Ponder about it….

February 23, 2013 by admin  
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Reflections

God allows

 

God gives what you need

 

Greatfull

 

Mom

 

Love

 

Hear

 

Love one another

 

Jesus loves you

 

 

birds

Prayer

Dove of peace

Boko Haram’s surprise ceasefire: pursue peace but not at any price

February 23, 2013 by admin  
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A destroyed church building in KanoNigeria, February 21, 2013: Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group that has been waging a violent campaign to establish an Islamic state in Northern Nigeriafor over three years, has called a surprise truce.

Since July 2009, the group has been targeting churches, the police, security forces, government buildings and even moderate Muslim clerics who have challenged or failed to back its agenda. Thousands of people have been killed; Christians have been driven from their homes; and everyday life has been severely restricted in areas beset by violence.

The authorities have been unable to get to grips with Boko Haram, and the group has seemed unstoppable. So it was a stunning development when, at the end of January, a ceasefire was brokered between some of the group’s leaders and the Borno State government along with national government officials.

It seems too good to be true. And it is. The ceasefire is conditional, and Boko Haram’s demands are a high price to pay for peace. The group wants the unconditional release of all its detained members, the rebuilding of the destroyed mosque of its late leader, Muhammed Yusuf, and compensation for all its members.

GOVERNMENT CAUTION

The Nigerian government has responded with understandable reticence; several agreements have been broken in the past. The Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Ola Saád Ibrahim, said:

We must take the ceasefire with a lot of caution… Let’s assume we can have a long period of about one month where no bomb explodes; where nobody is shot; where nobody is beheaded; where no church is bombed; where no mosque is threatened. If they can guarantee just one month, then we can begin to talk.

The Nigerian people are desperate for peace. Many have lost loved ones, and they live in fear of the next deadly Boko Haram strike. The violence has damaged the country’s international reputation and its economy. In Borno State, from where Boko Haram originates and where the fighting has been particularly intense, socio-economic activities have been greatly restricted, causing prices of basic goods to rise.

A statement by the Borno Elders Forum (BEF) in response to the ceasefire urged the Nigerian government to “embrace this positive opening and capitalise on it in order to open wider space for sustainable peace”. It said:

Our people have suffered enough. Enormous losses in terms of human lives, property and institutional set ups have occurred. We are therefore calling on all and sundry to encourage the peace process. We advise that cynicism and doubts should be set aside and positive attitude should be shown to encourage the sect to maintain this positive disposition.

Peace must certainly be pursued by all parties but not at any and every price. For lasting peace to be achieved, there must be a willingness on all sides to practise both justice and mercy. The terms of Boko Haram’s ceasefire are a denial of the justice owed to the victims of its bloody campaign. And while the group wants to receive mercy, will it now show mercy by stopping once and for all its atrocities against innocent Nigerian citizens?

VIOLENCE CONTINUES

The early signs are not encouraging. Since the ceasefire was declared, there have been numerous attacks that have borne the hallmark of Boko Haram. Several police and security force personnel have been killed in bombings and shootings in the militant group’s regular hunting grounds.

And an Islamist group, Ansaru, which is suspected of being an off-shoot of Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of seven foreign workers in Bauchi state on Sunday (17 February).

It has been suggested that it is only a faction of Boko Haram that has called the truce and that its wider membership is thus not committed to peace.

Boko Haram militants began their deadly campaign in 2009Given the group’s ruthless campaign to date, it seems highly unlikely that it is going to settle for anything less than the establishment of an Islamic state in NorthernNigeria. The government is right to be wary of this ceasefire and must be careful not to cede any ground that will ultimately serve only to advance the group’s agenda.

Boko Haram cannot be trusted to keep the terms of a peace agreement and, the release of its imprisoned members could prove disastrous if the Islamists betray the deal  as they have past accords.

- barnabas edit

Church in Egypt attacked twice by Muslims who brand it “unlawful”

February 23, 2013 by admin  
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A church in Egypt was set ablaze by local Muslims who later attacked the building for a second time while a “reconciliation” meeting was taking place.

Christians called for justice in front of the High Court, CairoEgypt, February 21, 2013: St George’s Church in the village of Sarsena, in the Tamiya district of Fayoum province, was first attacked on Friday evening (15 February). Hundreds of Muslims, who had been incited by Salafists, congregated outside the church and hurled bricks at the building. They then climbed to the church dome, started demolishing it and set the place of worship on fire. Extensive damage was caused.

The mob threw stones at the minister, who was rescued by a Muslim family. He and a number of other Christians suffered slight injuries.

The Salafists claimed that St George’s was “an unlawful neighbour to the Muslims who live adjacent to it and must therefore be moved”. They also demanded that the church not use a small plot of land it owns as a kindergarten.

A Muslim family who live in a house next to the church had complained about the sound coming from the building during services. They had made a hole in the wall three months ago to monitor St George’s activities.

