Persecutions in Pakistan, Jordan and Niger

I received these recent persecution and prayer alerts from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Please take time to read each one.  Pray for the loved ones of those who died for their faith and pray for those who are suffering for their faith.  Visit each story’s link to find out more and to see what you can do to help.  Each one of us can make a difference.

Persecution on the Rise for Christian Women and Girls in Pakistan

I just saw this prayer alert from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Whenever I read these types of articles, I am thankful that I live in a country where there is religious liberty.  Imagine being brutally attacked for your faith.  Please read this story and pray for the victims and others like them who face persecution.  Be thankful that you can worship freely without fear of being attacked.

PAKISTAN: Sharp Rise in Attacks on Christian Girls and Women

Source: Release International

Pray for the safety of women in Pakistan.
Wikimedia Commons / Sonia Sevilla

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Christian girls and women facing brutal assaults in Pakistan during recent months.

On November 28th, two Christian sisters (ages 14 and 16) were attacked in a village located within the Jaranwala district after they went out into the field to use the washroom. The girls’ family alleges that three males assaulted the sisters repeatedly overnight, and that they have since been threatened by the perpetrators with warnings not to press charges. They also claim that the police have obstructed attempts to gather medical evidence. Ministry partners of VOMC’s sister mission in the United Kingdom are ensuring the girls receive the medical care and legal assistance they need.

Elsewhere in Punjab, a 14-year-old girl was abducted on November 26th in Thatha Gondal. It is believed that she has been forcibly converted to Islam and married to her kidnapper. Local Christians and Muslims have been involved in negotiations to return the girl to her family.

Meanwhile, a pregnant mother of four from Rana Town was reportedly attacked after resisting a ruthless woman’s attempts to make her convert to Islam. The Christian mother was then brutally attacked by the instigator’s brothers. After stripping the pregnant mother of her clothing and disgracefully parading her in public, the men then robbed and finally beat the victimized believer to the point of unconsciousness. Local police initially refused to register a case, having only done so after our ministry partners intervened.

Please lift up in prayer all of these dear sisters in Christ, asking the Lord to surround each one with His sustaining love and grace. May He not only grant needed physical and emotional healing to the young girls who were assaulted, but also ensure they receive the support and encouragement of the members of their family and the wider community during this difficult time. Intercede on behalf of the young teen who still remains held captive by her kidnapper. May this girl soon be freed so she can return home to her loved ones. In addition, ask God to be especially near to the expectant mother who was so callously humiliated and beaten, praying that both she and her unborn child will be granted restored health and strength.

To post a prayer of encouragement for our persecuted sisters in Pakistan, visit VOMC’s Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Pray that the police will do their jobs and protect the victims.

Christian Woman’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

I received this Prisoner Release update in an email from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Please read Asia’s story and pray for her and her family.  This young wife and mother was arrested since 2009 and has been in prison until now.  Imagine being separated from your family, anxiously awaiting an appeal only to have it postponed.   Pray that neither Asia nor her family will be discouraged by this major setback.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28.  God has plans for Asia just as He had plans for Joseph who was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.  God was with him all the time he was there just as He is with Asia.

I encourage you to visit the prayer wall and pray for Asia and other Christians like her who are being persecuted and imprisoned for their faith and the families of those brave men and women who have died for their faith.

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

Sources: Asia News, Release International


Remember in prayer
Asia’s husband and children.

The appeal hearing for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman imprisoned for blasphemy, has been postponed “to a later date.” Asia was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Mohammed and later sentenced to death. Since then, she has been waiting for her appeal to be heard while being held in isolation at the women’s prison in Sheikhupura (Punjab). (For more on Asia’s case, click here.)

Initially scheduled for March 17th, Asia’s first hearing was cancelled due to the absence of one of the two presiding judges. Under Pakistani law, two judges have to be present in death penalty cases for the entire trial.

The high-profile case remains hugely controversial in Pakistan. The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his bodyguard in January of 2011 after showing support for Asia. Then, two months later, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was assassinated after voicing support for Asia and demanding reform of the country’s blasphemy laws. Shahbaz’s brother is now facing death threats. (For more on these threats, click here.) Late last year, Pakistan’s Federal Sharia Court demanded that blasphemy should carry a mandatory death sentence.

