in this issue September/October 2001, Vol. 5 No. 5
- People Profile
- Agency Profile
- Resource Reviews
- News and Needs
- Saudi Arabia Raids Homes, Arrests Expatriates for Christian Worship
- Pakistan Limits Free Expression: Insulting Mohammed Is a Capital Crime
- Agenda to Spread Shari'a Law Is Manifested in Nigeria
- Taliban Trained Radical Muslims Cleanse Central Sulawesi
- Some Indonesian Christians Are Rescued from Taliban Trained Muslim Militias
- Web Site Review
Kingdoms in Conflict: Radical Islam Collides with the American WayThe attack at Pearl Harbor should never have caught America by surprise. For years Japan had been expanding her "Co-Prosperity Sphere" through brutal invasions. However, had America not been devastatingly surprised, Hitler and Hirohito might have ruled Europe and Asia to this very day.
by Bruce Sidebotham
The next major world polarization is not between Fascism and freedom. It is not between capitalism and Communism. It will be between secularism and Sharia law, and this second Pearl Harbor may galvanize America into its leadership role.
Radical Islam has been consuming human life and freedom more and more. Sharia law opposes freedoms for conscience, expression and women, the way communism opposes private ownership. In Pakistan, Ayub Masih faces death by hanging for allegedly insulting Mohammed. In Afghanistan, women are denied education, employment, and medical care. Honor killings are growing in Turkey where mothers and fathers kill their teenage daughters for socializing with boys to the tune of at least 200 a year.
Systems that press people into bondage have always sought to subdue others who are free. Wealth from Mideast oil and Central Asian opium is financing varying degrees of genocidal slaughter. Hostagetaking insurgents are fighting for Sharia law in parts of the Philippines. Chechnyan rebels want an independent Muslim state. Indonesian and Sudanese radical militias have been exterminating whole Christian villages while meeting minimal outside interference.
It may help to differentiate among Muslims between practitioners and implementers of Sharia law. Many practicing Muslims are aghast at what has happened and many governments of Muslim majority countries are secular. It is the latter subset behind climaxing atrocities where even women and children are considered to be combatants.
However, radical Muslims see themselves as victims. Middle Eastern morality is external and based upon appearances rather than upon actual guilt or innocence. Sexual desires, for example, are not self controlled, but are controlled with strict rules about how women dress and act. The variety of dress and behavior brought to the heart of Islam by Israel and inescapable Western media destroys Muslim social control.
As Christian control over western culture deteriorates, Christianity itself remains intact, but without control over its people, Islam dies. Advocates of strict Islamic law are battling desperately against encroaching Western influence to preserve the "purity" of Islam for future generations. Suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots are desperate people.
Secularism and Sharia law are on collision courses. Secularism promotes promiscuity and undermines traditional male and female distinctions. Radical Islam oppresses women and undermines personal freedoms.
We are witnessing upheaval in a kingdom divided against itself (Lk 11:17). The Kingdom of God will surely collect some spoils. When contrasting private aspirations for Islam with the evil recently exposed, many Muslims and many politically correct secularists may rethink their spiritual allegiances.
To gather these war spoils, Christians need to disassociate themselves from ungodly elements of secularism better than Islam can be parted from Sharia law. Otherwise, the association of Christians with excessive liberty looks no better than the connection of Muslims with extreme oppression.
Perhaps, with increasing hostility to Christians in public sectors like schools, government, and entertainment, God is already facilitating this necessary cultural separation.
American willingness to defend freedom at nearly any cost has historically led her to avoid confrontation for as long as possible. A menace to this godly value of freedom has been steadily growing.
From the days of Mohammed, radical Islam has been stamping out Christian and non-Christian liberty. Now that America herself has been violently struck, black Sudanese men, white Afghani women, and brown Indonesian children are her people's blood brethren. Will America join them in their struggle?
Since we must render to Caesar what is Caesar's (Mt 22:21), we might as well sacrifice our conscriptable children and selves to defend the philosophical system which has historically afforded Christianity the most opportunity while trying at the same time to avoid becoming an inseparable part of it.
