• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Pastor Associate of Rifqa Bary Announces She has been “Healed”

UPDATE: Williams has left a comment by way of clarification as to why he made the Facebook posting:

it’s because she is a minor and although the prayers of many are needed and appreciated, it is not the entire world’s business about her health condition… Jamal’s intentions are pure and sincere. I have no[t] broadcast the news of her health circumstances because I am more concerned about the numerous outsiders who have little interest in Ms Bary as a person, and more an interest in generating hits to their blog, or using her as an opportunity to be seen in the public light. With all of our governmental problems, even federal law protects indivuals from having there medical records and circumstances known to the public. Given the past 9 months Ms. Bary has endured, I believe that as a 17 year old she is also entitled to that same level of privacy…

***

Now, following the situation outlined in my previous post, what are we to make of this?

Brian Williams, the pastor who helped Rifqa Bary escape Ohio to Florida, has just posted the following on Jamal Jivanjee’s Facebook page – twice (quote marks in original):

“Rifqa is doing fine, she has had much prayer, but she is healed, she has been prayed for and healed. Her love for Jesus is at an all time high. COntinue to pray for her though. Jesus lives! :)”

Curiously, Williams does not mention this remarkable recovery on his own Facebook page, or give any details.

Another poster then asks Williams why his announcement seems to differ from Jivanee’s; Jivanjee’s response is ambiguous:

The beautiful thing about many, many people praying, vs only a few people praying, has to do with joy. God uses the prayers of His people to accomplish His purposes. The purpose is Joy. Jesus said in John 16 that if we ask anything in His Name, the Father will grant it so that our joy may be made full. It is the will of God that the joy of many people be made full because this brings Him glory. The more that people pray, the more the joy. This is, in my opinion, the main reason why God is raising up so many people to pray for Rifqa. May the news of her situation, and the prayers of the saints be multiplied! God is good.

28 Responses

  1. it’s because she is a minor and although the prayers of many are needed and appreciated, it is not the entire world’s business about her health condition. Rifqa has been and will continue to be supported through continue prayer from the family and friends closest to her, and most of all by Jesus himself. Just because her story of apostasy has been widely circulated it is not advisable to broadcast her health condition to the entire world. This is a spiritual war te young lady is facing. The heavenly strategy in such times is not fanfare, it is simply faith and trust in God’s power to deliver. Jamal’s intentions are pure and sincere. I have no broadcast the news of her health circumstances because I am more concerned about the numerous outsiders who have little interest in Ms Bary as a person, and more an interest in generating hits to their blog, or using her as an opportunity to be seen in the public light. With all of our governmental problems, even federal law protects indivuals from having there medical records and circumstances known to the public. Given the past 9 months Ms. Bary has endured, I believe that as a 17 year old she is also entitled to that same level of privacy. All prayers are appreciated and welcome. God is good and nothing catches Him by surprise, He is Jehova Rapha, He will glorify His name through Rifqa’s life in whatever way He deems. Regardless if she fits into the idealism of American Christianity, her life is a testimony, if she lives or if she dies, Christ will be glorified. In regards to spiritual warfare, we know what we are up against, and we will continue to support her in prayer. God bless you. – Brian

  2. […] Top Posts New York Times Profiles Child-Witchfinder Helen UkpabioNadine Dorries Explains Why She Deleted Blog: Cites "Police Advice" over On-Line CriticPastor Announces Rifqa Bary Seriously Ill with CancerHelen Ukpabio Tells State Governor to "Remember what Happened to Saddam Hussein "Pastor Associate of Rifqa Bary Announces She has been "Healed" […]

  3. Regardless if she fits into the idealism of American Christianity, her life is a testimony, if she lives or if she dies, Christ will be glorified.

    Er, Brian – please do focus on the living part…

  4. It’s my hope and prayer that Rifqa will come through her surgery with flying colors. This has got to be a scary time for her. I also hope there can be a reconciliation between Rifqa and her parents.

