Global Prayer for Creation
Christians and churches globally are being encouraged to join in prayer and observe the ecumenical “Time for Creation” (1 September to 4 October). This year the event is bolstered by Pope Francis also declaring 1 September as World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The World Council of Churches says the movement toward a yearly commemoration of the biblical mandate to exercise stewardship over God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-28) first took shape in 1989. That’s when the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I of Constantinople invited “the entire Christian world to offer together with the Mother Church of Christ, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, every year on this date prayers and supplications to the Maker of all, both as thanksgiving for the great gift of creation and as petitions for its protection and salvation.” The World Council of Churches (WCC) and related ecumenical bodies have adopted this "Time for Creation” as an emphasis in the church year. Read more here.
Nepal’s new constitution: bad news for Christians?
Many Nepali Christians are concerned that proposed amendments to Nepal’s new constitution could eventually render all Christian activity illegal. The constitution is due to come into effect very soon after seven years of parliamentary discussions. WorldWatch Monitor explains that attempting to convert someone to another religion is already prohibited in Nepal but the proposed amendments would mean that anything perceived as “evangelistic” could be punishable by law. Article 31(3) states that “any act to convert another person from one religion to another, or any act or behaviour to undermine or jeopardise the religion of another [will be] punishable by law”. Christians fear this could pave the way for an “anti-conversion clause” to be written into the penal code, which could result in prison sentences or hefty fines. Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and other minority religious groups in Nepal last week marched to constitution assembly in Kathmandu in protest against the proposals. Report here.
Sharing the Gospel in India
Edison Christian, director of Al-Bashir, who has been working with Christian believers from a Muslim background in India since 1997, has recently returned from a trip to North India. Edison visited Al-Bashir’s adult literacy and vocational training centres in two local districts. Fifteen project staff (mostly young people) attended a training session to learn how to educate the older generation, many of whom are illiterate, according to Edison. Other Al-Bashir projects that Edison visited in other parts of India included a health care centre for mothers and children, a tailoring centre for women and a mobile car repair course for 24 men, 18 of whom are taking final exams. At the end of next month (September) Edison will be in another part of India helping train UESI students to share the gospel with their neighbours. Edison also asks for prayer as the agency seeks people to translate two outreach tracts into Telugu and Malayalam for Southern India.
Syrian bishop on destruction of ancient monastery
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo has spoken out against last week's destruction of an ancient Catholic monastery near the Syrian town of Qaryatain by so-called Islamic State (IS) militants - saying IS wanted to send a message of intolerance and violence, spreading fear. Media reports stated that Islamic State used bulldozers to destroy the monastery. By destroying this ancient symbol of Christianity this would encourage Syria's Christians to flee their homeland. "For us, the Church, it sends a message of intolerance and violence, spreading fear that the war is continuing," he told Vatican Radio. "They are doing all they can to put Christians outside Syria." He also referred to the kidnapping of 230 people - some Syrian Orthodox Christians - earlier this month, also from Qaryatain. Bishop Audo said the kidnappers may have two aims first to obtain ransom money in exchange for the hostages’ release and also to “spread a message of terror” and show people they were “powerful” and didn’t believe in a political solution. Map: Courtesy Wikipedia
Community health evangelism grows in West Bengal
Rev Tushar Manna (pictured left), of Manna Mission, one of Faith2Share's partner organisations, reports that the roll-out of community health evangelism training in West Bengal is gathering pace. The Bengali people are the second largest unreached people group in India, according to Tushar. In his latest newsletter Tushar reports that 35 community health evangelism trained workers are now based in 35 centres in West Bengal. Through the training Manna Mission is able to make disciples among Bengalis who in turn take their message back to reach communities and aim to bring about transformation. The five-day training includes holistic health, child labour, malnutrition, education, sanitation and microenterprises. The training is designed to provide a strategic model for integrating evangelism, discipleship and community transformation. Elsewhere, newly trained missionaries are reaching out to 200 homeless chidren; while in Mursidabad, Basirhat and Kharagpur, 10 house churches have been established - and numbers are growing, according to Tushar. Community health evangelists have also been working in a tea garden community in the Panitanki area of Darjeeling district. Meanwhile house groups are going from strength to strength in underprivileged communities in Malda and Dinajpur districts.