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What Really Is the World's Fastest Growing ReligionMuslims tell us proudly and Christians announce in alarm that Islam is the world's fastest growing religion. Is this true?
Over the last century, from 1900 to 2000, the proportion of self professed Christians has remained steadily near one in three (33%). Muslims over the same period have grown from about one in eight (12%) to nearly one in five (19.6%).
Surprisingly, the most explosive religion of the twentieth century was "no religion." Atheists and people with no religion were doubling every twelve years from one in five hundred (0.2%) to more than one in six (18.9%) at their peak in 1970. With the decline of Soviet Communism, atheistic belief systems lost many adherents in Eastern Europe, but "no-religion" remains the fastest growing belief system in North America and Western Europe.
Strictly comparing Muslim and Christian population percentages is deceptive. Muslim birthrate (2.07%) is nearly half again greater than annual growth of world population (1.41%). New babies account for nearly ninety-seven percent of Muslim growth. Christian birthrate (1.22%), falls below the world average. Ten percent of Christian growth comes from converting people of other religions. Annual converts to Christianity (2.5 million) outnumber converts to Islam (865,000) three to one . Islam may have the fastest growing population, but Christianity is far more successful in penetrating new populations.
Percentages of mainline Protestants (5.6), Roman Catholics (17.5), and Eastern Orthodox (3.8) are declining relative to world population. These pull the overall annual Christian growth rate (1.36%) below world population growth. However, evangelicals (present in all of the Christian traditions) are growing three times (4.7%) faster than world population.
In 1900 evangelicals numbered one out of forty. By 1970 their proportions had doubled to one in twenty. In less than thirty years evangelical proportions doubled again to one in ten. Today one out of every nine people in the world (11.2%) professes to be an evangelical Christian.
Evangelical growth, however, is completely stagnant in Western civilization where the total number of evangelicals has not changed since 1970. All of Christianity's phenomenal growth is occurring in the non-Western world. Today, non-Western evangelicals outnumber Western ones two to one. Christianity is truly, once again, a non-Western religion. Back to Top
Shari'a Law Guarantees Special Muslim Version of Human RightsWhen Christians are persecuted for their faith in Muslim countries, or when Muslims convert to Christianity and are threatened with the death penalty, the Western press accuses the Islamic state of human rights violations. At the same time, most Islamic states have ratified declarations such as the 1948 United Nations General Declaration of Human Rights. How can they justify this contradiction?
by Dr. Christine Schirrmacher
In recent decades, various Islamic organizations have themselves formulated declarations of human rights. They have one basic difference to those of Western statements, however. Because they give priority to the Qur'an and to the Shari'a (Islamic law), human rights can only be guaranteed in these countries under the conditions imposed by these two authorities and their regulations.
Article 24 of the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, for example, states that "All rights and freedoms mentioned in this statement are subject to the Islamic Shari'a," and Article 25 adds, "The Islamic Shari'a is the only source for the interpretation or explanation of each individual article of this statement."
What does the priority of the Qur'an and the Shari'a mean for human rights discussions? These two authorities insure that in Islamic states, human rights only exist within the limitation set by the religious values of Islamic revelation and are guaranteed only within the framework determined by the Qur'an and Islamic law. The secularized Westerner, molded by the Enlighten-ment and accustomed to separation of church and state, has difficulty understanding that a country could determine its standards for political and social life, for private and public affairs, by the standards of religion.
Islamic culture has never known any sort of separation of religion and state, nor of politics and religion, while in the Old Testament, a certain division of authority between the king and the high priest did exist. In Islam, Muhammad had unified both aspects in his own person, being simultaneously religious and political leader of the first Islamic community. His immediate successors, the Caliphs, also held both offices.
In the Islamic states, Islam is the state religion, to which all citizens are assumed to belong, and which is considered to be the "principle on which the state is built. The state is bearer of a religious idea and is, therefore, itself a religious institution . . . It is responsible for the worship of God, for religious training and for the spreading of the faith." For this reason, the law must distinguish between the civil rights of Muslims, who can fully enjoy legal protection because they prove their loyalty to the state by their adherence to its religion, and the rights of non-Muslims, who, as "traitors," forfeit their right to state protection because of their "unbelief." In these countries, Muslims always have more rights than non-Muslims. A non-Muslim can usually not inherit from a Muslim, for example.
