All posts filed under: Islam

Camel caravan in Saudi Arabia Credit: Linda Polik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Defending Saudi Arabia

Recently, a huge fight erupted between Canada and Saudi Arabia. If you have not heard about this, you are probably saying “What? Who? Why?” I worked in a large university in Canada, and I taught students from Saudi. Thousands of them go to universities in Canada. The female students removed their veils in my classroom and one of them forgot hers on a table one day. That was the only veil in lost-and-found, when I dropped it off. Canada probably trains most Saudi medical doctors in its medical schools. The two countries have a history, but it’s mostly friendly. Until the blow-up happened, most of us could never imagine those two countries disagreeing about anything. RELATED: Gunter: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince is just using the Liberals to look tough Conservative Islam is the religion of Saudi Arabia; there is no doubt. If you ask the what they believe, they will tell you, … and tell you, … and tell you; and they will try to convert you. That was my experience in the classroom. I’m …

Protests in Iran Credit: Javad Saharban/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christian pastor arrested in Iran as protests rage through the country

According to reports, Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has once again been arrested by authorities. Plain clothed agents with Iran’s secret police arrived at Yousef’s home on July 22 and were trying to break down the door. When Yousef’s son opened the door to find out what was going on, he was immediately tasered and thrown to the floor. The Iranian agents then tasered pastor Yousef and brutally beat him in front of his family before arresting him and taking him away. The family found out later that the government transferred Yousef to the country’s notorious Evin Prison renown for its brutal treatment of religious and political prisoners. This isn’t the first time the Iranian secret police had arrested Yousef. In 2009, police arrested him for questioning school authorities on why his Christian children were being taught the Koran. Though the Iranian constitution guarantees religious freedom, the current government of Iran routinely ignores the law. At that time, the police charged Yousef with “apostasy,” as it is illegal in Iran for a Muslim to convert to …

Protests in Iran Credit: Javad Saharban/Flickr/Creative Commons

The New Islamic Revolution

Did you know there is a revolution among us? I don’t know if it will succeed, but it is starting, and it is huge. Check out this video to see the brave leaders of the revolution: In Bangladesh, high school students are protesting in large numbers, for bus safety. RELATED: Bangladesh teenagers demanding road safety paralyse Dhaka: BBC In Iran, mass protests are demanding a prosperous western-styled economy, without the restrictions from the Islamic revolution. RELATED: Iran protests spread to 10 cities in widest unrest since January: VOANews And in Sweden, a young woman stood up on a plane to prevent it from taking off because one of the passengers was being deported to Afghanistan. The plane did not leave and the man was removed, to be deported later. The young woman said “It’s not right to send people to hell.” Note that “hell” is a Muslim majority country, Afghanistan. That is strong language from a 21-year-old woman. RELATED: Swedish student stops deportation of Afghan man with protest streamed on Facebook: CNN Bangladesh, Iran, and …

City of Toronto Credit: Duncan Rawlinson/Duncan.co/@thelastminute/Creative Commons

What’s going on in Toronto?

You might have heard the news, a man with a gun walked down a quiet street in Toronto and shot people who were enjoying a warm summer evening. Many people were injured and at this time, two have died, a girl and a young woman. The alleged killer, Faisal Hussain, was a Muslim from a Pakistani immigrant family. Faisal’s brother is in a coma from a drug overdose, and his father has Parkinson’s disease and there is a history, in their community, of dangerous drug gangs. That’s where the guns and bullets allegedly came from. Also, ISIS has now claimed Faisal was one of their soldiers. RELATED: ISIS claims of responsibility for Toronto shooting raise questions of credibility: CBC If we ever learn the truth, we will probably find a toxic mix of immigrant desperation, with all the sources of stress we can imagine. All the bad things seemed to pile on that young man. If there is a good life, he could see it but he couldn’t live it. The authorities, including police and …

Woman wearing a niqab in Egypt. Credit: MezzoMezzo/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Burkas, Niqabs, Hijabs, Chadors, Dupattas, and Christians

