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August 2018 Persecution Magazine

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WWW.PERSECUTION.ORG<br />

<strong>August</strong> <strong>2018</strong><br />

PERSECU ION<br />

Life<br />

After<br />

ISIS<br />

ICC helps believers restart their lives as they<br />

return to their homes in the Nineveh Plains.<br />

2017<br />

<strong>2018</strong><br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN


In This Issue<br />

FEATURE<br />

14 | ICC Donors Sow Life for<br />

Survivors of Fulani Violence<br />

Christians in Nigeria are suffering, but with<br />

the help of donors, ICC is able to serve many<br />

families by providing communal farms.<br />

FEATURE<br />

16 | The Nineveh Plains Blossom<br />

Again<br />

From the heart of ISIS’ caliphate to the<br />

return of Iraq’s Christians, the Nineveh<br />

Plains has undergone much transformation<br />

within the last four years.<br />

FEATURE<br />

20 | ISIS Sinks Its Teeth into<br />

Indonesia<br />

An ISIS-affiliated family bombs three<br />

churches in Indonesia; ICC follows up<br />

with the affected communities.<br />

FEATURE<br />

24 | The Secret Fate of Christians<br />

in Evin Prison<br />

Iran’s Christians often disappear within<br />

the secret institutions of Evin Prison.<br />

FEATURE<br />

26 | ICC’s Policy Day<br />

A glimpse of ICC’s <strong>2018</strong> Policy Day.<br />

FEATURE<br />

28 | Living in Fear in Uttar Pradesh<br />

ICC reports back on travels to one of India’s<br />

most persecuted states, Uttar Pradesh.<br />

14<br />

16<br />

Regular Features<br />

3 Letter from the President<br />

A few words from ICC’s president, Jeff<br />

King, on our current work to bandage<br />

and build the persecuted Church.<br />

4 World News<br />

A snapshot of the persecution that<br />

impacts our brothers and sisters daily, in<br />

every corner of the world.<br />

8 Your Dollars at Work<br />

Learn how your gifts are providing<br />

comfort, relief, Bibles, education and<br />

vocational training to the persecuted.<br />

12 Fund Spotlight<br />

The Bible brings life wherever it goes.<br />

When governments shut down access to<br />

the Bible, we get to work.<br />

20<br />

24<br />

26 28<br />

2 PERSECU ION.org<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN


Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

“The greatest moments are those when you<br />

see the result pop up in a graph or in your<br />

statistics analysis - that moment you realize<br />

you know something no one else does and<br />

you get the pleasure of thinking about how<br />

to tell them.”<br />

- Emily Oster, economist<br />

“It is the mark of a truly intelligent person<br />

to be moved by statistics.”<br />

- George Bernard Shaw<br />

Early last month we held our Bridge Policy Day event on<br />

Capitol Hill. It was an honor to have Senators, Congressmen,<br />

policy experts, and a victim of Boko Haram come and share<br />

their concerns and recommendations on ending the horrific<br />

bloodshed in Nigeria.<br />

I must say that it was very fulfilling to have figures of stature<br />

and influence attend and speak up for the persecuted.<br />

What’s even more fulfilling for me, though, is seeing<br />

ICC donors connect with the plight of the persecuted and the<br />

fruit that results as the broken and wounded are restored out<br />

in the field.<br />

It’s a day-to-day process, but you can see an example on<br />

page 14. Our donors have really gotten behind our Nigeria<br />

communal farming project, and we expect to care for up to<br />

7,500 Nigerian Christians in the coming year.<br />

Or, turn to page 10 to read about our work getting Scripture<br />

into places where it’s banned or restricted. The work of getting<br />

Bibles into the toughest places on earth always yields fruit,<br />

for God’s word is a two-edged sword and will always convert<br />

hearts over time.<br />

We build and we bandage the persecuted Church. This is the<br />

core of what we do. I feel blessed every day to be able to serve<br />

my brothers and sisters in this way and to do so in partnership<br />

with you.<br />

I think the reason it’s so fulfilling is that we are carrying out<br />

the Lord’s commands and fulfilling what’s on God’s own heart.<br />

His desire is to touch the despised, heal the broken, and take<br />

His word into the corners of the world where Satan works<br />

tirelessly to keep it out.<br />

Please join us as we bandage and build the persecuted Church.<br />

As always, your donations will be used efficiently, effectively,<br />

and ethically.<br />

Jeff King<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

3


4 5<br />

1 3 2<br />

6<br />

News<br />

Remains of 20 Egyptian Martyrs<br />

Returned Home After Three-Year Wait<br />

1 | EGYPT On February 15, 2015, ISIS released a gruesome<br />

video depicting the beheading of 21 believers along<br />

the shores of Libya. All but one of these men were Copts<br />

who had travelled to Libya due to the lack of economic<br />

opportunities for Christians in Egypt. Though they knew<br />

of the terrorist activity in Libya, these men risked their<br />

safety in hopes of providing a better life for their families.<br />

For the affected families, the devastation of losing their<br />

loved ones was only deepened by not knowing what happened<br />

to their loved ones’ remains. Last October, Libyan<br />

authorities made the shocking announcement that the bodies<br />

were discovered in a mass grave. While the families<br />

hoped to bury their loved ones by the three-year anniversary<br />

of the murders in February, they instead marked this<br />

occasion with the opening of a church built in their honor.<br />

On May 14, after more than three long years of waiting, the<br />

remains of the 20 Egyptian martyrs were finally returned to<br />

their families.<br />

The next day, the families congregated at Church<br />

of the Martyrs of Faith and Homeland to lay the martyrs<br />

to rest. The church was initially built to honor<br />

the martyrs’ faith, but<br />

without the expectation<br />

that the remains<br />

would ever be discovered.<br />

Yet, the congregation<br />

built a burial<br />

place for their loved<br />

ones just in case they<br />

were ever found. The<br />

internment of the<br />

bodies proved to be<br />

a surreal moment for<br />

many of the families<br />

who expressed a mixture<br />

of grief, joy, and<br />

relief. One mother<br />

shared, “I will visit<br />

them every day at the<br />

church. We thank all<br />

people who stood up<br />

with us.”<br />

“Many Christians believe<br />

that the attacks were<br />

carried out by a wellconnected<br />

radical group.”<br />

Christians in Nepal Alarmed by Series<br />

of Attacks on Churches<br />

2 | NEPAL Nepal’s Christian community suffered a<br />

string of several church attacks in May that left many<br />

alarmed. On May 9, the Hebron Church in eastern<br />

Nepal was set ablaze. On May 10, Emmanuel Church<br />

in western Nepal was burned, followed shortly by the<br />

burning of Kanchanpur Emmanuel Church in midwestern<br />

Nepal on May 11. Lastly, Mahima Church in western<br />

Nepal was bombed on May 12. While the churches<br />

experienced severe property damage, thankfully no one<br />

was killed in the attacks.<br />

At the time of writing, authorities have made no<br />

arrests in relation to these attacks. Although they have<br />

not released an official statement, police have attributed<br />

the incidents to the Nepal Communist Party, also<br />

known as the Biplab Group. However, many Christian<br />

leaders throughout Nepal believe that the attacks were<br />

a coordinated effort by Hindu extremists across the<br />

country. Due to the similarity of the attacks, yet the<br />

geographic distance between them, many Christians<br />

believe that the attacks were carried out by a wellconnected<br />

radical group.<br />

The affected churches have also been underwhelmed<br />

by the response from authorities. Although police promised<br />

to investigate, the church leaders reported that they<br />

never received a response about their cases. The sudden<br />

influx of violence and laidback response from the<br />

authorities have left many Christians fearful that attacks<br />

of this nature will only increase.<br />

4 PERSECU ION.org<br />

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Blasphemy Charges Against Pakistani Christian Man Dropped After Two Years<br />

3 | PAKISTAN Following two years of imprisonment, a Christian man named Usman Liaquat was cleared of blasphemy charges. Liaquat was arrested<br />

on May 23, 2016, after reporting an attack that left him with severe head injuries. One of the assailants’ cousin accused Liaquat of blasphemy, shifting<br />

authorities’ attention away from the assault. Liaquat was eventually acquitted due to a lack of evidence, yet he received no compensation for the<br />

unjust imprisonment. Following his release, Liaquat began working for the British Pakistani Christian Association. False accusations are common in<br />

Pakistan as radical Muslims often manipulate blasphemy laws to settle personal scores and discriminate against religious minorities.<br />

