Time to spring clean your financial files

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

Spring is in the air.

The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the temperatures are warming. Who doesn’t love this time of year? Not only does spring remind us of the beauty of the outdoors, but it also reminds us to get our homes organized—in other words, to do a little spring cleaning.

This year, though, while you are cleaning out the garage, shampooing carpet, and organizing closets, we suggest that you do a little spring cleaning in another area of your life—your money. Regardless of where you are on your journey to financial peace, you’ve got to stay organized to win with money.

Centuries ago, Solomon said, “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds” (Proverbs 27:23). In other words, it’s important to know where things stand—and that takes organization. After all, if you don’t know where your stuff is, how in the world can you use it most effectively?

So what exactly does a financial spring cleaning look like? We have some suggestions:

Clean out file drawers

Do you really still need that cable bill from August 1999? Seriously? You need to keep old bills, bank statements, tax documents and other important papers for varying lengths of time. But utility bills, sales receipts for minor purchases, and ATM and bank deposit slips can be shredded after a few months.

Organize all of your financial files into one easily accessible place. Then determine what to shred and what to save. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been holding on to.

Prune unnecessary expenses

Are you really getting your money’s worth with that gym membership? Do you really need 250 cable channels? Is it necessary to have a landline and a cell phone? While you’re organizing your file drawer this spring, take an in-depth look at your finances and see where you can cut back costs. This is especially important—and should be a top priority—if you are still working your way out of debt.

Update important documents

When was the last time you checked your car insurance? Your home insurance? Tax withholdings? Your will, 401(k) or Roth IRA? If it’s been awhile, then now is the time to make sure you have all the coverages and investments you need. What made sense two years ago might not work for you today. In the middle of all this spring cleaning, make sure you are protecting yourself, your family and your future!

You may not have flocks and herds, but God has given you some incredible financial and material blessings to manage. Don’t fall behind by letting them fall into a disorganized mess.

Spring is a great time to get re-energized and refocused on your financial situation before summer arrives with all its distractions. The small amount of time you spend now getting your financial house in order will pay off for you in the long run.

How will you apply these tips to your life?

– cross walk

Nigerian Senator’s Dad burned her property after she accepted Christ

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Nigeria, April 17, 2018: A Nigerian senator has reportedly shared the story of how her biological father burned all her possessions when she was a kid because she made the bold leap to follow Christ.

Sen. Binta Masi Garba of the Adamawa state detailed for constituents gathered at Praise International Church in the state’s capital of Yola on Sunday the price she has paid for her faith, according to the Nigerian daily newspaper The Punch.

The outlet reports that a thanksgiving service was held at the church to commemorate the senator’s 50th birthday. Recounting her upbringing, Garba began to shed tears as she credited the Lord for being her rock during one the hardest parts of her life.

Like many other converts to Christianity from Muslim backgrounds, Binta stated that she faced tough consequences when she accepted Christ as her savior.

“I gave my life to Christ when I was in primary school,” she was quoted as saying. “My father was infuriated and he burnt everything I had because of my decision to follow Christ. I suffered so much because of the name of Jesus. I would have been nothing if not for His grace. The rejected child, because of my faith, has become a cornerstone. I give glory to His name.”

Garba was elected to the Senate in 2015 after previously serving in Nigeria’s Federal House of Assembly from 1999 until 2011. She is also the chairperson of the Nigerian Senate’s Committee on Women Affairs.

The thanksgiving service was also attended by Nigeria’s Christian vice president, Yemi Osinbajo. It was also attended by Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, and Senator Nelson Effiong.

As Nigeria is ranked by Open Doors USA as the 14th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, Osinbajo called on attendees to pray for the Christians who have been elected to public office.

“The truth of the matter is that in the government of today, we have some of the most erudite Christians, some of the best Christians occupying positions in government. Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who is a pastor; the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita; and, of course I, the vice president, are all Christians.”

