Nigerian tears on Good Friday
International Christian Concern have reported that, "Boko Haram has kidnapped two priests and a nun from a rural Catholic school on the Nigerian-Cameroonian border, murdered eight teachers in an attack on a teaching college in Dikwa, and attacked northern Nigerian villages in Borno State, allegedly killing 130 innocents". The latest troubles began April 4 when fighters of Boko Haram reportedly raided a small Catholic parish in the town of Tchéré, in neighboring, Cameroon, taking hostage and then kidnapping three members of the clergy. Among those kidnapped are Canadian nun Gilberte Bussiere, and Italian priests Giampaolo Marta,and Gianantonio Allegri. On 10 April eight teachers were murdered in Dikwa, and on April 14, a series of bombs exploded at a busy bus terminal in Nigeria's capital Abuja killing 71 and wounding more than 130, Christian rights activists and officials said. Boko Haram oppose any form of education which they see as being western.
Call for peace in Pakistan
A peace conference held in Karachi, Pakistan, this week denounced all forms of terrorism and violence against Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of religion and called upon the government to deal with terrorists with an iron hand. Allama Tahir Ashrafi (left), the chief of the Pakistan Ulema Council, organised the conference, which was attended by people from different walks of life and representatives of over 30 political and religious parties. Allama Ashrafi expressed deep concern over the increasing incidents of torture and extremism in the country and appealed to all religious and political parties and people belonging to any religion or sect to respect each other’s views. All citizens, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, had equal rights and any kind of injustice in the name of religion was against the Constitution. Allama Ashrafi also said that those involved in sectarian violence and terrorism and attacks on places of worship of non-Muslims, were not well-wishers of Islam and their acts brought a bad name to Pakistan.
Mission for the digital age
In Thailand earlier this month, 194 people gathered at the Eurasia media and Distribution Consultation (EMDC) to consider how Christian media organisations can be more effective across the Eurasia region. The EMDC provides a meeting place where those engaged in minority language work can interact with communication and media specialists to develop media strategies, explore the use of ethno-arts, and assess and prioritize media products. They also aim to help those with some material to be able to record, edit, mix, and finish their project in hands-on workshops. Two of the speakers this year were Steve Baldwin, a film producer, scriptwriter and director with Create International, and James Thomas, a mobiles engineer working for Global Recordings Network in Sydney, Australia. Workshops were offered on many topics including 'Media and disciplemaking', 'Trends in Mobile Media Distribution' and 'Visual Bible Storytelling'. EMDC 2015 will take place near Zelhem, Netherlands from 13-16 April 2015.
Developing local training for mission in Nepal
Last week Faith2Share staff visited our member National Mission Commission of Nepal in their new office in Kathmandu. Despite the growth of different denominations in Nepal, the issue of local mission training still brings all churches together and NMCN is committed to serve the whole of the Nepali church across all five regions of the country and even beyond its borders. This year they celebrate more than 10 years of doing mission training with over a hundred mission workers trained and placed and are also already planning to lauch an MA programme this October to enhance the level of training provided. All their mission programmes are hands-on, including establishing an education centre in the Kathmandu slums.
How to deal with terrorism in Kenya
A senior mission leader in Kenya has today warned that the way the Kenyan government is dealing with the Al-Shabab terrist threat is more likely to generate more terrorism than to bring it to an end. Canon Francis Omondi, Director of Faith2Share member agency The Sheepfold Ministry writes, "We must not blanket the whole Somali and refugee community in this country to be terrorists. What I am hearing is this none of the Muslim leaders in the country support the atrocities of the terrorists but are demanding a humane way of dealing with the problem. In dealing with Al-Shabaab could we change tact and borrow a leaf from the Somalia government which organised the religious conference to tackle extremism." As a result of this conference 160 Somali religious scholars have issued a fatwa denouncing Al-Shabab, saying the group had no place in Islam. "The religious scholars, especially those based in Somalia, placed themselves at considerable personal risk.", says Canon Omondi, "Al-Shabab does not hesitate to kill those it perceives as enemies."
Searching for peace in Pakistan
Following increased tension and violence in Pakistan a group of Muslim and Christian leaders met recently in the North West Frontier province to pray and work for peace. One of the main speakers at the peace and harmony meeting was retired Bishop Mannu Rumal Shah who offered his expertise and Church facilities in the Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa for the promotion of peace activities. The focus of the meeting was particularly on issues surrounding the uprising and tension in Hazara Division. Faith2Share contact in the region, Zakir Paul, reports that the meeting recognised the need for a continuing process of peace building. There is however a major shortage of funds for this process. You can contribute to this work here.