One of the biggest political arguments in the world today is about Muslim women and what they wear. Some countries, mainly in Europe and Africa, have banned or restricted Islamic female clothing. In Canada, the province of Quebec has introduced a law with some restrictions. There are many variations, but in general, women in conservative Muslim societies cover up, and I don’t think this is voluntary. It’s part of a religious lifestyle. RELATED: Explainer: Why do Muslim women wear a burka, niqab or hijab?: ABC RELATED: Hijab by country: Wikipedia This is not a big issue where I live, I think because we have cold winters and everyone covers up. Also, we have large numbers of Hutterites, German Christians who live on farming colonies, and Hutterite women wear long dresses and cover their heads. Now, large numbers of conservative Mennonites, similar to the Hutterites and with similar clothing styles, are moving into our country districts. Also, I live near an Ethiopian church and the older women often walk in my neighborhood in traditional clothes, and …

Fulani herdsmen Credit: John Mauremootoo/Flickr/Creative Commons

218 Christians massacred in Nigeria by Fulani herdsmen

Over the June 21-22, 2018 weekend, Fulani herdsmen massacred 218 Christians in Nigeria’s northern Plateau state in coordinated attacks on 11 villages. This is the third worst massacre of Christians by Fulani tribesmen behind the slaughter of 500 Christians in March 2010 in Plateau State and 300 in February 2016 in Benue State. This recent spate of violence is both puzzling and concerning. The Fulani herdsmen are nomadic or semi-nomadic tribesmen that travel through several countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Senegal with their cattle herds. They provide the bulk of the meat in Nigeria. Though the Fulani tribesman are Muslim they have worked peaceably side by side Christians farmers for decades. But that changed in recent years, and some are convinced that Muslim extremism, Boko Haram in particular, has radicalized many in this tribal group. Despite Nigeria being made up of 51% Christians and 45% Muslim, the Muslims are concentrated in the Northern and a middle part of Nigeria where they make up the majority of the population. However, the Plateau State where many of …

Palestine Credit: rainwiz/Flickr/Creative Commons

Who belongs in Palestine — Jews or Muslims?

When we talk of Palestine, we immediately think of the Palestinians, a group of Muslims, who are fighting to be recognized as a separate nation. Israel has basically opposed this initiative for one simple reason — one of the leading political groups in Palestine, Hamas, stated in its 1988 covenant that one of its goals is the annihilation of Israel: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).” Israel is unwilling to accept Palestine as nation until they are willing to accept Israel as a nation. But what does the word Palestine refer to? Most believe it was a word the Roman developed to describe the ancient Philistines who have have since disappeared. Based on this belief, modern Palestinians have claimed this area as their homeland. However, modern scholarship is challenging this notion. There is strong evidence that the word Palestine was originally used to refer to Israel, not the Philistines. In an article published …

The Muslim Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Credit: Patrick McKay/Flickr/Creative Commons

Why did Israel’s Sanhedrin ask the Arab world to help build the third Jewish Temple?

Breaking Israel News recently reported on a letter written by Israel’s nascent Sanhedrin asking the Arab world to join in building the third Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The court sent its request in English, Hebrew and Arabic. The nascent Sanhedrin is a Jewish court made up of 71 elders. A similar court has historically provided spiritual and sometimes political guidance to Israel through out its history. It was the Sanhedrin that asked the Romans to crucify Christ. So why did they ask the Muslims for help? Certainly expediency is one of the reasons. Orthodox Jews believe that God wants them to rebuild the Temple. However, the Temple Mount is now controlled by the Jordanian government and under the current political arrangement, Orthodox Jews would probably need Jordan’s permission to build. It is traditionally believed that the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the location of the second Jewish Temple the Romans destroyed in 70 AD. I don’t think the Jews believe Muslims would be willing to destroy the Dome of the Rock, Islam’s …

Old Jerusalem Credit: Ronan Shenhav/Flickr/Creative Commons

The US accelerates its decision to move embassy to Jerusalem

On Saturday, Feb 24, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced that the plan to set up the American embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, made late last year has been moved up. With expectations that the move would not be made until 2019, Trump stated the embassy will begin its transfer to Jerusalem in May this year. The first step will see American Ambassador David Friedman and a small support staff set up an office in the Jerusalem neighborhood Arnona giving it official American status. Over the next several months, the rest of the staff will be moved over as facilities are prepared for their arrival. A new building will also be constructed at a different location. In his February announcement, Trump said it was an anniversary gift for the Israelis. May 14th is Israel’s Independence Day and this years marks the 70th anniversary of Israel’s restoration as a nation. Shortly after Trump made his May announcement, Guatemala stated it would be moving its embassy in mid-May as well. For security reasons, the government …

Lahore, Pakistan Credit: r12a/Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you heard about the Chinese Martyrs in Pakistan?

