A group in Bartlesville has been waiting, and praying to hear that the American aid workers were safe. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan went to Bartlesville and talked with them.
A lot of church groups prayed for the release of these women who were being persecuted for spreading their faith. A group in Bartlesville was especially interested, because they work to help persecuted missionaries. Todd Nettleton with the Voice of the Martyrs: "This is a map that shows what we consider to be restricted nations and hostile areas." Much of the world is hostile to Christianity - not just Afghanistan - where Christian prosecution is at it's worst. "It is a crime punishable by death to change your religion from Islam to Christianity." And that's why Bartlesville's "The Voice of the Martyrs" exists.
The non-denominational group works in 40 nations, providing relief to Christians and missionaries who suffer because of their faith. Some of the relief meets physical needs - and some fills a spiritual thirst. "The biggest blessing we bring to people we work with is to say hey there are Christians in America who are thinking about you and praying for you and we love you." The two American aid workers were charged with evangelizing Muslims.
Word of their release was welcome news to the members of their church in Waco, Texas. Pastor Jimmy Seibert of the Antioch Community Church in Waco, "So we are trusting that they are being taken care of, we also know their faith and resiliency is strong and so we." And in Bartlesville, that's good news. The release was welcomed, but comes against a backdrop of many more Christians being persecuted, and estimates of thousands becoming martyrs for their faith each year. "In other countries it's impossible to say how many Christians are behind bars because of their faith, it's impossible tonight to say how many Christians are being tortured for their Christian faith.â€
The Voice of the Martyrs provides millions of dollars in relief aid to persecuted Christians. They work primarily in Muslim countries, where in many cases the government does not tolerate Christianity - and those who practice it, or attempt to spread it, are harassed and even killed.