Barnabas Prayer Focus: Uzbek, Africa & Kazakh

August 31, 2013 by  
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Uzbekistan – Christian children’s camp raided

Christian children’s camp raidedChildren at a Christian camp were subjected to questioning, and the homes of the camp’s organisers searched, when it was raided by the authorities. Four bus-loads of officials, including police officers and riot police, descended on the camp in Mironkul, Samarkand region, on 23 July.

Police officers brandishing rubber batons collected statements from all 9 adults and 22 children present, including small children. Although all involved were eventually released, equipment and Christian resources were confiscated, and it is thought that charges will be brought against the camp’s four organisers. The homes of these four were searched, and further items, including Bibles, were seized. Harsh laws exist in Uzbekistan to regulate religious activity, including the unauthorised holding of children’s meetings and the teaching of religious beliefs without official permission.

Pray for the peace of the Lord to come upon all who were present during the raid, particularly the children, who may have been traumatised by what they have experienced. Give thanks for those who conduct children’s ministry in Uzbekistan despite the danger they are putting themselves in, and pray that the children to whom they minister will grow up to be strong men and women of God. Pray that legal proceedings against the leaders of the camp will not continue, and for greater freedom for Christians in Uzbekistan to carry out their ministry in peace.

Central African Republic – Islamist rebels attack Christian villages

Islamist rebels attack Christian villagesOur Christian brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic (CAR) continue to suffer at the hands of Islamist rebels who seized control of the country in March. At least 15 Christians were killed, and around 1,000 people displaced, in raids on 14 Christian villages in Bouar in early August. Eye-witnesses reported that the rebels threw the bodies of those killed, who included a five-month-old baby, into a river.

A senior Christian leader, the Rev. Nicolas Guerékoyamé, was arrested in Bangui, the capital, for criticising the new regime during a sermon. The church leader has spoken out against the regime for failing to take action against the militants who are persecuting civilians. Since the military coup, the rebels have been rampaging through the country, killing and raping innocent people and looting their property. In general, they have targeted Christian areas and spared Muslim ones.

Pray that the cruel and merciless activities of the Seleka rebels will be brought to an end, and that stability will soon be brought to CAR. Pray that Mr Guerékoyamé will be released and that the government will allow freedom of speech to all CAR’s citizens. The country’s new leader has said privately that he wants to make CAR, which is around 50% Christian and only 15% Muslim, an Islamic republic. Pray that he will not succeed in making 85% of the country’s population second-class citizens.

Kazakhstan – Detained pastor at risk of psychiatric abuse

Pastor Bakhytzhan KashkumbayevPlease continue to pray for Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev, a pastor who has been in prison in Kazakhstan since May for “inflicting serious harm to health”, following a complaint made by a church member’s mother. Lyazzat Alamova’s mother claimed her daughter suffered psychological harm after attending the pastor’s church; Lyazzat herself has repeatedly rejected the claim.

Pastor Kashkumbayev has launched a hunger strike and appealed to the UN to protect him from psychiatric abuse by the authorities. A police investigator has ordered that the pastor be transferred to a psychiatric assessment centre, where the church leader fears that “special substances” will be used to make him insane. His concerns are not without grounds; when the allegations were originally made, Lyazzat was given unspecified injections to make her passive.

Pray that the Lord will protect Pastor Kashkumbayev from harm by the authorities and give him the strength to face whatever tactics are used against him.

– barnabas team

Don’t Give in to Your Fears

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Do not Fear“From such terrible dangers of death he saved us, and will save us; and we have placed our hope in him that he will save us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:10 TEV)

God is watching over you, so don’t listen to your fears.

This is a choice. Trust God, and don’t give in to your fears.

2 Corinthians 1:10 says, “From such terrible dangers of death he saved us, and will save us; and we have placed our hope in him that he will save us again” (TEV).

Do not FearGod’s promise to believers is that, no matter what happens to us, he is working for our good if we love him and follow him. If you’re a believer, the Bible says all things are working together for good not that all things are good but that they are working together for good.

That means we can stop listening to our fears.

There is no difficulty, dilemma, defeat, or disaster in the life of a believer that God can’t ultimately get some good out of.

There is no need to fear the future.

Do not FearYour fears reveal where you do not trust God.

Today, make a list of your fears, and ask God to help you identify why you have fear in those areas.

