Parable: A silver-smith at work

December 14, 2013 by  
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Malachi 3:3 says: ‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.’

Purifier of SilverThis verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God …

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silver-smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.

Purifier of SilverAs she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says:  ‘ He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.’

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time.

Purifier of SilverThe man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘ Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.’

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire , remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

This very moment, someone needs to know that God is watching over them.

And, whatever they’re going through, they’ll be a better person in the end..

To all of us who are going through difficult times…..GOD HAS HIS EYE ON US!

Thank you God, for teaching me to laugh again……

but please Lord, don’t ever let me forget that I cried.

– fwd: vijay kumar

Zech 13:9

Rediscovering Talent

December 10, 2013 by  
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Julio IglesiasDid you know that Julio Iglesias (of the dreamy voice) alternated playing professional football with law studies at the Colegio Mayor Universitario San Pablo in Madrid.

He was due just one course to finish his career when he had a serious car accident, due to which he was unable to walk for two years, which finished with his ambitions in professional football.

In fact, in the earliest years of his young adulthood, he was a football goalkeeper for Real Madrid Castilla. He has said of those years, “I had more courage and drive than talent.” These were sorely tested when he was involved in that car crash that smashed his lower spine; his legs were permanently weakened as a direct result, and they still required therapy as of early November 2012.

During his hospitalization after the accident, a nurse gave him a guitar that he might have something to do with his hands. In learning to play, he discovered his musical talent.

The rest is history. In a career spanning over 40 years he has won many awards and hearts with his soulful renditions.

– fwd: reuben tellis

Never Give Up

Card. Gracias: We must learn from Mandela , champion of freedom, democracy and equality

December 10, 2013 by  
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Nelson MandelaMumbai, December 10, 2013: The Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops paints a portrait of the South African leader ” icon of peace and reconciliation.” Today, Heads of State and dignitaries from around the world participate in the celebrations in honor of Nelson Mandela. Card. Gracias recalls 27 years in prison lived “with great courage and dignity, never ceasing to pursue the values of peace, love and reconciliation.”

More than 70 world leaders flew to Africa today to bid a final farewell to Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who died on December 5. With them, more than 80 thousand people gathered today in Johannesburg, the stadium where the first black leader of South Africa made ​​his last major public appearance, on the occasion of the World Cup 2010. Among the Asian dignitaries due to speak are Li Yuanchao, vice president of China, Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader.

Also present were U.S. president Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French president Francois Hollande and the Brazilian head of state Dilma Rousseff. The celebrations in honor of Mandela will continue throughout the week and will end on December 15 in Qunu (Eastern Cape), his birthplace, where a state funeral will be held and he will be buried. Below, AsiaNews publishes a reflection by Card. Oswald Gracias, President of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI ) dedicated to Nelson Mandela , a figure who with his spirit “encourages the mission of the Church in India with the poor and oppressed”.

Nelson Mandela  remains a selfless champion of freedom, democracy and equality — an icon of peace and reconciliation, a revered statesmen peerless in his sacrifice, courage and commitment to changing not only a nation, but the world.

Nelson Mandela’s enduring Spirit of Forgiveness  and his  remarkable lack of bitterness after his  release from 27years of unjust incarceration,  indicated  as a statesman bent on a peaceful transition- out of the hateful apartheid system and towards national reconciliation

Nelson Mandela can truly be described as “great,” given that a large part of Mandela’s life was spent in isolation during his life sentence in  Robben Island Jail, neither angry nor vindictive, and with great courage and dignity, he endured 27 years in prison- yet  he never ceased to  the  pursue with the values of peace, love and reconciliation. With his strength, dignity and grace, led a non-violent transition to democracy and equality.

Mandela  stood for humanism, his focus on reconciliation began inside himself, even while he was in prison.

By his inspirational leadership, Mandela  ensured  the peaceful  transition from the darkness of apartheid into the light of a multi-racial democracy, thus liberating  not just the people of South Africa and the continent of Africa, but the many people in bondage – in spirit and mind- He helped to liberate the world of hatred, injustice, racism, revenge and retribution.”.

