1,500-Y-O ‘Magical Papyrus’ discovered near pyramid invokes God’s human sacrifice test in the bible

April 18, 2018 by  
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Egypt, April 18, 2018: An ancient 1,500-year-old “magical papyrus” discovered near a pyramid in Egypt addresses the Bible’s God as the God of an Egyptian deity, and refers to the test of faith Abraham faced when asked to sacrifice his son.

LiveScience reported on Tuesday that the text of the papyrus, uncovered near the pyramid of the Pharaoh Senwosret during a 1934 expedition in Giza by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, has now been deciphered by scientists.

Written in Coptic at a time when Christianity was widely practiced in the country, the writer, who isn’t named, pleads: “God of Seth, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God of Israel, watch over everyone who suffers. My word, may it come to pass with power.”

“May every spirit that is in the air obey me,” he asks.

Seth is an ancient Egyptian god said to rule over the desert and the storms, associated with eclipses, thunderstorms and earthquakes.

The papyrus also calls the biblical God on a number of occasions “the one who presides over the mountain of the murderer,” which according to Oxford University researcher Michael Zellmann-Rohrer alludes to the account in the book of Genesis when God initially asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah.

In the narrative, although Abraham agrees to follow God’s command, a messenger from God reveals it was a test of faith, and so Isaac is spared and a ram is sacrificed instead.

The passage in Genesis has been described by some Christian commentators, such as Mark Creech, executive director of the Raleigh-based Christian Action League of North Carolina, as one of the “greatest chapters in the entire Bible.”

“Like Abraham, God desires our unreserved trust when we find ourselves in seemingly impossible situations — confusing situations where everything looks incredibly bleak with no good outcome likely — situations that may require the loss of some prized possession, promise, or possibility,” Creech wrote in an op-ed published by The Christian Post in October 2017.

“It is in such moments God is closest to us and able to perfectly provide,” he added.

Zellmann-Rohrer said that the papyrus describes the story as if the sacrifice of Isaac actually took place, however, noting that this was a belief that appears to have been widespread at the time.

“The text surely belongs to a Coptic phase of habitation at the pyramid complex, noted by the excavators, which is marked by substantial burials,” the researcher explained, adding that it’s likely the papyrus is a copy of another text.

The text presents few clues as to its nameless composer, though Zellmann-Rohrer noted that the writing “lacks professional proficiency.” What is more, it makes references and uses terms used by followers of Gnosticism.

He suggested that those who copied the text may have been Christians who “made use of a textual tradition that owed much to Jewish belief and lore and to Gnosticism.”

– christian post

As US mulls Syria airstrikes, Francis calls for peace

April 13, 2018 by  
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Syria, April 12, 2018: As President Trump considers airstrikes in Syria in response to a chemical attack that killed dozens of people, including women and children, Pope Francis has called for peace in the region.

President Trump has said that he will consider initiating military action against Syria within days. The president has sent several tweets hinting at iminent military action, but on Thursday he walked these back with a tweet saying he “never said” when the United States would be attacking.

“Could be very soon or not so soon at all,” said Trump, noting that the United States has done a “great job” at removing Islamic State militants from the country.

On Tuesday, Russia vetoed a US-sponsored proposal in the United Nations, which would have launched an independent investigation into the April 7 chemical attack. The veto garnered broad condemnation from US allies.

Russia has also said that its military will retaliate for any airstrikes against Syria, meaning that US-military action could prompt a large global conflict.

Since March of 2011, Syria has been engaged in a bloody civil war, with rebel groups engaged in conflict against the Syrian army. Syria, led by President Bashar al-Assad, is allied with Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.

The situation on the ground in Syria has been disastrous for the country’s tiny Christian population. Prior to the start of the war, Christians made up about 11 percent of the population. Since then, many have been forced from their homes, particularly when the Islamic State was active in the region, and many of the country’s churches have been destroyed in the war. An estimated one-third of the country’s Christian population has fled.

