Standing in solidarity on climate change
"Here in Paris we will decide on the very future of the planet,” according to French president Francois Hollande speaking at the opening of the United Nations COP 21 climate conference in Paris today (Monday). “Everything depends on us,” he told some 150 heads of state at the meeting. He listed several things that would make a successful agreement – define a credible path allowing us to limit global warming to below 2C, or 1.5C if possible; regular assessment, and respond to climate challenge with solidarity. Faith campaigners have presented a total of 1,780,528 signatures gathered worldwide calling for decisive action to curb global warming, which will be officially received by the French president during the two week event. Live coverage of COP 21 by the Guardian newspaper is here.
Photo: World Council of Churches
Muslims and Christians speak candidly together
A group of Shia Muslims from Iran associated with the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue (CID) and Christians involved with the World Council of Churches (WCC) spent two days earlier this week speaking candidly and honestly about their faiths. In the wake of last week's terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, all participants agreed this was entirely "appropriate". One commented:”There was a profound discussion about the fact that though the means of violence and killing have become increasingly sophisticated in our world, the means for working for peace are still very simple and straightforward - namely the meeting with, and openness towards, those who are different to ourselves." The CID and WCC group met in Geneva on 16-17 November. The overall theme was “Religion, Peace and Violence”. It’s a continuation of a joint dialogue which began between the two organisations in 1995.
Helping those in search of a new life
A missionary couple with NZCMS (a Faith2Share member), who are in Turkey working with Syrian refugees, have recently been in Erdine, not far from the border to Bulgaria and Greece. The couple report that until recently the Turkish authorities were using a stadium to house many Syrian refugees but they have since been moved away to the bigger cities of Istanbul, Adana and Izmir. Leaving Erdine, the missionaries saw about 12 young Syrian refugees walking fast along the railroad tracks. “They were about 17 years old and quite scared of us. One spoke English and said they could not stop or even walk slowly as the police were after them. We explained we had no connections to the police and they told us they were trying to get to Greece. We gave them money to buy bread and tea at the next town – donations from our supporters."
Christian solidarity with victims of terrorism
There has been an outpouring of prayers around the globe in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night - and just a day after two suicide bomb attacks in Beirut, Lebanon which killed 41 people. Christian leaders have offered their condolences - urging people not to seek vengeance but to respond with integrity. Writing to Faith2Share members, international director Mark Oxbrow, said: "First of all, we need to stand with victims in prayer, compassion and grief. We hold them in our silence, hoping that somehow our prayers, support and solidarity will show them the way through the darkness. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a statement: "In solidarity across all faiths and none, and with all human beings, rather than in the victimisation of any, we will find the way to defeat the demonic curse of terrorism. Christians are called, like Jesus, to stand with the suffering and broken and to oppose evil and fear with all their strength."
Democracy gives Myanmar Christians hope
Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy has won a landslide election victory in the nation's first freely-contested election in 25 years. With more than 80 per cent of contested seats now declared, Aung San Suu Kyi's party has more than the two-thirds it needs to choose the president - ending decades of military-backed rule. Suu Kyi is barred from the role of president herself but has made it clear she will be involved in running things behind the scenes. But the new government will still have to work with the military, which under the Constitution holds 25 per cent of the seats in Parliament. However, with a new era of democracy ahead, Christians in Myanmar (the majority of whom are from ethnic minorities) are cautiously optimistic, as World Watch Monitor reports here. “This election is important for Christians because we have been under dictatorship for over 60 years,” Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, General Secretary of Kachin Baptist Convention, said.“If we have a good government in Myanmar, Christians may have a chance to share the Gospel publically,” said Rev. Dr. Naing Thang, Director of the Religious Liberty Commission and President of the Reformation Theological Seminary.
Happy Diwali: the light of love overcomes darkness
The festival of Diwali is now under way - with millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains marking the autumnal event with feasts, firewqrks, colourful lights and prayers. Christian leaders are also offering their good wishes that the light of love, justice and acceptance overcome the darkness of hate, evil and inequality. The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has sent his greetings to Hindu religious partners across the world. The festival of Diwali is celebrated through the symbolic lighting of a row of earthen lamps on the threshold - signifying the need for light and truth to rule people’s lives. In his letter, Tveit expressed the hope Diwali becomes a time “when the flames of hatred and hostility are extinguished and the sparks of hospitality and hope are lit in people’s hearts and minds.” Acknowledging the history of the WCC’s relationship with Hindu communities across the world, Tveit affirmed that WCC “looks forward to building further on these relationships in the days to come through joint work on issues of crucial importance like ecological justice and religious extremism.”
Church Army Africa shares expertise at Kenyan retreat
Faith2Share’s Africa coordinator Timothy Mazimpaka was invited to be a facilitator at a four day leadership retreat for South Nyanza Diocese in Kenya (Anglican Church). About 60 leaders attended. Timothy represented Church Army Africa, where he works as director of missions and communication, and at the retreat facilitated on the topics of 'Kingdom Mindset: Church Wealth and the Great Commission' and 'Effective Mission Work: God’s Expectation of His Servants.' The retreat is an annual occasion and this year was held from 15 to 18 October. Other facilitators included Bishop John Adiema of Rorya Diocese in Tanzania, pictured here with his wife at the retreat. “The gathering was a moment whereby God’s servants were encouraged, challenged and equipped for effective service in the days ahead,” Timothy added.