Interior Ministry Tightens Ramadan Restrictions<br />

4 | IRAQ On May 24, the Interior Ministry of Iraq’s Central<br />

Government issued a statement saying that it was “taking legal<br />

measures against people publicly breaking their Fast (during the<br />

day time) and referring them to the judiciary,” in reference to the<br />

Islamic holy month of Ramadan. If found in violation of the new<br />

restrictions, citizens could face up to six months in prison. Locals<br />

have reported that Muslim groups have begun implementing tighter<br />

restrictions even in neighborhoods that are primarily Christian.<br />

Such regulations can lead to business closures and often make it<br />

more difficult for displaced Christians to meet their basic needs.<br />

Evin Prison in Iran Sanctioned by U.S. Treasury<br />

5 | IRAN As previously reported, Iran’s notorious Evin Prison has<br />

long been condemned by organizations around the world for its<br />

egregious human rights violations. On May 30, the United States<br />

Treasury joined the international outcry by imposing sanctions on<br />

Evin Prison. At least 10 Christian converts are currently being held<br />

in Evin Prison where they suffer inhumane living conditions and<br />

often lengthy prison terms. According to a statement issued by the<br />

Treasury Department, “Prisoners held at Evin Prison are subject<br />

to brutal tactics inflicted by prison authorities, including sexual<br />

assaults, physical assaults, and electric shock.”<br />

On Tiananmen Anniversary, Chinese Government<br />

Detains Several Christians<br />

6 | CHINA On June 4, the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown<br />

in China, local authorities raided Autumn Rain Covenant Church in<br />

Sichuan, China. During the raid, authorities took Pastor Wang Yi, his wife, four<br />

other preachers, and 11 other members of the church into custody. At the time<br />

of writing, the entire group is still being held and Pastor Wang Yi and his wife<br />

could not be contacted.<br />

Pastor Wang Yi has been harassed by the government several times prior<br />

to this incident. On May 12, he and several members of his congregation<br />

were detained leading up to a memorial service for those affected by the 2008<br />

Sichuan earthquake. The pastor, who is widely recognized for speaking out<br />

against the government’s crackdown on Christianity, has also been banned<br />

from participating in international Christian conferences on multiple occasions.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

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6 1<br />

3 5<br />

2<br />

4<br />

News<br />

Church Attack in Bangui Leaves the<br />

Central African Republic in Turmoil<br />

1 | CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC On May 1, an attack<br />

on a Catholic church in the Central African Republic<br />

(CAR) left at least 16 people dead. The ambush took place<br />

around 10:00 in the morning as the sound of gunshots and<br />

grenades rang in the church, creating a panic among the<br />

congregation. In addition to the 16 killed, approximately<br />

100 more were injured.<br />

Among the dead was Father Albert Toungoumalé-Baba<br />

(pictured) who was serving as the guest priest during the<br />

service that was attacked. World Watch Monitor (WWM)<br />

reports that the 71-year-old priest was well known for his<br />

commitment to bringing peace to CAR. He also served as<br />

the secretary of the Commission for Justice and Peace of<br />

the Archdiocese of Bangui.<br />

Another local priest recalled the shock of the violent<br />

attack. He told WWM, “We are all shocked, everybody<br />

is shocked. We don’t understand why. Why to kill people<br />

who are praying, just innocent people who are praying?”<br />

Although security forces confronted the attackers, they<br />

were outnumbered and unable to prevent the assault.<br />

For many, the recent attack evoked memories of an attack<br />

in May 2014 when rebels attacked the parish of Notre<br />

Dame de Fatima, killing 18, including the priest. Various<br />

religious and political leaders throughout the country have<br />

since spoken out to condemn the violent incident.<br />

Fifteen<br />

Christians<br />

Falsely Accused<br />

of Forced<br />

Conversion in<br />

India<br />

2 | INDIA In May, at<br />

least 15 Christians<br />

were falsely charged<br />

with forced conversion<br />

in India’s<br />

northeastern state of<br />

Jharkhand. Eleven<br />

of the 15 were<br />

charged after gathering<br />

for prayer in<br />

a private Christian<br />

home. Later that<br />

month, four more<br />

were charged,<br />

including a young<br />

Christian couple<br />

that was engaged<br />

to be married. The<br />

couple reached out<br />

to police after a<br />

local tribe opposed<br />

the wedding, but the<br />

police arrested the<br />

couple and two other<br />

Christians instead.<br />

Due to the vague<br />

terms laid out in<br />

India’s forced conversion<br />

laws, many<br />

Hindu radicals<br />

manipulate them to<br />

harass and intimidate<br />

Christians.<br />

Seven states in<br />

India have similar<br />

laws, which generally<br />

only lead to<br />

greater violence and<br />

discrimination.<br />

Two Men Assault Clergyman in<br />

Bethlehem<br />

3 | ISRAEL On June 1, a Franciscan friar was<br />

stabbed after he attempted to protect a group of<br />

pilgrim women from two men harassing them<br />

as they attempted to enter a church. Camera<br />

footage (as pictured) captured the men stabbing<br />

Father Fadi Shallufi through a closed gate as he<br />

attempted to calm the situation and prevent the<br />

men from entering the premises. The two assailants<br />

have confessed to the crime, but police have<br />

not released any additional information at the<br />

time of writing.<br />

Bishop Atallah Hannah published a statement<br />

shortly after the incident which read,<br />

“We thank God that the injury was minor, but<br />

this action is a criminal act that is far from our<br />

human, moral and national values. We reject<br />

attacks against clerics.”<br />

Another source within the church noted that,<br />

although attacks on clergy are rare, there is generally<br />

more tension and harassment on religious<br />

holidays and during times of political crisis. The<br />

stabbing took place during the Islamic holy month<br />

of Ramadan. Throughout the Muslim world, there<br />

is consistently an uptick in religiously motivated<br />

violence during the month of Ramadan.<br />

6 PERSECU ION.org<br />

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Suicide Bombings at Three Churches in<br />

Indonesia Kill Thirteen<br />

4 | INDONESIA On May 13, suicide bombers attacked three churches<br />

in Indonesia: Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, Surabaya<br />

Pentecostal Church, and Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church.<br />

When the dust settled, 13 people were killed and more than 40 others<br />

were injured. The attackers, who were all related to one another, also<br />

reportedly tried to attack two other churches, but the bombs failed to<br />

detonate. This string of bombings marks the deadliest in Indonesia<br />

since the 2002 Bali bombings which killed more than 200.<br />

Japanese Christians Detained in China Safely<br />

Return Home<br />

5 | JAPAN Between May 5 and May 15, 21 members of a Christian<br />

group from Japan were detained in China for missionary activities.<br />

According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all 21 have since<br />

returned home to Japan safely. Last November, in a similar case, the<br />

Chinese government deported 19 Japanese nationals who were affiliated<br />

with a Christian group. Such deportations are part of an ongoing<br />

attempt by Chinese authorities to eliminate evangelism efforts within<br />

the country.<br />

Suspected Fulani Militants Attack Seminary in Nigeria<br />

6 | NIGERIA Suspected Fulani militants recently attacked Sacred Heart Minor<br />

Seminary in Nigeria’s Taraba State. Thankfully, there were no reported deaths,<br />

but several were injured. During the attack, the militants beat two priests and<br />

shot another in the leg. Multiple students were also injured and property was<br />

destroyed, including several vehicles. Following the attack, those with injuries<br />

were taken to a medical center for treatment and the seminary issued a one-week<br />

break to provide the community time to cope with the trauma.<br />

The attack on this Catholic seminary took place only a few days after a mass<br />

burial of 19 Catholics who were killed in a church attack in April in Benue<br />

State. On the day of the burial, Catholics throughout Nigeria participated<br />

in protests to pressure the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, to take<br />

greater action to protect Christians.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

