Whom do you seek?
He is not here.
For he is risen (on WordPress), as he said.
Christian ‘exodus’The letter is signed by 13 bishops, who, when added to those who have already called for Government action (still, shockingly, without any substantive response from either No10 or the FCO), brings us to 21. They now include:
Sir, We urge the government to promote a co-ordinated approach towards the estimated 100,000 displaced Christians around northern Iraq/Kurdistan, many of whom have nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Their fate is now in the hands of outsiders after a forced exodus from areas they have inhabited since New Testament times. Western non-government organisations and churches are providing immediate aid, and the response by UNHCR, the Department for International Development and the British public has been substantial; however this level of aid cannot be sustained, and a longer-term solution is required.
Many of the displaced Christians and Yazidis have no confidence that a political or military solution will lead to their being able to survive back in their home territory. Many Christians are looking to find asylum in other countries. Australia, Canada, Sweden, Germany, France and others have proved remarkably generous but not, so far, the UK, despite it being a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and a member of the UN Council of Human Rights.
Justin Welby, CanterburyOrdinaries and others include:
John Sentamu, York
Nick Baines, Leeds
David Walker, Manchester
John Inge, Worcester
Mark Rylands, Shrewsbury
Jonathan Gledhill, Lichfield
Geoff Annas, Stafford
Clive Gregory, Wolverhampton
Jonathan Clark, Croydon
Pete Broadbent, Willesden
Graham Usher, Dudley
Steven Croft, Sheffield
John Pritchard, Oxford
Donald Allister, Peterborough
Andrew Watson, Aston
Robert Innes, Gibraltar
Robert Patterson, Sodor and the Isle of Man
Andrew Proud, Reading
James Langstaff, Rochester
Colin Fletcher, Dorchester
John Hall, Dean of WestminsterStill not quite equalling the number of bishops who complained about the existence of food-banks, but we're getting there..
Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.Rest In Peace, Ian.
My fellow Americans – tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counter-terrorism professionals, America is safer.
Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL – which calls itself the “Islamic State.”
Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.
In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.
So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.
I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve. Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. That’s why I’ve insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.
First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.
Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American service members to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi Security Forces. Now that those teams have completed their work – and Iraq has formed a government – we will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission – we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We will also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL control.
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I again call on Congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.
Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counter-terrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into – and out of – the Middle East. And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.
Fourth, we will continue providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.
This is our strategy. And in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity, and in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria to drive these terrorists from their lands. This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.
My Administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.
Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved – especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.
My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. Next week marks 6 years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. Yet despite these shocks; through the pain we have felt and the grueling work required to bounce back – America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.
Our technology companies and universities are unmatched; our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day – and that makes me more confident than ever about our country’s future.
Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America – our scientists, our doctors, our know-how – that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people – or the world – again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.
America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia – from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East – we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding. Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a Commander-in-Chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform – pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and service-members who support our partners on the ground.
When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said. “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”
That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety – our own security – depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for – timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.
May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America
"The Stone of Destiny is the most ancient symbol of Scottish kingship. It was used in the coronation of Scottish Kings until the end of the 13th century. Exactly 700 years ago, in 1296, King Edward I brought it from Scotland and housed it in Westminster abbey. The stone remains the property of the Crown. I wish to inform the House that, on the advice of Her Majesty's Ministers, the Queen has agreed that the stone should be returned to Scotland. The stone will, of course, be taken to Westminster abbey to play its traditional role in the coronation ceremonies of future sovereigns of the United Kingdom.In his response, Leader of the Opposition Tony Blair observed observed that the Stone "is part of Scottish nationhood". David Steel MP added that "it is the settled view of the majority of people in Scotland that they want not just the symbol, but the substance – the substance of the return of democratic control over our internal affairs in Scotland". But it was Margaret Ewing MP who hit the legendary nail squarely on the head:
"The Stone of Destiny holds a special place in the hearts of Scots. On this the 700th anniversary of its removal from Scotland, it is appropriate to return it to its historic homeland..."
"..the Stone of Destiny is not the symbol of kingship but the symbol of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland, which is enunciated through the declaration of Arbroath. Like others, I argue that, while we welcome the return of this symbol of power, we want the realities of power in Scotland. It may have taken this Parliament some 668 years since the treaty of Northampton to return stolen goods to Scotland, but in actuality the people of Scotland will return to themselves the power of having their own sovereign Parliament very soon."It was a vacuous political gesture draped in the Royal Command, but it was clearly expressed that the Queen was acting "on the advice of (Her) Ministers". What they dismissed as mere symbolism was, for many, a portent of nationalist power, for legend decreed that the return of the Stone to Scotland would herald independence from the yoke of English oppression and tyranny (ie Edward II and Margaret Thatcher).
