The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) announced that the theme of the Asia Sunday 2018 will be focused on the theme ‘Embracing the Differently Abled, and Upholding Their Dignity’.
The Asia Sunday is observed every year on the Sunday before Pentecost, and this year’s Asia Sunday falls on May 13.
Every year observance of the Asia Sunday focuses on a particular theme, and member churches, councils and ecumenical partners around the world organize worship services as part of the observance of the Asia Sunday.Read more
How do you describe 2 years of life in Sri Lanka as volunteer missionaries? A lifetime in American culture gave us assumptions and habits that make us as different to and from Sri Lankans as they and their culture are different to and from us. That was an ever-present lesson, one that made us constantly grateful for the patience of people who created a space of acceptance and love where we shared ‘citizenship.’ We all accepted that cultural differences challenged all of us.Read more
World Health Day is April 7. What does it look like to be working in a church partner-supported clinic in Lospalos, East Timor, in 2018?
Including myself, Clinic Imanuel Lospalos is staffed with six women. Amena Cristovao was trained at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota, as a medical laboratory technician. She is now responsible for managing the clinic TB program, from making the sputum smears, identifying positive cases through microscopy, ensuring patients get medicines daily for 6 months, ensuring our clinic’s medicine and lab supplies don’t run out, leading monthly peer group meetings for TB patients, and providing one-on-one and large group education on the disease. Amena is the only Timorese staff with formal training in health care.Read more
It’s not every year the tropical rains drench, and drench some more, but this is one of those years. And when the rains transform pah meto (dry land, the Timorese name for this island) from crusty, hot brown to lush and steamy shades of green, it’s easy to forget that water was once sacred. Oral tradition suggests that in a pre-Christian era, Timorese treated large banyan trees and the natural springs their roots guarded with the respect reserved for holy space. Such trees, I’ve heard, were actually targeted by Christians to be hacked down to break their powerful hold over “heathens.” Traditional prayers and rituals asking the sky god for rain are but a faded memory. The cultural destruction wrought by early 20th century Christian piety in West Timor included the destruction of traditional values that protected the environment and sought to sustain ecological balance. Although some in Evangelical Church of West Timor Synod (GMIT) acknowledge, regret, and seek to redress this legacy, recapturing sacredness, once it’s been destroyed, is a challenge.Read more
Lectionary Selection: John 12:20-33
Prayers for East Timor:
For the women and girls in East Timor, who are subject to the desires of husbands, fathers, uncles, and brothers, dear God, we pray. When unwanted pregnancies occur, leaving a mother to bear the physical and emotional work of caring for babies and children, or sometimes leaving her in danger for her own life or safety, dear God, we pray. When violence against women and girls happens, particularly in the home, whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, dear God, bring righteousness to the women and open the eyes of men.
Jesus came to teach a way of justice for all people. In East Timor, we pray today for this indigenous, young, Asian nation as it faces challenges of modernization and as it comes to terms with deeply entrenched cultural norms that too often disempower women. May women and men recognize that to glorify God is to walk humbly as servants of Jesus, following a path which honors the dignity of all people, women and men alike. Amen.Read more
I decided to title this newsletter Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Hope, because for the past months this is what India has been teaching me to be.Read more
Lectionary Selection: John 2:13-22
Prayers for Indonesia:
O guardian of sacred space—of our fellowships of intent, our bodies and souls, we pray for the migrant workers of Indonesia whose poverty makes them vulnerable to trafficking and abuse in foreign lands, and whose families accept their absence as the new normal. May your mission of redemption touch the lives of those far from home, trapped as indentured laborers, some maimed for life. We pray for the Evangelical Christian Church of Timor that its new ministry, House of Hope, reflect its name in action. Guide its staff and board members as they seek to provide safe shelter, and care of body and spirit to victims of human trafficking. Strengthen us to accept this as our mission as well. Grant us courage to overturn the tables of those who exploit naiveté; and drive from our temples those who forfeit integrity for profit. We pray especially for 21-year-old Adelina who returned home from Malaysia in a coffin at the beginning of Lent. May your comfort touch the lives of her family so they too can join your mission of redeeming and renewing hope. In the name of Jesus, whose anger we remember, Amen.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 8:31-38 or Mark 9:2-9
Prayers for India:
Gracious God, we want to take this time and simply thank you. Thank you for the life you have given us and the wonderful opportunities you give us to serve others. It can be a scary thing when we think of denying and putting aside our own desires, stepping out of comfort zones to go serve someone else. It is such a beautiful thing because in serving others we grow, we get to learn more about others, about you and your infinite love.
We pray for the Diocese of Durgapur and all the projects they have going on especially the Human Trafficking project and Durgapur Child Study & Development center. With human trafficking numbers increasing in India, we pray that there are more people at the Diocese and surrounding the Diocese will be willing to but aside their desires, be brave, be bold and go out there and serve. There is a real need here surrounding the children and their futures.