7


Your Dollars a<br />

ICC Helps a<br />

School Laid<br />

Waste by ISIS<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

Mar Aphram Syriac School, located in<br />

the heart of the Nineveh Plains in<br />

the largest primarily Christian village, was<br />

left in ruins after ISIS militants stole all<br />

of the school’s supplies and vandalized<br />

the property. ISIS destroyed the school as<br />

part of a campaign to erase the presence<br />

of Christianity in the Nineveh Plains along<br />

with all reminders of the region’s rich<br />

Christian history. Before ISIS invaded,<br />

more than 160 students attended the school,<br />

but enrollment has gradually fallen to only<br />

86 students. The dwindling of staff, students,<br />

and supplies has lead to many challenges<br />

so far in the <strong>2018</strong> school year.<br />

When ICC learned of the obstacles that<br />

Mar Aphram Syriac School was facing,<br />

we were excited to offer our support. With<br />

monies from ICC’s Community Rebuild<br />

Fund, we purchased supplies including<br />

computers, printers, school and office furniture,<br />

and stationery.<br />

The staff and students were thrilled to<br />

receive these supplies and quick to express<br />

their gratitude. Evan Baba, a secondary<br />

school teacher, shared, “I’m a teacher. I<br />

teach the Syriac Language. [ICC’s] role is<br />

very good in helping our school by providing<br />

some needed items... Although we are<br />

still in need for the explanatory laboratories<br />

that help the students, I would like to extend<br />

my thankfulness for providing these items<br />

to our school.”<br />

“On behalf of our school management, we<br />

would like to thank you, and we pray that God<br />

gives you help, strength, capability in helping<br />

our people’s need,” said Noel Polus, the<br />

school manager.<br />

Please pray for protection for the staff,<br />

students, and parents at Mar Aphram Syriac<br />

School. Ask the Lord to provide for all<br />

of their needs. Pray that the students will<br />

obtain a quality education and become both<br />

productive citizens and faithful disciples of<br />

Jesus Christ.<br />

8 PERSECU ION.org<br />

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t Work<br />

Food and<br />

Medical Aid for<br />

Attack Victims<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

On January 7, <strong>2018</strong>, a group of Hindu radicals<br />

attacked a group of Christians who<br />

had gathered for worship in Ganjam District,<br />

India. The attackers snatched the victims from<br />

the home and beat them, leaving several with<br />

severe injuries. The attack also created a significant<br />

financial burden due to costly medical<br />

bills and unpaid time off of work during their<br />

hospital stays.<br />

With the help of generous donors, ICC<br />

provided the affected families with food<br />

packages and financial assistance to ease the<br />

burden of their medical expenses. Four of the<br />

victims received medical aid, seven families<br />

received food packages, and 29 individuals<br />

received clothing. The aid has helped these<br />

families get back on their feet, alleviate debt,<br />

and provide basic necessities in the aftermath<br />

of the attack.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

Assistance for<br />

Evicted Pastors<br />

Underground Pastors<br />

In <strong>August</strong> of 2017, two pastors, Abdelrahim<br />

Nalu and Siddique Abdallah, of the Sudanese<br />

Presbyterian Evangelical Church were evicted<br />

from their homes. A Muslim investor in the<br />

area claimed ownership of their property and<br />

a judge upheld the order of eviction in the<br />

Supreme Court.<br />

Until March of <strong>2018</strong>, the two families were<br />

living under trees in the streets of Khartoum.<br />

ICC stepped in to provide them with rent<br />

as well as food staples to alleviate some of<br />

their day-to-day expenses. The two pastors<br />

have settled into their new homes, but their<br />

churches are not yet stable. Therefore, we continue<br />

to provide monthly support for medical<br />

care, rent, and food among the church leaders.<br />

The pastors’ families expressed that the<br />

project “has shown us that we are not alone;<br />

we have brothers and sisters who can stand by<br />

our side!” Please continue to pray for safety,<br />

endurance, and the success of their ministries.<br />

Small Business<br />

for Phoebo<br />

Suffering Wives and Children<br />

O<br />

n October 1, 2017, Pheobo Nabil lost her<br />

husband in a tragic car accident, leaving<br />

her to care for their large family singlehandedly.<br />

Pheobo’s family now consists of her elderly<br />

parents-in-law, two infants, and her disabled<br />

sister-in-law. She had no means to provide for<br />

them and, as a Christian woman in Egypt, job<br />

opportunities were severely limited.<br />

ICC has come alongside her in her suffering<br />

and made her dream of running a<br />

small fodder shop into a reality. Part of the<br />

lower level of her home was converted into<br />

a shop and we purchased fodder for her to<br />

sell. With the start-up costs covered, she<br />

has been able to earn money to provide for<br />

her family and expand her shop. Pheobo<br />

shared, “When my project was carried out, I<br />

thanked God so much for standing with me<br />

and my children and I felt that God hasn’t<br />

forgotten us, He always takes cares of us, He<br />

loves us so much.”<br />

9


Your Dollars a<br />

Balloons Carry<br />

the Gospel to<br />

North Korea<br />

Bibles for the Persecuted<br />

At the hands of the ruling Kim dynasty, the<br />

North Korean government has stripped<br />

its citizens of their most basic freedoms. The<br />

regime prevents Christians from exercising<br />

their religion and imposes cruel forms of punishment<br />

for those who openly practice their<br />

faith. The North Korean government considers<br />

Christians a threat to their power, portraying<br />

them as traitors for not being “loyal” to their<br />

leader. The regime has indoctrinated over<br />

20 million people in North Korea, including<br />

children, into worshipping their dictator and<br />

revering him as their god.<br />

This strategy to manipulate the populace<br />

includes bombarding citizens with propaganda,<br />

brainwashing children at a young age via<br />

a corrupt school system, and walling off the<br />

people from contact with the outside world.<br />

One defector confessed, “I always thought<br />

that God was a hypocrite, not real. I was<br />

taught God was bad and evil. Now I know<br />

that the bad guy hypocrite is Kim Jong Un.”<br />

With the serious risks for Christians in<br />

North Korea, some have escaped to South<br />

Korea and are eager to share the truth with<br />

those still trapped.<br />

ICC’s Bible Fund made it possible to team<br />

up with a group of Christian defectors to<br />

float balloons carrying Gospel materials over<br />

the border into North Korea. The materials<br />

are packed into plastic bags with timers and<br />

filled with Gospel pamphlets, USB drives,<br />

DVDs, pocket radios, and more. When the<br />

timing and the wind are favorable from the<br />

south to the north, the balloons are sent as<br />

often as possible.<br />

As of this writing, we have sent two sets<br />

of balloons with Gospel materials and other<br />

information from South Korea to North<br />

Korea. The balloon shipments have already<br />

encouraged several people to seek the truth,<br />

and we plan to continue these efforts.<br />

Following his escape to South Korea, one<br />

defector shared, “We began to doubt Kim<br />

Jong Un. We wanted to believe in God. We<br />

wanted to come to the free South Korea.<br />

We risked our lives to escape to South<br />

Korea. The balloons and leaflets showed<br />

us the truth.”<br />

The balloon project has proven successful,<br />

but there is still much to be done to reach<br />

those suffering under the brutal regime in<br />

North Korea. Please continue to pray for<br />

God’s provision so that we can continue to<br />

spread the Gospel in North Korea. Pray that<br />

the Lord will open the hearts of thousands of<br />

North Koreans to receive the gift of salvation<br />

and come to know the true God.<br />

10 PERSECU ION.org<br />

AUGUST <strong>2018</strong><br />

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t Work<br />

Iraqi Family Gets Back Home and<br />

Back on Their Feet Post-ISIS<br />

Community Rebuild<br />

At the beginning of June, ICC helped a<br />

displaced Iraqi Christian re-establish his<br />

copy shop business. Like thousands of other<br />

Christians, he and his family were forced to<br />

flee Qaraqosh during the 2014 invasion by<br />

ISIS. His wife was nine months pregnant<br />

at the time and gave birth to their first son<br />

shortly after they fled the city. The family<br />

lived sparingly off of their savings throughout<br />

their displacement.<br />

After ISIS’ military defeat in 2017, the family<br />

returned to Qaraqosh where the husband<br />

had run a copy shop, a very successful type of<br />

business in Iraq since government paperwork<br />

is not completed electronically.<br />

Assistance from ICC enabled him to restart<br />

his business in the city he calls home, and to<br />

provide for his family. Happily, the day after<br />

ICC helped him re-establish the copy shop,<br />

his wife gave birth to their second son.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

Transportation Assistance for<br />

Targeted Church Community<br />

Hand of Hope<br />

P<br />

astor Bernard, the founder of a church in<br />

West Java, Indonesia was imprisoned when<br />

a local group of radical Muslims reported him<br />

to the police for not having the proper permits<br />

to use his church’s building. To gain the support<br />

of the Muslim community, the authorities<br />

responded by shutting down the church and<br />

banning them from operating there indefinitely.<br />

Pastor Bernard has since found a new location<br />

for the church to operate on a school<br />

compound. Unfortunately, the new location<br />

is far away from the community that he has<br />

been leading. ICC was able to help ease the<br />

financial strain on this church congregation<br />

by providing three rental cars each Sunday<br />

to transport them to their new meeting place.<br />

11


Fund Spotligh<br />

ICC partners<br />

donate to bring<br />

God’s Word to<br />

where it’s<br />

scarce or<br />

even illegal<br />

In many persecuted countries, Christians<br />

are unable to obtain a Bible, either due<br />

to government restrictions or discrimination<br />

that leaves believers impoverished.<br />

Many new believers and lifelong<br />

Christians in such countries have<br />

never had a Bible to call their own. To<br />

help address the need, ICC developed<br />

its Bible Fund to make the Word of God more<br />

accessible all over the world.<br />

Commonly referred to as the “North<br />

Korea of Africa,” the nation of Eritrea has<br />

one of the most restrictive governments<br />

in the world. Believers must practice their<br />

faith in secrecy and are restricted in their<br />

access to Christian literature. If found in<br />

violation of the government’s strict religious<br />

restrictions, believers may be sent to one of<br />

Eritrea’s underground prisons or shipping<br />

container jail cells, where prisoners experience<br />

inhumane, torturous living conditions.<br />

While written Bibles are difficult to<br />

smuggle into a country like Eritrea, ICC has<br />

found an alternative through audio Bibles.<br />

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t: Bibles for the Persecuted<br />

Left: Government restrictions and the<br />

imprisonment of Christian leaders cause<br />

many Eritrean believers to go underground.<br />

Above: Believers in Bangladesh receive<br />

the first Bibles they’ve ever owned.<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

