A report from Rifqa’s friend and fellow ex-Muslim, Jamal Jivanjee:
Dear friends and supporters of Rifqa Bary,
As we begin this New Year, I would like to ask you to take a few minutes to remember in your prayers some urgent developments regarding Rifqa Bary’s situation. Even though many were expecting Rifqa to be a dependent of the state of Ohio by now, (and thus be protected from being returned to the dire situation that she fled from), that is certainly not the case. As you may know, Rifqa’s last hearing was held on December 22nd. During the hearing, dependency was not addressed, rather a trial to determine dependency was rescheduled for January 28th. The proceedings that occurred on December 22nd simply ensured that she would not be forced to meet with her parents (mediation) as her parents were demanding, and the motion to block people (3rd parties) from communicating with Rifqa was withdrawn. This seemed like good news for Rifqa, and I left the courthouse in Franklin County pleased with the outcome of the day’s proceedings. This quickly changed the next few days as we became aware of what actually transpired behind the scenes.
Since Rifqa has been back in Ohio, the heat has gradually been turned up against her. To be blunt however, after this latest hearing on December 22nd, it seems that all ‘hell’ has literally broken loose against Rifqa. As you may know, C.A.I.R. (Council on American Islamic Relations) is actively supporting Rifqa’s parents in this case. C.A.I.R. is a national organization which has a very precarious background whose roots are tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. Without getting into the specifics regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and C.A.I.R.’s ties to them, you should be aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is responsible for every major terror organization that currently exists. C.A.I.R. has went to great lengths to put together a strategy to attack Rifqa Bary and her testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. It seems surreal to think that such a powerful organization has decided to attack a 17 year old convert to Christianity with such hostility, but that is indeed what they have done. The strategy of their attack is centered around 2 major objectives.
Objective #1… Keep Rifqa Bary isolated and discouraged
This objective has risen to a new level as the Bary’s C.A.I.R. appointed attorney, Omar Tarazi, filed a motion to ban Rifqa from receiving all 3’rd party communications (Christmas cards, notes, messages, etc…) While this motion was basically withdrawn, there was an undisclosed agreement made with the C.A.I.R. appointed attorney to require all communications to be screened by the court appointed (GAL) for Rifqa. Before the hearing on December 22nd, Rifqa’s own attorney was the one screening communications for Rifqa. Apparently, this was not acceptable to C.A.I.R. They did accept the court appointed (GAL) to screen Rifqa’s communication however. They probably assumed that the court appointed (GAL) for Rifqa would see things more to the liking of C.A.I.R.
As a result, since the last hearing, Rifqa has been literally cut off from the outside world. Currently, Rifqa has absolutely no official visitors list even though in Florida she was permitted supervised visits, and I was told by Children’s services weeks ago in Ohio that a visitors list was being developed for Rifqa. Also, before the last hearing on December 22nd, Rifqa had one ‘approved’ contact that she was allowed to have phone conversations with. After the hearing in December, Rifqa has not been allowed to have phone contact with any of her friends! When I have inquired about the reasoning behind Rifqa’s isolation, I am told that foster children are not entitled to receive phone calls from friends, nor are they entitled visits from people. This still does not explain the fact that even since she has been back in Ohio foster care, she has been permitted to talk on the phone with a few people under supervision, but since December 22nd, she has been forbidden to actually talk on the phone to the people that she was allowed to talk to at all! Criminals are treated better because in prison, they have the ability to make phone calls and have pastoral visits. Not so with Rifqa Bary, and it is incredibly unjust.
Objective #2…Attack those who saved Rifqa’s life and destroy her testimony
In the state of Ohio, a child can become a dependent of the state simply by showing the court that there was a conflict in the home. Anyone who knew Rifqa Bary knew very well about the nature of the conflict that she faced at home. As a matter of fact, there are upwards of 50 people who, if allowed, could possibly testify to the fact that Rifqa greatly feared for her life long before she fled from her parents in Ohio. The evidence is actually overwhelming in favor of supporting Rifqa’s assertion that she was in tremendous fear for her life for quite some time.
As a result of this overwhelming evidence, the C.A.I.R. appointed attorney wants to take the attention off of the threats that have been made against Rifqa by her parents, as well as any criticism against the Noor Mosque in central Ohio. Remember, this is the same mosque that put tremendous pressure on Rifqa’s parents to punish and deal with her conversion to Christianity.
Instead, they have brutally attacked 3 individuals, (Brian Williams of Columbus, & Blake and Beverly Lorenz of Orlando Florida) who LITERALLY saved Rifqa’s life by helping her when she fled her home. The attack and character assassination against these people has been horrific to say the least. This attack has been carried out by C.A.I.R., the media, and even some in the church community! This attack against them is very intentional. The strategy of Rifqa’s parents and C.A.I.R. is to make the assertion that Rifqa was brainwashed by the Lorenz family, as well as by Brian Williams. They are saying that Rifqa had no conflict in the home with her parents before she met them. They have been billed as predators that lured a very impressionable new convert away from her home.
Not only has C.A.I.R. been making these allegations themselves, now they have purportedly either threatened, or persuaded a former employee of the Lorenz’s church community to lie and make the same allegations against them as well! Well, with all this untruth and slander that has been leveled against Brian Williams and Blake & Beverly Lorenz, I am compelled to tell the truth surrounding how they got connected to Rifqa Bary.
