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By Deacon Keith A Fournier

7/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The number of persecuted Christians is growing. Meriam Ibrahim is an example and an inspiration for the days to come.

The photo of Pope Francis blessing Meriam Ibrahim and her little daughter Maya in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, July 24, 2014, reciving a blessing from a smiling Pope Francis, made millions of hearts leap for joy. The God of love answers the prayers of His people. Meriam was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. She refused to be forcibly compelled to profess Islam. She made the choice to follow Jesus Christ and was willing to die for her Christian faith. Her daughter Maya, whom Meriam held in her arms while receiving the Papal blessing, was born in a prison. Now, she and her mother pave the path to the future. The details of this extraordinary story of Christian heroism will fill the media for days to come. It should. This is a profound and prophetic moment. This is not some distant tale from an age past. Rather, this is the reality which Christians now face in this new missionary age of the Christian Church.

Meriam receives the blessing and the gratitude of the successor of Peter, Francis.- What should be front and center in every Christian news report on this remarkable story is that God intervened on behalf of Meriam and her family. The God whom we profess is real and His power is greater than any regime or any form of opposition. Yes, He used men and women, and even government leaders, to accomplish His deliverance. He often does. But it was His Love and Mercy which broke the shackles of evil. He deserves all the praise.

Meriam receives the blessing and the gratitude of the successor of Peter, Francis.- What should be front and center in every Christian news report on this remarkable story is that God intervened on behalf of Meriam and her family. The God whom we profess is real and His power is greater than any regime or any form of opposition. Yes, He used men and women, and even government leaders, to accomplish His deliverance. He often does. But it was His Love and Mercy which broke the shackles of evil. He deserves all the praise.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Meriam Ibrahim, Pope Francis, Sudam, Jihadist, Sharia Law, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, militant Islam, persecution, Vatican, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - The photo of Pope Francis blessing Meriam Ibrahim and her little daughter Maya in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, July 24, 2014, reciving a blessing from a smiling Pope Francis, made millions of hearts leap for joy.

The God of love answers the prayers of His people.

Meriam was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. She refused to be forcibly compelled to profess Islam. She made the choice to follow Jesus Christ and was willing to die for her Christian faith. Her daughter Maya, whom Meriam held in her arms while receiving the Papal blessing, was born in a prison. Now, she and her mother pave the path to the future.

The details of this extraordinary story of Christian heroism will fill the media for days to come. It should. This is a profound and prophetic moment. This is not some distant tale from an age past. Rather, this is the reality which Christians now face in this new missionary age of the Christian Church.

Some pundits will attempt to give credit for her release to one particular party or another. Others will attempt to assess blame for the long delay and last minute snafu which led to her not being able to leave the US Embassy in Sudan, where the family had sought shelter for fear of their safety after being released from prison. 

Both efforts miss the real story.

Meriam's conviction for apostasy against Islam came precisely because she chose to be a Christian. Her being charged with adultery for marrying a Christian husband was one more example of the insanity of the imposition of Sharia Law. Yet, it is increasingly applied as an intolerant, totalitarian and oppressive version of Islam continues to spread throughout the globe. 

After a growing international outcry from Christians could no longer be contained, and after the international community had finally awakened to the denial of the fundamental human right to religious freedom demonstrated in Sudan, the Appeals court overturned the unjust and evil decision which had placed this wonderful Christian woman in jail for professing belief in Jesus Christ and refusing to apostatize.  She was released and sought refuge in the American embassy.

However, Meriam and her family were still prevented from leaving Sudan at the last moment. You have heard it before, used as a tactic by other evil regimes, they did not have "the proper paperwork". Thank God, diplomatic pressure continued from many sources.

But, make no mistake, it was the power of persevering prayer which broke the back of the evil stronghold which was behind all of this.

Certainly, the efforts of the governments of Italy and the Holy See helped immensely. So did the support of other governmental and nongovernmental entities. But it was the power of God which freed Meriam.

