This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Morning Star News, Tears rolled down Shahid Gill’s face as he recalled the day last month when a court in Pakistan handed his 13-year-old daughter into the custody of a 30-year-old Muslim man. Gill, a Roman Catholic, works as a tailor in Gujranwala city, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Lahore. His daughter, Nayab, was a class seven student and worked as a helper in a beauty salon owned by Saddam Hayat. On May 20, Hayat and six others allegedly took Nayab from her home, converted her to Islam and forced her to marry Hayat. Gill said that Hayat, already a married father of four children, offered to train Nayab in his beauty salon when her school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Hayat told me that rather than wasting time, Nayab should learn salon skills to help her in supporting the family financially,” Gill told Morning Star News. “He even offered to pick her up from home and drop her off after work, assuring us that she was just like his daughter.” Hayat promised to pay 10,000 rupees (US$64) monthly to Nayab but stopped paying her after a couple of months, Gill said. When Nayab went missing on the morning of May 20, Gill and his wife Samreen went to Hayat’s house to inquire about her, but his family said he wasn’t home, Gill said. Later in the day Hayat contacted them but denied knowing Nayab’s whereabouts. “He then offered to help us in finding her and also accompanied us to several places to search for her,” Gill said. Hayat accompanied Gill’s wife to the police station to register a missing person case, but he told her not mention that Nayab worked for him or even that he used to take her to and from the salon, Gill said. “My wife unknowingly trusted him and did what he told her to write in the application,” he said. “On May 26, we were informed by police that Nayab was in the Darul Aman [women’s shelter] since May 21. In her application submitted to a magistrate’s court the same day [May 21], she claimed that she had willfully converted to Islam a month ago and her life was at risk from her Christian family.” Nayab’s family met her at the shelter on May 26, and she told her grandmother that she wanted to return home and was willing to state this in an application to the court, Gill said. “Our lawyer did not show up at the hearing, so my wife and I directly approached the judge and presented all official documents to prove that my daughter was born on Oct. 16, 2007, which makes her 13 years and seven months old,” he said. “We told the judge that she was lying about her age under duress. She had bruises on her face, and her eyes were also red, which should have caught the judge’s attention, but he ignored it.” The judge rejected the official documents proving her age as well as the marriage certificate of Gill and his wife, which showed that they had just entered their 18th year of marriage, casting doubt on how Nayab could be the legal age for marriage, 18, much less 19 as her Islamic Nikah Nama stated. Gill said that Judge Jameel relied solely on Nayab’s statements made under obvious threat, rather than official documents, and failed to order an ossification test to determine her age. Kidnapped Christian girls commonly face threats that they or their family members will be killed if they do not testify in court that they converted and married of their own free will, rights advocates say. Intercourse with a girl below the age of 16 is statutory rape in Pakistan, but in most cases a falsified conversion certificate and Islamic marriage certificate influence police to pardon kidnappers. Church leaders and rights activists said they fear that shelter homes, police and courts facilitate the forced conversions of Christian girls.
According to Morning Star News, Armed Fulani shot a Christian doctor to death on June 17 in Niger state, Nigeria following attacks that killed 17 Christians in Plateau state. Precious Emeka Chinedu was killed after five Fulani herdsmen walked into the private hospital he operated in Salka village, Magama County, and abducted him the evening of June 17, area residents told Morning Star News. Chinedu was later shot to death, said area resident Emmanuel Ezeugo. “His dead body was found by the local vigilantes the following morning in the bush where he was shot and killed by the herdsmen,” Ezeugo told Morning Star News. A long-time friend, Baridueh Badon, confirmed the killing. “His killers, who are herdsmen, came to the hospital, specifically asked for him, didn’t harm anybody, collected his money, took him away, and killed him without asking for ransom,” Badon told Morning Star News. “What did he do wrong? Your blood will keep crying until justice is done.”
According to Christian Headlines, Sunday marked World Refugee Day, the annual day to celebrate the strength and courage of millions of refugees who have fled their home countries. World Refugee Day is annually on June 20, the date wherein 1951 a Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was held. World Refugee Day is annually on June 20, the date wherein 1951 a Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was held. This year’s theme for World Refugee Day was “the power of inclusion.” In an article for The Christian Post, a Pakistani Christian told her refugee story. “Martha,” as she is called in the article, told the news outlet that she and her family were forced to flee their home. Martha’s son, a Christian, had met and married a Muslim woman in Pakistan, but when the woman’s family found out, they did not accept the marriage, even after she became pregnant. Martha says people threatened to kill them, so they left their home and traveled from city to city to avoid being captured. Finally, they left the country for Thailand. When they crossed the border, Martha, her husband and her son were unable to provide identification. They had no money and did not speak the language. They were all arrested and jailed for about a year. In 2014, Martha, her husband, and her youngest daughter were granted refugee status in the U.S. Martha’s son and daughter-in-law were also released. Martha said she misses her home but gives “thanks to God” for her freedom. She says her family attends church in their new city.