The spirit of Mandela, is significant for the Church in India in our work and mission towards nation building -by our selfless and tireless service for the common good.  The Spirit of Mandela- one of the world’s most ardent fighters for equality- encourages the Church in India, in our mission for the poor and oppressed in their struggle for equality and justice and in  their aspirations for self-respect  and fulfilment .  The spirit of Mandela teaches us, that it is possible to live and work by Gospel values

The Catholic Church in India  expresses deep  sympathy at the death of this  historic leader- one of the contemporary world’s greatest figures.

– asianews

‘Denial of the Justice for 21 Years’ Seminar in Saudi Arabia by India Fraternity Forum

December 10, 2013 by  
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India Fraternity ForumSaudi Arabia, December 10, 2013: On December 6th, 2013 India Fraternity Forum Karnataka Chapter organized seminars throughout Eastern province of Saudi Arabia as part of the awareness campaign “Denial of the Justice for 21 Years” to mark (Babri Masjid-Lest we forget) the 21st anniversary of “Babri Masjid demolition”. The seminars mainly held in Dammam, Khobar, Al-Ahsa and Khafji which was witnessed by large public gathering.

Speaking on this occasion at different places, the different speakers illustrated the message of demolition with the involvement of legislative, executive, and judiciary system. They stressed on the fact that how the Indian judiciary system showed clear discriminations among various communities, especially on Indian Muslims. And they emphasized the need for all Indians to fight back and reestablish the Babri Masjid at the same place in order to reestablish the sanctity of the Constitution which was deeply damaged by the demolition of Babri Masjid.

The Speakers also pledged that, this message must endlessly be forwarded to the generations ahead. All reiterated that “we’ll never forget Babri Masjid and never let other to forget, until its reconstruction at the same place.

Hundreds of the people participated in Babri Seminar across Eastern province. The Seminar began with the recitation of Quran. Mr. Fayaz N. presented Seminar in Kannada language in Dammam & Khobar, Moulavi Amir Qasimi was the Guest Speaker in Dammam . Mr. Saleem GK. delivered the subject in Al Hasa while Mr. Habeeb Hyder addressed at Kafji in Kannada, Muneer Kerala in Malayalam & Yousuf in Urdu language.

There were stalls displaying books, CDs in different Indian languages to remind the memories of Babri Masjid.

– tcn

Balasore gets new bishop

December 10, 2013 by  
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Balasore DioceseOdisha, December 10, 2013: Bishop elect Simon Kaipuram is a member of the Congregation of the Mission.

Pope Francis on Monday appointed a new bishop to the Diocese of Balasore in eastern India’s Odisha state.

Bishop elect Simon Kaipuram is a member of the Congregation of the Mission, popularly known as Vincentians.

The 59-year old rector and professor of Aquinas College in Gopalpur of Berhampur Diocese, also in Odisha, takes over from Vincentian Bishop Thomas Thiruthalil, who has retired.

Born Feb. 9, 1954, in Thanneermukkom, Kerala state, Fr. Kaipuram studied at Aquinas College in Gopalpur, Berhampur Diocese, as a novice of the Vincentians.

Later he continued with theology at the Pontifical University in Pune and took his first vows as a Vincentian on May 2, 1979. After his ordination on Dec. 20 as a Vincentian priest, Fr. Kaipuram served in various capacities, including in studies.

Created in 1989, Balasore Diocese is a suffragan of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar metropolitan. It has an area of over 25,000 sqkm, where Catholics number over 23,600 out of a population of more than 8.9 million. The 39 parishes of the diocese are ministered to by 53 priests, both diocesan and religious and 174 men and women religious.

– en.radiovaticana.va

Bangladesh: WEA Religious Liberty Commission holds seminar on advocacy and the Biblical theology of persecution in Bangladesh

December 10, 2013 by  
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Religious Liberty Commission

Bangladesh, December 06, 2013: The Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA RLC) carries out annual training seminars on advocacy and the Biblical theology of persecution in restricted countries across Asia. These seminars are conducted to strengthen and equip persecuted Christians to withstand opposition and oppression.

This year the WEA RLC held its annual training seminar on Advocacy and the Biblical Theology of Persecution in Bangladesh. The 3 day seminar was held from the 11-13 of November in Dhaka.

The seminar was, however, conducted amidst much difficulty as it coincided a violent general strike launched by the country’s main opposition party.

