Displaying items by tag: Religion
Kidnappings for ransom have surged as gangs gain influence amid a political crisis. Seven Catholic clergy, five Haitian and two French, have been kidnapped. The five priests and two nuns were abducted in a commune northeast of Port-au-Prince, while they were on their way to the installation of a new parish priest. The kidnappers demanded $1m ransom for them. The Haitian Conference of Believers said three other people had been kidnapped at the same time. Authorities suspect an armed gang called ‘400 Mawozo’ which kidnaps for ransom. Armed gangs have increased as the nation is rocked by political unrest. Gang violence and political instability has drawn protesters onto the streets at the subhuman situation where the political leaders cling to power, but are increasingly powerless.
On 12 April, 1.6 billion Muslims will begin thirty days of prayer and fasting for Ramadan. Tens of thousands of disciples around the world will pray for them to come to know Jesus and experience new life in him. You are invited to join ‘Beyond’ for a regional update focused on the Islamic world and hear how God is working among Muslim peoples, the challenges and strongholds they face, and how we in the UK can get involved in reaching them with the Good News. The free online multi-week trainings are called Disciple-making Movement Nuggets. Each session focuses on one component - giving a short, practical piece people can ‘try out’. If they find it helpful, they can be connected to more detailed training and coaching. See also
Sir Keir Starmer apologised for the ‘hurt’ caused by his visit to Jesus House of All Nations after the church was criticised for holding traditional biblical views on homosexuality. He praised the church for opening its premises as a vaccination centre, then later tweeted it was a ‘mistake’ to visit the church, and that he was ‘not aware’ of their views on gay rights. The church was criticised for being anti-LGBT and supporting conversion therapy, but it does not engage in conversion therapy. Pastor Agu, the church pastor, said they provide appropriate pastoral support, including prayer, to all their members, whatever life situations they find themselves in: ‘This is consistent with the fundamentals of freedom of speech and freedom of religion and the government's current position. Over the past 48 hours, in the courtroom of social media, we have felt prosecuted, judged, and sentenced unfairly.’ He said he is very concerned for the thousands of churches and millions of Christians who hold a traditional biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
In November, the Government proposed cutting its aid budget as a result of the pandemic. In March the Prime Minister said the proposed reduction was only temporary and the figure would return to 0.7% cent ‘when the fiscal situation allows’. In a joint statement Archbishop Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that the recent review of defence, diplomacy, and development was a pledge to return the aid budget to 0.7% and honour the many promises made and to deliver on the duty imposed by Parliament. They added, ‘Saying the Government will only do this “when the fiscal situation allows” suggests it will act in contravention of its legally binding target. This promise, repeatedly made even during the pandemic, has been broken and must be put right.’
Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Church of England’s first black female bishop, is concerned that a Government’s report on race and ethnic disparities said that the success of the ethnic minority population in education and economy is a model for other white-majority countries. The Bishop said that we will be an example when black people are not just sweeping floors, cleaning, and catering in establishments, but sitting around every table and in leadership in all walks of life. ‘There are serious issues around that report if it is telling us we are now a model country.’ The report, commissioned after the Black Lives Matter movement began, said there was no evidence of institutional racism in the UK: rather, geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture, and religion all impact life chances more than racism. Many say the report was culturally deaf and out of step with public opinion.
ECM UK is an international, interdenominational mission agency whose ministry primarily focuses on planting churches in areas of Europe where there is little or no evangelical presence. They work in over twenty countries, planting churches, training people in leadership development and managing social care ministries. Nearly all ECM missionaries are volunteers, raising their own financial support and prayer cover. ECM also has partners in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, France, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands, all reaching out to unreached Europeans. See
A Turkish court sentenced Syriac priest Father Sefer to two years and one month in prison on terrorism-related charges. This sentence comes just over a year after Father Bileçen was detained alongside twelve others on the charges of aiding the PKK, an internationally recognised terrorist organisation. Father Bileçen said, ‘Two members of the organisation came to the monastery asking for food, and I gave it. It was detected afterwards, and the gendarmerie commander met me through the metropolitan bishop. I did not deny it. I wanted security measures to be taken so that this would not happen again. But no security measures were taken.’ Nevertheless he thought the case was closed. Christians in rural Turkey are caught in the middle of the Turkey-PKK conflict and no matter how they respond - they lose. Religious charity is being criminalised.
A teacher who showed pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad is in fear for his life. His parents have also gone into hiding, amid growing concerns the wider family may be targeted and even killed by extremists. Mass protests have been held outside the school since the teacher used the cartoon in a lesson looking at blasphemy. A Paris teacher was beheaded in October after showing his class the same image. Despite appealing for calm, local leaders have noticeably stopped short of calling for the protests to stop. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said teachers should be allowed to show such images in free society. ‘We want religions to be taught to children and children to be able to question and query them.’ 70,000 people signed a petition supporting the teacher, but anger grows as others demand that he goes.
Eight Christians have been abducted while on their way to evangelise in Kaduna state. The group of members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God were travelling towards the town of Kafanchan when gunmen intercepted the bus, according to International Christian Concern and the Nigerian Tribune. Eje Kenny Faraday, a witness, posted a picture on Facebook showing the empty bus saying, ‘All passengers in the bus are just kidnapped along Kachia Road, Km 63 from Kaduna.’ The kidnappers have demanded the equivalent of £88,000 for their release. A search for the members has been launched by security agencies including the police and the military.
Christian volunteer security guards are preparing to defend their churches in the run-up to Easter. With world-wide concern peaking after Palm Sunday’s suicide bomb in Indonesia, William Arif Khan and his team of fifteen security volunteers at Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral stressed the need for extra vigilance. ‘For the past twelve years, I have been leading young men dedicated to support the police’s security guards stationed at the cathedral. We don't expect any rewards. All of them have dedicated their holiday to the Church. They have metal detectors. The police have allowed us to keep some licensed weapons on church premises; but only my deputy and I are armed with a pistol. Everybody is afraid of the terrorists. But we stand for the One who protects us all. Our faith tells us that God won't let us down. We perform our duties with complete passion and avoid negative thinking.’