by Malcolm MacLeod*
*I have known Malcolm for years. He and I started working in Ethiopia about the same time and have since joined forces to provide support for missionaries laboring in areas with high potential for persecution. Malcolm’s organization, Steadfast Global, is a Scottish non-profit who partners with Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC). Steadfast and VOMC have provided small loans to missionaries to help them increase their yields as farmers or to start other small business ventures. Malcolm and his team work with the persecuted church all over the world. ~Joy
Asia Bibi – Released from Pakistani Prison
One can only imagine the sensation of feeling the warmth of the sun against the skin and drinking in the vibrant colours of life after spending nine years in a dank, gloomy prison cell under sentence of death. Asia Bibi is finally free; free of her prison cell but likely not of the physiological harm caused by the years of confinement. Neither is she free of the threat of injury from the ‘wolves’ who continue to pursue her life as a prize in their quest to triumph with their twisted doctrine of intolerance. There is talk of negotiations with Canada to accept her and her family as refugees. We can only trust that in Asia’s case what man meant for evil, God meant for good (Gen. 50:20), but nevertheless her experience leaves a sour taste in the mouths of those of us who actually do believe in freedom of thought, belief, religion and expression.
Back in the summer of 2009 Asia Bibi had her family and daily routine torn away in the space of a few heated words as she was labelled a blasphemer by two disgruntled fellow day-labourers. As M*slims they had refused to share a cup of water that she, a Christian, had already taken a drink from. Since then her children have grown into adulthood without a mother’s loving touch and guidance in those issues that matter when you are a teenage daughter. *It would be very unwise for us to forget about Asia and what she has endured. Her case is of enormous significance and stands as a warning to our confused western governments as they grapple with and largely fail over the issues of free speech, religious expression and tolerance.
As a member of Pakistan’s Christian minority, Asia Bibi found herself powerless against a justice system that was stacked against her. Today here in our One Scotland, the Christians who have their eyes open recognise the alarming signs that point towards our nation beginning the slide down a similar road! On our present trajectory devoted Christians and followers of other faiths will increasingly face marginalisation and likely prosecution as they refuse to bow to a vocal and powerful minority who demand unconditional acceptance of their personal lifestyle choices.
The decline is well and truly underway with the Scottish Government/Police Scotland ‘Dear haters’ campaign. While absolutely holding to the right of others to live as they wish and believe whatever they think best, I cannot but feel a little intimidated by this campaign. Is it now a crime for me to disagree? Is it an offence to suggest what I consider to be a better way of living life? Will I be penalised and branded a bigot for giving my opinion? What if I dare to argue that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled to the only true God?
Many Christ-followers in America voice these same questions sensing a similar trend as Malcolm does in Scotland. Believers like Asia Bibi, imprisoned for voicing a belief contrary to the political/religious platform of her community, need to be surrounded by our prayers. As you lift Asia in prayer, please also intercede for these brothers and sisters who are yet to be released from captivity:
Burkina Faso: Dr. Ken Elliot (age 84) remains in the hands of Islamic extremists following his abduction in January 2016. On Thursday, October 11th, his wife Jocelyn marked 1,000 days since he was taken by issuing a plea to his captors in the Fulani language via Facebook.
Mali: Beatrice Stockly, a Swiss national, has also spent over 1,000 days in the hands of her captors since being abducted from her home in Timbuktu in January 2016.
Nigeria: Boko Haram Islamic terrorists have vowed to keep 15-year-old Christian school girl Leah Sharibu and Christian aid worker Alice Ngaddah, a nurse serving with UNICEF, as slaves for life. The declaration came on October 15th after a second hostage, Hauwa Leman, an aid worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross, was executed as an apostate.