Dear Friends and Partners,
It brings us great joy to be able to inform you that Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman condemned for apostasy, has arrived in the United States with her family after having finally succeeded in leaving Sudan via Italy. We would like to thank every one of you who sent letters of support and prayed for Meriam – your support made a difference and helped to save her life. Please join us in thanking God for her safety and praying for a smooth and easy transition to the family’s new life and continue to pray for the peace and freedom of all who live in Sudan, especially the religious minorities.
In the meantime, our hearts are broken by what is happening in Iraq. In our previous update we told you about the actions of ISIS in and around the northern city of Mosul where extremist movements were beginning to be seen in Christian villages near the city. Since then ISIS has forced all of the Christians out of Mosul by withdrawing the “option” of paying jizya (a religious tax on minorities) and threatening to kill anyone who would not flee or convert. Christian homes and businesses were marked with the letter “N”, for “Nasrani” (“Christian” in Arabic), to identify them for action by ISIS squads.
Neighbouring regions already dealing with masses of people who had fled southern Iraq and Syria are trying to cope with tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians seeking refuge. They were forced to leave their homes and belongings behind and walk away with only the clothes on their back. At ISIS checkpoints they were forced to hand over any cell-phones or other belongings, including identity papers, money, jewelry, and even medical supplies, that they had managed to take with them. Escaping through hot, dry desert, many by foot, they remain vulnerable and some have died from the conditions while others have been killed or raped by ISIS extremists along the way. Even many of the villages the refugees have made it to are vulnerable to further ISIS action and certainly cannot provide a permanent solution.
Christians have been in this region since the early years of Christianity nearly 2,000 years ago and have had a continuous presence in Mosul for almost as long. Yet today there are no Christians in Mosul. The other minorities, including Shi’a Muslims and distinct local minorities with even longer historic ties to the area, had been forced out earlier. Christian property, from homes to churches, has been taken over by ISIS and a number of historically significant mosques and other religious sites in the area, including a shrine that was stated to house the tomb of the biblical prophet Jonah, have been deliberately reduced to rubble.
As ISIS seeks to strengthen its hold on northern Iraq over the coming weeks, the options for refugee minorities will become fewer and more difficult. Even if Iraqi authorities succeed in mustering resources against ISIS, all-out war will leave the Christians and other minorities in a situation at least equally precarious. OFWI will not leave these refugees behind. We have been working on a project involving sending a team to the region in order to assess the situation on the ground and to give the refugees a concrete demonstration of our support. We urgently need your help to make this project a success. Please show your support for the Iraqi Christians and other minorities fleeing ISIS by participating in this mission through your prayers and financial support. You can also see an interview with Rev.
El Shafie talking about the events in Mosul at:
- For the Christians fleeing the violence and threats in Iraq – pray for protection, provision, and miraculous interventions to guide them to safety;
- For peace in Iraq and for extremist ideologies and activities like those of ISIS to be turned back and defeated and for peace, justice, equality, and religious freedom to rule for all Iraqi people;
- For the logistical arrangements of OFWI’s intervention – for provision, protection, guidance, and wisdom in how we can direct our support to touch and save the most lives.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and donate to this operation. As with many of our activities, for security reasons we will not be able to tell you more until after we have confirmation that the operation has succeeded. Nevertheless, the financial need is great – we need $40,000 – 50,000 urgently to enable us to proceed with this demonstration of support for Iraqi Christians.
Please pray for this operation and for the Christians in northern Iraq and send your donation urgently to the following coordinates or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to make your contribution:
One Free World International
20 Bloor Street East, Box 75129
Or Direct Deposit to:
Bank: TD Canada Trust
Address: Danforth and Broadview
807 Broadview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4K 2P8
Institution Code: 004
Transit Number: 12492
Account Number: 1249 004 5002036 (Canadian deposits); 1249 004 7200215 (U.S. dollar deposits)
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence to email@example.com
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
“They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream” in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
Rev. Majed El Shafie
President and Founder
One Free World International
El Shafie Ministries