Amid Scandinavians, believers look for ‘bridges’
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (BP) -- What's the most embarrassing thing you can talk about in your city? Discussions that include God, said a Scandinavian pastor. The pastor in Denmark told this to sociologist Phil Zuckerman, who spent 14 months interviewing nearly 150 Scandinavians, according to The New York Times. This can pose a dilemma for Christian workers trying to evangelize and plant churches in countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The key, however, is not ...
Israeli-Palestinian tensions rise, yet hope flickers
JERUSALEM (BP) -- A clash of religions and ethnicities -- when it comes to the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the lines get blurred and the story gets complicated. The latest clash involves a familiar site that is holy to Jews and Muslims -- what Jews call the Temple Mount and what Muslims call Al-Aqsa or the Noble Sanctuary. Atop the buried ruins of the first and second Jewish temples are the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, two of Islam's most sacred sites.
In Paris, ‘death, pain & terror’ met by prayer, hope
PARIS (BP) -- Friday the 13th became a day of infamy in Paris after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris left at least 129 people dead and 350 wounded. "Some rush immediately to political or even ideological reasons behind the acts," said Mark Edworthy, the International Mission Board’s top strategist for Europe, "but our workers understand the spiritual dimension of darkness in the world and the reality that violence can erupt anywhere and any time."
Christians seek ministry along ‘refugee highway’
LONDON (BP) -- While the European Union grapples with the complexities of handling hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants streaming across its borders, Christians throughout the region see this as an unprecedented opportunity for outreach and ministry among those fleeing war, persecution and economic hard times. "This ever-expanding crisis might just be the opportunity of our ...
Baptists poised to seize moment in S. Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan (BP) -- While United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alluded to "a new window of opportunity" for peace in war-torn and famine-stricken South Sudan, one missionary there said "the window is small" for sharing the Gospel in the world's youngest nation. Ban was speaking Sept. 29 at a high-level meeting of the U.N. as part of its General Assembly debates, which included leaders from ...
2nd VIEW: Israeli and Palestinian believers ‘not void of hope’ amid conflict
JERUSALEM (BP) -- In war-torn Gaza and Israel, Christians watch with anguish as violence ravages the innocent on both sides of the conflict. But this "season of weeping and mourning" is "not void of hope," said Yohanna Katanacho, academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College and an "on call" pastor of Nazareth Baptist Church.
Israeli and Palestinian believers ‘not void of hope’ amid conflict
JERUSALEM (BP) -- In war-torn Gaza and Israel, Christians watch with anguish as violence ravages the innocent on both sides of the conflict. But this "season of weeping and mourning" is "not void of hope," said Yohanna Katanacho, academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College and an "on call" pastor of Nazareth Baptist Church. "Our tears are the bridge between brutality and humanity," Katanacho, who describes himself as an Arab Christian living in Israel, said. "Pray with tears" in regard to the Gaza-Israel conflict, he challenged believers. The latest clashes between Israel and Hamas in the past six weeks have seen more than 2,000 killed and 10,000 injured. But as deadly attacks continue, Christians from both sides of the conflict continue to pray for peace that some would contend can only be supernatural, and peace that the Bible says is beyond understanding. "We feel strongly that our position is to enlist prayer for all the people on all sides of the conflict," Dale Thorne, director of the Jerusalem Prayer Center, said. The center, an entity of Southern Baptists, is a five-minute walk from the ancient walled city of Jerusalem. "The real question for us is how are we to pray in this quagmire of pain, fear, destruction and confusion," Thorne said. "We can only depend on God's Word. There is no other source." Prayer is "invaluable" in times like these, he said. "When we replace worry with prayer and anxiety with thankfulness, we experience God's peace, which will control our emotions and thoughts and keep us centered in Jesus the Messiah," Thorne said. One leader of the Baptist church in Gaza said, "We have peace in our hearts." For people like Faten,* that peace is vital. Faten, a Baptist who attends the Bethlehem Bible College extension in Gaza, is grieving the deaths of two students who attended the school where her sister works. The students were hit by Israeli rocket fire while playing on the roof of their apartment building. When Katanacho, the academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College, learned that rockets were striking close to the building where Faten lives, he phoned her asking if there was an area where she could seek refuge. "She chuckled and said that the only refuge she has is God and He is enough for her," Katanacho said. He expressed amazement at her trust in God's care. "She wholeheartedly believes that her life is in God's hands," Katanacho said. "God is her refuge in Gaza. God called her to serve Him in this difficult place, and she will honor her Lord." Hanna Massad, former pastor of Gaza Baptist Church now living in Jordan, said, "It's a truly desperate situation ... many lives will never be the same again."
Famine in South Sudan ‘worst in the world’
JUBA, South Sudan (BP) -- An escalating civil war is preventing humanitarian aid from reaching those most affected by famine in South Sudan, says a senior International Mission Board strategy leader for sub-Saharan Africa.
Christian worker shares report on ‘invisible war’ with Ebola
JOHANNESBURG (BP) -- While the International Mission Board has issued a statement indicating all its personnel in Ebola-stricken West Africa are safe, a Christian worker on the ground released a first-person account of her thoughts on "the invisible war" with the deadly Ebola virus. IMB's statement said, "IMB personnel continue to monitor the Ebola epidemic. Our medical coordinators in West Africa have been in touch with Southern Baptist missionaries in the region to keep them informed of the changing situation. Currently in the affected areas, IMB has personnel in Guinea and Liberia, but not in Sierra Leone." [[email protected]@190]="Over 1,300 cases have been reported with over 700 confirmed deaths. And the numbers continue to grow."
-- Christian worker in Liberia]IMB indicated there are no plans at this time to ask personnel to leave their homes in these countries. The number of Ebola-related deaths in West Africa approaches 730, with more than 1,300 cases now reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization. Two American aid workers -- one with Samaritan's Purse and the other with SIM (Serving in Mission) -- who became infected remain in serious condition, and are being transported to the United States for treatment, according to news reports. Rebecca Waters,* a Christian worker living and serving in Liberia, shared a firsthand account of what it's like to face an "invisible enemy" like Ebola on a daily basis. Following is a portion of Waters' account of the situation in Liberia: "A war is raging in West Africa, but this war is different from others. This time the enemy is invisible, sneaking up on its victims unaware. By the time the victim realizes he has been attacked, it is usually only a matter of days before he dies. That is, after he has infected dozens of others, and then they too die. This enemy is called Ebola. "Ebola first reared his ugly head back in March, in the forest region of Guinea. Because of the porous borders, the disease quickly spread into Sierra Leone and Liberia's northern county. "In May, it appeared as if the disease was coming under control, but I believe that was due largely to fear and irrational behavior. People have become afraid to expose themselves, so when they become sick, instead of going to the doctor they run and hide. They just do not understand. [Physicians have] been chased out with machetes from the forest region of Guinea ... "Saturday I heard two women discussing their views of Ebola. They said many small clinics have shut down for fear of someone with the disease coming in. They said that parents, who take their kids in for headaches or malaria symptoms, simple diarrhea, etc., are rushed off to the Ebola clinic ...