In your precious name we pray, Amen.Read more
Last night President Trump opened his address to Congress by proclaiming that "The state of our union is strong," followed by his assessment of his agenda in 2017, and laying out a vision for what 2018 might hold. We feel it is appropriate to provide our own brief review of the United States' impact on our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world through their own words.
Ban on travelers from Muslim majority countries and reduction in refugee resettlement
On the president's decision to reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States, and to block travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, we heard from Bishop Emeritus Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land:
I am worried, not only for those who can no longer enter your country, but for the safety of my neighbors in this region. I am afraid that the decision to deny entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries while suggesting preferential treatment for Christians from those same countries will be harmful to many smaller communities in the region. This approach will be especially harmful to Arab Christians. In the Arab world, Christians have a long history of living side by side with our Muslim neighbors. We reject any move to divide Arab society along religious lines, and continue to see ourselves as deserving equal citizenship with equal rights and equal responsibilities.
I am worried, because I myself am a refugee, and know firsthand the struggles refugee families face. At the same time, as a Lutheran bishop, I know that turning away refugees of any religion contradicts the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself was also a refugee, who sought refuge and safety with his family in Egypt. Throughout his life, through his teaching and his actions, Jesus showed concern for the stranger and the outcast. Read the full letter
As a result of this decision, approximately 80,000 refugees who would have received safety and the opportunity to work for a new life in the United States, have been left in refugee camps or have opted for more dangerous routes to escape persecution. The lack of American leadership in the program was cited by many other governments as an excuse to reduce their resettlement efforts as well. Islamophobic retweets by the president also prompted rebuke from American faith leaders.
Relocation of US Embassy to Jerusalem
The President also further hindered the possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis with his decision to relocate the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. A move that was widely decried by partners and the international community. This action provoked the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem to write an open letter to the president saying:
Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm. We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfill its destiny. The Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people that live within it from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing. Read the full letter
In a letter from the South Africa Synod of the United Congregational Churches of Southern Africa, partners responded saying:
We found his announcement of treating Jerusalem as a capital city of the Israeli government manipulative and misleading. This utterance insinuates that Jerusalem only belongs to the State of Israel and that Palestinians are aliens in the area. Nothing could be further from the truth than President Trump’s dangerous insinuation. His utterances feed into the wrong notions that Palestinians are not children of Abraham hence aliens in the area. Read the full letter
Response to Hurricane Maria
Last night the president also called on Americans to continue to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico where, four months after Hurricane Maria, tens of thousands of citizens remain without power. There was no hint of irony in his statement, even though just the day before, aid to Puerto Rico had been dramatically reduced. In the midst of the worst disaster on the island in recent memory, Global Ministries and partners responded immediately to the needs of the communities. A webinar was held with Miguel Antonio Morales, General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ in Puerto Rico), prayers were lifted up from Rev. Edward Rivera-Santiago, General Pastor, United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico, and we were moved by the testimonios, of the individuals serving as wounded healers. Much work remains to be done, and you can hear a vision for a more hurricane resilient and sustainable future for Puerto Rico in a webinar on February 15th, with Juan Rosario Moldanado of Amaneser 2025.
Use of racist language describing Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries
Partners in several countries replied with words of thanks when Global Ministries shared our letter to the President with them, calling on him to apologize for his hurtful and offensive descriptions of Haiti, El Salvador, and the countries of Africa. The affirmation that "We are Family...No Matter What" prompted many partners to reply with messages echoing that our bond as brothers and sisters would not be overshadowed by the words of government leaders.
Consideration of military intervention in Venezuela
In Venezuela, as the country sought a way forward in the midst of economic uncertainty and political instability, President Trump openly considered military actions against the current government. This prompted a letter from Global Ministries and the leadership of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. While the military option was not further pursued, the words of that letter still bear an important reminder:
Global Ministries has been engaged in a relationship of solidarity and accompaniment with the people of Venezuela for more than 60 years. As such, we have walked alongside Venezuelans throughout various moments in the history of that nation. As we watched the news of the recent election, we would like to share with you our deep concern for the people of Venezuela and their future. We are deeply convinced that any US military intervention in Venezuela would exacerbate the current crisis and could bring back the darkest pages in the history of the country when the military overthrew civil governments to install dictatorships and de facto presidencies. Every time Venezuela has suffered a military episode in its recent times, the lives of the poorest and the most vulnerable population have been severely damaged. Read the full letterRead more
Pero el Dios de la paciencia y de la consolación os dé entre vosotros un mismo sentir según Cristo Jesús. Romanos 15:5
La guerra reclama muchas víctimas de muchas maneras y mucho después de que se firmen los acuerdos de paz. Una guerra civil, peleada por el pueblo tamil de Sri Lanka a fines del siglo XX y que se estableció en el siglo XXI, comenzó con la esperanza de establecer un estado independiente tamil en la isla de Ceilán/Sri Lanka. Cuando la lucha se detuvo, la ira no lo hizo.Read more