Nigerian church leaders promote politics without violence
With election time in Nigeria just around the corner, Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) is calling on Nigerians to ‘exercise their civil responsibility’ and vote in the forthcoming elections. “Support one person, one vote and conduct ourselves in an orderly fashion – together we can make Nigeria greater,” says CCN. In many countries, national elections can provoke tension and uncertainty. Nigeria is no exception. The elections, originally scheduled for the middle of February, have now been postponed to 28 March, partly as a result of the security situation. Seeking to make a positive contribution to the electoral process, CCN, a national ecumenical partner of the World Council of Churches, has been engaged in a major project to encourage church leadership to train its members to take a full part in civic activities. The CCN project has included the training (pictured) of some 480 church leaders across the country to be election observers and monitors. Click to hear CCN's 'jingle' promoting its message to Nigerians. Photo credit: courtesy CCN
Faith2Share leader heads Evangelical Alliance in Brazil
The leader and President of Antioch Mission in Brazil, a Faith2Share member agency, was recently appointed to head up the Evangelical Alliance of Brazil. Pastor Silas Tostes brings to this role his deep commitment to cross-cultural mission. Interviewed on the Brazilian EA website this week, Silas speaks of his passion for mission amongst Muslims saying, "I busied myself in helping to prepare the missionary force to relate to Muslims, because they need to understand the vital points on which we differ so much. For this, I wrote the books: Islam and the Cross of Christ; Islam and Jihad and the Trinity and the Kingdom of God." Silas also speaks in the interview about the dangers of division within the evangelical churches and the need to support each other in ministry. Silas has also been the inspiration behind and primary leader for a series of major Mission Congresses in Brazil, the last of which took place in October 2014. (The full interview can be read in Portuguese here.)
Syrian Christians abducted by 'Islamic State'
After the execution of 21 Coptic Christians which sent shock waves around the world it seems that Daesh (the so called 'Islamic State') are now seeking to replace them with Christians from north-east Syria. It is reported that abductions stated there on the afternoon of 23 February when Daesh launched an offensive on a 40km front along the River Khabour in Hassaka Governorate. There are around 35 predominantly Christian villages along the river in that area.According to one source, more than 600 families managed to flee from these villages. However, many Christians were abducted by Daesh militants. There is still some uncertainty about the exact numbers being held; one source refers to 56 Christians having been taken from the village of Tal-Shamiram and 'dozens' from other villages. Some refer to up to 100 having been abducted. Please pray that these Christians will be spared the fate of the Coptic martyrs. (Information source : Middle East Concern)
Asian Christian youth to gather in Bali next April
A member of the Faith2Share community writes about the forthcoming 4/14 Window Asia Pacific Youth Congress, "As parents, pastors, teachers and followers of Christ, the best gift we could give to teenagers, adolescences and children is to support and help them in their journey of becoming like Christ. And the best way to help them in this journey is by encouraging, equipping and releasing them to help their (younger) peers and sibling on the same journey. They will grow as they help others to grow in Christ." He encourages us all to pray for this 4/14 Window Youth Congress as it meets in Bali, Indonesia from 20-24 April this year.
God's love sees 'broken girl' flourish
When 14-year-old Mala walked into the Kedella respite home in Sri Lanka she was a broken and angry teenager - the product of an abusive father who had abandoned his family. The eldest, Mala thought her childhood dream of becoming a doctor had been shattered the day she saw her father beating her mother - forcing them to seek refuge and safety elsewhere. Thanks to AsiaCMS mission partner Esther and the Kedella shelter for children, Mala has learnt to release her pent up feelings and now participates in all activities. She has seen she is loved by God, talented in many areas and can now control her anger."The parrot that first came here had many problems but she is now free. Who is that parrot? The parrot is me," she wrote in a note to the centre after she left. AsiaCMS (a Faith2Share member) asks for prayer as increasing numbers of children are referred to the centre and need God's intervention in their lives.
