Some Christmas craft Ideas for the kids…
Make a toilet roll manger:
Print and put up a cute nativity scene in cardboard box:
Christmas colouring pages to print out:
To make a popcorn and dried fruit garland for the tree:
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
In the traditional church calendar, “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day” stand out in the month of November, set apart to remember the saints of the church and the souls of those who departed this world. It is fitting that the modern church has set apart the month of November to remember and pray for the persecuted church, and for this reason today is marked as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).
Many saints are hidden from the world, their stories never told, and this is especially true of the persecuted/suffering church. Brother Andrew of Open Doors once said, “Our heroes are not with us simply because they are in prison.” And if they’re not in prison, they may be in hiding, somewhere in a jungle, or in a refugee camp. In some places believers are considered the lowest of the low, and they may also be the poorest of the poor – their poverty and hardship exacerbated or caused by ostracism, discrimination, torture, violence, imprisonment and so on….often barred from jobs and education they may also be sidelined when it comes to the distribution of aid and relief in times of disaster, and so dealt a double blow. This happened in several countries following the tsunami. In fact in one place Christians were told they could only receive aid if they converted.
Just a few examples from around the world of these poor and lowly citizens include:
For example: the Dalit people of India, the “untouchables” who are considered less than human, outside even the caste system and without rights of any kind. As a way of trying to help the Dalit people, the Indian government does give special quotas of places in educational institutes and government jobs, but only if they are Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist. Christian and Muslim Dalits are not eligible for these special quotas.
And the people dubbed the Rubbish People of Cairo, the Zabaleen as they are known in Arabic. There are an estimated 100,000 of these mostly Coptic Christians living on Cairo’s rubbish dump, eking out an existence from sorting and converting rubbish overrun by rats and disease. Yet despite the appalling conditions, there are some glimmers of hope. Can you believe that out of this place exists a Zabaleen church which has been hewn out of solid rock and which can seat 12,000 people, making it one of the biggest churches in the Middle East. In a population of 80 million Egyptians, 10% are Coptic Christian (that’s around 8 million) and yet it’s the 100,000 or so Zabaleen people that gives rise to the ME’s largest church.
[UPDATE: since further checking sources, I have learned that earlier this year, pigs were slaughtered by the Egyptian authorities on the (spurious) pretext of swine flu. This was a serious blow to hundreds of these Christian families who earn their living collecting and processing garbage, including feeding waste food to pigs. Now the Egyptian government has dealt one of these “garbage village” communities another blow, ruling that they must be moved en masse to a place 30 km further from Cairo. This will make it impossible for them to continue with their garbage processing, as the city will be too far for them to collect garbage on their donkey-drawn carts. Pray for these communities and that the government will not implement this decision].
Then there are the Karen people of Burma, where recent attacks by the Burmese Army have left thousands fleeing for safety to the Thai border and in desperate need of adequate food, shelter, clothing and medical care. The Karen are known to be a simple, peaceful and loyal people.
As you can see, the theme adopted this year is Persecuted, but not Abandoned. Persecution is a fact of the Christian world. In fact Christians in the free-er world are now the exception, not the rule and most Christians in the world today are either Asian, African or Indian.
It is also a sad fact that not only are these Christians often abandoned by their neighbours and family, their society and their government, but all too often the church is silent too. For those living in countries hostile to Christianity especially, very little help is available from within their own society – no organisations or infrastructure to address their needs, support them or advocate for the injustices they suffer. Some governments just neglect or ignore them, failing to enforce what little protection exists at law. Other governments actively oppress Christians, passing laws to disadvantage them and pressure them into renouncing their faith, even using fear and violence to intimidate and crush them. So it is little wonder that they turn to Christians within free societies to be their advocates and support and yet often we don’t respond. It is one thing (i.e. it won’t necessarily cost you your political hide) to speak out on behalf of the poor; it is another thing to speak out for those who are poor and destitute because of their faith. Even here in this country, there can be a cost, but what is it in comparison with the suffering we know others are going through?
Here is a report on what one Imam, Sheikh Dr Muhammad al-Hussaini, says about Church passivity in face of Muslim persecution of Christians [this is in the UK context]
In an interview with Premier Christian Radio earlier this year, Sheikh Dr Muhammad al-Hussaini, founder of Scripture Reasoning and Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Leo Beck Rabbinical College*, blamed the church hierarchy in the UK for not protesting vociferously and actively at Christian persecution around the world. Al-Hussaini mentioned specifically horrendous machete attacks on Christians in Nigeria, Iraqi Christians being burned out of their homes and Christians in Pakistan being stoned or attacked on the slightest pretext. He highlighted Barnabas Fund`s efforts on behalf of persecuted Christians as an example of how concerned Christians ought to respond to the plight of their fellow Christians.