On June 8, 2017, Islamic radicals announced that they had executed two citizens of China, in Pakistan. The two were a man and a woman, apparently a married couple, named Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng. They were identified as unauthorized Christian missionaries who tried to convert Muslims in Balochistan, a dangerous province in Pakistan, where the majority population is Muslim. The couple lived in Quetta, the capital city. Something interesting is happening there. RELATED: Risky road: China’s missionaries follow Beijing west: BBC If you look at a map of China, you can see that western Chinese territory borders on Pakistan, in a remote mountainous region. Pakistan has been allied with China for decades, as their rival India sided with Russia and the Soviet Union. Recently, China has invested billions in “Silk Road” trade to the west to expand their trade economy. The Silk Road trade route, including travel by sea near the ancient coast of India and Pakistan, was a popular idea with the ancient Roman Empire, two thousand years ago. At the time of …

Stockholm, Sweden Credit: Pedro Szekely/Flickr/Creative Commons

Despite death threats, former Iranian woman leads hundreds of Muslims to Christ in Sweden

Annahita Parsan, 47, now lives in Sweden where she pastors two churches. A former Muslim herself, she actively reaches out to Muslim refugees in her adopted country and trains other churches on how to reach those of the Islamic faith. Over the last 15 years, Parsan estimates she has led 1,500 Muslims to Christ. In an interview with Foxnews, Parsan tells how she was born into a Muslim family in Iran and was married at age 16, Two years later, her husband died in a car accident shortly after she gave birth to their son. According to Iranian law, on the death of a husband, the husband’s father becomes responsible for raising any boys. This required Parsan to take legal action to win her son back. During what is referred to as the Islamic Revolution, in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran. The country dramatically changed over night. Parsan remarried and in 1984, her husband decided they needed to flee to Turkey where they were arrested for illegally entering the country. On their release, …

Jerusalem, Israel's capital city Credit: Deror avi/Wikipedia

Uproar as America decides to move its embassy to Jerusalem

It has been a very unusual situation. Since Israel was restored as a sovereign nation in 1948, Jerusalem has been its capital city. Yet no foreign embassies are found in Israel’s capital like they typically are with other nations. Instead, the embassies are located in Tel Aviv, 67 kms away. It was a move done to try to appease the Palestinians and hopefully have them sign a peace treaty with Israel. Of course that never happened and will never happen, because how can you appease an enemy that in its own charter calls for the complete annihilation of Israel. In its covenant or charter written in 1998, the terrorist group Hamas which helps control Palestine states: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” With this as one of its stated goals, Hamas is not interested in peace. So when President Trump announced Wednesday morning that he would be moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinians were outraged. But they were outraged …

God is moving in Iran. Tehran, Iran in the winter 2006 Credit: Siamax/Wikipedia

God continues to move in astounding ways among Muslims

In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Mike Ansari the director of Mohabat TV said the growth of the underground church in Iran is defying all odds. Over the last several years, the Iranian government has been cracking down on the Christians forcing many underground into the house church movement. Despite the persecution and some say because of it the Iranian underground church has become one of the fastest growing Christian movements in the world. As evidence, the Mohabat released edited photos of 20 Iranians being secretly water baptized inside Iran. Ansari told CBN, some of those believers had been waiting years for the opportunity to be baptized. Mohabat TV started in 2006 and is broadcasting the Gospel in the Farsi language into Iran 24 hours a day. They estimate that last year 20% of Iranians (16 million people) viewed at least one of their gospel programs either on their cell phone or satellite TV. He added that many of the younger Iranians are becoming increasingly disillusioned about what is happening in their country. …

Qom, Iran where many of the youth are turning to Christ. Credit: Graeme Wood/Flickr/Creative Commons

Muslim cleric warns of explosive growth of Christianity among Iranian youth

Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, confirmed what many are reporting that there has been an extraordinary number of Iranians coming to Christ. The agency, that monitors Iranian news, said the confirmation came in an unusual way. It reported that an Islamic cleric in the Iranian city of Qom publicly warned about the spread of Christianity in that city particularly among the youth. Qom is one of the most Islamic cities in Iran and if there are concerns about the growth of Christianity in that environment, then what is happening in  the rest of the nation? Ayatollah Alavi Boroujerdi, who works at an Islamic seminary in Qom, stated, “accurate reports indicate that the youth are becoming Christians in Qom and attending house churches.” It was even reported that the son of an Islamic cleric based in Qom became a Christian. According to Mohabat News, this is not the first time an Islamic cleric in Iran warned of Christianity’s growing influence in that country. A year earlier, another Ayatollah, Makarem Shirazi based in Mashhad, said that …

Louis Farrakhan at a press conference in Iran. Credit: Tasnim News Agency/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Has Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan become a Christian?