After this disappointing setback, pray that the Lord will continue to sustain Asia and her loved ones as they await the appeal hearing. May the judges and other authorities pursue justice, and may they also be protected from those who wish them harm as a result. Ask God to use this case for His good purposes, transforming the hearts and lives of those who do not yet know Him and encouraging believers to be courageous in their faith.

To share your prayers for Asia and her family, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Polio Vaccines

I was appalled when I learned of the Nigerian women who were gunned down because they were giving out polio vaccines.  They were killed by gunmen suspected of belonging to a radical Islamic sect shot and killed at least nine as they took part part in a polio vaccination drive in northern Nigeria on Friday, February 8, 2013.  Residents of Kano, Nigeria’s largest city, predominantly Muslim were shocked.  This area is where women usually went from house to house to carry out the polio vaccination drives since families felt safer having them in their homes instead of men.  This attack is a result based on the belief fueled by clerics that the vaccines were part of a Western plot to sterilize young girls.

Washington’s State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the killing and injuring of health workers in Nigeria.  “They were engaged in life-saving work, trying to vaccinate children,” she told reporters. “Any violence that prevents children from receiving basic life-saving vaccines is absolutely unacceptable wherever it happens.”  It is suspected that Boko Haram had been behind the shootings.  Witnesses spoke in anonymity out of fear of angering the sect whose name means “Western education is sacrilege”.

The suspicion surrounding polio vaccinations in Nigeria was kindled in 2003 when a Kano physician heading the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria said the vaccines were “corrupted and tainted by evildoers from America and their Western allies.” This remark led to hundreds of new infections in children in Nigeria’s north where beggars on locally made wooden skateboards dragged their withered legs back and forth in traffic, begging for alms. The 2003 disease outbreak in Nigeria eventually spread throughout the world,  even causing infections in Indonesia.  Nigeria is one of three countries where polio remains endemic.  Afghanistan and Pakistan are the other two.  Imagine last year Nigeria registered 121 new cases of polio infections. This is more than half of all cases reported around the world, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Attacks on health workers giving out polio vaccines are not limited to Nigeria.  The National Post did an article on how the polio vaccine program in Pakistan was proving to be lethal for health workers.  Last year in December, eight of them, mostly young, female and poorly paid were murdered in Karachi and northwestern Pakistan.   Militants in Pakistan have accused health workers of acting as spies for the U.S., alleging that the vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.  This accusation comes after it was revealed that a Pakistani doctor ran a fake vaccination program to help the CIA track down and kill al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden.  The UN has suspended the vaccine program until it’s safe enough to restart.  This may be indefinite unless the government steps in and does something to curb the escalating violence.  In the meantime, foreign aid workers are either being killed or abducted for ransom and teenage girls volunteering to prevent the spread of polio are being killed.  The World Health Organization (WHO) suspended its polio vaccination programme in Karachi following the murders of five members of polio vaccination teams.  All were women and the youngest was 14 years old.  They were all Pakistani nationals working on behalf of WHO and its local partners.

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a contagious disease that can be prevented by vaccination. It is spread from person to person and through contaminated food and water. Polio can attack the central nervous system and destroy the nerve cells that activate muscles.  It is heartbreaking to know that children are are going to suffer from this viral disease which can affect their nerves and lead to partial or full paralysis because certain local populations are refusing to allow their children to receive the vaccine.  The communities are worried about sterilization but what about paralysis or in some cases, death?  Why don’t they educate themselves and learn more about how the vaccine works before they flat out refuse to have it administered to their children?

The poliomyelitis ( polio ) vaccine protects against poliovirus infections. The vaccine helps the body produce antibodies (protective substances) that will prevent an individual from contracting polio.  This protects both both individual vaccine recipients and the wider community.  There are two types of vaccine that protect against polio: inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV). IPV, used in the United States since 2000, is given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on patient’s age.  Most people should get polio vaccine when they are children.  OPV has not been used in the United States since 2000 but is still used in many parts of the world.

A global effort to eradicate polio, led by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and The Rotary Foundation, began in 1988 and has relied largely on the oral polio vaccine developed by Albert Sabin.  The disease was entirely eradicated in the Americas by 1994. Polio was officially eradicated in 36 Western Pacific countries, including China and Australia in 2000.   Europe was declared polio-free in 2002.   Since January 2011, there were no reported cases of the disease in India, and hence in February 2012, the country was taken off the WHO list of polio endemic countries. It is reported that if there are no cases of polio in the country for two more years, it will be declared as a polio-free country.