Empowering women in rural Pakistan
Hundreds of courageous women and girls in rural Pakistan are benefitting from 30 women's empowerment groups (WEGs) started last year by a mission partner who must remain anonymous with Faith2Share member Church Mission Society. The WEGs helped raise awareness about women's rights, girls' education, basic health, sanitation, child abuse, benefits of savings and family planning. "In one village several women have subsequently built a pit washroom for their families," the mission partner said. Inspired by another women's group, women from one village have been saving to organise a rickshaw to take 11 girls to secondary school. Through another savings' initiative, some women have used their savings to ensure they receive support from a trained midwife during childbirth.
Myanmar ministry reaches remote villages
We have heard news from HL, who leads an emerging mission movement in Yangon, Myanmar, which Faith2Share supports. HL runs Fellowship Bible Church of Myanmar, which is on the outskirts of Yangon. It has a busy children's ministry and Bible Studies, plus provides evangelism/Bible Studies among villages in the community."By the grace of God we all are fine and going well in ministry," writes HL."Our Bible students are doing outreach and they all are fine. Some of students are going to very remote area of village and they call me by phone and some are going on evangelism outreach in their village...They are doing well and share the gospel to many villages and reach unreached people not yet hear the gospel. They are working and leading bible study,prayer group and cell group and conducted home church service (pictured)." We give thanks for HL's ministry and pray it continues to flourish.
Condemnation over mass Egypt death sentences
There has been widespread condemnation from human rights organisations, the United Nations, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and many others over a court decision in Egypt where 529 people have been sentenced to death for their alleged participation in an attack on a police station in the central city of Minya in mid-August, in which a police officer was killed. WCC general secretary Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed his deep worry about the ruling. “While being hopeful that the judgment will be overturned on the first appeal, the WCC remains concerned over the reversal of the recent signs of hope which had suggested that the vibrant Egyptian society was progressing towards respect of human dignity and the rule of law,” Tveit said in a statement.The death sentence for 529 supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi came on Tuesday 25 March.They are expected to appeal. The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay condemned the outcome of the mass trial as a “clear breach of international law”.
Leaders in Myanmar collaborate for mission
An emerging mission leader from Myanmar who Faith2Share’s international director Mark Oxbrow first met when he visited Yangon in November 2012, has been in touch. Part of Pastor C’s ministry is Hope Orphanage, based in a rented house in Yangon. “The children are very happy," reports C, "because of your help and prayers for their education, for their food and clothing and everything they may need to be trained in the fear of the Lord.” C’s vision is to increase the number of orphans in his ministry this year. C and three other emerging mission leaders in Myanmar came together last year after Mark’s visit and refer to themselves as “Faith2Share Myanmar Chapter”! The group now meets regularly to share its mission priorities with each other. Two of the leaders also attended Faith2Share's Leadership Consultation in Bangkok last April.
Iraqi youth leaders trained
Faith2Share has heard that recently around 40 people gathered in Erbil, Iraq, to consider how they can disciple the next generation of Iraqis. The training was for children and youth workers from various churches in Iraq. Near East Initiatives (NEI) report that, "In general, Iraqi churches lack trained and experienced leaders. Some of them have been killed and others have fled Iraq with their families due to the intentional persecution of Christians and the insecure living situation. The problem they are facing is that the new generation of leaders are asked to lead but they lack the knowledge and the know how of ministry." Training focused on preparing the youth leaders who have chosen to stay in Iraq with the practical tools they need to serve the youth of this struggling country. NEI is a ministry serving churches in the Middle East and neighbouring regions.
Russian and Ukrainian young Christian leaders meet
Despite the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, Russian Ministries and its in-country affiliate, the Association for Spiritual Renewal, hosted a roundtable in Irpen, Ukraine on 21 March for young Christian professional leaders. The gathering, “Missions in the Professional Sphere: Christian Responsibility for Transforming Society” was originally planned as a large-scale, two-day gathering for more than 1,000 young professionals from the fields of medicine, law, education and business. However, due to escalating violence and the recent Russian annexation of Crimea, the decision was made to scale back the event, but still provide an opportunity to train and motivate young Christian professionals to use their significant spheres of influence for Christ. Conference organizers were encouraged that more than 100 young professionals from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Central Asia attended the roundtable.
Maturity in believers at Nepal consultation
Faith2Share's fourth Depth Discipleship consultation is now under way in Kathmandu, Nepal (23 to 26 March) - with more than 45 mission and church leaders from every region of Nepal, as well as North India and Bhutan. A lot of the organisation in Nepal has been done by Tek Rijal, of Vision Network Nepal and a local team. Faith2Share associate director Anton Ponomarev is there facilitating, alongside Vijay Isaac, Faith2Share's regional coordinator for Asia, who works for Friends Missionary Prayer Band. Anton said: "It is a real joy to see how many leaders want to take on the issue of disciple-making seriously and see the growth in maturity of believers across many denominations in this country. All sessions are in Nepalese which means that people feel at ease to address and discuss issues freely."