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Pakistani Christian couple’s death row appeal delayed after 6 years in prison for blasphemy

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A Pakistani Christian couple who’ve been imprisoned for six years and sentenced to death on false blasphemy charges of sending a text message insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad continue to have their conviction appeal delayed.

Shagufta Kausar and her husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, who is partially paralyzed, were accused by a local imam of committing blasphemy by sending him an offensive text message in 2013.

Maulvi Mohammed Hussain, a leader at a mosque in the town of Gojra in Punjab province, claimed that Emmanuel used his wife’s cellphone to send an anti-Islamic text message. He later claimed other messages followed.

Hussain said he was praying when he received the offensive text message from an unknown number.

The Muslim cleric reportedly showed the text message to two other imams before approaching his counsel for legal proceedings. He and his lawyer later claimed they both received subsequent blasphemous messages.

Police registered the blasphemy case following the imam’s complaint, and the couple were arrested on July 21, 2013. They were charged with “insulting the Quran” and “insulting the prophet.”

They were sentenced to separate prisons in 2014.

“Kauser is being held in the same prison cell Asia Bibi was held in before her release,” Will Stark, regional manager for South Asia at International Christian Concern, told The Christian Post on Wednesday.

“In regards to Shafqat, his medical condition has deteriorated significantly during his imprisonment,” Stark added. “This is because the jail does not provide facilities for him, as someone partially paralyzed. Bedsores and lack of nutrition are definitely issues I have seen reported specifically in regards to Shafqat’s case.”

A final hearing before the Lahore High Court was scheduled for Wednesday. However, the hearing was delayed and a new hearing date will be announced.

Kausar’s brother, Joseph, told the BBC that his sister and her husband are not only innocent, but he believes they aren’t even literate enough to have written the text messages.

Joseph also said his brother-in-law had been tortured and forced to make a false confession.

“He told me the policeman hit [him] so hard that his leg was broken,” Joseph was quoted as saying.

The text messages were also alleged to have been written in English. Aside from being illiterate, Shafqat and Shagufta are not familiar with the English language — written or spoken.

The couple’s lawyer, Saif ul Malook, who also assisted in the appeal of Asia Bibi’s blasphemy case, said the charges against Kausar and Emmanuel are “deeply flawed” and “weaker” than those levied against Bibi.

Although the phone was registered in Kausar’s name, Malook told the BBC that “in their trial, they suggested a Christian neighbor they had argued with might have purchased a SIM card in Kausar’s name and sent the messages in order to frame them.”

In 2014, Nadeem Hassan, who’s also representing the couple at the high court, said the offending messages were sent from a phone that had been lost. He further explained that a “bogus SIM card” had been presented as evidence against the couple, The Telegraph reported.

Hassan told ICC last year that the allegation is “based on religious hatred and is being used to settle personal grudges.”

Before her arrest, Kausar worked as a cleaner at a Christian school. Emmanuel has been paralyzed from the waist down since 2004, following an accident that fractured his spine. At the time of the accident, they were living with their four young children in a church compound.

The children continue to remain in hiding as their parents’ case continues, Stark said.

“Like many relatives of Christians accused of blasphemy, they live in fear that their parents’ blasphemy accusation may cause extremists to attack them,” he added.

Malook said the couple needs the same international support that Bibi received during the years she waited for her appeal to be heard. And if they’re acquitted, he said they will also need to be granted asylum.

While no one has yet been executed on blasphemy charges, people who’ve been accused of the crime have been killed by retaliatory mob violence. Allegations of blasphemy are frequently lodged to settle personal disputes and to discriminate against religious minorities.

Christians make up just 1.6% of the country’s population.

Last year, Asia Bible was acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court of blasphemy charges after she languished on death row for more than eight years. Bibi has since written a book about her ordeal.

Pakistan, a 96% Muslim-majority country, ranks as the fifth-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List. In 2018, Pakistan was also named by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for religious freedom violations.

The couple’s appeal hearing has been rescheduled for June 22.

