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Aussie church leaders respond to Christchurch massacre

But it may be too little, too late, says one Christian activist


Religious leaders united at mosques across Australia to mourn with the Muslim community. facebook.com/ArchbishopMarkColeridge

Australian Christian leaders joined many thousands across the world who visited mosques over the weekend to express their solidarity with the Muslim community after last Friday’s terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Meanwhile other church leaders expressed their grief by holding special prayer services and publicly expressing their condemnation of the massacre.

But this reaction comes too late, according to Brad Chilcott, founder of Welcome to Australia and pastor of Activate Church in Adelaide. While Chilcott, who attended Preston Mosque in Melbourne with his daughter on the weekend, acknowledges that it was “great to be there with hundreds of other people who wanted to show solidarity with the Muslim community”, he adds that church leaders needed to react well before now.

“I feel like those of us who have tried to stand with our Muslim neighbours throughout these last years of the fear-mongering and vilification have tried to suggest that this is where it ends when we are unwelcoming and teach each other to fear our neighbour,” Chilcott tells Eternity.

“I hope that this results in a new day for all us in Australia.” – Brad Chilcott

“I would hope that this gives pause for reflection from those of us in the Christian Church to consider how we’ve contributed over the last number of years to the tension, the fear and the Islamophobia that has really taken hold in Australia – how we have often been complicit in that and not been showing solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters as they’ve been attacked in the media and by our political leaders.

“I would encourage Christian leaders to reconsider the language that they’ve often used about Islam and its role in our country, and to really think deeply about any way that they’ve added to that climate of distrust and suspicion of our neighbours.”

Chilcott continues: “I hope that this results in a new day for all us in Australia of recognising that our words don’t just happen in isolation in our churches or in our newspapers, or in parliament, but they have real-world consequences for our neighbours and our fellow humans. When we continue to tell the story of people who are different to us – ruining our way of life or being somehow complicit in evil acts overseas, or things like opposing halal certification – all of those things add to a climate where hate and distrust become overt acts of violence.

“I feel like we’ve often been silent when our political leaders and our media have encouraged prejudice and suspicion. We’ve allowed so much subtle racism and relational violence to take place in our country without speaking out. And now that that has spilled over into this terrorist massacre, then we finally find our voice and finally find our compassion. In many ways, it’s far too late. But I guess the silver lining is that potentially some of us will reflect on our role in this and start to change.”

In a tweet today, March 18, Chilcott urged the Australian public to begin this change in the upcoming federal election, saying, “In May, let’s rid ourselves of all those who’ve been peddling this racism, amplifying hatred and turning Australians against their Muslim, African, refugee and asylum seeker neighbour as a political strategy. We’d be so much better off without them. Now – surely – we can see.”

Over the weekend, other Christian leaders responded to the Muslim community and to the Church after the tragedy in Christchurch.

Stu Cameron, lead minister of Newlife Church, Gold Coast

Stu Cameron, lead minister of Newlife Church on the Gold Coast, joined over 1000 people who gathered for prayer services at the Gold Coast Mosque on Saturday, March 16.

“I was horrified when I turned on my TV on Friday afternoon to discover the rolling coverage of the unfolding tragedy in Christchurch. By Saturday morning I was in touch with other pastors in our city who were similarly shocked, all of us wondering what we should do,” Cameron tells Eternity.

“So we reached out to our contacts in the Muslim community and discovered there was to be a community vigil that afternoon at the city’s mosque. It was an easy decision for me to attend, along with, I’m guessing, 1000 or so others – all creeds and cultures. To shake hands with Muslim leaders present and express the shared grief of the Christian churches of our city was a privilege.

“Good neighbours always weep when the other is weeping.” – Stu Cameron

“In recent years I’ve walked with Muslim neighbours at Welcome to Australia events. Our church welcomes Muslim mums and their kids at our playgroup and our childcare centre. We count it a privilege to be neighbours in our city. And good neighbours always weep when the other is weeping, and stand together in solidarity when the other feels threatened. This is gospel ministry. In coming weeks there will be more to do. But for now, weeping with those who weep is the right place to start.”