The religious liberty situation in Bangladesh has been in steady decline over the past year. Radical Islamists have led violent protests demanding the nation’s Islamization including demands to change the country’s constitution to inculcate tighter blasphemy laws. Rising religious tensions have also resulted in minority Christians being targeted in violent attacks.

This year the WEA RLC opened its national training seminar for participants from other restricted countries in the region such as Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka as well.

In total over 50 Christian leaders from across 4 restricted countries attended the seminar. Amongst them were – pastors, Christian leaders, young Christian activists and lawyers.

The trainings were on the Biblical Theology of Persecution, Advocacy and Human rights, UN mechanisms, How to face adversity and persecution and Intercession for the persecuted church worldwide.

We give praise and honour to the Lord who moved in a marvelous way during the 3 days of training. We believe the participants were equipped and empowered through the seminar to better handle pressure and persecution. Many who felt defeated by persecution were reinvigorated to live a victorious life in Christ. Many others were inspired to be advocates for social justice and human rights. The seminar was also an encouragement to persecuted pastors who were contemplating leaving their ministries because of the stern opposition they were facing in their communities.

Feedback from participants:

“Right after school, while I was still a Hindu, I enrolled as a law student at university. However, a year and a half on, I had to drop out as I could not afford the tuition cost. I then became a Christian. A few years later, God called me into full time ministry. The dream to study law never died though. I always had a burden to speak up for injustices that were happening in Bangladesh. Through this seminar I believe God affirmed to me that I should pursue my passion to be a Christian lawyer. I have decided that I will complete my legal studies and be an advocate for the Christian community in Bangladesh.”

“There was very good Biblical teaching at the seminar. The Church has benefited from this immensely. I am grateful to WEA RLC for holding this seminar in Bangladesh. We needed this in our country during this difficult period.”

Michael Routh, Youth leader, Dhaka

“Thank you for inviting me for this seminar. I have benefitted greatly. The biblical theology of persecution is a very important topic for us. I minister to persecuted Christians living in Kachin. I will definitely take back this knowledge and use it to bless my fellow brothers and sisters who face persecution. Topics such as Advocacy and Human rights were also very useful. We need this type of training in Myanmar as well.

I thank you for conducting this seminar and would like to invite the WEA RLC to Myanmar to carry out this same training.”

Rev. Naing Than, Director, Religious Liberty Commission, Myanmar Evangelical Christian Fellowship

– cross map

Barnabas: Christians killed “like flies” in worst outbreak of violence since car coup

December 10, 2013 by  
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Africa, December 10, 2013: “Pray for us as the situation in CAR has become horrible over last week, the killings have got worse, unarmed Christians are in the process of dying like flies.”

Central African Republic (CAR)A pastor and his two young sons were among around 400 people killed in the worst outbreak of violence to rock the Central African Republic (CAR) since a coup by Islamist rebels in March.

Fighting broke out in the capital, Bangui, on Thursday (5 December) between the Seleka, whose forces currently control the country, and fighters loyal to the ousted president, Francois Bozize.

A pastor in CAR said Christians had been hung, stabbed or beaten to death by their Muslim neighbours and Christian shops pillaged and looted. The bodies of many killed in the massacre were left abandoned in the streets.

He said the self-defence groups that have formed in response to months of raping, looting and killing by Seleka have been falsely labelled “Christian militias” by the media. He said the groups comprise members of the national army, Seleka defectors and villagers, adding:

The Christians don’t recognise any legitimacy with any of these groups… The international press has misled opinion and understanding at large with this politically correct false characterisation of the conflict.

As the carnage continued over three days of fighting, thousands of Christian civilians fled their homes, many seeking refuge at Bangui airport, which is being guarded by French forces.

France has deployed 1,600 troops to CAR in an effort to help bring about stability, havingwarned that the country is “on the verge of genocide”.

The UN Security Council authorised on Thursday the use of force by French and African Union troops to protect civilians. It is also considering an international peacekeeping mission.

Western powers have urged swift action in CAR to prevent a repeat of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when hundreds of thousands of people were killed as the international community failed to intervene.

The arrival of French troops has been greatly welcomed by the beleaguered citizens of CAR.

Abel Nguerefara, who lives on the outskirts of Bangui, said, “Thanks to France and the United Nations who want to save the Central Africans, soon the Seleka attacks on civilians will stop. We have had enough of Seleka killing, raping and stealing.”

