March 2023 Persecution Magazine

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MARCH <strong>2023</strong><br />






SAY ‘NO MORE’<br />





Persevering Through<br />



<strong>Persecution</strong><br />





Contents<br />

MARCH <strong>2023</strong><br />


An unidentified woman wearing a<br />

hijab symbolizes the thousands of<br />

women protesting in the cultural<br />

movement happening in Iran.<br />

Read more on page 10.<br />

Photo: iStock.com/Ozbalci<br />


08 10 14 16<br />









Lessons from<br />

persecuted women.<br />

Decades of persecution<br />

and oppression<br />

catapulted a movement<br />

toward freedom.<br />

ICC comes alongside a<br />

mother who was kicked<br />

to the curb by her Muslim<br />

husband.<br />

Kidnapped Christian<br />

girls are forced to raise<br />

the next generation of<br />

terrorists.<br />


04<br />

06<br />





PROVERBS 31:26<br />

ICC Projects Made Possible by Supporters<br />

Your Source for <strong>Persecution</strong> News<br />

@persecuted @persecutionnews @internationalchristianconcern International Christian Concern<br />

OUR MISSION: Since 1996, ICC has served the global<br />

persecuted church through a three-pronged approach of<br />

advocacy, awareness, and assistance. ICC exists to bandage<br />

the wounds of persecuted Christians and to build the church<br />

in the toughest parts of the world.<br />

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donor’s original wishes.<br />

2<br />

MEMBER<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong><br />

© Copyright <strong>2023</strong> ICC, Washington, D.C., USA. All rights reserved.<br />

