The Battle for Mosul Begins

Open Doors
Open Doors Weekly Email

The battle for Mosul begins

Christians in Iraq are asking for prayer as the battle for Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, intensifies. A local Open Doors contact told us: “A coalition of Kurdish and Iraqi forces, backed by international allied forces, aims to recapture the city – the last major stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, and with it all of the Nineveh plain in Iraq.

“The thousands of displaced Christians in Erbil are very excited… Most Christians in Erbil are now glued to their televisions, phones and computer screens, trying to get all the latest updates on the battle and on the status of their villages. They hope and they pray that they will be able to return to their houses, once the situation is safe.”

Open Doors partners are supporting 15,000 displaced families in Iraq every month with vital relief aid and long-term support, thanks to the prayerful generosity of our supporters. When asked how the battle for Mosul might affect their work, an Open Doors coordinator told us: “For now, the battle will not impact our work directly. In Erbil things have not changed because of the situation: Christians are still displaced and are still uncertain about their future.

“It is expected that most Christians will wait for the entire Nineveh Plain to be completely safe and ‘ISIS-free’, before thinking about going back. Nobody knows how long it will take, but it now seems more likely to be a matter of months than of weeks.”

Open Doors partners are monitoring the situation and are planning how they will support displaced people to return to Mosul once it is safe for them to do so.

You can pray, give and speak out for Christians in Iraq and Syria by joining the global Hope for the Middle East campaign.

Please Pray:

  • That Mosul would be liberated soon and that trapped civilians there would be protected
  • For God to shield and protect Christians living near or on the front lines of battle
  • For energy and resilience for Open Doors partners as they continue to support displaced Iraqis.
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Over 20 Chibok girls return home: thank you for your prayers!

Thank you for praying for the Chibok schoolgirls who were taken captive by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria in 2014. We are delighted to report that, two-and-a-half years later, 21 of the over 200 abducted schoolgirls have been reunited with their families after successful negotiations.

There were emotional scenes in the capital, Abuja, when the girls were reunited with their families. One parent said: “We thank God. I never thought I was going to see my daughter again but here she is… Those who are still out there – may God bring them back to be reunited with their parents.”

Open Doors partners have been making regular visits to the Chibok parents to encourage them and provide them with food, medicine and trauma care. “We thank all our supporters for the continued prayers for this situation over the past two and a half years,” said Open Doors’ team leader in Nigeria. “Our eyes are still on God for the release of the rest of them.”

Please pray:

  • Thank the Lord for the return of these girls and pray that they would be fully cared for
  • That God’s power and grace would be at work among the girls who remain in captivity and their captors
  • That the rest of the girls would be freed soon and that the Lord would comfort their families.
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With many thanks for your prayers,

Lisa

Lisa Pearce
CEO Open Doors UK & Ireland

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Torment in the Land of the Kings

Legend held that Laksh’s homeland had been cursed for generations. Long ago, it is said, kings used it as a place to dispose of dead bodies and other refuse, and now spirits roamed the land, tormenting the people. When one of the spirits attacked Laksh’s wife, however, he knew she wasn’t suffering because of dead kings. This was the work of jealous neighbors.

 Neighbours Send Evil Spirit to Attack Woman

Laksh and his wife, Udgita, lived a contented life with their two children, but their neighbours weren’t as fortunate. The family members often fought with each other, and it pained them to see Laksh and Udgita’s happiness. Unable to achieve the same fulfillment, they lashed out at Udgita with a spell of black magic.

One day, Udgita closed her eyes and began murmuring things no one could understand. When people came near, she grew fearful, thinking they were trying to harm her. The same episode happened again the next month and the month after that.

A local witch doctor named Daivya began treating Udgita as the monthly attacks came, but the attacks only worsened. Now, when the evil spirit came, Udgita became violent with increased strength, ripping off her clothes and refusing to let others come near her.

One of Laksh’s relatives suggested visiting a Gospel for Asia-supported pastor, Chanchal, who had prayed for other people harassed by spirits and had seen them released, but Laksh felt uneasy approaching a pastor of a different faith. He could only hope Daivya’s treatments would begin to work soon.

Torment in the Land of Kings

Pastor Offers Prayers

Udgita’s condition didn’t improve, and life still carried the same responsibilities. Laksh had bills to pay and errands to run. He was picking up some things from the store when he happened to run into Pastor Chanchal.

