Praise and Prayer

Pray: Pakistani Father in Legal Battle Against Kidnappers of His Two Young Daughters-Compass Direct News reports that a Christian father in Pakistan is in a legal battle with kidnappers for the custody of his pre-teen daughters, who allegedly have been forced to convert to Islam. On July 13, a judge in Pakistan's Punjab province ordered further investigation into the kidnapping of Saba Younis, 12, and Aneela Younis, 10, who went missing on June 26 in the small town of Chowk Munda. The kidnappers filed for custody of the girls at the local police house on June 28, stating that the sisters had converted to Islam and their father no longer had jurisdiction over them. When the girls' father, Younis Masih, was summoned to the police house to testify, police initially refused to file a case, telling Masih to "remain silent" as the girls had embraced Islam. Ashfaq Fateh, a Christian advocate who established contact with Masih this week, asserted that the kidnapping was a religious matter.

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Pray: British Christians Can't Evangelize and Do Social Work Too-Last year, the British Charities Commission instituted a new criterion under which religious charities must prove that what they do is of "public benefit", or face the loss of their tax status. Now, Hazel Blears, the Labor government's communities secretary, indicated in the House of Commons that in the name of "inclusiveness" Christian religious charities that are interested in promoting Christianity will be excluded from engaging in charitable social works.

Among the provisos of a "charter" for churches which Blears said she will draft is that they must never "impose their faith or belief on others." The definition of "imposing" is very broad indeed, based on the threatened denial of funding in 2005 to a Christian-run homeless shelter unless it stopped saying grace at mealtimes and putting Bibles out for use by guests.

In June, Blears said that the "sidelining" of Christianity in public life is "common sense" and said that in the place of Britain's 1500-year Christian heritage, Islam should be promoted.


Praise/Pray: Christians in Algeria Sentenced for Spreading Faith-Compass Direct News reports that a court in western Algeria convicted two Muslim converts to Christianity yesterday for illegally spreading their faith. The court in Tissemsilt, 110 miles southwest of Algiers, handed Rachid Muhammad Essaghir, 37, and Djallal Dhamani six-month suspended sentences and 100,000-dinar (US$1,660) fines. The men were found guilty of "distributing documents to shake the faith of Muslims." The case has received both local and international publicity following a wave of trials this year against Algerian Christians for evangelism and illegally practicing their faith. Essaghir has now moved from Tiaret to the coastal city of Oran with his wife and 1-year-old daughter after police shut down his Internet café in April, although many such cafés operate without this permission. "Essaghir is doing very well, it's a miracle," said a close friend who spoke with the Christian following yesterday's trial. Despite his numerous convictions, the friend said, "he doesn't care anymore; God is in control."

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Pray: Iraqi Refugees Struggling After Leaving Homeland-Mission News Network reports that of the thousands of Iraqi Christians who have left their country, many are traumatized and struggling to cope without real support. Open Doors USA's Al Janssen said, "More than half of all the Christians have been displaced by the conflict. Certain Muslim extremist groups have taken opportunities to persecute Christians. Sometimes it's to grab their property or to kidnap them. So people have had to flee for their lives." Janssen and his team are trying to provide trauma counseling for these refugees, who are not used to expressing emotion or private thought in their honor culture.

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