Mark Coleridge, Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane

Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge attended a prayer service at the Islamic College of Brisbane on Sunday, March 17, which he described on his Facebook page as “a hugely heartening gathering”.

Coleridge continued: “Faith communities, political and civic leaders, police and many ordinary citizens of many different backgrounds were united in mourning the victims of the Christchurch atrocity, praying for their families and the wounded, and pledging solidarity beyond the evil of hatred and violence. As the young Muslim woman who was the MC said at the end, ‘Don’t go home with a heavy heart but with a heart full of hope’ … we did.”

Glenn Davies, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies took part in a service at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney on Sunday, March 17, which included special prayers for survivors and families of the victims, as well as a minute’s silence.

In a public statement about the attacks, Davies wrote:

“The horror of the massacre of Muslims, praying in a Christchurch Mosque, has resonated with people of all faiths and of none around the world. That anyone, let alone an Australian, could execute such an atrocity and film it for his heinous gratification, is still hard to believe as the extent of this crime became fully known …

“I have conveyed to the leaders of Sydney’s Muslim community our absolute horror and revulsion at these attacks and our determination to stand with them in condemning all acts of violence, especially racially and religiously motivated acts of inhumanity as we have seen …

“Our hearts cry out to the God of all comfort, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom alone will justice and mercy be found, especially when events such as these overwhelm us.”

Murray Campbell, lead pastor, Mentone Baptist Church, Melbourne

Murray Campbell, who heads Melbourne’s Mentone Baptist Church, happened to be preparing a sermon on Jesus’s response to a Canaanite woman (from Matthew 15:21-28) when he heard about the massacre.

In a passionate blog post, he urged Christians to “be more like Jesus” in responding to our Muslim neighbours. Pointing to Jesus’s healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter, Campbell writes: “He doesn’t respond bigotry and exclusion, but with compassion and inclusion.

“We can love Muslim neighbours by praying for those injured and for the many who are now mourning incredible losses …

“We can love our Muslim neighbours by showing kindness to them. On the street, offer a smile. Take a few minutes to chat and offer some kinds words of encouragement. If we don’t have any Muslims in our circle of friends, why not? What can we do to change this omission?

“We can love not only by renouncing the hateful speech of those who oppose Christianity on the left, but also publicly repudiate those on the extreme right who support, urge, and carry out malicious attacks on Muslims, on Jews, and others.”

Meanwhile, today, further details about the identities the 50 people killed have been revealed, including the youngest known victim, three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim. The process of releasing victims’ bodies to families has already begun, with the first burials expected to begin today, according to the ABC.

The ABC also reports that many of the other 50 people who were injured in the attack still remain in hospital, with 12 people in a critical condition.

The gunman responsible, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant from Grafton in northern New South Wales, faced Christchurch District Court on Saturday and has been accused of murder. According to TVNZ, Tarrant showed “little emotion”. His trial will begin on April 5, when he will face the High Court.

Pray

Some prayer points to help

Sandy Grant, senior minister at St Michael’s Anglican Church in Wollongong, south of Sydney, has written this prayer:

Almighty Father,
you rule the earth and its people in love.
We pray for those torn apart through the ravages of terror in these New Zealand mosques today.
And we ask you to bring comfort and healing to the injured and grieving.
In a world of too much darkness,
give to all who exercise authority
determination to defend freedom and justice for all,
strength to protect and safeguard the innocent,
and vision to guide our world into pathways of peace.
In this time of uncertainty and fear,
help us all to love our enemies
and do good to those who hate us,
noting the example of Jesus Christ.
We look to him as the Prince of peace,
in whose name we pray. Amen.

Source: Eternity News


Happy St Patrick’s Day

Basic facts about St Patrick

Around 390 AD he was Born in Roman Britain, at a place called
Bannavem Taburniae.