Ibero-American network holds 'Mision 2015' in Argentina
Congress on Missions in Ibero-America (COMIBAM) has recently held its Mission Congress in Cordoba, Argentina (15 to 17 October 2015). In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the COMIBAM network was founded in 1987 on a simple premise - that Latin America can be an effective missionary sending force. Over the past 28 years, COMIBAM has grown to what it is today - representing some 70 ministries, involving about 2,000 people from countries that include Argentina, Latin America, England, Sweden, Spain, USA, South Africa, Jordan and Palestine. For more information see COMIBAM's website and also watch this video.
Creation Care in West Africa
As the world prepares for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) which will take place in Paris next month, Christians from across West Africa are gathered this week in Accra, Ghana, to consider their own responsibility to care for God's creation. Following worship, prayer and many workshops earlier in the week, representatives from each country will then work to formulate an action plan for creation care in their own context. The gathering in Accra is being sponsored by the Lausanne Creation Care network and follows one in Kenya earlier this year in which several Faith2Share members played a key role.
Global Teams' gathering for 50 leaders
Fifty leaders from Faith2Share member Global Teams have just spent nine days in Scripture study, prayer and planning as its international lead team worked on defining the mission agency's goals for 2016. The aim of the event, says Global Teams, was to seek God’s heart, study Scripture, pray and plan next steps as the agency takes the gospel to the least reached peoples of the earth. The International Prayer Gathering was held from 21 October to 1 November. "It was a time of incredible blessing and partnership thanks to your prayers and encouragement," says Global Teams on its online prayer blog.
Church helps Afghanistan-Pakistan quake victims
The Diocese of Peshawar (part of Church of Pakistan) has sent teams to assess the damage following a magnitude-7.5 earthquake which hit remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan last Monday (26 October). According to the BBC, more than 360 people are known to have died, most of them in Pakistan, and at least 2,000 were injured. In its special edition newsletter, the Diocese of Peshawar reports that most of the houses which were damaged or destroyed belonged to those living in more basic accommodation in the remote, mountainous areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. But people in major cities such as Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad also felt the effects, and several old buildings were damaged, too. The diocese will, it says, help everyone affected – ‘without discrimination of religion, caste or creed’. “The spadework is in progress and hopefully soon a fully-fledged programme to reach the unreached will be materialised by the diocese.” Pic credit: Diocese of Peshawar
Raising awareness of speaking God’s word
Mission agencies mainly from East Africa, evangelical churches and theological institutions all gathered recently for an International Orality Network (ION) conference at Daystar University in Nairobi. ION aims ‘to influence the Body of Christ to make disciples of all oral learners’. The event was designed to create awareness of the importance of orality in communicating the Gospel – more importantly in less textual cultures. Faith2Share’s Africa coordinator, Timothy Mazimpaka represented his agency, Church Army Africa, at the event, which was organised in conjunction with Living Water Africa, Daystar University and the association for Christian Theological Education in Africa. Timothy said: “The awareness, it is hoped, will stimulate the process and the practicability of re-introducing orality at the centre of learning and sharing the good news of salvation. It’s all about doing it to the best, practical possible way to advance the course of the Great Commission.”
Beating a drum for peace in South Sudan
The biggest challenge for the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) is “securing peace for South Sudan”. That’s the message from SSCC’s general secretary Father James Oyet Latansio (pictured left) who since taking up the helm six months ago has been beating the drum - quite literally - for peace across his war-torn country. Together with local churches around the country, he has gathered people from different tribes and has been beating a drum. He says: "It is important to reach out to people on both a grassroots and elite level... and when they hear a drumbeat people come and listen. Our message of peace and reconciliation must be heard everywhere, so that we all can work together to implement the peace agreement signed in July. We must plan for peace and focus on building a future for our young country. We must look forward.” More on this story, here. Pic credit:Claus Grue/World Council of Churches
DR Congo a place to be in November!
Church Army Africa and SOMA-UK (both Faith2Share members) are holding a joint Urban Training seminar in Butembo, DR Congo 16 - 22 November 2015 which is a great example of growing collaboration within our network. Later in the same week Faith2Share is also running a mission consultation under the theme "Mission in the context of suffering" in Goma which is just south of Butembo, with delegates coming from DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya. Timothy Mazimpaka, our Africa Regional Coordinator, and Anton Ponomarev from Oxford will be there, as well as a number of our members and partners from across this part of Africa. For years DR Congo has been a very challenging place for Christian witness, but now it seems to be just the right place for expressing God's love and equipping His people.
200 Chinese offer for mission service
The first Mission China 2030 Conference was convened in Hong Kong on 28 September – 1 October 2015. This conference was led by urban house church leaders and attended by 900 participants from mainland China. The Mission China 2030 vision is for China to send out 20,000 missionaries by the year 2030. 200 missionary commitments were made as the first step toward fulfilling this vision. "This first Mission China 2030 Conference is truly a turning point in Chinese church history," says David Ro, Lausanne International Deputy Director for East Asia and Mission China 2030 International Advisor. "The Chinese church has stood up in carrying the torch of world missions and sending some of the best from China to bless the world."
Staff build own homes at Neema Crafts
A group of deaf and disabled people who work for Neema Crafts in Tanzania have gone from living on the streets to building their own homes – in just 12 years. Neema Crafts was founded in 2003 by the Diocese of Ruaha and Church Mission Society (a Faith2Share member) mission partners to provide training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the Iringa region. Last year CMS mission partners Ben and Katy Ray, who run Neema Crafts, announced to staff that profits from the centre’s guest house had been set aside to help employees build their own homes. Staff formed a Housing Committee to look for ways to help employees buy land and build their own homes. Each house will have two rooms and are designed for disabled use.