon.

The ACLJ said it is pleased that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has just issued a public statement expressing concern for Abedini.

The statement, issued while Secretary Kerry was traveling in the Middle East, called on Iran to release Abedini immediately.

Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, said in an ACLJ statement, "We're very pleased that Secretary of State Kerry made this bold and public statement calling on Iran to release Pastor Saeed."

He added, "By speaking out directly on behalf of Pastor Saeed, Secretary Kerry is taking our government's most aggressive action yet in working to secure the freedom of this U.S. citizen. We also appreciate Secretary Kerry calling attention to Pastor Saeed's worsening health. By becoming directly involved in this case, the U.S. sends a powerful message to Iran and our allies - our government will not stand by and abandon one of our own. By engaging the Pastor Saeed case at the highest level, we're hopeful that the State Department will now do everything in its power to secure the release of this U.S. citizen."

The ACLJ reported Naghmeh said, "I am very encouraged by Secretary Kerry's statement demanding Saeed's immediate release."

She added, "I am very happy to read that although Secretary Kerry has asked for medical treatment for Saeed, he does not stop there, and states that the best outcome is Saeed's immediate release. I hope to see more proactive actions from our government. Saeed and I are both proud to be Americans. I am hopeful that this will put more pressure on the Iranian government to act and free Saeed so he can return to our family in the United States."

Escalating violence could threaten progress

Cover & story image courtesy of
 Vision Beyond Borders.

Burma (MNN) ― Violence could threaten so-called "progress" in Burma. The country is under a state of emergency following rising unrest between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims in central Burma.

"It's just continual upheaval for the people over there, and there's little protection for them from their government," says Dyann Romeijn of Vision Beyond Borders (VBB).

At least 20 people have been killed and more than 6,000 driven from their homes in Meikhtila, Burma. The conflict began Wednesday after a disagreement between a Muslim business owner and Buddhist customers quickly turned into a rampage.

Mobs are setting fire to mosques, homes, an Islamic religious school, and many businesses as thousands of minority Muslims take to the streets in fear. About a third of Meikhtila's 100,000 residents reportedly follow Islam, and before the violence started there were some 17 mosques in the city.

Concern grows as the scene begins looking more and more like last summer's violence in the Rakhine state. Sectarian violence between the Buddhist Rakhine people and the predominantly-Muslim Rohingya killed hundreds and displaced around 100,000 people.

When asked if the Meikhtila unrest could develop into a similar situation, Romeijn replies, "Absolutely. That's always possible in Burma. There have been over 2 million displaced over the last 25 years-30 years of the civil unrest."

Over the course of his presidency, Thein Sein has ushered in a series of reforms to move the country toward democracy. But in trying to change the face of Burma, Sein continues to face challenge after challenge. Along with the current unrest in Meikhtila, there's been an upsurge in fighting between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

Romeijn says that in recent days, "There were 2 churches that were burned to the ground in Kachin state, and there's been a lot of violence against the Christians."

Around 90% of the ethnic Kachin people are Christ-followers.

"Pray that that will have an influence on the Muslims, and the Buddhists, and the Animists, and those around them--that they will see the light of Jesus in the Kachin," requests Romeijn.

VBB works with partners on the ground in Burma to help refugees and orphans. You can help provide food, clothing, medicine, and the love of Christ by clicking here.

"Through all of the conflict and the leaves a lot of orphans in that country, and so there's a lot of work to be done," Romeijn says.

Ask God to protect His people in Burma. Pray they would shine the light of Christ as they endure dark and troubled times.

"What the enemy means for harm, God can turn for good. Pray for protection for the people and that God would use that to reach many more," Romeijn asks.