    I would like to know from Brian Williams why he and his counterparts felt it so necessary to interfere with parental custody as they have been doing for a year now. If a Christian girl converted to Islam and ran off to Florida at the behest of an imam and his wife, you’d be outraged. And what about the fifth commandment about honoring your parents? Does it just not apply?

  5. I’d like to 2nd mirele’s request for a direct response from Brian Williams on the questions she posed.

  6. In response to the question posed above, If the tables were turned is not really what this situation is about. Rifqa ran away from her parents after having her life threatened. If you know anything about honor killings or the punishment for apostasy in Islam, you would understand totally why she feared for her life and ran away. As far as honoring your parents, Rifqa has done that and continues to do that. She loves her parents very much, it breaks her heart that they treated her with such hostility and abusive threats when hearing of her conversion. Ms. Bary is an honor student, never been in any sort of trouble at all. She is graduating from high school in a few weeks as the valedictorian of her high school class. Giving her tract record of integrity and upstanding moral character, she is certainly worthy of being taken serious. The liberal media as well as the conservative media have attempted to capitalize on Ms. Bary’s unfortunate and saddening situation. Depending on whose blog you read, or whose news channel you watch you will have the spin doctors painting the picture however they desire. Prior to the media exploitation, all of Rifqa’s friends were well aware of the fear she lived with on a daily basis hiding her faith from her father. In Islam, women are traditionally oppressed as a norm, when you add apostasy into the equation, you have a recipe for incredible tragedy. The legal team for Ms. Bary has done the best that they can considering all the complexities of her case. For example, Rifqa’s father and mother have failed to produce documentation for their family, as it is, both Rifqa and her parents are in the USA illegally. I could go on and on about the numerous contradictions in her parents testimony, but the important thing is that Rifqa is safe, and now although she is facing a new trial, the same love for the Lord Jesus Christ that carried through the past 9 months will carry her through this season of her life. As a friend, I am extremely proud of her courage to stand strong despite the false accusations against her. When faced with a choice to save a life, I advise all to err on the side of caution. God bless you all.

  7. Mr. Williams:

    I share your concern for Rifqa’s health and well-being at this point, but I note that you failed to respond to the question put before you. Would you support Muslim clergy in taking the same actions with regards to a Christian family whose daughter converted?

    I have been following this case for some time and I have been struck by the absolute lack of any confirmation for any of the things that have been offered up in support of the actions of the adults who assisted Rifqa in leaving home. No testimony has ever supported your suggestion that it was widely known among Rifqa’s friends that she was in danger–and particularly disconcerting was the testimony of the teacher that Rifqa said had offered her shelter. Further, none of the involved clergy who claim to have believed that Rifqa was a victim both physical and sexual abuse at home ever made a report to children’s services sharing that information–even though they are mandated reporters in both Ohio and Florida.

    The facts with regard to death for apostasy on a global scale do not support the claim of imminent danger from family members either. When confronted with this reality, the conversation often shifts to “honor killings” which are a response not to apostasy (and not universal among Muslims), but to breaking of various sexual taboos–of which there have been no suggestion in Rifqa’s case.

    Mr. Williams, I appreciate your wanting to move Rifqa’s health concerns out of the spotlight. I also appreciate that you are among the youngest of the clergy members involved in this case–and subject to some manipulation yourself. But, I believe it is critically important that all of these issues be dealt with honestly. A child is very ill and needs her family. Further, she needs to understand honestly whether or not her family wishes her any ill.

  8. well, my simple response to your hypothetical situation where muslims rescue a christian, I say of course I support that. Life is the only thing that concerns me, it really doesn’t matter if she’s muslim, christian, or atheist. Her life was threatened, that’s the issue. Historically, statistically, and factually, the issue of apostasy leading to death is undeniable. I understand that not all muslims regard sharia law completely, but as i said above, Ms. Bary is intelligent and very trustworthy. She had no motive to make up a preposterous story…. ask her if her life has gotten any easier or better as a result of the past 9 months, the answer is absolutely not. She has undergone more struggles personally, than anyone I know. To hold herself together the way she has is remarkable. She did so well academically this past year that she is graduating a year early and is the valedictorian of her graduating class.