Casually chatting as they got ready to buy their things, Laksh put away his fear of the pastor and shared about the spell placed on his wife by their neighbors. Pastor Chanchal told Laksh about God’s love and assured him that he would visit the family soon.

Still worried, Laksh allowed Daivya to come over one more time, but while the witch doctor was in the middle of his rituals, Laksh saw Pastor Chanchal coming. Laksh told Daivya to leave the room and let the pastor take charge of Udgita’s situation, but Daivya wasn’t quick to give up his role.

“It will do more harm to your wife to involve two different religions in this matter,” Daivya warned. “I am almost at the end of doing rites. Let me complete it.”

Laksh insisted the witch doctor stop, convinced Pastor Chanchal could save his wife. Several visiting neighbors supported his decision. While Udgita slept quietly in the other room, Pastor Chanchal sat down in the living room and began reading aloud from the Bible.

Suddenly, Udgita began to shout.

Woman Lashes Out As Pastor Prays

Udgita demanded that someone close the door to her room and quickly became violent. She tore down the mosquito net over her bed and ripped off her clothes.

Unable to enter the now half-naked woman’s room himself, Pastor Chanchal told Laksh to go to Udgita and control her, but Laksh was afraid to approach her. His wife’s strength had been increasing under the evil spirit’s power, making her violent display a serious threat to anyone who came near her.

Families and individuals often seek prayer from pastors, just as Laksh reached out to Pastor Chanchal.

Torment in the Land of Kings

“Nothing will happen to you because I will be praying to the Lord here,” Pastor Chanchal assured him.

Once again, Laksh swallowed his fear and, desperate to save his wife, faced the demon inside her.

Woman Released from Torment

When Pastor Chanchal (not pictured) began reading from the Bible and praying for Udgita, the woman became so violent that even her husband feared her.

Pastor Chanchal prayed fervently as Laksh walked into the other room, and to the amazement of Daivya and the other visitors, peace descended on the home. As the pastor spoke with His God, Udgita became calm.

As soon as he realized what had happened, Daivya rushed over to Pastor Chanchal and asked for the booklet he had used to drive out the evil spirit.

“I did not use any magic book like you,” Pastor Chanchal said, “but I used the Word of God. I have no Bible to give you, but what I can give you is this piece of literature. The Word of God is written in it. You may read it.”

That evening, Daivya couldn’t stop reading the literature. The next morning, he came to Pastor Chanchal’s house full of questions, and by the end of their visit, he had found his answers in Jesus Christ.

“I want you to come over to my house,” Daivya told the pastor, “and if you could help me remove all the religious booklets [and] charms, it would be so kind of you. I will now go to my teachers, and I will tell them of the new things I have learned about Christ.”

Woman’s Husband and Former Witch Doctor Share Christ’s Love

Having seen God’s tremendous power, Laksh and Udgita also decided to follow Christ, and like Daivya, Laksh began telling his co-workers about the One who had given his family new life.

Torment in the Land of Kings

This man pores over a piece of literature, just as Ugdita’s witch doctor was desperate to know more about the Word.

Torment in the Land of Kings

For now, other villagers fear persecution too much to embrace Jesus, but some of them say they believe in God’s Word. As Daivya, Laksh and Udgita continue to share what He did in their lives, they trust their neighbours will one day have the courage to believe in Christ without reservation.

What more effective way to share God’s love than through His own Word? Put literature into the hands of missionaries like Chanchal, and see how God changes people like Daivya, Laksh and Udgita again and again.

(A Report by Gospel of Asia)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Elizabeth and Mary

Elizabeth encourages Mary and demonstrates the crucial role those who are more mature in years, and who have faithfully navigated life’s circumstances, can play to help the continuation of Christian witness to future generations. It is less about passing on a baton than in demonstrating a reality, one that is trustworthy and tested over time.

The source of Christianity’s strength and durability lies in the willingness and ability of Jesus’ followers to retain confidence and trust in its redemptive message. As I have lived my life, I have wondered at the inability of so many to stay the course.

It seems that the simple truth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and perhaps the even simpler one of maintaining confidence in the gospel narrative, becomes increasingly difficult to sustain as year gives way to year.

