Tag Archives: kenya

Report: Africa rises on World Watch List of worst persecutors of Christians

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ANS) – Africa, the continent of my birth, where Christianity has spread fastest during the past century, now is the region where oppression of Christians is spreading fastest, a new report says.

According to World Watch Monitor, the two-year-old Arab Spring has toppled autocrats across Northern Africa, but it also has energized militant Islamist movements that have killed hundreds of Christians and endanger thousands more, according to the annual World Watch List, released Tuesday.

The list, published by Open Doors International, a ministry to persecuted Christians, ranks the 50 countries it considers to be most hostile to believers during the year that ended Oct. 31. The countries on the list are home to about a quarter of the world’s 2.2 billion believers.

The story says that for the 11th straight year, North Korea tops the list, and Open Doors says it figures to stay there as long as its combination of “communist oppression” and “dictatorial paranoia” remains in place. The ministry estimates between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians live in the country, where they face arrest, torture and even execution if exposed. It is the only country where the list says “absolute persecution” reigns.

Two other African nations, Somalia and Eritrea, are included among the World Watch List top 10. In all, 18 African countries are included on the list of 50 nations. Five are ranked closer to the top than they were in 2012. Five others — Mali, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Niger — are on the list for the first time.

China fell furthest in the rankings, down 16 spots to No. 37. Its Christian population is growing faster than anywhere, and the government’s direct suppression of the Mao era has evolved into a wary watchfulness, according to Open Doors.

“There does seem to be the possibility of greater rapprochement,” said Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, director of Open Doors strategy and research, as Communist Party leaders begin to regard the church’s ability to moderate social tensions as an asset during and age of rapid economic and societal change.

A pathologist puts divine healing under the microscope

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

NAIROBI, KENYA – Fidel Cholo Fernandez, a pathologist from the city of Zamboanga in the Philippines, and now based in

Penang, Malaysia, spends his days studying diseases under the microscope, but he also is a believer in divine healing.

Dr. Fidel Fernandez, along with his wife Leticia, was one of 500 doctors, scientists and medical professionals from 37 countries who came to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi for the ninth International Christian Medical Conference held May 25-26, to explore whether miracles still happen today and, if they do, to provide medical data to prove them.

The doctor made it clear that he also believed in divine healing and then during a previous conference made a presentation with data that was flashed on the two large screens in the conference hall.

He told the story of a Korean Christian called Deacon Han who had been diagnosed with early gastric cancer following an endoscopic study on September 2002.

“Deacon Han received an endoscopy test once again on December, 2002, but a biopsy was not performed at that time because the lesion had not improved,” said Dr. Fernandez. “He was told that he should undergo an operation for gastric cancer, he didn’t because he had a belief in God.”

So the doctor said that Deacon Han had traveled from his home town to the Manmin Central Church in Seoul where he received prayer for his sickness from Dr. Jaerock Lee, the senior pastor.

“From that moment, he gained weight and was sure that he was healed,” said Fernandez. “Finally, he confirmed his healing two months later by another endoscopic test at the local internal medicine clinic, when no vestige of the gastric cancer was found.

“After a year, an endoscopy and biopsy test was done to him by the doctor who diagnosed his original case and finally the doctor gave his report that the patient didn’t have the symptom of gastric cancer.”

It was a miracle, pronounced Dr. Fernandez.

So, in an interview, I asked this charming doctor if he had ever experienced a personal miracle in his own life.

“Well,” he said, “the best example would be my son who was born with a congenital disease. Before he was born, the doctors told me that he could only live possibly for one year. We were pushed against the wall and my wife Leticia, who is a nurse, and myself, just relied on prayer and he’s now in his mid-20s so that’s a great miracle for me.”

I then asked Leticia why she had come to the “Spirituality and Medicine” gathering.

“I have worked with the World Christian Doctors Network (WCDN) since 2005 and I’ve become active in the organization and have even invited doctors and other medical workers to attend the conference,” she said. “I am finding that there are a lot of doctors who believe in miracles, but some others are still skeptics.”

At the end of the conference, it was announced that the 10th World Christian Doctors Network International Conference will take place in Mexico City, Mexico, next year at a date yet to be announced.

Egyptian families alarmed by abduction of Christian girls

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By Aidan Clay of International Christian Concern
Special to ASSIST News Service

EGYPT – “We don’t know if our daughter is still alive,” Magda told ICC during a recent visit to Egypt. “We haven’t seen or

heard from her in five years. Her kidnapper called us and said she was dead and buried.”

Mary disappeared in June 2007, but to her mother, Magda, it feels like only yesterday that she was sleeping peacefully in her own bed under the loving care of her parents. For those who lose a child, as Magda had, the pain never goes away.