Permission to reproduce all or part of this publication is granted<br />

provided attribution is given to ICC as the source.<br />

STAFF<br />

Publisher Jeff King<br />

Editor Mike Anderson<br />

Designer Hannah Campbell

The Persecuted Mary’s of Our Day<br />

Jesus elevated women to a place that they hadn’t<br />

possessed in the past.<br />

Look in the Gospels, and you will see his love for<br />

and tenderness with the Samaritan woman at the<br />

well and the woman to be stoned for adultery. Look<br />

at his close relationship with sisters Mary and Martha;<br />

they were his co-laborers in the faith.<br />

Finally, in a plan that perhaps most clearly reveals<br />

His value of women, He arranged for a woman to<br />

be the one to discover that He had risen. He chose<br />

Mary to be the one to inform the male apostles of<br />

the resurrection. He chose her to spread the word<br />

that everything had changed.<br />

This month, we examine the topic of women and<br />

persecution. We start in Iran, where you will learn<br />

about the government’s treatment of the women<br />

they consider enemies.<br />

For years I have told you how the Iranians have<br />

treated arrested female Christian church workers<br />

(brutal doesn’t come close to describing what they<br />

do). Recently, Iranian authorities tortured and killed<br />

a non-Christian woman for not properly following<br />

the rules of Islam, starting a wave of protests to ban<br />

the oppressive laws.<br />

From there, we will go around the world and highlight<br />

Christian women’s hardships. They often exist<br />

as second-class citizens in their cultures because<br />

they are women. But add “Christian” to their status,<br />

and they drop to the bottom of society in cultures<br />

hostile to Christianity.<br />

And that’s where you and I come in. When Christian<br />

women are kicked to the curb by their radical Muslim<br />

husbands for turning to Christ, we are their safety<br />

net. When their Christian husbands are murdered<br />

for their faith or thrown into prison, we rescue the<br />

family.<br />

We can’t save and help every hurting woman, but<br />

we are your faithful hands and feet to intervene<br />

where the Lord leads.<br />

Finally, despite what narrative our culture pushes,<br />

the Lord made ‘male’ and ‘female’ genders; with<br />

equal, clear, distinct gifts, roles, and abilities—but<br />

I won’t take us down that rabbit trail. Today, we<br />

celebrate the ones Jesus chose and loved, women!<br />

May God bless you for holding the hand of those<br />

who desperately need comfort.<br />

In Him. JEFF<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

Author: The Last Words of the Martyrs and<br />

Islam Uncensored<br />


Your Hands and Feet<br />


Sharing<br />

the Gospel<br />

to the<br />

Ends of<br />

the Earth.<br />

AFRICA<br />

Nurturing a Network<br />

of Churches<br />


Solomon is an evangelist who focuses on reaching and discipling<br />

Muslims in an ocean-side city in Tanzania. Solomon helped<br />

start 14 churches and small groups in the region with several<br />

underground believers.<br />

ICC provided him with a motorbike to be able to travel to the<br />

many churches and groups he disciples.<br />

“I would like to thank God for blessing me with the gift of this<br />

motorbike. In fact, this transport has been very much needed in<br />

the ministry here, that is, the people who have accepted Jesus as<br />

Lord and Savior in their lives,” Solomon said. “This motorbike has<br />

come to relieve the difficulty of traveling to the many villages.”<br />

4<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>


In Times of War<br />


Marie, her husband, and two sons live in a one-bedroom hostel far<br />

away from the home they once knew. The war against Christians in<br />

Artsakh drove them out of their home. They do what they can to<br />

make the best of their new living situation.<br />

The bedroom hostel was not designed for long-term living. Marie<br />

keeps all her food in boxes since there is no cupboard in the kitchen.<br />

They have a closet, but it is not enough for four of them, so their<br />

clothes are stored on what little floor space they have.<br />

ICC helped the family by supplying kitchen cupboards and a wardrobe<br />

to make things more comfortable while their future remains a<br />

mystery.<br />


Laborers in the Harvest<br />


Many pastors in India possess tremendous enthusiasm to share<br />

the gospel to the ends of the earth. However, they often lack the<br />

resources to do so.<br />

One of ICC’s flagship projects for the past few years is Bikes<br />

and Bibles, an initiative to empower and equip 1,000 church<br />

planters to reach rural India. ICC supplies a bicycle and 100 New<br />

Testaments to each church planter.<br />

In 2022, we concluded our ninth phase of this project, where we<br />

supplied 98 rural church planters across seven states. In total,<br />

we’ve equipped 1,383 pastors. Many of these church planters<br />

serve in difficult areas where preaching the gospel invites<br />

harassment and threats from Hindu radicals. In the last nine<br />

years, since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed<br />

power, religious minority persecution has more than tripled.<br />


ICC Newsroom<br />


Anti-Christian<br />

Riots in India Surge<br />

Across 20 Villages<br />

Radical Hindu nationalists attacked Christians in<br />

20 villages in the Narayanpur and Kondagaon<br />

districts in the Chhattisgarh state of India for<br />

refusing to re-convert from Christianity to Hinduism.<br />

“These incidents have shocked the entire Christian<br />

community in the state, and the sad thing is that the<br />

people in authority did not bother to help,” said a local<br />

church leader.<br />

The attacks took place on Sunday, Dec. 18, as<br />

Christians gathered for worship. The attackers looted<br />

and destroyed the homes of many Christians and<br />

desecrated three churches. Several people were<br />

severely injured and hospitalized while others fled to<br />

the jungle or nearby police stations.<br />

Dozens of Christians Killed or<br />

Abducted by Extremists in Nigeria<br />

On Christmas Day, Fulani militants attacked an Angwan Aku<br />

Village church in Kaduna state, in northern Nigeria.<br />

“The church worship service was about to commence when<br />

the attackers arrived at the village riding on motorbikes<br />

and shooting sporadically,” a resident said. “They killed one<br />

Christian and kidnapped 53 other Christians who are still<br />

held captive.”<br />

Please pray for the families of Christians whom the violent<br />

Fulani militants have murdered and the safe return of those<br />

whom they have kidnapped.<br />

6<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>


Christian<br />

Genocide Warning<br />

in Artsakh<br />

On Monday, Dec. 12, Azerbaijan<br />

started a blockade on the roads<br />

connecting Nagorno-Karabakh<br />

(Armenian: Artsakh) to all outside<br />

resources. This is the second time<br />

they have done this in the past<br />

month, and it is crippling for the<br />

Armenian people, as “the road<br />

known as Lachin Corridor is the only<br />

road connecting Karabakh to the<br />

outside world,” according to Lilit<br />

Shahverdyan from the Eurasianet<br />

news source.<br />


Church Bombing Kills 17 in the Congo<br />

Although Azerbaijan claims the<br />

blockade of this road to be for<br />

environmental reasons, this is<br />

clearly a ruse to gain further<br />

control over the people of Artsakh<br />

and eventually finish the religious<br />

cleansing that they have been open<br />

about working toward.<br />

Suspected Allied Democratic Forces<br />

(ADF) rebels detonated a homemade<br />

improvised explosive device (IED), killing<br />

at least 17 and injuring dozens more at<br />

a church in Kasindi, Eastern Democratic<br />

Republic of Congo, Sunday morning,<br />

Jan. 15. Hundreds of Christians were<br />

gathered for prayer and baptism when<br />

the blast went off at 11 a.m.<br />

“Limbs and other body parts are<br />

scattered everywhere as more dead<br />

bodies are being retrieved from the<br />

rubble. Many people have been injured,<br />

and they are being evacuated. We are<br />

not able to ascertain how this attack<br />

happened or how many Christians have<br />

been killed, but I can confirm that this<br />

is a gruesome terrorist attack,” he said.<br />

One of the first responders, a pastor of<br />

a nearby church, reported the attack to<br />

ICC.<br />

India’s Supreme Court Affirms Religious Freedom<br />

The Supreme Court of India affirmed the religious freedom rights of Indian citizens<br />

by rejecting a petition calling for a nationwide law against religious conversion. In<br />

making its decision, the Court stated that persons above the age of 18 in India are<br />