Modern Day Heroes…Brian Williams & Blake and Beverly Lorenz
I have had the privilege of knowing Brian for the last several years. Brian is a young man who is very passionate about his faith in Jesus, and has a tremendous heart for seeing people mobilized to pray to affect change in our nation. Brian has started several prayer groups online, one of which now has over 100,000 members. The specific prayer group that Brian started on facebook that I’d like to talk about here is a group called the ‘United States of Prayer.’ This prayer group is the specific group that Rifqa Bary joined with a collection of people from around the country, including Beverly Lorenz. This was simply a group of people who are passionate about prayer. Most of the members, Rifqa Bary included, did not know each other prior to joining the group, rather they simply heard about the group on facebook and joined. It was through this group that Rifqa developed relationships with many people, including Brian Williams and the Lorenz family.
I’ll share this story to give you an example of what the group was like. On a particular day in early 2008, Brian shared with the group a need for prayer regarding a woman whom he knew who was making plans to acquire an abortion. Brian set up a conference call for that specific evening and invited the group members to call in and pray over the phone for the life of this baby and for the mother who was considering the abortion. About 40-50 people actually called in and prayed over the phone for this baby and for the mother. Rifqa happened to be one of the people who called in and prayed. Remember, Rifqa is not a new convert to Christianity as C.A.I.R. and others are claiming. She has been a Christian for over 4 years!
Since she lived out her faith under great duress at home, Rifqa’s main outlet for her faith was simply prayer, and this has ensured that her faith is much stronger than the average institutional church member in America! There are not many 16 year old girls in America today who would call in to a prayer group to pray for a woman whom they didn’t know. As people would find out, Rifqa is a very strong person who is passionate about God and people. Those who got to know her were amazed at how strong her faith is in general, not to mention that she was only 16 at the time. This particular story has a beautiful ending as the woman decided not to abort her baby, and the mother herself discovered faith in Jesus as well.
As a natural result of this prayer group, friendships began to form and people began to get to know each other. Since Rifqa was forbidden to attend any institutional church, these relationships acted as her ‘church’ so to speak. Rifqa began forming close relationships with people like Abigal Dykema who spent hours on the phone mentoring Rifqa through extremely difficult times in her home. There were others like Shannon Psotta who got to know Rifqa as well through this group. The more that people got to know Rifqa, the more they realized the abuse that Rifqa had endured and the hostility that Rifqa was facing at home. Rifqa herself shared the threat that she was facing with her new friends from the prayer group.
When Rifqa fled her home, she chose to seek out Blake & Beverly Lorenz for help. Beverly was first informed about Rifqa’s situation from Shannon Psotta (a friend from the facebook prayer group). When Beverly heard about the serious situation that Rifqa was facing, she simply began to pray for Rifqa. It was shortly after that time that Rifqa herself reached out and contacted Beverly for help. I am convinced that by taking Rifqa into their home when circumstances developed that forced Rifqa to flee, they literally saved Rifqa’s life!
Once we look at the facts in this case, it is a preposterous idea to think that Rifqa was a recent convert to Christianity who was brainwashed to run away. This was clearly not the case as I also knew her and the seriousness of her situation. Brian Williams told me that before he met Rifqa, he knew nothing about Islam, honor killings, or apostasy. He had never even seen a mosque as well. It was Rifqa who informed him about all these things! Does that sound like brainwashing to you? This courageous decision by the Lorenz family, and Brian Williams to help Rifqa has come with a high cost, however. The media has ruthlessly attacked their character, they have been under investigation, and they have even been attacked and maligned by their own church community.
It is time for these lies to be exposed for what they are, and for the truth to be known about who these people are. By getting to know them better the last few months, I can personally tell you that these people are modern day heroes who have a tremendous love for people! I am convinced that it would do our nation well if we followed the courageous example of people like Brian Williams and the Lorenz family. If we commend and celebrate the actions of folks like Harriet Tubman and Corrie ten Boom in recent history, why are we attacking and persecuting those who follow in their example?
So what does this have to do with Rifqa Bary being in grave danger? EVERYTHING!Â
This case is simply about a young girl who has decided to become a follower of Jesus (Christian) and leave Islam, and as a result of this decision, her life is on the line. This is the same story that happens all over the globe to other Muslims who leave Islam to follow Christ. Rifqa is simply one of millions. If C.A.I.R. is successful in keeping attention focused on the lies that are being leveled against Brian Williams and the Lorenz family, then they never have to deal with the real issue that this case centers around. Again, this case is about a girl who has decided to leave Islam and follow Jesus as the Messiah (Christ). This case is also about exposing the threat that people face when they leave Islam. I am also convinced that this is a wakeup call.
By creating a fictitious reality that states that Rifqa was a weak and impressionable young girl who was brainwashed, they hope to convince the court that there was no real conflict in the home. This would cause the court to dismiss Rifqa’s plea for dependency and thereby send her back home. If that were to happen, her life would be in extreme danger. As you may realize, this trial for dependency on January 28th is very important and the truth about this situation must be made known quickly as her trial date is fast approaching. If you are a Christian, I would again like to ask that you and your church communities pray for this precedent setting case in our nation. Pray for Rifqa’s encouragement, strength, and wisdom as well as for wisdom for her legal team. Please pray for Rifqa’s family as well.
In the past many of you have emailed Franklin County Children’s services. This may be necessary again because this isolation of Rifqa has gotten worse and simply cannot be allowed to continue. The director of Children’s services may be the best person to contact about the abusive restrictions that are being put on Rifqa. Emails should be polite, yet direct. His name is Eric Fenner, and he can be contacted at this address:
Thank you so much for your continued support and prayer for Rifqa Bary. There is much at stake in the next few weeks.