F2S member Sunil brings news from Sri Lanka
Faith2Share was delighted to receive a visit from Rev Sunil Ferdinando and his family earlier this week to our office in Oxford. Rev Sunil is the Chairman of AIMS (Anglican Inland Missionary Society), Faith2Share’s only member agency in Sri Lanka. Rev Sunil shared about his organisation's eight missionaries mostly sent to the Batticoloa District in the Eastern Province of the country. Here they are involved in church planting and working with many of the communities whose lives are still affected by the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. All mission work for AIMS is supported by faithful local donors and Sunil's story is a remarkable witness to the commitment to furtherance of the Gospel in the country which is slowly emerging after years of civil war and unrest. Even to visit and encourage his missionaries entails a very long and hazardous train journey upcountry for Sunil but as he was sharing about this, we could not but be amazed at how God is at work around our network. Pictured: Sunil, his wife Aruni and daughter Surandini
Pacific people are born to be missionaries
NZCMS (a Faith2Share member) along with St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church were delighted to help Pacific 2 Nations host a breakfast meeting for Pasifika church leaders in Christchurch. Pacific 2 Nations is a movement of Pacific people, rising up and launching into the nations, proclaiming the Gospel, demonstrating God's love and power. And NZCMS says it is excited about the opportunity to be able to get behind this growing movement. Pacific 2 Nation’s leader Pastor Lui Ponifasio (pictured left with NZCMS's national director Steve Maina) and the P2N team travelled from Auckland to share their vision with leaders from Christchurch’s Pacific community. Ropeta Mene-Tulia is an intern at NZCMS and a New Zealand born Samoan growing up in NZ. She says: "A highlight was seeing pastors and leaders come from different denominations and ethnic groups – including Samoans, Fijians, Papua New Guineans, plus a couple of token Europeans and a Kenyan (Steve Maina). Steve reminded us that Pacific people were born to be missionaries: we can sleep anywhere, we can eat anything and we can blend right in because we’re neither too black nor too white."
Don't forget refugees in Syria and Iraq
What has really happened to those Christians who fled Mosul in northern Iraq in June 2014 when the Islamic state (IS) invaded the city? In an article in the Swedish newspaper Dagen, activist and journalist Nuri Kino (founder of A Demand for Action charity) makes a plea to Christians around the world not to forget their brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq as the refugee crisis continues. “Most people have ended up in some sort of limbo. They see no solution. The outside world has still not acted to help them and now what happened in Mosul is repeating in Syria,” he says – referring to IS taking the town of Qaryatain, where 227 Syrian Orthodox Christians were kidnapped last week. “Thousands fled in panic, many to neighbouring churches and monasteries, where they now live as refugees.” Those who have fled report that it is very hot right now and there is a shortage of water, food and medicine. Read more here.
Church Army Africa trailblazes in Malawi
A two-week training in Malawi led by Church Army Africa, in collaboration with Faith2Share and others, has been dubbed a first in the history of the Church of Central Africa. It aims to encourage church growth and mission in the region. The general secretary of the council described Church Army Africa’s arrival there as long overdue. Sixteen Malawi evangelists attended and learnt things like how to evangelise people of other faiths and how to become an effective discipler. Faith2Share Africa coordinator Timothy Mazimpaka was a facilitator alongside Church Army Africa colleague Reverend Captain Patience Wanzala Santa. Patience preached at an outreach mission in Ntandire (she is pictured left) and people came from far and wide to hear her as there are no women priests in the whole of Malawi! Many people heard the good news and received salvation, among them 10 Muslims. It is hoped to extend this training to other dioceses in the province.