CSF: Pak Government Must Announce Relief & Rehab

September 26, 2013 by  
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The CSF calls for 29th September to be Observed as Pakistan Prayer Day
PM needs to take up Pak Christian issue with Pak PM at NY UN Meet
Repatriate: We Can Take Care of Our Pak Brothers & Sisters
CSF Appeal to International Community – Stop Genocide
The CSF: Indian Christians Want to Visit Pak Victims

Joseph DiasThe Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the Mumbai based activist community organization has urged the Pakistani High Commissioner, Mr. Salman Basheer in New Delhi to assist in organizing a delegation of Indian Christians to Peshawar to express solidarity with the victims of the blasts that killed over 80 Christians and others. According to Joseph Dias, the CSF general secretary, ” Christians in Pakistan are the most targeted minority, unlike Hindus, Shias or Sikhs because they are soft targets and get caught in the political and fanatical crossfire. Pakistani Christians are not only targeted by fundamentalists, but also by local Pakistanis under blasphemy laws, with the government not acting effectively against such human rights violations. Hundreds of CSF activists have in an email protest called upon the Pakistan government to punish the fanatics and deal with Islamic terrorism with a firm hand.

Joseph Dias has also called upon the Indian government to take up the case with Pakistan, since many of the Christians are of Indian origin and either migrated or were forced to stay back after 1947 partition and hence, the Indian government cannot absolve its responsibility. The CSF has sent an SOS memorandum to the Indian Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister too. ” The Christian community in Pakistan has contributed in a big way, rendering educational, medical and social services to mainly the Muslim community. The burning of a church and St Paul’s High School in Mardan, near Peshawar proves that the Pakistan government has no control over the fundamentalists. After Friday prayers, we have reports that the homes of two priests and the school’s headmaster were also destroyed. We would not mind taking care of the victims, if the Pakistan and Indian government allows Pakistani Christians to settle here, rather than use them as fodder for the fundamentalists “, Joseph Dias said.

The CSF has called upon the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan to immediately announce monetary dispensation to the next of kin of those dead and adequate compensation to rebuild the burnt down and destroyed institutions. The CSF has called upon the international community and human rights NGOs not to remain silent and take up the issue with the Pakistan government, as there is no guarantee that the situation will not be repeated in the future. ” One finds it difficult to believe that the Pakistan intelligence had no advance clue of genocide to take place on such a large scale. Minorities are at the mercy of the Muslims, with no protection and the world needs to react to this reality. Blasphemy Law must be repealed as it is being misused against the minorities to settle personal disputes, as we have observed. Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister in the former government was shot dead only because he was pressing for a reform in Blasphemy Law “, Joseph Dias added.

What really matters & Hot Air

September 4, 2013 by  
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WHAT REALLY MATTERS

What really mattersCarl Coleman was driving to work one morning when he bumped fenders with another motorist. Both cars stopped and a woman driving the other car got up to survey the damage. She was distraught. It was her fault, she admitted, and hers was a new car, less than two days from the showroom, a gift from her husband, whom she now dreaded facing.

Coleman was sympathetic; but he had to pursue the exchange of license and registration data. She reached into her glove compartment to retrieve the documents in an envelope.

On the first paper to tumble out, written in her husband’s distinctive hand, were these reassuring words, “In case of accident, remember, honey, it’s YOU I love, not the car!”

HOT AIR

Automobile TiresThe master was certainly not a stickler for etiquette and good manners but there was always a natural courtesy and grace in his dealings with others.

A young disciple once was very rude to a toll collector as he drove the Master home one night. In self-defense he said, “I’d rather be myself and let people know exactly how I feel. Politeness is nothing but a lot of hot air anyway.”

“True enough,” replied the Master pleasantly, “but that’s what we have in our automobile tires and see how it eases the bumps.”

– fwd: reuben tellis

Marvin Gaye

 

Odisha: Rally for Peace & Justice in Kandhamal

September 4, 2013 by  
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Rally in KandhamalOdisha, August 31, 2013: Thousands of tribals and dalits of Kandhamal district came in a procession from the Madikaunda Chhak to the Coronation Field of the district headquarters here on Friday demanding urgent steps to ensure justice and peace in Kandhamal as well as in other districts of the State.

Later, the tribals under the banner of the Kandhamal Nyaya Samhati O Sadbhavana Samaj staged a rally in front of the district Collectorate here. The members of the organisation said the violent attacks on them are still continuing unabated since 1960 with tacit support from the State machinery. The delay in taking necessary steps against fanatics has further fuelled violence against minorities, they added.

