Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – July 7th 2020

Daniel Centre

The 5-year licensing is in progress but is usually quite a bureaucratic process.

The residents have been generally in better form over the past few weeks.  Dani meets them more on an individual basis because of the Covid restrictions.

Negotiating goes on with the local council as the Daniel Centre refurbishes one property for renting and they await a better offer on a second property – the airfield property – they want to sell.

These ventures would release more funding for the Centre as the Cluj charity shop becomes less viable.

Talita Kum

Food deliveries continue for the families of the TK children and for older people in the community.

Adi has arranged picnics for children who would normally be attending Talita Kum at this time of year.

Summer camps and the annual International Arts Camp will take place as planned with funding now in place.

Infections continue to rise, now up to 400 a day.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Christians Attacked in Sudan – July 7th 2020

Morning Star News, June 24, 2020

 Following calls from mosque leaders in Khartoum to rid their “Muslim area” of South Sudanese Christians, several Christians were attacked there and in neighbouring Omdurman this month.

At the end of evening prayers at a mosque, imams on June 6 called for residents to rid Christian South Sudanese from the “Muslim area”. Attacks on Christians in the area followed that evening and the next day.

In a separate attack on June 20 in Omdurman, young Muslim men shouting the jihadist slogan “Allah Akbar” stabbed a Christian to death in a street assault and four other South Sudanese.

Mariel Bang is survived by his wife and four children ranging in age from 1 to 4 years old.  Bang was 35.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – July 7th 2020

“Where is democracy” for Chinese churches?

Barnabas Fund, 30 June 2020

“Where is democracy?” a Christian in China asked after two communist party-approved candidates were foisted on their church committee.

Four deacons presented a written complaint against two candidates put forward by the local United Front Work Department when it confirmed its candidates on their church committee, effectively handing control of church activities to the government.

The new Template for Religious Activity Venues demands that all such venues establish a “democratic management committee” with “clergy members, representatives of religious citizens, and other relevant members”.

A clergy member from a church in Shandong province lamented, “If we don’t follow the Template, our church will be shut down.”

In Henan, a communist-party-supporting preacher was appointed director by government officials in December 2019 because he fulfilled the criteria of “proactive cooperation with the government”.

The continuing crackdown in China has seen hundreds of “house churches” and official churches shut down, with violent police raids, thousands of arrests and detentions, imprisonment of pastors and forced installation of surveillance cameras inside some churches.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Focus on Uzbekistan – July 7th 2020

PrayerCast, June 20, 2020

President Karimov, who ruled for 27 years, died in 2016 and was succeeded by the prime minister, Mirziyoyev. Yet institutionalized corruption still exists at every level of government. Although Uzbeks boast a 99% literacy level, all media is government controlled, and free access to information is non-existent.  This nation now acts as a transit point for drug activity, particularly Afghan narcotics going to Russia and Western Europe, and has a reputation for human trafficking.

Uzbekistan is in the top twenty most persecuted nations in the world. Approximately 84% claim Islam, while less than 1% are Christian. Of the sixty-one people groups, thirty-four remain unreached by the Gospel. Fundamentalist sects and those who seek to establish Islamic law have formed.

All churches, regardless of denomination, must be registered with the government. There are approximately 25,000 Christians in dozens of unregistered churches facing persecution, arrest, and torture from targeted attacks by government-controlled media and police. Despite increasing scrutiny and harassment, the Church continues to grow, mainly in urban areas.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Cuba in Focus – July 7th 2020

PrayerCast, June 30, 2020 

Cuba is a totalitarian one-party Communist regime that limits personal liberties, curtails independent journalists, and arrests those who criticize the government. While maintaining strict control over people’s lives, Cubans can now own their own small businesses. However, 80% of Cubans are still employed by the government.

In 2010 Cuba officially shifted from being an atheist nation to a secular one. However, in order to be approved by the government, churches must be members of the Cuban Council of Churches. Those that do not register are unable to print Bibles and face harsh intimidation: loss of work, inability to apply for top jobs, denied access to universities, utilities shut off, and even imprisonment. All churches are under surveillance and do not know which of their members are informants. However, state hostility has deepened the Cuban Church’s faith, dependence on prayer, and unity. Persecution has challenged and propelled Cuban believers to minister to their community in innovative and bold ways.

Jacksons, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Jacksons Update – July 7th 2020

The new NetACT journal has now received an International Standard Serial Number.  Technical issues hindering Fraser helping Nehemiah Bible Institute with their online courses have now been resolved.

