Wycliffe National Translators Killed by Militants

Friend, my dear Prayer Partner, this morning I find these words of Scripture very hard to read. Yet, I must tell you of our precious co-workers—our dear friends—who have been brutally murdered.

Militants killed four national translators and injured several others in a raid on a translation office in the Middle East. They shot and destroyed all the equipment in the office including the Print On Demand (POD) equipment. The invaders burned all the books and other translation materials in the office. Two workers died of gunshot wounds. Two other workers laid on top of the lead translator—saved his life—and died deflecting bludgeoning blows from the radicals’ spent weapons.

We praise the Lord that He protected the computer hard drives containing the translation work for eight language projects.

The remaining translation team has decided to re-double their efforts to translate, publish, and print God’s Word for these eight language communities.

Will you pray with me for the injured translators? Prayer Watch | Four national translators martyred in Middle EastPray for others to step up and take on the translation task. Please ask the Lord to mend the hearts and wounds of the translation team who have gone through this horrible ordeal. Pray that God will strengthen their minds, their hearts, and their bodies to be able to continue the translation of the gospel for their people.

Please pray for Wycliffe Associates as we come along side this translation team to assist them, to replace equipment, to help the martyrs’ families, and the families of those hospitalized.

Please pray that a new location will be found that will provide safety, security, and the freedom to continue translation and printing. Pray for the safe delivery of new computers and POD equipment that Wycliffe Associates will be providing the translation team.

Pray with me for the killers too. Pray for these whose hearts are so hard. Pray the Lord will open their eyes to what they have done. Please ask the Lord to meet them, each one, right where they are. Pray that He will show Himself merciful, that they will know His forgiveness, His love, and His peace.

And dear friends, as you pray for this one situation in the Middle East, you may be led to give to the Emergency 911 Fund. Please take this opportunity to be an encourager to translation teams in dangerous places. And continue to pray. Pray for all the newly formed translation teams diligently translating Scripture in their own language, for their own loved ones, in extremely difficult places.

As I wrote these words, I received a note telling of four New Testaments completed in the past couple months! Praise God. 

Thank you dear prayer partners for taking this burden to our Lord,

Praying together,
Mae Greenleaf
Prayer Coordinator
Wycliffe Associates

 

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Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘Christians … are Suffering a lot because of Radical Islam’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is the only Middle East country helping Christians from the violence of radical Islam.
Flickr_-_Government_Press_Office_(GPO)_-_P.M._BENJAMIN_NETANYAHU_LIGHTING_HANUKA_CANDLES_WITH_HIS_WIFE_AND_SONS
Netanyahu, speaking in a video message to the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, said that Christians are being persecuted and killed by radicals in the Middle East.
“You know very well that our region is in flames and Christians in Iraq, Syria and, unfortunately, under the Palestinian Authority, are suffering a lot because of radical Islam. These communities are persecuted, and unfortunately many people have lost their lives for their faith,” Netanyahu said.
“Radical Islam does not make any difference between Christians, Jews and Muslims who reject their extremism. They are all infidels who must be killed. For this now more than ever it is clear which is the only State in the Middle East that protects minorities, where Christians live in peace and where their community is growing: This state is the State of Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu has put a blockade on the region, which restricts the flow of goods.
Meanwhile, the Christian community in Gaza has fallen at a rate of 5 percent per year.
“People might think we’re leaving because of Hamas, but no it’s because of … [Israeli] policies on Gaza,” said Jaber Jilder, an official with the Greek Orthodox Church.

Why Are There Only 53 Christians Among America’s 2,184 Syrian Refugees? Amid claims of discrimination, World Relief points to other explanations.

Since civil war erupted in 2011, half of Syria’s nearly 22 million people have been displaced—including many of its Christians.

Before the conflict, approximately 1.1 million Syrians, or 5.2 percent of the population, were Christians. The majority—at least 700,000—have now fled.

That means that roughly 18 percent of Syria’s estimated 4 million refugees are Christians. So why have only less than 3 percent of the 2,184 Syrian refugees resettled in the United States from 2011 until now been Christians?