Then, ask him to help you replace your fears with trust.

Now, this next step is important: Expect God to start helping you learn to trust him with each fear.

Then, watch to see how he helps you.

Talk It Over

  • What fears have you identified?
  • Why do you trust God in some areas and not in others?
  • When have you seen God come through when you thought he wouldn’t?

– fwd: vc mathews

Don't Give in to Your Fears

Priest accuses military of cover-up after activist’s death

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Philippines, August 29, 2013: Witnesses come forward in numbers to testify.

Tampakan mineA Mindanao priest has accused the military of concealing the truth after last Friday’s shooting of an anti-mining tribal leader and his son.

According to the military’s version of the incident, Anteng Freay and his 17-year-old son Victor died during a gunfight with soldiers at the Tampakan copper-gold mining site, owned by Sagittarius Mines Inc.

But Father Joy Pelino, head of the social action center in the local diocese of Merbel, asserts that the Freays were killed before an exchange of gunfire ensued between the soldiers and armed tribesmen.

“The armed encounter happened only after the soldiers killed the two,” Fr Pelino says in his independent report. The report also states that a total of 134 empty shells, fired from several different high-powered weapons, were found around the hut where the Freays were sheltering.

Rene Pamplona, advocacy officer at the social action center, says 10 witnesses have already come forward to testify against the soldiers.

Military spokesman Capt William Rodriguez has reacted defiantly to the diocese’s claims. He claims that the spent shells were fired by the activists, not the soldiers, and the activists were the aggressors. He added that the military will be filing a counter-complaint.

“We are open to any investigation,” he said. “We want to show that we are for peace.”

Commenting on the incident on Thursday, the Philippine Misereor Partnership, a faith-based network, issued a statement saying the killings “might not have happened” if the government had acted on the findings of a human rights impact assessment on the proposed mining site.

This assessment was commissioned by the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation and the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund. Redemptorist priest Oliver Castor, a Misereor project officer, said the government has taken no concrete action to address the findings.

Since they were presented in June, two further activist killings have taken place at the Tampakan site, which is thought to be the largest known undeveloped copper-gold reserve in Southeast Asia.

– ucanews

Manipur tribe sets world record for mass Bible reading

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Manipur tribe sets world record for mass Bible readingManipur, August  30, 2013: This was approved by record bodies such as the Limca Book of Records, Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records.

The Gangte tribe in Manipur has set the world record for the largest mass bible reading.

This was approved by record bodies such as the Limca Book of Records, Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records.

Gangte leaders informed that the process is on to enter in the Guinness Book of Record.

Addressing media persons at the Manipur Press Club on Friday, an elated L S Gangte, Chairman of the Gangte Christian Gospel Centenary Committee, Manipur said, “The achievement is significant not only for the Gangte community, but also for the whole state of Manipur.”

He added that it is a moment of joy and happiness for the community “as the record has been achieved on the soil of Manipur.”

Determined to set a record, 7047 participants took part in the mass bible reading as part of the Gangte Gospel Centenary celebration on December 16, 2012 at Chiengkonpang in Churachandpur district of Manipur.

Braving the cold wintry breeze, participants read the entire book of Romans from Chapter 01-16, starting at 1:27pm. The reading concluded at 2:53pm, taking a duration of 1.27 hours.

The reading was witnessed by Maniram Sharma, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Churachandpur and L Mangkhogin Haokip, Superintendent of Police for Churachandpur.

A press note informed that it was organized with the aim to involve all participants who took part in the centenary celebration.

“The main aim of the mass Bible Reading was to spread the Gospel throughout the Seven Seas,” Rev K Mawia said.

– morung express

Hollywood biopic on Mother Teresa

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Kolkata, August 29, 2013: The film is shot mostly in Goa and at the Vatican.

Mother TeresaA Hollywood biopic on Mother Teresa will hit the international screens in March next year.

The Letters is an independently produced feature film based on the real-life letters Mother Teresa wrote to a longtime spiritual director over the years.

Written and directed by William C. Riead, film stars Juliet Stevenson of Bend It Like Beckham fame in the lead role of Mother Teresa.

The other iconic names are Max von Sydow who has shared screen presence with the likes of Ingrid Bergman, and Golden Globe award winner Rutger Hauer.

