Chance to reflect on water for Lent
The Ecumenical Water Network (part of the World Council of Churches) is inviting people and churches to reflect on water for Lent. This season of Lent is 10 February to 27 March 2016, according to the Western traditions of Christianity, and 14 March to 1 May 2016 for Orthodox Christians."For many in the world, water is either taken for granted or in desperately short supply. Seven Weeks for Water 2016 will take us on a pilgrimage of water justice in the Middle East, with specific reference to Palestine," according to the campaign. As part of this, the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace with a regional focus on the Middle East, will launch in Jerusalem on 10 February – Ash Wednesday. WCC leaders, Middle East Council of Churches and local churches will participate in the launch ceremony. Since 2008, the EWN has provided weekly theological reflections and other resources on water for the seven weeks of Lent and for World Water Day 2016 on 22 March.
Photo: Courtesy Water Project
Member care highlighted in Indonesia
The recent Indonesian Member Care Consultation, held in the city of Bandung brought together 196 participants from all over Indonesia under the theme of “SERVING AS SENDERS – recruiting, preparing, supporting and welcoming back cross-cultural workers”. There has been a steady growth in Member Care awareness over recent years in Indonesia with an increasing number of sending churches (32), sending agencies (27) was represented theological institutions (8) represented at this consultation. This year's invitation also went out specifically to specialists (doctors, counsellors, psychologists, HR people) to make them aware how much they have to contribute to the health, resilience and effectiveness of cross-cultural workers. The results of research into the member care needs of the 600+ Indonesian cross-cultural workers among the 130 UPGs in Indonesia, were presented for the first time at the consultation. That gave presentations a strong factual basis as well as highlighting the urgency of member care.
Bishops’ plea for peace in South Sudan
South Sudanese bishops are appealing for peace to prevail in the Equatoria region. “...Let us help Government of South Sudan and opposition to implement peace in South Sudan,” said Bishop Tandema Andrew of Olo Diocese. Recently the armed conflict, which has affected Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states for two years, has spread to Greater Equatoria. Representatives of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan shared this latest crisis during a recent conference call that the relief body Anglican Alliance hosted for Anglican Communion partners. “It is important to speed up the process of mobilising resources so that help can reach people suffering now, with no water, no food, no medicine,” urged Bishop Stephen Dokolo of Lui Diocese. The Anglican Alliance says it will continue to facilitate support for Equatoria and other areas of South Sudan, and serve as an advocacy and “early-warning” platform for the churches. (Photo courtesy Episcopal Relief and Development)
Walking together towards the truth
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has written a reflection after the recent meeting of Anglican Primates in Canterbury where senior bishops of the 38 Anglican Communion Provinces joined together at his request (pictured left). He says: "As leaders of our Anglican Communion, and more importantly as Christians, we looked at each other across our deep and complex differences and we recognised those we saw as those with whom we are called to journey in hope towards the truth and love of Jesus Christ.” He said it was the primates’ “unanimous decision to walk together and take responsibility for making that work”. But he also explained that “the Episcopal Church, while attending and playing a full part in our meetings and all discussions, will not represent the Anglican Communion to other churches and should not be involved in standing committees for three years." Read the Primates’ full report here; and reactions to the pronouncements here.
AsiaCMS's Kang-San on gratitude and hope
Dr Tan Kang-San, executive director of Faith2Share member AsiaCMS, is in reflective mode in his latest prayer news as he thanks God for 26 indigenous Asian leaders whose ministries across Asia trained hundreds of Asians - through a network of mission trainers, training centres and relationships, in collaboration with AsiaCMS. This coming year (2016) AsiaCMS plans to add another 8 to 10 such co-mission workers in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Locally, in partnership with Malaysian churches, more than 200 people benefited from AsiaCMS's weekend mission education training modules. In addition, AsiaCMS's training arm, Asia Gateway, ran a seven-week residential training programme in Seremban for 18 participants from eight countries. Kang-San's last prayer request is for AsiaCMS Kuala Lumpur staff as their partners and associates from overseas join them at a staff retreat and planning session at the end of February.
Ram's ministry helps Maya rebuild her home
Ram Prasad, of National Mission Commission of Nepal, and his team have been working hard to help those still suffering in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake in Nepal. Maya’s story offers a beacon of hope – amidst the suffering. “Maya had lost her husband 14 years ago due to HIV, and she herself had been infected by her husband,” explains Ram. Maya’s house was destroyed in the earthquake, but there were no casualties in her family. She and her father in-law stayed in a tent for several days in Thakle Kavre, one of the worst-hit districts. Maya and her father-in-law were homeless and could not find shelter simply because she is HIV positive – and was used to living "under a cloud of humilitaion and desolation". The onset of the freezing winter also put their lives at risk. So NMCN stepped in and helped her to build a house "where she and her father-in-law now reside warmly and happily". Her two children are cared for by Koinonia Grace Home, and they are studying well in Kathmandu. “Maya has expressed her deep and sincere thanks to NMCN for meeting her need by building a house for them,” adds Ram - who is pictured above with Maya beside their new home.
Celebration of different faiths in Pakistan
The diocese of Raiwind’s peacebuilding department in Pakistan brought more than 200 different faith communities together recently to mark three significant religious festivals as part of efforts to promote understanding, respect and to build relationships between people of different faiths. The Muslim festival of Eid Milad Ul Nabi marks the birthday of Mohammed and was celebrated on 12 December 2015. The Sikh festival of Guru Govind Singh Jayanti, marking the birth of the 10th Sikh Guru, is celebrated on 16 January. So last week, the diocese invited religious and community leaders, professors, students, NGO and government officials and media to an event to mark both these occasions and also Christmas. The Bishop of Raiwind, the Rt Revd Samuel Azariah, said: “We must open doors for people from other faiths in our celebrations. The principles of tolerance and respect must prevail and should be encouraged in our society.” More on this story here. (Photo, courtesy Raiwind diocese Facebook page)
Prayer for Anglican Unity
Millions of Anglicans around the world are praying for a small meeting of Archbishops in Canterbury this week. In a bid to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion Archbishop Justin Welby has invited all Anglican Primates (the heads of independent churches) to meet with him for prayer, discussions and to seek a way forward together despite the many differences of opinion within the church. Many are praying that mission will be at the top of the archbishops' agenda. Unity is part of our witness to Jesus the peacemaker but we must find ways to be united whilst bearing witness to the truth, even when our human understanding of the truth is diverse and sometimes divided. Please join in prayer for this meeting.