Among others, president of the programme Praful Pradhan, Father Ajaya Kumar Singh, human rights activist Dhirendra Panda, Dr Prasad of NCDHR, social activist Prafulla Samantara and Jugalkishore Ranjit of Minority Rights Forum (Odisha) took the lead of the rally. Father Ajaya said the victims have been suffering from various socioeconomic constraints and difficulties after five years of the Kandhamal communal violence.

There is serious dissatisfaction brewing among the affected community, he added. The KNSSS submitted a memorandum to the President of India through Kandhamal Collector N Tirumala Nayak. The 35 points in the memorandum included establishment of a State-level Minority Commission, proper relief and rehabilitation for the victims of communal violence in Kandhamal and Gajapati districts and adequate measures for restoration of life and liberty as well as security and dignity of Christians in the State.

– the pioneer

Bagalkote: Hindu fanatics attack Church & beat Pastor

September 4, 2013 by  
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Attack on a Christian church in KarnatakaKarnataka, August 31, 2013: Pastor Samson, 33, is in charge of Jehovah Shalom Prayer House, a church in Basavanagar, ILKAL Taluk of Bagalkote District in Northern Karnataka. It is a House Church with a congregation of about 25 believers. He has been serving the Lord during the last 10 years along with his wife, Mrs. Shanthi, and three daughters – Jerisha – 9, Lydia Grace – 4, and Swaroopa – 2. Pastor Samson is basically from Andhra Pradesh and was a Hindu before he accepted Christ 15 years ago. Earlier, he was living in Doddaballapur, Bangalore Rural District, serving the Lord and ministering to the spiritual needs of the people in Doddaballapur for about 10 years. Two months ago he felt the call of God to go to Bagalkote district and serve the Lord at Basavanagar in ILKAL.

On Saturday, 00-08-2-13, at about 10 in the morning when the prayer was going on in the church, about 30 Hindu fundamentalists entered the church and attacked the pastor and some believers and beat them up mercilessly. They began shouting at the pastor alleging him of forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity. They pinned him down on the ground and kicked and punched him all over his body without sparing even his private parts and causing lacerations all over his body.

They beat him so badly that one of his ears started bleeding and his eye had the inner bleeding. In addition to that the rabid Hindu fundamentalists went to the Ilkal Police Station and also lodged a complaint against the pastor alleging forcible conversion of Hindus. In the same condition, the pastor too went to the police station along with some believers to file a complaint against the Hindu radicals, but the police refused to accept their complaint.

From the police station the believers took the pastor to the Kulakarni Eye hospital which is about 2 kms away from the house where the doctor advised him that his eye should be operated as it had inner bleeding and clotting inside the eye which is also affecting his vision. He is also under treatment for his bleeding ear and other bruises. Please pray for him.

– persecution.in

Karwar: Pastor chased out of village for his faith

September 4, 2013 by  
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KarwarKarnataka, August 31, 2013: Pastor Devu Kanu Pale Gowli, 33, is the pastor of a House Church, Blessing Ministry Church, at Kauthoor village, Mundgodu Taluk of Karwar District in Karnataka. He lives with his wife, Jaya, 26, and a one month old baby boy. He is from an orthodox Hindu background belonging to the Gowli caste, originally hailing from Maharashtra. Pastor Devu accepted Christ about 8 years ago and committed himself to serve Christ in all respects. He also went to a bible college to study and know more about the teachings of Christ.

When he came back, he began sharing the gospel message with his family members, relatives, friends and others in and around his village. People began to accept Christ and he also started a House Church in a believer’s house. Many people started accepting Christ in that village, but the members of his family and relatives did not want to accept Christ and so they also did not want Pastor Devu to share the gospel message in the village. They began to torture him and his wife.

Subsequently, all of them got together and joined hands with the radical groups who continued to torture the pastor and his wife, beat them up and do everything possible to force them to reconvert them to Hinduism. But when they failed in all their attempts, they banned them from their family and also from their village, Chitigeri village where they had been living till then. They also strictly warned them not even to see or meet their parents. The Hindu fundamentalists also filed a complaint at the Mundgod Police Station alleging Pastor Devu and his wife of forcible conversion of Hindus to Christianity based on which they were arrested and kept in the police station for some time along with their infant. A lawyer was appointed who went to the police station and got them released subsequently.

The saddest part of the whole story is that not only he was chased out of the house and the village, the rabid Hindu fanatics did not allow his family to give him anything, and added to that they also destroyed a sewing machine with which he was earning his daily bread, since he had also made a name as a good and an honest tailor.Since the pastor was literally on the streets along with his wife and a little child, the members of his congregation requested him to move into the church which is still under repairs. The present House Church is still without a door and the windows as they do not have money enough to complete it. Please pray for them.