– barnabas team

Over 700 sign 7 yr-old Martyr Anugarg CSF Online Petition. Next Week – CSF Justice campaign after Christian boy’s death

December 10, 2013 by  
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The CSF Online Petition to Get Justice for the 7 year-old martyr for the faith has crossed the 700 mark, with signatories from all over India and many from overseas. We are going to submit the petition next week and urge those activists who haven’t signed to please do so by clicking on the link below:

http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/india-justice-for-murdered-7-year-old-christian-boy-m?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created

Even better forward and share the petition-link to friends on Facebook, others in your list, etc. All we are asking is for exhuming the child’s body, re-investigation and booking the culprits.

We look forward to your support. The latest ucanews story follows.

Don’t forget to keep the prayers going. We need it.

Your brother in Christ

Joseph Dias

Anugrag GemethiNew Delhi, December 10, 2013: Seven-year-old’s father claims he was murdered by extremists.

Over 400 people across the world have signed an online petition seeking justice in the case of Anmol Gemethi, a seven-year-old boy who was allegedly killed by Hindu fundamentalists.

“We have asked for three things: a second post mortem of the boy, re-investigation of the killing, arrest of the suspected killers,” Joseph Dias, founder of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) that initiated the campaign, told ucanews.com.

He said they will take the petition to the president of India, the prime minister and other political leaders once it crosses the 500 mark.

CSF launched the online ‘Justice for the Martyr Anmol’ campaign on Friday.

His body was found floating in a river near his home in Rajasthan, northern India, on November 19, two days after he went missing.

Gemethi’s face was mutilated beyond recognition. There were burn marks on his stomach, his toes were chopped off and one hand and leg were deeply slashed.

The boy’s father has accused Hindu fanatics of conspiring in the killing. He also claimed that the police and doctors who conducted the post mortem were shielding the accused.

Dias said he has been in constant touch with the state police who have promised to re-open the case.

“Only after re-investigation will the police decide that a second post-mortem needs to be done or not,” he added.

The earlier post mortem conducted concluded that Anmol drowned and the injuries on his body were caused by scavenging animals as his body had been lying in the river for two days.

Signatories of the petition have expressed their concern about the state of religious freedom in the country.

“No matter what the religion of a person, it is cruel to destroy life. Killing on the basis of religion is denying God and the gift of life given by God,” said one of them.

Another wrote: “Innocent life has been taken away and it is happening everywhere. This should be stopped.”

– ucanews

Odisha: SC gives 3 months for verdict in nun rape case

December 9, 2013 by  
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Kandhamal nunNew Delhi, December 05, 2013: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the trial court to deliver its verdict in a case involving the rape of a Catholic nun allegedly by religious fanatics during the 2008 Kandhamal riots in Odisha.

The apex court has the asked the lower court to adopt “a belligerent approach instead of a wooden one” and give the verdict in three months, reports The Indian Express.

The Supreme Court had in February 2012 stayed the trial on a plea by the victim nun, who challenged the prosecution’s failure to cross-examine a judicial magistrate, failure of which she claimed helped the accused persons. According to the victim, the magistrate had withheld some accusatory statements she had made against one of the accused persons when he took the witness box.

A bench led by Justice S S Nijjar allowed the nun’s appeal, argued through senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, and set aside the orders passed by the trial court and the high court. The lower courts had held that she had no right to seek recalling a witness for cross-examination and that she must have faith in justice delivery system.

The apex court however reproached the lower courts for a “casual approach” and said it would certainly cause a “serious miscarriage of justice” since the magistrate’s version would influence the outcome of the case.

“We are convinced that the grievances as projected by the appellant as a victim, who was a victim of an offence of such a grotesque nature, in our considered view, the trial court as well as the High Court instead of rejecting the application of the appellant by simply making a reference to a Cr PC provision in a blind folded manner,” said the court.

The bench reminded the courts that “in criminal jurisprudence, while the offence is against the society, it is the unfortunate victim who is the actual sufferer and therefore, it is imperative for the State and the prosecution to ensure that no stone is left unturned. It is also the equal, if not more, the duty and responsibility of the court to be alive and alert in the course of trial of a criminal case and ensure that the evidence recorded in accordance with law reflected every bit of vital information placed before it.”