However, Osinbajo warned that just having Christians in public office is “not enough.”

“It is never enough. If you look through the scriptures whether it was Joseph, Daniel or Esther, every person who made an impact in governance in the scripture that we see was supported by the prayers of the people of God,” the vice president asserted. “God is not moved unless we move His hands in the place of prayers. We are in a period in history when God wants to do something that is why some of us are in government. The opportunity must not be lost, your prayers to God will make that difference.”

At the National Conscience Conference held last September, Garba called on Christians to become more active in Nigerian politics.

“In spite of the challenges encountered in politics, Christians should not be discouraged,” Vanguard quoted the senator as saying. “Once you have God by your side, everything will pave way.”

– christian post

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

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

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

Protests against killing of two Christians in Pakistan

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Pakistan, April 16, 2018: The leaders of the Christian community have launched a protest against the killing of two Christians near a church by four unidentified gunmen who opened fire at them in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, officials said.

Provincial police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari said that a group of Christians had come out of the church on Sunday when the four gunmen appeared on two motorcycles from a nearby lane and opened fire on them.

“Two people were killed on the spot while six others were injured and rushed to a hospital,” he said.

The deceased have been identified as Azhar Masih and Rohail Masih. They were residents of Essa Nagri which houses a large population of the Christian community.

The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

Ansari said that it appeared that the purpose of the attack was to spread panic and fear in the province.

“These terrorists are targeting security forces and now minorities to spread fear and panic because of the ongoing operation against them in the province,” he said.

The Christian community staged a protest demonstration against the provincial government and called for the immediate arrest of the attackers. They also urged the government to provide protection to all members of the Christian community in Quetta.

Pakistan has been battling armed groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The attacks often target Pakistan’s minorities, including Shia Muslims as well as Christians, Hindus and members of the Ahmadiyya sect.

Earlier this month, four members of a Christian family travelling in a rickshaw were killed in a firing incident on Quetta’s Shah Zaman road. The Christian family belonged to Punjab Province and had come to Quetta to see relatives.

In December last year, nine people were killed and 30 injured in a suicide attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road.

At least two suicide attackers had struck the Bethel Memorial Church while Sunday service was ongoing. There were 400 worshipers inside the church when the assault started.

– times of india

Christian persecution in India, the 11th worst place on earth for Christians

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, April 18, 2018: During this Lenten season when Christians are preparing themselves for Easter Sunday, those of us who are living in relative peace and affluence should remember and pray for those brothers and sisters in the faith whose circumstances are not as friendly.

To put it more accurately, Christians the world over should be mindful that at this time in our history there remain legions of Christ’s disciples who are made to endure persecution for their faith the likes of which rival that suffered by the earliest Christians.

While most of the worst environments for Christians are Islamic lands, there are non-Islamic bastions of intense Christian persecution that receive little to no coverage by the world’s media. One particularly notable example is that of India.

Of a population of 1.3 billion people, there are 64 million Christians who reside in India. Open Doors, an organization “dedicated to serving persecuted Christians worldwide,” relays the story of “Reena,” a 19 year-old girl who experienced this anti-Christian persecution directly.

“When I was a young child,” she says, “Hindu children did not want to play with me.” Eventually, “my parents were banned from using the local water supply. They had to walk many kilometers to draw water from the river.”

Things got even worse for this young woman.

When Reena went to work as a school teacher, she was initially promised a salary of 1,500 rupees ($23.13) a month. Her employers wound up welching: They paid her only 500 rupees ($7.71) for the first two months. Within six months, they stopped paying her entirely. So Reena sought work elsewhere.

Her new headmaster invited Reena to a teachers’ meeting. There he offered her and her colleagues an assortment of Indian pastries.

And it was at this time that Reena was drugged and kidnapped.