 The students on this course all come from one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, and some will struggle with the level of internet access needed to download the course.  Many townships rely on informal connections to power lines which are unsafe and illegal and often cause devastating fires in the crowded conditions.

The prison ministry team are meeting to discuss the possibility of running Restorative Justice courses to parolees and others outside prison as we are still not allowed in.

Running courses within prison brings many challenges; there are just as many for courses outside. There is a desire within the team to achieve quality of impact upon lives rather than quantity of people who attend courses.

The InReach team in Nigeria are under surveillance and at serious risk of kidnap and violence by people who are not happy with the way God has been using InReach to introduce Muslims to Jesus.

Blythswood, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Blythswood Update – June 17th 2020

Daniel Centre

Alix has taken over from Titi as cook.  One resident, another Alix, is worked off his feet in a courier service, but no resident has lost his job because of the lockdown.

Ciprian had been suicidal but is now recovering with psychiatric counselling.  István wants to quit his job rather than get up for morning shifts.  Soreen will have to leave the Centre soon for disciplinary reasons, seemingly always in the centre of any trouble in the Centre.

Ionuz who had previously left the Centre to live independently continues to deteriorate in his health with more frequent seizures and will probably have to go for a retirement pension.

The Centre had a BBQ, in spite of very thundery weather, for about 15 previous residents on Friday, 5th June, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Daniel Centre opening.

Talita Kum

The three shops re-opened on June 2nd and continue to do well.   Food deliveries for the families of the TK children and for older people in the community.

Schools will re-open in September but Adi has arranged picnics with social distancing for children who would normally be attending Talita Kum at this time of year.

Summer camps will go ahead, this year without foreign volunteers like Millburn Academy in Inverness and are looking for funding.  The annual International Arts Camp with artists from countries less affected by Covid 19 will also take place as planned.  This camp is funded by local government.

In Romania generally, infections have been on the rise again, up from 120/150 to 300 a day.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Four Christian converts begin prison sentences – June 17th 2020

Middle East Concern, June 5, 2020

Iranian Christians request prayer for four Christian converts and their families after the men presented themselves at Evin Prison on 2 June to begin serving five-year sentences.

Hossein Kadivar, Khalil Dehghanpour, Kamal Naamanian and Mohammed Vafadar obeyed a summons issued on 28 May.

They were among nine Christian converts belonging to the “Church of Iran” denomination who were arrested over a four-week period at the beginning of 2019, accused of endangering state security and promoting Zionism. The other five men were immediately transferred to Evin prison, as they were unable to meet extortionate bail of $130,000 each.

In October 2019, all nine were convicted of “acting against national security” and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The sentences were upheld on appeal in February 2020.

Of the four men who presented themselves at Evin Prison earlier this week, three are married with families, while Mohammad is single.

Barnabas, Mission Partners of Castle Street, Missions

Barnabas Update – June 17th 2020

Turkey’s president to protect minority religions

Barnabas Fund, 9 June 2020

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will do “everything possible” to protect “members of other minority faiths”, following a recent attack on a church in Istanbul.  Police are currently holding a man in detention on suspicion of carrying out the church attack. 

Critics of the government say the rhetoric of the president has fuelled recent intimidation and violence against ethnic and religious minorities, including the fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old Kurd in Ankara.

Opposition MP, Tuma Celik, who is a Christian, said, “I don’t have evidence they (recent events) are an organised effort, but I believe they are the result of polarising rhetoric used by the most senior members of the government.”

Hostility towards Christians has worsened in recent years, as secularism has given way to Islamisation with the rise of Erdogan’s AKP.

Missions, The Persecuted Church Across the World

Militant extremists kill 57 villagers in DRC – June 17th 2020

Barnabas Fund, 10 June 2020

At least 57 people were killed in renewed attacks by jihadists on villages in the mainly-Christian north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the end of May.

Members of Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist militant group active in the region for more than two decades, attacked Samboko village on 26 May, murdering with machetes more than 40 villagers.

A day earlier, on 25 May, the extremists attacked the nearby village of Makutano, killing at least 17 people.

More than 700 people have been killed in Ituri province, where the two villages are located, since 2017, according to the UN. The north-east region has seen a surge of violence since October 2019, when the army launched a large-scale offensive against the ADF.

In January, the ADF murdered Pastor Ngulongo Batsemire, 60, after he refused their demands to convert to Islam. On the same day, militants murdered at least 30 people in a raids on four villages in the Beni region.