As Christians debate state bans on Syrian refugees after the Paris attacks, American Christians are “curious, and somewhat concerned, that there appear to be no Christian refugees in sight,” wrote Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy for The Stream. She faults the Obama administration and US resettlement agencies which plan to increase the number of refugees resettled but have failed to support legislation that would fast track Christians for resettlement in America.

Christian refugees need special treatment, argues Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, because the United Nations refugee processing system “disproportionately excludes them.” According to Shea, it’s difficult for Christians to pass through the bureaucratic channels necessary to obtain refugee status, and they face dangers along the way.

No one is disputing the fact that the US has resettled 2,098 Muslims and 53 Christians from Syria since 2011, according to the latest statistics from the Refugee Processing Center.

However, the situation may not be as discriminatory as the numbers seem, said Matthew Soerens, US director of church mobilization for World Relief. The humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), World Relief is one of nine agencies authorized to resettle refugees in the US, and has resettled more than 250,000 over the past 35 years.

A typical security check for refugees takes 18 months—but it’s often longer for Middle Eastern refugees, he said. For example, the overwhelming majority of Iraqi refugees didn’t start arriving in the States until about five years after the beginning of the conflict in Iraq. So the bulk of Syrian Christian refugees are likely still waiting to be processed, he said.

“For a refugee, from the time they flee to until they’re in a permanent situation is 17 years,” said Soerens. “So five years is actually on the really short end. There are some refugees who might wait 30 years.”

And many Syrian Christians didn’t begin the resettlement process immediately after the civil war sparked in March 2011, he said. Instead, many Christians stayed longer in Syria because they felt protected by the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Other Christians fled to neighboring Lebanon. Now home to more than one million refugeesmore than one-third of its population—Lebanon has taken the longest to resettle displaced people, says Soerens.

Socioeconomic status also plays a part.

“Christians tended to be better off economically than the average Muslim in Syria,” said Soerens. For the wealthier refugees, applying for a tourist visa is a quicker avenue of escape. Once they arrive as tourists, they can petition the US government for asylum.

Since the start of the war, the number of Syrian asylum petitions has steadily risen. In 2010, 36 petitions were filed. Last year, petitions totaled 1,586.

Since 2011, the US has approved just over one-third (37%) of the cases filed. Christians are likely overrepresented in these figures, said Soerens.

He rejected accusations that the US was trying to discriminate against Syrian Christians.

“I’m wary to assume a discriminatory factor here, given the reputation of the US resettlement program,” said Soerens. “It has helped more persecuted Christians than any other religious group.”

Since 2003, the US has resettled more than 762,000 refugees, and nearly 340,000 of them have been Christians, according to State Department statistics. The percentage of Christian refugees from each country varies greatly, depending on the circumstances.

For example, consider the countries that top Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of the countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian. Of the nearly 9,000 Afghani refugees resettled in the US in the past 12 years, just over 1 percent are Christians. But of the almost 15,000 refugees from Eritrea, 85 percent are Christians. By comparison, about 3 percent of Somali refugees, 30 percent of Iraqi refugees, 63 percent of North Korean refugees, and 75 percent of Nigerian refugees have been Christians.

“We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” President Barack Obama told Turkish reporters this week.

That might change, as several bills have popped up in the US House of Representatives this year, aimed both at expediting the process for religious groups threatened by ISIS and at beefing up the screening of anyone from Iraq or Syria. Some voices, including Franklin Graham, have even called for ending Muslim immigration to America.

“Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let’s not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS,” said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE. “Our system is designed to keep terrorists out and to help desperate families with little children. We want to help the victims of terrorism in the Middle East, not punish them.”

Russell Moore argues in The Washington Post that it is time to “stop pitting security and compassion against each other.” The Gospel Coalition offers an explainer on the Syrian refugee crisis. CT previously spotlighted how refugees and asylum seekers are today’s pilgrims.

