Blue Flower

THE UN, SAUDI ARABIA AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), is a body within the United Nations made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.' To monitor international human rights, the UNHRC appoints special rapporteurs and independent experts to investigate  and report to the UNHRC in Geneva. Appointments are made at the recommendation of the Consultative Group, comprising five Permanent Representatives. The organisation known as Human Rights Watch has exposed something the UNHRC had tried to keep quiet, and that is that Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Geneva, has been appointed as Chair of the Consultative Group. What this means is that about 77 'experts', to be reporting on countries such as Sudan or on issues such as religious liberty or 'Islamophobia' will have to be approved by Saudi Arabia.

The UNHRC was created in 2006 to replace the 53-member UN Commission on Human Rights which had collapsed in moral confusion. Recent events indicate that the UNHRC might now be on the brink of collapse. This was entirely predictable because the UN can be likened to a modern-day 'Tower of Babel' -- a worldly attempt to forge peace and cohesion independent of God -- cursed from the beginning. While it is imperative that Christians speak into the UN, we should never put our faith in it. Saudi Arabia is one of the world's worst human rights abusers. It is a place where 'insulting Islam' on a blog can earn you 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes. It is a place where beheading is commonplace, not only of criminals, but of poor, often foreign scapegoats who are tortured and denied due legal process.

In January a Burmese woman being held by police was beheaded with a sword on the side of a road in broad daylight. In May, when Saudi Arabia was being appointed as Chair of the UNHRC's Consultative Group, it had already beheaded 85 prisoners so far this year and was advertising for more executioners. At least two political dissidents are on death row.  Shia cleric Sheikh al-Nimr was arrested in Eastern Province in 2011 in the wake of 'Arab Spring' protests. Charged with 'waging war against God,' he was sentenced in October 2014 to death by beheading followed by the public crucifixion of his decapitated body. He remains on death row as his execution could trigger chaos. Joining Sheik al-Nimr on death row is his nephew, Ali  al-Nimr. Ali was arrested in 2012 for protesting the kingdom's treatment of its Shi'ite minority. Ali too has been sentenced to death by beheading followed by public crucifixion. 

In truth, the only thing that differentiates the Islamic state of Saudi Arabia from the 'Islamic State' (ISIS) is a few decades of realpolitik (politics determined by ‘interests’ not morals). The constitution defines Saudi citizens as Muslims and leaving Islam is a capital offence. Apostates are rarely executed by the state as the family usually kills them first, as was the case with 'Rania', whose family cut out her tongue and then burned her to death. Almost all the Christians in Saudi Arabia are expatriate workers. While Westerners and professionals working in the oil industry are housed in gated estates and have access to a chapel in their embassy, poor African and Asian labourers get no such luxuries. Their passports are confiscated on arrival and they are used and abused as slaves. No visible or audible expression of Christianity is allowed and house churches are banned.

Contrary to the regime's claim that Saudi Christianity does not exist, it does -- and not only in the diaspora. Jesus Christ is at work in Saudi Arabia, reaching Saudi citizens through satellite TV, radio, dreams and visions and sometimes even through personal witness. It was through the witness of a Lebanese Christian named Henna Sarkees that a Saudi woman working in the same firm came to embrace Jesus as Saviour. Sarkees helped the convert flee, but was himself arrested and sentenced to six years in prison with 300 lashes for the crime of 'evangelism'. Not only is Saudi Arabia one the most dangerous places on earth to be a Christian, Saudi Christians are at risk anywhere in the world as Saudi authorities like to track down converts in the diaspora. It will even use Interpol to find them.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT

* the Lord will protect Saudi Arabia's vulnerable Asian and African Christian expatriate workers, especially as they risk life and liberty to meet for fellowship and worship; may the Christian expatriate community grow in grace and numbers.

* the Lord will protect and sustain Saudi Christians and all Arab Christians throughout the entire Arabian Peninsula, blessing them, keeping them safe and providing them with everything they need.

* the controversy over the UNHRC's shameful appointment of Saudi Arabia as Chair of the Consultative Group will pave the way for an exposure of human rights and religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. Pray too that this controversy will serve to remind Christians that our hope must be in the Lord alone.