free to choose the religion of their choice.<br />


L E S S O N S F R O M<br />

P E R S E C U T E D W O M E N<br />

The Bravest<br />

Women We Know<br />

B Y H A N N A H C A M P B E L L<br />

8<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

It’s the mother just kidnapped alongside her<br />

toddler, fighting to make it out alive who<br />

teaches us determination. It’s the daughter<br />

whose parents were murdered by a suicide<br />

bomber in the foyer of her home, right in front<br />

of her, who teaches us courage. It’s the wife,<br />

whose husband was killed by radical Islamic<br />

militants for his faith who teaches us to rely<br />

on our strength in the Lord. It’s the sister who<br />

dreams of becoming a surgeon and helping<br />

the persecuted and pursues her education,<br />

who teaches us the power the next generation<br />

possesses. And it’s the orphaned baby whose<br />

community takes her in their loving arms to<br />

raise her who inspires hope.<br />

These are the stories and the lessons from<br />

persecuted Christian women around the<br />

world. They are some of the most courageous<br />

and resilient humans you will encounter, and<br />

their grit is stronger than that of a pearl.<br />

We find her worshiping in the midst of<br />

unimaginable grief and despair, with tears<br />

in her eyes and arms lifted high. She is the<br />

backbone of her family, her church, and her<br />

Christian community. In the darkest corners of<br />

the world, her light shines bright.<br />


It’s often easy to think of persecution in its<br />

most blatant form; instances that are visible<br />

and severe, like beatings or murders. The<br />

target for these types of attacks are mainly<br />

Christian men.<br />

For centuries, however, women of faith<br />

have experienced complex and often hidden<br />

persecution from their culture and extremists.<br />

And for more than two decades, ICC has<br />

served suffering Christians at the front lines of<br />

persecution ministry.<br />


But lately, we’ve seen courageous women<br />

bring to light injustices in Iran after the death of<br />

Mahsa Amini. Her death and the circumstances<br />

surrounding it sparked a nationwide protest<br />

with Iranians from all ethnic and religious<br />

backgrounds taking to the streets.<br />

Women have been the central leaders of the<br />

protest with nothing to lose and everything to<br />

gain.<br />


Throughout the Bible, God placed women in<br />

strategic locations to carry out His will and to<br />

bring peace and justice into this world. Some<br />

He gave positions of authority and power, while<br />

others, He humbled to the lowest positions of<br />

society: all to be elevated for His glory.<br />

And God is writing that same story today<br />

through the brave, humble, and strong women<br />

who bring the light of Christ to the darkest<br />

corners of the world.<br />

A W O M A N W H O F E A R S<br />

Photo: Miguel Bruna / Unsplash<br />

T H E L O R D I S T O B E<br />

P R A I S E D . Proverbs 31:30<br />


Cutting<br />

Through the<br />

Silence<br />

By Joseph Daniel, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East<br />

10<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>



AND<br />




TOWARD<br />

FREEDOM.<br />

Photo: Craig Melville / Unsplash<br />

Simply the mention of Iran in<br />

the international media evokes<br />

a certain level of controversy<br />

and alarm. But how did the Middle<br />

East’s second-largest nation go<br />

from an Islamic revolution to an<br />

unprecedented protest movement?<br />

And how did its Christians go from a<br />

small, persecuted minority to one of<br />

the world’s fastest-growing churches<br />

today?<br />


When the Iranian revolutionaries led<br />

by Ayatollah Khomeini seized power<br />

in 1979, they immediately pushed<br />

to rid the country of any foreign<br />

Christian elements, ending all formal<br />

foreign missionary efforts. Ethnic<br />

Christian groups inside Iran, such as<br />

Armenian and Assyrian churches,<br />

were offered some protection and<br />

recognition predicated on their<br />

support for the new government.<br />

However, starting in the 1990s,<br />

another group of Christians in Iran<br />

have emerged consisting of Iranian<br />

converts from Islam through a rapidly<br />

growing “house-church” movement.<br />


12<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

An independent survey in 2020 revealed an<br />

estimation of close to a million Christians in<br />

Iran today with most of them being converts.<br />

This incredible growth is occurring despite<br />

the intense persecution Christians continue<br />

to live under. The regime attempts to publicly<br />

silence Christians’ faith. All Farsi Bibles and<br />

Christian literature are banned; sharing one’s<br />

faith with others is outlawed; Christian groups<br />

are constantly monitored by authorities,<br />

and pastors have consistently been arrested,<br />

interrogated, and imprisoned.<br />

Dabira Bet Tabriz, a leading voice around<br />

the world for religious freedom in Iran since<br />

her own Assyrian-Iranian family suffered<br />

immense persecution for their leadership in<br />

Faris-speaking church activities, shared in an<br />

interview with ICC what it is like to live as a<br />

Christian in Iran.<br />

“If you are an Evangelical, a Protestant, you<br />

are considered a Zionist, a terrorist; you have<br />

no right to practice your belief, to assemble<br />

within a church. You have no right to worship,<br />

and this is [speaking of] mainly of Assyrians and<br />

Armenians. However, converts are the largest<br />

Christian group in the country, but they are not<br />

