Missionary Kenneth Bae Released From North Korea

An American missionary who had been held for two years in a North Korean labor camp was suddenly released Saturday.

Bae spoke to reporters and gave praise to God and credit to the millions who have been praying for him during his captivity for being a Christian.

“I just want to say thank you all for supporting me and lifting me up and not forgetting,” Bae said at a news conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  “Thank you for all your support and prayer and love.  It’s really been encouraging for me and for others.”

Bae had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for plotting to overthrow the government.  The North Korean government considers spreading the gospel an attempt to overthrow the government.

Bae’s family said the first thing he asked for was “pizza or burgers, anything but Korean because he’d been eating that for two years.”

Imprisoned Pastor’s Wife Speaks Out On Second Anniversary

The wife of imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini is speaking out about the lack of moment by the U.S. government on her husband’s behalf as he marks two years behind bars.

Naghmeh Abedini addressed the issue on Friday ahead of her speech Saturday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.  She says that the Obama administration has gotten better about speaking about her husband’s plight over the years.

“They’ve come a long way,” said Naghmeh. “The first six months when Saeed was in prison there were no statements. The last year and a half we’ve seen a few statements.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last spoke of Saeed’s plight where he also called for the release of other Americans being held by Iranian authorities.

“The United States respectfully calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian to their families and work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson and bring him home,” said Kerry.  At the time, Kerry claimed the government was working hard to see the release of the prisoners.

Naghmeh Abedini is not so sure.

“I have to say it is frustrating. It has been two years. It seems like there are a lot of statements, but no action. What are we doing to get him home?” she said.

Naghmeh says that she has felt stronger support coming from countries other than the United States, which boosts her hope that her husband may soon be released from custody.

“It’s encouraging because now it just isn’t between the U.S. and Iran,” said Naghmeh. “It’s the whole world speaking out. Brazil, Canada, England and other European nations have been a great support.”

Prayer rallies for Saeed Abedini were held around the world Friday on the two-year anniversary with over 400 gatherings in countries from Brazil to Kenya.

Iranian Christian Pastor Facing Bizarre New Charge

An Iranian pastor who has been imprisoned for his faith is now facing the death penalty after he’s been charged with “spreading corruption on Earth.”  The charge has never been issued in the past and is not on the legal books in Iran.

Pastor Behnam Irani, who had been sentenced to six years in prison for being a Christian in 2011 and for leading a 300 member evangelical congregation in a suburb of the capital Tehran.

The pastor has been held in solitary confinement according to Iranian officials.  Somehow, he has been beaten by other prisoners according to jailers and is suffering from internal bleeding and other injuries.  Advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide has confirmed the injuries.

“The charges leveled against Pastor Irani and other Christians are tantamount to an indictment of Christianity itself and mark a renewed escalation in Iran’s campaign against Persian Christians under the Rouhani presidency,” CSW Head Mervyn Thomas said in a statement.

CSW reported that five other Christians were arrested last week because of their faith and have been held in secret locations.

American Missionary Imprisoned In North Korea Suffering Failing Health

Relatives of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary who is wrongfully imprisoned in North Korea, say that his health is failing and that North Korean authorities are endangering his life.

Bae has been suffering from liver problems and the North Korean government has not been providing him with adequate health care.  The authorities continue to send Bae to hard labor camps instead of hospitals where American officials have been told he will be transferred.

His family and friends say that the North Korean government has still not shown any evidence to back up their claims he was committing “hostile acts to bring down the government.”  An associate says the only possible thing that happened in Bae took pictures of something he shouldn’t have seen.

“The most plausible scenario I can think of is that he took some picture of orphans and the North Korean authorities considered that an act of anti-north Korean propaganda,” Do Hee-youn of the Citizens Coalition for Human Rights of North Korean Refugees told Christian News.

The State Department says they continue to be “gravely concerned” about Bae’s health.

Christian Pastor Feared Executed Found Alive

A Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran for his faith who had been feared executed because of his three week disappearance has been found at an Iranian prison.

Pastor Behnam Irani, who went missing on June 7, was found in Ghezal Hezar Prison in Karaj, Iran.

“He was unable to say where he had been taken or what they did to him,” Present Truth Ministries reported. “He was missing since June 7, 2014 without any information being given to his family regarding his whereabouts. The fear was that he was taken and executed without any notice. Thank you for praying and taking action on his behalf.”

Pastor Irani has been imprisoned since 2011 on charges of “action against the state.”  He is serving a six year sentence on the charges.

He has suffered severe beatings from authorities during his imprisonment and is suffering from internal bleeding.  Supporters say that just like imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, Iranian authorities are denying much needed health care to Irani.

Iranian authorities would still not reveal where Irani was taken or why he was kept from family and legal counsel.

