Bhopal, December 28, 2011: Christmas celebrations in Madhya Pradesh is continuing with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan organizing a grant Christmas function at his official residence and Governor joining at Archbishop House in Kohe-E- Fiza, Bhopal. While delivering message to the important Christian leaders gathered at the Archbishop House, Governor Ram Naresh Yadav said, “message of Lord Jesus Christ is very important for today. His message of brotherhood has stood the test of the times. He repeated his commitment to work for peace oriented development of the State. He also praised the services of the Christian community to the Development of the Nation.”
While addressing over thousand invitees the Chief Minister exchanged Christmas greetings, he said, “ Lord Jesus has given the message of compassion and love, the State Governemnt programmes like Child Heart Operation Scheme, save girl child movement etc. are inspired by Lord Jesus. He said that serving the deprived, giving due respect to downtrodden and working to save girl child are priority of the Government. He said that I pray to Jesus to help me to progress this state.”
Archbishop Dr. Leo Cornelio also addressed the gathering, he said, “Christmas is a festival of celebrating God’s Love. Referring to allegations of forced religious conversion he also said that we are working for change of heart not change of religion.”
The celebration was marked with colorful cultural programme including, Carol Singing, dance, skit on the life of Christ and preaching of the word of God by pastors. The main coordinator of the programmes Fr. Anand Muttungal said, “ Isai Mahasang took a lead in organizing the programme along with the Chief Minister. We had representatives from all districts. The programme ended with sumptuous meals and C M meeting people very freely” On behalf of the Chief Minster, Isai Mahasangh general secretary Jerry Paul welcomed every one for the programme.
The Chief Minister’s residence was decorated with traditional Christmas symbols of Christmas tree, star, Crib etc. the programme started with a detailed reading from the Gospel of St. Mathew. The entire campus was lit up illumining lights. The mystery of life of Jesus was also seen on the backdrops. It made the invitees feel that they are entering into the mood of Christmas.
The programme was attended many religious nuns, priests, head of the Sikh Community Gyani Dileep Singh, Muslim community leader Quazi Amanulla Khan, Mahant Chandramas Tyagi, Bhudist Monk Bande Sagar , many political leaders including Prabhat Jha, the State President of ruling party,BJP, Government officials, ministers too
- roy john thatta
The United States and Iran got into a spate over trade routes, sanctions, oil, and nuclear weapons as 2011 drew to a close. The Islamic Republic then launched 10-day war games in which they tested advanced missiles and torpedoes. In addition, an American federal judge this week declared that Iran, Hezbollah and al Qaeda were liable in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The judgment came as the result of a $100 billion lawsuit brought by family members of victims of the attacks. With District Judge George Daniels’ ruling, the 2001 attacks were caused by the support the defendants provided to al Qaeda. The findings also said Iran still supports al Qaeda by providing a safe haven for al Qaeda leadership and lesser members.
Evangelist Sammy Tippit says, “To see the specific [evidence] that they had, and hear the testimonies that they had, was just absolutely shocking as to the role that Iran played in it. It’s really heart-breaking especially for the families.”
Shocking, but not surprising. What’s more, Tippit is sobered by another aspect of this case. “To know that there was an actual government, and not just a group of renegade Islamic fundamentalists that were doing this, but there was an actual government participating in this, this has to be heart-breaking.”
Iran has been taking rogue action since efforts for revolution failed. As the government grows increasingly suspicious and hostile, Tippit notes that there is a big difference between the government and the people of Iran. “There is a huge portion of the population that does not want to go this route, and they are turned off with the way that their government is behaving–and they want freedom. I believe that’s where, if anything is going to change Iran, that’s what’s going to change Iran is a people movement from within.”
Efforts for change have created a backlash effect, though. Iran has been cracking down on dissidents, protestors, and anyone deemed dangerous to the regime. This includes Christians.
The Iranian Christian News Agency reports raids from different cities of Iran indicate that security authorities are expanding their anti-Christian projects to exercise tighter surveillance of churches. Tippit says, “The government has cracked down on believers. It has become very difficult for them. Many have been thrown in prison. What we have been told is that the television broadcasts have become very important because it’s dangerous for them to meet together.”