To be a Muslim means to be a citizen imbued with all legal rights, whereas to become an unbeliever is to commit high treason, for Islam is an "essential element of the basic order of the state." When a Muslim repudiates his faith, he rebels against that order and endangers the security and the "stability of the society to which he belongs."
When Islamic law is interpreted in its strictest sense, this function of the state makes it impossible for human rights to be given priority over Islamic law, in spite of human rights declarations.
Although the constitutions of many Islamic countries provide for freedom in exercising religious beliefs, non-Muslims almost always have great difficulties in practicing their faith. Muslims who have become Christians may even lose their lives. Still, Islamic countries claim to be tolerant and to guarantee freedom of religion.
A few other faiths, such as Judaism and Christianity, are allowed a certain right to exist, so that their members are not required to convert to Islam, even if they live in a predominantly Islamic area, but they are never equal to Muslims before the law. They remain "second-class citizens" with limited legal rights and are subject to the Islamic state, which defines the limits of their religious freedoms very strictly.
Non-Muslims are forbidden to insult or disparage Islam, the Koran, or the prophet Muhammad. This automatically occurs in Christian evangelization. In Moroccan law, for example, repudiation of Islam is still considered to be a crime worthy of death, whereas the Muslim has the right to proselytize others.
Does a Muslim have the right to desert Islam and turn to Christianity? Is faith a private matter or do the state and its organs have the responsibility to monitor and control it? Christianity and Islam view this question differently.
In our "enlightened" Western world with its separation of church and state, the personal belief of the individual is one of the most private areas of life – so much so that many are unwilling even to share the details of their faith.
The Islamic view is quite different. Faith and religion are basically public affairs subject to the discretionary control of the state. Wherever Islam is the state religion and the very pillar of state order, the good citizen is expected to adhere to Islam. Apostasy is treason.
The Qur'an discusses apostasy in several places. Apostasy will not be forgiven, so that the apostate will be thrown into hell. God can in no way forgive apostates, for they are unbelievers who have made themselves particularly punishable. It is interesting, however, that beyond eternal damnation, the Qur'an defines no concrete worldly penalty and no judicial procedure for their punishment.
Apostasy is basically an offence to be prosecuted by the state, once charges have been brought. But often the relatives prefer to wash away the "shame" of apostasy with alternative solutions such as casting offenders out of the family, driving them out of the country, or even killing them.
In practice, the courts seldom deal with cases of apostasy. When Muslims convert to Christianity, they are usually punished unofficially by their families or even by onlookers instead of conviction by a judge. Immediate private revenge does at least seem frequently to follow a Muslim's declaration of his apostasy. Besides, judicial proceedings on apostasy provoke unwelcome attention in the Western press.
The apostate usually loses his job, and his family will possibly try to bring him back to the fold with the counsel of a Muslim clergyman, but if that fails, they may send him to a psychiatric clinic or out of the country, or expel him from the family.
His marriage is automatically dissolved. Marriage with an apostate is illegal, so that a male convert suddenly finds himself living in adultery with his own wife, who could also be stoned to death, if she refuses to leave him.
Islam threatens the apostate with severe penalties, whether he hasbecome a Christian or has rejected religion altogether. Exile, disinheritance, divorce, intimidation, loss of family and of job, threats, beating, torture, prison and even death are very real expectations for any Muslim who becomes a Christian, even though not all may take place. Only seldom does the miracle occur that the family of the convert accepts his decision or becomes Christian as well. Otherwise, the new believer lives in constant danger of detection and persecution.
Dr. Schirrmacher holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Bonn in Germany and often lectures on Islamics in the U.S. and Europe.
Circulated in: Religious-Liberty@xc.org
WEF Religious-Liberty e-mail Conference
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International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted ChurchFor more information and/or program resources . . .
Are Scheduled for 4 and 11 November 2001.
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Learn More About Islam and Pray!The Naaman Initiative prayer guide for the Muslim month of Ramadan will help you learn about Islam and put that knowledge to good use. The guide features news and requests for each fast month day. It is free to military and military ministries.
Sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Military Ministries (FCMM), the Naaman Initiative advocates ministry to men and women in the armed forces of Muslim nations. It promotes strategies, training, and prayer that are culturally appropriate and sensitive. Orders may be placed through Operation Reveille.
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Honor & Shame Opens Muslim DoorsUsing the Bible, Rolland Muller covers differences between guilt, fear, and shame. He shows how different ways of dealing with these result in different cultures and different ways to interpret the gospel.
Cultures of the 10/40 window are almost exclusively based on shame and honor. Muller examines traditional ministry approaches and difficulties encountered when going from a system focused on overcoming guilt to one obsessed with honor. A Middle Eastern case study concludes with a gospel addressing all three human concerns that is relevant in any context.
This original and thought provoking book is third in a trilogy on ministering to Muslims. Book One relates the story of a Jordanian Muslim who finds Christ and sets out to reach his own people. Book Two presents techniques used by successful evangelists in Muslim lands.
Rolland Muller's books are available from a variety of Internet sources like Amazon.com and Xlibris.com. The ISBN is 0-7388-4316-4. If you order a copy through the HarvestLogos.com web site, a portion of your bill will support Mission to Unreached Peoples.
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Operation World Puts Globe into Praying HandsPatrick Johnstone and his team can help you see the world with insight that you won't get from the daily news.
This 21st Century Edition is completely revised to be the most comprehensive and up-to-date quick reference on God's work around the world. It presents concise information on every country, with clear graphics and useful statistics. Hundreds of on-site Christian workers contributed details.
More than data about the world, this is a guide for changing it. Prayer requests for each nation and answers to previous edition requests are highlighted.
This book is sure to be a best seller and will be available from many sources. It's ISBN is 1-85078-357-8.
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30 Days Muslim Prayer FocusYWAM presents its tenth anniversary edition of the 30 Days prayer guide coinciding with the fast month of Ramadan. Inspiring fervent and informed prayer, these guides also provide extraordinary insight and information on the Muslim world.
Tenth Anniversary Edition
Order from . . .
web site: www.Pray4Them.org
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Saudi Arabia Raids Homes, Arrests Expatriates for Christian WorshipSaudi Arabia has begun cracking down on expatriate Christians.
news and needs
Since mid-July, at least 13 foreign Christians have been arrested in Jeddah. They come from India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Eritrea, and are members of expatriate house church groups.
Immigrant workers compose one-third of Saudi Arabia's population. Many of these are Christians from the Philippines, India, Korea and elsewhere. They are not permitted to display any Christian symbols or Bibles. They may not meet publicly to worship or pray.
Some Christians have reported that upon entering the country their personal Bibles were taken away and placed into a paper shredder before their eyes. Saudi Arabia has no churches.
This latest wave of arrests may stem from a farewell party in late June for a house church leader that was attended by some 400 guests.
The Rev. Steven Snyder, president of the International Christian Concern, a Washington-based human rights organization, charged that the Saudi government is infringing on the rights of Christians to practice their faith. He pointed out that only Muslims are allowed to practice their religion in the country.
"It appears that the Saudi authorities are extremely paranoid about protecting Islam in their country," Snyder said.
Eskinder Menghis, an Ethiopian, was arrested in a midnight raid. Bibles, books, family photos and video and audiotapes were confiscated.
A week earlier, Prabhu Isaac, a Christian hospital worker who had lived in the country for 10 years with his wife, was dragged from his home in the middle of the night by the Muttawa religious police.
Among Isaac's seized belongings was his computer which contained names and addresses of other Christians in the country. One of those names was that of Menghis.
The case of a Nigerian named Buliamin is particularly disturbing. Although a Christian, his passport identifies him as a Muslim, so he could be charged with apostasy.
Buliamin may have converted away from Islam, or he may be a Christian who identified himself in his passport application as a Muslim to make it easier for him to get a job.
Whereas most foreign nationals arrested on charges related to their religious faith are eventually deported, this would not necessarily apply to the Nigerian. The penalty for apostasy is death.
