Churches Invited to Support Persecuted Women on Valentine's Day

Release International is asking women in Britain to enjoy a different kind of dinner this Valentine's Day and support women suffering for their faith.

They are being invited to host a "Love, St. Valentine" dinner with members of their church to highlight the persecution still being experienced by Christian women in different parts of the world.

They include Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, and women separated from husbands and other family members because they have been imprisoned for being Christians.

"We're aiming to get back to the real meaning of Valentine's Day," said organizer Emma Dipper, of Release:women. "We invite you to arrange a 'Love, St. Valentine' meal for your home group, women's group – or even your whole church."

Tradition has it that Valentinus was a church leader who defied a ban on marriages imposed by Claudius II by continuing to marry couples in secret at night.

It is believed he also helped persecuted Christians and when caught, shared his faith with Claudius. He was eventually executed.

Valentine's Day has its roots in a letter he supposedly wrote to the daughter of his jailer on the last night before his execution, signing it: "From your Valentine."

Release:women's event is designed "to celebrate the sacrifice of Valentinus and his commitment to godly marriage."

Dipper noted, "We're not sure what Valentine would have made of the card and chocolate industry that has sprung up in his name, but we're sure he would have approved of our 'Love, St. Valentine' meals to support persecuted Christians.

"Persecution is still, sadly, a daily reality for many Christian women."

A starter pack is available to help Christians host their dinner, including invitations, recipes, posters and a DVD, "Break our Hearts."

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