Reena doesn’t want to discuss the events that unfolded over the ten days of her captivity. She claims to have no recollection, but those in the know at Open Doors insist that it is more “likely…that what happened to her was so terrible [that] she doesn’t want to share” her experiences. After all, literally “millions of girls in India”—many of them Christians and other religious minorities—“are kidnapped and trafficked each year.”

Reena called her parents at one point and informed them that she was being retained in “a terrible place.” She also admits that when she first awoke, she was in a train car with many other teenage girls who followed her as she made her escape.

Yet Reena expresses suspicions that at least some of the girls were involved in her abduction.

Reena had been taken 14 hours away from her village.

Although she experienced depression and hopelessness for a time following her return to her home, upon attending an inspiring church service, Reena renewed her Christian faith. While her brother informs us that the headmaster in whose company Reena was drugged desires vengeance for the troubles that he now apparently endures, Reena sounds hopeful:

“My future is very bright. I will share the gospel with non-believers. I don’t expect more problems.”

But there are many problems for India’s Christians.

Over the last three years, the anti-Christian persecution in India has continued to increase. Open Doors’ World Watch List ranked India as the planet’s 25th worst persecutor of Christians in 2015. Yet in 2017 it was found to be the 15th biggest persecutor and, this year, it climbed to 11th place.

An Open Doors spokesperson informs us that before Christians face overt physical violence—in 2016, 15 Christians were murdered in India and many more beaten and threatened—“there [is] often…a long process of ‘re-converting’ them to Hinduism, during which they faced discrimination, social exclusion and other types of pressure.”

A chief cause of the oppression, according to Open Doors, is the resurrection of Hindu nationalism. The Hindu nationalist holds that only Hinduism should be observed in India. Some political leaders have even gone so far as to call for the expulsion from India of all Christians and Muslims by 2021.

In any event, although “everyone” is aware that “the churches are being attacked and demolished on almost an everyday basis in India,” as an Open Doors representative puts it, the Prime Minister of the country denies that any such persecution is occurring.

He should speak to people like Chandan Devi.

Chandan and her husband, Aadarsh, an Indian man who converted to Christianity and became a pastor who led a couple of dozen animists to Christ, have four children. The oldest, a daughter, is married, while the other three were away at boarding school when the unthinkable occurred.

Chandan and Aadarsh were home alone when they were attacked by thirty men, Maoist (communist) Naxalites all of them. As they grabbed him and proceeded to drag him outside, they were promising to murder Aadarsh. Chandan clung to her husband, begging the thugs to kill her along with her husband. Instead, though, they delivered to her a hard blow to the shoulder, dropping her to the ground.

The last thing Chandan recalls having heard is the loud sound of the door slamming shut as her husband was led off into the jungle to be killed.

Shortly afterwards, Aadarsh’s corpse was found.

None of the Christians who Aadarsh had converted attended his funeral for fear of losing their lives, and Chandan, fearing future attacks, fled her home and village with nothing but “the clothes on her back,” as Open Doors reports.

As if it wasn’t terrible enough that the Naxalites murdered Aadarsh. They subsequently threatened his brother Ajay. In fact, prior to Aadarsh’s murder, the Naxalites abducted Ajay’s son.

Of course, none of this should come as any surprise when it is considered that over the last decade, this same treacherous group, “with the help of local authorities,” has “attacked, beaten, kidnapped, raped and killed thousands of Christians in India” (italics added).

It’s worth noting that when Chandan was asked by Open Doors whether the trauma to which she and her loved ones have been subjected has provoked her to reconsider her faith and denounce Christ, she promptly responded:

“I’d rather die.”

Hindu-on-Christian persecution—not something that we hear, or are likely to hear, talked about by the Western media that has labored tirelessly to depict Christians as the planet’s only purveyors of oppression.

– belief net

‘Hindu terror’ a conspiracy against India, Congress wanted ‘Christian rule’: Subramanian Swamy

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, April 17, 2018: Rajya Sabha MP and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday hit out at the Congress party, accusing it of working against the country. Speaking to Times Now after a special NIA court acquitted all five accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, Swamy once again debunked the Hindu terror theory, saying it never existed. The BJP leader said on Hindu terror that there was a conspiracy against Hindus by Rahul and Sonia Gandhi and P Chidambaram, adding that PM Narendra Modi should now act against them.