It is high time that Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan be declared as polio-free countries.  The government needs to protect the health workers who are risking their lives to protect the communities.  It’s time the governments of these countries got serious about eradicating polio so that children are not condemned to living the rest of their lives in wheelchairs or on crutches.  The people need to be educated.  They need information that would counter the tales that polio vaccination is a ploy of the West to spread infidel practices.

It’s time for the governments of Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan to stand up and do what is best for their young and vulnerable.  And if nothing is done to stop the spread of this virus, these nations will become crippled and sick.  It’s time to take action.  It’s time to put aside your fears and protect your children and their future.

His parents fear OPV will render his son impotent and that he will never be able to produce children in case of vaccination. Despite repeated attempts, they didn’t understand the significance of the vaccine. As a result, their child is disabled for entire life.SOURCE: Rantburg 2013-02-10 05:25:00

They were engaged in lifesaving work, trying to vaccinate children … Any violence that prevents children from receiving basic life-saving vaccines is absolutely unacceptable, wherever it happens..SOURCE: Arkansas Online 2013-02-09 11:11:00

Having children made us look differently at all these things that we take for granted, like taking your child to get a vaccine against measles or polio.
Melinda Gates

When I was about 9, I had polio, and people were very frightened for their children, so you tended to be isolated. I was paralyzed for a while, so I watched television.
Francis Ford Coppola

polio vaccine

Sources:  http://http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/witnesses-nigeria-sect-group-attacks-polio-drives-18437814; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002375/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polio_vaccine; http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/12/20/pakistans-polio-vaccine-program-proving-lethal-for-health-workers/; http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/info/polio-eng.php; http://www.healthofchildren.com/P/Polio-Vaccine.html; http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=149114&Cat=8; http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/polio/default.htm; http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/polio/quotes/; http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/polio.html#76XBp9gi2wMCs364.99

The Malala Fund

I got this in an email from Vital Voices and thought I should share it with you.  The mission of Vital Voices  is to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities.  Help them by supporting the Malala Fund so that they could fulfill this brave teenager’s dream of access to education for all.  Think of the little girls you will be helping.  Think about your daughters and granddaughters and how fortunate they are to be able to graduate from high-school and college and enter into the workforce.

malala%20hero%20draft%203

Dear A.,

 

Last month, teenage activist and blogger Malala Yousafzai was targeted for her outspoken advocacy and support for girls’ education. She was shot by the Taliban near her school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, and the world took notice. Hundreds of thousands have voiced their support and sent messages to Malala, who continues to receive critical care on her long road to recovery.

In commemoration of Malala Day — November 10 — championed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, Vital Voices is launching the Malala Fund on behalf of Malala and her family, working together with supporting advisors and friends of the cause, including the United Nations Foundation and Girl Up, and several other organizations and individuals.

I spoke with Malala’s father this week from her bedside at the hospital in Birmingham. He said Malala is doing well on her long road to recovery, and they feel blessed with the outpouring of support. She’s received cards and messages from girls all over the world thanking her for her courage and for giving them a voice. The Fund will support the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world by providing grants to civil society organizations and individuals focused on education. It will be advised by a committee comprising education experts and entrepreneurs, as well as Malala — when she is well enough — and her family.

This is such an important cause and we are proud to do our part to contribute. Today, the right to education is denied to 61 million children of primary school age, including 32 million girls. This is a statistic we have the power to change.

Please raise your voice on behalf of Malala and the millions of girls who struggle to get their voices heard. Support the Malala Fund and together, we will help a teenage girl from Pakistan fulfill her dream of access to education for all.

Warmly,

 

 

Donate Now

Summer News: SOC Films Documentary Series

I wanted to share this email from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the first Pakistani woman to win an Oscar for her film Saving Face in 2012 and one of TIME Magazine’s most influencial people of the world.

Dear Friends,

A lot has happened since the Academy Awards in February in LA…I have begun work on a new series of documentary films which are being aired for the first time on TV Channels across Pakistan-

In a unique partnership with Coca-Cola, my production company SOC Films has launched a 6 part documentary series titled “Ho Yaqeen” featuring Pakistanis doing extraordinary things and transforming their communities.

The first episode of the series launched 2 weeks ago: Please do tune in to watch it, links are below:

Part1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMO2M9s4Lxs
Part2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uZXt3hJBno

Please do share these links with friends and family….