a recognized religious minority and have no<br />

right to freedom [in Iran].”<br />

She further shared that most converts are<br />

women which exposes them to additional<br />

discrimination and abuses, with reports of<br />

the government employing humiliating and<br />

inhumane interrogation and psychological<br />

torture techniques against Christian prisoners.<br />


In September 2022, a 22-year-old Kurdish-<br />

Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini visited<br />

family members in Tehran, the capital city of<br />

Iran. The notorious morality police arrested<br />

her under charges of not properly wearing the<br />

hijab, the Muslim headscarf. While detained,<br />

the morality police reportedly brutally tortured<br />

Mahsa who fell into a coma and died 3 days<br />

later. This tragic incident sparked a nationwide<br />

protest movement with Iranians from all ethnic<br />

and religious backgrounds taking to the streets<br />

in dozens of Iranian cities.<br />

While most street-level protests are not new<br />

in Iran, previous protests would only last a<br />

few weeks before being ended by authorities.<br />

However, these recent protests have continued<br />

for months with estimations of 500 protestors<br />

killed, including several “fast-track” trials<br />

leading to executions of protestors charged<br />

with “waging a war on God” for their activities<br />

during the protests.<br />

Women, especially young women and even<br />

children, have courageously been central<br />

leaders of the protests with a strong sense that<br />

they have nothing to lose and eventually their<br />

freedom to gain.<br />

In solidarity with Mahsa Amini, the foundational<br />

slogan from the beginning of the protests<br />

has been “Women, Life, Liberty,” illustrating<br />

the nationwide, united frustration with the<br />

authoritarian regime’s oppressive system of<br />

dictating the everyday lives of women, brutally<br />

killing dissidents, and depriving its citizens<br />

of the freedom to determine their own life<br />

decisions.<br />


Dabrina further shared with ICC, that<br />

considering the decades of persecution and<br />

oppression as well as all the events of the<br />

past few months, “We are hopeful that this<br />

regime will change. We are hopeful that they<br />

are breathing their last breath. We don’t know<br />

when. But this is our hope, our prayer, our fight.<br />

But as believers, we have a different hope,<br />

a bigger point of view, a different strength to<br />

carry on.”<br />

Christians suffering persecution for so long are<br />

raising their voices in union with their fellow<br />

Iranians for freedom, peace, and justice in their<br />

nation. The Iranian regime’s long history of<br />

efforts to brutally silence the spread of the hope<br />

of the gospel has failed, and in such tumultuous<br />

times as this, that hope desperately needs to<br />

shine more brightly than ever for the people of<br />

Iran.<br />

A N D W H O K N O W S B U T T H A T Y O U<br />

H A V E C O M E T O Y O U R R O Y A L<br />

P O S I T I O N F O R S U C H A T I M E A S<br />

T H I S ? Esther 4:14 (NIV)<br />


My Christ Cannot<br />

Fail Me<br />




Women who grow up in a Muslim household are<br />

often at the mercy of the men they are married off<br />

to. They typically lack the education and resources<br />

to make it on their own as single women due to cultural<br />

norms and standards.<br />

Many Muslim women who come to faith in Christ are faced<br />

with the painful decision to share their faith and risk losing<br />

everything or stay underground and live an outward lie. And<br />

to add to the pressure, these women are often mothers, and<br />

their marriage provides their children with the support and<br />

security they need to thrive.<br />

Jane was 26 years old when she was married. Her husband<br />

treated her well for the first eight years until he married two<br />

more women and began to severely mistreat her.<br />

The situation steadily worsened over the next five years,<br />

culminating in her husband’s refusal to pay for the basic<br />

needs of Jane and her children in 2020. Desperate for a<br />

source of income to cover her children’s food, clothes, and<br />

school fees, Jane attempted to start her own business.<br />

However, it ultimately failed due to a lack of starting capital.<br />

For two years, she and her children continued to struggle<br />

greatly. Her husband still allowed them to live in his home,<br />

but his constant abuse made their lives miserable.<br />

In May 2022, Christian preachers came to her town and<br />

shared the gospel with her. They told her to cast her burdens<br />

onto Jesus, and at that moment, Jane decided to trust in<br />

Jesus and became a Christian.<br />

“After receiving Christ, I went back home and told my<br />

husband. The only answer I received from him was that he<br />

should not find me at the house when he returned from<br />

Muslim prayers, but I thought it was a joke,” Jane said.<br />

“When he returned home, he asked me if I had become a<br />

Christian. I said yes, but before I could finish speaking, he<br />

slapped my face and pulled me out of bed. He pushed me<br />

outside the house and started throwing my things after me.<br />

He went back inside, woke up my four kids, and told them<br />

to go outside with their stupid mother who had decided to<br />

become a Christian.”<br />

He told them mockingly, “Let her take you to her Jesus.”<br />

Jane and her children spent the night outside, not knowing<br />

what to do next.<br />

“He said he would accept us again only if I denied Christ and<br />

returned to his religion. I could not do that because I knew<br />