406 Captured by pirate raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave

412 Escaped and returned home. Studied hard and became a bishop.

432 Returned to Ireland to tell people about Jesus

460 Died on 17 March. One old tradition says he was buried at Downpatrick, County Down in Northern Ireland.

St Patrick’s day is on 17 March, the day Patrick is believed to have died. It is a national holiday in Ireland.

The local chieftains were suspicious of him and even tried to kill him, but Patrick was confident. ‘God is helping me,’ he said. I trust in God to protect me.’

Thousands became Christians, meeting in little churches all over Ireland and giving their whole lives to serve God through prayer and good deeds.



Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Christian Village, Destroys Church



Nigeria:  Attacks on Christians in Borno State continue and most go unreported by media now since they have become so commonplace

 

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two days ago on Thurs 16th, around 6:00 a.m., Boko Haram insurgents launched an attack on Ngurhlavu village of Lassa in Askira-Uba local council area of southern Borno State. Most of the villagers were able to flee into the bush, but the insurgents burned down six homes, destroyed the EYN Church (Church of the Brethren), killed one person, and abducted two sisters, Stella Ibrahim and Plungwa Ibrahim.

Recalling the attack, a senior executive of the EYN Church, who wished to remain anonymous, said that their local pastor called around 6:00 a.m. to report the attack. He shared, “I could hear desperation in his voice, just coming out of the bush.  His voice sounded completely demoralized as he was saying only God… We don’t know what else to do! There’s no security presence here.”The insurgents dropped a concealed improvised explosive device which a church member named Avi Lassa stepped on. Avi was killed on the spot.

Lamenting the spate of repeated, violent attacks, the senior church leader said, “These frequent attacks on churches and [their] members are really weighing us down. These attacks seem to be escalating soon after the elections.” Nigeria’s presidential elections took place in late February, but has seen violence even in the build-up to Election Day.

The leader said that members of the EYN Church in the village of Gwandang were attacked on February 2, 2019. This was shortly followed by another set of attacks in the village of Paya-Bulguma on February 7 and 21, during which 26 houses were burned down, large quantities of food supplies were destroyed, and motorbikes and other valuables were stolen or destroyed. A seven-year-old boy was also abducted and has not been heard from since.

The church leader regrets that these attacks are rarely reported on by the local media anymore. As a result, their people continue to suffer in silence, with minimal help from others. 

Source: International Christian Concern (persecution.org)



Dozens killed after gunman opens fire in two Christchurch mosques

Friends In The West note: We utterly condemn this terrorist attack on the Muslim community and their place of worship and extend sincere condolences to all those affected.

Forty people have died and four people are in custody after shootings at two mosques in New Zealand city

Forty people have been shot dead and 20 injured in attacks at two mosques during Friday afternoon prayers in Christchurch in what is the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” as police uncovered multiple explosive devices attached to cars and commissioner Mike Bush urged all mosques across the country to close their doors for the time being.

Four people were taken into custody – three men and one woman – for what Ardern described as a terrorist attack. One person was later released. Ardern condemned the ideology of the people behind the shootings, saying: “You may have chosen us but we utterly reject and condemn you.

New Zealand’s threat level has been raised from low to high and none of the suspects were on terrorism watchlists, Ardern said.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison called a “rightwing extremist attack” and said one suspect was Australian-born, without giving further details.

As shots began to ring out, police put the city in lockdown and evacuated nearby climate change protests, with children separate from their relatives looked after by council staff until it was safe.

The deaths occurred at Al Noor mosque on Dean’s Road and the Linwood Islamic Centre on Linwood Avenue, police said. It later emerged 30 were killed at Al Noor mosque and 10 killed at Linwood.

The gunman entered the mosque in central Christchurch and opened fire at 1.40pm local time.

In a statement just after 4pm local time, the police said Christchurch was in lockdown and urged people to stay indoors.

Christchurch shooting: 49 dead in terrorist attack at two mosques – live updates
Read more
A Christchurch hospital spokesman said some shooting victims were being treated at the emergency department but he could not provide numbers, because the hospital was in lockdown.

The mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel said the city was in shock: “This has come as a bolt from the blue … It just feels like it’s not what would happen in a place like New Zealand.”

Earlier, Ardern said many of those directly affected by the shooting might be migrants to New Zealand.

People call family and friends outside a mosque in central Christchurch in the aftermath of the shooting
Facebook Twitter Pinterest People call family and friends outside a mosque in central Christchurch in the aftermath of the shooting. Photograph: Mark Baker/AP
“They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us,” she told reporters. “The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.”

Members of the Bangladesh cricket team, who were outside the Masjid Al Noor when the shootings occurred, escaped unhurt. The team was due to play the final Test match of their NZ tour in Christchurch on Saturday. The game has now been cancelled.

 

All team members and staff caught up in the incident were able to return safely to their hotel, Bangladesh Cricket confirmed, after taking refuge in the immediate aftermath in the dressing rooms at Hagley Oval.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has urged Australians in Christchurch to follow the instructions of local authorities, but has not changed its travel advice from normal safety precautions.

An estimated 300 people were inside the mosque for Friday prayers. Witness Len Peneha told Associated Press he saw a man dressed in black enter the Al Noor mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running away in terror.

He said he also saw the gunman flee before emergency services arrived. Peneha said he went into the mosque to try to help: “I saw dead people everywhere.”

Another man who was at the mosque told TVNZ he had not seen his wife, who was also in the mosque, since the shooting.

The man, who was in a wheelchair, pushed himself out to the carpark. “It was very peaceful, calm and quiet, as it is when the sermon starts, you could hear a pin drop. Then suddenly the shooting started,” he said.

“I saw about 20-plus people, some were dead, some were screaming. On the left there were 10 plus people, some were dead.”

Source: The Guardian



Pastor of Underground Church in Kenya Beaten Unconscious

Relocated family seeks safe home.

Garissa County, Kenya. (Wikipedia)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – The Somali pastor of an underground church in Kenya near the Somali border suffered a broken thigh bone and other injuries after Muslim extremists beat him with wooden clubs on Friday (March 8), sources said.

Pastor Abdul (surname withheld for security reasons), a 30-year-old father of three, had finished leading a prayer gathering at 9 p.m. on the outskirts of Garissa and was on his way back to his house when several ethnic Somali Muslims attacked, he told Morning Star News from his hospital bed, still visibly in pain.

Pastor Abdul said he did not know the assailants. As they approached him, he said, one of them told him, “We have been following your movements and your evil plans of changing Muslims to Christianity.”

Leader of an underground church of 30 former Muslims, he clandestinely met with them in smaller groups on varying days for worship, prayer and Bible study, he said.
“Immediately several assailants began hitting me with wooden clubs, and I became unconscious,” Pastor Abdul said. “I woke up and found myself surrounded by neighbors. I was rescued by the neighbors who found me in a pool of blood.”

They rushed him to a hospital in Garissa, where doctors found his thigh was broken and bruises throughout his body.

“Apart from the thigh pain, I now feel pain all over my body, especially the waist, the back and my left leg near the ankle,” Pastor Abdul told Morning Star News between groans.

“I’m almost unable to bear the pain. My family is in great fear, and Christians have located us to another place. Our prayer for now is to get a safe place for my family. My life and that of my family is at stake.”

His children are 8, 5 and 3 years old.

The pastor, who became a Christian seven years ago, said the Muslim extremists discovered his activities even though he had taken precautionary measures to try to keep his movements secret.

The population of Garissa, about 100 miles from the Somali border, is predominantly ethnic Somali.

On April 2, 2015, 148 people at Garissa University College lost their lives in an attack by Muslim extremist Al Shabaab, a rebel group in Somalia affiliated with Al Qaeda, and several attacks on churches and Christians have taken place in Garissa.

Somalis generally believe that all Somalis must be Muslim. Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.

Somalia is ranked 3rd on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian; Kenya is ranked 40th.

Source: Morning Star News