Saudi authorities appear to have launched the crackdown to expose the underground Christian network. Although no one has been executed recently for his or her faith, some report that Saudi converts to Christianity have been executed on trumped up capital charges, such as dealing drugs.
The U.S. government has been slow to confront Saudi Arabia over religious freedom. Last year's State Department report on international religious freedom said, "Saudi Arabia is an Islamic monarchy without constitutional protection for freedom of religion, and such protection does not exist in practice."
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that was created by the 1998 Religious Freedom Act has recommended every year that Saudi Arabia be listed with other countries like China and Iran as a country of particular concern for which the President must report to Congress on action that he intends to take. Each year the recommendation has been ignored. This October will be the Bush administration's first opportunity to decide whether or not to place Saudi Arabia on the list.
Once listed, there are fifteen levels of action which can be taken within diplomatic, cultural and economic spheres. These range from a private diplomatic rebuke to halting financial assistance. The President may also suggest other measures or he may decide to waive any actions based on other U.S. interests that go beyond the human rights realm.
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Pakistan Limits Free Expression: Insulting Mohammed Is a Capital CrimeA regional high court rejected the appeal of Pakistan's highest profile Christian prisoner in late July, upholding a lower court verdict to execute Ayub Masih for alleged blasphemy against Mohammed.
news and needs
Amnesty International considers Ayub Masih to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his religious beliefs, and has repeatedly urged the government of Pakistan to immediately and unconditionally release him.
Ayub was arrested on 14 October 1996 in his village of Arifabad after a complaint filed by a Muslim, Muhammad Akam, who alleged that he heard Ayub saying, "If you want to know the truth about Islam, then read Salman Rushdie."
According to reliable sources, however, the charges were fabricated in order to force fifteen Christian families to drop a land dispute in Ayub's village. Since Ayub's arrest, the other Christian families have been evicted from their homes. Their land was confiscated on the same day that Ayub was arrested. The Catholic Church's National Commission for Justice and Peace reports that the house belonging to Masih's family is now occupied by his accuser.
Proceedings have been heavily influenced by pressure from Islamic fundamentalists. On the day of the initial trial, extremists gathered outside the court to intimidate the judge and the defense lawyer. Protestors tried to snatch the case file away, and they shouted threats. "Even if the court releases Ayub Masih, even then we will kill him," they vowed, "and we will kill you also."
The case was transferred from Arifwala to Sahiwal for fear that pressure from extremists would jeopardize the legal process.
On 6 November 1997, Muhammad Akam shot at Ayub in the Sahiwal courtroom. No action against Muhammad Akam was taken.
The closed prison trial, at which Ayub was denied the right to a defense, concluded on 27 April 1998 with the Session Court judge of Sahiwal district sentencing Ayub to death by hanging.
The death penalty against Ayub was suspended on the 11 May 1998, pending this appeal that was just rejected. Appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan was filed on 22 August 2001 by defense counsel Abid Mito.
Ayub continues to languish in solitary confinement in Multan prison with no light, no toilet facility and no fan to cool him from intense heat. The temperature in his four-by-six foot cell often exceeds 120 degrees F.
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Agenda to Spread Shari'a Law Is Manifested in Nigeria
news and needs
Nigera's northern states will receive assistance from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Malaysia at implementing the Shari'a Islamic legal system.
Governor Alhaji Ibrahim Saminu Turaki of northern Nigeria's Jigawa state told Muslim leaders in his office in Dutse on August 14 that these countries are willing to assist in training Muslim clerics and judges who would implement and enforce the Islamic legal code.
His administration has sent judges from Jigawa to Malaysia and Sudan to study implementing Shari'a. Both countries have provided books on Islamic jurisprudence.
Jigawa adopted the Islamic legal system on 2 August, becoming the sixth state in northern Nigeria to declare itself Islamic. Addressing a press conference, the secretary to the Jigawa state government said that all conventional state judicial courts were converting to Islamic courts.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous state. It is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. Muslims predominate in the north.
The government is also divided along religious lines. Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Alhaji Ghali Na'abba are both Muslims and favor Islamic law. However, President Olusegun Obasanjo is a Christian and has declared that Shari'a law is unconstitutional.