Christian Post (CP) recently reported on a curious video posted to Youtube last week by Louis Farrakhan, the former leader of the Nation of Islam. It suggests the controversial leader may have become a Christian. Farrakhan, 87, gave up leadership of the 50,000 Black Muslim group in 2006 due to ill-health. He was suffering the after effects of prostate cancer. William Fard started the Nation of Islam in 1934 and during the 1970s it had upwards of two million members. The organization holds to the tenants of Islam and believers that Allah is the only god. Some believe Fard was the Muslim Mahdi, the Islamic equivalent of a messiah. Farrakhan became involved with the Nation of Islam after a brief career as a professional musician. In the mid-70s, he even served as a Sunni Muslim Imam for about three years. As early as 2015, a video shows Farrakhan talking about Jesus as the Redeemer though at the time he said Jesus was a Muslim. However, in the video posted recently Farrakhan seems to have a …

Karachi, Pakistan Credit: Benny Lin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Marilyn Hickey, a Pakistani anomaly

As we read about Christians being persecuted in Muslim countries, a weird anomaly keeps popping up — American televangelist Marilyn Hickey. Aged 86, last November during a eight-day tour she preached the gospel in Karachi, Pakistan before crowds totaling nearly one million people. She did it freely with no resistance from the government or threats from Muslim extremists. According to reports she is known as the ‘mom of Pakistan” and for some reason has even been accepted by imams in the Muslim Pakistani community. The terrorists basically ignore her because she is an old woman. Officially known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, with 201 million people it is the sixth most populated country in the world. It was formed in 1947 as a home for Muslims living in India and nearly 95% of the country is Muslim. In its revised 1973 constitution, the country declared Islam its state religion and all laws must be in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah. At this point, the country has not implemented Sharia law, however polls indicate …

Hebron Credit: Ronan Shenhav/Flickr/Creative Commons

UNESCO’s bizarre motions

Earlier this month, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) continued to rewrite history, which according to some is the organization’s favorite pastime. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee declared Israel the “occupier of the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s old city” as part of its annual meeting held in Kraków, Poland July 2 to 12th. With eight abstaining, the 21-member committee approved the motion in a 10-3 vote on July 3, 2017. Israel’s Foreign Ministry described the vote as “sad, needless and pathetic.” Such motions do little more than politicize important cultural and religious sites in the Middle East and further enflames already heated tensions. Predictably the Palestinian Authority jumped on the vote using it as another platform calling for the removal of Israel’s control of Jerusalem, a city that has been a part of Jewish theology and history for thousands of years. Then a few days later in a secret meeting, the Word Heritage Committee continued its rewrite declaring Hebron and the cave of the Patriarchs as endangered “Palestinian” sites. Located 32 km south of Jerusalem …

Tolerating Muslims

Last Sunday, as I drove to church, I noticed police cars on the road ahead, with flashing lights. It looked like a big accident or a crime scene, but when I got to the site I saw people coming out of the Islamic Center. Muslims celebrate Eid, at the end of the fasting time of Ramadan, and the police were managing traffic and providing security. With crowds of people and busy parking lots at an Islamic center, the police were being careful. So, are we supposed to tolerate those people? They were mostly new immigrants and most wore ethnic costumes from the old country. And they certainly have values that are different from mine. So, should we tolerate them? No, certainly not. I am a Christian and I follow the example of someone who loved us so much He died for us. Barely tolerating my neighbor is wrong for me. What I give out must be in the higher levels of kindness, at least; God’s love is the language of Christians. This is not even …

Coptic Christians were traveling to Saint Samuel the Confessors monsatery (above), when they were attacked by Muslim extremists. Credit: Roland Unger/Wikipedia

As in the Days of Noah — ISIS slaughters 28 Egyptian Coptic Christians?

