Saturday, October 5, 2013

Two Egyptian Christians Slain in Libya

Relatives say Orthodox Copts refused Muslims' demand to convert to Islam

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

CAIRO, EGYPT (ANS) -- A group of Muslims robbed two Egyptian Christians living in Libya, then tied up and shot them to death after the two Copts refused their demand to convert to Islam, relatives said.
Waleed Saad Shaker, 25, one of two Coptic Christians killed in Libya. (Morning Star News)
According to a story by Morning Star News, the incident occurred on a rural road in Derna District in northeastern Libya on Sept. 25. A group of Muslims surrounded Waleed Saad Shaker, 25, and Nash'at Shenouda Ishaq, 27. They demanded their belongings and started beating them.

Relatives said the Muslims demanded that Shaker and Ishaq recite the shahada, the declaration of conversion to Islam. When the two Orthodox Coptic Christians refused, the group of Muslims tied them up and shot them.

Later that day, a shepherd found Shaker and Ishaq in the desert, and they were taken to Derna Hospital. Shaker was dead upon arrival at the hospital, according to a member of Ishaq's family speaking on condition of anonymity.
Gamel Saleem, a cousin of Shaker who saw his body, said the skull had been beaten in. Morning Star News said Shaker's death certificate identifies injuries to his head as the cause of death.

Ishaq initially survived the attack, and before he died was able to give details about the assaul t to a relative, also resident in Libya. Escorting the body back to Upper Egypt for burial, the relative gave the information to Ishaq's family and the Shaker family.

No one has been arrested in connection with the killings. The attack marks the third time in two weeks that a Coptic Christian has been robbed and killed in Derna District, which along with the surrounding region is known as a hotbed of extremist Islamic activity.

Saleem said his cousin supported an elderly and ailing father, a disabled brother and two sisters.

"His family is emotionally devastated," Morning Star News reported Saleem said. "And he was the only financial support they had."

Ishaq is survived by a wife and two children, ages 6 and 3.

The bodies of both Christians were transported to Upper Egypt and buried on Sept. 27, Ishaq's in the village of Al-Ismailia in Minya Governorate and Shaker's in the village of Dasment Safat Al-Gabl, in Beni Suef Governorate.

Persecution in Li bya
Libya has long been a place where Egyptians have traveled in search of economic opportunity. Morning Star News said under the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi, freedom of religion was curtailed but persecution of Christians, especially Coptic Christians from neighboring Egypt, was minor.

After the fall of Gaddafi in the Libyan Revolution of 2011, religious persecution exploded when, in the vacuum left by Gaddafi's absence, Islamists rose to power in some areas in Libya.

In February, members of an Islamic militia group known as the Preventative Security Unit rounded up eight expatriate Christians in Benghazi - a Korean, a South African, a Swedish-American and five Egyptians - and accused them of proselytizing.
On March 10, one of the detainees, 45-year-old Ezzat Hakim Atallah, died while in custody.

Family members in contact with Atallah while he was jailed said he had been tortured and that his death was a result of a heart condition combined with torture, harsh conditions and lack of medic al care. Morning Star News said the Libyan government claimed Atallah died from high blood pressure.

The Egyptian government, at the time run by the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, also claimed that Atallah died only from medical causes. The Atallah family, however, viewed his body and confirmed signs of abuse. Due to cultural considerations, they declined to have a medical examiner inspect the body.

Another Egyptian detainee, Sherif Ramses, a long-term resident of Libya and an openly active Christian, was said to have the greatest risk of being accused of proselytizing. But by April 19, all those rounded up in the incident had been released.
Weeks after his release, Ramses confirmed to Morning Star News that he had been tortured in jail. He declined to give details other than that he had been beaten and subject to electroshock.

While this was happening, Islamists struck hard at Egyptian Christians in Libya. During the week of Feb. 17, Islamists raided the stalls of the Al-Jareed street market, looking for Christians. Several dozen were arrested and taken to a holding camp run by a militia leader, where many were flogged and had their heads shaved. They were forced to stand nude outside in the cold at night and had to sleep huddled together on stone floors.

