Mission College transformed for 21st. century
Redcliffe College, a mission training college on the outskirts of Gloucester, UK, founded in 1892, has announced today that it plans to close its current site and offer mission training in a revolutionary new way. Instead of continuing to offer residential courses at its current site, a very traditional old British college, the staff will move to new offices in the centre of the city from where they will offer a whole new range of courses at different locations in the UK and around the world. The faculty will work closely with mission agencies to tailor courses, both academic and practical, to the needs of students. Some teaching will continue to be delivered at the new college site. Their press release says, "In a world where the majority of people now live in cities, and with a vision to “train, equip and empower people to fully engage in God’s mission in the world”, it is appropriate for Redcliffe to not only continue in an urban setting but be further defined by a city centre identity." Read the full press release here.
Madagascar reeling after tropical storm
In the wake of Tropical Storm Chedza, which struck large parts of Mozambique on 15 January, we have heard from an officer with Church Army Africa (a Faith2Share member) Rev Captain Victor Osoro who lives there and was directly affected by the natural disaster. He writes: "We were hit by a Cyclone Chedza in the Morondava area on South west Madagascar of which Mahabo is part. It is one of our largest seaport cities. The heavy rains, flooding and wind have done a fair amount of damage not only where it came ashore but throughout the whole island." He continues: "There hasn't been any electricity since 16 January and food prices have skyrocketed (such as rice which is the main staple). It seems once again certain sellers are taking advantage of this natural disaster." In addition, many homes and churches were damaged or destroyed, as well as agricultural areas – mainly rice fields. We pray that relief and supplies reaches people quickly, especially those in isolated areas which are hard to reach.
Summer school Australian-style
Nearly 700 people, including children and teenagers, came together this month (January) at North Tamborine, Queensland for Faith2Share CMS Australia's Summer School. This is an annual mission-focused evangelical Christian conference held in North Tamborine by the Queensland with Northern New South Wales branch of CMS Australia (a Faith2Share member). Different branches of the mission agency hold summer schools across Australia to celebrate what God is doing, to reach people who do not know Christ and to equip Christian leaders for church and society - and to be mobilised for mission locally and globally. Delegates were refreshed and challenged with Bible teaching from national and international guest speakers.They also heard how God is at work in the world from Christian missiologists, and had the chance to meet missionaries serving in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Oceania and South America. Associate Professor for World Christianity and Islam at Columbia Theological Seminary in the USA, John Azuma spoke on ‘The Five Faces of Islam’ (mystical, missionary, ideological, militant and progressive), ‘A Christian Response to Islam’ and ‘Christian Witness to Muslims’. Watch the associate professor's message here.
Countdown to 120th Maramon Convention
The Maramon Convention - one of the largest Christian conventions in Asia - takes place this year on 8 to 15 February. It is organised by Faith2Share member Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association, the missionary wing of the Mar Thoma Church.The event is now in its 120th year and is held annually at Maramon, Pathanamthitta, Kerala in India. Speakers this year include Bishop Zipho D Siwa from South Africa; Dr Leonard Sweet, from the US; Rev Dr Sam T Kamalesan and Rev Dushantho Rodrigo, Sri Lanka. The origin and growth of this annual week long event can be traced back to the great revival movement, which gathered momentum during the reformation period in the Syrian Churches of Malabar under the pioneering leadership of Abraham Malpan in the latter part of 19th century. This brought about the transformation in resurgence of the ancient apostolic Churches in Kerala founded by St Thomas the Apostle in AD 52, according to Wikipedia.
Making young people peacemakers in DRC
Rev Bisoke Balikenga, provincial youth worker for the Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, has outlined his plans for the year. Bisoke (pictured here with Faith2Share's Mark Oxbrow) works with two Faith2Share members CMS Africa and Church Mission Society. As DRC faces elections in 2016, Bisoke reports that he is planning to hold lots of workshops in each diocese in DR Congo “for young people to become the peacemakers”. Bisoke said he wants young people to “practice the word of God in all situations." In Bunia, Bisoke’s home town, the church plans to build a centre for youth programmes and training for lay leaders – “where people can build peace, release their trauma, and a place of getting the word of God." The aim is for young people to gain more knowledge to help them build a Christ-centred life. Bisoke adds; "They will be the good people who can practice the right management for helping Africa and Congo as well.” Plans are also under way to build a business centre for youth enterprises in Bunia - to include shops and other outlets.
Bishop from Philippines to lead WEA
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) announced today that their new Secretary General will be Bishop Efram Tendero from the Philippines. Bishop Efram is a well known evangelical leader who comes with a strong background in network development. He has been National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) since 1993. PCEC is the largest network of evangelical Christians in the Philippines composed of 30,000 evangelical churches, 69 denominations, and 160 parachurch and mission organizations. In 2005, he was concurrently appointed General Secretary of the Philippine Relief and Development Services (PHILRADS), the relief and development arm of PCEC that works hand in hand with local churches in holistic ministries to help the poor and the needy in Christ’s name. He was one of the spiritual advisers of former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and was a member of the Presidential Council for Values Formation. He is married to Sierry and has four children.
