Friday, July 25, 2014

prayer diary Friday 25 July 2014 (St James the Apostle, Martyr; day of discipline and self-denial)

'whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.' 
Matthew 20.27

Reflection:
The only glory in the Christian life is that of humble service. But what glory it is! For in so doing we serve not only God, but walk the path that leads to his kingdom.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SUDAN: MERIAM IBRAHIM ARRIVES IN ITALY

a Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) press release

Meriam Ibrahim and her family have arrived safely in Italy after criminal charges against her and her husband were dismissed and they were permitted to leave the Sudan.

On 24 June, Mrs Ibrahim and her husband Daniel Wani were detained as they attempted to leave Sudan, and were later charged with forgery and provision of false information under article 123 and 97 of the 1991 Criminal Code, due to alleged irregularities with her travel documents. Sources have informed Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that these charges have now been dismissed, clearing the way for the family to leave the country. They left at approximately 4am Sudanese time on an Italian government plane, accompanied by the Italian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. Meriam and her children travelled on passports issued by Sudanese authorities and CSW was informed the family will eventually travel to the US.

On 23 June, the Appeal Court overturned the decision of the Public Order Court in El Haj Yousif, Khartoum to sentence Mrs Ibrahim to death for apostasy and 100 lashes for adultery. The Appeal Court also recognised Mrs Ibrahim's marriage to Daniel Wani and ordered her immediate release. However, the following day Mrs Ibrahim and her husband were detained at Khartoum Airport by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

Mrs Ibrahim was born in western Sudan to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left the family when she was six years old and she was subsequently brought up as a Christian by her mother. The case against Mrs Ibrahim began after her alleged family members made Sudanese authorities aware of her marriage to Daniel Wani, a Christian with joint Sudanese and American citizenship. Morning Star news reported that Mrs Ibrahim testified before the court on 4 March that she is a life-long Christian, producing her marriage certificate, where she is classified as Christian, as evidence. Three potential witnesses from western Sudan who went to court to testify of Mrs Ibrahim's lifelong adherence to Christianity were prevented from giving evidence.

Mrs Ibrahim's alleged family attempted to challenge the Appeal Court's decision to release her; however, CSW was informed this too has been dismissed. Her lawyers continue to face threats from extremists for working on her case. In a comment to CSW one lawyer said 'Now we are a target', adding that days earlier extremists had protested and reiterated they would kill Mrs Ibrahim and anyone who helped her. According to the lawyer, one of the people involved in this protest has been arrested.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, 'We are delighted by the decision to drop the unwarranted cases against Mrs Ibrahim and her husband, and to allow the family to leave the country, and we commend the Italian government for its effective interventions on behalf of this family. However, the legal anomaly that allowed the prosecution and harassment of Mrs Ibrahim and her family continues still exists. In order to prevent further cases like Mrs Ibrahim's, we urge the Sudanese authorities to uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief for all of its citizens, as guaranteed in Sudan's Interim Constitution and in international statutes to which the nation is party. The Sudanese authorities must also ensure that human rights defenders are able to practice their profession without experiencing harassment and intimidation.'

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

prayer diary Thursday 24 July 2014

Jesus said: 'Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.' 
Matthew 13.17

Reflection
We are among those blessed to see and hear what so many longed for. Do not waste so precious a gift by taking it for granted. Instead daily give thanks to the Lord and serve him with all your heart, strength, mind, and soul.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

prayer diary Wednesday 23 July 2014

'Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.' 
Matthew 13.7

Reflection:
Jesus explained that the seeds that fell among thorns are those who lose faith in the face of the cares of the world. Take his warning, then, and do not lose eternal life for the sake of things that are passing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

prayer diary Tuesday 22 July 2014 (St Mary Magdalene)

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ 
John 20.18

Reflection
Privileged with the first post-resurrection appearance, Mary's immediate response was a declaration of faith. We also have the privilege of seeing the Lord, but through the eyes of faith. And like Mary we must publicly proclaim him as Lord.

Monday, July 21, 2014

prayer diary Monday 21 July 2014

But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.' 
Matthew 12.21

Reflection
Those without faith often cry 'extraordinary claims requires extraordinary proof.' Yet all the proof needed lies before us. Demands for more in the shape of signs and wonders is a sign in itself – of an evil and adulterous generation.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

short film: an Irish First Holy Communion

The boyfriend of one of my wife's best friends, Brian Stynes, is a cameraman and short film maker. The one posted below has done quite well on the circuit of film festivals and also has been picked up by RTE (Ireland's national broadcaster) for their short film slot. It details the chaotic few minutes in one Cork household before they head out for the church for their daughter's First Holy Communion. It is slightly over eleven minutes long and remarkably was done in only one take - no camera tricks or editorial slight of hand - an amazing feat for the director, cameraman, and the cast (I didn't catch a one of them flicking an eye at the camera roving through their midst even once). For those worried that the Cork patois might be beyond them, no worries - it is subtitled ... less because the director was afraid that English as spoken in Cork might come across as a foreign language to some, I think, than the sheer realistic bedlam taking place in the house often makes what is being said difficult to catch. Well worth watching for its own artistic merit and as a lovely representation of the lead up to an important rite of passage for most Irish children. 




Note: the film isn't rated, but I would suggest it might be considered PG on the basis of some mild profanity (with the proviso that what is considered mild by someone who has served his time in both the navy and the army might be thought less mild by someone else).