In February, ICC provided a local partner<br />

with 75 audio Bibles to distribute among<br />

local pastors and Christian families. These<br />

digital resources are easy to conceal and can<br />

be erased if necessary. Audio Bibles have provided<br />

many believers with a safe method of<br />

owning and sharing the Word of God.<br />

One of the main obstacles that believers in<br />

Bangladesh encounter is poverty due to severe<br />

discrimination. Constantly harassed, many are<br />

forced to practice their faith in rural, private<br />

homes and are unable to purchase a Bible of<br />

their own. In response, ICC purchased 50 new<br />

Bibles to distribute among new believers in<br />

Sathkira District and Bagherhat District. For<br />

many of the recipients, this was their first Bible.<br />

One believer shared with ICC that, once<br />

a week, an evangelist visited his village to<br />

preach. Because he lacked a Bible of his<br />

own, he was unable to study God’s Word<br />

between the evangelist’s visits. When he<br />

received a Bible from ICC, he said, “Now I<br />

can read the Bible every day to learn more<br />

about Christ and will share the Good News<br />

with my neighbors also.”<br />

ICC has joined hands with Christian communities<br />

all over the world, from Laos to India<br />

to North Korea, to share the Good News. This<br />

work would not be possible without the generous<br />

support of donors.<br />

If you would like to donate to help share<br />

the Gospel or learn more about ICC’s<br />

Bible Fund, please visit<br />

www.persecution.org or give<br />

us a call at 1-800-ICC-5441.<br />

13


ICC Donors<br />

Sow Life for<br />

Survivors of<br />

Deadly Fulani<br />

Violence<br />

Christians in Nigeria are suffering, but with<br />

your help, communal farms are under way<br />

to restore villagers’ livelihoods.<br />

By Nathan Johnson<br />

At the start<br />

of <strong>2018</strong>,<br />

I began<br />

writing<br />

monthly<br />

reports<br />

on the<br />

escalating<br />

number<br />

of<br />

Christians murdered by Fulani<br />

Muslim militants in Nigeria. I saw<br />

events spiraling out of control, and<br />

now six months later, the staggering<br />

death toll confirms the desperate situation:<br />

More than 1300 Christians<br />

have been slain so far this year.<br />

Just last week Fulani militants<br />

killed 86 unarmed Christians in<br />

attacks in the Barikin Ladi area of<br />

Plateau State.<br />

As I traveled to Nigeria’s Middle<br />

Belt region and worked with the<br />

massive number of victims on the<br />

ground, it became increasingly clear<br />

that we could do more to serve<br />

them. When I discussed the picture<br />

with Jeff King, ICC’s president, we<br />

were both struck by a simple solution<br />

that was staring us in the face.<br />

Our previous aid projects that<br />

focused on getting the farmer-victims<br />

back to work had worked well<br />

and were all very low cost. That’s<br />

when we decided to launch our<br />

Nigerian farming project (see box).<br />

When the word went out to ICC<br />

donors, the response was immediate<br />

and generous. Our donors have<br />

given 60% of the needed funding<br />

for the 10 farms we will build out.<br />

All we need is $40,000 more to<br />

provide food and a livelihood for<br />

as many as 7,000 believers! We’ve<br />

already started work on the first two<br />

farms and are making arrangements<br />

to build out the rest.<br />

Samuel Kila, a victim who will<br />

benefit from the first communal<br />

farm, told ICC, “…the Fulani<br />

came, and three of my brothers<br />

were killed. They left their families<br />

behind, which we are suffering to<br />

take care of. I appreciate very much<br />

what ICC has brought for us.”<br />

Through the prayers, commitment<br />

and financial giving of ICC<br />

partners, Samuel’s family and<br />

many others like them will now<br />

have the means to provide for<br />

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Communal Farms for Attack Survivors<br />

One farm serves between 50 and 75 families, providing work,<br />

food, and income for a year. The total cost for one farm is $12,500.<br />

• $ 5 | Plantlings for 1/5 acre<br />

• $ 1,250 | Clear 100 acres<br />

• $ 20 | One herbicide sprayer<br />

• $ 30 | Food and farming for<br />

one person for a year<br />

• $ 100 | Four 50 kg bags of<br />

fertilizer<br />

• $ 5,000 | Plow and<br />

harrow 100 acres<br />

• $ 12,500 | Sponsor an<br />

entire farm (Serve up to<br />

750 Christians)<br />

Giving Options<br />

Check: Use the enclosed envelope.<br />

Write “Nigeria Crisis” in the memo line.<br />

Phone: Call ICC at 800-422-5441<br />

Online: Visit persecution.org/nigeria-crisis<br />

Top: Two sons of a man killed in the first<br />

village ICC is helping.<br />

Left: Tractors prepares land for two of<br />

the communal farms.<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

Above: Many Christian farmers have<br />

been pushed off their family lands by the<br />

Fulani violence; ICC is helping them set<br />

up new farms in safer areas in Nigeria.<br />

those they love.<br />

When I asked Jeff to comment further, he<br />

replied: “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate<br />

your practical care for your brothers and<br />

sisters in Nigeria. We have been building and<br />

bandaging Christians victims and communities<br />

in Nigeria for years, but this project is<br />

the most efficient and life-sustaining project<br />

we’ve ever done.<br />

The only reason we can do it is because of<br />

you. ICC has nothing on its own. We work<br />

with you as partners. You have the desire<br />

and funds to help but lack the hands and<br />

feet on the ground. Together, we work as<br />

the body of Christ and fulfill His mandate<br />

to serve and rebuild the lives of thousands<br />

and thousands of Christians that have been<br />

absolutely decimated.<br />

Early in my ICC career, I provided funds to<br />

help the family of an assassinated believer in<br />

Pakistan rebuild their lives. After I handed her<br />

the gift, Mrs. Muhktar and I stood face to face.<br />

I held her hands as she stared into my eyes and<br />

thanked me in the most sincere and profound<br />

way. I will never forget it.<br />

I wish I could transport you to Nigeria so<br />

you could experience first-hand this same<br />

gratitude that your brother and sister would<br />

express to you. They have lost their earthly<br />

wealth and more importantly their loved ones.<br />

We can’t bring back their family members, but<br />

we can partially rebuild their lives. For that,<br />

they are immensely grateful.”<br />

15


THE NINEVEH PLAINS<br />

BLOSSOM AGAIN<br />

An area rich in Christian history became the heart of ISIS’ caliphate, but<br />

as Iraq’s displaced Christians return, a radical transformation is underway.<br />