the Christ I received could not fail me,” Jane said.<br />

Jane and her children ended up staying at a Christian friend’s<br />

house temporarily but they then pressured her to leave after<br />

a few weeks.”<br />

An ICC staff member heard about Jane’s situation and in<br />

September 2022, ICC sent her the funds to rent and stock a<br />

retail shop with a house attached. It was the startup capital<br />

she previously lacked.<br />

In response, Jane said, “I thank God for this shop. My<br />

salvation is not in vain now because God has done it for me.<br />

I am so excited that I have received my dream. I have desired<br />

to own my shop for years, and now I have one. My life will<br />

change with this shop, and I will do my best to make it work<br />

no matter what.”<br />

ICC equips dozens of women around the world every year<br />

who have been kicked to the curb because they chose to<br />

speak up about their faith.<br />

Photo: Sheha Sirarajan / Unsplash<br />


Women’s bodies have become a second battlefield, and<br />

perpetrators weaponize sexual violence to further their<br />

power and agenda. Sexual violence infiltrates nearly every<br />

culture in the world to some degree, and Christian women<br />

who are minorities are more prone to this type of persecution.<br />

It is a means of control, power, and dominance to establish<br />

Christian women as inferior, weak, and helpless.<br />

In many societies, a women’s sexual purity equates to her<br />

worth. The loss of that purity brings dishonor to herself and<br />

her family and leaves her an outcast in her community. In<br />

some countries, radical Muslim men weaponize that to force<br />

marriage and conversion. To compound the shame, they<br />

often blame the women for the violence brought against<br />

them.<br />

ICC seeks to rescue the girls who have been cornered into<br />

marriage and to restore dignity to all those who have been<br />

dehumanized because of their gender and religion.<br />


A Captive Generation<br />



The focal point for the Christmas Day service was<br />

supposed to be about the birth of our Lord and<br />

Savior. But the morning quickly took a turn for the<br />

worse when radical Fulani militants stormed the service<br />

with echoes of gunshots and screams in Angwan Aku<br />

Village in Kaduna state.<br />

“The church worship service was about to commence<br />

when the attackers arrived at the village riding on<br />

motorbikes and shooting sporadically,” a resident who<br />

witnessed the attack said.<br />

Fulani militants killed one Christian and kidnapped 53<br />

other Christians who, at the time of writing this article,<br />

are still held captive.<br />

“Family life has been disrupted; the lucky survivors have<br />

become refugees in their land waiting for palliatives in<br />

an endless genocide they can’t understand,” continued<br />

the witness. “Mass graves litter the community and<br />

countryside. Our people can no longer go to their farms<br />

for fear of being gunned down or macheted.”<br />


The fear of Fulani militants runs deep in many northern<br />

Nigerian villages. The attackers are ruthless and will<br />

destroy property, kidnap indiscriminately, and kill anyone<br />

they deem.<br />

Christian women, especially Christian girls, have a<br />

tremendous target on their backs. Terrorists, like the Fulani<br />

militants and Boko Haram, target schools and villages and<br />

kidnap young girls to convert to Islam. Women are viewed<br />

as the source of the next generation – those who birth and<br />

care for the children in the community. Because of this,<br />

they are kidnapped, converted to Islam, and sold as brides<br />

for militant leaders to use to raise their own generation.<br />

Their one evil goal is to stop Christianity at its source.<br />


Fulani militants attempted to rape a 16-year-old Christian<br />

girl one morning while she was walking with her mother<br />

to their farmland in Nkiendonwro village, roughly 20 miles<br />

from Jos, the capital of Plateau state.<br />

An ICC contact visited the family after the attack and spoke<br />

with the victims. “They told us to stop,” said the girl’s<br />

mother. “Then the Fulani [militants] beat me and injured<br />

me… I was trying to stop them from raping my daughter.”<br />

As she spoke, the mother kept her arm raised, revealing a<br />

deep gash she suffered from the militants.<br />

16<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

Above: A mother receives aid to send her daughter to<br />

school after she saved her daughter from an attempted<br />

rape by Fulani militants.<br />

The woman explained that the Fulani militants had seized<br />

her land and burned down her house in 2017, forcing her<br />

and her family to move closer to the city for their safety. No<br />

longer having their farmland has caused the family of seven<br />

to fall into deep poverty, where they currently live and sleep<br />

in a one-room home.<br />


ICC’s contact in Nigeria did not speak to the minor, as she was<br />

traumatized and crying throughout the visit. The mother said<br />

God used her to protect her daughter from public disgrace<br />

and shame, which is often how victims of rape are viewed in<br />

their society.<br />

“I have nothing to say but thank God,” said the mother.<br />

“Please tell Christians to pray for me and my daughter. Pray<br />

that we will return to our village one day because life is too<br />

expensive for us in the city.”<br />

Nkiendonwro village was deserted in 2017 after 29 Christians<br />

were killed by Fulani militants in a classroom massacre. Since<br />

then, the militants have occupied the land, and Christians<br />