Africa cluster highlights need to reach Chinese people
Faith2Share’s Africa cluster – organised by our Africa coordinator Timothy Mazimpaka (Church Army Africa) – met for the second time last week. Timothy explains: “This new initiative of meeting together as Faith2Share members in Africa provides the local mission movements with the opportunity to discuss issues of their concerns and pray over them; update each other on the work of missions and discipleship; link and collaborate.” As well as Timothy those present included Serah Wambua, of CMS Africa, Duncan Olumbe, of Mission Together Africa, Dr Aila Tasse, Lifeway Mission International; Livingstone Nyanje, of Sheepfold Ministries and Jackson Wange, One Youth Minstries. Issues discussed included the need to reach out to Chinese people in Kenya and other parts of Africa. Serah Wambua informed the meeting that CMS Africa, in collaboration with Asia CMS, is looking to host a conference in September this year to mobilise and equip the church and mission organisations to reach out to the Chinese community in Africa.
Christians and Muslims united in shock
In the wake of the execution of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya on Sunday, General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt, Ramez Atallah, writes:“This is a very sad time in Egypt where we are in seven days of official mourning for the 21 young Christian men who were brutally slaughtered by ISIS in Libya on Sunday. The gruesome, professionally-produced video of that execution shocked the country and has united Christians and Muslims as never before.” As Ramez arrived at the Bible Society office the next morning, "feeling sad and depressed", he says he bumped into a young colleague who was "very encouraged". She said: "I am very encouraged because now I know that what we have been taught in history books about Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history but that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord!” Ramez is linked with Faith2Share through the Lausanne Orthodox Initiative.
Camel Theology: Bishop Kings appointed as Mission Theologian
The former CMS missionary, Graham Kings (right of picture), who once walked with a camel from Oxford to Cambridge, now bishop of Sherborne, has been appointed to the new post of Mission Theologian for the Anglican Communion. The focus of this post, attached to Durham University, the Anglican Communion and CMS, will be to "research, stimulate, connect and publish works of theology in the Anglican Communion, with particular focus on insights from Africa, Asia and Latin America, in their ecumenical contexts." Graham and his wife Alison served with CMS in the 1990s when he taught theology in East Africa. His camel walk with Rev. Joseph Galgalo (left in picture, and now professor of theology in Kenya) in 1990, part of the CMS bicentenary, was in memory of Kenyan Bishop Andrew Adano who died in a tragic helicopter accident in 1996 after founding several Kenyan schools. Graham's new post will encourage leaders and laity, like Andrew Adano and Joseph Galgalo, from around the world to reflect and write on their experience in mission. A website which will carry some of this writing has already been launched.
21 more martyrs for the Coptic Church in Libya
Christians around the world stood in solidarity today with the Coptic Church of Egypt after 21 of its members were executed in Libya by the extremist group Daesh (the so-called Islamic State). The Egyptian government, which has in the past been slow to protect its minority Coptic citizens, responded quickly with air strikes on Daesh strongholds inside Libya. It was on 31 December 2014 that extremists abducted 7 poor Egyptian migrant workers as they travelled by minibus in Libya. Four days later 13 more Coptic workers were taken from their apartment block in Sirte. The circumstances of the 21st. person are unclear. The video showing their beheading was issued yesterday. These are not the first Coptic Christians to die in Libya - 24 men have been killed in similar circumstances since 2011. Yesterday's killings have been condemned by leading Muslim leaders in the region who have expressed their sympathy to the Coptic community.
Remembering martyred Archbishop Luwum
The 38th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Janani Luwum (pictured left) will be marked on 16 February by a national memorial service in Uganda for the martyred archbishop, who was assassinated for opposing the Idi Amin regime in 1977. Every 16th day of February for the last 37 years a small function to commemorate the late archbishop has taken place at Mucwini primary school in Kitgum, where the late Archbishop rests. But this year a major national memorial event - with support at the highest levels of Ugandan society – is being held by the Government of Uganda and Church of Uganda – also in Mucwini (his hometown). He is renowned globally as an inspirational leader and memorable Christian. In July 1988 Janani Luwum’s statute was unveiled in London's Westminster Abbey as one of the ten martyrs of the 20th Century. Read more about his remarkable life here.