Meriam, her husband Daniel and their two children are now on their way to the United States because God heard the heartfelt cry of His people and Jesus Christ is still the Lord! She comes to teach us how we must act when we are faced with the growing anti-Christian opposition of a softer kind which is spreading in the United States of America.

What should be front and center in every Christian news report on this remarkable story is that God intervened on behalf of Meriam and her family. The God whom we profess is real and His power is greater than any regime or any form of opposition. Yes, He used men and women, and even government leaders, to accomplish His deliverance. He often does. But it was His Love and Mercy which broke the shackles of evil. He deserves all the praise.

Prayer brought Meriam Ibrahim out of that jail just as surely as prayer freed the apostles in the first century when they refused to disclaim the name of Jesus. She serves the same Jesus Christ who has been raised from the dead - and continues His mission through the Church which is His Body. She is being led by the same Holy Spirit. She is engaged in the same mission. So are we.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag is a gift to all who bear the name Christian. This gift comes at a crucial moment in the history of the world - and the history of His Church. The Church is still being sent into all the world to proclaim the Gospel. The Church, the Body of Christ, continues the redemptive mission of her Head and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meriam Ibrahim - and you and I - are members of that Body and we are all called to mission.

That beautiful photo of Meriam, Maya and the successor of the Apostle Peter - smiling as he prays a prayer of blessing over them both - will be a snapshot in many hearts for years to come. It will also find its proper place in the record books, as the history of this new missionary age of Christianity is written in the years which stretch out ahead. 

This demonstration of the victory of God's power over a wicked oppression which could not contain the power of the truth was needed at this moment. Meriam and her husband are examples, meant to inspire all of us to fall to our knees and seek the power of God - and then to rise up ready to take our place in His loving plan. They show us how all Christians must stay faithful, whenever they suffer persecution for the name of Jesus Christ.

This is the case when that persecution occurs under the boot of an Islamic Regime which denies the fundamental human right to religious freedom. It is also the case when the bullying misuse of governmental power and the disparagement of a propaganda press in an increasingly hostile secularist western regime seeks to squeeze the fullness of Christian expression out of the public square.

Meriam Ibraham is Free! God Has Heard the Heartfelt Cry of His People. Jesus Christ is Lord!

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, Congressman Chris Smith, a morally coherent Catholic Christian who refuses to separate his faith and his public service, held a hearing on Capitol Hill. He is the Chairman on the Congressional Panel on Africa and global human rights. He is also one of my personal heroes.

On Thursday, June 24, this faithful Catholic Christian who actually understands the real teaching of his own Church and does not just conveniently quote sections of it in moments of political opportunism, shared in the joy that we are all experiencing.Upon hearing that Meriam Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani, and their two children were released and had finally arrived in Rome, Chris Smith echoed my own sentiments by calling her "a remarkable and extraordinarily courageous woman."

He continued, "Meriam Ibrahim's faith in God and willingness to endure torture - even martyrdom - rather than recant her faith, is extraordinarily courageous and inspiring. What a remarkable woman. We We are all deeply appreciative to the government of Italy, as well as Pope Francis, for the role they played in helping to bring this nightmare to a successful conclusion. We are delighted Meriam and family will be making their home in the United States and look forward to working with them to advance religious rights and freedoms worldwide."

The head of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, told the international Press that the meeting between Pope Francis, Meriam and her family was "very serene and affectionate".
Francis thanked Meriam for her "courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith." He also said that Meriam thanked the Pope for his prayers and told him that they gave her great hope and encouragement.

This Pope speaks through actions. We have seen this over and over again since the evening he he emerged in Rome and humbly bowed his head asking us to pray for him.

The Vatican press secretary said he met with Meriam's family "to show his closeness, concern and prayers" for all those who suffer for their faith, and especially for Christians who suffer persecution or restrictions on their religious freedom.

The number of persecuted Christians is growing. Meriam Ibrahim is an example and an inspiration for the days to come. we are called to learn from her and imitate her courage and perseverance.  -----

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II. 

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