This week my heart has been grieved as I have read the numerous reports about Asia Bibi who has been sentenced to death, by hanging, for blasphemy in Pakistan.
Today, Mission Network News has the following story about Asia and asks us all to remember Asia in our prayers this Sunday when we remember the persecuted church in prayer.
Pakistan (MNN) ― In recent days, Pakistan has given the church one more prayer request to add to the list for the International Day of Prayer.
Intercession is being asked from believers worldwide for believing wife and mother, Asia Bibi, who has become the first woman in history to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.
Several sources say that Bibi "blasphemed" the Prophet Muhammad while speaking to some Muslim women as they all worked in a field. Reports vary on exactly what Bibi said or how the discussion began, but multiple Christian sources say that she was explaining her own faith to the women. "Christianity Today" says Bibi was speaking about how Jesus had died on the cross for her, and she asked what Muhammad had ever done for them.
This was in June 2009. Well over a year later, Bibi has received a death sentence by hanging for what are considered to be blasphemous remarks. She is charged with violating Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which punishes derogatory remarks against the Prophet with death or life imprisonment.
Since Bibi's initial incarceration, she has been fined hundreds of dollars. According to AFP, Bibi's husband has vowed to appeal her latest sentence, but even an appeal would not guarantee her freedom.
Many human rights groups have protested the unjust sentence, noting that Pakistani Muslims have often misused blasphemy charges against religious minorities. AFP reminds us of specific incidents including two Christians who were shot after their hearing for distributing blasphemous pamphlets, and two brothers who were killed in a similar circumstance by Muslim protestors.
Many organizations have begun petitions or have urged people to appeal to the Pakistani embassy in their own countries to release Bibi. Most importantly, lift her up in prayer. Pray for Bibi's freedom and for her husband and children. Pray that the Gospel would continue to move forward in Pakistan, and that this woman would not be punished for sharing the Truth.