Prior to Christmas, the intelligence minister of the Islamic Republic called the house church movement a threat to Iranian youth. He warned of a new series of broad actions against the spread of house churches. The mayor of Tehran has gone on record with an objection to evangelical Christianity.
“More than likely, it’s going to get worse for them,” says Tippit, adding, “We just really need to pray for them, lift them up to the Lord because what has happened in the past year has gotten much more difficult for them.”
Sammy Tippit Ministries has long had presence in Iran’s Church. Their Gospel work caught the attention of the government resulting in a declaration of their ministry as an “Enemy of the State.” However, “We developed a Web site and started doing some leadership training with Iranian believers outside of the country. We actually started a television broadcast which went for several years, and we discontinued it last year.”
Due to the changes sweeping across the country, Tippit’s team is retooling the broadcast to meet the current needs. “We’re starting it up this year with a whole new emphasis because there’s been just incredible numbers of people who’ve come to Christ. We’ve been trying to help disciple them. The television broadcast has become very important because there’s revival that has taken place within Iran.”
It’s a Gospel grassroots movement igniting at a time when Iran is tinder-dry. Tippit urges prayer. “That type of a thing can reach right into the hearts and the homes of the people. We’re really excited about the broadcasts that we’ll be having. It will be primetime and with a new station that is starting satellite.”
Seven days ago, Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.) made the following motion:
That, the House of Commons joins the Senate of Canada in calling upon the Government of Pakistan to immediately release Ms. Asia Bibi, to ensure her safety and well-being, to hear the outcry of the international community, and to respect the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Central Council of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) has praised the action on behalf of Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who faces the death penalty under the blasphemy law.
Pakistani Christian Post (PCP) reported that Bob Dechert, Member for Mississauga-Erindale (CPC) speaking in the House said, “Last November, the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a statement concerning Asia Bibi’s incarceration in Pakistan under its blasphemy law. At the time, the Government of Canada registered its concerns with Pakistan at the highest levels. We have also called on the Government of Pakistan to repeal laws criminalizing blasphemy which restrict religious freedom and expression, and target religious minorities.”
He also noted that Governor Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the two government officials who were gunned down for speaking out against the blasphemy law and urging freedom for Bibi.
PCP said addressing the House, Phil McColeman, Member for Brant (CPC) expressed his concern over the sentencing, adding that their objections were registered with Pakistan’s foreign minister. Canada has urged Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy laws. Officials say they restrict freedom of religion and of expression. These laws, he said, have disproportionately targeted religious minorities.
Voice of the Martyrs, along with dozens of religious rights watchdog groups, agrees. Many Pakistani Christians have been falsely accused under the Blasphemy Law, or Law 295.
Law 295a, blaspheming Islam, and Law 295b, blaspheming the Qur’an, are criminal offenses. Law 295c makes blaspheming Mohammed a crime punishable by death. Courtrooms packed with militants have often pressured judges into returning a guilty verdict or continuing trials indefinitely.
Pray that Christians in Pakistan will have a bold testimony to those around them. Pray for protection for Christians facing intimidation and threats.
New Delhi, December 29, 2011: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said the central government has launched several schemes based on recommendations of the Sachar Committee and these were bringing a change in the situation of the minorities.
Speaking at the International Dalit and Minorities Conference here, the prime minister said that it was often said that the government had not implemented the recommendations of the committee, but that was not true.
“The government has launched several schemes based on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee and these were bringing change in the situation of the minorities. But I agree that we need to fasten the process,” he said.
The seven-member committee, headed by former chief justice of the Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, gave its report to the central government in 2006 on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims.
Listing out the schemes launched by the government for minorities and Dalits, the prime minister said that the government was committed to take steps for development of the minorities.
“We have brought the forest rights act which provides ownership of forest land to indigenous people. There has been an increase in the recruitment of minorities in government jobs, security forces and banking services,” he said.
Hazare had on Tuesday said, “banjh kya jaane prasuti vedana (what would an infertile woman know about labor pain).”