    The issue at hand is her health and safety, as her friend those are the things that all those who truly know and love Rifqa are concerned about. My objection is not to vilify Islam, or her parents, nor is it to trumpet Christianity. Those who have ulterior motives in her case ought to be ashamed of themselves, whether they are “Christian” “Muslim” or indifferent. As far as facts that verify her claims, if you simply google the initial missing persons reports, it indicates that authorities believed her to had run away because of religious conflict in the home. The authorities concluded that after nearly 40 people were interviewed and gave the police the information about her abusive and hostile homelife. As I said, those things are in the past, currently what’s most important is that Rifqa recover from this health situation. If you have any decency at all, you will look beyond your bias and fault-finding and simply cheer her on to a healthy recovery. I’ll say it again, God bless you all, may His love be revealed to you as it has been to Rifqa and countless others.

  9. The reply that Ohioan made to this above is spot on – in every regard.

    Brian, you yourself helped to inform us of the probable roots of how Rifqa initially came to think her parents might harm her. Remember the Newsweek article from September 09? From same:

    “According to Williams, a nondenominational minister, she researched the persecution of Christians around the world obsessively and lived in constant fear that her parents would kill her for apostasy. At first “I didn’t believe her, to be honest,” says Williams. “Maybe she’s just young and overemotional,” he thought. But Bary spoke with such conviction that she eventually convinced Williams.”

    Reading the hate spewing liars Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and the likes was what first convinced Rifqa she could be in danger. Back that up with an evangelist like Lou Engle and his insane views, and a couple of fakes like Jimal Jivangee and Ergun Caner, and you’ve got a powerful package there.

    You knew it from early on. At least the quoted text from above seems to indicate that you did, somewhere deep down inside. Always trust your gut reaction. You may know that as the Holy Spirit, or that still, small voice; regardless, it speaks truth.

    I’d also advise you from this point forward to REPORT suspected abuse or threats to minors to the proper authorities in a timely fashion, as you were mandated to do by law when this was happening. If someone were to really press this issue, you could still yet be in a heap of trouble.

  10. Brian: In reply to your last comments…

    “Historically, statistically, and factually, the issue of apostasy leading to death is undeniable.”

    *Challenge to YOU:
    Can YOU find and cite an example in the USA, or in Sri Lanka, of honor killing by individual Muslims **specifically** for converting from Islam as reported on in a mainstream news article or from some other credible source?

    I highly encourage you to take that challenge. “Historically, statistically and factually,,,” – well, that’s just not true, Brian. If you’ve got citations or statistics **that fall within the parameters of the specifics** of the challenge above, please list them here for all to see. Please note the double asterisks.

    Do the research, please. Responsible adults don’t just blindly believe what they’re told to believe. Look for non-blog, non-religious oriented mainstream news articles in the US and Sri Lanka. Search the UN’s site. Search at Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. They do report on honor killings – why would they exclude them in regards to apostacy from Islam if it really happens that way here or in Sri Lanka?

    “Ms. Bary is intelligent and very trustworthy. She had no motive to make up a preposterous story…. ask her if her life has gotten any easier or better as a result of the past 9 months, the answer is absolutely not. She has undergone more struggles personally, than anyone I know. To hold herself together the way she has is remarkable. She did so well academically this past year that she is graduating a year early and is the valedictorian of her graduating class.”

    *This is ALL irrelevant. She was an excellent student before she left home, too. No doubt Rifqa is extremely intelligent and trustworthy, based both on her record, and from things that her parents, school friends, and teachers have said.

    There’s also no doubt in my mind that she absolutely BELIEVES what she says. She’s brainwashed and acting in an unruly manner as a result. There’s no need for her to “make up a preposterous story” – she believes it. Many intelligent people fall victim to false beliefs, brainwashing and exploitation, and often via religion. That’s even more likely to happen with a very zealous teen with limited life experience who feels a little out of touch with and restricted by parents rules and expectations.

