Church demolished and 37 Christians arrested
Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries, reports:
Sudanese authorities demolished part of the main church building belonging to Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church on December 2, 2014, and arrested 37 people who were praying inside.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), police and security officers arrived at 6am in nine police vans and began demolishing part of the church building before arresting 37 people who were praying in the church.
The group of 15 women and 22 men were detained before being charged under sections 69, 77 and 99 of the criminal code with ‘breach of the peace, public nuisance and obstruction of a public servant during the course of his duty.’
‘Eleven of the detainees were then transferred to Khartoum Bahri Criminal Court, which acquitted two of the group and found the rest guilty of the charges, imposing a fine of 250 Sudanese Pounds (SDP) ($43 USD),’ said a spokesperson for CSW. ‘Eleven others were sent to Omar El Mukhtar court in Kober, Khartoum North. They were found guilty of the charges and were also fined the equivalent of $43 US). The final 15 were tried at the El Jireif West Criminal court and were all acquitted.’
Part of the demolished church building (CSW)
CSW said that the raid on December 2 was one of a series of actions taken against the Bahri Evangelical Church in recent weeks. On November 17, 2014, security personnel arrived at the church and demolished a wall of the main building and neighbouring houses. Security personnel presented the church leaders with a court order demanding that the property be given to a Muslim businessman who was the alleged owner.
Then, on November 18, 2014, the church leaders filed a formal challenge over the legal ownership and are awaiting a court decision. On the same day, security personnel arrived with a second court order requiring that all property be removed from one of the houses and padlocks belonging to the Muslim businessman fitted on all doors. Church members formed a human shield preventing the security personnel from interfering with the property.
Finally, on November 25, 2014, eight people were arrested for refusing to comply with the court orders to hand over the church to the Muslim businessman. The group, including five church leaders named as the Rev. Daud Fadul, elder Fathi Hakim, elder Nouh Manzoul, deacon Iman Hamid and Tilal Mafishi.
Before its demolition, members of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church watch, pray and worship at disputed property. (Morning Star News)
‘Local sources report that police officers are still surrounding the church, indicating their intention to take further action,’ added the CSW spokesperson. ‘The raid on Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church is the third incident of the government destroying church buildings during 2014, and indicates an escalation of intimidation against Christians.
‘In July, Sudanese government reiterated their policy of not allowing new church buildings to be built, two weeks after another church was demolished with only 24 hours’ notice given to the church leaders.’
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said ‘We are deeply concerned by the continuing action of the Sudanese authorities against the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church. The destruction of a religious building is a violation of congregants’ rights to freedom of religion or belief as guaranteed in article 6 of the Sudanese constitution.
‘Furthermore, the arrest of 37 congregants while they were praying is not only a violation of their rights to freedom of religion or belief, but also their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly which are all guaranteed under Sudan’s constitution. We call on the Sudanese authorities to use utmost restraint and allow for the legal challenge of the ownership of the church to be concluded in the courts whilst ensuring that the rights of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical church are no longer interfered with.’
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. For further information Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at CSW Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.csw.org.uk.
Biblical answers for struggling marriages
Dan Wooding also highlights a helpful book by missionary to Japan, Tim Cole…
Have you hit an impasse in your marriage? Or are you simply searching for ways to make it work? Perhaps you and your spouse need a set of guidelines to help you get on the same page with your marriage.
Biblical Answers for Struggling Marriages: 31 Studies for Marriage at an Impasse will help you find the answers you need from the Bible, as well as from the expertise of competent counsellors and therapists. It doesn’t offer easy answers and quick solutions. That is because marriage itself is challenging and takes work.
The book will take you all the way from relational basics to the complexities of sexual intimacy and gender differences. Read it yourself, use it with your spouse, or try it as a study guide for your small group.
Why is it that marriage can be so painful and what answers does the Bible provide? Tim Cole offers an in-depth understanding of God’s intentions for marriage and how to find hope, courage, and wisdom to survive and thrive in a difficult marriage.
Tim knows from personal experience that there are few easy answers. But for those determined to keep their marriages intact, the Bible provides penetrating insights, necessary choices, and motivational keys to make this possible. Into this core of biblical teaching, Tim has inserted sound principles of marriage counselling and essential research on gender differences, communication, and family dynamics.