Believers attacked and Church burnt & razed to the ground in Hassan

September 4, 2013 by  
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Karnatak ChristiansKarnataka, August 31, 2013: Pastor Annaiah is in charge of Zion Prayer Mandira, a church at Narasipur village in Belur Taluk of Hassan District in Karnataka. He has a congregation of about 250 believers and he has been looking after their spiritual needs during the last 10 years. All the believers originally belong to the Bhovi community, a sub-caste among the Scheduled Castes in the Hindu fold.

The Hindu fundamentalists recently burnt down the church and razed it to the ground. They also attacked the believers and the neighbours who were present at the moment there and protested against the high-handed behavior of the rabid Hindu fanatics. Added to this the culprits also filed a false complaint against the pastor alleging that he has been forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity against their will. But when the pastor also filed a complaint about the burning down of their church and the attack against the believers, the police did not accept their complaint.

The police, along with the Hindu radicals, have stopped the prayer services by the Christians in the village and have also warned them not to conduct any prayer meetings in any of the houses in the village. Having practically lost everything, the pastor is in search of another place to build a new church.

Time for real Church action on Philippines corruption

September 3, 2013 by  
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Philippines, August 30, 2013: Attending rallies and demos is no longer enough.

Church action on Philippines corruptionBusiness woman Janet Lim-Napoles has finally turned herself in to the president following a bounty from Benigno Aquino himself and accusations she embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds. Lawmakers and state officials are deeply implicated. Meanwhile, people have voiced their protests against corruption, both on the internet and in person with a ‘million people” march in Manila and across the rest of the Philippines on Monday.

Among the crowds were priests, nuns, seminarians and even Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle himself, who asked for everyone to remember the poor amid these scandals.

What’s next in this corruption scandal which has captured the country’s collective imagination?

People are skeptical. Many have posted on social media sites that nothing will come of it. Others, even more cynical after years of government sponsored graft, say it’s all part of a script in an age-old game of corruption that has destroyed the moral fiber of the Philippines.

And what does it say about the Church in Asia’s only majority Catholic nation?

Aside from reports that some leading members of the clergy benefited from the anomalous “pork barrel” available to every legislator (supposedly for development projects,) there are other institutions that have hardly bathed themselves in glory.

This week, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, an influential organization of missionaries and religious congregations, voiced its opposition to making Napoles a state witness, which is a necessity if the Philippines is to get to the heart of what is believed to be rampant and widespread state corruption.

Other leading religious figures have been more in tune with the public mood. Benedictine nun Mary John Mananzan said Napoles “does not deserve immunity” even if she can be instrumental in ferreting out the truth – and therefore the officials – behind these multimillion dollar scams. Recent audits showed less than 20 percent of development monies have been spent properly and Napoles is linked to embezzlements totaling an estimated US$230 million.

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila warned against “efforts to divert” the public’s attention to the case of Napoles instead of focusing on the need to abolish entirely the “pork barrel” system which gives 200 million pesos ($4.5 million) to each of the country’s 24 senators and 70 million pesos to 294 Lower House lawmakers, supposedly to develop the country.

“The real issue here is… about the pork barrel and the lawmakers who are traitors to the country,” said Pabillo.

The new head of the country’s Catholic bishops’ conference Archbishop Socrates Villegas agreed, saying that the issue is not just about the shameless corruption of government officials, but morality. And when it comes to morality, Church people surely have to speak up.

Villegas hit the nail on the head when he said that part of the problem is “the diminishing relevance and eroding credibility of moral shepherds.

“It is the failure of religion to make morality and ethics the foundation of all human actions and endeavors, after almost five hundred years of Gospel presence,” he added.

Indeed, what have the country’s bishops and priests and other Church leaders done all these years? This must sound naive, or plain stupid, but in a country where about 90 percent of people claim to be Christian or Catholic, how does this unbridled, unChristian and immoral cheating of the poor continue?

It is time for noisy bishops, clergy, nuns and seminarians to examine their consciences regarding their role in a Church that is supposed to be for and of the poor. Is attending rallies and demonstrations enough? Is it the most that they can do to respond to the call by Pope Francis to get out their comfort zones?

Villegas said Church leaders must “take responsibility for our failure to teach, and to take fresh new steps to restore morality in public and private life, which is a vital component of the Church’s mission.”