While Muslims are hypersensitive to any ill-treatment of Muslims anywhere in the world, he added, they remain silent about the persecution of Christians in their midst. Many Muslims are simply looking for scapegoats to punish for their own troubles. They know that churches in the West will not do more than utter a whimper, as this issue is not sufficiently important to them, mainly because those suffering are neither white nor wealthy, so they can go on with impunity blaming Crusader-Zionist conspiracies for everything.
The Sheikh called upon the church to be a voice for justice for persecuted minorities, which he claims would speak “into the heart of the Muslim community”.
In a lecture earlier this year by Baroness Caroline Cox, founder of Humanitarian Relief Trust, the Nigerian Archbishop (a man who has suffered greatly, faced death and seen his wife brutally attacked) was quoted making this plea –
So persecuted but not Abandoned….
One thing is certain, God has not abandoned them, and he calls us to do the same.
He calls us not to abandon Christ’s beaten, hungry, homeless, impoverished, imprisoned and tortured body on a daily basis. But rather to stand with the Body of Christ, out of love for one another and to “carry each other’s burdens”; to remember those in prison and those being mistreated as if they were “I” (Hebrews 13:3)?
Persecuted believers commonly have wonderful testimonies of how God ministered to and sustained them; how He empowered them and enabled them to endure; how He poured His love into their hearts and His words onto their lips enabling them to reflect divine grace despite terrible injustice and cruelty.
When we pray for Christians who are suffering crippling discrimination, suffocating repression, imprisonment and increasingly violent persecution, we can pray that they will be encouraged, sustained and sanctified as they experience the reality of a loving faithful God who never abandons them and is with them in all their struggles.
Lord, Brother Andrew reminds us that these people are not with us because they are in prison or hidden by poverty and injustice. And so we pray that we may not be silent on their behalf. And where we are silent, let it be because we’ve gone to a quiet place to pray faithfully and regularly for them. You alone see their lonely battles. You alone see our faithful prayers.
* A rabbinical college and centre for Jewish education located in north London that provides training of rabbis and teachers, offers an educational consultancy, helps the development of community leaders, and provides access to Jewish learning for all through interfaith work. It includes The Scriptures in Dialogue project (of which Sheikh Dr Muhammad al-Hussaini is the founder) which is dedicated to the academic study and teaching of comparative Jewish, Christian and Islamic approaches to the interpretation of sacred scripture.
- For protection, wisdom, provision and perseverance for the victims of attacks and for those who have lost loved ones due to violent persecution.
- For protection of Christians who are especially vulnerable, poor and without a “voice.” Pray that they will not feel abandoned but rest in the peace and provision of their Heavenly Father.
- For the church to be united across ethnic or denominational lines.
- That God would raise up just and upright leaders in oppressing countries and would move powerfully by his Spirit amongst government officials.
- For people of all faiths to experience religious freedom and for apostacy laws to be abandoned.
- That God will be the refuge and strength for the vast number of believers imprisoned. Pray for healing for their physical and emotional wounds and that the ever-present Holy Spirit may comfort and counsel their hearts.
- Pray for continued church growth in the midst of oppression and suffering. May Christians display the refreshing righteousness of Christ in the midst of nations struggling with corruption, dictatorship and injustice. May they be a wise and sensitive agent of blessing in the midst of pressure and opposition.
Open Doors www.opendoors.org.au
Barnabas Fund www.barnabasfund.org
Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust www.hart-uk.org
Voice of the Martyrs www.persecution.com.au
Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance www.worldevangelicals.org/commissions/rlc/
Tears of the Oppressed www.tearsoftheoppressed.org
Letter writing (both Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs have resources for this) not only greatly encourages imprisoned believers, but also sends a message to authorities that their actions are being reported on.
This is a presentation put together by Ros Jones for last week’s service at EH.
Happy Eating 4/11/09
Ethical Eating Ideas ..
Ethical Consumer Guide ..
When to plant your fruit and vegies ..
For dog owners..
I noticed for the first time this week that ‘Nature’s Gift’ canned dog food has a kangaroo, rice and vegetables selection. Australian made and owned. Em M.