Can I give your readers a bit of perspective? Some weeks ago, Kent County Cricket Ground suggested that they looked through their pool of umpires for a couple from another denomination. This seemed a cheerful, humorous suggestion, which we mentioned to Mr Claughton when he phoned last week. We didn’t talk about bias or anything like that to him, nor would we promote such a concept as ‘theological neutrality’, whatever that is.To which His Grace responded:
There is all sorts of spin that could be put on this match, the first-ever, as far as we know, between the Vatican and an official Anglican side, but I have to admit that I didn’t see this one coming up on the leg side. (US readers might need a translation.) I’m happy to reassure your readers that this match is thoroughly good. It’s an exciting, novel way to express the closeness of the two communions – an antidote, if you like, to the serious, wordy, theological debate when everybody has to watch every phrase they use in case it’s misinterpreted by another party.
And it’s all for a good cause: the match is free (4 p.m. Friday 19 September, at the Kent ground in Canterbury: please come); a collection will be taken for the Global Freedom Network, the joint RC/Anglican anti-trafficking charity.
Dear Mr Handley,To which Mr Handley responded further:
His Grace is appreciative, and has done all he can to promote the worthiness of the ecumenical cricket match by highlighting the fixture and linking to Global Freedom Network.
But, respectfully, this adds no "perspective" to the matter beyond that already reported. Unless you are saying that Mr Claughton has misquoted / misremembered / misled those to whom he has recounted that a "nice lady" at the Church Times said (or even suggested) that the faith of his great-great grandfather was a reason he could not be "theologically neutral" in his umpiring.
It is not even clear (and apparently not reported) that Mr Claughton is himself a communicant of the Church of England. But even were he so, to discount his sporting neutrality on account of a perceived ecclesial bias is mind-boggling.
On the sunny side, this inter-church fixture has received a level of national publicity which would ordinarily cost £10,000s. All things work together for good..
Thanks for taking notice, and, as you point out, for advertising the match. What is not coming across is the tone of all this: it was a humorous suggestion that we went along with. Taken seriously, we’d have to examine the religious affiliation – and, let’s face it, the church attendance records, since who knows how sincere they were? – of several generations of every match official. We have a team working on it right now.So, there you have it. Rachel is indeed a "nice lady", and that is an indisputable truth. But all of this "theologically neutral" stuff, if it were ever discussed or even implied at all, was "cheerful" and "humorous", to which Mr Handley bears witness, and to which Rachel will never again subscribe without deploying a covert recording device.
In point of fact, I heard a while ago that the umpiring is to be done by the head of umpires at Kent plus another of his choosing, and that no religious test was applied. But how dull, compared with the Telegraph story.
One thing was right: my colleague Rachel is a ‘nice lady’ – though sometimes the antics of the Anglican Communion push her towards unladylike expressions.