    Think about it, Brian. If she was really “sneaking” out to attend churches (multiple churches, and for several years), meet you for abortion protests, meet you at the OSULove House and to get baptized in front of 50+ witnesses (near her parents home, yet!) – how restrictive of her, how controlling of her could her parents really have been??? Look up 2nd Timothy 3:7. Use your head and ponder what you DO know personally – these facts.

    I believe that if you TRULY try and meet the challenge I gave you, you might well understand that these are false teachings and info, and how Rifqa was able to be convinced of same, and you’ll realize her vulnerability, because you’ll see how you yourself have been duped.

    “The issue at hand is her health and safety, as her friend those are the things that all those who truly know and love Rifqa are concerned about.”

    *This ALL goes DIRECTLY to Rifqa’s health and safety. Believe that in your own limited life experience, or not.

    “As far as facts that verify her claims, if you simply google the initial missing persons reports, it indicates that authorities believed her to had run away because of religious conflict in the home. The authorities concluded that after nearly 40 people were interviewed and gave the police the information about her abusive and hostile homelife.”

    * A “religious conflict in the home” sounds much less life-threatening than the words you used, which were, “abusive and hostile homelife.” Your words imply danger. The police’s implied disagreement – and that, after they spoke to all those people you mentioned were interviewed. Can’t find that report, by the way. Got a link?

  11. I will no longer entertain this conversation. I hope the things I shared with you are of some sort, but I have no intention causing you to see things from my perspective. I respect your disagreements and even welcome them. My concern is for Rifqa to recover and pull through this current situation as a mature responsible adult, it’s my hope that you can step off of your finger pointing platform and show some decency. will be sure to pray God’s love and peace on your life. Have a great weekend.

  12. I am sorry that Brian is leaving the conversation. The numerous articles on honor killng have one deep flaw in regards to this conversation and that is that honor killing (or honor related murder of women) is not concerned with apostasy. It is a relic of tribal beliefs in which the “honor” of males was reflected in the sexual behavior of the various females in their household.

    This is not a custom in Sri Lanka, but in any case it has nothing to do with apostasy.

    I would also point out that Ergun Caner–who publicly stated early on in this case, just after Rifqa was found in Florida, that in Sri Lanka Christian converts were in perile, is currently facing extreme difficulties of his own associated with multiple falsifications of his knowledge of Islam and Islamic culture and experience.

    I have been watching the various news sources, but have not yet seen any word regarding Rifqa’s surgery. But I am praying for her health and that of her family.

  13. Final Comment! haha…

    The bottom line is this, honor killings are done for many reasons, apostasy is just 1 of them. Karen asked for examples in America of honor killings, I simply googled it and within .02 secs over 1,000,000 results came up. I’m sure that if I took my personal time and read them all I could find at least a few that fit within your parameters. My perspective is that regardless of what country it happens in, or why it takes place, killing innocent people is wrong! I rest my case on that note. You guys can sit here and talk about how stupid I am, or whatever helps you sleep better tonight, for the 3rd and final time, show a little compassion and consider what is actually at stake here… a young girl is fighting for her life with cancer, rather than condemn her, her faith, or her friends, show a little decency, I’m sure with all your “life experience” you can muster it up… take care adios

  14. Brian: You did not meet the challenge. NOT ONE of these articles (or opinion pieces, as the case may be), addresses honor killing for the SPECIFIC reason of apostacy. NOT ONE.

    You only do YOURSELF dishonor by not providing a legitimate citation meeting the specifics of the challenge…

    1.An honor killing here or in Sri Lanka, and
    2.Specifically for apostatcy

    ***Can you do it?*** Try again? Please?

    Honor killings ARE horrific. You spit in the face (so to speak) of these victims, if you can’t back up your claim that it happens for the reason of apostacy here or in Sri Lanka with valid proof.