On Feb. 28 and again on March 14 in Benghazi, Morning Star News said, the Church of St. Mark was attacked. In the first incident, a priest and a lay worker at the church were assaulted. Someone set fire to the church building during the second attack. The church priest was eventually forced to flee, fearing for his life.
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Kazakhstan: Pastor Deported, Orthodox Priest to Follow?

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

TALDYKURGAN, KAZAKHSTAN (ANS) -- Baptist pastor Viktor Lim was ordered deported from Kazakhstan for leading a registered religious community and left in mid-August. Lim, a stateless person, had lived in the country for 20 years and his wife and children are Kazakh citizens.
A church service in Kazakhstan

According to Felix Corley, of the Forum 18 News Service (, the authorities classed his action as "illegal missionary activity" for which punishment is a fine and, for non-citizens, deportation.

"The appeal hearing lasted just 10 minutes - it was a pure formality," Pastor Lim complained to Forum 18 News Service.

Zhumagul Alimbekov, head of the Religious Affairs Department of Almaty Region, which lodged the suit against Pastor Lim, refused absolutely to discuss his deportation or the moves to deport Russian Orthodox priest Fr. Sofrony.

"I can't comment on court decisions," he told Forum 18. Asked why foreign citizens or people who have no citizenship cannot exercise their internationally-recognized right to freedom of religion or belief while legally resident in the country he put the phone down.

According to Elizabeth Kendal, an ANS columnist, the population of Kazakhstan is 63 percent Turkic (mostly ethnic Kazakhs) and 31 percent Slavic (mostly ethnic Russians). It is 54 percent Muslim, 34 percent non-religious and 12 percent Christian (who are overwhelmingly Orthodox). Protestant fellowships are viewed with suspicion, derided in the media and targeted in policy as 'new religious movements' (cults) and 'foreign'. Religious liberty has been in decline for several years, in line with the loss of US influence. The treatment being suffered by several dissidents (including a Protestant pastor) indicates Kazakhstan is returning to Soviet-era methods of social control. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was appointed Prime Minister of the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan in April 1990. He has continued on as President since the break-up of the USSR.

After the Bombs: More Atrocities in Pakistan

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

Pakistani Christian women pray for victims of suicide attack
 on a church in Peshawar, during a protest near the Parliament
 in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, September 23, 2013. (AP)
LONDON (ANS) -- Pakistani Christians nationwide have been demonstrating over the ongoing attacks on Christians, and in particular over Sunday's double suicide bombing of an after church meal in Peshawar.

According to a report by Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, there are now reports of violence against Christians as a result of these protests.

Chowdhry said gangs of Muslim youths are reported to have burned a church and Christian owned houses and properties in Karachi. They also tried to burn a second church down before being stopped by Christian youths.

In Iqbal Town in Islamabad, Christians were protesting outside a Unitarian church, when seven or eight masked men rushed in and started beating the Christians.

Witnesses speaking on condition of anonymity due to fears for their safety, said that after the incident some of the protestors, including a pastor were missing. Some also claimed that police were involved, punishing Christians for holding protests on the main highway for several days.

Chowdhry said there are also horrific, but so far unconfirmed reports that body parts and organs from the bomb victims in Peshawar had been stolen and offered for sa le, allegedly by local paramedics and criminal gangs.

Chowdhry said, "If true, then here we have Muslim criminals making money out of the suffering of the Christian victims in a truly blasphemous and sacrilegious way."
Meanwhile, in South West Pakistan a major earthquake has collapsed houses and left over 300 dead. The earthquake was so powerful it created a new island off the coast.

On top of the barbarity of the bombings, and the reminder about the trade in body parts, stories emerged that tell of the medieval barbarity of parts of Pakistani society, namely the ongoing practice of trial by ordeal/fire in some tribal regions as a form of justice. (

Chowdhry said these are popular because they are qui ck and cheap, unlike Pakistani's notoriously slow and expensive legal system.