In what could be a painful admission, he said: “We brother priests have failed to inspire our people to imitate Christ. We have failed to lead them to intimacy with him. Are our parishioners angered by the violation of the Commandments ‘Thou shall not steal’ and ‘Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s goods’? Or are they protesting because personal rights have been violated?

“Let the national news of the recent weeks about extensive corruption in governance make us more humble as moral guides and more zealous as lighthouses of morality in the midst of the storms besetting our boat,” said Villegas.

As Church leaders, and shepherds of God’s flock, the clergy and the bishops should be courageous in denouncing evil as they bring to life the “prophetic teaching” of Jesus Christ.

“As we denounce evil and sin, we must in the same breath propose imitating Christ as the only alternative to our social ills…. It is not enough to condemn evil. We must proclaim the goodness in each one. Overcoming evil by the power of good is the alternative we offer,” Villegas said.

Unfortunately, it is not something new. Any clergyman worth his theology diploma should know the basic teachings of the Church, including what the social encyclicals have to say.

Many of the most vocal critics of government, especially the leftist militants who have been branded as godless communists by the Church and the government in the past, will most likely raise their eyebrows at Villegas’ statement that “as we protest, we must immediately offer Christ as the only choice, otherwise the protests can lead to godless solutions.”

Aside from theological interpretations of what the Church – the clergy and the people – can do in the midst of the “erosion” of society’s moral fiber, what else can be done?

Villegas said the rejection of the politics of patronage, the call for an in depth investigation of dishonest officials and the cry for the full application of the law will not stop corruption unless “we regain our fear of the Lord as a people.”

What is revolutionary, although not new, was Villegas’ call for the Philippines’ Church leaders to “smell like the sheep and get out of the swivel chair.”

Joe Torres is the UCAN bureau chief in Manila

– ucan

Cathedral Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque?

September 3, 2013 by  
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Hagia SophiaIstanbul, August 30, 2013: Two other churches in Nicaea and Trebizond that served as museums have already been converted into mosques. With Hagia Sophia in Constantinople as the symbol of Ottoman conquest, Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman plans need such a symbol to cover up Turkey’s economic and social crises. For Bartholomew I, Hagia Sophia could only reopen to worship as a Christian church.

Increasingly, rumours are circulating about the future transformation of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia into a mosque. This is worrisome because two other temples, also dedicated to Saint Sophia, were recently transformed from museums into mosques. The two churches in question are Hagia Sophia in Nicaea (Iznik), where the first ecumenical council was held, and Hagia Sophia in Trebizond (Trabzon).

For the record, with the fall of Constantinople (1453), all of the city’s churches were converted into mosques, but with the advent of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the most important monuments were turned into museums.

Skylife, the free magazine handed out on the planes of Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s national carrier, gives further credence to the rumours about the Hagia Sophia mosque.

As an important platform to showcase the AKP government’s success to the world, the magazine recently published a long article in English and Turkish to get people accustomed to an already in its planning phase.

On the cover, the aim of this idea is clearly spelled out, with an image of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia described as the ‘Mosque of the Sultans’.

The article emphasises the transformation of the cathedral into a mosque (in 1453) and its subsequent history. The long history of the church before the fall of Constantinople is largely ignored.

By carefully reading the article, one gets the idea that the main cathedral of Orthodox Christianity is the highest symbol of Constantinople’s conquest by the Ottomans and a kind of reference point for the sultans. The article seeks to show that Sophia reached its peak, glory and splendour only after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

In the same article, Prof Semavi Eyice notes that Hagia Sophia’s survival was due to Sinan, a 16th century Christian architect who converted to Islam under the Ottomans’ janissary policy.

For his part, Prof Ahmet Akgunduz points out that Sophia is the living memory of Mehmet the Conqueror, and therefore must be restored as soon as possible to “its” spirituality, that of a mosque.

From a certain point of view, these rumours and views are not surprising, given how things have evolved in Turkey under the AKP party and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It is generally agreed that an attempt is being made to polarise Turkish society, extolling the Ottoman past and traditions, to cover up the crisis that is beginning to be felt in this part of the world, characterised by the Turkish lira’s fall vis-à-vis the euro and the dollar, the Syria crisis, and Erdogan’s interventionist policy after the Gezi Park standoff ahead of next year’s election.

Speaking to Turkish newspaper Milliyet on the possible transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said that if Saint Sophia could reopen as a place of worship, it should be as a Christian church; otherwise it should remain a museum.