    Thanks for the link re: the “original missing person report.” Though it did not, in fact, provide the actual police report that I thought you were alluding to (it’s a news article), it did provide a very interesting quote: “According to police, the girl’s friends told detectives that it was possible she ran away because of conflicting religious beliefs in her home.” Again, this sounds much less dangerous to me than your words, “abusive and hostile homelife.” Even your words “religious conflict” sound quite different (more inflammatory) than the police’s “conflicting religious beliefs.” Food for thought.

  15. Brian–as I said earlier, I know that you are young, and vulnerable yourself to being taken in by all kinds of people who have their own agendae. I am absolutely with you as regards Rifqa and her health needs. However, when taking the kinds of steps that you have taken with regard to removing a minor from their home without parental, or any other authority, one should do a bit more than a .02 second google. There are in fact people who have studied the subject of honor related killing in a scholarly way. It is not related to apostasy. Further, where death for apostasy is carried out, it is carried out through a legal process that is only available in a very small number of countries in the world (I believe it is 6). It is not carried out by family members.

    Please, please, please consider what I say. I have known people who have lost children–for good cause and otherwise. I also know children who have lost families. Again, some for very good cause. It is a life-long wound, not to be taken lightly, or without the involvement of people who, however imperfect they may be, are trained and authorized to do such things.

  16. Brian: regarding your comment, “I’m sure that if I took my personal time and read them all I could find at least a few that fit within your parameters.”

    WHY NOT do that IF YOU REALLY ARE SURE? The truth will, surely, set you free.

    I don’t believe you can find one.

  17. For the record: I am a Christian, too.

  18. A reality check for the christophobes here. Pentacostals do this sort of thin all the time, ya know.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/29/world/asia/29pstan.html

  19. These 2 (Ohioan and Karen) are totally MUSLIMS!
    Karen was lying when she said she was a
    CHRISTIAN!
    What she said was devilish, and
    definitely not CHRISTIAN AT ALL! She was calling Pam and Jamal names and they are both very Godly people!

  20. Sister Grace: LOL!!! We all fit in a tidy little box now? I am Christian, believe that or not. Calling Jamal a “fake” is not un-Christian; rather, it’s truth, a very Christian-like notion (and, I might add, it’s very provable). If I called Jamal or Brian any other names, please be so kind as to point them out to me, and all others reading here. Thanks.

  21. I have been following and posting on this story for some time and have frequently been accused of being a Muslim as a result. This is an interesting charge (and false–I am a Christian and a regular church-goer and have been for some time), as it stems not from any theological consideration, but from a notion that the issues faced by Rifqa and her family are indicative of a black and white divide between Islam and Christianity. By this line of thinking, there is only one set of opinions consistent with Christianity, that Rifqa has suffered abuse at the hands of her Muslim parents and any further contact with them would place her in imminent danger of a murder they would be compelled to commit. And consequently any other opinions, particularly those that question the motives of the many self-appointed “supporters” of Rifqa, must emanate from Muslims.

    Not only is this a dangerous way to approach a family conflict, but it seems to emanate from some, possibly heretical, interpretations of Revelations which have cast Muslims as representatives of the anti-Christ here to do battle before the ultimate rapture. I have poked around in the history of the Kansas City Prophets and their lineage enough to understand that this sort of world dichotomy is not new, although I suspect that the identification of Muslims as the anti-Christ may be a contemporary wrinkle. However, I also recognize that such thought does not jive with the thinking of most theologians. To see it crop up so frequently with so little understanding is therefore something that concerns me.

    So–if Sister Grace is still around, I say to you that I am not a Muslim, although I do not expect this statement to convince you.

    And, I would suggest that I have ongoing questions about Jivanjees’s authenticity in some areas for a number of reasons. First, I have suspicion about any minister who stands apart from the organized church and aims to reform it individually from the outside. Second, his life narrative (ex-Muslim convert to Christianity) tracks neatly with that of his mentor Ergun Caner, who he has recently taken the opportunity to defend. Caner’s own status as a former jihadist raised in Turkey and brought to the US as a teenager has recently been challenged and all but proven to be almost entirely fiction. Perhaps Jivanjee is the genuine article, or perhaps not. There are certainly red flags. And his reputation has certainly benefitted from his association with Rifqa.

