04 10 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Egypt: Seminars Help Inform Women about Genital Mutilation; Seeing their Bodies through God’s Eyes
On March 10, Soheir (not her real name), an 11-year-old girl who lived in a village in Dakahlia, died from the complications of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Soheir was not the first, nor will she be the last female to die an unnecessary and painful death in Egypt this year.
In Egypt, millions of girls like Soheir continue to be subjected to the cruel practice of FGM, a type of procedure which alters and disfigures female genital organs. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, but it continues to be practiced in Egypt in the belief that it keepsEncounteringRenewal .le gen the ages may become informed and cease the mutilation of their womene inhabitantsith really clear t girls sexually pure before marriage. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children to health, security and physical integrity.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been “cut” in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM is concentrated. More than 90 percent of women and girls ages 15-49 have been cut in Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea and Somalia.
Although FGM was illegal before the 2011 revolution, the cultural practice continued in secret and was strongly promoted by the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood during its one-year rule of Egypt in 2012. Even today, some Christian families join the rest of the society in this torture and cruel degrading treatment, in fear that their daughters will be singled out as impure.
“Women and Girls Ministries” seek to fight this culturally imposed human rights abuse with awareness seminars, Bible studies and prayer groups where women learn to see and value themselves and their bodies through God’s eyes. The simple provision of this information has had remarkable results.
Take Nagat (not her real name), a wise elderly woman with a strong calling in her heart to fight for women’s rights. She attended several meetings in her village church, where she learned about FGM damage and truth of the Holy Spirit as the only changing power in creating pure hearts and sanctified lives and bodies.
Nagat remembered her own experience, the pain, the infected wound and the effects that have had a lasting impact on her marriage. She wants to save as many girls as she can from this barbaric procedure.
Nagat states: “I had this burning message and started to talk to the girls’ mothers everyday in the farms, in the market, in the church and by the river; assuring them that purity comes from the heart that knows Jesus as Savior.” She encouraged the mothers not to be under the yoke of the world, and that by befriending their daughters and loving them they could have more effect than by cutting them.
Nagat is illiterate, but her passion and inspiration led both Christian and Muslim women to listen to her. She stood firm against villagers who accused her of wanting to corrupt the girls and undermine traditions. Despite threats and dangers, Nagat managed to completely remove FMG from her village.
Dozens of villages in Upper Egypt have much lower levels of FGM because of brave women like Nagat. However, a great deal of work remains to be done.
Nagat and women such as her need your prayers and encouragement.
Afghanistan: Taliban’s Claim of Church Attack False
On April 5, historic elections were held in Afghanistan. They have been labeled as historic as they will result in the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan. Despite Taliban announcements that they would prevent people from voting by force, no major attacks occurred….for Afghan standards. Nevertheless, a shootout on what Taliban claimed was a Christian church in Kabul was the latest in a series of deadly attacks on foreign journalists, aid workers and visitors since January.
Daniel, persecution analyst for Open Doors World Watch Research, says: “The Taliban claimed to have attacked a church, but they chose the wrong door. The “church” was a Christian expatriate daycare center where, according to neighbors, services for expats were occasionally held. Despite the fact that the center came away unscathed, the attack highlights the dire situation of the tiny Christian minority in the country. The Afghan church is being pushed deeply underground and also foreign Christians have to fear for their lives.”
Daniel adds: “Nevertheless, the elections in general went very well. The participation reached a record figure of 58 percent, according to estimations made by the Independent Elections Commission.
“Another encouraging sign was that reports on fraud, ballot stuffing and ‘ghost polling stations’ were much more limited compared to the last elections in 2009, though it will take time for more reports to emerge. It will take days for the ballot boxes to arrive in Kabul and weeks before all ballots are counted. Most observers expect a second round of voting, which would be scheduled for May 28. Despite all these encouraging sign of a more democratic election and transfer of power, a recent article in the Washington Post pointed out the fragility of the state. Voters in Afghanistan are explicitly targeted by the Taliban, so polling stations also offer protection by using voting ink which is only visible using black light.
“As far as the outcome is concerned, conditions will most likely not change much for Christians as no changes in politics are expected. According to a recent poll, 58 percent of respondents still say that they want to see religion and politics mixed. Whatever the news emerging from Afghanistan may be in the next few weeks, let us not forget two things: there is hope for the country and we need to continue in prayer.”
Philippines: Two Christian Missionaries Stranded
Two Christian missionaries (their names can not be revealed due to security reasons) are stranded on an undisclosed island in Tawi-Tawi in southern Philippines. They could not leave because of the tablighs who constantly watch them. The two missionaries are ministering to a group of Sama believers from a Muslim background, which has raised the ire of the tablighs, who are adherents of Wahhabism which is a conservative Muslim sect.
The missionaries want to lie low until the security tension lessens. However, every time a ferry boat arrives at the village, the tablighs station themselves at the whar?f to make sure that the two cannot leave.
Please pray that God:
Provides a safe way out for the two missionaries.
Strengthens the faith of the Sama believers in Tawi-Tawi.
Causes tablighs to relax their watch and their hearts open to the gospel message.
(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected] The Open Doors USA website is www.OpenDoorsUSA.org)