However, many Christians in the country find themselves supporting Assad’s regime. In a March 2016 interview, Aleppo’s Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo said that he believed a full “80 percent” of the country’s Christians would support Assad in an election. Furthermore, the bishop said that the Syrian government was not actively persecuting Christians, and that Christians and Muslims had for years lived together peacefully prior to the start of the war.

The rebel groups fighting Assad are mostly Islamic-based and have attacked Christian villages.

There have been at least 200 reported chemical attacks in Syria, the medical care group UOSSM has reported. In April 2017, at least 70 people, including children, were reportedly killed in Syria by a deadly gas attack, reportedly perpetrated by Assad’s forces.

“The chemical attack in Syria on April 4, [2017], shocks the soul. The many innocent lives targeted by these terrible tools of war cry out for humanity’s protection,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said last year in response to that attack.

During his April 1 Urbi et Orbi message, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Syria.

“We implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war. This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course,” the pontiff said.

The pope condemned the recent chemical attack during Mass April 8 in St. Peter’s Square, saying that “nothing can justify” the use of chemical weapons on “defenseless people and populations.”

“There is no such thing as a good war and a bad war,” he said.

– cna

Video of Down syndrome boy hugging Jesus on way to crucifixion goes viral, hits 4 million views

April 11, 2018 by  
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Mexico, April 10, 2018: A video of a boy with Down syndrome in Mexico hugging an actor playing Jesus Christ in a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross has been viewed nearly 4 million times.

The video, uploaded last week on Facebook by Plan C es Cynthia García-Galindo, was recorded in Monclova, Mexico, on Good Friday. Church Pop offered a translation of the post from Spanish, which read: “What does a child with a green soccer shirt do at the scene of a Viacrucis in Monclova?”

The post adds: “Remind us of the most sublime love, that of caring for others with mercy! His innocence, his overflowing love, and his Down syndrome challenge us today. Juan Pablo is his name, which should be synonymous with good hope. Let’s teach our children to be more compassionate.”

The video, which as of Tuesday morning was viewed over 3.9 million times, shows the young boy walking next to actors playing Roman soldiers, hugging the Jesus actor by his side, who has his head down.

The debate over protecting babies diagnosed with Down syndrome from being aborted has intensified in the U.S. amid reports that Iceland is aborting nearly every baby diagnosed with the condition, thus practicing its own form of eugenics.

In March, some members of Congress slammed what many Americans called an “offensive” article in The Washington Post titled “I Would’ve Aborted a Fetus With Down Syndrome. Women Need That Right.”

The Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus explained her support for aborting babies with Down syndrome, saying, “You can call me selfish, or worse, but I am in good company. The evidence is clear that most women confronted with the same unhappy alternative would make the same decision.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the House Republicans, tweeted in response: “After reading the opinion piece in the @washingtonpost about aborting babies with Down syndrome, I struggled to put into words how offensive it is.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in his response to Marcus’ editorial, noted that the new Gerber baby also has Down syndrome.

“Lucas’ dignity is inherent, given by God, and it stays with him past the cute, cuddly phase of babyhood,” Sasse said.

“The truth of who he is stands in stark contrast with some of the news we see coming out of Europe lately. In Iceland, and in Denmark, there are actually groups that brag, ‘we’re closer to getting to 100 percent than anybody else. We’re going to be first to be 100 percent Down syndrome free.'”

Some Christians, including a lay member at the General Synod of the Church of England, have said that the high termination rates of unborn children with the genetic disorder is comparable to actions by Nazi Germany.

“In countries like Iceland Down syndrome has been virtually eliminated. What we have is a very simple situation. The U.K. and Europe has begun to practice eugenics, by default, and without intent,” said Andrew Gray, the lay member, in February.

“This is not because of a state-led desire to remove those considered weak or sub-human — we don’t live in 1930s Germany, thank God. But while the reasons and the motivations are different, the outcome is the same.”

– christian post

Discovery of 3,600-Y-O burial chamber in biblical book of Revelation city ‘Stuns’ archaeologists

March 15, 2018 by  
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Israel, March 15, 2018: Archaeologists say they are stunned by the discovery of a “magnificent and untouched” 3,600-year-old burial chamber in the ancient Canaanite city-state of Megiddo, which is mentioned in the book of Revelation in the Bible.