Another iconic name associated with the film is that of the DOP of the film, Jack Green, who has been Clint Eastwood’s longtime cinematographer.

Apparently Mother Teresa used to slip out of her Cloister to help the poor people against the rules.

The film is said to be a labor of love and passion for William who sold his house to make this film.

“Working with William Riead and Jack Greene was an unbelievable experience and of course the hugely talented Juliet Stevenson was just such an honor!” shared Mahabanoo, who portrays the role of Mother General, in between shuttling continents.

She gushes about the professional and easy-going nature of the Hollywood directors vis-a-vis the scene at Bollywood where there’s so much of secrecy regarding scripts and non-disclosure issues.

Interestingly her son Kaizaad Kotwal (of Inkaar fame) too has a role in the film.

He plays the Archbishop of Calcutta, Archbishop Perrier.

Sharing about how he landed the role Kaizaad said, “We auditioned in early 2012 and the shooting was done in Goa. William spoke to us over Skype and we were on!”

Among the other prominent names is Kolkata girl Tilottama Shome, who recently grabbed eyeballs with her performance in Q’s Tasher Desh, who plays the role of Kavita.

Sharing details about her role Tilottama said, “I play this woman who is antagonistic toward this strange foreign lady and how a very human, intimate contact leads to a change of heart. For me the experience of working in this film goes beyond the filming. Having been a Kolkata girl I have grown up knowing about Mother Teresa.”

“What really made me think in this movie is how we live in our respective factions and groups, suspicious and antagonistic toward the ‘other’. I like doing films that make me think. And the best part of working on Letters was its amazing international and Indian cast. Juliet Stevenson was a gift to watch,” she added.

The film is shot mostly in Goa and at the Vatican.

Kolkata apparently missed the bus due to its infamous image of being chaotic and having issues over permits.

The outdoor shots of the city were taken and the indoors were replicated in Goa.

– times of india

Why has Zubin Mehta concert become a raging controversy in Kashmir?

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Zubin Mehta OrchestraSrinagar, August 29, 2013: It’s a bizarre case of a concert becoming controversial in a land known for poets, singers and musicians for ages. But, those opposing the Sept 7 concert here of the Bavarian State Orchestra conducted by the India-born and world-renowned Zubin Mehta believe they have valid reasons to do so.

German ambassador to India Michael Steiner announced that the concert would be held in the famous Shalimar Garden on the banks of the Dal Lake. And, for a concert of this standing, Kashmir was expected to host a national and international audience of music lovers.

Normally, anybody who loves music or has even a remote sense of aesthetic appreciation would like to attend the concert for the sheer fame of the person conducting it.

Composes like Beethoven, Hayden and Tchaikovsky are not unheard of in Kashmir, although Western classical music definitely doesn’t have many followers here.

“But, as world-famous sitar maestro Ravi Shankar once said, music has no language. It catches your imagination and holds you spellbound whether or not you understand the finer points”, said a local singer/musician who did not want to be named for obvious reasons.

Kashmiri separatist leaders as also the local Grand Mufti and civil society members have opposed the Zubin Mehta concert for political reasons. The first statement against the concert came on expected lines from hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who said an international event like this would tends to give legitimacy to Indian rule in Kashmir.

Geelani also referred to an international cricket match in Kashmir between India and West Indies in 1983 when some locals stormed the field and had dug up the pitch to stop the match.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the chairman of the moderate separatist Hurriyat group, said in his statement that instead of spending huge sums of money on holding the concert, the German ambassador would do better by trying to help education, healthcare and the other needs of the Kashmiri people.

Grand Mufti Basher-ud-Din, who had previously hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons for opposing an all-girls’ music band, said holding the Zubin Mehta concert in a “disputed land would convey a wrong signal internationally…(that) Kashmiris have enough prosperity and leisure to attend an event like this”.

Interestingly, the Grand Mufti said he had initially decided not to comment on the event, but had been approached by social and religious groups to speak on the issue as a religious head.

Civil society members said in a statement: “Germany must accept the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and recognise the pain and legitimate political and legal struggle of its people.”

Despite the opposition to the event, sources in the state government said it has been decided to hold the event anyway.

“Not holding the event after opposition from separatists would send out a disturbing signal. Well, the separatists would not want any cultural activity to be held in Kashmir as that is not part of their agenda”, said a senior ruling National Conference leader here.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has so far maintained a discreet silence on the opposition to the concert.

