Christian teacher accused of 'defaming Islam' in Luxor
Egyptian Christians are asking for prayers this weekend for a Coptic primary schoolteacher, who teaches social studies in three schools in Luxor province, and who has been accused of blasphemy. Dimyana Abdel-Nour is due to attend a court hearing in Luxor on Tuesday (21 May) on charges of insulting Islam. She was detained on 9 May following complaints by a few parents and pupils about the content of a class she had taught in April. She was initially detained for two days before a court order extended it by a further 15 days. But was released on bail on 14 May. She denies the charges and went on hunger strike to protest her innonence. Last year three other Christians were given jail sentences after being convicted under Egypt's blasphemy laws. Last month there were clashes outside St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Cairo with three people killed and many injured. The problem started some days before when an Islamic institute in a northern Egyptian town was daubed with offensive graffiti. Christians were blamed and in the fighting that followed five Copts and one Muslim man died.
Sources: Reuters, Watani International, Associated Press
Second armed robbery at Carlile College, Nairobi
Nairobi-based Carlile College, the training centre for Faith2Share member Church Army Africa, has been attacked for the second time this year by armed robbers. Mission partners Caroline and Dick Seed, with F2S member Church Mission Society, report: “In the early hours of Saturday 4 May, a gang cut the razor wire in a dark part of the compound and attacked the security guards, killing one of them. However, one guard managed to escape and raise the alarm. Armed police arrived quickly, fired at the gang and they all dispersed. This time nothing was stolen.” In January the college was also attacked by armed robbers, who stole newly-installed computer equipment. College principal Dr Peter Nyende has called for a day of prayer and fasting for this Friday (17 May).
Syrian archbishops held by rebels but ‘in good health’
The Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim (pictured left), and Greek Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi, who were kidnapped last month, are in good health and in the custody of a small group of rebels in the Syrian town of Bshaqtin, according to a report in the Daily Star. The Lebanese newspaper quotes acting president of the Syrian National Coalition, George Sabra - speaking on the phone to Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel earlier this week. “The bishops are in good health and are being held by a small group in a town called Bshaqtin, 20 kilometres northwest of Aleppo,” Sabra told Gemayel, who was in a meeting with Syriac Orthodox bishops at the Kataeb Party’s headquarters in Saifi. During the meeting in Saifi, Gemayel said the abduction of the two bishops sent a bad message to the Christian communities in Syria and the region. Tomorrow (Saturday 11 May), churches in Syria will unite in prayer for peace for their country and are asking their brothers and sisters around the world to pray and fast with them. One prayer point is the release of the two archbishops. Go here for more information.
Spreading the gospel across cities in Africa
Faith2Share members CMS Africa and Church Army Africa are strategic partners alongside the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) in an exciting new initiative which highlights and nurtures the need for mission in urban areas of Africa. The Anglican Urban Network in Africa was launched recently after a three-day consultation involving provosts and deans from 15 African countries (some of whom are pictured). Speaking at the launch, held at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Rt Rev Eliud Wabukala, said that it was a great initiative as “it ensures that the gospel spreads to everyone, including those in the city”. Serah Wambua, of CMS Africa, said she appreciated the initiative of CAPA in bringing together church and mission leaders from different countries and she affirmed CMS Africa’s continued support of programmes that back mission work and contribute to achieving a transformed society.
Mission leaders identify opportunities for collaboration
Gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, this past week, Faith2Share mission leaders have identified a wide range of new opportunities for collaboration in mission. In a final session coordinated by Rev. Steve Maina, of New Zealand CMS, over fifty leaders worked energetically to identify key needs in mission, the resources available, and how their agencies could work together to meet the most pressing needs. In two parallel sessions the previous days participants had looked specifically at mission needs in the Buddhist world and how emerging mission movements can be effectively resourced. At the conclusion of the meeting it was announced that the 2014 Faith2Share Leadership Consultation will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - bringing this significant meeting to Africa for the first time in several years.
UN envoy stresses urgency for peace plan in DRC
Recently appointed Special Envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, is urging leaders to keep working towards the success of the new eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) peace plan. Speaking in the capital of Burundi, Bujumbura, during her trip to the Great Lakes region which began on 29 April and finished this weekend, she said: “I am seeing a political will and an urgency for peace that has to be maintained.” Referring to the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region, she added: “We have had regional agreements before. This time must be different. Now is the time for the implementation to begin.” The security situation in DRC was discussed recently at Lambeth Palace, London with church and mission leaders, including Philip Mounstephen, executive leader of Faith2Share member Church Mission Society, and Bishop Bahati Bali-Busane of Bukavu Diocese (pictured left) and Rev Desiré Mukanirwa, vicar of Goma - both from DRC. Go here for more information.