National Geographic reported Wednesday that the “extraordinary” find could offer potential clues into the royal dynasty that ruled the area south of Haifa, today part of Israel, before its conquest by Egypt in the 15th century B.C.

For nearly five millennia, from 3000 B.C. to 1918, Megiddo served as an important strategic pass for international military and trade routes, offering the stage for numerous historic battles.

It is described in Revelation 16:16 as a place called “Armageddon,” which derives from Har-Megiddo, or “Hill of Megiddo.”

Archaeologists now say they have discovered a tomb there from the 15th century B.C., when Megiddo was besieged for seven months by the forces of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III, eventually surrendering. Thutmose III then moved to incorporate Canaan as a province in his empire.

Israel Finkelstein and Mario Martin of Tel Aviv University and Matthew Adams of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeology, who have been conducting excavations in Megiddo since 1994, first found a subterranean corridor near the Bronze Age palaces in the area leading to a burial chamber back in 2016.

The chamber contained the remains of three people, a man, a woman, and a child, who were adorned with elaborate gold and silver jewelry. The man had been crowned with a gold diadem, which suggested a high level of skill and artistry.

“We are speaking of an elite family burial because of the monumentality of the structure, the rich finds and because of the fact that the burial is located in close proximity to the royal palace,” Finkelstein said.

What is more, archaeologists have found that other human remains had also been interred in the tomb at an earlier stage, following the practice of ancient funerary rites in the region.

Beside the jewelry, the undisturbed nature of the three bodies after their burial, in comparison to the others that were moved, gives credence to the theory that they were of high importance, according to excavation team member Melissa Cradic.

A DNA study of the bodies found buried in Megiddo is seeking to determine whether the common inhabitants of the Canaanite city-state are of the same background as the elite rulers.

The results could change perceptions on the populations of Canaan, as scholars have long believed that the Hurrians, a roving mountain people who emerged in the region in the fourth and third millennium B.C., could have played a big part in building the first cities in the Near East.

“These studies have the potential to revolutionize what we know about the population of Canaan, before the rise of the world of the Bible,” said Finkelstein.

Human remains discovered at other ancient Canaanite sites have intrigued researchers as well.

Archaeologists revealed in July 2017 that the remains of an adult and a child were uncovered at the biblical site of Gezer in Israel. The victims apparently died some 3,200 years ago when a blazing building collapsed, and were buried under ash and mud-brick debris.

The discovery led researchers to confirm accounts by Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah about how he laid siege upon and conquered Gezer, burning down many of its buildings in his campaign for control.

– christian post

College student banned from religious studies class after saying there are only 2 genders

March 13, 2018 by  
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U.S., March 12, 2018: A student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania claims that he has been barred from a religious studies class he needs to graduate this May and asked to apologize after voicing his belief that there are only two biological genders.

Last week, IUP student Lake Ingle took to his Facebook page to let his disbelief be known. He is being punished, he wrote, by the university for his response after the professor of his class on “self, sin and salvation” showed a TED Talks video featuring transgender woman Paula Stone Williams.

Ingle detailed his “best and fairest” account of the incident that transpired after Dr. Alison Downie showed the video to the class on Feb. 28, in a now-deleted Facebook post.

“On Wednesday, February 28th, in one of my major-required courses, the instructor played a ‘Ted-Talk’ during which a transgender woman discussed her previous experiences of manhood as well as her current experiences of womanhood,” Ingle wrote. “During her speech, she gave accounts of things such as ‘mansplaining’, ‘male-privilege’, and ‘sexism’ and deemed them systemic. She also alluded to the REALITY of the gender wage gap, stating women ‘…work twice as hard for half as much.'”

After the video ended, Downie opened the floor for a discussion on “mansplaining,” male privilege, sexism and the gender wage gap and allowed only women to voice their thoughts first.

Ingle stated that after about 30 seconds of silence, he voiced his objection to the “use of one person’s anecdotal accounts of the previously mentioned experiences as fact.”