On Friday, May 26, 2017, a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians were traveling by bus to pray at a monastery when they were attacked by Muslim extremists. Their destination was the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor located a hundred miles south of Cairo, Egypt. At least 28 were killed when the bus and an accompanying half ton truck were stopped by three SUVs containing upwards of ten ISIS militants. After storming the bus, the masked extremists demanded the people on board recite the Muslim profession of faith called the shahada: La ilaha illa Allah wa-Muhammad rasul Allah. English: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. When they were unable to do this, the heavily armed militants opened fire killing. In addition to the deaths, they wounded at least 22. TV images of the attack showed the bus riddled with bullet holes and its seats covered in blood. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s population of 94 million and over the last several years have been under …

President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen Credit: Die Grunen

President of Austria says all women in that country may be forced to wear a Muslim hijab

The British newspaper, The Independent, is reporting on the bizarre statements Austria’s left-leaning president, Alexander Van der Bellen, made to students in March. He told the group that at some point all women in Austria may be required to wear a hijab to fight Islamaphobia in that country. The hijab or scarf is a head covering worn by many Muslim women for religious reasons and differs from a burqa that covers the face. Van der Bellen was responding to a young woman’s question who was opposed to recent moves by Austria and other European governments, such as Germany and Holland, that are passing legislation that would limit the wearing of a burqa, and in some instance a hijab, in public. The school girl stated that removing the scarf or burqa would result in women relying on their appearance when making their way in society instead of their accomplishments. In his response that was videoed back in March, but just recently broadcast on Austrian TV, Van der Bellen said that it was every woman’s right to …

Zoroaster temple in Iran Credit: Bastian/Flickr/Creative Commons

So Who is Zoroaster?

About three thousand years ago, probably in the times of David and Solomon in the Bible, a man named Zoroaster or Zarathustra began preaching about one God, and one great force of evil in the world. His home was probably near Afghanistan and his teaching came to dominate all Iranian people, from northern India to Greece, in Europe. Information about times and places is mostly lost, but scholars agree that someone tried to turn people to God, in central Asia, many centuries ago. According to Tabari, a Sunni Muslim who lived about a thousand years ago, Zoroaster the ancient prophet of Iran was from Israel and a disciple of Jeremiah, or he travelled with a Hebrew prophet. We know the Persians were often kind to Israel and their temple in Jerusalem. Kings of Persia (Iran) ordered the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem: “Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The …

Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Filip Knezic/Flickr/Creative Commons

New York Times tells remarkable story of how a Muslim Jihadist became a Christian

At the end of March, New York Time’s journalist Patrick Kingsley wrote an unusual article  on the stunning conversion of a Muslim Jihadist to Christ. He stumbled upon the man while visiting a basement room filled with 22 Christian refugees in Istanbul, Turkey. Kingsley noted many had Muslim sounding names. Though Kingsley noted that it is not unusual for Muslims to convert to Christ as a ruse to claim asylum in other countries, there was one man, Bashir Mohammad, 25 who did not fit that narrative. He was a Christian, who wasn’t interested in asylum. It was also obvious he had a leading role with this group. As Kingsley talked with Bashir, he found out more about his story. At age 15, Bashir began listening to extremist preachers calling for violence. This led him to eventually join the Nusra Front, an off shoot of Al Qaeda, that was seeking to set up a Muslim Caliphate in Syria. Fighting with this group, Bashir witnessed prisoners being run over with bulldozers and another prisoner forced to drink …

Lahore, Pakistan Credit: Usman Malik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Pakistani prosecutor tells 42 Christians to convert to Islam to escape murder charges

After Muslim extremists blew up a Catholic church in Lahore, Pakistan in 2015 killing 14 and injuring 75, Christians took to the streets. In the mayhem that followed, the police captured two Muslim men accused of the brutal bombing and handed them over to a Christian crowd who then lynched the Muslims. After the two Muslim men were murdered, Pakistani authorities arrested 500 Christians and kept most of them in jail for nearly 18 months under brutal treatment that included torture. However, after finding most had nothing to do with the crime, about 450 were let go, leaving 42 men still in prison. The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) that is monitoring the situation and providing legal help to the those arrested was horrified by the killing of the two Muslim men, but it said that at least 30 of the men still in jail had nothing to do with the crime. The BPCA then reported on a disturbing story published in a national Pakistani paper, The Express Tribune. The paper wrote about a bizarre …