Sources: Christian Post

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Woman Who Prayed While Dangling From Bridge in Semi Truck Credits Lord For Surviving Horrific Ordeal: ‘God Is Listening’

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Newly released dashcam footage of an accident that left a massive semitruck dangling from a bridge earlier this year is going viral — and for good reason.

The shocking footage of the Kentucky four-vehicle crash, which unfolded March 1 on the Clark Memorial Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky, is absolutely terrifying.

The accident allegedly took place after Trevor W. Branham, 33, lost control of his vehicle, crossed into the wrong lanes, hit another car, then struck the semitruck in question.

Sydney Thomas, 26, was reportedly driving the semitruck, which was sent off the bridge and dangling — an unimaginable scenario.

Fortunately, Thomas wasn’t injured in the astonishing event. She spoke out this week about what unfolded that day, how she believes God heard her prayers, and how she’s faring.

“Sometimes you pray, and I’m guilty of this: I pray, and I don’t think God is listening,” she told WHAS-TV. “But He was that day.”

Her dad, Marc Thomas, told the outlet he, too, believes the Lord was watching over her.

“It didn’t really hit me until I looked over to my right [while crossing the Kennedy Bridge] and I’d seen that equipment hanging into the air,” he said. “That [rescue] was nothing but God displaying himself to me.”

Sydney Thomas explained what led the truck to go off the bridge, noting the suspension on the vehicle went out and she lost total control — a shocking horror that left her dangling 100 feet over the Ohio River, as WHAS-TV noted.

“When I went through the railing, I was like, ‘Wow, this is a crazy way to die,’” she said, noting she really believed her life would come to an end.

Thomas hung for 40 minutes until firefighters were able to use a crane to lift someone down to reach her. She remained still the whole time, fearing movement would send the truck plummeting into the water.

Louisville firefighter Bryce Carden soon appeared at her window mid-air latched to a harness and hanging from the crane. He asked if he could pray with her – and the two proceeded to invoke the Lord.

“She was praying a lot,” Carden told WHAS-TV. “And I prayed with her.”

In the end, Thomas was rescued by the firefighter and lifted out of the truck.

Though she has no plans of traveling ever again on the Clark Memorial Bridge, she credited God for saving her, and pledged not to be overtaken by fear.

“God has me here for a reason and I have to fulfill my purpose in life,” she said. “And I can’t let something like that stop me from doing what I’m supposed to do for Him, because He brought me out of it.”

Thomas added, “He doesn’t want me to…live in fear the rest of my life.”

As for Branham, he was arrested in March and charged with four counts of wanton endangerment and one count of operating on a suspended license, WDRB-TV reported. His next court appearance is in June.

Please continue to pray for Thomas as she processes through the chaos of that day.
Sources:faithwire

http://theendtimeradio.com

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What Is the Biblical Definition of ‘Revival?’ Well-Known Pastor Steve Gaines Explains

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As impressive moves of faith unfold across America — from the beaches of northeastern Florida to the shorelines of Southern California — many are wondering if the country could be on the cusp of revival.

Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is the author of the forthcoming book, “Revival: When God Comes to Church,” in which he unpacks a biblical understanding of the word “revival” and what Christians ought to do to create an atmosphere for spiritual restoration.

The most succinct definition of “revival” Gaines has come across, he said during a recent appearance on CBN’s “Faith vs. Culture,” comes straight from the Old Testament: “When the glory of God fills the house of God.”

“The word ‘vive’ has to do with life; ‘re’ means to repeat or to have fresh life,” the pastor said. “So it means ‘to have new life’. That’s what it is. And revival is not for people who don’t know Christ. I like to say it this way: You can’t revive something that’s never been ‘vived.’ So if they’ve never been given life in Jesus Christ, they can’t be revived. That’s for Christians. So revival is specifically for the people of God.”

Gaines turned then toward a passage of Scripture he believes is often “totally misrepresented.”

In Revelation 3:20, the Apostle John wrote, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (NIV).

The verse, the pastor explained, isn’t addressing individual salvation, as it’s often used. Rather, the passage is referring to Jesus attempting to regain access to — or to revive — His collective church.

