Arrested for Speaking the Truth

On Friday 23 April, Pastor John Sherwood, the minister of a north London church, was preaching the gospel in the centre of Uxbridge (in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s constituency).

Several police officers arrived on the scene and a conversation with Pastor Sherwood ensued. When he refused to stop preaching and come down from the steps on which he was standing, a police officer took away the Bible in the pastor’s hand and pulled him from the steps. Three officers quickly gathered around the 70-year-old minister, handcuffed and arrested him and took him to a detention centre near Heathrow Airport, where he was kept overnight and not released until around noon the next day.

You can read an account of the arrest in this article written by Peter Simpson, who was preaching with the pastor at that time.

In the article, Mr Simpson asks, ‘what kind of nation have we become that the minister of a Christian church is arrested for upholding in the public square the very truths which Her Majesty the Queen promised to uphold in her Coronation Oath in 1953, with a Bible in her hand?’

Pastor Sherwood had been proclaiming the truth of Genesis 1:27, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. A few days later, Maya Forstater, a former think tank researcher fired over ‘trans-critical’ tweets, was back in court to defend her right to free speech. She had lost her job at the Centre for Global Development after tweeting her opposition to gender self-identification, and stating that ‘men cannot change into women’. It may be several months before a judgement is made.

Christian Couple Under Death Sentence for Six Years to Face New Hearing

Pakistani husband and wife Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Masih, both Christians, were sentenced to death on 4 April 2014 on a charge of blasphemy. They had been convicted of sending blasphemous text messages to an imam from a phone number registered in Shagufta Kausar’s name.

Now, on 3 June, a final hearing of their appeal will take place at Lahore High Court. The couple are to be represented by Saif ul Malook, who successfully argued for Aasia Bibi to be acquitted of a blasphemy charge in January 2019. Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, who upheld Aasia Bibi’s conviction before it was overturned by the Supreme Court, will preside over the division bench hearing the case.

Please pray for justice to be done and for Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Masih to be freed.

For further background, see articles from the Express Tribune and the BBC.

Update

3 June 2020: The appeal hearing has been delayed, with a new date yet to be announced.

Aasia Bibi in Canada

We praise the Lord that press reports of Aasia Bibi’s resettlement in Canada with her family have now been confirmed by Barnabas Fund.

Please pray for the family’s adaptation to living in an unfamiliar culture and climate, separated from their relatives and having to learn a new language.

Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association has reported today that a video is circulating in which a man claims he is in Canada seeking an opportunity to murder Aasia. Please ask the Lord to protect her and her family.

Aasia Bibi Still Incarcerated

Over a week after the Pakistan Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of Aasia Bibi on blasphemy charges, she remains confined in a locked room and is being prevented from leaving Pakistan to join her daughters in Canada, where they have been granted asylum.

Quoting Aman Ullah, who spoke to Aasia Bibi by telephone yesterday, Aljazeera reported that she is frustrated and frightened, uncertain of when she will be able to leave Pakistan.

“The door opens at food time only,” said Ullah, and she is allowed to make phone calls in the morning and again at night. He said she usually calls her daughters.

Bibi’s husband is with her, he said.

We reiterate our request that you pray that Aasia and her family will now be reunited, be relocated to a place of safety and enjoy the Lord’s permanent protection.

Aasia Bibi’s Acquittal Upheld

The Pakistan Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking review of the court’s verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi on blasphemy charges.

Read a full account of the court proceedings by Dawn.

Qari Muhammad Salaam, who submitted the review petition, requested the court maintain the death sentence awarded to her by a trial court. Salaam had filed a case against Aasia Bibi and accused her of blasphemy.

The court said that the petitioner’s lawyer could not prove anything wrong with the court verdict.

Please pray that Aasia and her family will now be reunited, be relocated to a place of safety and enjoy the Lord’s permanent protection.

The Express Tribune reported on 25 January that Aasia’s daughters and their guardians have already migrated to Canada.

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