According to CNN, A 37-year-old priest is in custody in Greece after allegedly launching an acid attack that injured 10 people at a meeting of senior bishops. He has since been moved to an Athens psychiatric hospital and is under police guard, according to Greek police spokesperson Anna Efthymiou. Seven senior members of Greece’s Orthodox Church and three other people were hospitalized with burns following Wednesday’s attack, she added. The unnamed priest is accused of drug-related offenses and was facing a disciplinary hearing over his alleged behavior, according to multiple reports in Greek media. A police officer who helped restrain the suspect was slightly injured, as were a lawyer and a presiding clergyman, police said. The victims have been treated for burns and several have been discharged from hospital. The suspect was already facing accusations of troubling behavior. “When the priest left the village and we cleaned the house where he had been staying syringes and substances were found,” said Spyros Kotsiadis, a community leader in the village of Agia Varvara, according to Greek TV channel Skai.
According to the Christian Post, A radical Muslim has confessed to police in Uganda that he killed a 70-year-old pastor earlier this month because of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims by sharing the Gospel. The accused, identified as Imam Uthman Olingha, told police he killed Bishop Francis Obo, senior pastor of Mpingire Pentecostal Revival Church Ministries International in Odapako village Mpingire Sub-County, on June 11, Morning Star News reported. Olingha was one of the Muslim extremists dressed in Islamic attire who stopped Pastor Obo and his wife on their way home from a market at about 8:30 p.m., his wife, Christine Obo, said. “Olingha openly confessed (to police) that he can’t regret that he killed the bishop because he did it in the cause of Allah’s word to kill all infidels who mislead Muslims. He added that Allah will be with him in jail, but the kafiri (infidel) deserved the killing.” One of the attackers told the pastor, who oversaw 17 churches across the region and had been sharing Christ with Muslims, that he was an “infidel” who caused Muslims to leave Islam and “blasphemes the words of Allah,” and that, “Today Allah has judged you.” A week before the murder, the couple had invited a former Islamic teacher to testify on how he became a Christian at their church, Christine Obo recalled. Area Muslims were also upset with the church because it offered the former Islamic teacher a pig as part of a micro-enterprise livestock project that helped raise funds for the church, she added.
According to Christianity Today, A diverse group of American evangelicals congratulated Naftali Bennett on becoming the new prime minister of Israel and successfully forming a coalition government, offering reassurance on to Israelis concerned about Christian support after Benjamin Netanyahu’s departure. “We pray that God grants you wisdom and strength as you make hard decisions that will affect the lives of millions, and we trust that He will answer those prayers,” wrote more than 80 religious leaders, organized by the Philos Project, a group promoting “positive Christian engagement” with Israel and pluralism in the Middle East. The letter expressed appreciation for Netanyahu and everything he did “to strengthen Israel and its alliances” over the past 12 years he served as prime minister. It also welcomed the change brought by Bennett, a religious Jew and former Netanyahu disciple who formed an alliance with multiple parties across the political spectrum to oust Netanyahu. “We want to thank you in advance for protecting our shared values as they apply to Israel’s citizens, whether Jews, Christians, Muslims, or Druze; for guarding the holy sites and welcoming religious pilgrims from around the world to discover the birthplace of their faith; for defending Israel from outside aggression; and for continuing to work toward peace with Israel’s neighbors,” the letter said. “In return, we pledge to deepen our friendship with your country and its wonderful people.” Some Israeli political commentators have worried about evangelical support for the new government. In the run-up to the election, former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer argued Israel should be very concerned about losing the support of American evangelicals.
According to the Christian Post, Dozens of African and African-origin women observed the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on Saturday by speaking out against an ongoing campaign of sexual violence that’s at “a level of cruelty beyond comprehension” in the war-torn and predominantly Christian region of Tigray in northern Ethiopia. Fifty-six women from Africa or of African descent wrote an open letter and launched a petition to be delivered to the U.N. Security Council, the African Union and the European Council calling for urgent action. It is estimated that 30% of all incidents against civilians involved sexual violence used “as a weapon of war, as a means to humiliate, terrorize and traumatize an entire population today and into the next generation,” according to a study quoted in a report by the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Sir Mark Lowcock, the letter says.
In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!