It noted that in the present case where there was a wrong statement made by a witness (magistrate) contrary to his own record and the prosecution failed to take note of it, the court should have acted promptly and have taken necessary steps to rectify the situation appropriately.

“The whole scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr PC) envisages foolproof system in dealing with a crime alleged against the accused and thereby ensure that the guilty does not escape and innocent is not punished” it noted.

The bench then ordered for recalling the magistrate for cross-examination once again and said that the trial court should conclude the proceedings in accordance with law expeditiously, preferably within three months from the date of this order.

Officially, 38 people were killed in the riots that had occurred in the tribal-dominated district Kandhamal district in the aftermath of the killing of Hindu religious leader Laxmanananda Saraswati at the Jalespata Ashram on August 23, 2008.

However, Church people say more than 100 people were killed and more than 50,000 rendered homeless during the riots.

The nun had alleged she was attacked, gangraped and paraded semi-naked through the streets on August 25, 2008 in Kandhamal.

– matters india

Rajasthan to restore two historic churches

December 9, 2013 by  
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Bandikui church

Bandikui church

Rajasthan, December 07, 2013: The Rajasthan government has decided to conserve two over-century-old churches, which are in dilapidated conditions.

It is probably the first time in northern India that any state government is taking up the restoration of churches, reports The Times of India.

One of the historic churches is at Todgarh in Ajmer and another at Bandikui in Dausa district. It’s not any election gimmick, because Christians hardly form 1 percent of northwestern Indian state’s 7.10 million people.

These two churches are set for restoration at a cost of 7.5 million rupees each and once restored they will regain their pristine glory. The work is being undertaken by the Rajasthan Heritage Development and Maintenance Authority which has replaced the similar body set up for the conservation of the heritage monuments of Amber.

The authority, headed by the former chief secretary Salauddin Ahmed, has already started the work. They have taken great efforts to ensure that the old buildings do not lose their original design.

Todgarh is named after the British Political Agent Col James Tod who wrote the first authoritative book on the erstwhile Rajputana ‘The Annals and Antiquity of Rajputana.’ The book gives a very interesting aspect of the state focusing on the various principalities and culture of the then princely state.

Located amid hills with lush greens all around, this place was once the summer capital of the British officers located at Ajmer and they would shift their base for four months of summer in the cool climes of Todgarh. This village was under the rule of the Mewar state, Maharana Bhim Singh rechristened it Todgarh to honor the British historian and the Political Agent. Col Tod with his own money built a small fortress and in this fort, he wrote the historic book.

Later attracted by its natural beauty, an English Catholic missionary, Fr William Robb, built a church on one of Todgarh’s hillocks. He also built a post office and a jail in the hillock. The church was built by Robb between 1850 and 1860 after the departure of Col Tod to England.

Todgarh church

Todgarh church

This church still exists but in a dilapidated condition and priests who live there maintain it with their meager means. Fr Robb had built a bungalow for him in 1860 that has since been taken over by a Jain spiritual body, Pragya Shikhar.

Tourism, art and culture minister Bina Kak spotted the Todgarh church and decided to set up a sanctuary there where the tourists could go since a large number of sambhars, deer, panthers and other wildlife are found there. Todgarh is also home to a number of bird species.

Kak also wanted to conserve the Catholic church to attract the Christian pilgrims. This village falls between Ajmer and Udaipur. The church is made of stones which has a faint blue color. The blue hue is a good sight even in its present dilapidated condition.

Bandikui has been a railway junction for over a century now and the British chose it as it is located between Jaipur and Alwar to build the first railway junction in 1873. When Bandikui was being developed as a railway junction, a number of Britons and Christians settled there.

More than 140 years ago, the settlers felt the need to build a church from local pink sandstone near the railway station. The Protestant church was built in Roman architecture style. After the British left, the Bandikui church was maintained by the Anglo Indian communities and Christians, but as the Christians and Anglo-Indian population dwindled, there was nobody to maintain the church. As the church was almost deserted, miscreants vandalize it and took away windows, doors and glasses and even the statue of Jesus.

According to an engineer of the Heritage and Monument Authority, utmost care has been taken to protect the originality of the two churches and they would regain its lost grandeur in a couple of months.

– matters india

 

 

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