“There was never a Hindu terror theory. It was a concocted thing from day and the first indication of concoction is when Rahul Gandhi went to the US Embassy, according to WikiLeaks, and said that Congress party has decided, Hindu terror is more dangerous than Lashkar-e-Toiba and we are going to accordingly modify our future action… and they started manufacturing things, P Chidambaram started forging documents,” Swamy said.

Swamy said Rahul Gandhi was trying to please the Christian lobby. “It was because of Hindus that we have a democracy and they wanted to convert this into some kind of Christian rule with help from Muslim nations,” he alleged, adding the entire conspiracy must be unravelled now.

Earlier today, a special NIA court in Hyderabad pronounced the judgement in the 2007 case of Mecca Masjid blast which claimed nine lives. The fourth additional metropolitan sessions-cum-special court for NIA cases acquitted all five accused in the case. The blast at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007 during Friday prayers had also left 58 others wounded.

Initial investigations were conducted by the local police and the probe was later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had filed a chargesheet in the court. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the probe from the CBI in 2011.

Initially, 10 people with links to right-wing organisations were named as accused in the case. However, only five of them — Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary – were arrested and put on trial. Two other accused — Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra — are absconding while another accused Sunil Joshi has died.

– times now news

Christians join other Indian religious leaders to clarify misunderstandings about their faith

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, April 16, 2018: As religious minorities in India, including Christians, are increasingly being targeted with violent crimes, more than 1,500 leaders from different faiths got together and resolved to promote the correct understanding of their respective religions to deal with an atmosphere of hate.

The resolve was made at an interfaith conclave held in the central India city of Indore last week, months after an independent report described the year 2017 as “one of the most traumatic for the Christian community” in 10 years.

The wave of attacks on the minority carries on under the administration of a governing coalition led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, whose supporters often seek to justify violence with the claim that Christians seek to convert Hindus by offering them monetary incentives or using fraudulent means.

However, the Rev. Jacob Corepiscopa, a priest from south India-based Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church and who was part of the conclave, explained to the gathering that true Christians do not “force anyone to become Christian.”

“Our charitable works are also not for religious conversion. This is the way we share our Christian love with others. Such things are misrepresented as efforts to [seek] religious conversion,” UCANews quoted him as saying.

Not just Christians, the Muslim minority is also under attack in India. Dozens of Muslims have been lynched by Hindu nationalist mobs over suspicions of cow slaughter or possession and consumption of beef over the last four years. (Hindus regard cows as sacred.)

“We see a rise in sectarian violence in the country and have yet to find a solution. Those spreading violence are not religious people. They do not understand the tenets of their religion,” a Muslim representative and one of the organizers, Adil Sayeed, was quoted as saying at the conclave.

Christian persecution, which includes violent attacks, destruction of Christian property and false accusations, has risen since the BJP won the general election in 2014.

The governing party is connected with a Hindu nationalist organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

RSS founder M.S. Golwalkar once said: “The non-Hindu people in Hindustan (referring to India) must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of the Hindu religion, that is they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ingratitude toward this land and its age-long tradition but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen’s rights.”

In 2007 and 2008, about 100 Christians were killed and thousands of homes of Christians were burned down or destroyed in eastern Orissa state’s Kandhamal district.

India is ranked as the 11th worst persecutor of Christians in Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List.

– christian post

Church says St Thomas visited India

April 16, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Kochi, April 15, 2018: Amid a controversy triggered by reported remarks of a senior priest questioning the belief that St Thomas visited India in AD 52, the Syro-Malabar Church today said the disciple of Jesus Christ did visit India.

“The official stand of the Syro-Malabar Church is that St Thomas had visited India, the Church said in a statement here.