– asianews

Barnabas Prayer Focus: Nigeria & Iran

September 2, 2013 by  
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Nigeria – Christians forced to flee from deadly violence

Nigeria deadly violenceChristians in Northern and Middle Belt states in Nigeria continue to be extremely vulnerable to violent attack. Thousands of believers were forced to flee their villages in the central state of Plateau after violence broke out on 27 June. Ten days of raids by suspected Islamist gunmen left more than 30 Christians dead in the villages of Magama, Bolgong and Karkashi, and other villages were also targeted. A Christian source in the country said that the total death toll may be as high as 70.

More than 100 houses were burned down, and 6,000 people were displaced by the violence and have taken refuge in camps in nearby towns. Although the authorities initially said that the attackers were nomadic Fulani herdsmen, a spokesperson later said that it was not an ethnic conflict and that most of the attackers were foreign.

Then, in the Northern state of Kano, at least 45 people lost their lives in coordinated bomb attacks on two churches in Sabon Gari, a predominantly Christian area. Four bombs exploded within minutes of each other as Bible studies were being held on the evening of 29 July.

Pray that the Lord will comfort all those who have lost loved ones in these atrocities, and ask the Holy Spirit to enable the bereaved to forgive those responsible. Ask the Lord also to meet all the needs of those who have been displaced and to make a way for them to return to their homes in safety. Pray that the violent influence of Islamist elements, both at home and from abroad, will be effectively countered in Nigeria.

Iran – Convert from Islam given ten years in jail

Mostafa Bordbar was arrested at Christmas 2012

Mostafa Bordbar was arrested at Christmas 2012

Pray for Mohammad-Hadi Bordbar (known as Mostafa), an Iranian convert from Islam to Christianity who has been sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for his Christian activities. Mostafa, who is from Rasht, was charged with membership of an “anti-security organisation” and with gathering with intent to commit crimes against national security. As is often the case, these charges are pretexts for penalising a believer for his Christian activities.

A breakdown of the charges against Mostafa in court documents refers to his statement in court that he had left Islam to follow Christianity, his involvement in a house church, his work to translate and dub Christian films, and the discovery of 6,000 Gospels and other Christian resources at his home. Mostafa said in court that he considers evangelism his duty and has distributed 12,000 pocket-sized Gospels in Iran.

Mostafa was arrested at a house-church gathering in Tehran in December 2012. This is the second time he has faced legal penalties for his faith; he was arrested in 2009 and found guilty of apostasy. Although he was freed on bail, the apostasy conviction stayed on his record, making it difficult for him to earn a living.

Give thanks for Mostafa’s fearless evangelism in a strictly Islamic country. Ask the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) to draw near to him as he endures being locked up for his faith. Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has made some positive noises about the reform of civil rights in the country and has called on the government to stop meddling in people’s private lives. Pray for genuine moves towards increased freedom for Christians in Iran and that Mostafa’s conviction will be overturned.

– barnabas team

Chitradurga: Pastor hospitalized after attack by Hindutva

September 2, 2013 by  
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Anti-Christian attacksKarnataka, August 29, 2013: Pastor Paramajyothi, 28, is serving the Lord for the past 2 years in and around 15 villages of Mobanahalli village, MonakalmurooTaluk, Chitradurga District in Karnataka. He has his House Church in a rented building and has a congregation of about 60 believers. His wife, Rinci, 25, also works for the Lord along with her husband to win souls in the surrounding villages. They have two children, a boy named Pramod, 5, and a girl named Shreyas 1 year old.

On Sunday, 11th August 2013, at about 10 in the morning when the worship service was going on in the church, some Hindu fundamentalists attacked the pastor and dragged him out of the church and beat him mercilessly in front of the entire congregation and his family members. They dragged him on the road in such a way that his clothes got completely torn and they also stripped him almost naked. His entire body was bruised and 3 of his teeth were very badly damaged.

Some of the members of his church took the pastor to the Government Hospital of Chitradurga but as he couldn’t be treated there since his condition was very bad, they took him to the White Line Dental Hospital, in Davangere about 40 Kilometers away. He was admitted and kept there for a week under observation and for necessary treatment, after which he was discharged and advised for complete bed rest. The Pastor submitted a letter to the Bejikere Police Station requesting them to give him necessary protection as he was sternly warned by the Hindu radicals that he should vacate the house and leave the village in a week’s time. The Police have filed cases against both parties, the culprits as well as the victim, the pastor.

It is learnt that these villagers who are supposed to be very strong believers of Hinduism often resort to black-magic and witchcraft and also strongly oppose the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Earlier to this incident, it is also learnt that they have successfully chased away two pastors from the village who were attacked in the similar way and forced to leave the village. Please pray for the pastor, his family members and the congregation.

– persecution.in

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