Christians pray to transform world
During this week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18 to 25 January) there have been examples around the world of Christians promoting both unity and diversity. Global observances included the National Council of Churches in India - through an invitation of dialogue on water by Brazilian churches who had chosen this year's theme of “water is right – water is life”. The idea is to initiate a dialogue among faith communities and prayerfully pledge to save water and care for the earth. The need for overcoming divisions through unity was also recognised by the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). This year’s prayer materials were also made available by the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC). In a similar vein, an ecumenical service was held at the Syriac Orthodox Church in Beirut, Lebanon on 18 January. In a press release to accompany the event, the Middle East Council of Churches said: "...share with us our fervent and passionate prayer for peace in our beloved and suffering Orient - especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, who are currently facing the harshest waves of persecution...".
Brazilian churches promote peace and unity
This year prayer materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18 to 25 January) were produced in Brazil and drafted by a group of Brazilian churches. The message from the World Council of Churches (WCC), which co-published the materials with the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is that these resources highlight the value of Christian unity amid challenges to religious intolerance that are growing around the world. Traditionally celebrated between 18 and 25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), this year’s week of prayer has a theme based on the gospel of John (4:7): “Jesus said to her: ‘Give me to drink’”. The meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well is symbolic of love which has the power to diminish all separations based on religion, ethnicity or culture, says WCC. The prayer materials also aim to build dialogue among different faith expressions as a way of building peace among peoples, cultures and religions. Read more here.
Prayer for peace at Nigerian elections
As Nigeria prepares to go to the polls next month (14 February), CMS-Africa (a Faith2Share member) is asking us to pray for the forthcoming elections as Boko Haram "has stepped up attacks across the country and there are fears that many people in the north-east will not be able to vote due this conflict." In CMS-Africa's latest prayer news, it says: "On a very sad note, the self-proclaimed anti Bible terror group, Boko Haram has continued its onslaught on the Nigerian Christian populations in the New Year. The terror group launched a military campaign in 2009 to create an Islamic state and in January 9 2015, attacked 16 villages killing hundreds of people in an act that brought the number of people killed by this group to over 2,000." Most recently (last weekend) the Islamist militants attacked Chibok, the town where Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls last year. However, the Nigerian army claims to have since recaptured Chibok.
Lifeway Mission joins Faith2Share network
Faith2Share is delighted that Lifeway Mission International has become our newest member to join the Faith2Share network. Kenyan mission agency director Aila Tasse (pictured left) attended our recent consultation in Ethiopia and decided to join Faith2Share after the event. Lifeway Mission is a non-denominational, indigenous agency working with churches, organisations and Christian ministries in reaching out to the unreached people groups, serving persecuted believers and training leaders in East Africa and Horn of Africa countries. Lifeway Mission International is a faith mission based in Nairobi. It believes that 'God's work done in God's way will not lack God's provision.' It reports that it has finished the year 2014 well and is very thankful to the Lord for that. Its central tenet is that 'God wants to reach the 300 unreached people groups in the Greater Eastern Africa region in this generation, trusting God beyond the realities of their present situation.' Faith2Share Africa coordinator, Timothy Mazimpaka, and Lifeway Mission's Aila Tasse also collaborated in December in northern Kenya when they worked together on a training programme for local church leaders and evangelists. This partnership also came about from Faith2Share's Leadership Consultation in Ethiopia.
Hope out of tragedy in Pakistan
A prayer vigil has been held in central London for those who died in the attack in December on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. More than 130 school pupils died in that attack. The prayer vigil was held at St. John's Waterloo and was attended by the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan and senior Muslim and Christian leaders. In addressing the gathering Toaha Qureshi MBE reflected that the holy Qu'ran teaches us that all peoples are decended from one human family and placed in nations and tribes so that we can know and respect each other, not so that we should despise each other. Concluding the vigil Rev Rana Youab Khan pointed to the hope that still exists in Pakistan. A video of the vigil can we seen here.
50 years old today - Indian Evangelical Mission
Faith2Share congratulates the Indian Evangelical Mission (IEM) on the occasion of its 50th. Anniversary today, 15 January. The mission was founded in 1965 at the initiative of the Indian Evangelical Fellowship and Rev. Dr. Theodore Williams was appointed as the founder General Secretary. IEM is an indigenous interdenominational Indian mission serving a number of different churches in the country and sending missionaries to most parts of India as well as to several other countries. Today IEM has 840 mission workers serving amongst 94 different people groups in many different ministries including evangelism, church planting, bible translation, medical work, education, community development and leadership training. There will be a Golden Jubliee National Convention in Bangalore in October this year. The current General Secretary of IEM, Rev. John Wesley is a trustee of Faith2Share.
Ebola survivor returns to work in Liberia
The mission agency SIM have announced that Dr. Rick Sacra is to return to West Africa to work with Ebola patients in Liberia. Dr. Sacra was one of the first western mission workers to contract Ebola whilst working as a missionary with SIM in a maternity unit in Liberia. He was airlifted home to the US and after a long recovery period at Nebraska Medical Centre was declared Ebola-free on 26 September 2014. He says he is now 95% fit and medical staff say he is immune to Ebola. He is due to depart for Liberia on 15 January and will work at the ELWA hospital with the mission team from SIM USA. "I guess I'm less nervous about this trip because I know what I'm getting into a little more," Sacra said at a news conference this morning at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. "The thing I was afraid of last time, I've had it, and I'm through it. Thank God." Watch video here.