“I also took this opportunity to point out the official view of biologists who claim there are only two biological genders, as well as data from entities such as The Economist on the gender wage gap and how the claims made in the video were far from the empirically supported evidence,” Ingle wrote. “I then objected to the instructor’s, as well as the Religious Studies Dept.’s misuse of intellectual power, of which I have become familiar over the past few semesters.”

“It was at this point others in the class entered the discussion,” he added. “Class proceeded normally, thereon.”

According to Ingle, he met with the instructor the next morning to discuss class project he is working on. During that meeting, Ingle wrote that he was presented with an “Academic Integrity Referral Form and Documented Agreement.”

The form alleges that Ingle had a “disrespectful objection to the professor’s class discussion structure.” It also accused the student of talking out of turn and of having “angry outbursts in response to being required to listen to a trans speaker discuss the reality of white male privilege and sexism.”

Additionally, Ingle was accused of making “disrespectful references to the validity of trans identity and experience.”

The form also called for him to issue an apology in front of the class on March 8 for each of the “disrespectful behaviors” described by the professor. The form states that after giving his apology, Ingle would have had to “listen in silence” as students in the class share how they felt during Lake’s “disruptive outbursts.”

Ingle denied the professor’s claims in his Facebook post.

“Though the documents attached present a narrative of disrespect, disruption, anger, and intolerance — I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth,” Ingle said.

The Christian Post reached out to IUP for clarification about Ingle’s alleged “angry outbursts.” However, a university spokesperson told CP that no comment could be provided because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as it pertains to student education records.

Ingle wrote in his post that he received a second document that lists further details of the violation.

“After these documents were handed to me, I read them carefully several times. I asked for one line to be revised and was answered with ‘no’ and was told it was the instructor’s job to recount what took place, not mine,” he wrote. “I then commented on the total misuse of intellectual power in a university setting, at which point I was asked to leave.”

The next morning on March 2, Ingle received a letter from Provost Timothy Moreland telling him that he is barred from attending the class and barred from speaking with Downie until the charges against him have been adjudicated.

“[T]he wording in the documents below is not only exaggerated, but more than one line is entirely untruthful and is done so purposefully to discredit my views and paint me as intolerant and ignorant,” Ingle said. “THE FACTS ARE: I did not object to the views of the speaker (Paula Stone). Rather, I objected to its misuse as hard evidence to support the ‘reality’ of phenomena that are not only a matter of opinion, but also empirically unsupported (wage gap statistics).”

“It is my belief that the instructor’s decision to file these sanctions is an attempt to bully me into redacting my views, making it a matter of free speech,” he continued. “I will be battling the university, as well as my instructor, to ensure I am not permanently removed from the class, which would mean my inability to graduate as scheduled this May.”

Ingle is subject to a hearing before the school’s Academic Integrity Board. The ruling from the hearing will be announced on March 19.

In another Facebook post, Ingle explained that he was advised to remove the initial Facebook post detailing the situation with the school after he received legal counsel.

Women told they are ‘abomination,’ ‘evil’ for leading church, tempting men: Report

March 11, 2018 by  
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U.S., March 11, 2018: Over 60 percent of Christian women in the U.K. have said in a survey that they have experienced sexism in the Church, while 75 percent insisted that God finds both men and women equal and able to preach His word.

A booklet on the poll results, titled “Minding the Gap,” released March 8 by the Sophia Network, a group which seeks to empower women in Church leadership, said that while most respondents, at 86 percent, feel like valued members of the Church family, there are still big problems to tackle.

The online survey, conducted between May and June 2017, based on 1,211 respondents, did not provide information about the margin of error.

It found that 75 percent of those who responded would identify as egalitarian, meaning they believe that men and women are equal, and that God gives both genders the authority to preach, as opposed to those who say that men should serve as the spiritual leaders of the church and the family.

Sixty-two percent said that they have experienced sexism in the Church, with anonymous women sharing of the experiences they have been subjected to.

One woman said that she was told that her infertility was “down to my maternal grandmother’s sin, when it fact it is because I was raped. I cannot describe the lioness anger that the consequence of a male sin was attributed to my female family line.”

