A year on from Peshawar church massacre
It is a year since the dreadful massacre of worshippers of All Saints' Church (pictured left shortly after blast) in Peshawar in Pakistan. Christians in the city held a peace walk in memory of those who lost their lives after Sunday services at All Saints Church.The walk was held in memory of those who lost their lives in the twin blasts on 22 September 2013 at the church shortly after Sunday service. The bombing is considered one of the worst attacks ever on Pakistani Christians. The peace walk was promoted by the Strive for Sustainable Peace and Development Organisation (SSPDO) and Christian Youth Volunteers Network.“We believe the sacrifices made by innocent people will not go in vain and we pray for a peaceful country free of violence, terrorism and intolerance”, said Jamshed Thomas, executive director of SSPDO. This Sunday special prayers will be offered for the victims of the blast. During the march, both children and adults held placards and posters bearing slogans of peace and harmony. Participants said politicians urgently need to build consensus on issues related to national security and harmony among religious and ethnic groups.We pray with all those affected by this tragedy. Read more here.
Solidarity and unity in witness at Albania
The second Lausanne-Orthodox Consultation is taking place this week in Albania at the monastery of St Vlash, with more than 50 Orthodox and evangelical leaders from 20 different countries attending. The opening dinner was hosted by His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and Pastor Ali Kurti, President of the Albanian Evangelical Brotherhood (VUSH). Faith2Share's Mark Oxbrow and Anton Ponomarev are there as facilitators for the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI) event. His Beatitude spoke of the resurrection of the church in Albania and the challenges of witness in contemporary society which does not allow us the luxury of a breach in fellowship between Christians of all traditions. Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church and co-chair of the LOI suggested we might need to separate our theological dialogues from our solidarity and unity in witness and Christian living. Pastor Ali Kurti said evangelicals had been present in Albania for several centuries and spoke of their witness through times of persecution and isolation. The LOI is a movement of Orthodox and Evangelical Christians who wish to respect each other’s beliefs, learn from each other and support one another as we each obey the call to share in God’s mission.
NMCN brings hope to slum area
National Mission Commission of Nepal (a Faith2Share member) has started a new slum project in Nepal - which builds on its existing work with children in slum areas, near Godavari, started in 2009. NMCN's executive director Ram Prasad Shrestha says: "When we saw children wandering around in slum playing in mud and filthy river, intoxicated by sniffing drug using dendrite, getting skinny due to lack of foods, we felt compassionated through the love of God." So from a shade with a plastic roof and wall, the ministry has grown to providing a safe place for the young children to play, learn, have meals and provides community water tanks for access to clean water and kindergarten programmes. About 80 children attend, with 90 per cent now gaining access to a formal education. The latest centre which Ram asks prayer for is aimed at children who are left on their own all day, while their parents try to find work. "We have decided to start a centre to look after these precious children by providing education and foods. At the moment we have 15 children aged from 3-10, some of them go to the school.” Watch this video about NMCN's work.
Huge humanitarian need in northern Iraq
Agencies assisting internally displaced people in Iraq are warning of a huge unmet humanitarian need exacerbated by the looming onset of winter. That's the message from World Council of Churches in a press release, which underlines the urgent humanitarian needs of these IDPs. A delegation of staff from WCC visited northern Iraq at the end of August and saw firsthand people’s plight. The organisation then issued a statement calling on the Iraqi government to provide protection and support for its people, and for the international community greatly to increase their humanitarian response. More than 1.4m Iraqis have been driven from their homes since January. Writing for WCC, journalist Gregg Brekke says: "."The brutal refrain of ISIS – convert, leave or die – was repeated in town after town, emptying these settlements of all religious groups other than those ISIS claims to represent." Read Gregg’s feature for WCC here.
Mission leaders gather in Addis Ababa
Faith2Share is counting down to our 3-10 October Leadership Consultation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Titled ‘When two walk together’ this year’s event will focus on building effective partnerships in mission leadership for global impact and will see more than 70 global mission leaders and practitioners gathering under one roof. A new innovation this year is to include mission training modules in the programme. Some of these will be provided by NAMS (a Faith2Share member), which pioneers global church planting. Other modules will focus on mission amongst vulnerable children, integral mission and transformational discipleship. Please pray for visa applications, travel arrangements, speakers' preparation and give thanks to God for a generous donation received this week which will cover the shortfall on our travel bursary fund. Latest news on the programme content can be see here.