Chowdhry added, "Feudal lords and tribal councils ... still make rulings on disputes and crimes like theft, murder, and girls falling in love with inappropriate men. In some cases the accused are made to walk across 15 foot long beds of burning coal. If their soles are unmarked, they are declared innocent."

The extent of the depravity of Pakistani society has now also reached Israeli newspapers, ( with one writer highlighting the case of Kainat, a 13-year-old girl hoping to be a doctor, but who was drugged, kidnapped and gang-raped for four days before she escaped back to her family.

Instead of the usual custom of an "honor" killing, the family fought for justice. Chowdhry said the police refused to act, because t he rapists were powerful in their community. It is common for powerful village men to rape girls, and then kill them for having "shamed" their family.

With assistance from a pro-bono lawyer, the family managed to have the men arrested and in jail for three years, but the men managed to arrange for her supportive brother to be murdered, and the police quietly closed the murder investigation. They also won their case, amidst supporters mobbing the court house shouting, "Kainat is a whore."

How could this happen, Chowdhry asked. He said, "They 'proved' that the thirteen-year-old married one of the rapists because her thumb print was on a marriage document, and there was a photo of them with Kainat smiling."

Chowdhry concluded, "Even though such young marriage is technically illegal in Pakistan, the hideous sharia law prevailed (and) the rapists went free, with the 'bridegroom' demanding that the girl be returned to him."

Muslims Expel Six Christian Brothers From Village in Egypt

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

EGYPT (ANS) -- Violence against Egyptian Christians erupted yesterday in the village of Zakaria, located in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya.

According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), the violence began after a Muslim family accused Kirollos Sabet, 22, of having an inappropriate relationship with a Muslim woman, also 22.

Zakaria has a population of 4,000, divided evenly between Christians and Muslims.

AINA said a statement byAnba Makarios, Bishop of Minya, read that Muslim villagers gathered where Sabet's family lives. They broke into their furniture and household appliances stores, stole the contents and then destroyed the stores. They also looted an adjacent electrical appliances warehouse and a family-owned taxi.

Security forces arrived in the village to restore order. However, AINA reported, loudspeakers were inciting chaos, and hard-line Muslims prowled the streets of the village throwing stones at Coptic homes and calling for revenge.

Under the oversight of Major General Osama Metwally, director of Minya security, a customary "reconciliation" meeting was held with the heads of Muslim and Christian families in the region, a number of mayors and the families of the accused man and woman. No church representative was present.

AINA said the result of the meeting was that Sabet was to pay the amount of 300,000 Egyptian pounds and the Muslim woman 150,000 pounds, because she willingly met the man. But because the woman is poor and unable to pay, her fine was added to Sabet's.

When Sabet and his family protested this decision, the arbitrators decided to expel him and his five brothers from the village.

The Bishop warns that Muslim villagers are now prowling the village chanting against the Copts, demanding the burning of their churches, homes and stores.

AINA reported he said, "A state of extreme tension prevails in the Zakaria village and is spreading to neighboring villages, which could result in a new wave of violence against the Copts."

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Christianity in danger of becoming extinct in its birthplace

UK historian says Christians in Middle East are endangered species

By Dr. Jenny Taylor
Photo Courtesy Charisma News
Last month, World Watch Monitor released a report, Beyond Count, highlighting the alarming frequency with which Christians are fleeing the Middle East. Now a British historian has added his voice to those concerns.
“In terms of the sheer scale of the hatreds and sectarian rivalries, we are witnessing something on the scale of horror of the European Thirty Years War,” said Tom Holland. “It is the climax of a process grinding its way through the twentieth century – the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace.”

More violence rattles Pakistan

(Photos courtesy Morning Star News
 / Voice of the Martyrs Canada)
Pakistan (MNN) ― On Friday, days after a massive church bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan, another bomb exploded on a crowded bus carrying government officials. This blast killed 17 people and wounded more than 40. It was the second major attack in or near the northwestern Pakistani city in a week.

A Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for that attack as well. Both were reportedly in retaliation for American drone strikes in the nearby tribal belt. However, the attacks also spurred new conversation about the wisdom of peace talks with the terror group as well as security for the minorities they were targeting.