Another woman said: “When I felt initially called, the minister told me to get married and have children instead.”

“Being told my marriage would suffer if I went into church leadership, being told it was ‘an abominiation’ for a woman to lead the church, being harassed until I left my church and joined the Church of England,” said a third.

“Being described as ‘evil’ and having the ability to lead a male colleague into sin,” another account revealed.

Other findings in the survey were more positive. As many as 87 percent said that women are encouraged to use all their gifts, including teaching, at their churches; another 77 percent said that there are female deacons or elders at their church.

Fifty-nine percent had at least one female minister, and only nine percent said that a woman has never taught a service at their church.

When it comes to the barriers facing women in the Church, institutional sexism was listed at the very top, singled out by 53 percent of the respondents. Lack of female mentoring and leaders came in at second place at 46 percent, and lack of theological understanding at 42 percent.

“The Minding the Gap report gives valuable insight into the experiences of women in the U.K. church. It is easy to rely on hearsay and feeling when it comes to gender equality, and this welcome report provides much needed facts,” said Amanda Jackson, Executive Director for the Women’s Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.

“The picture from the report is hopeful because things are changing, but also reminds us that the biblical understating of the equality of women and men still needs to grow,” she adds.

“And along with that, men and women need to work actively to provide opportunities for women to use all their gifts. The Church can be a shining light countering discrimination, sexism, and gender violence — this report helps us all to see what we are doing and what we still need to learn.”

Female Christian leaders and authors in the U.S., such as Beth Moore and Jen Hatmaker, have also joined hundreds of evangelical women in calling out sexual and psychological abuse in the American Church.

“Fundamentally, we understand violence against any individual, regardless of their ethnicity, creed or gender, to be a matter of our Christian faith. Genesis 1:26 declares that all people are made in the image of God, both men and women,” read a statement on the #SilenceIsNotSpiritual campaign website, launched in December 2017.

“Women are equally called and created with the full potential and capacity to steward the world. All abuse disfigures human dignity and distorts the image of God,” it added.

– christian post

Catholic schools in US, Holy Land create pen-pal program

March 8, 2018 by  
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U.S., March 8, 2018: As a sign of solidarity with Catholics in the Middle East, the National Council of Catholic Women has set up a pen-pal exchange pairing Catholic schools in the United States with those in the Holy Land.

“We determined that a very effective way to assure them that we know and care about them and pray for them is to begin a program with our USA Catholic schools and their Franciscan schools in the Holy Land,” said NCCW President Maribeth Stewart.

The first schools to participate are Saint Lawrence School, a pre-K-8 school in West Haven, Connecticut and Terra Sancta College in Bethlehem, which serves preschool through high school students. The grade school students will be the first to take part in the program.

The Holy Land Project has started with younger children exchanging drawings and older students exchanging letters. According to the council, the students have been excited to learn from each other’s culture and explore similar point of interests, like sports, hobbies, family, and faith.

“The students will share this experience with their families and friends and this will help reassure them that we indeed think of and pray for our sisters and brothers in that ancient troubled land,” said Stewart.

The National Council of Catholic Women said the exchange began after women in the Holy Land requested a project to educate U.S. Catholics on the hardships their brothers and sisters face in the Holy Land.

The hardships include discrimination in the job market, confiscation of property, and difficulty in obtaining travel passes to Jerusalem from nearby places such as Bethlehem, the council said, noting the diminishing presence of Catholics in the Holy Land.

“As they told us, in Bethlehem going to Jerusalem is a dream for most of them,” said Stewart.

The women’s council expressed hope that the project will expand to include more grades and more schools as the project develops.

Founded in 1920, the National Council of Catholic Women was developed by the bishops who witnessed the important work of Catholic women’s organizations during World War I. The goal was to strengthen the voice and resources of Catholic women by uniting various organizations.

Today, the council works “to support, empower, and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership, and service.”

– cna

Stephen Hawking says nothing existed before big bang; Christian Astrophysicist Hugh Ross responds

March 6, 2018 by  
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U.S., March 5, 2018: Astrophysicist Hugh Ross of the Christian apologetics group Reasons to Believe has taken issue with the claim of notable British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking that nothing existed before the Big Bang.

