Churches provide support in New Zealand

Thanks to Kendall Harmon of Titusonenine for providing the link to this story of encouragement and support in Christchurch New Zealand.

The normal rhythms of life were completely disrupted and people found themselves doing things they had never expected to, but it was usual for the congregation to meet and take communion on Sundays.

”That in itself will begin to meet that need of working through what we’ve all been through.”

In a 90-minute service, parishioners talked of their experiences. One said he had gone to help evacuate a group of elderly residents of an Anglican rest home and been told, ”We don’t want to go, we want to pretend this is the first night of a church Bible camp”.


Afghani Convert Musa Released; Another Christian Still in Prison

Great news from Compass Direct that Said Musa has been released from prison but prayer still needed for Shoib Assadullah.

A source in Afghanistan told Compass that the 46-year-old Musa  was released last week and had left the country on Monday (Feb. 21), but the date of his release was not clear.

Musa had written a series of letters from his prison cell, the last one dated Feb. 13, according to Compass sources. In that letter Musa, an amputee and a father of six, said that representatives of embassies in Kabul visited him and offered him asylum. 

After the representatives left, according to the letter, Musa was taken to another room where three Afghani officials tried to convince him to recant his faith. They promised to release him from prison within 24 hours if he would do so. He refused and was sent back to his cell.

“I told them I cannot [follow] Islam,” he wrote in his letter. “I am Jesus Christ’s servant. They pushed me much and much. I refused their demands.”

Details of Musa’s release remained confidential in order to protect him and his family, who still remain in danger, sources said.

Continue reading

Happiness Officer – Great job title

The blog that you are reading is a hosted by WordPress.com. If that means anything to you then you will know that WordPress is one (if not the) leading platform for bloggers. The people behind WordPress are a company called Automatic. And they are looking for some new recruits. Including a ‘Happiness Officer‘. Now I’ve no idea what a happiness officer does. Reading the job description is sounds like a glorified PA. However, I’d like to work for a company that employs a happiness officer, and maybe that’s the idea!

Might bring it up at the next Pcc – St Giles’ could do with a happiness officer.

A Prayer for New Zealand

Yesterday was a sad day for New Zealand and for Christchurch in particular. We get used to hearing of reports of earthquakes and destruction in far off parts of the world, but there is something about the disaster happening in the centre of a ‘first world’ city that brings it closer to home. I’ve never been to New Zealand but it is high on the list of thsoe places I’d like to visit on a ‘once in lifetime adventure’. Ever since I was shortlisted for a job with a church there I’ve felt a connection.

Reports are that the death toll is still rising and that it will take years if not decades to reconstruct the city centre:

VIDEO: Christchurch in ruins

One of the strengths of the Anglican church is that it is a world wide family of churches, and in times of crisis families can either draw together or pull apart. I was pleased to hear that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the bishop of Christchurch to assure her of his prayers and the prayers of the Church of England. The Dean of Oxford Cathedral (with which the cathedral in Christchurch is twinned) has written to offer his support too. If you didn’t know already the cathedral in Christchurch was severeley damaged and in all likelihood will need to be demolished.

The Bishop of Christchurch Victoria Matthews was interviewed here about the situation.

Another strength of the Anglican church is our rich heritage of prayer. In times of trouble it can be difficult to find the right words, and the Church of England has suggested the following for use in churches praying for New Zealand. It is adapted from a New Zealand Prayer:

God of consolation
grant to those who suffer and sorrow at this time of devastation in Christchurch,
the spirit of faith and courage,
that they may have the strength to meet the days to come
with steadfastness and patience;
not sorrowing without hope
but clinging to your goodness and love,
through Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and the life,

Amen.

Missionaries in Egypt rejoice with Egyptians

From the Living Church Website

“there is an atmosphere of cautious optimism. People are proud of being Egyptians! Most people don’t think there is much chance for the Islamists to take power in the elections. Egypt is aware that the world is watching, and [Egyptians] don’t want any kind of totalitarian regime, neither secular nor religious.”

Read the whole article.