Source: by Elizabeth Kendal Religious Liberty Monitoring

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ISLAMIC STATE DEFECTORS TIRED OF BRUTALITY AND LACK OF LUXURY

Islamic State fighters are defecting amid growing disillusionment at the promise of a “jihadist utopia”.  Researchers at King’s College London tracked 58 extremists who deserted and concluded that they were “likely only a fraction of those disillusioned, ready to defect, and willing to go public”. Western fighters had been disappointed to find that the promise of “luxury goods and cars” was hollow, said researchers, who studied those who had travelled to Iraq and Syria from 17 different countries. Others were found to have left after being outraged at the group’s brutality, the routine slaughter of other Muslims, a failure to focus on defeating President Assad and at corruption in the ranks. The study, published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, said reports of defections had been “sufficiently frequent to shatter the image of Isis as a united organisation”.

“They demonstrate that Islamic State is not the jihadist utopia that the group’s videos promise; and that many of its own fighters have deep concerns about the group’s strategy and tactics,” the authors added. Since January last year, researchers have tracked 51 men and 7 women — two of whom were from the UK — who risked their lives to escape Isis and speak out against the ideology. Rifts within Isis are growing, and many former fighters said that constant battles with other Islamist factions were distracting from the aim of removing Assad. Many complained about brutality against fellow Muslims, atrocities and the killing of innocent civilians. Although brutality was not a “universal concern”, the report said, it “caused outrage mostly when its victims were fellow Sunnis”.

Defectors also spoke of commanders who were mistreating their fighters and a “small but significant” number expressed disappointment about living conditions. They “quickly realised that none of the luxury goods and cars that they had been promised would materialise”, while westerners found it hard to cope with shortages of electricity and goods. There were also suggestions that combat failed to meet fighters’ expectations of “action and heroism”, with one describing his duties as “dull”. Defecting from Isis is “complex and dangerous”, the report said. It called for governments to do more to remove obstacles that prevent defectors from speaking up, saying their testimony could help prevent potential new recruits from being radicalised.

Source: The Times

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OREGON COLLEGE SHOOTER SINGLED OUT CHRISTIANS DURING RAMPAGE

Chris Harper-Mercer, the suspected gunman in Thursday's mass shooting in Oregon, apparently asked students if they were Christians before murdering them. A profile of the suspect is beginning to emerge as authorities search for a motive. The shooter left an extensive digital footprint on blog sites and other online forums, including a profile picture taken from his MySpace account showing him holding a gun. On one Internet site, called Spiritual Passions, he described himself as "not religious, but spiritual." He didn't like "organized religion" and said, "I'm looking for someone to share my beliefs." He used similar language when he said online he was looking for a woman who was "pagan, wiccan, not religious, but spiritual." The father of a wounded victim told CNN that the shooter reportedly ordered students to stand up and asked if they were Christians.

"And they would stand up and he said, 'Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second. And then he shot and killed them," CNN's Stacy Boylan said. The rampage started late morning in the small town of Roseburg, some three hours south of Portland, Oregon. "We heard shoots immediately, took cover, went down and heard multiple shots—a lot of screaming," Amber Adams recalled. Officers on the scene confronted and engaged the 26-year-old shooter. There was an exchange of gunfire and the gunman was shot dead, but not before he murdered nine victims, including himself. Four weapons were recovered from the scene. Within hours of the shooting, President Barack Obama called a press conference to demand new gun laws, saying that gun violence is "something we should politicize."

Out of the tragic events is emerging a story of heroism by one of the College students. Thirty-year-old Chris Mintz, an Army Veteran was reportedly shot seven times when he tried to intervene on behalf of his classmates, attempting to stop the rampage of the shooter. Family members described Mintz' actions when he heard gunshots in the classroom next to his. Ariana Earnhardt, Mintz' cousin, told reporters that he "told the people in his classroom just be calm. He met the shooter at the door and said to calm down. He tried to talk to him." Mintz' aunt added that when he tried to keep the shooter from entering his classroom, he shot Mintz three times. “He hit the floor, looks up at gunman, and says, 'It's my son's birthday today.' And he gets shot two more times," Mintz' Aunt said. Both of his legs were broken in the shooting. Amazingly, none of his vital organs were hit, and he is expected to fully recover.