It is wonderful that in spite of her disappointments, Elizabeth is able to receive God’s word and recognise God’s work. We need those who have proven God’s faithfulness over the years, carry wounds from that walk, yet retain a testimony of confidence in the truth of God to act as witnesses to those following in their footsteps.

I had the great privilege of meeting Malcolm Muggeridge and Francis Schaeffer, both much older than me, yet both in their different ways clear communicators of the gospel message. I was able to see that the Way of Jesus extended to the very end of life; that Christian service was never something one retired from.

The abandonment of the poor and the marginalised, and the excusing of those with wealth and power from social responsibility, are agendas we must challenge by demonstrating that life is not measured by financial success and personal security.

It is measured by the extent to which God’s Good News message is incarnate, that is, fleshed out, throughout the earth, starting with my own witness and honesty around my fears and failures.

(Dr Micha Jazz)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

The Mission of God

One of the wonderful things I discovered on becoming a Christian was just how personal it all was. Jesus knew me; had known me from before my conception.

Had watched me grow, develop and mature, and constantly longed that I might turn my gaze towards him as he steadily gazed upon me. I was encouraged by the reality that if I alone was in need of salvation, Jesus would still have endured the cross and its shame to bring me home to himself.

I soon discovered that while this personal attention was wonderful, it was also dangerous. If not careful, I might craft a Christianity that was bespoke to my preferences alone. How quickly I joined the choir of voices criticising worship and sermon alike.

Instead of fellowshipping to grow in faith, I was appointing myself judge and jury of each and every element of the church’s practice, and on no greater authority than my own preferences! While I am unique in the eyes of God, I am not alone in benefiting from God’s love.

The final words Jesus entrusted to his disciples were to go and make disciples of others, in other words, share the friendship. The early picture of the Church is one that shared together, and Paul reminds us how Jesus demonstrated the urgency of putting others’ needs over and above our own.

The social space is increasingly defined by selfishness. There appears a lack of what is called altruism – living as though the needs of others mattered. From the simplicity of a smile, to helping in support of some valuable local community initiative, remind yourself that while loved uniquely, you are not loved alone.

The mission of God is as strong as your commitment to live out God’s life of love and acceptance in everything that makes up your world today.

(Dr Micha Jazz)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Why Jesus

Why are so many people around the world today turning to Christianity for answers?

Why after 2000 years do so many still find hope and peace in the midst of life’s troubles through their faith in Christianity?

Perhaps, like so many others, they have found that there really is a God. And what is more amazing is that this God actually cares about you and me.

This is how much God loved the world (you and me): He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was.

He came to help, to put the world right again.

(The Message Bible)

Ever thought how much a loving, caring God could change your life?

How much of a comfort and a help He would be?

Want to know more?

Come and find out at: –

The Christian Centre
Crown Buildings
Ebbw Vale
Gwent

Phone: – 01495 309586

And on Facebook: –

https://www.facebook.com/The-Christian-Centre-Ebbw-Vale-128513533933017/

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

A Heart-warming Thought

Bill was an old Great War soldier, and illness had left him paralysed from the waist down. His bed was brought downstairs, in the tiny, two-up, two-down house he shared with his wife, Nita, and he spent the rest of his days looking out of the window.

His cheery smiles were a joy to passers-by. So, when it came known that Bill had started knitting to pass the time, many people donated oddments of wool.

Bill knitted blankets in basket-stitch, in nine-inch strips, which his wife, Nita. sewed together. These multi-coloured blankets were given to friends all over the place.

For more than 40 years Bill gave out these blankets to all his many friends and although thin and worn through the passing years, his blankets were in daily use in bedrooms all around the village where he lived.

When we give, we can never know the full impact that our generosity will make.

It is a very heart-warming thought

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Her Family’s Survival Rested On Her Shoulders

It was her fault. That’s what her in-laws said. They were so convinced, they threw her and their three grandsons out of the house. Sani moved to another village and started washing dishes and clothes as a servant. All the while, she carried the blame of her husband’s death and the entire weight of her family’s survival on her shoulders.

November 2015.