He was talking in context of difficulties he is facing in his fight for a strong anti-corruption bill.
“Anna Hazare’s insensitive remark about infertile women indicates his lack of gender sensitivity,” said Virginia Saldanha, executive secretary of the Office of Laity of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
She warned that in this 21st century, women will not take such insensitivity lightly.
Women activist Ranjana Kumari said that the remark denigrated the status of women, who have unnecessarily been dragged into the issue.
Kumari appealed to Hazare and his team to refrain from making any such stereotype comments.
Jyotsana Chaterjee, who directs the Joint Women Program of the Protestant Church of North India, termed the remark “coarse.”
“This kind of a remark was not expected from a leader of his stature,” she said.
Chatterjee said that Hazare should have used some other comparison to explain the situation.
Sister Helen Saldanha, secretary of the Women office of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, said that the remarks have come from unconscious programming of the mind backed by a culture which is gender blind and insensitive.
“Banjh (infertile) is a derogatory word that is attributed only to women and one does not have similar word for a man who is impotent,” she added.
The sister said that “our language has to be sensitive and inclusive.”
- ritu sharma
Punjab, December 29, 2011: The appointment of 4 Marriage Registrars is a Christmas gift for the Christian community in Punjab, said bishop Dr. Anil Couto. The Christian community thanked the Punjab government, which the first government to have come forward in support of the minorities in such a manner. The Christian community has always done commendable service to humanity, especially in Punjab in all fields.
Speaking to the newly appointed Registrars Dr. Anil Couto, bishop of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh expressing his best wishes, appreciated and thanked the Government of Punjab for the recognition. He said this was acknowledging the the presence of the Christian Community in Punjab and their selfless contribution to the state, irrespective of any distinction or discrimination.
The Registrars appointed are as follows:
Adv. Anjalina Brar of Jalandhar City, serving at the New Court, Jalandhar.
Adv. Sanjiv Peter of Mohali, Chandigarh with legal practise there.
Mr. Francis Bhatti of Amritsar, who is a retired government teacher
Mr. Rakesh William of Dhariwal, Gurdaspur, who is a government employee
“This is a small first step and it is hoped that the Government of Punjab will take many more steps for the progress and all round development of Christians in Punjab”, the bishop said.
fr. peter kavumpuram
Karnataka, December 30, 2011: Srirama Sene Activists Attack Christian Prayer Meeting at Davanagere
An attack took place in SS Layout, Davangere, which the central part of Karnataka. Only last month, a Persecuted Pastors Seminar was held here. A pastor, Raju Doddamini was taken to the police station by force yesterday evening, as he had gone to his believers house for a cottage prayer. While he was having a prayer at the house of a believer, a group of people belonging to the Bajrang Dal went to the house and disturbed the gathering by shouting slogans against pastor Raju, that he had come to convert people by force and he should be punished. The police was called by this group and then the pastor was taken to the police station.
Pastor Raju Doddamani (56) has been ministering for the Divyadarsana Ministry Church during the last 5 years. He has a congregation of about 60 believers. A prayer meeting was organized at the residence of a believer named Bima Naik on Wednesday, 28-12-2011 and Pastor Doddamani was leading the prayer service.
Just before the programme was to be over at about 9.30 pm, suddenly there was an attack by the Hindu fundamentalists belonging to the Srirama Sene outfit of the saffron brigade. They began abusing them and alleging that they are fraudulently and forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. They also tried to manhandle them. In the meantime as the police were informed about the incident, the police from the Vidyanagar Police Station appeared on the scene with Sub Inspector Savar in charge. Pastor Raju Doddamani, Das, John, Bima Naik, Simon and Chandrashekar were taken to the police station and interrogated till late into the night.
Another pastor Prem Kumar has called an aicc representative, asking for legal assistance, which was given and an advocate went to the police station and released Pastor Raju. Today morning Pastor Raju was asked to go and meet the police Inspector again and further persecution is expected.
- anandkumar & gcic
What disturbed you the most?
A lost soul in Hell, or a scratch on that car.
Your missing the worship service or missing a day’s work.
The church not growing very fast or the garden not growing.