Young Turkish women in traditional head scarves. Credit: Ozgur Mulazimoglu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Muslim woman hated Christians, but Jesus spoke to her in a dream

A story on Christian Aid about the conversion of a young Muslim women living along the coast of the Black Sea in Turkey tells us not to underestimate the work we are doing for God. Matte, name not fully disclosed for security reasons, pastors a church in Turkey. He faithfully puts his sermons online, but often wondered if they were having any affect as he was seeing no results. “I sometimes wonder how many people watch the videos, and what is the result? Many are watching the videos, but why do they not believe?, ” he told Christian Aid. But his opinion changed after a young Muslim women wearing a traditional Muslim scarf showed up at church because of a dream. She had started watching the pastor’s videos online because she “hated the Christians” and wanted to make fun of his messages. But the sermons slowly started having an impact as they addressed deep needs in her life. She eventually decided to become a Christian, but did not go to church because of her strict …

Village in Indonesia Credit: Jose Javier Martin Esparto/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Muslim man’s journey to Christ through the Quran

Evangelical Focus recently shared the testimony of a young Muslim man who became a Christian because of what he read in the Quran — Islam’s version of the Bible. Markus was raised in a strict Sudanese Muslim family in Western Java, Indonesia. His father, a high ranking Muslim leader, led the Muslim University that Markus eventually attended. As part of an Islamic youth group, Markus actively shared Islam with non believers. It was the result of one encounter with a Chinese Christian man who led Markus to leave Islam and become a Christian. As he shared his Islamic views with the man, he responded stating he was confident that he was going to His Father in heaven. For Muslims, heaven is a such a sacred place, they rarely talk about it. Markus was also puzzled over how this man referred to God as his father as Muslims consider themselves slaves of Allah. When Markus challenged the Christian on who his God was, the man answered simply Jesus. This answer began to haunt Markus. According to …

Islamic State flag and graffiti in Rhone Alpes, France. Credit: thierry ehrmann/Wikipedia

Despite threats against the church, God moves on ISIS leader through a dream

According to USA Today, the Islamic terrorist group, ISIS, is urging radical followers to attack Christians attending New Year’s eve church services. This was based on a report issued by the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that regularly tracks Jihadist websites, forums and social media. SITE states that Jihadist social media messages are encouraging lone-wolf attacks against churches. The report specifically noted four countries were listed as targets — Canada, US, Holland and France. Confirming this report, the FBI issued a warning to churches in the US to be vigilant about possible ISIS attacks during New Year services. The FBI said it has picked up increased chatter of possible strikes against churches and though there were no specifics it issued a general warning. According to Vocatv, Islāmic groups are increasingly using a social media app called Telegram to communicate with followers. It reported on a similar message in Arabic issued by a user who went by the name Abu Marya al-Iraqi: “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year … turn the Christian New Year …

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Pedro Szekely/Flickr/Creative Commons

Major improvement in Google translation of nine languages

I have received a number of comments on an article published on opentheword.org two days ago in a strange language. Some wondered if opentheword had been hacked. Others asked what language it was. A couple wanted an English translation of the article. All that happened is I took a story on the website and translated it into Turkish using Google translator: English: Former Muslim imam says the Qur’an is the reason he converted to Christianity Turkish translation: Eski Müslüman imam, Hıristiyanlığa dönüşmesinin sebebi Kuran olduğunu söylüyor Here is the back story: A couple of days ago, I received an article in French that I needed to read in English. So I threw it in to Google translator to see what it was about. I have used the service in the past and it provided a basic, but rough rendering of the article. But this time when it spit out the English translation, I was stunned by how well it read. The English was clear and readable. The grammar was correct and I had no trouble …