Hundreds of Nigerians have died from religious violence this year.
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Taliban Trained Militia Ethnically Cleanses Central SulawesiA 3000 strong "holy war" militia is closing in on Christians in central Sulawesi. These warriors are armed and trained by Afghan Taliban fighters. Area pastors are pleading for international help.
news and needs
"We cannot count on government forces to protect us. We have seen time and again the police have joined the jihad," one pastor said.
Over twelve million people live on Sulawesi. About twenty-five percent of them are Christians.
A Jakarta based expert observed that jihad forces want to cut lines of communication between the Toraja Christians in the central region and Manado Christians in the north, and then mop them up. In April 2000, sporadic fighting between Muslims and Christians broke out. This past June, warriors "cleansed" the town of Poso and the surrounding district. 23,000 Christians fled to the town of Tentena which normally holds only 5000 residents.
Tentena is under seige. In nearby Palu the radicals recruit from an office unopposed. They are urging young men to join training for combat in the Poso district.
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Some Indonesian Christians Are Rescued from Taliban Trained Muslim MilitiasOver a weekend in July seventeen more Christians were rescued from Islamic Jihad militants in Indonesia.
news and needs
from Christian Aid Mission's weekly e-mail "Insider Report" for July 31, 2001
When fighters attacked the Christian village of Cera last year, they were briefly held off, allowing the women and children a chance to flee. Outgunned and outnumbered, the men soon had to flee for their lives. Methu was one who escaped. His wife, Adel, along with his son Aris, 8, daughter, Tien, 10, mother and mother-in-law, were captured by the militants who promptly murdered his mother, mother-in-law, and son in the jungle.
Methu thought his entire family had perished. When he learned that Adel and Tien were still alive, he went with an escort of three soldiers to reclaim his wife and daughter. When he arrived in the Jihad-controlled village, he was told that Adel had divorced him, had converted to Islam, had married a Muslim husband, and was already pregnant with another child. Adel, having been told beforehand they would cut off her head – as well as that of her daughter and husband – if she didn't answer acceptably, confessed it was true.
Later, she was able to smuggle out a letter expressing her true feelings for Methu, begging his forgiveness, and asking for rescue. In the letter, that has been called "A Cry from Hell," she described her humiliating ordeal. She said soon after capture she was stripped naked, cut on her arms and body with machetes, prodded in the groin with spears, and marched publicly through the village. Her captors said they were going to roast her like a dry, salted fish.
However, one Muslim man said he would take her as his wife, which stopped further harassment. She was forced to become a Muslim by being circumcised and by repeating the Muslim prayers. When Methu came for her, she was already pregnant with the man's baby.
In the providence of God, after giving birth to a son, her Muslim "husband" gave her permission to leave the village to visit relatives in Christian territory. To assure she would return, she had to leave her daughter, Tien, behind. "Mum, you must go now," Tien said. "I know Jesus is looking after me, but you must escape while you have the chance, and then you can let Daddy know where I am so that I, too, can be rescued. Mum, you must be strong, for the Lord is with us."
So Adel was able to rejoin her husband near the end of June, but longed to reclaim her daughter.
With funds supplied by Christian Aid and others, a team went to the Muslim held village and rescued Tien and sixteen others. "[Tien's captors] had starved her for a week, and she was very weak and skinny," Christian Aid's source in Indonesia said, "but as we talked with Methu, Adel, and Tien yesterday in Manado, they were rejoicing at the goodness of the Lord."
We thank the Lord for all those who gave to help rescue Christians captured and held hostage by jihad terrorists. The rescues are low profile, a few at a time, and involve great risk, but they are bearing fruit as families are reunited and Christians are liberated to worship freely. Over 1400 Christians have been rescued since the first of this year.
Please continue to pray for the safety and effectiveness of ongoing rescue operations and for provision to care for evacuees in displaced person camps. Funds for food, housing, water, and medical care can be designated 750PERS-MI-230 and sent to:
Christian Aid Mission
P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906
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web site review
Christian Muslim Dialog dedicated to advancing the gospel:
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 5, Number 5 - September/October 2001
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