“There were no warning signs. There was nothing we could do, but the guilt doesn’t go away. If only we could have known [what would happen],” Magda explained while fighting back tears.

The abduction took place on an ordinary Thursday evening. After school, Mary went out with friends for pizza and a movie. While sipping cocoa at a restaurant, Mary began to feel dizzy and sick. “You go ahead and go home,” said Nahla, a Muslim girl. “The rest of us want to go to the cinema.” Nahla was new to Mary’s group of friends; they had only known her a few weeks.

Mary left the group to catch a bus home alone. This was the last time her friends would see her. No one knows what happened next, but Mary was gone.

Mary’s friends and parents believe Nahla had something to do with it; perhaps she was an accomplice to Mary’s abductors who put drugs in Mary’s drink. Although this suspicion has yet to be confirmed, after Mary’s disappearance, Nahla was nowhere to be found.

Mary’s parents stayed up throughout the night waiting anxiously for their daughter’s return. Mary’s father filed a report at the police station the next morning. He stayed at the station the entire day, determined to see that an investigation was being carried out. Late that afternoon, the police told him they had found his daughter.

Mary was escorted along with several other women into the station by four men in Islamic dress with long beards. The men were Salafis, a group that follows the strict doctrine of Wahhabi Islam from Saudi Arabia. Mary was covered head to toe in a burka. “[My husband] recognized her by her shoes,” Magda told ICC.

Two armed policemen stood by, watching the father’s every move. When he called Mary by name, a Muslim man hit her in the face. There was no answer.

Then he tried to grab his daughter, but she was quickly taken away by the police. The father yelled after her while struggling desperately to free himself from the grip of the police officers who were holding him down. It was no use. Mary was forced in the back of a van and driven away.

“I went back to the police station that night with my son,” Magda said. “They cursed us and humiliated us. They treated us very badly.”

The parents soon began receiving threatening e-mails and phone calls. “Become a Muslim and we’ll spare your life,” one caller said. “Pay a £6,000 ransom or your daughter is dead,” said another. One caller told Magda that Mary had been killed and buried.

“Look at me. I’m dying inside,” Mary’s father told BBC. “Jesus Christ gave me my daughter. He gave her to me, not to them.”

Two months later, several police officers showed up at the parents’ house. “They demanded that we sign documents that said Mary had changed her religion to Islam,” Magda said. The parents refused. Months later, however, they learned that a birth certificate had been forged stating that Mary was now a Muslim.

Still, the family would not give up. They hired a renowned Christian lawyer who demanded to see Mary. Agreeing to meet at a neutral location – Mary’s former university – Magda saw her daughter one last time. There she sat, fully covered on the sofa in the dean’s office. “My dear, are you OK?” Magda asked. There was no response. “Mary, can you hear me?”

Mary seemingly did not understand or was not coherent enough to respond. “She is a Muslim now. What right do you have to see her?” questioned the security officers, who were growing increasingly angry during the meeting. The meeting lasted ten minutes, but not a sound was uttered from Mary’s lips.

Magda’s lawyer regrettably said there was nothing more he could do. “There was no case, he said, because Mary’s birth certificate had been forged and she is Muslim now,” explained Magda.

On a dreary February afternoon, the parents sat in a Cairo office, trying to understand a world where Mary did not exist. “We don’t even know if she’s still alive,” Magda told ICC.

Abductions of Christian girls are nothing new in Egypt. Records exist of cases that were filed as early as the 1970s. However, kidnappings have increased significantly since Egypt’s revolution last year. It is often the police – the very people that are trusted to uphold the law – who are responsible.

“I have proof there are corrupt police officers,” said Coptic lawyer Karam Gabriel, who had worked months to find 15-year-old Nabila Sedky, a Christian girl who was abducted in Cairo on April 5, 2011. “I gave the investigators tips where to look, information we got through three months of hard work, and instead they were [investigating] at a Coptic [Christian] with an alibi.”

Mary is only one among hundreds of Christian girls who have been abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and forced into marriage in Egypt. These incidents are often accompanied by acts of violence, including rape, beatings, and other forms of physical and mental abuse.

When Magda looks at the bed where Mary once slept, tears cloud her eyes. She says a silent prayer for her daughter and continues on with her day, believing that someday God will reunite them.

Aidan Clay is the Middle East Regional Manager for International Christian Concern (ICC), a Washington, DC-based human rights organization that exists to support persecuted Christians worldwide by providing awareness, advocacy, and assistance (www.persecution.org). Aidan is a graduate from Biola University in Southern California. Prior to joining ICC, Aidan worked with Samaritan’s Purse in South Sudan and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe. He and his wife currently live in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, contact Aidan Clay at clay@persecution.org