Your Bible unopened, or a newspaper unread.
The contributions decreasing or your income decreasing.
Your children late to Bible study or late to public school.
Your church work neglected or your housework neglected.
To miss Bible class or to miss your favourite TV program.
Low attendance at worship or low attendance at a party.
Now how about 2012?
- samuel machado
Moscow, December 29, 2011: A Muslim cleric in Turkey has issued a warning to people from the community about Santa Claus, who he described as a “dishonest” person as he climbs down suspiciously through a chimney instead of coming in through the door.
Imam Suleiman Eniceri of Kuzan town, around 520 km from the capital city of Ankara, said it was “suspicious” that Santa Claus brings presents into a house by climbing down a chimney or through windows.
“If he was an honest person he would come through the door as we do,” Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper quoted the imam as saying.
The cleric cited a passage in the Quran that calls on the faithful to enter houses through doors.
“Christmas is not our festival,” he said, and warned Turkish Muslims against drinking alcohol.
Turkey’s population comprises over 96 percent Muslims and less than one percent Christians. At the same time it is a secular state with many European traditions.
Egypt, December 15, 2011: 11 months ago, the spark of revolution ignited in Tunisia. Within weeks, the first regime tumbled.
What followed in the next few months was the toppling of other repressive governments. The season of protest was soon dubbed “Arab Spring.” The movement changed the landscape of the Middle East and North Africa and sent shockwaves around the world.
However, not everyone has been benefitting from the uprisings. Carl Moeller is President and CEO of Open Doors USA, a ministry advocating on the behalf of the persecuted church. He says, “The reality for Christians in Northern Africa, Middle Eastern region, that have experienced an ‘Arab Spring’ is that the situation is far more complex and dangerous for Christians in that region than it was a year ago. The political dimension of almost every one of the revolutions has become the contours of an Islamic government.”
Christians were already a minority population in countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and for them the future is all but clear. Did they get any benefit from the democracy movement? It depends on who you ask. Many hailed the movement as a victory for democracy. However, the reality doesn’t resemble democracy as Americans recognize it. Moeller says, “That didn’t dim the optimism that many of our Christian brothers in Egypt had during that time frame, because they were throwing off a regime that was oppressive. One of the challenges now is to reconcile those great hopes with the unmistakable reality that there is still a very strong possibility that persecution is going to increase.”
Will 2012 bring more persecution and marginalization for Christians, or greater liberty to worship? Moeller says, “In places like Egypt, we are going to see a lot more turmoil before the day is out. There’s one thing you can say about this movement: it is still defining itself.” It’s not totally set in stone, Moeller points out.
“There are still two more election rounds to go, and we know that in those election rounds, other things can happen to form the final form of the government.”
Moeller adds that the current situation in Egypt in which the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is holding an estimated 40% of the seats in the parliamentary elections so far is a reality check for Coptic and evangelical Christians, who comprise 10% of the population. Hardline Salafists are also doing well in the on-going election.
Soon, Egyptian believers may be joining the ranks of Iraqi believers on the move. “We think that Christians will emigrate more; we think there will be an upswing in persecution and restrictions. But we’re still hopeful and prayerful that the church will continue to grow, nonetheless.”
The up-side of this story is that it means the Gospel is taking root. “Where the Gospel is penetrating more, there’s more persecution. Where there’s more persecution, it seems that there’s a greater opportunity for the Gospel to be shared and for the church to actually grow.”
It’s a paradox of note: “They become more committed to their faith as their faith that they’re committed to costs them more.” The single most requested help coming from believers in the region is prayer. Moeller says, “Pray for the Christians in Egypt to be strong amid the uncertainty and the increasing pressure. Pray for the political process that it will produce a government in many of these countries that will respect the rights of Christians.”
A Christian in Egypt made the following request to the Open Doors team while saying goodbye: “Thank you for coming. It was a great encouragement, and it really meant something for us. Please remember us in your prayers and ask believers in the West to pray for us. We need your prayers. We need to be one in Christ in this challenging chapter of our history. My wife and I want to stay here, but we know it will not be easy. Please, do not forget us and leave us alone.”