In fact, the security issues provoked demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday that brought parts of Pakistan's cities to a standstill. Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman explains, "That led to Christians protesting in cities around the country saying 'the military needs to do a better job of protecting us.' The police, in many cases, situations have happened, and we've seen government officials, police, and military, not be very active." Christians held crosses aloft, burned tires and blocked roads across the country as they demanded better protection from the government.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has warned that the attack on All Saints Church could be the first of many if Pakistan's government doesn't take decisive action to bring the perpetrators to justice. Musselman agrees. Violence tends to build its own momentum. "As one colony is attacked, or a church is bombed or Christians are attacked, then it causes others to say, ‘This is a good way of going after these infidels, these ones that love the West.' It's used as an excuse to attack. The fear definitely is that these kinds of things will continue and become more violent."

After confirming the attack on All Saints Church as the deadliest attack on Pakistani Christians in Pakistan's history, USCIRF said that words and promises to protect the religious minority will not be enough to stop the ever-escalating levels of intolerance sweeping across Pakistan. "Certainly, the government of Pakistan and local officials don't want to see these kinds of suicide bombings and massive attacks, but then what that led to was Christians saying, ‘You NEED to protect us.' That's the word coming from governments around the world: ‘You need to do a better job of protecting your minorities--in this case, Christians.'"

What's more, the Taliban group issued this threat through Reuters: "[The Christians] are the enemies of Islam, therefore we target them. We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land." To that, Musselman adds, "This has been going on for a long time. I don't think it's going to get any better. But, it has caused the church of Christ in Pakistan and many corners of the country to stand up and say, ‘We're here, too, and we have a right to be here.'"

Pakistan ranked #14 out of 50 on the Open Doors USA World Watch List of countries that persecute Christians. If the pattern holds true, there will be more headlines and more bloodshed. To that end, Musselman urges solidarity among the followers of Christ. "Be praying that the Lord will continue to draw people to Himself. Then also, [pray] for the protection of these new believers, especially those from Muslim backgrounds, and then also for the Christian leaders that they would have wisdom on how they talk to their people."

Nigeria attack: Students shot dead as they slept

By Dan Wooding, who was born in Nigeria
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

GUJBA DISTRICT, NIGERIA (ANS) -- The BBC is reporting that suspected Islamist gunmen have attacked a college in north-eastern Nigeria, killing up to 50 students.
In this image taken with a mobile phone, rescue workers and family members gather to identify the bodies of students killed following an attack by Islamist extremist on an agricultural college in Gujba, Nigeria, on Sunday

The students were shot dead as they slept in their dormitory at the College of Agriculture in Yobe state. The college is in the rural Gujba district.

"North-eastern Nigeria is under a state of emergency amid an Islamist insurgency by the Boko Haram group," said the BBC story. "Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow Nigeria's government to create an Islamic state, and has launched a number of attacks on schools."

Classrooms burned

Casualty figures from the latest attack vary, but a local politician told the BBC that around 50 students had been killed.

The politician said two vanloads of bodies had been taken to a hospital in Yobe's state capital, Damaturu.

A witness quoted by Reuters news agency counted 40 bodies at the hospital, mostly those of young men believed to be students.

College provost Molima Idi Mato, speaking to Associated Press, also said the number of dead could be as high as 50, adding that security forces were still recovering the bodies and that about 1,000 students had fled the campus.

A Nigerian military source told AP that soldiers had collected 42 bodies.
The gunmen also set fire to classrooms, a military spokesman in Yobe state, Lazarus Eli, told Agence France-Presse.
Boko Haram members
In May, President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, ordered an operation against Boko Haram, and a state of emergency was declared for the north-east on 14 May.
"Many of the Islamist militants left their bases in the north-east and violence initially fell, but revenge attacks quickly followed," the BBC story continued. "In June, Boko Haram carried out two attacks on schools in the region.

"At least nine children were killed in a school on the outskirts of Maiduguri, while 13 students and teachers were killed in a school in Damaturu.

