Thursday, November 14, 2013

Asia Bibi

God called you to endure suffering because Christ suffered for you. He left you an example so that you could follow in his footsteps. 1 Peter 2:21 

This past Sunday Brother Van preached on persecution.  There are many Christians around the world who are seriously persecuted for the stand they take for Christ.  Some are even killed.  The devotionals for the rest of the week are going to focus on Christians who are imprisoned for their faith.  Read their stories and pray for them and their families.

Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old Pakistani woman from the village of Ittanwali, was arrested by police on Friday, June 19, 2009. Asia (also called Asia Noreen) is the wife of 50-year-old Ashiq Masih, and their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of 1,500 families.

Many of the local women, including Asia, work on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees. During their work, many of the Muslim women have pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. In June, the pressure became especially strong.

On Friday, June 19, 2009, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women Christ had died on the cross for sins, then asked them what Mohammad had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them Jesus is alive, but Mohammad is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”

Upon hearing this, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from the mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey. Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She was held at the police station in Nankana city. Christians there urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed they were under pressure from local Muslim leaders.

Seventeen months after Asia’s arrest, she was convicted of violating subsection C of Pakistan’s 295 blasphemy law - blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad - and was sentenced to death. No Christian in Pakistan has ever been executed under the blasphemy law, but in several cases, extremists have murdered Christians after their release from prison. Asia’s conviction and death sentence have brought international attention to the country’s blasphemy laws. Christians have called for Asia’s release and for a repeal of the laws, while extremists in Pakistan continue to demand that she be executed.

Update from October 2013
Asia Bibi was transferred to a new prison in June, leaving her five hours away from her family. She was previously only an hour away. Her husband, Ashiq, met her on June 6, 2013. She again requested prayer, and told her husband she's been sick and in a lot of pain. Asia continues to await word on her appeal against her blasphemy sentence. Since Asia was transferred to a new prison, her husband has been able to visit her once a month. It’s an expensive, arduous journey for him, but it is an encouraging time for both of them. Asia’s two daughters have not yet been able to make the trip, but VOM is arranging to have them visit as soon as their school schedules allow.

The Voice of the Martyrs urges Christians around the world to pray for Asia Bibi and her family.

Devotional Archive