don’t have access to their farms and homes despite a series of<br />

peace meetings with the Fulani leaders. Out of desperation,<br />

many villagers try to return to their farmlands to retrieve<br />

resources, such as firewood, for survival.<br />

ICC helped the family with financial assistance and provided<br />

housing and a small business startup.<br />


ICC conducted trauma training session for Generation<br />

Transformation students last year.<br />

The girls shared the gender inequalities they faced in their<br />

own families. “Parents impose unnecessary restrictions on<br />

us. Our parents start looking for our matches for marriages<br />

instead of focusing on our careers. They prefer if the match is<br />

from any foreign country or aged with wealth, as they want<br />

to secure other siblings’ career at the cost of our choice,” one<br />

girl explained.<br />

“If we succeed in achieving our goals—getting higher<br />

education—then we start facing resistance from our relatives<br />

and in-laws who don’t want girls and women to continue<br />

with their jobs. They want us to focus on establishing families<br />

and showing a servitude attitude,” said another girl.<br />

“Parents and brothers keep us under pressure and impose<br />

their decisions on selection of careers,” she continued. “They<br />

ignore our basic human rights and restrict our mobility,<br />

freedom of choice, and decision-making power which is one<br />

of the factors of our identity crises.”<br />

Generation Transformation seeks to empower students to<br />

break generational cycles of persecution through the power<br />

of education.<br />


Human Trafficking and<br />

Religious <strong>Persecution</strong><br />


Throughout my professional career, I<br />

have had the privilege and challenge<br />

of directly working with victims of<br />

human trafficking as well as administering<br />

programs to assist them. The experience<br />

of working with both the justice and social<br />

service systems has exposed me to some<br />

of the most vulnerable cases of human<br />

trafficking, including an eleven-year-old<br />

with a six-month-old infant who was<br />

trafficked by her mother, a woman who was<br />

fleeing from her pimp who had previously<br />

branded her, and a young woman whose<br />

husband convinced her that she would<br />

show her love for him by prostituting<br />

herself and bringing him the money.<br />

In these and many other tragic situations,<br />

the trafficker exercised complete control<br />

over the victim through threats, physical<br />

abuse, deception, deprivation, and<br />

psychological manipulation. Unfortunately,<br />

these characteristics are far too common in<br />

all forms of human trafficking.<br />


From the 1970s to the 1990s, before the<br />

term “human trafficking” was coined and<br />

understood, the victims of trafficking were<br />

often perceived as a criminal committing<br />

the crime of prostitution and adjudicated<br />

accordingly. This tragically meant that the<br />

“victim” was penalized, and the trafficker<br />

typically faced minimal consequences. It<br />

wasn’t until the early 2000s that the world<br />

recognized the term “human trafficking”<br />

and acknowledged it as a global problem<br />

involving the enslavement of people for<br />

exploitation or profit.<br />

In 2000, the UN General Assembly formally<br />

developed and adopted the definition of<br />

human trafficking at the UN Convention<br />

against Transnational Organized Crime<br />

(the Palermo Convention). The trafficking<br />

of persons was officially defined as “the<br />

recruitment, transportation, transfer,<br />

harboring or receipt of persons, by means<br />

of threat or use of force or other means<br />

of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of<br />

deception, of the abuse of power or of a<br />

position of vulnerability.” The definition<br />

also recognized that “…exploitation shall<br />

include, at a minimum, the exploitation of<br />

the prostitution of others or other forms of<br />

sexual exploitation, forced labor or services,<br />

slavery, or practices similar to slavery,<br />

servitude, or the removal of organs.” As of<br />

May 2020, 178 countries have ratified the<br />

Trafficking Protocol.<br />

In the same year, modeled after the UN<br />

document, the U.S. government enacted<br />

the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of<br />

2000 (TVPA), which serves as the national<br />

framework for the federal response to<br />

human trafficking.<br />


Human trafficking is modern-day slavery,<br />

generating over $150 billion annually,<br />

slightly eclipsed only by the trafficking<br />

of drugs and weapons. The trafficking<br />

of human beings is uniquely profitable,<br />

however, because they can be sold multiple<br />

times. According to the International<br />

Labour Organization, “40.3 million people<br />

are in modern-day slavery, including 24.9<br />

million who are in forced labor and 15.4<br />

million in forced marriage.”<br />

A few statistics on human trafficking show<br />

that:<br />

There are 5.4 victims of modern-day slavery<br />

for every 1,000 people in the world.<br />

Children make up 1 in every 4 victims of<br />

modern-day slavery.<br />

Out of the 24.9 million people trapped<br />

in forced labor, 16 million people are<br />

exploited in the private sector, such as<br />

through domestic work, construction,<br />

or agriculture; 4.8 million people are in<br />

forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million<br />

are in forced labor imposed by the state<br />

authorities.<br />

Women and girls are disproportionately<br />

affected by forced labor, accounting for<br />

