This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Assist News Service, Afghanistan is now the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian, according to figures released by Open Doors in their 2022 World Watch List (WWL). Afghanistan replaces North Korea at the top of the list after 20 years – this despite persecution also rising there this year. The WWL, which records levels of persecution and discrimination across the globe*, found that over 360 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith – a rise of 20 million from last year. The number represents one in seven Christians worldwide. This year records the highest levels of persecution since the first List was published 29 years ago, and in recent years has plotted a steady increase. The report paints a shocking picture of life for Afghanistan’s small, deeply hidden, Christian population, suggesting that: 1. Christian men are facing almost certain death if their faith is discovered. 2. Women and girls may escape death but may be married to young Taliban fighters who want “spoils of war”. When women and girls are raped, they will be trafficked. 3. The incoming Taliban government gained access to recordings and reports that helped to identify Christians inside the country. When located, they were often detained, to identify further networks of Christians, before finally being killed. 4. Taliban fighters are actively tracking down Christians from existing intelligence, even going door-to-door to find them. 5. Much of the Christian population has fled to rural regions or refugee camps in neighbouring nations – all of which feature in the WWL as countries hostile to Christians.
According to Mission Network News, A Pakistani Christian has been sentenced to death for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. Authorities plan to execute him by hanging in the coming weeks. Zafar Bhatti has languished in prison since his arrest in 2012. His legal defense will appeal the ruling. In 2017, courts sentenced Bhatti to life in prison. But earlier this month, a judge appealed to a 1991 law prescribing the death penalty for those who blaspheme Muhammad.However, Nehemiah with FMI says the case against him doesn’t hold up. “In July 2012, a local Islamic leader filed a complaint in Rawalpindi, saying he had sent messages from an unregistered phone number insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s mother. They tortured him to extract a confession but he insisted on his innocence. No forensic evidence exists for any blasphemy by Bhatti. In fact, every piece of physical and electronic evidence suggests he is innocent.” Before his arrest, Bhatti led a small ministry, serving those in deep poverty and praying with people in their homes. But these actions caught the attention of local Muslim leaders. Bhatti has suffered terrible mistreatment while in prison. Nehemiah says, “Zafar experienced pressure from other Muslim prisoners to convert to Islam and has been beaten several times. On March 31st, 2013, his food was poisoned, which caused bleeding from the nose and mouth. It left him in a critical condition for days.” Pray for Bhatti, his wife, and his extended community.
According to Mission Network News, More than a half-million children need immediate food aid as severe drought grips Kenya. The other day, Kenya received a $1 million aid package from the United Kingdom to help alleviate starvation. “There has been drought throughout the years, but they’ve gotten some reprieve, some rain, so things still grow and stuff; but this year, it’s not happening at all,” Joy Mueller of Kenya Hope says. Typically, a shorter rainy season in October and November provides some sustenance, while “Kenya receives ‘big rains’ between March and May,” she continues. However, “normal” didn’t happen in 2021. “Parts of the country have received no significant rains since last year in March.” Kenya Hope is transforming lives through the Gospel of Christ with a holistic approach to children, families, and communities. “We work mostly with the Masai people, and they are not as nomadic as they used to be, but they’re still pastoralists, meaning their whole living is dependent upon their livestock,” Mueller says. The ministry provides food aid and the Bread of Life during difficult seasons like these. Now, for the very first time, “we bought food relief for the animals because it is a domino effect,” Mueller says. The people’s “money is in the animals [and] as their animals die, they have no money. Therefore, they can’t buy food,” she explains. “With the lack of pastureland and water, the animals are getting weaker and weaker, and they are truly walking dead. They are just skeletons on legs.” One staff member recently said, “I had 80 sheep at the beginning of April, and now I’m down to less than 30,” Mueller shares. “That is such a huge financial loss for him. It’s kind of like somebody went and robbed your bank account.” Kenya Hope works alongside local church partners. Pray their tangible expressions of Christ’s love leads to Gospel conversations.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless you.