On Thursday, a veto-proof majority in the House voted in favor of the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act. Nearly 50 Democrats joined with Republicans to approve legislation that forbids Syrian and Iraqi refugees from being resettled until the director of the FBI, the director of Homeland Security, and the director of national intelligence confirm that each applicant poses no threat, reportsThe New York Times.

But the bill would only duplicate security systems in place and “effectively end the program,” said World Relief’s CEO Stephan Bauman. “Refugees are already the most vetted non-citizens in our country.”

Here is World Relief’s full response to the SAFE Act passed on Thursday:

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which would create an extra layer of certification in order for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to come to the United States as refugees in addition to additional reporting requirements.

World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, is strongly against this legislation and urges the United States to continue to welcome and protect Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

For 30 years, World Relief has partnered with local churches to resettle over 260,000 refugees to the United States and in addition since 1975, the United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees – three quarters of a million entered the U.S. in 2001 alone. During this time, there have been no recorded terrorists acts in the U.S. by a refugee. In fact, refugees are already the most vetted non-citizens in our country.

“The refugee resettlement program is a life-saving program that has helped millions of those who have fled persecution start their lives anew in a place of safety. At a time when the U.S. needs to show humanitarian leadership, it would be a mistake to effectively shut down a program that has saved millions of lives,” said Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief. “It is vital to maintain the integrity of this program by accepting the most vulnerable refugees, not excluding anyone based on their nationality or religion.”

World Relief strongly opposed H.R. 4038- The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act 2015 due to the following reasons:

H.R. 4038 creates a bureaucratic review process that could take years to implement and would effectively shut down refugee resettlement. The bill requires the approval of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Department of National Intelligence for each individual refugee. The certification process will have to be created and agreed upon by heads of each agency and could take years to establish. In the meantime, refugees would languish in camps and dangerous situations, Syrian Americans would not be able to reunite with their family members, and there would be very real ramifications for international refugee protection and U.S. foreign policy interests in the region.

The process, once established, would add months or years to the security screening process, which is already the lengthiest and most robust in the world, routinely taking between 18 and 36 months. In addition to obtaining approval from three heads of federal agencies for each refugee, the bill requires reporting to thirteen congressional committees on each refugee that is considered for resettlement. This is unreasonably burdensome and will effectively end the program. Furthermore, for reasons of security and safety, security and medical clearances are only valid for limited periods of time. During the certification process, these clearances will expire. This will mean that refugees will be caught in an un-ending loop of security clearances that will never end.

Refugees are already the most vetted non-citizens in our country. All refugees undergo thorough and rigorous security screenings prior to arriving in the United States, including but not limited to multiple biographic and identity investigations; FBI biometric checks of applicants’ fingerprints and photographs; in-depth, in-person interviews by well-trained Department of Homeland Security officers; medical screenings; investigations by the National Counterterrorism Center; and other checks by U.S. domestic and international intelligence agencies. Supervisory review of all decisions; random case assignment; inter-agency national security teams; trained document experts; forensic testing of documents; and interpreter monitoring are in place to maintain the security of the refugee resettlement program. Due to technological advances, Syrian refugees are also undergoing iris scans to confirm their identity through the process.

The bill is a waste of resources. Funds used to establish and run this certification process would be better used in conducting actual security reviews of refugees and others who are vetted by these agencies.

The bill is a pretext and requires differential treatment of refugees from Syria and Iraq without providing a justification for the additional verification. It is a disguised attempt to stop refugees from two countries long beset by internal conflict, including refugees who have been in neither Syria nor Iraq for four years. Differential treatment, with no clear justification, amounts to discrimination on the basis of nationality without rational basis.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t carefully vet refugees, but let’s get the facts first before making generalizations and shutting down a program that has literally saved thousands of lives.To turn our backs on refugees now would betray our nation’s core values to provide refuge for the persecuted and affirm the very message those who perpetrate terrorism would seek to send.

Now is the time to act. www.wewelcomerefugees.com

Stephan Bauman

President/CEO – World Relief

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