Displaying items by tag: Religion
In November Christian Concern and the Christian Schools’ Trust are jointly hosting another online conference, with free follow-up networking events, for Christians in education. In C S Lewis’ The Last Battle, the call to come ‘further up and further in’ is made to those on the cusp of a great new adventure. Those in education with a distinctively Christian vision will be stirred through these events, to ‘go deeper’ into His plans for them personally and for those they educate. Over 300 teachers and educationalists joined the previous online conference in February. The organisers are inviting all Christians in education to be part of this growing movement, seeking to be distinctively Christian in schools across the UK and beyond: being encouraged, envisioned, and equipped to serve the Lord in their schools, and to meet and network with other Christian teachers in the same key stage or subject.
M4 Ready is a ten-month online training course for people who have a potential to plant, lead and multiply churches in their nations. It is intended for younger leaders in local churches, denominations, networks or organisations with a more than average leadership potential who already have some track record of entrepreneurship, initiating new things, and bringing change. The M4 team process goes on to give further two years of training that seeks to help the church planter and their team succeed in the first years of church-planting. Success means that, at the end of the training process, the team is prepared to launch a healthy reproducing church that glorifies God and impacts society. See also the UK article ‘Bringing the Word of God back to the UK’.
St John's Seminary, near Guildford, has come to the end of an era. The 130-year-old institution has only five trainee priests and no new enrolments. The five students will continue their studies at the only other two remaining seminaries in England. In 2019 there were just 29 trainee Catholic priests in the whole country. 100 years ago there were enough seminarians to fill the steps of the grand Victorian building of St John’s. Its rector said, 'It's a very sad moment, but to carry on was not viable. When I trained here in 1973 I was one of 90. I never thought I'd be back overseeing its closure.' The loss of the seminary comes against a backdrop of an increasingly secular world and the fallout from countless sex abuse scandals in the church. The seminaries are swimming against the tide in an increasingly secular and materialistic society.
We prayed recently for the capture of terrorists in Indonesiawho killed four Christians. See ‘When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks’ (Qur’an 47:4). Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long wrestled with extremist militancy and terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades. After President Suharto’s fall in 1998, Indonesian Muslims who had travelled to join the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s returned to Indonesia and formed various militant groups and launched multiple terrorist attacks. IS has capitalised on Indonesia’s Islamist networks to boost its recruitment efforts and carry out attacks in the country. IS propaganda is singling out Indonesian Muslims for recruitment.
Across Nigeria 1,470 Christians have been murdered and 2,200 abducted since January. The most recent offence was in Kaduna State when eight Christians were killed and a church was burned down. Pray for an end to such attacks by Fulani Muslim herdsmen and jihadists. In Burkina Faso jihadists ambushed a baptism and killed 15 of the Christians. Al-Qaeda and IS have been growing in West Africa since January. Pray for God's peace for the many who are living in fear and protection over those who ran away. In India’s Rajasthan state 15 radical Hindu nationalists carrying swords, sickles, and a gun attacked the family of a pastor after they all refused to renounce their Christian faith. The assailants killed the pastor’s 52-year-old father. Pray for God to strengthen and encourage church planters and house churches in different Hindu-dominant villages. Armenian Christian gravestones are used to build roads in Azerbaijan as they seek to eradicate evidence of Armenian culture and identity.
A Christian journalist in Bethlehem said the unrest between Israel and Gaza is a ‘spiritual battle’. In Genesis God tells the Jews, ‘I will give you this land’. Muslims believe that ‘a Messiah is coming soon and will free Jerusalem and give Israel and Palestine to them’. In his opinion this is making for a spiritual battle in the Holy Land - a view partly echoed by a Canon of St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem, Rev David Longe. ‘I think it's quite clear that elements within each of the warring factions will see it as a spiritual battle, because they will actually look to Scripture to give them the grounding for the reasons why these actions are happening.’ Rev Longe is desperately concerned for both sides in the violence, and believes it is vital for people across the world to continue to pray for peace in the region.
29 June is traditionally regarded as the date on which the Apostle Paul was beheaded on the Appian Way in Rome. Join Christians around the world who will take time on that day to honor the legacy of those who, like Paul, gave their lives to advance the gospel. This year, Voice of the Martyrs is honoring the legacy of Rocio Pino, from Colombia. On 6 March 2011, Rocio was shot to death in retaliation for her witness for Christ to guerrilla fighters in Colombia.
Rev Dr Bernard Randall, a former chaplain of Christ’s College, Cambridge, is taking Trent College to court for discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and unfair dismissal after the school reported him - without his knowledge - to the government anti-terror watchdog for a sermon he gave at the school on ‘identity politics’. There has been widespread bewilderment as the story has been covered by newspapers and the internet. How can such a reasonable sermon from a Christian minister provoke the treatment he received? How can you be labelled a terrorist and eventually lose your job in a Christian school for advocating freedom of belief? He says his story sends a message to Christians: ‘You are not free to talk about your faith. It’s not enough to just “tolerate” LGBT ideology. You must accept it without question; no debate is allowed without serious consequences.’
Many more arrests will follow after Rangers supporters shouted anti-Catholic slogans and songs and damaged property in Glasgow. Violent clashes led to five police officers being injured and thirty rioters arrested. Thousands of fans defied Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and massed in George Square to celebrate Rangers winning their first Scottish Premiership championship since 2011. Images later showed George Square strewn with hundreds of broken bottles, plastic bags, and spent flares after flag-draped fans attacked each other and threw dangerous missiles at lines of riot gear-clad police officers. Nicola Sturgeon described the scenes as disgraceful: she was ‘angry on behalf of every law-abiding citizen. In normal times, violence, vandalism, and the vile anti-Catholic prejudice on display would be utterly unacceptable. But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it is also selfish beyond belief.’
Leah Sharibu was 14 when she was abducted in 2018 by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). She defied the terrorist group, a splinter group of Boko Haram, when they abducted 110 girls from school. ISWAP released 104 of them a month later; five died, and Leah was the only one not freed because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. President Buhari pledged to secure her freedom during his visit to the USA. In London, he told the Archbishop of Canterbury he is working quietly to free her. In January 2020 there were reports that Leah had had a baby. In March 2021, rumours surfaced that she had given birth to her second child. Her parents said that the government had not helped them secure Leah’s release; they rest their hope in God, not government. Her mother Rebecca said, ‘By the grace of God. I have not lost hope because God is in control and people are praying.’