The statement was issued after Fr Paul Thelakkat, a former spokesperson of the church, last week reportedly said there was no evidence to suggest that St Thomas had come to India.

Some newspapers and TV news channels quoting former spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Church had reported there is no evidence to prove St Thomas had come to India. Some media even said this is the official stand of Syro-Malabar Church. This is baseless…,” it said.

The Syro-Malabar Church originated from the evangelisation works of St Thomas, said the statement issued by Bishop Sebastian Vaniyappurackal.

“World famous historians have accepted it as a fact. Many historic documents are there to support this,” he said.

However, Fr Thelakkat today said he had never made a statement about the traditional belief that St Thomas had come to India.

He clarified he had made certain remarks regarding prevailing upper caste feelings in Church while joining a debate kick started by Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos of the Niranam diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Church on the issue.

“We should not rely on glory of a caste or tribe. That is dangerous,” Thelakkat told PTI.

The Jacobite priest had recently criticised some church members for conducting hollow family meetings.

He had said in a Facebook post that some of the families believe in fake myths that their forefathers were members of the Brahmin community and St Thomas converted them to Christianity.

These kinds of false beliefs should be broken, he had said.

Noted historian M G S Narayanan said there were no historic documents to suggest that St Thomas had come to India for evangelisation work.

“There were no human habitations here at that time in Kerala.

There was only forest here. How would he visit such a place? For what? , he told a Malayalam TV channel.

The Syrian Christian community in Kerala believes that St Thomas came to this part in AD 52 and had established churches.

The community considers St Thomas as the ‘Father in Faith’ of Christians in India.

The Syro-Malabar Church has over 30 dioceses in the country and four outside– in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and Britain–serving over five million faithful.

– business standard

Delighting in our children

April 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

Recently, I read an article about a growing trend among mothers: they regret ever having children. It’s not that these mothers are sad or overwhelmed from time to time because of the commitment it takes to raise children, nor are they simply fearful because of the responsibility. No, these particular mothers mourn having their already birthed children. They feel trapped. They hate it with everything within them. Their children aren’t seen only as a burden and interruption from life, their children are a mistake. Most of us, thankfully, aren’t where these mothers are, I’d imagine for many of us we fall somewhere in between worshipping our children and thinking they are the center of our lives and desiring more free time and rest for ourselves. We can empathize with the women in the article in regards to those moments of feeling overwhelmed, but most of us aren’t likely mourning our children. But, what if I said that our children are for our joy? Could we accept that? Do we believe that?

I remember a time I dropped my son off at his school and yelled my usual through the rolled down window, “I love you. Make good choices. Obey your teacher.” As I began to roll up the window and drive away, my little first grader took his small hand to his mouth and blew me a kiss.

It was like everything stopped at that moment.

I realized how quickly this season would pass. Would he blow me a kiss when he’s 16 years old? I don’t know. I blew him a kiss back and he waved to me, mouthing the words “Bye, Mom.” I was overwhelmed. I wished I could freeze that point in time.

Sweet Ragamuffins

I like to call my children sweet ragamuffins. Motherhood is challenging. My kids don’t obey me every time I ask them to do something. They are rambunctious, loud, and messy. And they are also sweet. They are gifts. Like many moms, I wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything. What I think we can so often forget, though, is that motherhood isn’t a task to be checked off like the laundry. It is a calling.

Maybe the word “calling” makes you want to run and hide. For many, “calling” can sound as if motherhood is your only identity, that it’s all encompassing and you will never get a break from your endless responsibilities. This is not true. You are likely called to be a wife and church member and friend as well (and the list could go on). So motherhood is not your only identity; it is, however, a part of your identity. And there is a weight to that. Mothers are more than just mothers, but we are never less. God’s word instructs us to train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). I can’t think of a greater challenge given to us as parents. As one who is in the throes of raising and teaching young children, I am regularly reminded of my desperate need for Jesus.