Sani had been married only for five years when her husband died from alcohol poisoning. Before she even had time to think about how her life and the lives of her three boys would be without a husband and a father, she found herself homeless, rejected and blamed. She didn’t know how she would care for her family.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was blamed for the death of her husband. As she and her sons were kicked out of the home they had shared with her in-laws, she felt the pain of rejection and abandonment.

Alone and heavy-burdened, she moved to another village to start a new life as a widowed mother. She found work as a house servant, washing dishes and clothes. Somehow she managed to keep her family alive, but the struggle was constant day by day.

As the years passed, Sani sent her two teenage sons to work as labourers simply to keep the family afloat. Because of their grave poverty, her children could not continue in their schooling. Even though she and her sons worked hard, the income they earned still did not build up their financial needs. But help would come, unexpectedly, from one of her neighbours.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was blamed for the death of her husband. As she and her sons were kicked out of the home they had shared with her in-laws, she felt the pain of rejection and abandonment.

Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Jaival lived near Sani. He had been ministering in her community for two years and hosted worship services in three different locations. Because Jaival lived near to Sani, he often spoke to her about the love of Christ.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was encouraged when Pastor Jaival spoke to her about Jesus. When she accepted Christ’s love, she found out Jesus hadn’t rejected her.

Sani had always followed her traditional religion, but gradually, as Pastor Jaival continued to share with her, Sani began to understand the love of Christ. She attended prayer meetings held at Pastor Jaival’s house. She grew to know Jesus personally and chose to accept His free gift of love and acceptance.

Though she found new life in the Lord, Sani and her sons still struggled for daily survival on the meagre earnings they laboured for.

Pastor Jaival, well aware of Sani’s needs, placed her name as a recipient for a Christmas gift distribution. It was through this distribution that Sani received another gift that would change her life: a sewing machine.

The gift was a perfect fit. Sani had previous tailoring experience, so she went right to work stitching clothes. Her income increased, enabling Sani to provide for her family and better manage their needs. Sani could even send her youngest son to school!

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani was encouraged when Pastor Jaival spoke to her about Jesus. When she accepted Christ’s love, she found out Jesus hadn’t rejected her.

Sewing Machine and Widow’s Dignity

Sani received her new sewing machine with joy. Thanks to people around the world and the love of Christ, Sani is now able to take care of her family and sees her worth in the eyes of Christ.

Sani experienced the love of Christ and His providing hand in a real and tangible way. A simple sewing machine brought her hope and helped show her how much the Lord values her. Her life is just one testimony of hundreds who have received a gift from Gospel for Asia’s Christmas Gift Catalogue.

You can be part of bringing Christmas to those in need of extra love and help. This Christmas, offer hope to a family and show them in a tangible way that Jesus loves them.

Sani received her new sewing machine with joy. Thanks to people around the world and the love of Christ, Sani is now able to take care of her family and sees her worth in the eyes of Christ.

Give a Christmas Gift

With many peaceful blessings

 

Geoffrey

 

My Journey With The Holy Spirit

I have just uploaded my new video which describes my Journey with the Holy Spirit from my earliest days in a Methodist Sunday School to my present life, married to Marlene, and as a member of Beaufort Hill Methodist Church.

And, of course, my testimony includes how our Father God answered my desperate prayers when I was ‘dying’ and brought me back to life because as Jeremiah 29: 11 says – God has great plans for Marlene and I.

To view my new video please click below: –

https://youtu.be/utVoXZRKJCU

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Islamic State Continues to Kidnap, Ransom and Kill Thousands of Christians to Fund Their Terror Campaign Across the Middle East

Hundreds of kidnapped Arab Christians have been ransomed, tortured, beheaded and killed over the past year, including a priest who was chopped into pieces, in attempts to raise funds for radical Islamic terror groups and to strike fear into the hearts of Christians across the Middle East and throughout the world.

“Christians have become a form [of] currency in this tragedy,” John Newton told The Christian Post. Newton is spokesman for Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. “I know of one priest who was kidnapped for two months … they asked for a ransom of $120,000, which the family managed to raise and deliver. … But hours later, the priest was killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family.”

The process of trying to free kidnapped priests poses a difficult challenge. In many cases, Christian organizations are left in the dark with little information on who the kidnappers are or where the victims are being held.