“He’s not knocking on the door of somebody’s heart,” Gaines said. “He’s knocking on the door of the church of Laodicea, and He’s trying to get back into His church! That’s an amazing picture: that Jesus — a lot of the time — we lock Him out of His own church. We’ve got our programs, we’ve got our stuff, we’ve got our denominations, we’ve got all this stuff that we rely on, and we’re not relying on the Lord.”

He added, “The greatest thing we can give anybody is the manifest presence of God. When they come [into the church], is God there? Is God really there in manifest presence, or is He outside knocking, trying to get into His own church? I just believe we ought to let Him have His church.”

The Memphis-based minister addressed what he believes are the main hindrances to revival, the traps that often keep God from engaging with His church.

“I tell everybody there are ‘isms’ that need to become ‘wasms,’” Gaines joked.

Traditionalism, he said, is when “tradition becomes more important than the Scripture,” formalism is when “you’re trying to make sure every little dot is dotted and every T is crossed and that you’ve got it down perfectly,” fanaticism is when “you start doing things that are not biblical” and “going beyond the Word of God,” liberalism is when “you don’t really believe everything that the Bible says, and that quenches the Holy Spirit,” and, finally, legalism is “adding to the Word of God.”

“I don’t know how many times, as a Baptist, I’ve heard, ‘This is the Baptist way,’” Gaines said. “Well, with all due respect, I’m a Baptist, but I’m a Christian first. And I don’t believe in the Baptist way if it’s not the Bible way. … I just believe that we need to make sure that we realize that we do have enemies that want to quench the Spirit of God.”

As believers’ relationships with the Lord are being restored from coast to coast, it’s critical believers have a biblical understanding of revival and are equipped to create an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to move among His people.

To learn more about Gaines’ forthcoming book, “Revival: When God Comes to Church,” click here. Also, check out the full episode of “Faith vs. Culture” above for a health update from Gaines, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment after revealing his diagnosis in November 2023.
Sources:faithwire

http://theendtimeradio.com

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ടാബർനാക്കിൾ പെന്തക്കോസ്ത് സഭയുടെ (TPC) മൂന്നാമത് കോൺഫറൻസ് ജൂൺ 01, 02 തീയതികളിൽ നടക്കും

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സൗത്ത് വെയിൽസിലെ മലയാളി പെന്തക്കോസ്ത് കൂട്ടായ്മയായ ടാബർനാക്കിൾ പെന്തക്കോസ്ത് സഭയുടെ (TPC) മൂന്നാമത് വാർഷിക കോൺഫറൻസ് ജൂൺ 01, 02 (ശനി, ഞായർ) തീയതികളിൽ നടക്കും. ന്യൂപോർട്ട് പിൽ മില്ലേനിയം സെന്ററിൽ (Pill Millennium Center, Courtrybella Terrace, Newport) വച്ചു നടക്കുന്ന യോഗങ്ങളിൽ മുഖ്യ പ്രഭാഷകനായി അനുഗ്രഹിത കൺവൻഷൻ പ്രാസംഗകനും ഓക്ലഹോമയിലെ ഐ.പി.സി ഹെബ്രോൺ സഭയുടെ സീനിയർ ശുശ്രൂഷകനുമായ പാസ്റ്റർ ഷിബു തോമസ് ഓക്ലഹോമ ദൈവ വചനത്തിൽ നിന്ന് ശുശ്രുഷിക്കും.

ടാബർനാക്കിൾ പെന്തകോസ്ത് ചർച്ച് ക്വയർ അനുഗ്രഹീത ആരാധനയ്ക്ക് നേതൃത്വം നൽകുന്നു. റ്റി.പി.സിയുടെ സീനിയർ ശുശ്രൂഷകൻ പാസ്റ്റർ പ്രിൻസ് പ്രയ്‌സൺ യോഗങ്ങൾക്ക് നേതൃത്വം നൽകും.
Sources:christiansworldnews

http://theendtimeradio.com

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