Matters came to a head on Friday; police attempts to reconcile the Muslims and the church’s pastor failed, and the assault on the church began. The police did not intervene.

A so-called “reconciliation” meeting was held on Saturday evening. These are arranged by the authorities following a dispute and often result in Christians being further humiliated and losing more rights.

While the meeting was taking place, Muslims attacked St George’s again. They threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the building while shouting, “We do not want the church.”

At the reconciliation meeting, St George’s representatives were forced to agree to a number of restrictive and costly conditions, including: the building be soundproofed at the church’s expense; the building not be restored to its original height before the attack; the church not use the area outside the building to expand or as a kindergarten, only as a store room.

No mention was made of St George’s receiving any financial compensation for the damage to its building. No one has been arrested for the attacks on the church.

On Sunday evening, hundreds of Christians marched to the High Court building in Cairo, calling for justice over the torching of St George’s and attacks on other churches since the revolution.

- barnabas team

EFI: Persecution in Chhattisgarh & Madhya Pradesh

February 23, 2013 by admin  
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Christians Beaten up; FIR Registered Against Pastors in Chhattisgarh

ChhattisgarhChhattisgarh, February 22, 2013: On 8 February in Rajnandgoan, Raipur, police registered an First Information Report (FIR) against two pastors after a mob of Hindu extremists barged into the special meeting of Indian Christian Assembly of God Church and beat up Christians, injuring four. The extremists forcefully entered into the meeting attended by about 300 Christians from the states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, abused Pastor (s) Kuriakos and Thomas Abraham and believers of forceful conversion, and beat them up.

The extremists also tore up the Bibles and other gospel tracts and damaged furniture and vehicles belonging to the Christians’. Four believers received serious injuries and received treatment in a local hospital. However, the police registered an FIR against pastors Kuriakos, Thomas Abraham and one church member under 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. A case has also been registered against the extremists.

About 500 Christians participated in the sit-in protest against the incident organized by the local dstrict Christian community. At press time, no arrests have been made. In another incident on 18 January in Saranggarh, Rajgarh, Hindu extremists stormed the Christians prayer meeting conducted at the house of one believer, accused the pastors of forceful conversion and beat them up. Pastors Rajesh Yadav and Raju Dewangan were beaten up badly. No case has been registered.

Pastor, believer beaten up in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya PradeshOn 9 February in Nanpur, Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, Hindu extremists barged into the worship meeting of the Philadelphia church and beat up Pastor Jorder Chauhan and one church member, Imam Singh, resulting in severe injuries. The extremists accused Pastor Chauhan of forceful conversion and started to beat him up with sticks and stones. They also attacked the church member, Imam Singh who tried to rescue the pastor. Both, who had sustained injuries were hospitalized for three days. The extremists told the Christians that they cannot worship Jesus in the village and they should go to foreign countries if they want to worship Christ “, said area church leader, Rev. Wicalson. The police registered a case against nine Hindu extremists.

- efi

Faith, beliefs cannot stall green clearance to projects, SC told

February 23, 2013 by admin  
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Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC)New Delhi, February 21, 2013: The Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) Thursday told the Supreme Court that if beliefs and faiths were allowed to weigh on the statutory and environmental clearances for big ticket projects, then there would be no development.

Senior counsel K.K.Venugopal, appearing for the OMC, made the contention to a bench of Justice Aftab Alam, Justice K.S.Radhakrishnan and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

“Merely because there is a faith or belief can’t be used to deny the clearance for bauxite mining (at Niyamgiri Hills),” Venugopal said while assailing the stand taken by Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran that habitat did not mean just the living place but the customs, religious, social and customary practices of the tribals living around Niyamgiri Hills.

The court had reserved its order on the petition by the OMC challenging the Aug 30, 2010, decision of the union environment ministry denying second stage clearance for bauxite mining from Odisha’s Niyangiri Hills, where OMC is a 26 percent stake holder in the joint venture project with Sterlite Industries.

Pointing to the Himalayan ranges, a large part of which was associated with one god or the other and Mount Kailash believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, Venugopal asked whether on the grounds of religious faith and belief, the entire Himalayan ranges would go undeveloped.

Senior counsel C.A.Sundram, appearing for Odisha government, told the court that the forest rights of the tribals which are bone of contention in the case were not nomadic tribes but were village centric.

“Their habitat is village centric though they collect forest produce for their requirements,” Sundram told the court implying that rights under the Forest Rights Act could not applicable for them.

Earlier in the course of the hearing, the Central Empowered Committee on environmental matters told the court that the nod for bauxite mining at Niyamgiri Hills for Vedanta Aluminum refinery was subject to the satisfaction of the union environment ministry and the compliance of 18 conditionalities attached to stage one clearance for diversion of 660.749 hectares of forest land for the project.