This summer, we have seen Christians being systematically persecuted and murdered in the Middle East; anti-Semitic attacks and protests soaring in response to the Israeli government’s intervention in Gaza; institutionalised political correctness leading to appalling sexual abuse against children by Pakistani Muslims; and murders carried out by Isil terrorists who may have included Britons indoctrinated to preach evil at home and enact it abroad.Thank you, Mr Pickles. You won't win "the ethnic vote" by singling out "Pakistani Muslims", but you do a great service to truth by not euphemistically shrouding the evil beneath "Asian" or "of Pakistani heritage". He continues:
The common theme is the politics of division and hate: attitudes and mantras that seek to divide rather than unite. Aggressive secularists would advocate the suppression of religion in the public sphere. Yet this would only perpetuate the message of intolerance towards others. Religion is the not the problem – political and religious extremism is.The common theme? Well, here he becomes a little discursive, if not deflective. The common theme is indeed "the politics of division and hate: attitudes and mantras that seek to divide rather than unite", but we are not taking about the Elim Pentecostalists. The problem is "Islamism", which some call "political Islam", which rather too many call "true Islam". Religion is the problem when its precepts may exhort division and its founder inspire hate. It's not Moses we're talking about, or Jesus, or Buddha, or Krishna, or Guru Nanak. Religion that seeks peace, proclaims love and expresses compassion is true religion. But truth itself divides, and not all division stems from hate. But the Secretary of State is absolutely right that:
The best response is to champion the British values that define our country, many of which are founded in faith. At heart, we are a Christian nation – from the Established Church in England, to the language of the King James Bible, deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. But most important, we are a place of justice and tolerance towards others. Our defence of freedom, the rule of law and the evolution of our democracy have all grown from the seedbed of faith.And he takes up the historic theme of the Bishop of Leeds:
This is why Britain has long been a safe haven for persecuted people. Whether French Protestants during the Wars of Religion in the 17th century, European Jews fleeing Nazism, or Bosnian Muslims following the break-up of Yugoslavia.Expanding it to the evolution of religious liberty:
Our Christian values have helped us to identify and rectify our own prejudices and injustices: the 1689 Act of Toleration that protected nonconformists, the Catholic emancipation of the 19th century, or William Wilberforce’s tireless campaign against slavery. For centuries, these ideals have been the salt and light of the nation, illuminating our international reputation as a just and tolerant country.For centuries, these ideals were indeed salt and light in the world. Sadly, that is no longer the case. This Government has long prioritised matters of sexuality over religious liberty, as though adherence to the will of the penis were preeminent over the freedoms of belief, religion and worship.
While government has an important role in defending religious liberties, responsibility also lies with us as individuals: the personal belief that discrimination and persecution is wrong and should not be tolerated.But a government which conflates freedom of worship with freedom of religion is not one which can effectively defend religious liberties. The distinction was neatly summarised by Mats Tunehag, who observed: "Freedom of religion includes the right to have a faith, to manifest it and propagate for it, alone or together with others, also in the public arena. It also gives the right to change beliefs and religious affiliation. This is what democracies would adhere to. Freedom of worship is a definition practiced (sic) in countries influenced by Islam. You may be allowed to be a Christian, but you mustn’t take it into the public arena or share your faith with others. If you are a Muslim you are free to be a Muslim and display it publically (sic) but you can’t leave Islam."
Sadly, there is a worrying rise in the number of people who seem to think these ideals are optional. Take the thuggish invasions of several mosques following the murder of Lee Rigby by the modern-day blackshirts of “Britain First”. These were vile attacks not only against law-abiding Muslims who want to live in peace, but an attack on the freedom of religion of every citizen.Some who frequent this blog would do well to consider this truth, for the occasional comment veers uncomfortably close to the very "cleansing" being meted out upon minorities by the Islamic State. His Grace would far rather fellowship with peaceable, law-abiding Muslims than any fascist assertion of liberty wrapped up in the façade of patriotism. If religious liberty means anything, it is the right to believe, live and worship as your god requires. This is guaranteed by the Anglican Settlement under the Supreme Governor who is Head of State. It is the English way. It has not always been so, but it has become so.
Those who commit hate crimes should be punished with the full force of the law. But private institutions and individuals must stand up and defend others’ liberties, too. In response to anti-Israeli yobs picketing the Holborn branch of Sainsbury’s, the branch manager cleared the shelves of Kosher food. Sainsbury’s corporate reaction was to apologise for the “inconvenience”. Yet this was clear anti-Semitism by the yobs and a lamentable response from Sainsbury’s.Hear, hear.
Whatever one’s view about the politics of Israel and Gaza, everyone who believes in British liberty should stand up for the Jewish community’s right to practise their faith and go about their lives without fear. A cursory glance at European history shows the worst atrocities can begin with turning a blind eye to seemingly small acts of discrimination.
Freedom of speech and freedom of religion go hand in hand – but both should operate within the law. Britain has a broad and generous vision of citizenship. It is important that we all take responsibility for defending it. The first is by standing up to the overt and noisy bullies. Second is constant vigilance against the sly pedlars of hatred whose crude prejudices masquerade as religious piety. Jesus recognised this risk when he warned us to “watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” One of the foundations of the Church of England was its “via media” – or middle way between religious hotheads. These guiding principles of the English Reformation should help us as we grapple with the religious politics and tensions of the 21st century.Read that carefully, and read it again and again. When over recent decades have you heard a senior politician - indeed, a member of the Cabinet- exhort the virtues of the Anglican via media or appeal to the guiding principles of the English Reformation? Indeed, when have your heard a bishop do so? If we cannot learn the lessons of the 16th century, we are indeed doomed to repeat them in the 21st.