Eski Müslüman imam, Hıristiyanlığa dönüşmesinin sebebi Kuran olduğunu söylüyor

English translation of article: Former Muslim imam says the Qur’an is the reason he converted to Christianity Mario Joseph, Hindistan’da yaşayan ve bakan olan bir Katolik öğretmen / evanjisttir. Bir rahipten farklı olarak, çocuklarıyla evlidir. Ayrıca bir başka bakımdan farklıdır – dönüşümünden önce Müslüman bir imamdı. Hindistan’da ağırlıklı olarak Müslüman ve Hindu olan birkaç Hıristiyan ile büyüdü. Ailesinin güçlü Müslümanları vardı ve Mario, 8 yaşında Kuran’a gönderildi. 18 yaşındayken Mario, kendi camisinde imam olarak görev yapıyordu. Bu videoda, Mario, İslam’dan Hıristiyanlığa dönüşmesinin büyüleyici ayrıntılarını sunmaktadır. Tuhaf bir şekilde, nerde öğrettiği camide sorulan soru yüzünden başlar. O toplananlara, İsa’nın Tanrı olmadığını, birileri seslenince: “İsa kim?” Bu soru yüzünden Mario, Mesih hakkında daha fazla bilgi edinmek için Kuran’ı aradı. Ne keşfetti onu şaşırttı. Mario’ya göre, Kuran sadece dört kez Muhammed’den bahsediyor; İsa Mesih’e ise 25 bahsediliyor. İkincisi, İsa’nın annesi Meryem, Kuran’da adıyla anılan tek kadın. Muhammed’in annesi bile bu şerefi kabul etmedi. Kuran ayrıca birtakım mucizeleri İsa ile ilişkilendirir. Bazıları İsa’nın doğumdan iki gün sonra konuşması gibi İsa’nın Kitabı olmadığı gibi, nasıl çamurdan kuş çıkardığı, onun üzerinde …

Abandoned Coptic Church in Suez, Egypt Credit: Nathaniel Page/Flickr/Creative Commons

The horrific persecution of the Egyptian Coptic Church

Many consider the Coptic church as the oldest church in the world. It traces its beginnings back to the work of the gospel writer Mark who they believe came to Alexandria, Egypt in 42 AD during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. For those who believe Jesus died for their sins and rose from the dead, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Copts   have been undergoing horrific persecution in the Middle East, most recently with the bombing of St. Mark’s Coptic Church in Cairo on December 11, 2016.  According to Egyptian authorities a suicide bomber was carrying 12 kilograms of TNT when he set it off in the Sunday morning service killing 24. The Copts make up 10% of Egypt’s population of 91 million. Though authorities were quick to condemn the slaughter, there has been a significant increase in Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt, since the military overthrow of Egyptian president Mohammaed Morsi in 2013, The Muslim brotherhood who backed Morsi, blames the Coptics, who supported the overthrow, for the …

Dome of the Rock is a Muslim shrine, not a mosque. Credit: Monidas De Mon/Flickr/Creative Commons

More trouble on the Temple Mount

WND.com is reporting a confrontation with Muslim authorities that happened November 17, 2016 on the Temple Mount. WND.com editor Joseph Farrah along with Jonathan Cahn — a Messianic rabbi most famous for his New York Times‘ best seller, The Harbinger — were co-leading a group of 406 people on a visit to Israel. Part of this trip included a visit to the 40-acre Temple Mount located in the heart of Jerusalem. It was the original site of the First and Second Jewish Temples. The Romans destroyed the second temple used in Jesus’ day in 70AD. Today, the site is home to two Muslim buildings — the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Though Israeli government controls  the site, it has given the Jordanian Waqf, essentially an Islamic police force, considerable leeway on controlling the Temple Mount. Among other things, the Waqf monitors dress and ensures that Jews and Christians don’t pray on the site. That latter provision has forced the Jews to pray at the Western Wall down below. As part of the trip to …

Tehran, Iran Credit: rasool abbasi17/Wikipedia

Iran: Despite persecution mass conversions to Christ continue

The Iranian police have been busy these past few months arresting Christians. According to the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), in September the police arrested 25 Iranians attending a church service in the city of Kerman. Other agencies reported similar raids in August when armed police arrested 11 Christians and confiscated Christian literature in Isfahan and nine more attending a house church meeting in Western Iran. Police also arrested five Christians in Firouz-Kouth County where according to Morning Star News, believers fear this arrest was intended to extract information on leaders of the house church movement in that area. Iran has one of worst records of Christian persecution in the world.  NCRI reported the Iranian government executed seven Christians on Christmas Day 2015. The death penalty can come into effect when a Muslim converts to Christianity. Just recently, the country’s sharia court sentenced three men to 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine at a house church meeting in Rasht. The three, that includes the group’s pastor, are also facing charges involving “action …