"In July in the village of Mamudo in Yobe state, Islamist militants attacked a school's dormitories with guns and explosives, killing at least 42 people, mostly students."

Boko Haram regards schools as a symbol of Western culture.

Boko Haram is led by Abubakar Shekau. The Nigerian military said in August that it might have killed him in a shoot-out.

However, a video released last week purportedly showed him alive. Other previous reports of his death later proved to be unfounded.

Boko Haram, which has particularly targeted Christians and churches, was founded in 2002. Its official Arabic name, "Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad," means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad."

Nicknamed Boko Haram, a phrase in the local Hausa language meaning, "Western education is forbidden," launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state across Nigeria, which is said to be 50 percent Christian and 50 percent Muslim.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

President Obama Calls on Iranian President to Release Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- Fox News is reporting that a senior Obama Administration official has confirmed that President Obama has called for the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini in a phone conversation today with Iranian President Rouhani.

Iranian President Rouhani
"The source stated that President Obama raised Pastor Saeed's case along with two other Americans directly with the Iranian President," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice.

"According to the report, President Obama raised concerns about the imprisonment of Saeed and expressed our country's interest in seeing the American pastor returned to his family.

"While Secretary of State Kerry has called on Iran to release Pastor Saeed, this is the first time that President Obama has himself spoken out about the wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen.

"On behalf of the Abedini family, we're very encouraged by President Obama raising the illegal imprisonment of Pastor Saeed. Today's call is a significant step forward in this critical case.

"We're also grateful to President Obama for raising Pastor Saeed's imprisonment and call on President Rouhani to put his promise of being 'moderate' into action by releasing Saeed without further delay."

Jordan Sekulow went on to say that Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, responded to the news, by saying, "This is the most encouraging news I have heard since Saeed was imprisoned one year ago. I am very grateful to President Obama for standing up for Saeed and for the other Americans who are held captive in Iran.

"This development is truly an answer to prayer. I urge President Rouhani, as I have done throughout this week, to release Saeed so he can return to our home and our family in the United States. In recent days, Iran has released 80 prisoners being held because of their beliefs. I pray that we can add Saeed to that list very soon."

Saeed and his family during happer times
Sekulow added, "Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen, has done nothing wrong and is imprisoned simply because of his Christian faith. If President Rouhani wants to start a new relationship with the United States, releasing this American pastor, husband, and father now would send an important message to the world."

Over 100,000 people have already written letters to President Rouhani urging Pastor Saeed's release. If you would like to sign a letter to Iran's president today, please to go:
Logo for campaign
Saeed Abedini is an Iranian-American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran. He has been detained in Iran since the summer of 2012 and incarcerated in Evin Prison since September 2012. On January 27, 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through his Christian evangelical activities in Iran in the early 2000s.

In 2008, Abedini became an ordained minister in the U.S. and in 2010, he was granted American citizenship, thus becoming a dual Iranian-American citizen. Abedini had been living the past several years with his family in Boise, Idaho, where his wife grew up. The couple has two children and they are members of Calvary Chapel Boise. Abedini is an ordained pastor through this Calvary Chapel fellowship but, according to local media reports, "does not practice" at the church in Boise.

The American Center for Law and Justice ( represents Pastor Saeed's wife and their children.

Billy Graham Writes Letter to Iran's President asking for Imprisoned American Pastors Release

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

MONTREAT, N.C. (ANS) -- Veteran evangelist Billy Graham has weighed in on the plight of imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini.

Saeed Abedini
Writing to President Hassan Rouhani, Graham said he has been watching Abedini's situation with "great concern." Abedini is serving an eight year prison sentence in Iran. He was in Iran working to build an orphanage when he was arrested, with the primary reason being Abedini's Christian faith.

Sept. 26 was the one-year anniversary of Abedini's imprisonment. Graham, who wrote the letter earlier this week, wrote that, "Thousands will attend prayer vigils in more than 70 U.S. cities, calling on your country to release this husband, father and servant of God. I join them by respectfully asking you to release Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions."