Amicus curiae A.D.N.Rao appearing for the apex court appointed CEC said that the compliance of the 18 conditionalities that the ministry had tagged with its “in principle clearance” of stage one must be coupled with its satisfaction for the stage two clearance for the bauxite mining at Niyamgiri Hills.

“The apex court can’t substitute its satisfaction to the satisfaction to be arrived by the MoEF (ministry of environment and forests),” Rao told the bench.

Replying to the contention that crores of rupees have been spent on the project, senior counsel Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the tribals, said it is a question of existence of tribals and the same could not be exchanged for the pursuit of profit.

Parikh appeared for Prafulla Samantra and others representing Dongria Kondh tribe that would be severely affected by the implementation of the project.

- ians

AP: Pastors arrested and remanded to jail at Bhongiri

February 23, 2013 by admin  
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AP: Pastors arrested Andhra Pradesh, February 21, 2013: Pas. D. Naveen Kumar and his fellow pastors were arrested at Yadagirigutta and remanded to jail at Bhongiri District of Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh. The pastor n his associate were arrested at scene of the crime on the complaint given by one Srinivas. The Pastor was invited to offer prayers by a family on the occasion of  a birthday at Tulasi Garden, which is proposed colony of 100 cottages under construction. These are the daily wage laborers who had migrated from outside. While hey were attending the family prayer. some reportedly BJP and RSS volunteers attacked them and dragged them to the police station on false allegations of conversion.  The police at Yadagirigutta framed charges under sections 295 A & 298 of the Indian Penal Code for hurting religious sentiments and blasphemy of other gods

AP: Pastors arrestedAccording to the sub-inspector, they were not supposed to preach in the temple towns, according to a Government Order Nos. 746 and 747 and hence were arrested. Franklin Sudhaker of the Andhra Pradesh chapter of the All India Christian Council took them to the Bhongiri Muncif Court where they were remand till 11 February, 2013. He is also working with Advocate P. Sridher for their bail. Pastors Naveen and Bro. Balraj who were also earlier arrested and remanded to Bhongiri Sub-Jail on 28.1.2013. The CSF has a copy of the Remand Report from the police station. A petition was given to Bhongiri Town Dy. Superintendent of Police, M. Srinivasa by a rally of 200 about Christians from the area.

Card Thottunkal: Benedict XVI and what it means to be a true Christian and Catholic

February 23, 2013 by admin  
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The major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Trivandrum, looks back at the pontificate of Benedict XVI. The pope’s devotion to the Church and God’s law, his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est and every one of his writings bear witness to his divine mission. The prelate has no one in mind as the next pope but is certain that he has to unite all the Christians of the world. Lay and consecrated people are called to work for the Church and bear witness to the faith.

Card ThottunkalKerala, February 20, 2013: “No pope spoke about his divine mission in so a powerful and conscious way,” said His Beatitude Mar Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Trivandrum. Speaking to AsiaNews about Benedict XVI and his pontificate, he noted, “he is a true disciple of Christ who showed others what it means to be a true Christian and Catholic”.

The pope announced that he would give up the Petrine Ministry on 28 Ministry. The Indian prelate is one of the 117 cardinal electors who will pick a successor. Pundits are already trying to imagine what would make an ideal pope and who he might be. But for Card Thottunkal, “rather talk about the problems and challenges the new Holy Father will face or how old he ought to be, we should reflect instead on what his main task will be.”

“For many people, especially in Asia, it is clear that he must be someone who can travel the world, and continue on the ecumenical and interfaith path” laid down by Benedict XVI. Above all, we need a pope who is “involved in every aspect of his Petrine Ministry, who is first of all vicar of Christ and bishop of Rome, someone who can, with hope, charity and courage, bring together and unite Catholics from all continents and rites, whilst proclaiming the Gospel to all places.”

“It is important for all those who live in the Catholic Church to cooperate” in this mission, lay as well as consecrated people, “so that each one of us can bear witness to our Christian faith”.

The pope who will come out of the next conclave will have the good fortune of Benedict XVI’s example, the prelate said, “especially his devotion to the Church and God’s law.”

“Benedict XVI took on a difficult inheritance, that of John Paul II, a great pope who travelled a lot and met millions of people. It was not going to be easy for anyone to be Pope Wojtyla’s successor. Yet, Benedict XVI was able to perform in his divine mission in wonderful way.”

We saw this “from the start with his first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, ‘God is love’, and in all his homilies, catecheses, encyclicals and apostolic exhortations.”

Benedict XVI elevated His Beatitude to the dignity of cardinal last 24 November, after the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation (7-28 October 2012).

For the prelate, Pope Ratzinger is “humble, gentle, loving and understanding man who reminded the world that it needs God’s presence and that it must follow Jesus Christ, whom the Lord sent us as our Saviour. In Benedict XVI, I found a true disciple of Christ.”