Muslim quarter of Old Jerusalem. Credit: meghamama/Flickr/Creative Commons

2,700 year-old reference to Jerusalem discovered on a piece of papyri

On October 26, 2016, archaeologists announced they uncovered the earliest non-Biblical reference to Jerusalem. This proves once again that the indisputable Jewish connection to Jerusalem predates the Muslim arrival by thousands of years. They discovered the name Jerusalem on an ancient piece of papyri radio carbon dated to 7 BC that antiquity robbers had pillaged from Judean desert caves in the West Bank. This is the oldest extra-Biblical reference to Jerusalem found so far. The 2,700 year-old papyri was uncovered in an operation undertaken by Israel Antiquities Authority who became aware of the theft and mounted an operation to seize back the stolen antiquities before the robbers sold it on the black market. The small piece of papyri written in Hebrew reads “From the king’s maid servant, from Na’arat, jars of wine to Jerusalem.” Because the writer specifically calls herself a servant of the king, archaeologists suspect the document — referring to the transfer of two jars of wine to Jerusalem — was part of a tax payment. It was made during the reign of …

When national leaders choose to believe a lie

The Nation of Israel and Jews have been part of the Middle East for thousands of years. One of the earliest non-Biblical references to Israel is found on the Merneptah Stele in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. The stele, a 10 foot high (3 meters) granite stone monument, was discovered in 1896 during archaeological work on the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes Also called the Israel Stele, it is dated to the reign of the Egyptian king Merneptah (1213 BC – 1203 BC). It outlines his various military victories. The last three lines list his defeat of Canaan including Israel: “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not;” Yet despite this find and thousands of other archaeological discoveries, in a recent UN vote Egypt along with 23 other nations passed a motion that effectively denies any Israeli connection to Jerusalem’s temple mount and Western Wall (the Jewish Wailing Wall). This  motion declaring the Temple Mount a purely Muslim site was passed in a 24-6 vote by the United Nations Educational and Scientific and …

Fall sunset over Zurich, Switzerland. Photo: Werner_B/Flickr/Creative Commons

Swiss agency reports large numbers of Muslims converting to Christ

It’s happening all across Europe — Germany, England, Austria — Muslims are turning to Christ by the thousands. Despite all that is happening, the Holy Spirit is moving. The latest country added to that list is Switzerland. According to Switzerland’s Counselling Center for Integration and Religious Affairs (CCIRA), since 2004 over 2,000 Muslim refugees have become Christians. And it does not appear that the conversion rates will be slowing down any time soon. The ones turning to Christ are mostly Kurds and Afghans. In an interview with a Swiss TV news program, 20 Minutes, CCIRA coordinator Kathrin Anliker said a couple of factors are at play here. First Muslims are increasingly horrified by the brutality of extremists in the Middle East. Just recently a Sharia court in ISIS controlled Mosul, Iraq ordered nine young men to be publicly executed. According to reports, ISIS accused the nine of being members of a resistance movement.  The court ordered the men be tied to iron posts then cut in half with a chain saw. Secondly, Anliker noticed that some of the refugees had …

Photo of Allepo, Syria (Photo Craig Jenkins Wikipedia/Creative Commons) where Muslim extremists captured Karla Mueller insert image (YouTube capture)

Despite ISIL’s torture and rape, Kayla Mueller refused to renounce Christ

On August 4, 2013, American Kayla Mueller, 24, from Prescott, Arizona was working as a humanitarian aid worker in Syria when ISIL captured her and a friend, Omar Alkhani, as they were leaving a Doctors without Borders hospital in Aleppo. Omar who was a contractor for Doctors without Borders was released a few weeks later. Meanwhile, hoping for a ransom, ISIS moved Kayla to various locations throughout Syria. In 2014, the Islamic extremists notified Kayla’s parents of their daughter’s kidnapping. However, nothing could be worked out and  after 18 months in a brutal captivity, Kayla died in February 2015 after an air strike by the Jordanian air force. Recently in an interview with ABC’s news program 20/20, four hostages who shared a cell with Kayla came forward with a story about her remarkable faith in Christ. It appears ISIL was purposefully trying to force Kayla to recant her faith. But in the face of the unrelenting torture, Kayla remained strong to the end. According to ABC, her torture included “verbal abuse, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, stress …