The book’s format makes it suitable for couples to read together, for personal devotions, or to use as a small group study guide. In these lessons, Tim – who married Katie (left) in 1980 and founded Family Forum Japan in 1996 – identifies critical areas of marital struggle including expectations, leadership, sexuality, gender roles and differences, conflict resolution, communication, forgiveness, combativeness, perception distortions, unresponsiveness, neglect, and many more.
Examples of biblical characters bring the lessons to life, and practical action steps help readers move toward change. If you are seeking a biblically truthful, direct, and balanced approach to the realities of marriage, this book is for you.
Dr Tim Cole was born and raised in Japan of missionary parents, and has spent most of his adult life in Christian camping, church planting, and family ministry in Japan.
Book orders: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/biblical-answers-for-struggling-marriages / See also www.facebook.com/strugglingmarriage – where excerpts are posted daily.
Recommended Christmas reading
MARY: MY STORY
The journey from Bethlehem to Calvary crafted by ASSIST’s founder and Director, is a really good read. It is an epic story, based on the Bible, about an extraordinary mother who was described by God as “highly favored” among women. Link:marythebook.com. See also Resources
Miracle ‘Jesus Well’
ASSIST News shares a great Gospel for Asia report…
The crops in the fields were hardly surviving, and the faint cry of suffering livestock and children could be heard throughout the village. A trickle of water flowed down from a nearby mountain.
Women drawing water from a Jesus Well
The villagers had dug into the stream’s bank, scrounging for cupfuls of water in order to survive. The summer months slipped slowly by as more livestock died and families struggled with waterborne sicknesses. It especially hit a tender spot at the centre of this village where Hetal lived.
A husband and father of four, Hetal farmed the land around his house and laboured elsewhere trying to provide for his family. But his health declined when his body swelled for unknown reasons, which severely limited his ability to work. He was unable to provide proper meals for his children, and they suffered for the lack. The livestock, a main source of income, soon died.
Caring GFA pastor
Hetal was not the only one stricken with poverty, though. The surrounding villagers knew his pain, and so did Gospel for Asia’s Pastor Siddha.
The pastor served in this area and desired to see the villagers’ needs met. When he walked through the village, he watched them fight the mud for the slightest amount of water along with the well located near the village’s edge. He knew they urgently needed a pure source of water.
One day, Pastor Siddha walked toward the centre of the village and approached Hetal.
‘Can we drill a “Jesus Well” here on your property?’ he asked.
Hetal agreed and donated a portion of his land for the Jesus Well.
Clean water, healings and blessings
When the drilling began, the villagers watched curiously. Soon, the Jesus Well produced clean water, and the people’s eyes lit up with joy. Hetal watched as the entire village began coming to the well regularly for clean water.
Encouraged by this gift to the village, Hetal went to the pastor and asked for prayer to be relieved from this sickness that kept his body swollen. Pastor Siddha then came to his house and shared how much Jesus loved Hetal.
Hetal, touched by this Good News, opened his heart to Jesus and experienced complete healing from his mysterious sickness – and his children were also healed!
Now the family gladly attends church regularly, and the Jesus Well remains a reminder of God’s faithfulness to Hetal and the village.
‘It is God’s bountiful blessings,’ Pastor Siddha shared, ‘that even during the summer, when most of the wells are dry from giving water, our Jesus Well has not yet dried. There is plenty of water through all the seasons. It has blessed all the villagers.’
What if you had to use muddied water similar to Hetal and his village challeges GFA.
A woman of influence makes a difference for the disabled
Since the first program aired in 1996, SAT-7 broadcasts have brought quality Christian television programming directly into millions of homes throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It airs six channels in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish languages to a known audience of over 15 million viewers!
The website, http://www.sat7usa.org/about-sat-7 says that in a region characterised by high illiteracy rates, media censorship, and limited incomes, anyone with a satellite dish can turn on SAT-7 and hear the word of God in his or her language.
It adds: ‘Viewers can join a global fellowship of Christians within the privacy of their own homes — a significant concern for those who live in violence-stricken or oppressive environments. Audience Relations Specialists are available throughout the region to counsel and pray with viewers.’
According to Lindsay Shaw, Web Editor and Writer, SAT-7 UK, Sena is the presenter of two new SAT-7 TÜRK programs, one about people with disabilities and the other for women. Sena is well known as an influential and outspoken woman regarding social justice and women’s issues in Turkey.
Sena (Photo courtesy SAT-7).