Source: CBN News

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POPE ASSERTS MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN AND DENOUNCES ABORTION AND EUTHANASIA

Pope Francis addressed a meeting of some 300 Catholic bishops from around a world by forcefully asserting that marriage is an indissoluble bond between man and woman, for it is "God's dream for His beloved creation." But he said the Church doesn't judge and must "seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy."  Francis said the Church cannot be "swayed by passing fads or popular opinion," but he also pointed out that the Church is also a mother who doesn't point fingers or judge her children, as marriages fail. Presiding over the Family in the Modern World synod at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, he talked about the needs and ways to better minister to Catholic families experiencing separation, divorce and other problems when the Church's teaching holds that marriage is forever.

His statements addressing the divisive issues confronting the orthodox and traditional meaning of marriage came shortly after the media's coverage on his meetings with Kentucky County clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for six days for refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, and with a gay man during his visit to the United States in September. According to Reuters, Francis dedicated one-third of his sermon to the topic of love between man and woman and its role in procreation. "This is God's dream for His beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self," he said, referencing heterosexual marriage as "the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God's plan."

Pope Francis also spoke out against abortion and euthanasia on his recent visit to Cuba, criticizing disregard for human life. "Children aren't loved, they're killed before being born," the Pope told a group of young Cubans in Havana. "The elderly are thrown away, because they don't produce." The pope also took the opportunity to denounce the "throwaway culture." Speaking to a gathering of Cuban bishops, priests and seminarians he implored society to defend its "smallest" and most vulnerable, including the unborn. Pope Francis warned as well of the consequences of using prenatal testing to screen for selective abortion.” In one of his signature exchanges, the pope disregarded his prepared homily and spoke off the cuff at the evening prayer service in The Havana Catholic Cathedral.

Source: Gospel Herald and LifeSiteNews

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CHRISTIAN REFUGEES PLEAD "PLEASE PRAY FOR US"

When ISIS conquered large swaths of northern Iraq more than a year ago, they gave Christians four choices: leave, stay and pay the Islamic tax for non-Muslims, convert to Islam or die. Most left. Many of the Christians who fled ISIS are not in the larger refugee camps. Instead, they live in neighbourhoods throughout Kurdistan and in Erbil. After one of the church services, CBN News spoke with some refugees from Mosul -- ancient Ninevah -- and from the Christian town of Quaracosh. Many had similar stories about ISIS. "At the end of the city, ISIS had a checkpoint," Laith Ganem told CBN News. "They put a gun to my head and said, 'Whatever you have in your pockets, take it out.'"  "One of our neighbours told us, 'They killed your cousin because he was a Christian.' They told us we had to leave," Wisam Jubrael said. The transition from normal life to refugee status has been hard.

"In such kind of circumstances, it's really hard for families to live all together," Sabah Jamil said. "For example, we came here and found out we would be living in a small apartment with five or six families.  It was very difficult for us."  A year ago just after they fled, CBN News interviewed the pastor of one church. Today, he is continuing to shepherd his flock. "First, when we came here for about eight months, I was asking all the charity organizations, humanitarian organizations to go and visit the people, and the only reason behind it was giving out the Word of God to the people. So, God showed me His Word is not only words, but actions," Pastor Abu Fadi said. Even when the electricity goes out -- a common occurrence in Erbil -- the service goes on. Like Christians around the world, they gratefully celebrate communion.

Like many others, Rota Abdullah Mora asked for prayer. "God has moved us and saved us from Quaracosh to here. That means he was faithful to us, but right now we need a faithful heart so please pray for us to have a faithful heart," Mora said. "I'm really very proud of the Christians because the Christians, they left everything behind and they followed Christ," Ganem added. "The Christians of Iraq, they need the other parts of the world to pray for them because they are really in need spiritually, physically and emotionally," another said. "They really need to pray for us to live in peace and experience the peace of Jesus." Miryam, the 10-year-old girl seen by thousands on the Internet forgiving ISIS, came to the service, still sharing her childlike faith. "Whatever situation we are in, it is because God allowed it," Miryam said. "We don't know how to deal with this life unless we have Jesus with us."

