This story comes through openheaven.org. You may be aware of this Christian Pakistani woman who was accused of blasphemy, a capital crime under Islam, on phony charges and has been held in jail interminably. Just a tiny crack has appeared in the case.
The news has been so dark lately that it is easy to wonder what one little case like this can do, even if we do win. But it is essential that we fight the battle when and where we can. That’s the only way we’ll ever make progress. Let’s do it not only for Asia Bibi, but for the many who don’t have even the slim chance she does.
Here’s a site with the latest news, and where you can join in writing a letter of encouragement to Asia: http://incontext.webs.com/asiabibi.htm.
And here’s one where you can engage in activism: http://campaigns.csi-usa.org/index.php?id=FreeAsia.
Pakistan: Asia Bibi’s accuser is said to have admitted that his charges are phony
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) — The case of Asia Bibi, the Pakistan Christian mother-of-five who was sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, has taken an extraordinary turn.
According to a story monitored by the ASSIST News Service, Qari Salam, who accused Bibi of blasphemy charges, which resulted in a jail sentence and possible hanging, is reported to have “ostensibly” regreted filing a blasphemy charge against the impoverished Christian woman.
“The source of his guilt – realization that the case was not based on facts but on hyped religious emotions and personal bias of some village women, including his wife,” said the story posted at: http://www.topix.com/forum/religion/islam/T72AF1K9C8RL3C6TG
Bibi has been languishing in Sheikhupura jail since a sessions court gave her a death sentence for insulting Prophet Muhammad.
Support from London
Qari, according to some of his close friends, was now thinking of not pursuing the case anymore and expressed his desire to some of his friends, only to find himself in a difficult situation when activists of an Islamic religious organization “convinced” him not to change his mind.
“We will chase her through hell . don’t worry about the money, hiring best lawyers,” Salam told The Express Tribune, quoting the son of Khatm-e-Nabuwat’s London chapter’s leader.
The leader’s son flew in to Nankana from London after hearing that Salam might not go to Lahore High Court (LHC) when the review petition against Asia’s conviction is taken up.
Source: (ANS) www.assistnews.net
Sunday, 1/30/2011, is an international day of prayer for the release of a Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blaspheming Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Dominant Muslim nations such as Pakistan (“Land of the Pure”) have instituted blasphemy laws which punish, often with death, any insult, real or perceived, against the founder of that religion.That would be bad enough, but what is worse is that the laws are used as raw leverage against the weak and defenseless. Christians are the main target, but others as well, such as minorities in offshoots from Islam such as the Sikhs, and even normal Muslims, can at any time find themselves falsely charged with blasphemy or tearing up a Koran, as a way for the accusers to exact personal revenge, get a hold of land or livestock, or to pressure women for sexual favors.
In the case of Asia Bibi, the woman on death row at this time, the motive seems to be revenge and just plain bullying and bigotry. What’s new is that this is the first time Pakistan has stooped to sentencing a woman to death for this supposed crime.
There has been talk of repealing the blasphemy laws in Pakistan for many years, but the problem is that the military has ruled the nation by shrewdly balancing off the Islamist religious groups against the secularists. And it hasn’t been good politics in recent years to tick off the Islamists by repealing these laws. As a sop to the West, Pakistan has instituted a ministry for minority affairs, but it’s pretty much a joke. And a week ago, one outspoken governor who openly sympathized with Bibi’s plight was assassinated for his position in the matter. One could say there is a distinct and tragic chilling effect on liberalization in Pakistan.
So this is more than about the life of one woman, as important as that is. The Body of Christ is suffering worldwide, especially in Islamic and totalitarian nations, and the use and misuse of blasphemy laws is often the cutting edge of the sword used against our brothers and sisters.
Meanwhile, in Lausanne, Evangelical leaders got together and issued a call for unity and fervent missions. I’d like to draw attention to one clause of their statement:
“A divided Church has no message for a divided world. Our failure to live in reconciled unity is a major obstacle to authenticity and effectiveness in mission.
“We lament the dividedness and divisiveness of our churches and organizations. We deeply and urgently long for Christians to cultivate a spirit of grace and to be obedient to Paul’s command to ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Unity is absolutely key to our progress in the world. As one of the last things He said during His natural life on earth, Jesus prayed and exhorted His followers to be one, even as He and the Father are one – and that’s pretty tight organic unity, indeed.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. -John 17:20-21
At this point, I don’t much care to argue ecclesiology or tradition or structure, beyond the basics. I care about essential right doctrine, and I care about love. The Body needs to come together if our witness is to have any power at all.
Please spread the word. Let’s join in solidarity Sunday with our suffering sister, and with the suffering church throughout the world. Let’s do it for their sake and for the sake of the Gospel. The onerous blasphemy laws are being used to oppress and persecute. They also are being used by a militant religion to stifle honest criticism and dissent, which is a major reason why Islamic societies have consistently failed to evolve and prosper. God loves freedom (Gal 5.1) and He welcomes sincere questioning (Is 1.18). He can take the heat.
May God bring peace and prosperity to His church, and if necessary, strength under persecution, but in either case, love and unity.
News comes today that five Christians from World Vision relief services were killed execution-style in Pakistan. Two days previous some two hundred Christians – men, women, children and infants – were brutalized and slaughtered in central Nigeria.
In Pakistan, these Christians were delivering much-needed charitable services to the population. Their crime was not subscribing to the dominant religio-political ethos, Islam.
Central Nigeria is the fault line between the Christian south and the Muslim north. Christians there have been counseled by church leaders not to go on the offensive, and not to seek vengeance, but that they do have the right to defends themselves against attack (I think that’s a balanced reading of the New Covenant, but of course in specific circumstances the Lord can direct otherwise as He chooses). Despite this peaceful stance, the Muslims struck at night and hacked away.
It’s hard to imagine this level of persecution. I remember in my readings of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs that it all seemed so removed from reality and was hard to relate to. Boy was I wrong. It’s happening right now, on our watch. In fact, the number of Christians killed for the faith is at its all-time highest levels.
We need to cling to our assurance that the Lord works all things for good for those who love Him, because it is true and we need the strength it imparts. Here are some good things that I would like to see come out of these horrors:
- That the Body of Christ would draw together worldwide in the unity of love and faith, and become more powerful in intercession.
- That those facing brutality would be comforted and made strong.
- That at the proper time a way of escape would be made for them.
- That a mighty witness to Jesus would arise from the resolve and the principled response to evildoing.
- That the consciences of both evildoers and the ordinary people trapped in evil cultures would be smitten by these evil deeds done to peace-loving people, causing doubt in the existing structures and preparing for the implantation of the Word of eternal life in Jesus.
The world has become a smaller place due to modern communications, transportation, economics and the reach of terrorism. It’s hard on us, but in the strife the Lord is using the interactions of cultures to spread the Gospel. While this is the most martyr-prone era in history, it also is the greatest era of conversions in history. And especially in bedarkened lands, the Lord is backing up the human witness with all manner of dreams, visions and visitations. This mighty advance of the Kingdom is exactly why satan is raging so violently.
The devil’s time is short, so let us encourage ourselves in the Lord, resolve not to waver, and take this Gospel wherever we can, in season or out, whatever the cost.
Peace be upon our departed friends for a race well run, and comfort to their loved ones.