Egyptian Christian Sentenced For Facebook “Like”

New details are emerging in the case of an Egyptian Coptic Christian who has been sentenced to six years in prison for an online posting deemed offensive to Islam.

Initial reports said that Kerolos Attallah, 29, had posted a photo on Facebook that several people considered insulting to Islam.  Those who were offended reported the posting to authorities who arrested Attallah near his home in a village near Luxor.

Now, information has come out that Attallah did not post the picture, he only clicked the “like” button for a page where someone else had posted the picture.  Attallah did not post the picture himself, did not “like” the actual picture and even removed his “like” of the page when he discovered some Islamic friends were offended.

Safwat Samaan, chairman of Egyptian human rights group Nation Without Borders, said that Attallah had not even posted a single comment on the disputed page.

“The sentence today was a shock not just to Kerolos but to everyone who uses Facebook in Egypt,” Samaan said. “Any person who uses Facebook in Egypt and presses ‘Like’ on any page … can be put into prison for six years.”

The page was called “Knights of the Cross” and is written in Arabic for Christians who convert from Islam.  The page provides encouragement, prayer and Bible Scriptures.

Meriam Ibrahim Freed By Appeals Court

The prayers of millions of Christians throughout the world were answered joyously with the release of Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim.

Sudan’s SUNA news agency said the ruling was made Monday morning.  The appeals court cancelled the verdict and sentence of the previous court meaning that Ibrahim could be immediately released from prison.  She and her children were reportedly taken to a house that was not disclosed to the press for security reasons as she and her family have received death threats from Islamists.

Ibrahim was convicted by a Sudanese court last month of apostacy and adultery because though she said she was always a Christian and married a Christian man, the court said she was Muslim because her father was Muslim and thus could not convert to Christianity or marry a Christian man.  Her child proved her adultery in the eyes of the court.

She gave birth to her second child while in prison and was forced to give birth with her legs shackled to the wall.

Ibrahim, married to American Daniel Wani, had been the subject of international outcry with British Prime Minster David Cameron, former PM Tony Blair and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for her immediate release.

The family has not said if she will remain in Sudan.  Her husband had told various news outlets during her imprisonment that they would flee the country if she was ever set free.

American Christian Detained In North Korea

An American tourist in North Korea was detained Friday for “hostile activities” after he left a Bible in his room after checking out.

Jeffrey Edward Fowle is now the third American being held captive by North Korea’s oppressive regime.

The official Korean Central News Agency said that Fowle is being questioned for violating his tourism visa regulations.

“US citizen in custody for committing anti-DPRK (North Korea) hostile activities,” the report reads.  “[Fowle] acted in violation of the DPRK (North Korea) law, contrary to the purpose of tourism during his stay.  A relevant organ of the DPRK detained him and is investigating him.”

The U.S. Department of State has issued an official warning to Americans who want to visit North Korea.  The warning reads in part that being a part of a tour with a North Korean tour guide does not guarantee you will not be detained and arrested by North Korean authorities for actions perfectly legal in the U.S. such as carrying a Bible.

Rumors Of Imminent Release of Sudanese Christian Mother Denied

The husband of a Sudanese woman jailed and sentenced to death for her belief in Christ has denied a series of stories in the western press that his wife is on the verge of being released by Sudanese authorities.

Daniel Wani, the American husband of Meriam Ibrahim, said that despite reports in various western news outlets, “only the appeals court” can free his wife and that no release is imminent.

The BBC had reported the possibly release along with comments from Abdullah Alzareg, undersecretary of the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, who said that Sudan guarantees religious freedom and vowed to protect Ibrahim.

Ibrahim was turned into authorities by Muslim relatives after she would not convert to Islam at their demand.

Wani said despite the false reports of his wife’s imminent release, he believes that her conviction will be overturned on appeal.

“I’m hoping that, given the way people have come together around the world – which I want to thank them for,” he said. “All the rights groups, all the broadcasters … It’s looking like it had an effect. Perhaps it will result in the judgment being overturned.”

South Korean Missionary Sentenced To Life In North Korean Prison

A South Korean missionary arrested in North Korea on charges of spying and setting up a network of underground churches has been sentenced to life at hard labor.

Kim Jung-wook was sentenced after a trial where North Korean authorities claim he admitted to “committing anti-North Korean religious acts” and “malignantly hurting the dignity” of ruler Kim Jong-Un.

According to North Korean state media, Jung-wook had a defense attorney but there were no details about whether a defense was actually provided during the trial that international observers called a sham.

Kim Jung-wook had been arrested last October after he entered North Korea from China.  When he lived in China, he had been instrumental in helping North Korean Christians escape to South Korea.  He had crossed into North Korea to learn about food storages and was caught by authorities.

Prosecutors presented what they called evidence of his actions including religious books.  The court could have sentenced the missionary to death but decided to issue the life sentence.