Fla. Couple Defends Decision to Shelter Teen Convert

The Christian couple who sheltered a runaway teen convert defended their action by maintaining that the threat to the girl's life is real.

Pastor Blake Lorenz of Global Revolution Church in Orlando, who provided shelter for 17-year-old Rifqa Bary for two weeks, told Fox News that there was recently a page on Facebook with a sign-up for "Kill Rifqa Bary." He said 120 Muslims signed up to do this within a few hours before Facebook took down the page. Lorenz noted that the page has been documented.

His wife, Beverly Lorenz, meanwhile, shared about the moment she realized that Bary was afraid of being killed for leaving Islam.

"She said, 'Would you please pray for me that I do not deny Jesus' name in the face of death?' Those were her exact words to me," Lorenz recalled in the Fox interview aired last week.

Initially, Lorenz did not read much into the prayer request, only responding that she would pray and later messaging the teen her phone number. Only when Bary called her in a panic, she said, did she understand what the convert meant by her request.

"Now, I'm replaying the conversation over and over in my mind…and I said, 'On my goodness, this girl is asking that she not deny Jesus' name in case she gets killed.'"

Bary ran away from her Ohio home in July after her Muslim parents discovered she had converted to Christianity. The teen, who is originally from Sri Lanka, said her father had threatened twice to kill her because of her conversion, though her father Mohamed Bary has denied the charge.

Fearing for her life, Bary said she boarded a bus bound for Orlando and called Pastor Lorenz, whom she met through a Facebook prayer group, and asked if she could stay with his family.

Florida authorities later moved her to a foster family when they discovered her family had reported her missing.

The Bary family is currently in a high-profile custody battle in Florida. The parents want their daughter to be returned to their home in Ohio but Bary is fighting to stay in Florida until she turns 18 next year.

Last week, a report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found no "credible" evidence that the father of the convert to Christianity threatened to kill her. It called her fear "a subjective and speculative concern."

But the Lorenz's firmly believe Bary is in danger of physical harm despite what the report says.

Beverly Lorenz said in the interview that she was told by several persecution groups and ex-Muslims who converted to Christianity that Bary's life was in danger.

"Everyone told me within 24 to 48 hours this girl would be killed," Lorenz said, recalling the response she got when deciding whether to shelter Rifqa.

The court hearing of the runaway Ohio teen continues Monday afternoon in Orlando.

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