Gifts to Enjoy

But I don’t think remembering the responsibility that we have to train our children is the best way we embrace and savor the short days we have with them. Remember that, “every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17). Our children are not tasks to complete, but gifts to enjoy. And we enjoy them by remembering that they are truly gifts from God. Yes, even when they stand in the hall refusing to put away their socks, or when they throw their cereal on the floor, or when they make it almost impossible to complete a trip to the grocery store. Those are trials mothers and fathers face weekly and yes, even these things are gifts.

Paul, instructing Timothy to challenge the rich to put their hope in God instead of their wealth, reminds us that it is God who provides all things for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). Our children aren’t meant to be checked off a list, they are to be delighted in. And as with every gift we receive and enjoy, we must be careful not to idolize our children. Only God should be worshipped. But what if we began to think of our kids as true gifts from God aimed at our enjoyment? Both in enjoyment of our kids and in God at work through them.

A Call to Treasure

It might seem like a funny connection, but I think of how much I enjoy looking at colorful birds at the zoo. They are exotic creatures, each with their unique beaks and a beautiful mosaic of feathers. The birds are a wonder of God’s creation, and he cares for them. But not more than he cares for us: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

In a similar way, I can think of many things I enjoy, but I value my kids more. I love looking into my kids’ precious eyes. I want to get into the world of their God-given personalities and take in their laughs and answer their questions. I want to enjoy them.

Maybe that’s precisely what the main thing of this parenting calling is all about. Maybe it’s not as much a call to train your kids as it is a call to train and treasure them.

Our children won’t be our little children forever. So, let’s enjoy and savor these days that God has given us. Our kids are his gifts to us, glimmers of his goodness, which leads us to say with C.S. Lewis, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary sparkles are like this!”

– cross walk

Lahore Christians protest against cemetery confiscations for real estate speculation

April 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Lahore, April 13, 2018: A group of more than a hundred Christians protested against the occupation of a cemetery that belongs to the local Church.

At the cry of “Down with Punjab government” and “Down with encroachment mafia”, protesters on Tuesday blocked the road in front of the Lahore Press Club for more than two hours.

The Gora Qabrastan (cemetery) Action Committee (GQAC) organised the rally to oppose the confiscation of the Christian cemetery in the heart of the provincial capital.

For the past two years, the committee has been demanding the removal of the family of the retired graveyard guardian, Munawar, who has been using three residential buildings (more than 500 sq metres).

GQAC deputy chancellor Khalid Shahzad told AsiaNews that “the family is trying to sell the houses with fake documents.”

“Both the Catholic and Protestant bishops sent the former guardian an eviction notice, but the family refuses to leave. We have organised innumerable meetings with district officials, but our complaints remain buried under the bribes.”

In August 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan “conveyed its displeasure” to its Human Rights Cell “with direction to submit report within two weeks” about the affair.

Illegally grabbing Church-owned land is nothing new in the country. At least three cemeteries are currently illegally occupied in the archdiocese of Lahore alone.

According to real estate website Zameen.com, Pakistan’s real estate is soaring as house prices have more than doubled in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

In 2012, the Lahore Development Authority bulldozed more than 8,000 sq metres of land that housed the Gosh e Aman missionary institute, a chapel, a Caritas laboratory and other social welfare buildings operated by the Catholic Church.

In 1972, the Pakistani government nationalised all Church schools and colleges in Punjab and Sindh provinces.

They were denationalised between 1985 and 1995 without compensation. Several missionary schools are still under government control.

“Instead of paying us rent for 35 years, Churches have had to pay to take back control of their institutions,” said Colonel (retired) Azim Ilyas, coordinator of the Lahore Diocesan Board of Education, Church of Pakistan.

A lot of money was “spent in the renovation of dilapidated buildings which affected the quality of education in once esteemed institutes. Those still in government possession have turned into ruins.”

– asia news

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