In a video published by Popular Science last Friday in which he was interviewed by popular astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, Hawking explained that he did not believe there was anything before the Big Bang, using a geographic analogy.

“One can regard imaginary and real time as beginning at the South Pole, which is a smooth point of space-time where the normal laws of physics hold,” stated Hawking. “There is nothing south of the South Pole, so there was nothing around before the Big Bang.”

In an interview with The Christian Post on Monday, Ross responded that while Hawking was correct that “time has a beginning,” nevertheless “the beginning of time demands a Causal Agent capable of creating time independent of time. It is not enough to simply speculate that imaginary time also exists.”

The president of Reasons to Believe also told CP that the model that Hawking is proposing for the origins of the Universe is problematic in light of modern astronomical observations.

“Not just Hawking’s model but all cosmological models seeking to avoid the need for a transcendent Causal Agent for the universe (aka God) require that the quantum space-time fluctuations during the quantum gravity era (the era when the universe is smaller than the diameter of an electron) must be large,” explained Ross.

“Recent observations showing that the images of distant quasars and blazars are not blurry, but rather are sharp, constrain the size of these quantum space-time fluctuations. The fluctuations are not large enough to escape the need for a Creator who creates space and time or for the universe to have a finite age.”

Ross’s comments come a few days after the release of his most recent book, the fourth edition of The Creator and the Cosmos.

“Astronomer Hugh Ross explains recent scientific measurements of the universe that clearly point to its purposeful origin and development. An abundance of references to published research findings allows you to explore the evidence for yourself,” noted the book’s description on Amazon.

– christian post

Holy See to be ‘hacked’ by first Vatican hackathon

March 4, 2018 by  
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Vatican, March 2, 2018: A “hackathon” is a hacking marathon: a collaborative computer programming event in which a group works under a tight deadline to find software or programming approaches to real-world problems.

On March 8-11, the Vatican will host its first hackathon, VHacks. 120 young adult programmers, graphic designers, project managers, and others from around the world will spend 36 hours “hacking” together over the course of three days.

The Vatican hackathon aims to help leaders develop technological approaches to the needs of social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and migrants and refugees.

Jakub Florkiewicz, co-chairman of VHacks and a student at Harvard Business School, told CNA via email that the hackathon’s mission is “to inspire young people around the world to collaborate across divisions and to use technology to address social issues.”

“We think that technology could improve the scale and efficiency of those organizations which offer support and help to those in need.”

He pointed out that the Church is often at the forefront of helping people in remote places. Because churches “have the world’s most extensive distribution network,” he said, this “can be leveraged to do good.”

The event is being organized by a group of Harvard and MIT students, the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, and OPTIC, a global think-tank working on ethical issues related to disruptive technologies.

Co-organizers are the Pontifical Council for Culture, and the Migrants and Refugee section of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. The event has also gained some big-name tech partners, including Google, Microsoft, and Italian telecommunications company TIM.

Inspiration for the event came, in part, from a remark from Pope Francis in a first-ever papal “Ted Talk” video published last year. He said: “How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion.”

Participants come from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, and Florkiewicz said he is excited “to see how we will be at the forefront of cross-faith collaboration, with representatives of all the world’s major religions, working together to solve problems we all care about.”

One of the event’s missions is to: “Encourage value-based institutions to embrace technology to further their missions.”

“We want to see religion as a binding force, uniting in goodness towards others, not dividing,” Florkiewicz stated.

– cna

‘God did this’- How a 22 year-old Texan began a Catholic school for Uganda’s deaf children

March 2, 2018 by  
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Uganda, March 1, 2018: Rannah Evetts had always wanted to go to Africa. She has no explanation for it, other than that God had planted a deep love of everything Africa in her heart for as long as she can remember.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I would say I was going to Africa, and I didn’t really understand why, and my mom would just call me her little African child because that’s all I would talk about,” Rannah recalled.

Today, Rannah is living out her childhood dream, having founded a Catholic school for deaf children in Uganda at the age of 21.

But it came to fruition in a way she could never have imagined.