  22. “She had no motive to make up a preposterous story…. ”

    Well, she did actually. It is not unknown for emotional teenage girls to make up all sorts of stories – especially if they join cult groups. This applies across all the different religions.

    About the subsequent story that Rifqa has a dangerous form of uterine cancer. That cannot be true. All the stories about her health and hospital treatment are full of errors, which could be spotted by anyone with basic medical knowledge.

    The vague story that she has now “healed” (without a hysterectomy!) is likewise nonsense. It is an attempt to walk back from an impulsive lie.

    This girl seems to have an inclination to pretend her life is in danger.

  23. […] announced Bary’s illness on Facebook, although from a comment left on this blog it seems that another pastor close to Bary, Brian Williams, disagreed with his decision to do so. […]

  24. Little Bat–I suspect that there is some truth as regards her illness, based on a short response that her parents gave to a reporter (I think it was one of the Florida papers) when she was hospitalized. But–I would suggest that most of the info that has been published came from Jivanjee and Williams, who were texting with Rifqa. The family is under a gag order from the court–not to mention being one of the few parties that seem to have any concern for the privacy of their daughter’s life. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that they have filed papers with the Court to attempt to force chemo, so I would assume that there is a real illnes.

    But–I would agree that the “facts” as presented have been murky and tainted by the motivations of those presenting them. Geller wanted to paint her parents (as always) as interfering and wishing her dead. Jivanjee (who doesn’t appear to know the difference between cervical and uterine cancer–and probably overstates his own access to information) wants her to be miraculously healed (recall, he also wanted Ergun Caner to be telling the truth).

    The latest news just provides further evidence that Rifqa has been immersed in the influence of people who do not have her best interests at heart, and are blinded by the things that they desperately want to believe are true.

  25. Im joining this coversation pretty late but would like to commend Ohioan and Karen for trying to analyze and search for the truth and present it in the best possible way with the limited sources and support available to us right now from the supposed “protectors” of Rifqa.

    As I write this it has been almost a year or more since this painful conflict started and I as a muslim felt deeply affected by it often questioning the motives of the Muslim parents and often those of Rifqa and her supporters. Everytime I read about this it makes me feel scared to raise my own family in an environment where encouraging my children to follow what I consider the right path towards success is viewed with so much hostility by some people and I also cant help but wonder how some parents who murdered their children for not meeting their expectation could’ve done it without a sense of guilt for what they would have to answer not only in this world but the hereafter. It happens with so many people of various religions that they murder their own blood relations over petty matters but we never think or take it seriously if someone tries to blame religion for it. Then why is it that we are even entertaining this notion in case of Islam which actually is a religion that completely curbed the very common practice of burying the girl child alive by tribal people in the Middle East and gave them rights unheard of and unrealistic in that time?

    Coming back to the case of Rifqa Bary, I have read that recently her parents appeal for her to undergo the chemotherapy was rejected by her supporters and turned away completely. This was something that in the words of the Bary family was recommended by a doctor familiar with the treatment of this cancer. It still isnt clear whether they have full access to her current health condition or not. Another development is her reaching adulthood which brings all other matters regarding custody to halt as she is considered of age and capable to make those decisions by herself. And now shes having to fight the battle of staying in the US as she’s currently an illegal alien adult. I am sure she and her supporters will use their best possible resources and tactics to keep her from reaching the shores of “honor killing Sri Lankans”.

    I hope people are aware that as a Muslim we condemn any form of honor killing and in fact such heinous acts deserve the severest form of punishment both in this world and hereafter. May God guide us towards enlightenment.

  26. I hope you people who have been criticising Brian have now read Rifqa’s book and are ashamed of yourself for accusing this wonderful Christian of lying.

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