American Missionary killed in Mexico

The whole sad story is here.

The missionary, Nancy Davis, who had worked in Mexico for decades, was shot in the back of the head by gunmen in a pickup truck who had pursued her and her husband for miles in Tamaulipas State.
Her husband, Samuel Davis, piloted his bullet-ridden truck across the two-mile international bridge here, driving pell-mell against traffic on the wrong side of the bridge to evade the pursuers and reach an American hospital. He arrived on the United States side too late to save Ms. Davis, 59.

Jesus – as smart as IKEA?

One of my best friends is Rev Rich Wilson vicar of  St Michaels Church Twerton (possibly the best church website I’ve seen). Anyway we go back years together and speak on the phone probably every week. One of the things I love about Richard is his enthusiasm for all things to do with God. Jesus, the church, the end times… you name it Richard get’s passionate about it. He’s a deep thinker too. Here is his presentation of the Gospel of Jesus – the Good News Jesus brings. In it he asks the question ‘Is Jesus at least as smart as Ikea?’

If you have a spare 45mins this video repays careful watching. You’ll enjoy it!

Praying for Egypt

A short helpful guide to praying for Egypt from the American Anglican Council:

Also here is a brief update from the head of Egypt’s Bible Society Ramez Atallah along with some of his prayer requests from the Gospel Coalition Blog:

1. Christians and Muslims have been united as never before defending their homes on overnight shifts (due to the lack of police security). This is resulting for many to make friends with neighbors they never knew, and there is a real sense of camaraderie, which we never had before.
2. Most of the demonstrations in Cairo are restricted to Tahrir Square, which is very close to Kasr El Doubara Evangelical Church, so they especially need your prayers for protection.
3. No one we know has been injured or attacked.
4. Food, medical, and other supplies are dwindling, since most factories and businesses are closed after last weeks wave of vandalism and the daily 3 p.m. curfew. Pray for the poor and destitute who suffer most at this time.
5. I’ve lived through many of these kind of dramatic events: 1952 revolution, which deposed the king; the burning of much of downtown Cairo; the tri-partite attack on Egypt in 1956 by the Israelis, French, and British following the nationalization of the Suez Canal (a bomb fell in our garden); the nationalization of all capitalists when my family lost all their properties and were terribly humiliated—my pediatrician was tortured to death in jail during that time; the brutal assassination in 1981 of President Sadat after he made peace with Israel; the security forces’ rampage, which caused much damage around the city and a strong earthquake in 1992, etc. So though this situation is volatile and unstable, we’ve lived through similar crises and its not time to panic or leave the country.
6. All Bible Society staff and properties are safe up till now.
7. Please pray for:
a. Christians in Egypt (locals and expats) to not get tempted to “run” when things get hard. Libby Little, whose husband, Tom, was brutally murdered in Afghanistan last summer, said that during that terrible war they and their daughters were called “the people who stayed”! Lucien Accad, the former head of the Bible Society of Lebanon, stayed with his family during that dangerous civil war even though they all had Swiss passports and could leave.
b. For the Bible Society of Egypt to think of creative ways to bring God’s Word to the people in appropriate ways during these difficult times (much of Scripture was written in contexts of danger). Staff are working from their homes on print and audio materials to produce as soon as we get back to the office.
c. For wisdom for the Army to know how to control the situation without resorting to brutal means to control the crowds.
d. For me to quickly recuperate from a heart crisis (arrhythmia), which I succumbed to last Wednesday and spend eight days in CCU. Today is my first day home.

Who are the poor?

Interesting article on attitudes to poverty and benefits. The identity of the author may surprise you. Who is likely to write something like this?

My two grandfathers were working class. They both lived in rented accommodation, and earned their living from a skilled trade. They both spent teenage years in the trenches in France fighting for their country. One, a farrier, had to become a labourer for the electricity company when horse shoeing went out of fashion. The other did move in later life from carpentry and shop fitting to a clerical job in an office.