Known otherwise for posting quick comments on his widely-followed Twitter site on separatist campaigns, Abdullah has steered clear of getting involved in a war of attrition with the separatists over the event.

Well, not many people believe Kashmir would explode in some sort of a violent frenzy if a musician conducts his orchestra in Kashmir. Nor does anybody believe that holding the concert would change the ground realities here.

– ians

Australia: Islamic Cleric Hate Speech could incite – Police

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Australia, August 23, 2013: An online video of an Australian Islamic cleric calling for Hindus and Buddhists to be killed is under investigation by South Australian police.

Sheikh Sharif Hussein“The YouTube clip is an edited version of a longer sermon. Police will examine the entire content of the sermon to gain the full context and determine whether any crime has been committed,” a statement said.

The video, published last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), contains excerpts from a sermon by Australian cleric Sheikh Sharif Hussein. He attacks and curses Jews, Australian troops, former Prime Minister John Howard, and President Obama.

He calls Australian soldiers “crusader pigs” and accuses them of helping British and American troops rape women in Iraq, claiming that “The Australian participation in the Crusaders’ war on Iraq is 6 per cent. This is out of approximately 365,000 Crusader pigs sent to Iraq, during the term of (Mr Howard), Allah’s wrath be upon him.”

He also threatens President Obama: “Listen, oh Obama, oh enemy of Allah, you who kiss the shoes and feet of the Jews. Listen! The day will come when you are trampled upon by the pure feet of the Muslims.” Finally, he exhorts “Oh Allah, count the Buddhists and the Hindus one by one. Oh Allah, count them and kill them to the very last one.”

The MEMRI clip is from a March 22 sermon, delivered during Friday prayers at the Islamic Da’wah Centre of South Australia. Wagdy Elgeezawy of the Da’wah center said Hussein’s comments were not intended to incite violence but rather “were a call for Allah to exact revenge against those who commit war crimes against Muslims.” He claims that the MEMRI video was “selectively edited by pro-Jewish elements and calculated to portray Islam in a bad light.”

Hussein is certainly not the first Australian radical preacher to make such comments. Ibrahim Saddiq Conlan called for the overthrow of the Australian legal system, noting that “Democracy is evil, the parliament is evil and legislation is evil.” Sheik Haron openly promoted jihad against the West and celebrated the deaths of Australians in war and in the Victorian bushfires. Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali claimed that women who do not wear the hijab are like “uncovered meat.”

A 2007 report claimed that Australia had a larger percentage of Muslim youth at risk of turning to radical Islam than any other Western nation, noting that there were “3,000 in ‘ideological sleeper cells’ in Sydney alone.”

Waleed Alkhazrajy, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of South Australia, added that he hopes the video does not provoke retribution. “We don’t want people to misunderstood these remarks and believe this represents the wider Muslim community view, and then they start to attack members of our community…” In fact, the inevitable outcome is that the incitement issue is soon sidelined and the focus shifts to police fearing for Sheikh Sharif Hussein’s safety.

– ipt

Do we treat family differently?

August 30, 2013 by  
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I ran into a stranger as he passed by, “Oh excuse me please” was my reply.
She said, “Please excuse me too; I wasn’t watching for you.”

Polite With  StrangerWe were very polite. This stranger and I we went on our way and we said goodbye.

But at home a different story is told. How we treat our loved ones – young and old ?

Later that day, cooking the evening meal, my son stood beside me very still. When I turned, I nearly knocked him down. “move out of the way”, I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken. I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken. While I lay awake in bed, God’s still small voice came to me and said –

“While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use. But the family you love, you seem to abuse.
Go and look on the kitchen floor, you’ll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you. He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.
He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise, you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.”

LoveBy this time, I felt very small. And now my tears began to fall.
I quietly went and knelt by his bed, “wake up, little one, wake up,” I said. “Are these the flowers you picked for me?”

He smiled – “I found ’em, out by the tree. I picked ’em because they’re pretty like you, I knew you’d like ’em, especially the blue.”

I said, “Son, I’m very sorry for the way I acted today. I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.

” He said, “Oh, Mom, that’s okay, I love you anyway.”

I said, “Son, I love you too. And I do like the flowers, especially the blue.”

Mother and SonAre you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days.

But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives.