Urgent appeal from Syria and Lebanon
Writing "in solidarity with the various appeals and statements that have been issued by the leaders of our sister Eastern Churches, as well as some Islamic groups," the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon has issued an appeal for urgent advocacy, action and prayer. Reflecting on the "catastrophic consequences of the bloody conflict that has plagued Syria for three years now", the council encourages all Christians to "work for a long term strategy aimed at putting an end to the phenomena of cruel violence and indiscriminate murder, as well as the ejection of individuals and peoples from the Middle East." The document also argues for a strategy to support the Christian presence in the Middle East, as well as other moderate elements within society. You can read the full statement here.
"Hard to believe such horrors can happen," says Archbishop Welby
Archbishop Justin Welby yesterday (Wednesday) addressed faith leaders at a vigil for peace in the Middle East outside London's Westminster Abbey. The meeting and prayer service included representatives of Middle East Churches, many of whom had just come from the region. In a joint statement, read out by Archbishop Welby, they warned that the region was "in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture". He said Christians in the Middle East have not been treated so badly since the invasion by Genghis Khan in 1259."It took the barbarism of the jihadist militants to wake us up. But this . . . is a new thing. There has not been treatment of Christians in this region in this way since the invasion of Genghis Khan in 1259, 1260. . . I think we find it hard to believe that such horrors can happen." Archbishop Welby said that his prayers were with the family and friends of Stephen Sotloff, the US journalist whose beheading was shown in a video released by Islamic State on Tuesday. Mr Sotloff was "both the latest and most prominent victim, but also he represents many who have suffered in that way but are forgotten," he said. Picture credit: Lambeth Palace
EFI condemns attempt to turn church into Hindu temple
The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) Religious Liberty Commission has strongly condemned the reported attempted conversion of a Church into a Hindu temple, allegedly by Hindu groups at Asroi, near Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India on 27 August. On the same day it was also reported that a mass conversion of Christians to Hinduism took place inside the 'converted' Church as a 'Shuddhikaran (purification)' ceremony and a 'Havan' (a Hindu ritual which involves making offering into a consecrated fire), were performed in the presence of many Hindu leaders. Quoting from local media reports, EFI says the 'conversion' of the Church included the desecration of a cross and the installation of posters of Hindu Gods. Eleven people are reported as being arrested."We demand strong and exemplary action that ensures that criminal social cultural and political elements are deterred and the security and confidence of the minorities is restored," say EFI leaders.
Flood victims helped in Burundi - more help needed
Following serious flooding in Burundi, central Africa, Faith2Share partner agency CCDB has been able to provide emergency relief to 229 families who survived the floods. Director of CCDB, Deogratias Niyonzima expressed his gratitude to those wjo supported this relief work but also reminded us that the needs of these families will be ongoing. Moise Ndayisenga, the administrator of Buterere Commune reported that rain-induced floods have displaced over 8,000 people in his commune north of Bujumbura, the Burundian capital, and damaged at least 1,200 houses as well as crops. Support for the work of CCDB can be sent via Faith2Share.
Respect in Mission
Over 250 church and mission leaders gathered in Berlin, Germany, last week to explore how mission and evangelism can be conducted in a responsible way, showing respect for others’ beliefs and cultures. The meeting built on the work of the 2011 document "Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World - Recommendations for Conduct" produced by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Roman Catholic Church and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). “We have to build new bridges. But we have to remember, build one bridge at a time,” Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, general secretary of the WEA, said. “All of us have a responsibility to go home and build bridges. Let’s talk, let’s meet, let’s discuss - but it is also important to remember that we have to listen and to be listened to when criticism is not justified.” Full report here.
Show of unity between Muslims and Jews on Gaza conflict
Muslim and Jewish leaders in the UK have united in calling for stronger collaboration between their communities in the wake of the Gaza conflict. In an unprecedented joint statement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Muslim Council of Britain condemned civilian deaths as tragic and called for efforts to avoid them. They also condemned any expression of antisemitism, Islamophobia and racism generally, calling on both communities to “redouble efforts to work together and get to know one another”. The statement is seen as the most significant step forward for both groups in the past five years. You can read the full statement on thewebsite of the Muslim Council of Britain and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Church prays for peace in Tripoli and Benghazi
Fierce battles have now raged for weeks in the troubled Libyan capital of Tripoli, with intense fighting between rival armed groups and militias rocking the city. That's the message from the Diocese of Egypt. A news item this week on its website claims that there has been indiscriminate shelling of urban areas, and according to the Ministry of Health, the fighting has killed 214 and injured 981 in Tripoli and Benghazi. The government in Libya has attempted to issue ceasefire orders, but with no force loyal to the state strong enough to take on the militias on its own, and enforce the decisions, the decrees have not had any effect, says the website. Please pray for safety and security for the leaders and congregations of Christ the King Church in Tripoli. Rev. Ayo, one of the priests, wrote “I was robbed of my phone yesterday evening, but glory be to the Lord for His presence which prevailed over them, because their intention was to take me away.”