By Claire Evans<br />

2017<br />

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<strong>2018</strong><br />

Left:<br />

PERSECU ION.org<br />

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

“<br />

The Christians of Iraq<br />

are like the rose in the<br />

orchard… This land<br />

is a Christian history,”<br />

said Anwar. He is from<br />

Qaraqosh, the largest<br />

Christian city in Iraq’s<br />

Nineveh Plains. The<br />

Christian history of Iraq<br />

is evident throughout<br />

the Nineveh Plains. The tombs of prophets<br />

such as Jonah and Nahum are easily<br />

found. Centuries-old monasteries such as St.<br />

Hormozd and Mar Matta stand boldly on<br />

mountaintops overlooking the Plains. Large<br />

crosses dot the landscape in many villages. In<br />

contrast to Iraq’s barren desert in the south,<br />

the Nineveh Plains is lush with greenery.<br />

Some describe the area as the place where<br />

“Heaven and earth meet.”<br />

As ISIS Advances Christians<br />

Flee by the Thousands<br />

Life in the Nineveh Plains radically changed<br />

in 2014, when ISIS swept through the countryside.<br />

Mosul, the de facto capital of the governorate,<br />

was captured in June 2014. Less than<br />

five kilometers away, residents of Qaraqosh<br />

looked on with fear as Christians began fleeing<br />

Mosul. Everyone from Qaraqosh vividly<br />

remembers the day in <strong>August</strong> when they also<br />

were displaced by ISIS.<br />

“My father died just two days before ISIS<br />

attacked,” recalled Noora. “We were at the<br />

funeral for the third day when ISIS attacked…<br />

[I told the kids] we were leaving to have a<br />

picnic. But day after day they were asking<br />

about their bedrooms, and [then] they realized<br />

this was ISIS.”<br />

“The day we ran from Qaraqosh, my wife<br />

was at the last month of pregnancy and I<br />

didn’t own a car… My wife gave birth on the<br />

4th day of displacement. I didn’t have a place,<br />

neither money to buy clothes for our baby nor<br />

milk and diapers. That was the worst feeling<br />

someone can ever feel. Although I used to sell<br />

milk and diapers for many years, I couldn’t<br />

maintain its availability for my child because<br />

of this evil,” remembered Akrum.<br />

Zain had an experience similar to Akrum.<br />

He shared, “My wife was pregnant at the<br />

ninth month when ISIS attacked our city in<br />

2014. It was hard to flee with that situation.”<br />

Milad recalled, “The day ISIS attacked<br />

Qaraqosh, I was attending a mass and the<br />

From a desolate street to<br />

a thriving block, this region in<br />

Qaraqosh is an example of how the<br />

area is continuously rebuilding itself<br />

after ISIS control.<br />

17


Below: Although some of the buildings in Qaraqosh have new<br />

walls and progress is being made, the visible aftermath of ISIS<br />

destruction remains evident.<br />

Right: Qaraqosh residents get drinking water from a well<br />

provided by ICC.<br />

Opposite: ICC paid for heavy equipment to refill a tunnel that<br />

ISIS had dug on the property of one Christian farmer. The tunnel<br />

prevented the farmer from irrigating his land.<br />

priest advised people within the ceremony not<br />

to leave. After the mass finished, the shelling<br />

increased. So we left.”<br />

More than 100,000 Christians would flee<br />

the Nineveh Plains, with most finding shelter<br />

wherever possible in Kurdistan. A handful of<br />

Christians, however, chose to stay behind.<br />

Located in the heart of the Nineveh Plains,<br />

the monks at Mar Matta Monastery bravely<br />

gave shelter to those who couldn’t flee all<br />

the way north. Although the monastery is a<br />

geographical fortress, there was concern that<br />

ISIS’s destructive ideology would reach those<br />

seeking shelter there.<br />

“We felt that they would reach the monastery,<br />

and that they would explode the monastery,”<br />

said Fr. Youssif, a monk at Mar Matta. “They<br />

shot at us with three mortar bombs, and they fell<br />

near the village. At that time, it was so crowded.<br />

People were attending with us the Stations of the<br />

Holy Cross in the monastery. But no one cared.<br />

Faith prevented them from being frightened.”<br />

Faith would carry Iraq’s Christians through<br />

the times of crisis during ISIS’s reign. Many<br />

saw ISIS as waging a war against the Christian<br />

history of the Nineveh Plains, which in turn<br />

motivated them to keep their faith alive. One<br />

journalist, Samer, hid in Mosul and used his<br />

faith as an inspiration to document the crimes<br />

of ISIS. “I felt like ISIS was trying to remove<br />

our history, and that’s why I worked on the<br />

documentation… This documentation was a<br />

result of my faith… They cannot remove that<br />

history because we feel that history is on our<br />

hearts, not just on any of the buildings.”<br />

It is for the continued preservation of this<br />

history of faith that many Christians have<br />

decided to rebuild—even while thousands of<br />

other believers have permanently fled Iraq.<br />

Such was the case with Milad. He said, “On<br />

November 13, 2014, we left to Jordan. [But]<br />

alienation was too hard for me and to my wife<br />

from the first day. My wife told me that she<br />

would rather have just water and bread in Iraq<br />

than immigrating. Also, there was a school<br />

allocated for Iraqi students in Jordan where we<br />

lived for three months and whenever students<br />

sang the Iraqi anthem in that school my wife<br />

started crying. So we went back to Iraq [in]<br />

February 2015.”<br />

Gradual Return to a City<br />

Decimated, Deserted<br />

By 2017, it was apparent that ISIS was only<br />

months away from its eventual military defeat.<br />

A small number of Christians began returning,<br />

but were overwhelmed at the destruction left<br />

behind. “Before ISIS, Qaraqosh was heaven.”<br />

When asked why she chose to live there,<br />

Noora said, “We were looking for kindness,<br />

because that is hard to find [in Iraq]. It was<br />

something that had encouraged me to live in<br />

Qaraqosh [before ISIS].”<br />

But all of this was missing when Noora<br />

returned to Qaraqosh last year. The city was<br />

largely deserted, buildings destroyed, the<br />

streets desolate. “It was dusty, and there are<br />

no services. If a human wants to do something<br />

there, he can’t do it. Unless he has the support,<br />

it cannot be achieved, so Qaraqosh needs a lot<br />

of different parts to come together and make<br />

it great again.”<br />

Noora left Qaraqosh a month after returning,<br />

and will return after more progress is made on<br />

reconstruction. Many others, like Milad, have<br />

committed to returning and rebuilding. He<br />

returned home to Qaraqosh in early 2017,<br />

determined that he “would be in Qaraqosh<br />

again, just if there was water and electricity.<br />

We will build the city again.”<br />

An agricultural engineer by trade, Milad<br />

reopened his store on main street with ICC’s<br />

help. “It was great starting. I became famous<br />

since I was the first shop starting again in<br />

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Qaraqosh, and that encouraged people to come<br />

back… The day when we left to Jordan, I<br />

never thought that I will see Qaraqosh again…<br />

I am so excited to be back.”<br />

Hope Rises as Residents<br />

Flow Back to Qaraqosh<br />

A year later, the Nineveh Plains has undergone<br />

a radical transformation. Although public<br />

services are still lacking and several buildings<br />

remain uninhabitable, life has returned. When<br />

Milad first opened his store, main street was<br />

deserted. Today, it bustles with activity.<br />

“Qaraqosh is back, but still it needs a lot<br />

of development in regards to infrastructure<br />

and public services. At least we can gather<br />

evenings with our relatives in the homeland,”<br />

said Milad.<br />

Father Youssif from Mar Matta has also<br />

stayed in Iraq, although for different reasons.<br />

He said, “I have stayed because the shepherd<br />

should stay with the sheep. It is our faith that<br />

keeps us with them. We are always looking<br />

for a hope for our future. We know it is so difficult…<br />

but we should try.”<br />

At the time of writing in June, it is estimated<br />

that nearly half of Qaraqosh’s residents have<br />

returned home.<br />

Akrum, whose wife gave birth just days<br />

after their displacement, is among those who<br />

have come home to Qaraqosh. When ICC<br />

first met Akrum, he talked about how he<br />

“would love to start working in Qaraqosh<br />

again and restart [his] market there.” He was<br />

shocked when ICC offered to help him. He<br />

said, “When I got the call, I couldn’t believe<br />

myself, I was so excited.” Today, Akrum’s<br />

shop is filled with customers. He serves an<br />

average of 100 customers daily, and is the sole<br />

“We will<br />

build the<br />

city again.”<br />

– MILAD<br />

grocery for the 300 people who live nearby.<br />

Zain, whose wife gave birth shortly after displacement,<br />

has also returned to Qaraqosh along<br />

with his now four-year-old son. ICC helped<br />

Zain restart his copy shop, a small business that<br />

helps customers make duplicates of important<br />

paperwork. The implementation of this project<br />

coincided with unexpected joy. Zain said, “My<br />

wife gave birth yesterday. We had Smith, our<br />

second son, and I started the shop today after<br />

closure of three years. We as Qaraqosh citizens<br />

believe it is message from God that the work<br />

and income is because of the newborn.”<br />

ISIS sought the death of Christianity in<br />

the Nineveh Plains, but new life is blooming<br />

there every day. True, there is much work to<br />

be done if the region is ever to fully recover.<br />

Residents remain concerned about security.<br />

Many Christians have permanently left Iraq,<br />

and others are hesitant to return home unless<br />

more is rebuilt. Yet, as so many have demonstrated<br />

through the history of the Nineveh<br />

Plains, much hope is to be found in the resilience<br />

of Iraq’s Christians. Said one Christian,<br />

“Even with the difficulties we are experiencing,<br />

we feel like there is a psychological part<br />

that can motivate us to live… I feel like my<br />

soul is in Iraq.”<br />

ICC Projects<br />

in the Region<br />

Although many Christians<br />

have returned to the<br />

Nineveh Plains, there is<br />

still a significant need<br />

for stable public utility<br />

services and economic<br />

revitalization. ICC has<br />

contributed to these<br />

needs by creating seven<br />

small businesses and<br />

digging six water wells,<br />

all in the first half of <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

Many residents still lack<br />

sustainable sources of<br />

income and consistent,<br />

clean water. You can<br />

join ICC in helping these<br />

families rebuild Qaraqosh:<br />

• $100 will provide<br />

shelving for local<br />

markets to sell their<br />

goods<br />

• $140 will provide a<br />

small welding machine<br />

for plumbing or<br />

smithing businesses<br />

• $400 will provide one<br />

printer for a copy shop<br />

business<br />

• $1,300 will build one<br />

well, providing a<br />

reliable source of water<br />

to at least 10 families<br />

To learn more about how you<br />

can make a difference through<br />

ICC’s work in Iraq, give us a<br />

call at 800-ICC-5441 or visit<br />

persecution.org and consider<br />

donating today.<br />

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19


ISIS<br />

Sinks Its<br />

Teeth<br />

into<br />

Indonesia<br />

An ISIS-affiliated family bombs three churches in<br />

Indonesia; ICC offers encouragement and medical<br />

help to traumatized children and families.<br />

By Meg McEwan<br />

Shrapnel, flames, and screams<br />

cut across three church sanctuaries<br />

in Surabaya, East Java on<br />

May 13, the result of a familyled<br />

suicide bomb mission that<br />

rocked the Christian community<br />

in Indonesia.<br />

The Sunday morning began<br />

like any other for the families<br />

that gathered together in their<br />

tranquil places of worship. The daily plight of<br />

these Christians in Indonesia melted away as they<br />

joined together with tender hugs, heartfelt prayers,<br />

and warm smiles. While they greeted each other<br />

and found their seats, a family of six belonging<br />

to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a radical<br />

group linked to the Islamic State, gathered for a<br />

different reason.<br />

According to the National Police Chief General,<br />

Tito Karnavian, a father dropped off his wife and two<br />

young daughters (ages 9 and 12) at the Diponegoro<br />

Indonesian Christian Church before heading toward<br />

Surabaya Pentecostal Church. The first explosion<br />

took place at Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic<br />

Church, initiated by his two sons (ages 16 and 18)<br />

carrying a lap-bomb on a motorcycle. The other two<br />

followed soon after. The attackers also planted bombs<br />

at Saint Jacob’s Church in West Surabaya and Sacred<br />

Heart of Jesus Cathedral, but they failed to explode.<br />

The Islamic State later claimed official responsibility<br />

for these attacks.<br />

When the dust settled, the death count rose to 13<br />

deaths and more than 50 wounded. The Surabaya<br />

bombings are the deadliest in Indonesia since the<br />

2002 Bali bombings, and they signal a mounting rise<br />

in hostility toward Christians in Indonesia.<br />

“I am really sad about this,” shared Pastor<br />

Yonathan Biantoro, a pastor at Surabaya Pentecostal<br />

Church, in an interview with ICC, “We as members<br />

of this church really hope that we would have a<br />

peaceful environment when we are in our devotion.<br />

We want the government to protect us with our<br />

constitutional rights and we are concerned about our<br />

religious freedom.” Yonathan is heartbroken over<br />

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Above: May 13: Indonesian President Joko Widodo surveys the aftermath of multiple suicide bombings<br />

in Surabaya. Photo: Press Bureau of the Secretariat of the President of Indonesia<br />