Source: CBN News

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PARENTS GO ON STRIKE ACROSS ONTARIO AGAINST INAPPROPRIATE SEX-EDUCATION CURRICULUM

Taking as their lead an unprecedented 30-day student school "strike" by parents at Toronto's Thorncliffe Park Public School, other parents across Ontario are pulling their kids out of school in the next two weeks to protest the Liberal government's controversial sex-ed curriculum. Using the rallying slogan of "We are Thorncliffe," parent rights' groups in Mississauga, Peterborough, Ajax, and Oshawa are taking their kids out of publicly funded school at least one day, if not more. The Concerned Parents of Peterborough plan a one-day strike and picket  with students from both Catholic and public schools expected to take part. And the newly formed Durham Concerned Parents have planned strikes in Ajax and Oshawa. "We are targeting public and Catholic elementary schools in the three ridings: Oshawa North, Whitby-Oshawa and Ajax-Pickering," organizer Maritza Sialer told LifeSiteNews in an email.

In the heart of Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne's Don Valley West riding, Thorncliffe Park Public School became a highly publicized flashpoint of sex-ed protest when parents pulled half the students from classes on the first day of school after the summer holidays. Organized by Thorncliffe Parents Association (TPA), the action gained huge media attention, especially since the children were group home-schooled in a nearby park, which TPA president Khalid Mahmood dubbed the "school in the garden." The number of students absent from School was almost one third of the school's student population. These parents and pro-family groups say that the Liberal government's controversial sex-ed curriculum violates children's innocence by introducing them to age-inappropriate explicit information, and by pushing a dangerous sexual agenda.

Pro-family analysis of the curriculum documents that it introduces children to homosexuality in Grade 3, masturbation in Grade 6, oral and anal sex in Grade 7 and that it teaches there are six genders rather than two biological sexes. "A time of darkness calls for no compromise whatsoever, especially when the innocence of our children is at stake," Sialer noted. "In a time of darkness there can be no compromising the light of the Gospel, it cannot be put under a bushel basket." "Parents have deliberately been left out of the curriculum, but the groundswell of concerned parents must continue to make their voices heard," she added. "Student strikes are spreading to communities outside of Toronto, following the ground-breaking Thorncliffe model," says Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Coalition.

Source: LifeSiteNews

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AFRICA'S BISHOPS DENOUNCE WEST'S ANTI-FAMILY AGENDA AS THE "NEW SLAVERY"

As the United Nations prepares to officially adopt the controversial post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, 48 African bishops and ten cardinals have released a letter demanding that western powers stop pushing their "filthy campaigns that promote a civilization of death on our continent" under the guise of humanitarian aid. "It can no longer be denied that under the euphemism of 'sexual and reproductive health and rights,' such programs are plainly imposed as a condition for development assistance," the letter titled Common Declaration of the Bishops of Africa and Madagascar states. The letter was written in June but only released for publication now in view of the recent New York Summit for the adoption of the "post-2015 global development agenda."

The African prelates state they are "wounded in the depths of our hearts as Pastors" by witnessing the constant sexually ideological bombardment from Western powers against "life, the family, the healthy human development of our youth who are the future of Africa, the full blossoming of women and respect for our elderly—realities of which our African cultures have such a keen sense. These political and economic pressures have but one objective: the control and reduction of the African population and the planned destruction of marriage and the family. We Africans must categorically say 'No' to this plan. Pope Francis exhorts us to 'be on guard against colonization by new ideologies. There are forms of ideological colonization which are out to destroy the family," the letter states. This is a new type of slavery! We want the dignity of our people to be respected."

Source: TheDialogue.org

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FIVE MINUTES OF PRAYER A DAY FOR THE WORLD

A number of prayer networks across the world are co-operating together to invite Christians to pray for a world that is becoming increasingly dysfunctional and violent. They are asking praying people to set aside 5 minutes each day from 11.55AM till midday to pray for the many issues that are affecting the world. Anyone interested in joining in this united effort are asked to contact  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

Source: Global Prayer Network

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