Join Syrian Christians in Day of Prayer
Syrian Christians are asking their brothers and sisters around the world to pray and fast with them on Saturday 11 May. The on-going war in Syria has claimed more than 70,000 lives and in the face of violence and persecution, the Christian church faces many challenges. "As Christians in Syria continue to suffer from the devastating effects of the two-year-old civil war including killings, kidnappings, homelessness, lack of food and shelter and closing of schools; they are also seeing that God's hand is at work as all denominations are joining in passionate prayer," says Open Doors USA interim president and chief executive officer Steve Ridgway, who was contacted by Syrian church leaders to spread the word about the day of prayer. Open Doors supports persecuted Christians worldwide. Go here for more information.
Prayers in aftermath of collapsed factory in Dhaka
Faith2Share’s thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the collapsed manufacturing building in Savar, Dhaka. The death toll is currently 388, according to English language Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star, which reported on Tuesday that four more bodies were pulled out from beneath the debris of the collapsed building. Rana Plaza was a nine-storey building housing several clothing factories. An estimated 3,000 people were inside when disaster struck last Wednesday (24 April). About 2,430 people are now known to have survived but hundreds are dead or missing. The BBC reports that the owner of the building, Mohammed Sohel Rana, appeared in court yesterday and was remanded in police custody for 15 days. He is due to be questioned over allegations of negligence, illegal construction and persuading workers to enter a dangerous building. Please pray for the people of Dhaka, who have lost loved ones and for those injured and suffering.
Missing bishops cast shadow over Orthodox Holy Week
The kidnapping of two Syrian church leaders has cast a shadow over Orthodox Palm Sunday and Holy Week - "at a time when we are being surrounded by much pain and suffering”, according to the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East. World Council of Churches reports that in a pastoral letter issued at the weekend, H.B. John X said: “Let our processions be this year with candles tied with black ribbons, chanting the hymn: ‘To Thee O Champion Leader…,’ instead of the hymn ‘Rejoice O Bethany.’” For the first time in their history, believers yesterday were asked to adorn the traditional Palm Sunday processions with black ribbons tied on candles rather than the usual white ribbons to express their sadness. Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim (pictured left), and Greek Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi, were abducted while on a joint humanitarian mission near the Turkish border, north of Aleppo last Monday (22 April). Their whereabouts are still not known. For Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches around the world next Sunday (5 May) is Easter Sunday.
Faith2Share leaders arrive in Bangkok
Between 50 and 60 mission leaders from places as far apart as New Zealand and the USA, Nigeria, Nepal and Malaysia, are today (Sunday 28 April) arriving in Thailand for the 2013 Faith2Share Leadership Consultation. On their first full day of discussions participants will hear from church and mission leaders in Thailand and Myanmar about the challenges and opportunities they face in mission. This will be the first time that two mission leaders from Myanmar will participate in a Faith2Share event. Later in the week participants turn their attention to mission training for Buddhist contexts, Business as Mission, building effective collaboration in mission, holistic discipleship and human trafficking. As well as Faith2Share leaders we will be joined by other international leaders including Willfried Gasser, Association International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance.
South Asian Concern appoints new Director
The UK-based mission movement, South Asian Concern (SAC) have recently appointed a new director to replace Dr. Robin Thompson who has served in this role for many years. Kevin Wren (pictured left) will lead SAC into a new era of service to the people of South East Asia. In his first news letter Kevin says that his priorities will include the support of projects in South East Asia from the strong base they already have in Uttar Pradesh, India, and the strengthening of ties with British churches that have significant numbers of South Asians in their congregations. SAC has been particularly active in releasing the resources of the South Asian diaspora for mission in South East Asia.
NGOs can destroy local economies, businesses build them
At the opening of the Business as Mission Congress in Thailand this week, one of the main speakers suggested that in a number of critical contexts around the world NGOs, charities and even individual churches can destroy local economies and push local people deeper into poverty. Speaking out of his experience in Haiti after the earthquake he described how food and even clean water shipped in from the USA and elsewhere and distributed freely put local companies out of business and employees onto the street. After the earthquake 85% of the relief materials were imported whilst much could have been sourced within Haiti itself. This week 500 Christian business leaders are exploring imaginative ways in which their businesses can transform whole communities - economically, spiritually, socially and in ways that protect the environment. A major challenge is for churches to recognise the mission potential of the business leaders in their congregations, and to back them with prayer.