Graham said in the letter that as a religious leader he has often spoken about the need for greater understanding and peace among the nations of the world.

He continued, "As you come to the United States this week for the U .N. General Assembly in New York, it is my sincere hope that ways may be found to reduce the current tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Graham said that Monday's announcement of the freeing of 80 political prisoners was very encouraging.
However, Graham added, "I fear ... that the current publicity surrounding the continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, may further harm the already fragile relationship that presently exists between our two nations.

Releasing Abedini, Graham wrote, "would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions."

Wave of persecution sweeps across the Middle East and North Africa

(Image courtesy Open Doors USA)
Nigeria (MNN) ― Believers in northeast Nigeria are reeling after Islamic militants killed their pastor and his son, and set fire to their church building and five homes.

The Associated Press reports Islamic militants attacked the church in Yobe state just before dawn yesterday; the incident went unnoticed by nearly all major media outlets.

Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, points to the attack as the latest in a rising tide of persecution sweeping the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

"We've had situations in the last three weeks in Iraq, in Syria, in Pakistan, and now last night in northern Nigeria, where people are targeting believers," says Curry. "My greatest concern is that there won't be any pressure to follow-up on this attack.

"Attack after attack on Christians seems to go by the wayside."

Thousands have fallen in Nigeria alone at the hands of the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. Their name means "Western education is sinful," and their four-year-old terror campaign seeks to rid northeast Nigeria of all who follow Christ.

Yobe is one of three northeastern states currently under emergency rule, as Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan tries to quell Boko Haram insurgents.

"The threat of terrorism in a few states in the northeastern part of our country has proven to be a challenge to national stability," Jonathan told UN leaders earlier this week. "We will spare no effort in addressing this menace."

Terror goes by a different name in the nearby Central African Republic: Seleka. This band of Islamic terrorists rose to national power in March following the ouster of former President Francois Bozize.

Their primary target soon became the Church.

"The various atrocities that preceded, accompanied, and followed Seleka's rise to power have been specifically aimed at the Christian population," states a letter from the CAR Evangelical Alliance to Seleka Islamist leader and CAR President Michel Djotodia.

"Churches and Christian institutions have been desecrated and plundered, priests and pastors have been assaulted, and nuns raped."

In CAR, 50% of the population is Christian and 15% are Muslim. Despite outnumbering the followers of Islam, Christian communities in CAR claim their Muslim neighbors are joining Seleka’s violent campaigns.

"It’s not like Christianity is a minority religion, but ever since the coup in March, the Muslims have increased their persecution of Christians," said Open Doors spokesman Jerry Dykstra in a July 5 article.

To the north, a similar situation unfolds as violence against Christians in Egypt reaches historic levels. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) were quick to blame Coptic Christians for the July removal of MB proponent and former President Mohamed Morsi from office.

It was a summer of rage for many believers as they endured beatings, their homes and businesses were looted and destroyed, and churches were set aflame. In August, one church was forced to close its doors for the first time in 1,600 years.

And yet, most believers and secular media alike remain unaware of the deadly trend.

"Open Doors has been trying to raise this awareness among Western believers and the media in general," says Curry. "We believe it's worthwhile asking the question: 'Are these attacks coordinated?' Certainly they seem to be intentional and directed at believers.

"Over the last decades…the population of Christians in the Middle East has gone from 20% to 4%. Why is that? It is because there is a concerted effort to force Christians to convert. There is a concerted effort to persecute Christians, to drive them from their home."

As the plight of believers in the MENA continues on, largely unnoticed, you can take action.

"There are so many ways we can support the Persecuted Church," Curry states, "but you won't know how until you get this International Day of Prayer packet, an IDOP packet."

The International Day of the Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) gathers believers worldwide in continuous prayer for those who are persecuted. This year, IDOP falls on November 3.

"What we're asking is that every believer in the Western world that worships in freedom takes part on November 3rd in praying and supporting the Persecuted Church," explains Curry.

"We're not a political organization, but what we can do is rally believers to defend and to pray and support their brothers and sisters in the Persecuted Church."