In the 50s and 60s when I was a child working class attitudes were straightforward. The families did not want to accept charity. It was the father’s task to find and keep a job to pay the rent and the food bills. There was a pride in self help, and in the dignity of labour. A man defined himself by what he did, by his position in life. As the welfare state developed, people were happy to take universal benefits like free health care and the old age pension. They saw these as entitlements, paid for by their National Insurance stamp. They saw means tested benefits as a kind of state charity they would rather avoid. One grandfather supported the Unions and Labour, the other I think voted Liberal. Neither wanted to talk religion or politics. Both were Church of England, and had imbibed a moral sense from the Christian message. Both liked the NHS, protecting them from the unaffordable doctor’s bills.

Whole article here.

A letter from the Bishop of Egypt

The Anglican Communion Website has published the following letter from the Bishop of Egypt, the Rt Rev Mouneer Anis:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

My Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

First, I would like to thank you so much for your prayers, phone calls, and messages from around the world that you have sent in the last few days. I want you to know that these meant a lot to me personally and to your brothers and sisters in the church here.

In the midst of the turmoil which Egypt is going through, we have felt that the Lord is very near to us. We have experienced his peace, and we were assured of his protection. In most of our churches and homes, there have been prayer meetings for the situation and for our beloved country Egypt. All our churches are safe, although they have not been guarded by the security since Friday when all the security were withdrawn. This assured us that the one who protects the churches is the Lord of the Church.
I was touched to see young adults, Muslims and Christians, guarding the streets, homes, and our churches. They did not allow any thieves or looters to come near the area. They also arrested some of those and handed them over to the Army. I applaud our local Egyptian clergy and people who joined the youth in the streets in guarding homes and churches.

I admired all our expatriate clergy and diocesan staff who refused to leave Egypt in order to stay in the midst of the people who decided not to go, even when their Embassies encouraged them to leave and provided airplanes to do so.

Yesterday demonstrations were very peaceful, in spite of the huge number that gathered in the middle of Cairo. We praise the Lord that we have now the internet back, and we can communicate with you all. This morning the security also returned to guard the churches as normal.

Yesterday, President Mubarak made it very clear that he will not seek re-election after he finishes his term in November 2011. He appointed Mr. Ibrahim Soliman as a Vice-President. He has a good reputation among Egyptians. This appointment ruled out the possibility of appointing the President’s son as a successor. President Mubarak also appointed a new Prime Minister, Mr. Shafik who was the Minister of Civil Aviation (Egypt Air, etc…). He is a very good man and has done a lot of improvement in his previous Ministry. President Mubarak also called for a review for the Constitution to allow democracy; he also assured the people that those who were responsible for the violence, destructions, looting, escape of prisoners, etc… will be brought to judgment.
Our concern was that extremist groups would take advantage of the demonstrations to push for violence. We thank God that this did not happen. It seems that the majority of the youth who are demonstrating are aware of this possibility. Many of them started to see this possible risk. The youth who were interviewed by the television yesterday mentioned that all what they need is democracy. Many groups this morning are demonstrating in support of President Mubarak, the new government, and peaceful transfer of authority at the end of the Presidents term.

Egypt is a very important country in the whole of the Middle East, and whatever happens in Egypt affects the rest of the countries. I was amazed at how the President of Yemen, this morning, announced that he will not seek re-election and will not promote his son to be the next president. We pray that we can set a good example to the surrounding countries.

We appreciate your prayers for:

Our churches and institutions, so that we can fix our eyes on God who is in control. May what is happening help us to draw nearer to God and to know that the time is short.

The end of demonstrations, especially in view of the changes that President Mubarak announced.

This will bring Egypt back to normal and the curfew will be ended.

The new government, in order to achieve the desired targets in serving the people, especially the Minister of the Interior who is now trying to re-build the trust with the people of Egypt.

People to find their needs of food and health care.

Wisdom for the youth, in order not to allow the extremists to stir them up.

The families who lost their loved ones in the violence, and those who are injured.

Our beloved Egypt to recover this turmoil.

Once again, thank you so much for your prayers and words of encouragement.

May the Lord bless you!

Yours in Christ,

+Mouneer

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt
with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
President Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican
Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East