Below: May 14: The Mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, meets with relatives of the victims of the Surabaya<br />

bombings. Photo: Surabaya Municipal Police<br />

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21


Top Right: Alvaro undergoes skin<br />

grafting and skin-regrowing procedures<br />

to treat his burns after the Samarinda<br />

bombing.<br />

Bottom Right: Children celebrate<br />

forgiveness during Easter celebration.<br />

Opposite: Trinity, one of the children<br />

injured in the Samarinda bombing.<br />

the deaths of three church staff members who<br />

were severely burned.<br />

“They try to create fear in us; instead we<br />

grow, trust, and hope in Him. God is still in<br />

control; our churches united in prayers and<br />

believe God’s will be done on earth as it is in<br />

Heaven. The gates of hell and its power cannot<br />

conquer His church,” Budi Setiawan, the<br />

National Superintendent of the Assembly of<br />

God in Indonesia, shared with ICC.<br />

Indonesia continues to be a hotbed of terrorism,<br />

spelling danger for Christians. The<br />

Surabaya attack followed another large-scale<br />

bombing on November 13, 2016 in Samarinda.<br />

There four terrorists bombed the Ouikumene<br />

building housing five churches.<br />

Tragically, the children at Ouikumene were<br />

the most affected because they were playing<br />

outside when the bomb detonated. Three children<br />

received extensive tissue damage from<br />

the heat: Alvaro, Trinity, and Anita. One child,<br />

Intan, died the day after the attack.<br />

ICC Provides for Ministry to<br />

Kids at Bombed Church<br />

ICC visited the site in Samarinda in April<br />

<strong>2018</strong> to assess the damage and learn how ICC<br />

could help. We found that the Ouikumene<br />

children continue to struggle with psychological<br />

fallout from the bombing in 2016. In the<br />

aftermath of the bombing, the children were<br />

too afraid to attend Sunday School.<br />

ICC threw an Easter celebration for the<br />

children to encourage them in the love of Jesus<br />

and lifing up prayers for the bombers. ICC<br />

provided supplies and gifts for the celebration<br />

and the children’s Sunday School. During the<br />

event, the Sunday School teacher shared how<br />

Jesus taught Peter to forgive 70 times seven<br />

times and how Jesus forgave the men who<br />

unjustly nailed him to a cross.<br />

“I’m glad to know that so many people are<br />

praying for us and giving their love. These<br />

children need some consoling in their lives,<br />

and your organization answers their needs.<br />

Thank you so much ICC!” said Marsyana,<br />

Alvaro’s mother.<br />

Sarina, Trinity’s mother, said, “We thank<br />

ICC for this present that you gave to the kids.<br />

We pray that your ministry will continue to<br />

exist and help people who are in need. Pray<br />

for us so we can face the day ahead. We<br />

believe that God will never leave us alone.<br />

“They try to<br />

create fear in<br />

us; instead we<br />

grow, trust,<br />

and hope in<br />

Him.”<br />

– BUDI SETIAWAN<br />

He is faithful. Through an accident, I encounter<br />

God. I have a personal experience with<br />

God and it strengthens me in all my ways. He<br />

is good all the time.”<br />

Children Endure Ongoing<br />

Medical Treatments<br />

Alvaro, Trinity, and Anita embarked on<br />

a different journey after the bombing. They<br />

struggled through complex surgeries, many<br />

of which were beyond their parents’ means.<br />

The explosion melted Alfaro’s ears and<br />

severely burned the skin on his head. He is in<br />

the process of receiving balloon treatments<br />

(a medical treatment for growing new skin)<br />

and will be receiving hand surgery. Anita is<br />

receiving treatment for minor burns on her<br />

hands and head.<br />

Trinity’s injuries were the most severe.<br />

She has burns on her arms, fingers, and<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN


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upper torso. Approximately 60% of her skin<br />

