Two IAM workers killed in Afghanistan
Reuters correspondent Hamid Shalizi reports today that two female workers with International Assistance Mission (IAM) in Afghanistan were shot dead on Thursday in the western city of Herat. The women, who were believed to be from a Finnish member agency of IAM, were riding in a taxi through the city when men on a motorbike attacked them and fled, according to local Governor Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting. IMA is a Christian aid group that has been working in Afghanistan since 1966, primarily in the areas of health and economic development. The attack comes at a sensitive time as Afghanistan audits votes from a disputed presidential election to pick a successor to the incumbent, Hamid Karzai. (Picture credit: Reuters/Mohammad Shoib)
“Stop the fighting” in Gaza
“We, the Evangelicals in the Middle East and in particular in the Holy Land, are saddened by the spiral of violence that once again is ripping through our beloved neighbourhoods," says Rev Harry Tees, World Evangelical Alliance ambassador to the Holy Land. He joins Christians in the Holy Land in calling for prayer for peace in their country. Dr Munir Kakish, Chairman of the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land (representing evangelicals in the Palestinian territories), agrees: "We ask Israelis and Palestinians to stop the fighting. We as a council want to be a bridge of peace to all people.” This week United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel and the Palestinians to stop fighting and start talking to end the conflict in Gaza. He was speaking in Israel as diplomatic efforts intensified. More than 600 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed in the past 14 days of fighting, according to the BBC website. For more information, go here. (Photo: EPA, from BBC website)
4/14 Window launches in Zimbabwe
A gathering of Christians from many different backgrounds in Zimbabwe last week launched the Zimbabwe Chapter of the 4/14 Window Movement. In doing so they called "upon the Church individually and collectively to prioritize and invest in reaching, rescuing, rooting and releasing the 4/14 Child in ways that are strategic, intentional and resource supported." and also called "upon those in power and authority from families to Government to prioritize the creation of conducive, social, economic and political policies and environments and that will protect and promote the spiritual, moral, physical and social development, well-being and empowerment of the 4/14 Window Generation" pledging their support and partnership in this great investment to social and national development. The 4/14 Window is a global movement to highlight the role of children and youth in mission and the life of the church.
Goma is "on fire"
Faith2Share partner Desire Mukanirwa in the DR Congo writes, "Jesus never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Goma is on spiritual fire. In the pursuit of peace initiatives, the Province of the Anglican Church of Congo, has organised an ecumenical pastors conference on Leadership, Integrity and Deliverance, and a Crusade for two days." Two evangelical radio stations broadcast the crusade programmes while ten chorale groups from different denominations within Goma sang gospel music. Desire continues, "More than 15 millions heard the gospel at once through the radio. Many people came to Christ. Testimonies of miracles of healing took place. 228 Pastors [from many denominations] attended the seminar. We also went to prison this afternoon and 1008 prisoneers heard the Gospel and many of them were touched and surrendered to Chirst. Healings took place on the spot. Praise Jesus." Desire attended the Faith2Share Depth Discipleship consultation in 2013.
WCC prays for Malaysia Airlines crash
The World Council of Churches (WCC) today expressed sympathy and sorrow to family, friends and colleagues who mourn the deaths of nearly 300 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines flight 17 when it crashed in eastern Ukraine on 17 July en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. WCC mentioned in particular the estimated one-third of victims who were travelling to an International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, due to begin on Sunday 20 July. “This is a profound tragedy that shocks and worries all of us; but especially for those who have lost their loved ones including our neighbours and partners at the World Health Organization (WHO) here in Geneva and groups with HIV and AIDS workers, researchers and others,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. Malaysia Airlines said flight MH17 was carrying at least 154 Dutch nationals, 27 Australians, 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 12 Indonesians and nine Britons. According to Anglican Communion News Service, Canon Mark Collinson, chaplain of Christ Church, Amsterdam and Area Dean for the Netherlands is encouraging the prayers of people of his diocese in the wake of the disaster in which so many Dutch people died. (Photo: Reuters)
Grief for lives lost
The world's attention is once again is focussed on Eastern Ukraine, where the Malaysian Airlines civilian plane was shot down about 50 km from the Russia - Ukraine border. Some 298 people were killed from several nationalities according to the official statement. Both sides in the Ukrainian conflict have accused each other of shooting down the plane with the missile. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that "today, regardless of nationality, we are all united in grief". This feeling of grief, disbelief and sadness is felt now across the world as different sides are trying to establish the causes for this tragedy. (Photo: ACNS)
Come for the stuff, stay for the story
Church Mission Society (a Faith2Share member) has revamped its online shop – increasing its product lines and making the website more user friendly. The CMS Shop’s new strapline, "Come for the stuff. Stay for the story!", sums up its whole ethos; namely, all the crafts on sale are handmade by artisans from around the world who have powerful stories to tell about how God has changed their lives. Neema Crafts is one of the featured artisan projects (founded and run by CMS mission partners), where people with disabilities in Tanzania lovingly craft a growing range of products – including scarves, cushion covers and stylish bags. Pictured here is CMS executive leader Philip Mounstephen and CMS’s Zoe Kuisis, who runs the shop, at its internal launch.