99% of victims in the commercial sex<br />

industry and 58% in other sectors.<br />




Per the report referenced above, forced<br />

labor, sexual exploitation, and forced<br />

marriage are the primary reasons<br />

people are trafficked. While 30% of labor<br />

18<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>


Photo: Mickael Gresset / Unsplash<br />

trafficking is committed by state actors,<br />

sexual exploitation and forced marriage are<br />

often the results of a society or culture in<br />

which the government may be complicit,<br />

reluctant, or ineffective in protecting<br />

marginalized and vulnerable populations,<br />

such as persecuted Christians. One report<br />

estimates, “In the 50 countries with the<br />

highest level of Christian persecution,<br />

forced marriages of women have increased<br />

by 16 percent.”<br />

Whereas a primary motivator in the human<br />

trafficking industry is profit, trafficking in the<br />

context of religious persecution is uniquely<br />

different. While there may be economic<br />

benefits to trafficking Christians and other<br />

religious minorities, the driving motivators<br />

are religious and cultural. In addition,<br />

perpetrators often use the trafficking<br />

of Christians as a weapon of war and<br />

domination to undermine and destroy the<br />

presence of religious minorities in a specific<br />

geographic region. Thus, human trafficking,<br />

and predominately sex trafficking, are<br />

primary tools for persecution, although<br />

profit may be a secondary factor.<br />

One report on gender-based persecution<br />

found that Christian women and girls<br />

are most adversely impacted among<br />

the countries listed on the World Watch<br />

List (WWL), a ranking list of the top fifty<br />

countries where it is most challenging<br />

to be a Christian. Of the countries on the<br />

WWL, at least 90% reported cases of forced<br />

marriage, and 86% reported sexual violence<br />

as the key instrument for persecution.<br />

The report also identified forced marriage,<br />

sexual violence, physical violence,<br />

psychological violence, and forced divorce<br />

as the five most common “pressure points”<br />

for religious persecution against women<br />

in WWL countries. In addition, the report<br />

found that each category had increased<br />

since the previous year’s study, showing<br />

that “…the rise in psychological violence<br />

mostly affects women and girls, who often<br />

live in fear of attacks or struggle to move on<br />

from the trauma of past physical and sexual<br />

assaults.<br />

“Women are also primarily impacted by the<br />

rise in human trafficking, although bonded<br />

labor and trafficking continue to affect men<br />

and boys too. Sexual violence and forced<br />

marriage are used as tools of shame,<br />

coercion, and control, primarily against<br />

Christian women and girls because of the<br />

strong association of sexual purity with the<br />

honor of a family or community.”<br />

Additionally, reports of psychological<br />

violence among women in these countries<br />

rose from 40% to 74% from the 2020 report<br />

to the 2021 report. Forced marriages<br />

increased by 16%, and physical violence<br />

increased by 20%. The report also found<br />

that forced marriage is most prevalent<br />

in Africa (4.8 per 1000), while the most<br />

significant number of victims are in the Asia<br />

and Pacific regions, accounting for 73% of<br />

victims of forced sexual exploitation.<br />

Some more examples of the intersection<br />

between Christian persecution and the<br />

treatment of women and girls include:<br />

In India, Christian girls are considered “less<br />

than” in a stratified Hindu society. They are<br />

poor and vulnerable to being abducted or<br />

tricked with offers of jobs and a better life.<br />

Impoverished Pakistan Christian girls are<br />

often lured into marrying Chinese men with<br />

promises of security and provision. Young<br />

Chinese men, who are disproportionately<br />

overrepresented in the population<br />

due to the failed one-child policy that<br />

heavily favored males, fuel the lucrative<br />

international bride trafficking business.<br />

In Nigeria, Islamic terrorists continue to<br />

abduct Christian girls despite international<br />

condemnation of the 2014 kidnapping<br />

of Chibok school girls. Most criticize the<br />

Nigerian government for not doing enough<br />

to rescue the victims and bring the traffickers<br />

to justice. Much to the ire of Nigerians and<br />

the international community, some officials<br />

have even referred to identified traffickers<br />

(captors) as “husbands” of abducted and<br />

released girls.<br />

As we pray for our persecuted brothers and<br />

sisters around the world, we also pray for<br />

the victims of human trafficking – they are<br />

often the same.<br />

*Source: Global Estimates of Modern<br />

Slavery: Forced Labor and Forced Marriage,<br />

Geneva, September 2017<br />


20<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

On the Ground<br />


We interviewed one of our staff members based in Pakistan to get her<br />

personal experience dealing with the dynamics of her faith and gender in the<br />

fundamentalist Islamic country.<br />

This is our conversation:<br />

People in the west often have a view that Pakistan and other Islamic<br />

countries create suffocating cultures for women, especially Christian<br />

women. What has your experience been as a Christian woman living in an<br />

Islamic country?<br />

As a Christian woman living in Pakistan, I feel that there is a certain judgment criterion that precedes my reputation.<br />

A general label regarding the clothing choices of Christian females and how they are an easy target to be persuaded<br />

and invaded for various reasons and purposes. There is always a false perception in the eyes of others in society<br />

that Christian females are liable to be explored in relationships as Christian females have several liberties to exist<br />

within the environment more than Muslim women.<br />

The Christian community faces discrimination in all aspects of life based on their religion, and the discrimination<br />

is supported by the constitution, law, and policies designed by the state. Women are the marginalized segment of<br />

society and being a minority woman is being double jeopardized.<br />

Photo: Shiza Nazir / Unsplash<br />

I faced discrimination at my university while studying at a private university in Lahore. Being the only Christian<br />

student in the electrical engineering department, I faced a lot of discrimination. A teacher deliberately used to give<br />

me an “F” grade because of my faith, and I repeated that course three times during the tenure of that teacher,<br />

failing to secure a grade other than “F.” However, I managed to get an “A” as soon as the teacher was replaced.<br />


Have there been situations you’ve found yourself in that have caused you<br />

to fear for your safety because of your faith? If so, could you describe one<br />

of those events?<br />

The moment I learned the gravity of my faith being a danger to my safety was when Salman Taseer was murdered<br />

due to taking a stance for Asia Bibi. A nationwide holiday was announced 12 years ago on the 5th of January for<br />

national mourning for him.<br />

In this nationwide holiday, we learned to mask our true feelings for the case of Asia Bibi and to behave ourselves<br />

in college by not taking part in any discussions. Salman Taseer was a hero in our home, yet when I came to the<br />

horizons of my college, I learned to comprehend the fact that Salman Taseer was a sinner who never deserved<br />

a funeral just for the reason he spoke up for the rights of minorities in Pakistan. I was brought up in a Christian<br />

institution, yet I felt scared in between the walls of that college, for in every corner, I could just listen to the<br />

whispers of how my faith is condemnable theology.<br />

There are so many events that I’ve experienced throughout my life where I’ve felt that my safety would be<br />

jeopardized by my religious identity. On the day Asia Bibi got released, it was nationwide chaos for Christians. Many<br />

of us couldn’t drive with the symbol of a crucifix in our cars; university students, even my sister, were exposed to<br />

this incident of brutal torture.<br />

What would you like people in the West, specifically other sisters in Christ, to<br />

know about Christian women in Pakistan?<br />

In most cases, Christian women in Pakistan are the breadwinners in their households. They are the ones facilitating<br />

and providing for their families, and most of these Christian women are nurses. Christian women in Pakistan are<br />

brave and bold enough to be the witness and source of the true gospel in their workplace and their groups through<br />

their living example. They are sharing Christianity rather boldly through their conduct and demeanor. They are<br />

ambassadors of Christ in the Muslim community of Pakistan.<br />

22<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | MARCH <strong>2023</strong>

1 Chronicles 16:11<br />

S E E K T H E<br />

L O R D A N D H I S<br />

S T R E N G T H ,<br />

S E E K H I S F A C E<br />

C O N T I N U A L L Y .<br />

Has working for ICC changed the way you view Christians in your own<br />

country? If so, in what ways?<br />

Working with ICC has become my passion. Reaching out to the vulnerable and weak groups of society makes me<br />

feel good and at least useful and productive. ICC is contributing to the empowerment of the Christian community<br />

of Pakistan. Strengthening them to have education is the most needed and productive way to strengthen the<br />

community.<br />

ICC has provided me an opportunity to interact with the youth that I have found to have the potential to thrive<br />

through the odds. They, despite discrimination, are inching toward their goals. And I think ICC has increased their<br />

pace.<br />

If you could change anything about Pakistan, what would you hope would<br />

change?<br />

I wish my country should be a secular state as declared by the father of the nation Jinha in 1947. It would pave the<br />

way to building a tolerant and pluralistic society.<br />

I hope to change the biased laws in the legislation of Pakistan.<br />

I would turn the law to eliminate the rule of blasphemy that has been a torturous way to punish Christians in our<br />

community. This law has been used to falsely accuse victims just for executing judgment for personal grudges.<br />


We’d love to hear from you!<br />

ICC<br />

PO BOX 8056<br />

SILVER SPRING, MD 20907<br />




800-ICC-5441<br />

Giving via Will<br />

Provide now for a future gift to ICC by including<br />

a bequest provision in your will or revocable<br />

trust. If you would like more information on<br />

giving to ICC in this way, please give us a call at<br />

1-800-ICC-5441.<br />







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