was mutilated by the burns. A businessman<br />

and friend in Jakarta connected Trinity<br />

with a skilled doctor in China, but the<br />

doctor informed her mom that the surgeries<br />

would cost one billion rupiahs (almost<br />

$80,000 USD). She was able to travel to<br />

China in September and November and<br />

received a balloon injection in Jakarta.<br />

Even in the midst of her pain, Trinity’s<br />

spirit and smile shines Jesus’s love on others<br />

in every place that she visits.<br />

“We really see how God helps us. Every<br />

time Trinity is in the hospital she finds a lot<br />

of friends. I even don’t understand,” said<br />

Sarina, “Once, she had a friend next to her<br />

bed in the hospital. They were both laughing<br />

with each other and watching a movie,<br />

even when they [spoke] different languages.<br />

Another time, there was a patient with kidney<br />

failure who frequently came to the hospital<br />

for dialysis. Every time she came to the<br />

hospital, she visited Trinity. She said that, in<br />

her condition, Trinity was very cheering.”<br />

Trinity’s progress continues to bode well<br />

for her recovery, but she will be receiving<br />

ongoing treatments. Many individuals,<br />

including ICC, have stepped in to alleviate<br />

the costs of her surgeries.<br />

Roots of Jihadism and<br />

Violence in Indonesia<br />

These two tragedies in Southeast Asia<br />

stem from the larger ideological conflict in<br />

the Middle East. Religious persecution in<br />

Indonesia sprang out of Saudi Arabia’s campaign<br />

to radicalize Islamist powers surrounding<br />

the Persian Gulf in the late 20th century.<br />

Saudi Arabia poured approximately $100<br />

billion into the spread of jihadism.<br />

The radicalization in Indonesia and other<br />

countries did not hit the Western radar<br />

until 1998 when a Muslim imam escalated<br />

a localized fight between Muslim and<br />

Christian teenagers and called his followers<br />

to wage war on Christians. The Muslims<br />

murdered 10,000 Christians and burned<br />

1,200 churches.<br />

Today, factions linked to ISIS thrive in<br />

Indonesia. The family responsible for the<br />

attacks in Surabaya claimed to be a part of<br />

the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an ISIS<br />

sub-faction formed in 2015. The presence of<br />

this group and others means that Christians are<br />

under constant threat.<br />

As ICC continues to connect with victims<br />

and families in Surabaya and assist with medical<br />

expenses and other needs, we invite you to<br />

pray for recovering victims and the Church at<br />

large in Indonesia.<br />

23


Feature Article<br />

The Secret Fate of Christians<br />

in Iran’s Evin Prison<br />

Christians<br />

often disappear<br />

within the secret<br />

wards of Evin<br />

Prison.<br />

By Claire Evans<br />

Nestled within the hills of<br />

northern Tehran, Evin<br />

Prison is a visible reminder<br />

of old and new wounds.<br />

The prison rose to prominence<br />

after Iran’s 1979<br />

Revolution, when the new<br />

government began detaining<br />

individuals associated with the monarchy. As<br />

time passed, it became evident that Evin Prison<br />

would remain the primary jail for perceived<br />

threats to the regime, including Christians.<br />

Although Iran’s constitution recognizes the<br />

freedom of religion, the regime does not recognize<br />

any Christian who came to faith after<br />

the revolution. As a country that characterizes<br />

itself as Shia Islamic, all other religions are<br />

viewed as threats towards Iran. For this reason,<br />

many Christians are charged with “acting<br />

against national security” and are thus incarcerated<br />

in Evin Prison.<br />

Evin Prison is not just a place. It is a concept<br />

built around Iran’s underground prison<br />

system. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard<br />

Corps and the Ministry of Intelligence and<br />

Security have a number of unofficial wards<br />

located within Evin. The prison is known by<br />

many names: the regime’s torture factory, hell<br />

on earth, and a prison within a prison.<br />

Believers who are imprisoned at Evin can<br />

expect to receive the worst treatment of all<br />

the inmates. “Christians held in Evin are<br />

subjected to physical and verbal abuse by not<br />

only the authorities but also by some other<br />

Muslim inmates. They are denied access to<br />

Bibles, phone calls and family visits. Evin<br />

Prison is run by the intelligence who behave<br />

in complete impunity. It is one of the worst<br />

places of detention in Iran, especially for<br />

those who converted from Islam,” said Mena<br />

of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. By incarcerating<br />

Christians within the secret parallel<br />

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Feature Article<br />

“Christians held in Evin are subjected to physical and verbal abuse by<br />

not only the authorities but also by some other Muslim inmates.”<br />

– MENA, CHRISTIAN SOLIDARITY WORLDWIDE<br />

institutions of Evin Prison, the<br />

Iranian regime is attempting to<br />

remove the face and personhood<br />

of believers.<br />

However, there is power in<br />

speaking on behalf of those<br />

imprisoned. “If a prisoner’s case<br />

got attention, they stopped torturing<br />

or raping them because<br />

they knew the world was watching.<br />

We heard of many cases<br />

of prisoners who had no voice<br />

outside, and many things happened<br />

to them,” a former prisoner,<br />

Marziyeh Amirizadeh, told<br />

World Watch Monitor.<br />

While there are so many cases<br />

of Christians entrapped in Evin<br />

Prison, three prisoners in particular<br />

stand out as needing prayer.<br />

At the time of this writing in<br />

June, Mehrdad Houshmad and<br />

his wife have been detained in<br />

Evin Prison for ten months. They<br />

attended a funeral service and<br />

were filmed at the service saying<br />

“prayers based on Christian<br />

teachings.” Their IDs were confiscated,<br />

and a few days later the<br />

couple was arrested, interrogated,<br />

and imprisoned within one of<br />

Evin’s secret wards. They have<br />

disappeared within the system,<br />

their fate unclear.<br />

A more recent addition to<br />

Evin Prison is Naser Navard<br />

Goltapeh. He was arrested last<br />

summer and convicted based<br />

on secret evidence produced<br />

by the Intelligence Ministry.<br />

He will serve a 10-year sentence<br />

in Evin Prison. Shortly<br />

after beginning his sentence<br />

in January, his health began<br />

deteriorating; unfortunately,<br />

this is not unusual. Dr. Hormoz<br />

Shariat, president and founder<br />

of Iran Alive Ministries,<br />

explained, “Usually, the first<br />

month or two, there is torture to<br />

get all the information they can<br />

from the prisoner. If the prisoner<br />

dies under torture, they claim<br />

that he committed suicide.”<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

Opposite: The regime regularly imprisons believers as part of<br />

its attempt to eradicate Christianity from Iran.<br />

Top: Many of Iran’s Christians end up in the notorious Evin<br />

Prison, ‘the regime’s torture factory.’<br />

Bottom: Iran views Christians as cultural dissidents and<br />

imprisonment and inhumane treatment as their due.<br />

Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz is<br />

another victim of Evin Prison. He<br />

has been arrested multiple times<br />

and recently lost his appeal of a<br />

10-year prison sentence. He was<br />

previously released from Evin on<br />

bail, but now he awaits a phone<br />

call that will tell him when and<br />

what prison to report to. It is<br />

unclear when he will begin serving<br />

his sentence. However, given<br />

the authorities’ history of sending<br />

Pastor Bet-Tamraz to Evin Prison,<br />

it is possible that he will return.<br />

It is known that at least ten<br />

Christian converts are serving<br />

their sentences in Evin Prison.<br />

The actual number is most likely<br />

much higher. Six Christians have<br />

been either temporarily released<br />

from Evin on bail or their judicial<br />

status is unclear. Most of these<br />

prisoners will serve an average<br />

sentence length of nine years – a<br />

time of extreme hardship.<br />

“Most of the arrested individuals<br />

are coerced to divulge information<br />

about their house-church<br />

activities and those of their<br />

friends, under threat of criminal<br />

prosecution or arrest of family<br />

members… Therefore, the case<br />

of every arrested Iranian believer<br />

is of utmost importance,” said Dr.<br />

Mike Ansari from Heart4Iran.<br />

Evin Prison exists to erase<br />

anything the regime perceives<br />

as a threat. By incarcerating<br />

Christians here, Iran hopes to<br />

abolish Christianity through brutality<br />

and fear. However, it is<br />

through the testimonies of those<br />

who have kept the faith that so<br />

many Iranians are converting to<br />

Christianity. We must pray for<br />

the safety of those in Evin Prison,<br />

that their hardship may be eased.<br />

But we must also publicly name<br />

those imprisoned there. For naming<br />

them introduces international<br />

accountability, and Iran’s regime<br />

will realize that they cannot<br />

use secret prisons to extinguish<br />

Christianity from the country.<br />

25


ICC’s Policy Day<br />

Sheds Light on<br />

Brutal Attacks<br />

on Christian<br />

Villagers in<br />

Nigeria<br />

By Matias Perttula<br />

Muslim Fulani militants are attacking<br />

and massacring Christian farmers<br />

in the Nigerian Middle belt with<br />

increasing vehemence and near impunity.<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

addressed the situation at its annual<br />

Policy Day on June 5, opening dialogue<br />

between speakers and panelists<br />

at the U.S. Capitol building.<br />

Policymakers, experts, NGO leaders,<br />

and Nigerians spoke with unanimous concession, calling for immediate<br />

action from the Nigerian government.<br />

The carnage exceeds 1300 deaths in <strong>2018</strong> as the uninhibited wave of<br />

violence advances across the region. The Nigerian government has the<br />

means to end the killing spree, yet internal conflicts of interest have so<br />

far stalled action. Only recently, with pressure from President Trump,<br />

did President Buhari of Nigeria finally acknowledge and condemn one<br />

of the attacks that resulted in the deaths of two priests and nearly 20<br />

worshipers in Benue state.<br />

Speakers: Members of Congress, Nigeria<br />

Experts, and a Victim of Boko Haram<br />

Nearly every speaker at Policy Day highlighted the need for security<br />

guarantees in Nigeria to counter the threat that increased radicalization<br />

poses on the stability of its democracy. While many factors contribute<br />

to the conflict—population growth, ethnic differences, grazing rights,<br />

lack of security infrastructure, and more —it is clear that Fulani militants<br />

have been the aggressors, wiping out and sometimes occupying<br />

entire villages to access a few limited resources. The conflict stands to<br />

threaten the geopolitical stability of the region.<br />

Policy Day kicked off with Joy Bishara, a Nigerian native who<br />

shared her terrifying encounter with Boko Haram in April 2014. The<br />

terrorist organization kidnapped 276 girls in the middle of the night<br />

from a school in Chibok, Nigeria. Joy, along with some of her Christian<br />

schoolmates, escaped later and hid in the jungles of Nigeria before<br />

making their way back home. Her riveting story captured the true<br />

horrors of what the persecuted church is experiencing at the hands of<br />

violent Islamic terror groups like Boko Haram.<br />

Terwase Orbunde, the second speaker, serves as the Chief of Staff<br />

to the Governor of Benue State in Nigeria. He personally handled the<br />

aftermath of a Fulani militant attack in his state. Terwase revealed the<br />

struggles of leading the Benue state in a time when the federal government<br />

largely ignores the killings of its citizens and virtually does<br />

nothing to eliminate the threat of violence. The Fulani militants enjoy<br />

near-perfect impunity and continue to heavily target Benue and surrounding<br />

states.<br />

Several members of the United States Congress, including Senator<br />

Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-Illinois), and a<br />

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“ICC’s Policy Day brought a clear<br />

call for international pressure<br />

on Nigeria’s government by the<br />

United States and her allies. “<br />

Left Top: Congressman Randy Hultgren speaks at Policy Day.<br />

Left Bottom: Senator Ted Cruz greets Joy Bishara.<br />

Above Left: Senator Ted Cruz with ICC President Jeff King.<br />

Above: Joy Bishara describes her escape from Boko Haram.<br />

representative of Congressman Chris Smith<br />

(R-New Jersey), shared their support for the<br />

plight of Christians in Nigeria. All expressed<br />

explicit support for the advancement of human<br />

rights and the continued containment of Boko<br />

Haram. They called on the Nigerian government<br />

to implement safety guarantees for communities<br />

in danger. Senator Ted Cruz cited<br />

the reality that Christians are the most persecuted<br />

religious group in the world, especially<br />

in Nigeria. International Christian Concern<br />

continues to be grateful for the champions<br />

on Capitol Hill who understand the plight<br />

of Christians around the world and who are<br />

willing to stand up for their God-given human<br />

rights and religious freedom.<br />

President Kent Ingle from Southeastern<br />

University shared about ICC’s recent partnership<br />

with the University to launch a studentled<br />

ICC campus club. This club will be the<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