It has been easy this summer to feel pessimistic about the consequences of violent events erupting across the world, and worry about them being echoed here. That’s why we must all rally and support our hard-fought British values – tolerance, freedom and the rule of law.You may despise Eric Pickles' politics; you may doubt his integrity or question his motives. But you cannot fault his determination or boldness in the assertion of British values. With the departure of Michael Gove from the Cabinet, he alone grasps the evil of Islamism, and he alone comprehends the significance of the Christian foundations of our laws, liberties and customs. So, please don't censure of condemn harshly. Instead, if you find his grasp of the Faith inadequate, his theology flawed or his spirituality weak, correct him in love, encourage him and pray for him (Rom 14:1; 1Cor 3:2; 1Thess 5:14).
This can happen in many ways – from the Jewish and Muslim groups issuing an unprecedented joint statement last week condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, to the 77-year-old nun who got out a step ladder to take down the jihadi flag flying over her Tower Hamlets housing estate.
But government can only do so much. The state governs by consent, not coercion. Every law-abiding Briton across class, colour and creed needs to stand up for the liberties that continue to define our nation.
Sheikh Mohammad Shahid Raza OBESome prominent names and organisations are notable by their absence..
Executive Secretary, Muslim Law (Shariah) Council of UK. Head Imam, Leicester Central Mosque.
Sheikh Qamaruzzaman Azmi
Secretary General, World Islamic Mission. Head Imam, Manchester Central Mosque.
Sheikh Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Co-Director, The Association of British Muslims.
Sheikh Dr Qari Mohammad Asim MBE
Head Imam, Makkah Masjid, Leeds.
Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan
Author, ISIS Fatwa. Former Imam, Masjid Al-Tawhid Mosque, Leyton. Head Theologian, Quilliam Foundation.
Mufti Abu Layth
Founder, The Islamic Council, UK.
Over 100 militants dressed in military uniforms swarmed the predominantly Christian village just as Sunday church services were beginning on June 1. The rebels opened fire on the village and went after people with their machetes. 55-year-old Sawaltha Wandala witnessed the Boko Haram slaughtering children at a church as he arrived for the second service. He saw the men throw one child into a ditch. More concerned for the child than his own safety, he picked up the 6-year-old boy, who had survived being severely slashed, and immediately rushed to take the child to the hospital in Cameroon. Sawaltha was stopped by five insurgents, who grabbed the boy from his arms and beheaded him, before turning to beat Sawaltha with tree branches. They finished their attack striking him in the head with a large rock, leaving him for dead with blood running from his nose and mouth.The words are liberating; they tell of an appalling horror over which love triumphs. Christians are commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. It's easy to preach and it's cheap to believe - until you're confronted by such evil that every fibre of your being cries out for retaliation and revenge, which breeds mutual hostility and creates a cycle of hatred from which there is no escape.
After decimating the village and sending residents fleeing, Boko Haram returned two days later in a second series of attacks on several other villages in the Gwoza district. The back to back attacks left an estimated 200 people, including small children, dead. John Yakubu and his family were among those who fled across the border into neighboring Cameroon.
With his family facing starvation in the refugee camp, John decided to make a quick trip back to Attagara to retrieve some of his animals hoping he could sell them to support his family. Though it was dangerous, there seemed to be no other choice. At home, he decided to pick up some of the family’s other belongings, including the family Bible.
Boko Haram insurgents spotted him entering the house, and quickly captured him. “We know you’re John,” the militants said to him. “You must convert to Islam or else you will die a painful death.”
When John refused, the men tied him to a tree binding his arms and legs. The men hacked both of John’s hands with a heavy knife and mocked him. “Can you become a Muslim now?”
“You can kill my body, but not my soul,” John shouted in pain.
Using a machete as well as the knife, the men continued to torture John. They repeatedly cut into his feet and his back, stopping only to ask him if he would give up his faith in Christ and follow Allah. John refused. “We will show you,” they told him. The insurgents used an axe to cut so deeply into his knee that it reached the bone. His head was slashed with a knife.
Eventually, John lost consciousness. At some point, the terrorists left, and John was left bleeding and tied to the tree for three days before someone rescued him and he was taken to a hospital in a coma.
In the hospital, a VOM worker met John. When the worker asked John how he felt about his attackers, he replied, “I have forgiven the Islamic militants, because they did not know what they are doing.”