Sena’s new SAT-7 TÜRK series on disability is called Life Without Obstacles.
‘The message is that we all have disabilities,’ said Sena. ‘But there is hope in every situation because we have hope in God.’ Evidence of this hope comes in an abundance of letters that Life without Obstacles receives from families with disabled children who are ‘finding power from God to keep going in life.’
SAT-7 explains that for each episode, Sena carefully selects Bible verses designed to give ‘a powerful message of hope to people with disabilities and their careers.’ Sena stated how she scripted an episode about visually disabled people. She found a blind artist who is ‘drawing amazing pictures’ that will astonish viewers. ‘You would never dream that someone with his disability could be an artist.’
There is a similar message for women in the new SAT-7 TÜRK series, Concerning a Woman, according to Lindsay Shaw, the website’s editor and writer. ‘This show is a call for women to stand up,’ Sena said. ‘Despite Turkey’s modern urban face, the plight of women in rural areas has changed little over the centuries.’
In a country with only a tiny Christian minority, Concerning a Woman will ‘show what a Christian life is like.’ Most Turks have a distorted view of how Christians live, gained from the behaviour of characters in Hollywood films or misinformation about Christianity prevalent in Turkish culture. ‘When we say the Christian life is nothing like that, they are very surprised!’ said Sena.
Lindsay Shaw writes: ‘With her warm, encouraging personality, Sena always lets her viewers know that, with God’s power, they too can live positively and overcome any obstacles.’
Sena and the other members of the SAT-7 TÜRK staff request prayers to overcome an obstacle keeping the channel off the national Turkish satellite, for its broadcasts will be able to reach Christians in need throughout Turkey.
Michael Ireland is also a volunteer Internet journalist and licensed minister who has reported for ASSIST News Service from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Link: email@example.com
Making a difference with Deep Core Bore Wells
‘Here in Australia, we have ready access to safe, clean drinking water. But many of our brothers and sisters in India are suffering. With issues such as extreme drought, over-population and a lack of sanitation in many areas, there is a scarcity of safe drinking water in many rural towns and villages,’ writes Jossy Chacko, founder of Empart Australia. ‘Water borne diseases are on the rise in India.’
According to Water Aid, an international organisation working to ensure safe drinking water for Indian villages, 37.7 million Indians are affected by water borne diseases annually and 1.5 million children die of diarrhoea alone.
A large population of poor Untouchables and Christians suffer needlessly from preventable illnesses and water-borne diseases during times of water shortage. Where clean water is available, discrimination often prevents the poor and marginalised from accessing it. They are not allowed to go near an existing well when rich and high caste people are present.
When they do try to collect water they often suffer physical violence and abuse. Christians are treated as outcasts due to their belief in Jesus. They live under constant oppression and discrimination.
The majority of hand pumps provided by the government in India are drilled close to Hindu or Muslim prayer houses. These wells, over time, often become part of the prayer house or get ‘sanctified’ thereby denying access to members of other religious faiths whose touch or presence could taint the sanctity of the water.
Pastor Phin* (Not real name) laments, ‘We have to wait till it gets dark to go near the well and draw water. During the day we are afraid to go near the well due to verbal abuse and physical violence.’
Mamata* (Not real name) states, ‘We have to walk two kilometres to get water from the well. If high caste people are present we have to wait. It may take hours to draw water and then reach home. This situation becomes worse when the temperature soars and the water level dips low.’
Through their work with rural communities, Empart Church Planters and Key Women have identified the need to provide fresh drinking water for poor communities. Empart has committed to drilling deep tube bore wells across the north and eastern states of India where chronic drought and religious extremism exist. Each deep core bore well costs $3,200.
The aims of the Deep Core Bore Wells Project include:
• Providing access to safe drinking water without discrimination.
• Releasing the poor and the downtrodden from those who hold control over basic necessities.
• Gaining wider acceptance, appreciation and participation for the poor in their communities.
Watch Deep Core Bore Wells here.
Through the generous giving of Empart partners we have dug 55 deep core bore wells so far! We are now aiming to drill another 125 wells and help is requested. You have the power to help prevent the spread of illness and disease, to help save lives. Tax-deductible donations to the Empart Deep Core Bore Wells Project will provide access to clean water and hope for communities in need. Will you be one to make a difference?
Link: www.empart.org / Phone: Int + 613 9723-9989 / Office: PO Box 980 Croydon VIC 3136