Matthew 18:20 New International Version (NIV) 20
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Over the weekend, I went to The Rock and Worship Road Show in Portland, OR. It was an amazing concert! I saw some of my favorite Christian bands and artists like Mercyme, I Am They, Group 1 Crew, David Crowder, Matt Maher, Jamie Grace, and Tedashii. I waited in line for hours, in the rain, along with thousands of other believers. I took the photo during Tadashii’s performance. Throughout the night I kept thinking about how awesome it was that we were able to gather and worship freely. Christians all around the world gather to worship God in secret. Many Christian churches have been vandalized and destroyed. I had moments where I was distracted, thinking about how I was standing in a huge auditorium, worshiping God with over ten thousand other believers, and Christians in other countries are worshipping in secret or in a prison cell. People such as Asia Bibi and Saeed Abedini.
According to Prisoner Alert, Asia Bibi is married to Ashiq Masih, their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of 1,500 families. She was arrested on June 19, 2009. She worked on a local farm owned by a Muslim, Muhammad Idrees. The women she was working with had been pressuring her to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. On June 19, 2009, the women were having a discussion about religion, Asia told them Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them. They began to beat her, then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from the mosque that she was going to be punished for blasphemy. Christians told local authorities what was happening, they took Asia into custody before her face was blackened and before she was marched around on a donkey. Christians pleaded with the police trying keep them from arresting Asia for blasphemy charges. The police claimed they were under pressure from the Muslim leaders and so they would not release her.
Asia has been sentenced to death. She is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.
Christians all around the world are pleading for her release, just as Muslims are pleading for her death. A Muslim leader has offered $6,000 to whoever kills Asia, and her family is facing death threats also.
In Pakistan, more than 150,000 Christians have signed a petition demanding justice for persecution victims, including Asia Bibi. Here is where you can sign: http://www.callformercy.com/
To learn more about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/
Saeed Abedini is the American Pastor sentenced to eight years in one of Iran’s hardest prisons because he shared Jesus. You’ve probably heard about him on the news. Saeed is a former Muslim who met Jesus in 2000. He married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen, in 2002. They were involved in the house church movement in Iran, when the Iranian government tolerated it. Saeed was responsible for establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members. When the Iranian government pressed back hard against the house churches, they moved back to the United States.
He went back to Iran in 2009 to visit his family. He was arrested and threatened with death by the police. They interrogated him about becoming a Christian. He was released after he signed an agreement that he would stop his work in the house churches. In 2009 he went back to Iran, on his ninth trip, to visit his family and work on the orphanage he was building in the city of Rasht. His passport was confiscated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Saeed was arrested. He was charged with “compromising national security” although no specifics were announced. On January 21, 2013 Iranian state media reported that Saeed would be released after posting a $116,000 bond. His wife, Naghmeh, said that the government has no intention of freeing him and that the announcement is “a game to silence” according to international media reports.
Here is where you can sign a petition to free Saeed and write him letters: http://beheardproject.com/saeed
Asia Bibi and Saeed Abedini are two well known Christians who are imprisoned for their faith, their stories have made national headlines. There are thousands of others who are imprisoned for their faith, their stories have not made the news. What about them?
While researching this post I came across this heartbreaking report about Christians persecuted in Pakistan almost 20 years ago.
Where are they now? What happened to them?
We are so fortunate that we have the freedom gather and worship God freely. Pray for Christians who are meeting in secret, that they would stay undetected and be able to continue to share the hope and love of Jesus.