In other news, i was very fortunate to have been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people in the world- (http://goo.gl/OFVhZ)
This positive reinforcement helps us get the message of our Academy Award winning film Saving Face out.

As more episodes of Ho Yaqeen become available i shall send them out on this mailing list. I am also involved in two more exciting documentary ventures outside of Pakistan which i shall share with you later in the summer….

All my very best
Sharmeen

You can check out Sharmeen’s website at:  http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/bio/  I will keep you posted on Sharmeen’s exciting ventures. 

SUMMIT of Women Leaders that Care

I got this email today and wanted to share it with you.

A Celebration of Women TM
presents…
SUMMIT of Women Leaders that Care 

“WOMAN of ACTION: Key to Equity, Justice and Peace “
Saturday, March 24, 2012
10:00am until 5:00pm, networking & meet the Speakers until 7PM
A Celebration of WomenTM is a global organization born to celebrate the lives of women leaders from around the globe. Conceived in 2009, this organi…zation today houses hundreds of women leaders inside an Alumni named WOMEN of ACTION. Each and every woman attached to this SUMMIT is a member of our Alumni.

 

From Dr. Chen’s work with the Body Shop’s Stop Sex Trafficking campaign, Dr. Sharif’s account of “An Afghan Woman’s Journey”, Dr. Shabnam Nazli, founder of Hope Development Organization now A Celebration House™, Mama Zuma with Rosetta Standard’s organization ZIMELE, talking about sustainable micro business development, Diane Longboat, A Mohawk from Six Nations, Grand River Territory and after all of this, we will be surprising you with a Celebration of our premiere MAN of ACTION – a treat that you will not want to miss ( this gent is a real Gem, and A Celebration of Women will find those Gems inside the matrix of our society) …..

After this journey you will never be the same, as these women will awaken, inspire and motivate you to TAKE ACTION where and when you are, transforming the world around you. This experience will leave you breathless, in tears of joy and filled with the energy required to act, loving wholeheartedly the simple truths of being a WOMEN of ACTION.Limited seating so reserve your tickets now at www.acelebrationofwomen.org
**************************************************************
TICKETS $80.00 per person before March 23; $90.00 at the door; Groups of 10 for $500.00Saturday, March 24, 2012 from 9:30am – 5:00pm
Networking 5:00pm -7:00pm
@ The Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) in the OISE building at UofT
252 Bloor Street West
**************************************************************
Featuring….

Dr. Loretta Chen, PhD
Social Activist
Ambassador to The Body Shop’s Stop Sex Trafficking
Hermes’ PS I Silk You outreach program for underprivileged girls
Evian’s Live Young Campaign

Dr. Sharifa Sharif, PhD
Author – On the Edge of Being: An Afghan Women’s Journey
Cultural Advisor for Afghanistan in Canada

Rosetta Standard and Mama Zuma
Zimele, A program which seeks to develop self-sustainable communities through creating self-help savings groups, microbusinesses, mentorships, and non-profit projects

Diane Longboat
Kahontakawas is from the Turtle Clan
A Mohawk from Six Nations, Grand River Territory
Traditional Teacher, Ceremonial Leader

Dr. Shabnam Nazli, PhD
Founder, Hope Development Organization now A Celebration House focuses on Women’s Rights in Pakistan

Monika and Graham Burwise
Founder, Global Awakening Institute

and much more…

ORDER Online at www.acelebrationofwomen.org
Tickets $80.00 before March 23rd – Get your tickets now!

About US

A Celebration of Women™ is the FIRST global forum where Women Leaders are being ‘celebrated’ for spearheading positive action. A transformation of the Women’s Movement has begun through our WORLD HUB ~ Wheel of Women Leaders that Care. Through the creation of our alumni WOMEN of ACTION the butterfly effect has begun through local changes resulting in global differences.

Our WOMEN of ACTION are trailblazers in this millennium pioneering the new woman’s movement, “Equality of Women among Women”, working to create a sustainable socio-economic independence for all Women. True to its advocacy mandate, A Celebration of Women™ is the world hub for all NGOs to celebrate their founders, collaborate in their missions and TAKE ACTION.

We haven’t forgot you MEN, our MEN of ACTION aren’t that far behind, we’re actively looking for YOU! Come and join us and meet our FIRST MAN of ACTION. Through our celebration of positive action that is taking place in our world, we attract more women and men to become leaders and TAKE ACTION in their communities.

Are you ready to join us, and become a WOMAN or MAN of ACTION?