And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than into our own family. An unwise investment indeed. Don’t you think?

So what is behind the moral of the story?

Do you know what the word FAMILY means?

– fwd: ceasar / aaron

Christian mother kidnapped and sexually abused in Somalia

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al-Shabaab militants in Somalia Africa, August 29, 2013: Suspected al-Shabaab militants in Somalia have kidnapped and sexually abused a young Christian mother and sent threatening messages to her husband because of their faith.

Shamsa Enow Hussein (28), who has two daughters, aged 5 and 3, was abducted outside her home in Bulo Marer by three masked men on 5 August.

Her husband, Mohamed Isse Osman (31), told Morning Star News that he heard his wife and children screaming as he approached the house.

His captured wife was able to send him a text message that night; it said:

Please leave immediately because of what we believe. They have abused me sexually saying I am an infidel.

Mohamed heeded her call, taking their two children to another town. He has received threatening text messages from Shamsa’s kidnappers, one of which said:

Your wife has told us all about your Christian involvement and soon we shall come for you too.

Al-Shabaab reportedly has a base in Bulo Marer. The Islamist militant group is fighting against the Somali government; it did control much of the south of the country but lost control of several areas following military intervention by neighbouring Kenya and other African Union troops.

Al-Shabaab’s battle against Somali Christians, however, shows no sign of weakening. They monitor those suspected of having converted from Islam and kill them.

In June, Hassan Hurshe (28) was publicly assassinated by al-Shabaab militants in the town of Jilib.

Mursal Isse Siad (55) and Fartun Omar (42), a Christian couple, were killed in separate incidents. First, Mursal was shot dead outside his home in Beledweyne in December 2012. Then his widow was gunned down at a roadblock in Buulobarde in April as she was trying to flee with the couple’s five children, who have been left as orphans.

It is so dangerous to be a Christian in Somalia that believers have to meet in secrecy. Apostasy, leaving Islam, is punishable by death, a penalty that al-Shabaab enforces extra-judicially.

– morning star news / barnabas team

Open letter to CM: AP Churches against Government Law on Church Properties

August 30, 2013 by  
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Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches

Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy,
Hon. Chief Minister,
A.P. Secretariat.
Hyderabad – 500022

Sub: “Official Stand and Views of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches on enacting a Law for the Regulation of Church Properties”.

Ref:  G.O. Rt. No. 3696 dated 17-08-2013 of General Administration (Cabinet) Department – Constituting Group of Ministers for enacting a legislation on Christian Properties and Educational Institutes

Honorable Chief Minister,

Greetings from Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC), which is a state-level apex body of Archbishops / Bishops / Church Heads of the mainline Churches and major Christian Denominations representing the Christian Community in the State.

Through the G.O. referred above the Government of A.P. has “constituted a Group of Ministers for examining the proposal for enacting a separate legislation to protect the properties of Christian missionaries and educational institutions.”

In this connection, we wish to submit to you the official view of A.P. Federation of Churches (APFC) regarding the enactment of a legislation on Christian properties. After much reflection and due deliberation, the APFC had prepared a Position Paper titled: “Official Stand and Views of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches on enacting a Law for the Regulation of Church Properties”. It was already submitted to you through our APFC letter dated 15-12-2011 and was the seal of acknowledgement was obtained in the Office of the Chief Minister on 23-12-2011. Kindly find the same in the file-attachment for your kind consideration and perusal.

Respected Sir, we humbly request you to give due weight to the views of the APFC headed by Archbishops / Bishops as it legitimately represents the Churches and Christian Community of the State. Individual Christians, even if they happen to be MLAs or holding any other high position, cannot claim to represent the Christian Community. The APFC opposes government legislation on Church properties and any form of government control over the properties of Christian Educational Institutions. As you are aware, formation of any sort of Board / Council for Christians by the Government with a view to regulate or exercise control over their affairs would only go against Articles 26-30 of our Constitution.

While thanking you and the Government of A.P. for your concern for safeguarding the Church properties, we request you consider seriously the views of the APFC on the matter and not to proceed further without consulting the Archbishops / Bishops and taking them into confidence.

Soliciting your valuable support, and assuring you of our cooperation and prayers,

Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthoniraj Thumma & Mr. B. Danam IAS (Retd)

Executive Secretaries, A.P. Federation of Churches (APFC)

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