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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fraser had a NetACT Executive Committee meeting on Friday, organising an online AGM, and looking at ways for NetACT to address Chinese economic colonisation of Africa. As NetACT grows, the staff team is having to develop new regional organisational structures.
Fraser has been asked to help develop online courses for Nehemiah Bible Institute which provides pre-degree theological education. Fraser is now in better health and able to be up all day.
Hugenote plans to allow some students to return next week with the challenges of enforcing social distancing within the student accommodation.
Pastor Fillies of Drakenstein Medium A retires at the end of June, has to move out of their prison bungalow and needs to find somewhere suitable in the area for himself and his wife to move to. Covid 19 is spreading through the staff and inmates in the prisons. Pray for the staff and inmates.
People in Nigeria still ask us for financial help. Pray for wisdom in knowing how to respond to particular requests.
The lockdown restrictions have eased in Romania over the past days. Please remember the young men of the Daniel Centre in your prayers. Some have lost their jobs due to the crisis. Some will be returning to work in the days ahead and one young man has a job interview.
Alex, himself abandoned as a child because of a crippled leg, is taking over from Titi who was cook for the Centre.
The Blythswood shop in Cluj has been declining and faces growing competition from shops selling new cheap clothing sourced from Poland and Turkey.
With financial support from the shop declining and even terminal, Blythswood are now selling land they have had for many years and redeveloping other facilities to provide ongoing financial support through rentals.
Talita Kum in Jimbolia is supported by three shops which continue to receive a good supply of goods from Austria.
Because of heavy rain on June 1st, Talita Kum moved their International Children’s Day celebration to June 2nd with their outdoor barbecues and other events.
“Important step” towards religious freedom
Barnabas Fund, 2nd June 2020
Sudan’s Transitional Military Council and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North have jointly agreed to found an independent national commission and a Ministry for Peace and Human Rights.
On 21 May, the government stated, “We agreed to establish a commission for religious freedom to address all issues relating to religious freedom in order to affirm the principle of peaceful coexistence in the country.”
The Liberation Movement’s representative, Yasir Arman, highlighted the importance of the step for protecting Christians in the volatile “Two Areas” states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, which include the Nuba Mountains, and have remained in dispute since South Sudan gained independence in 2011.
Another positive step towards greater religious freedom was made in March, when the Transitional Military Council announced a bill proposing to repeal the death penalty for apostasy from Islam and make it a criminal offence to accuse someone of apostasy.
Many NetACT partner colleges have been able to source funding to cover lack of tuition fees caused by lockdowns.
Drakenstein prison has seen its first cases of covid19. One section is now a quarantine area. Many of the men are immuno-compromised with HIV/AIDS, years of substance abuse and unhealthy living so are at greater risk of complications.
Hope Prison Ministry is delivering food parcels for released prisoners and the families of those still inside. Pray that donations will continue to help as many as possible.
The team running InReach in Nigeria is being pursued by people (presumably from Boko Haram) trying to find their locations and arrange meetings with no good aim in heart.
South Africa is gradually easing lockdown restrictions, although Covid-19 cases are still rising. Hugenote College is planning to open on 15th June. Pray for those working out the logistics. Churches have permission to re-open, though over-60s should still not come out.
Romania moves from a military state of emergency to a state of alert on 15th May, with deaths still contained at under 1000 for the country. Alix and István still work and keep to their own rooms when back at the house, but no Covid 19 testing in place poses problems for the others. Abram is on his two-week supervision of the Centre.
Balazs and family are currently on a break from the city, the children schooling online. This year looks to be the driest year since 1947 – the country will have to cut down on grain exports to non-EU countries.
Balazs returns to Cluj today to work on claiming government furlough subsidies for the Centre. An offer has been made for one of the Centre’ outlying properties and Balazs will meet the potential buyer in Cluj.
No updated news at the moment but Talita Kum’s teachers continue online support to children normally attending Talita Kum under regular circumstances.
Adrian supports the children, their families and elderly in the Jimbolia community with meals from Talita Kum’s soup kitchen. This provides some relief for Talita Kum in its current cash-strapped situation.
The Talita 3 & 4 project is now in the detailed planning stage.