The Syriac-Orthodox and Greek-Orthodox Metropolitans of Aleppo, Archbishops Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, were kidnapped on the road between Aleppo and the Turkish border in April 2013. At the time they had been negotiating for the release of two other priests, Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz, who were themselves kidnapped in February 2013. “No one knows who took the archbishops, nor what their fate was, but the two priests they were trying to free have since been executed,” explained Newton.

  • Displaced Iraqi Christian girl
    (Photo: Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah)
    A displaced Iraqi Christian girl who fled from Islamic State militants in Mosul, eats an ice-cream at a mall still under construction, which is now used as a refugee camp in Erbil, September 6, 2014.
Catholic Franciscan Priest Dhiya Aziz is another clergyman who was kidnapped by armed men in the Idlib Province of Syria last month. He was released a few days later; however, the whereabouts of his companions, Catholic Priest Jacques Mourad and a colleague kidnapped with him, are still unknown.

In 2006, Catholic Priest Father Douglas Bazi was kidnapped by Islamists who struck his back, broke one of his legs, shot him, punched his teeth out, and deprived him of water for four days until a ransom was paid. He understands the trauma that many families have experienced and how stress and depression can deprive people of hope.

Sharing his testimony in a BBC documentary titled “Kill the Christians,” Douglas opened up his church grounds to refugees last year and created the Mar Elias Centre in Northern Iraq’s Ankawa where he cares for around 135 Christian families.

“We are Christian, so we are used to having our luggage always prepared. We always have to run away, escape from place to place,” he told the BBC.

Islamic State has openly proclaimed its plans to drive Christians out of the Arab world, prompting U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to declare that Christianity is now the “most persecuted religion around the world” and that Britain should be “unashamed” in standing up for religious freedom, as reported by The Telegraph.

However, it is the vast majority of indigenous Christians in both Syria and Iraq, who can trace back their heritage to the very earliest centuries of the Church, who are suffering the most as they witness Islamic State’s plans to wipe Christians off the Middle Eastern map.

In Iraq, things are getting worse as each day passes. Before the Islamic State offensive against the Nineveh Plains in 2014, there were fewer than 300,000 Christians left in Iraq.

Since then, at least 120,000 Christians have been driven out of their homes with many leaving the country. Thousands had already been targeted by repeated waves of extremists’ attacks, which had driven them to the north, where they now live as refugees in their own country, according to a report by Aid to the Church in Need.

Islamic State has also routinely detroyed holy sites and torn down crosses, including the 4th century Christian Monastery of the Martyrs (Mar Behnam) in March of this year, forcing the resident monks to flee to surrounding villages, as reported by the Daily Mail. Close by, the monastery of Saint Matthew, which is one of the oldest on Earth, survived thanks to Kurdish fighters who were able to push back Islamic State fighters who are now only 4 miles away, as reported by CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

As for Syria, Newton said that around 700,000 Christians have fled so far. “There were only 1.75 million Christians before the war began, that means around 40 percent of Syria’s Christians have left,” he told CP. Ancient Christian communities found in cities like Malula – where residents still speak the language of Jesus –are dwindling. There are only a few hundred left from 3,000, following the al-Nusra attack on the city in September 2013.

In northern Iraq’s Kurdish capital Erbil, there are around 70,000 people living in temporary tents, rented rooms, or pre-fabricated units. Newton says that most of the Christian refugees in Erbil are reconciled to the fact that this will be there home, at least for the foreseeable future. “We’ve been working with the Chaldean Church to set up schools for refugee children, so they can continue their education,” he explains.

Christian workers on the ground say that most of the help being received by the Christian community in Erbil is coming from Christian charities, including both Catholic and Evangelical churches in the Middle East, America and across the world.

The UNHCR estimates that around 5.2 million people are now in urgent need of humanitarian and protection assistance due to ongoing violence and insecurity.

(Information supplied by the Christian Post)

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Please join me in praying  for all the persecuted Christians throughout the world.

May our Father God bless them mightily and give them the strength they need to overcome and endure all the terrible atrocities being perpetrated against them.

With many heart-felt blessings

Geoffrey

The Book of Ruth

Today’s Biblical Word Search is taken from the Book of Ruth.

As always my wife,  Marlene, loves to challenge your Biblical mind. To freely download this word search please go to:-

http://www.christianwordsearches.net/Ruth.html

Happy word searching

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey