Christians get life sentence, Muslims acquitted in same case in Egypt *The need for Evangelism in disregarded areas of Pakistan: Shahzad Kamran
Egypt, May 28, 2012: Twelve Christians have been sentenced to life imprisonment in Egypt, while eight Muslims jointly charged in the case were acquitted, in what has been slammed as a “serious miscarriage of justice”.
A military court tried the defendants on 21 May in connection with an outbreak of sectarian violence in Abu Qurqas El Balad, Minya, in April 2011 in which four people were killed.
Christian activist Georges Wahib, who attended the hearing, said that as the judge pronounced the verdict:
There was complete silence, as it came as a shock to everyone, then cries of grief and wailing could be heard from the Christian families with shouts of “we are innocent”, while the Muslim side broke out into jubilation and shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”).
Violence broke out on 18 April 2011 after a Muslim bus driver became angry over a speed bump outside the home of a wealthy Christian lawyer, Alaa Reda Roushdi. Two Muslims were killed in the subsequent fighting.
Following the funerals of the two deceased, a mob of Muslims looted and burnt down scores of homes and businesses belonging to Christians. An elderly Christian woman died after being thrown from a second floor balcony, and a Christian man who was stabbed during the violence later died in hospital. Ten Christians were injured and hospitalised.
The twelve Christian men sentenced to life imprisonment were convicted of sowing public strife, the possession of illegal weapons and killing two Muslims. Among the twelve was Mr Roushdi, who was not even at home when the deaths occurred.
The eight Muslim defendants who were acquitted had been charged with possession of illegal weapons and burning down the homes and businesses. Nobody was charged with the murder of the Christians.
The case has been slammed by human rights activists as a “serious miscarriage of justice”. Because it was conducted in a military court, a retrial can be granted only by the military council.
Hundreds of Christians staged a protest in front of the Cairo High Court on 22 May, while nearly 2,000 Christians and Muslims joined forces in a demonstration in front of the high court in Alexandria.
The case has highlighted the lack of equality under the law for Egyptian Christians, and it is feared that they will only suffer greater acts of injustice if an Islamist president is elected.
Rare case of justice
However, in a rare case of justice for the Christian community, a Muslim policeman who shot six Christians on a train in Egypt, killing one of them, was sentenced to death by a court in Minya on 14 May.
Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher (29) opened fire on the Christians, who were sitting together, after chanting “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”) on the Cairo-bound train in January 2011.
Fathy Ghattas (71) was killed instantly. His wife, Emily Hanna, was seriously injured and required an operation to remove her left kidney and spleen. The four other victims also sustained severe wounds: three had to be airlifted to hospital in Cairo; the other needed an operation on her liver.
According to eyewitnesses, the off-duty police officer had walked up and down the train looking for passengers with a cross tattooed on their wrist, which most Egyptian Christians have, or any other sign revealing their Christian identity.
Christian activists expressed their surprise at the verdict. Mark Ebeid said, “Usually killers of Christians literally get away with murder.”
- barnabas team
The need for Evangelism in disregarded areas of Pakistan : Shahzad Kamran
Pakistan, June 18, 2012:“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mathew 9:37-38) Jesus said this to his disciples, to make them aware of the need of Evangelism. It was not only for those twelve but for all who are known by His name. As a Christian it is our responsibility to spread His Words and share the gospel with those who are unaware of God’s Good News of grace. “And he said to them, “Go into the entire world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:17). But many of us behave like cowards and think that they have no strength to follow His purpose, they make many accuses to find the way to escape from this responsibility, but we find a beautiful promise from our Lord that “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”(Acts 1:8). On the other hand, it is a great thing for believers to share Gospel and to save the souls of lost sheep “He who wins souls is wise”. (Proverbs 11:3)
Evangelism in early church:
After the ascension of Jesus Christ, the early church faced many hardships for the sake of Great Commission mentioned in (Mathew 28:19). The Disciples carried the persecution of Rome’s empire (2 Corinthians 11:24-27), the religious Jews (Acts 7:54-60; 14:19) and the Greeks (Acts 16:16-22). Their skins were being torn off, they were lit on fire to light up the streets of Rome, they were crucified, ripped apart by animals in savage arenas, the were whipped, stoned, maligned because they followed the Christ. As they saw their master (Jesus) fulfill the will of Father, they also live the Words of Christ and sacrifice their lives even to the death to spread the Gospel all over the World.
With the Passage of time, many people came to the circle of Christianity; many received Jesus Christ, as their personal savior. But they being scattered in different factions, they drop their link with Christ. People have substituted the gift of God’s grace, to focus their energies and ministries on material things and watered down doctrine. Thousands of Christians are just nominal, they have no idea about their religion and its doctrines. In this is the critical situation, some Christians are being ignored by the hands of other responsible Christians; there is no one to feed them the Word of God for their Spiritual growth.
Evangelism in Pakistan:
In Pakistan, urban Christian communities seem to be very alive in their spiritual lives; many churches are available in their localities, they go to the churches and get the knowledge of God’s Word, although some are still far from Christ. But in rural areas we find that there are many souls who want to turn to Christ but they find no help.The Brick kiln areas are one such places; here laborers at Brick kiln are living very far from spiritual prosperity. They have no knowledge about the kingdom of God. They are living hopeless life, as they are under the burden of loans and bearing the slavery of their owners. It is very essential to tell them about the eternal life given by God.
Role of pastors:
Firstly, pastors are laboring in their own churches; they make no time to think about other believers who are in need and waiting for the servants of God, to teach them to know God. Mostly pastors thinks that their duty is just to present the Word of God in front of believers in their churches and they do not go to those souls who have thirst of Living water outside the safety of their church doors. They think they are happy in their comfortable and seeming prosperous lives and do not want to come out from it. In this situation how can they think about those people who cannot offer them a better salary because they belong to very low-class of society; this practice brings out bad consequences.
People live in and die in darkness, their lives have no use for their end (Hebrews 13:7 follow or imitate the faith of those who consider the way of escape considering the end of their lives) yet no one is reaching into the darkness to offer their own light. Instead so many waste their lives, having faith on shrines and magic and other superstitious things. They think that they are on the right track but actually they do not find the person who can guide them in right direction of Christ (Acts 8:26-40), because that person is not out there seeking them out. They do not have knowledge that Jesus is the way, the truth and light (John 14:6). Some, who know that they are in darkness and need the light of God; they do not find any pastor who can guide them. In brick-kiln areas there is no church, where they can worship and learn about the creator of universe.
Response of Established Churches:
Many well famed and established churches are working all over the world, they are doing much for the believers of their missions, many branches are also in the state of Pakistan but they do not build a single chapel in obscure and unattractive areas like the brick kilns, where laborers can be in touch with missionaries and can receive the blessings of fellowship, prayer and teaching. Chains of these churches and their services are just in main areas of country, there is no approach to those, who are in need to be aware of the kingdom of God.
Need of Devoted Visionaries:
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
In this age, we need true and committed leaders who can sincerely harvest the field of souls. Who can sacrifice their personal interest and can deny themselves and can work in remote areas like the disciples of early Church. So Christians in remote areas can get the spiritually fed for their spiritual growth and understanding can become true Disciples of Christ and can work for the harvest of souls.
Let’s pray together, to heal our land spiritually, and for the changing of those lives, are deprived of God’s knowledge and His kingdom especially in remote areas.
- pakistan christian post