Evetts loved to talk about Africa as a little girl. But there was a lot she did not talk about – the sexual abuse she was experiencing and the traumatic consequences she suffered silently for years: depression, suicidal thoughts, self hate and despair.

“Through a lot of hurt and pain that God worked through me,” Evetts told CNA.

Desperately seeking happiness in high school, she threw herself into the party scene, looking for relief.

“I wanted to be happy, I was so tired of hating myself and being miserable, and so when I was a junior in high school I started partying a whole lot…and I quickly realized this isn’t making me happy, I’m just suffering more and more,” she said.

Looking for answers, Evetts started attending different churches with friends and family on the weekends.

Having never been baptized, she bounced around non-denominational Christian churches for a while, but did not feel like she had found the truth until she began looking into the Catholic faith.

“When I was a senior I started RCIA…and through all of that, I gave up drinking, no more parties, I was reading the Bible all the time, and realizing that I just want Jesus. He has to be the cure, because I knew that the world wasn’t,” she said.

When she was baptized at the end of her senior year, Evetts said she felt the presence of Christ, in an indescribable way, in her heart. She felt God calling her to an unfolding mission that would piece together seemingly unconnected parts of her life, including her love for Africa, and her knowledge of American Sign Language.

“It’s hard to explain the real presence that I experienced of Christ inside of me when I did get baptized…and receiving the Eucharist, receiving him in the flesh, I gave up everything, that’s when he opened up the door and said ‘This is what I want you to do and this is why.’”

At her high school in Texas, the only classes offered to fulfill language requirements were Spanish or ASL. Evetts said she joined the sign language class because it was required, she thought it was “cool”, and her sister had taken the same class.

“It was just a requirement, I did not think ever one time that I would do anything with it,” she said, and she even considered dropping the class.

But by her senior year, and as she experienced a conversion, she said God began to pull on her heart through her sign language class, especially when she completed a project on deafness in Uganda.

She learned that the deaf in Uganda are often misunderstood and often mistreated, considered sinners or even cursed. She said that the deaf are often outcast out of malice or because of a lack of resources.

“I relate to the deaf people here because they are outcasted, they’re seen as cursed, they’re seen as sinners, and so they’re shut away from the world kind of, they’re living in this darkness and this silence,” she said.

“And God pulled me to give what he gave me after all of my years of darkness and hating myself and feeling like I had no friends and nobody to talk to, of wanting to die, feeling like I had no purpose in life – all of those things I was struggling with after being sexually abused, God took them and he transforms everything and he said, ‘These I’m turning into graces.’ And with the deaf people here that’s what he did,” she said.

After high school graduation, Evetts flew to Uganda for the first time to work for seven months for an established school for the deaf in the capital city of Kampala. Through that experience, she met a priest in a village in northern Uganda, in an area with hundreds of deaf children and no resources for them.

“I basically just walked back to the sacristy and I was like, ‘Hi Father, I’m Rannah, can I talk to you?’” she recalled.

The initial meeting sparked a conversation that continued for more than a year and a half, while Evetts, the priest, and the local bishop discerned h starting a school for the deaf.

In 2016, Evetts moved to the village for five months to get used to living in the area and adjust to the culture, and to see if her dream could become a reality. By September 2016, the local bishop gave her permission to use an old catechesis building, “and basically he just said ‘begin.’”

By February 2017, the St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf opened its doors for the first time. St. Francis was chosen as the patron because he personally developed a sign language to preach the Gospel and teach the Catholic faith to Martin, a deaf man.

“We are here to promote the education and welfare of the Deaf in the West Nile region,” the school’s mission statement says on their website.

“Most importantly we are here to fulfill a deeper meaning behind Christ’s “Eph’phatha” in Mark’s Gospel: ‘… and looking up to heaven, he [Jesus] sighed, and said to him, “Eph’phatha,” that is, ‘be opened.’ And his ears were opened, his tongue was released and he spoke plainly.’”

“The deaf are often outcasts in Ugandan society; isolated, deprived of their rights, and looked down upon by hearing people. They are more exposed to being raped, abused, and neglected by society. They are often thought of as stupid, cursed, and many parents still think it is a waste of money to send them to school,” the statement continues.