first of a nation-wide push to launch campus<br />

clubs all around the country. This is a critical<br />

effort to get students involved in ICC’s work<br />

with international religious freedom.*<br />

Six-Member Panel of<br />

Experts from NGOs and<br />

Advocacy Groups<br />

A panel of six experts weighed in on the discussion.<br />

The panel included Nathan Wineinger,<br />

director of Policy and Coalitions from the<br />

21st century Wilberforce Initiative, Stephen S.<br />

Enada, Executive President and Co-Founder of<br />

ICON (International Committee on Nigeria),<br />

Joshua Meservey, Senior Policy Analyst at<br />

the Heritage Foundation, Matias Perttula,<br />

ICC’s Advocacy Director, and Chris Meserole,<br />

Fellow at The Brookings Institute.<br />

After the morning sessions, ICC led its<br />

volunteers through the halls of Capitol Hill<br />

to drop off literature informing US policy<br />

makers about the situation in Nigeria. The<br />

literature highlighted pending legislation that<br />

would direct a wave of international pressure<br />

at the Buhari government. ICC also encouraged<br />

policy makers to raise their concerns by<br />

reaching out directly to the Nigerian Embassy<br />

in Washington and President Buhari.<br />

Though much work remains in advocating<br />

for Christians in Nigeria, ICC’s Policy Day<br />

helped focus attention on the true nature of<br />

the attacks and brought a clear call for international<br />

pressure on Nigeria’s government by<br />

the United States and her allies.<br />

*Interested in leading an Advocacy club<br />

on your college campus? Please contact<br />

ICC’s Advocacy Director, Matias Perttula<br />

at advocacy.dir@persecution.org for more<br />

information.<br />

27


Feature Article<br />

Living in Fear in Uttar Pradesh<br />

ICC reports back on travels to one of India’s<br />

most persecuted states, Uttar Pradesh.<br />

By William Stark<br />

Fear. Anxiety. Uncertainty.<br />

These were my constant<br />

companions on a recent trip<br />

to Uttar Pradesh. Located in<br />

northern India, Uttar Pradesh<br />

is the largest and most populous<br />

state in India. It’s also<br />

a cultural and spiritual epicenter<br />

for Hinduism, because millions of<br />

Hindus flock each year to ceremonially<br />

bathe in the river Ganges.<br />

Uttar Pradesh’s religious significance<br />

attracts Hindu radicals, making Uttar Pradesh<br />

a difficult state for Christians. Each year, Uttar<br />

Pradesh reports some of the highest number<br />

of attacks on Christians, compared to other<br />

states in India. In 2017 alone, the Evangelical<br />

Fellowship of India recorded 50 incidents of<br />

persecution in Uttar Pradesh out of the 351<br />

recorded across the rest of India’s 29 states.<br />

I traveled for six days across Uttar Pradesh,<br />

meeting with Christian leaders and hearing<br />

their stories of persecution. For some, the persecution<br />

that they’re experiencing now is the<br />

worst they have ever experienced. Some even<br />

feared for the survival of their communities.<br />

Pastor D. K. Sagar was one of the first<br />

Christian leaders who I interviewed in Uttar<br />

Pradesh. A house church leader, Pastor Sagar<br />

led worship every Sunday for more than 50<br />

Christians who gathered in a believer’s house<br />

in Unnao. In April <strong>2018</strong>, Pastor Sagar and his<br />

congregation were brutally attacked.<br />

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Feature Article<br />

Left: ICC travels across Uttar Pradesh by motorbike interviewing victims of persecution.<br />

Top: ICC prays with a persecuted pastor from Uttar Pradesh.<br />

Bottom: The Ganges river, sacred to Hindus, flows through the heart of Uttar Pradesh.<br />

“I was dragged for more than a kilometer,”<br />

Pastor Sagar told me, describing the attack.<br />

A mob of 60 Hindu radicals barged into the<br />

house during a worship service.<br />

“The radicals pulled me out of the house<br />

and started to hit me,” Pastor Sagar continued.<br />

“There was no way to escape because the mob<br />

had encircled me. Other believers fled to save<br />

their lives, but they kept torturing me.”<br />

A blow to Pastor Sagar’s right ear decimated<br />

the hearing in his ear. Radicals paraded him<br />

through the streets, continuing to beat him.<br />

His identity as the pastor of the congregation<br />

was evident to the Radicals, so they eventually<br />

took him to the police station.<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

There, the radicals filed trumped-up charges<br />

against Pastor Sagar and made further<br />

threats against him and his congregation.<br />

“The radicals said they will kill me if I continue<br />

to lead worship in that house,” Pastor<br />

Sagar said. “The entire congregation was<br />

frightened by what happened, but what was<br />

most painful was that those Christians who<br />

returned to the church were also threatened<br />

with dire consequences.”<br />

“The lives of these Christians are at risk,”<br />

Pastor Sagar explained. “I had to close down<br />

the church after I it had been running for<br />

nearly ten years. It is heartbreaking to live<br />

with more than 50 Christians who want to<br />

follow Jesus openly, but cannot because they<br />

fear for their lives.”<br />

After meeting with Pastor Sagar and his<br />

congregation, I traveled another 60 miles<br />

to Bacharaya, where a house church was<br />

attacked in April. There, Ram Prasad, a<br />

55-year-old church member, was beaten so<br />

badly that he had to be rushed to a nearby<br />

hospital.<br />

“I remember the angry mob entering the<br />

house when worship was going on,” said<br />

Shashikala, the wife of Pastor Kamlesh<br />

Kumar, “I was very frightened.”<br />

“I sensed that the target of the attack<br />

was my husband,” Shashikala continued.<br />

“Immediately, I locked my husband in another<br />

room. If they found my husband, they<br />

would have killed him.” When Ram confronted<br />

the mob, it immediately turned on<br />

him. Shashikala tried to protect Ram, but she<br />

was met with blows on her legs and back with<br />

wooden clubs.<br />

Following the attack, Pastor Kumar decided<br />

to shut down the house church and go into<br />

hiding. When we met, Pastor Kumar refused<br />

to leave his house altogether and was actively<br />

looking for a new, safer, place to live.<br />

“Me, my wife, and our three children have<br />

had many sleepless nights fearing attack,”<br />

Pastor Kumar told me. “My wife and I are<br />

most concerned for our children’s safety.”<br />

While fear was the dominant sentiment I<br />

observed on my trip, I also met brave Christian<br />

leaders successfully spreading the Gospel –<br />

despite the increased persecution. Dr. Sharma,<br />

a Christian leader for Lucknow said, “The<br />

church is being multiplied even as persecution<br />

reaches new heights in India.”<br />

This was reinforced when I met Pastor<br />

Pappu on the outskirts of Lucknow. According<br />

to Pastor Pappu, he has baptized over 200<br />

people in the past few years as persecution<br />

was increasing around him. “The majority of<br />

my congregations are new converts,” Pastor<br />

Pappu said, “They face social boycotts, are<br />

denied work, water, and welfare schemes from<br />

the government, yet they still attend church.”<br />

Fear, anxiety, and risk are all appropriate<br />

words to describe what is like to be a Christian<br />

living in Uttar Pradesh. Yet, this persecution<br />

has not stopped the power of the Gospel to<br />

reach the unreached.<br />

When asked what was needed by Christians<br />

in Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Sharma said, “There is a<br />

great need for the free Church to stand alongside<br />

and support Christian suffering for their<br />

faith.” May we heed Dr. Sharma’s guidance<br />

and stand with those willing to suffer for their<br />

faith in places like Uttar Pradesh.<br />

29


Nigeria: Epicenter of<br />

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Did you know that Nigeria is the epicenter<br />

of today’s world for violent attacks on<br />

Christians? Few are aware because the<br />

press has largely ignored this mass murder<br />

and displacement of believers.<br />

Islamist militants have killed up to 70,000<br />

Christians there in the last 20 years. June<br />

saw a series of attacks over a weekend<br />

that left more than 200 Christians killed.<br />

Militants have pushed millions of farmers<br />

off their lands, and they now live as<br />

refugees in their own country.<br />

These farmers don’t want a handout. They<br />

just want to get back to farming.<br />

That’s why with your partnership we<br />

want to build 10 communal farms to feed<br />

up to 7,000 of these victims.<br />

We rent the land, clear, and till it. Next, we<br />

provide seed, fertilizer, and irrigation. The<br />

victims are Nigerian farmers so they then<br />

take over and feed themselves.<br />

Amazingly, we can feed a<br />

Christian through this program<br />

for only $30 a year, but we need to<br />

raise $125,000.<br />

PLEASE GIVE TODAY!<br />

Check: Use the enclosed envelope: Write “Nigeria Crisis” on your check<br />

Phone: Call us at 800-422-5441<br />

Online: Visit persecution.org/nigeria-crisis<br />

Christian <strong>Persecution</strong><br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

A Christian widow and her son stand by<br />

the grave of their husband/father who was<br />

killed by Fulani militants.<br />

31


You Can Help Today!<br />

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INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN<br />

SEND DONATIONS TO:<br />

ICC<br />

PO BOX 8056<br />

SILVER SPRING, MD 20907<br />

OR ONLINE AT<br />

WWW.PERSECUTION.ORG<br />

OR BY PHONE<br />

800-ICC-5441<br />

GIVING TO ICC VIA<br />

YOUR WILL<br />

Provide now for a future gift to ICC<br />

by including a bequest provision in<br />

your will or revocable trust. If you<br />

would like more information on giving<br />

to ICC in this way, please give<br />

us a call at 1-800-ICC-5441.<br />

Members of the Nigerian diaspora attended<br />

ICC’s Policy Day to show their support<br />

for efforts to stop the violence by Fulani<br />

militants in their home country.<br />

MEMBER<br />

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