Church of England votes on women bishops
Yesterday (14 July) the General Synod of the Church of England voted in favour that women could become bishops, more than 20 years after it decided that women could be ordained as priests. In November 2012 the first proposal was passed in the Houses of Bishops and Clergy, but failed to gain the required two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. This also means that the Church of England joins twenty other Anglican Provinces that allow women bishops. The Archbishop Justin Welby has welcomed this move but admitted that he is also aware that the issue of women bishops remains very thorny for different groups within the Church. In his own words: "As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause for sorrow". You can read more here.
"God met us at Anglicans Ablaze"
That's the message from an Anglican priest from South Africa, who has described the recent Anglicans Ablaze conference as “well worth doing and exceeding our expectations” adding “God came and met us and did more than anything we could have hoped for.” The Anglican Ablaze conference brought together about 2,000 delegates from eighteen countries and 43 dioceses from Southern Africa and other parts of the world, for five days of prayer and sharing from July 2-5. In an interview with Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), conference coordinator and director of Growing the Church, the Revd Trevor Pearce (pictured), said: “We thank God for bringing us together in one conference and for the unity despite our different cultures, languages and worship styles.” Christians from around the world gathered in Johannesburg for this popular gathering which heralded a raft of well know speakers, including the Archbishops of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba.
Photo credit: Bellah Zulu, ACNS
World church on global wealth inequality
The chasm between the haves and have-nots is increasing around the world. And churches need to do more to ensure economic justice for communities. That was one conclusion from discussions at a plenary session held during the World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee meeting on 5 July in Geneva, Switzerland. The 150 member committee was addressing the issue of economic justice as part of the meeting’s overall theme of “pilgrimage of justice and peace”. The committee heard diverse perspectives on links between economic and ecological crises, as well as how current economic systems are intensifying inequality, poverty and ecological destruction. Dr Manuel Montes, a senior advisor on finance and development at the South Centre in Geneva, gave an overview on how people have suffered due to the flaws in the global economic system – one which he said “favours the lenders and not the debtors”. Watch this video on the subject.
Christian University occupied in Ukraine
Sergey Rakhuba of Russian Ministries reported today that as Pro-Russian insurgents took over government facilities in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk they also occupied the campus of Donetsk Christian University (DCU) and the Gloria Christian School, which is located on university grounds, in order to provide housing for their fighters. At least 20 staff members are currently trapped on the campus fearing a Ukrainian armed forces attack to remove the insurgents. Pastor Minayev and Dr. Alexei Melnichuk, the president of DCU, urgently appealed for prayer for the safety of these staff members. Meanwhile Russian Ministry teams have been helping local families near Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, cities in eastern Ukraine that have served as strongholds for pro-Russian separatist fighters in recent months. "Our team", they report, "is there now delivering food packs, organizing counselling, and providing spiritual help to local families affected by the conflict."
Oceans of Justice
The Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy is seeking signatures to an urgent petition for climate justice. With reference to the call of the prophet Amos for justice, they write, "Climate change is not an event that will happen somewhere in the distant future. It’s happening right now, with devastating consequences for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. In the Pacific, Australia’s neighbourhood, rising oceans are poisoning agricultural land, washing away homes, and forcing people to abandon islands their people have lived on for thousands of years. Despite this, the Australian Government has refused to add climate change as an urgent agenda item for the G20 meeting in Brisbane later this year." To change this please sign their petition here.