“We are here to break this cultural stigma, provide quality education, and give our Deaf students the most precious thing in this world: Jesus Christ.”

Evetts said she was most moved by her love for God to give language to those who otherwise could not speak.

“I didn’t think I would do anything with [sign language], but it’s like everyday [God] reveals more and more why I’m doing what I’m doing,” she said.

“I knew I wanted to evangelize, I knew I wanted to share the word of God with people and what he did in my life. It’s so huge what he did for me, that you can’t not share that with people! I’m a convert and I’m on fire, you know? It’s like, ‘no, I’ve been to the other side, trust me!’”

But it hasn’t been easy. The school is open to children ages 3-14, and the age range brings a variety of needs. When they first arrive, most of the children have no way of communicating their needs, their thoughts, their experiences, pain or ideas.

“All of a sudden they’re being thrown into this and they have no idea what’s going on, so we have kids who are trying to run away, a lot of our kids just cried seeing me because they’ve never seen whatever I am, and the everyday challenge of bringing them a language…it was incredibly difficult,” Evetts said.

It also came with times of personal darkness and challenge for Evetts, who was the only foreigner in her village, the only woman living at the parish, and the only person from her culture in the area. She would also often feel overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility on her shoulders.

“I have a lot of thanks to give to my mom, because I would tell her ‘I want to come home Mom, because I don’t know what I’m doing,’ and she would stick with me and pray with me,” she said.

She was also still struggling with anxiety attacks and the painful healing of the abuse in her past.

“I want to tell you this because…it shows God’s goodness, because there were days when I couldn’t do this. I’m 22 years old and I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m the leader of all of this thing and I’m working in another country and having my own problems… that I’m dealing with and alone in that silence with God,” Evetts said.

There were several weeks at a time where she felt like she was literally unable to get out of bed in the morning.

“But I want to share that with you because it shows that God did this. You say ‘yes’ to God and he does it, he fulfills it, because this is his school and this is his mission,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but he’s here and he’s got this all under control.”

The transformation she and the staff began seeing in the students throughout the year was incredible, she said.

Children came to them having been raped, abused or neglected because of their disability, and were transformed in personality and behavior as they started acquiring a language.

At the beginning of the year, many parents reluctantly sent their children to the boarding school, believing it impossible to educate a deaf child. But on the night after the first term ended, and the children went home for the first time, parents started calling the school in amazement.

“They were like, ‘there’s stuff written in [their notebooks]! There’s grades!’ And then their kids are signing all this stuff to their parents, and these parents are like ‘we don’t know what our kids are saying but they know stuff, and they’re talking with their hands!’”

“And so they’re really seeing the evidence of this works, so its a real encouragement for the parents,” Evetts said.

The school has just begun its second year, with 50 students enrolled. It was recently licensed, and the plan is to eventually find enough land to build a boarding school for more than 300 nursery and primary school deaf students in the area.

Evetts said the way the local community has embraced the school with love has been encouraging. As the only white person in the area, Evetts said it automatically brings her a lot of attention, which in turn lets her bring that attention to her work with deaf children.

“God uses that, then I get to explain about sign language and about deafness and how awesome it is. We’re walking around town, playing games with the students, using sign language, and people just gawk and stare–like what? White people know this language too?” Evetts said. “This year I’ve had volunteers come and it’s more people knowing sign language and giving it attention, and Caritas is now helping sponsor our school, so it’s just been growing and I see that the community has really taken us on, and it really has been great.”

Evetts said the most rewarding part of the experience has been how God has used her ‘yes’ and the ‘yes’ of her staff members to transform lives and to do something that they would be unable to accomplish without him.

“The closer you get to God in his silence, that’s where he reveals himself, that’s his language,” she said. “And not only that, he reveals you to you–he draws that out of you, and I really learned that the closer I came to him, he just showed me – ‘this is why I put this desire in you, and this is how I’m going to use your sufferings or your vices and this is how I’m going to transform it.’”

“It was all him.”

– cna

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