- asianews

Silence Your Mind

February 21, 2013 by admin  
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FarmerThere once was a farmer who discovered that he had lost his watch in the barn. It was no ordinary watch because it had sentimental value for him. After searching high and low among the hay for a long while; he gave up and enlisted the help of a group of children playing outside the barn. He promised them that the person who found it would be rewarded.

Hearing this, the children hurried inside the barn, went through and around the entire stack of hay but still could not find the watch.

Just when the farmer was about to give up looking for his watch, a little boy went up to him and asked to be given another chance. The farmer looked at him and thought, “Why not? After all, this kid looks sincere enough. So the farmer sent the little boy back in the barn.

Little boyAfter a while the little boy came out with the watch in his hand! The farmer was both happy and surprised and so he asked the boy how he succeeded where the rest had failed.

The boy replied, “I did nothing but sit on the ground and listen. In the silence, I heard the ticking of the watch and just looked for it in that direction.

MORAL:

A peaceful mind can think better than a worked up mind. Allow a few minutes of silence to your mind every day, and see, how sharply it helps you to set your life the way you expect it to be…!

- fwd: allen johannes

One Church leader beheaded; another shot dead in Tanzania

February 21, 2013 by admin  
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Fr. Evarist Mushi shot deadPastor Mathayo Kachila who was beheaded

Tanzania, February 19, 2013: Two church leaders were killed in separate violent attacks in Tanzania last week. Pastor Mathayo Kachila (45) was beheaded in the town of Buseresere on the morning of Monday 11 February by a group of youths believed to be Muslims.

Then on Sunday morning (17 February), Evarist Mushi was shot dead outside his church on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar.

Tensions had been building in Buseresere, Geita region, where Muslim leaders have been demanding the closure of Christian-owned butcheries.

Violence broke out at around 8am on Monday when a group of youths arrived at a butcher’s armed with machetes and sticks. They assaulted several Christians. Pastor Mathayo was caught up in the violence and beheaded at the scene. Five people, some of whom were in a critical condition, were taken to hospital.

The assailants pulled down and destroyed a sign at the butchers that said, “Jesus is Lord”. They also allegedly contaminated over 200kg of meat with a suspected harmful substance.

Several shops and motorcycles were set ablaze.

Two suspects have been arrested, and the Minister for Home Affairs has said that the government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all those involved in fuelling religious conflicts in the area are brought to justice.

Church Leader Shooting

Evarist was arriving at his church in the Mtoni area of Urban West region in Zanzibar to take the Sunday morning service when he was blocked at the entrance by two young men. The church leader was shot twice in the head and pronounced dead on arrival at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital.

Three people were later arrested in connection with the murder.

It follows the shooting on Christmas Day of another church leader, the Rev. Ambrose Mkenda, on the island. He was seriously wounded. UAMSHO (Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation), an Islamist separatist group that wants Zanzibar to become independent from mainland Tanzania, is suspected of carrying out that attack.

The group distributed leaflets threatening church leaders in Zanzibar in October following attacks on several churches.

Said Mwema, the Inspector General of Police, said, “We will crack down on people behind these recurring attacks against religious leaders and houses of worship.”

Zanzibar is overwhelmingly Muslim; Christians comprise around three per cent of the population.

- barnabas team

Saudi: 53 Ethiopians arrested for praying in a home

February 21, 2013 by admin  
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46 are women, and most likely face deportation. The authorities have accused them of converting Muslims to Christianity. There is no religious freedom in the country: the monarchy allows private worship of other faiths, but the religious police carry out indiscriminate arrests.

53 Ethiopian Christians arrestedDamman, February 20, 2013: Saudi Arabia has arrested 53 Ethiopian Christians – 46 women and six men – for holding a prayer meeting in a private home. Police officials have sealed the house and taken the faithful away, accusing the three religious leaders present of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. The incident occurred at Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of the Kingdom, and dates to February 8, but local sources, linked to the World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-Rlc) recently reported the news.

According to the WEA-RLC, Saudi authorities should release two of the Christians who hold residency permits. In all likelihood, all the others will be deported.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize, or protect, any religious expression other than Islam. The religious police (muttawa) carries out controls to eliminate the presence of Bibles, rosaries, Crosses  and Christian assemblies. And even if the royal family allows religious practices other than Islam, at least in private, muttawa agents tend not to differentiate.

This is not the first episode of religious persecution against the Ethiopian community. In December 2011, the Saudi authorities arrested 35 Ethiopian Christians, 29 of them women, charging them with “illegal socialization.” In this case, the faithful were detained in the middle of a prayer meeting in a private home in Jeddah. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the imprisoned women were subjected to arbitrary “medical inspections”.

The city of Dammam, where the accident occurred on February 8, is a major industrial center and port, rich in oil and natural gas.

- asianews

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