Archive for March, 2014

Lessons from Waitering

March 31st, 2014
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 John 13

I was listening to an interview with a young lady who had given up her university studies to become a waitress. She had just won a prestigious award , Young Waiter of the Year. You could tell that she had a passion for the job – in fact it was like a vocation for her.

She had a major guiding principle. She aims to recreate for her guests the experiences she had growing up around a lively family dinner table. You have to take care of the customer and welcome them as inviting them in to your home.

As she described her attitude to her work and how that was translated in to her relationship to the customers, I couldn’t but think of our calling to be followers of the great footwasher, the servant of all mankind.

On the same night Jesus gave this instruction to his disciples:

Luke 22:24-30

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.

Isn’t that the truth? People believe that they are God’s gift to humanity. The most pyschopathic individuals really believe they are superior and not accountable to anyone, because of this superiority. They can package themselves as great benefactors, making this a better world , when in reality it is only about themselves. They can rise up in religious , charitable, governmental, organizations – ruthless in their ambition yet appear to the outsider as this wonderful giver to mankind.

It was the apostle Paul who said whatever we do , if it is not motivated by love –which defined in the Christian life, as a sacrificial giving of oneself or the betterment of the other –then it is really only an empty game: the leaven of the Pharisees.

26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

We have no where else to look for what greatness means in the Kingdom of God. I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t necessarily take God’s Spirit to write, teach or speak about Christianity, administer a church, but it takes God’s Spirit to live in a Christian community and love another as Jesus has already loved us.

There is no glory or recognition in that. It is in the ordinary day to day flow of life we serve.

 To view 3min Video With Simple truth Attribution Geese Pulling together

The geese who fly together, swopping leadership, each flying in the uplift of the one in front –like a bicycle peloton. Flying alone is a lot harder.

The most moving is if one goose gets ill, two others will fly down to accompany it until it is flies again or dies.

28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

We too often on the past hear these word through the lens of Rome and other hierarchical models, rather than the upside down world of Jesus own example.

On his journey to Jerusalem he gave an  incredible parable Luke 12:35-47. In it we read:

Luke 12:37-38

37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.

 Meals and eating were major images of the proclamation of good news for marginalized people. They were included. But the most remarkable image is the subversion of the slave system.

 Slaves were of relatively low status within the household, with no distinction made between their work and their person.

 There is a remarkable subversion in this image. Everyone in listening to this story would hear two remarkable innovations: those who are faithful in the household of God are to identify themselves with the slaves in the example, and this embraces even the authority figure. His actions upon his return are themselves servile. We are serving him as he serves us.

 By serving those who are slaves, the returning Lord esteems the humble, faithful overturning the norms of that society.

 We hear this in Mary’s song Luke 1:52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones and has lifted up the humble.

 The master undergoes a status reversal, so that he engages in slavish activity on behalf of slaves. This means the vigilant no longer have the status of slaves.

 The household of God is characterized by a blindness to status and the roles that go with it. Here mutual service is the way of life. A new vision of God’s future in which hierarchies of status are nullified.

This ministry of Jesus continues today in our lives. He has already become a servant to us and will continue to be a servant for ever.

Read more…

Message for the Day

Church development in Tacloban

March 31st, 2014
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During a recent trip to Tacloban, GCI Philippines National Director Eugene Guzon, accompanied by SEND International Executive Director James Aberin, visited the ministry center that GCI is helping with to assist survivors of typhoon Yolanda. During the visit the men discussed GCI and SEND partnering to develop the ministry center into a church congregation. The leaders also discussed starting a youth camp in the area this summer to help young people heal emotionally by finding comfort and purpose in Christ and a sense of community. The camp start-up is being assisted by the Jon Whitney Foundation.

Eugene thanks those who have helped in the relief efforts, including GCI Philippines, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Bahamas and Thailand. As Eugene noted, “Typhoon Yolanda disrupted people’s lives and destroyed much of the region. Nevertheless, this has led to a new beginning—new opportunities to experience God and to share his love.”



There’s Still Time to Check Rising Attacks on Tanzania’s Christians

March 16th, 2014
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WEA-RLC Research and Analysis Report 

March 14, 2014

Several incidents of bombing of churches and killing of Christians have been reported in Tanzania in the recent past. While the attackers are non-state actors, the government shares the blame for failing to deal with growing religious tensions in the East African nation.

Attacks have increased in Zanzibar, which is a semi-autonomous archipelago where around 98 percent of the population is Muslim, as well as on the mainland, where Christians are supposedly more than the Muslim population.

On Feb. 24, a bomb exploded at the entrance of the Christ Church Cathedral, an Anglican church building, in Stone Town in Zanzibar, according to Morning Star News. On Feb. 23, a bomb exploded near the door of the Evangelistic Assemblies of God Zanzibar church building in Kijito Upele-Fuoni, outside Zanzibar City, just as the worship service was about to end.

A week earlier, on Feb. 15, a home-made bomb was thrown at the door of a Seventh-day Adventist church during the worship service in the Tomondo area, just a few miles from Stone Town. A day later, another such bomb was thrown at the church’s doorway.

Last year, the Rev. Evaristus Mushi, a Roman Catholic priest, was shot dead in the Mtoni area outside Zanzibar City. And acid was thrown on the face and chest of a Catholic priest, the Rev. Joseph Anselmo Mwangamba, on the outskirts of Zanzibar City.

In 2012, the Rev. Ambrose Mkenda, a Catholic priest, was shot in the cheeks and the shoulder in Tomondo in the archipelago.

Such attacks have also grown on the mainland.

Last December, a Lutheran church in Korogwe town in Korogwe District and an Evangelical Assemblies of God church in Kalalani village in the same district were burnt down.

In May, a bomb exploded at the Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Olasti, a predominantly Christian suburb of the northern city of Arusha, killing three people and injuring more than 60 others.

In March, unidentified people attacked the residence of Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa, the Bishop of Dar es Salaam and Primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania.

In February, 45-year-old Pastor Mathayo Kachila was beheaded in the Geita Region’s Buseresere town following calls by Muslim leaders to close down all Christian-owned butcheries.

In Zanzibar, attacks on Christians have been rising since the formation of the Zanzibar Government of National Unity in 2010, after the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and the rival Civic United Front (CUF) party resolved differences. Following this, the Islamic political group UAMSHO (Association of Islamic Awareness and Public Discourse) began calling for the separation of Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania.

Most of the attacks on Christians there have been attributed to the UAMASHO.

On the mainland, supporters of a controversial cleric, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, who leads the group called Simba wa Mungu (God’s Lion), are believed to be behind many attacks on churches. Ponda is also highly influential in Zanzibar.

Other Islamic movements – such as the Ansar al-Sunnah, which seeks a purified Islam in Tanzania, and the Tablighi Jama’at, which seeks to improve the morality of Muslim society by improving the behavior of Muslims – also exist on mainland Tanzania.

Some Islamic figures preach that Muslim traditions are under threat in a secular state, and therefore there’s a need to return to the basics to protect the Islamic way of life.

The Saudis are allegedly spending about $1 million annually in Tanzania to build new mosques and also to woo the ruling CCM party, according to a Western intelligence report.

There is also a sense of marginalization among sections of the Muslim community. Some Islamic leaders believe that although Muslims were in the forefront of the country’s struggle against German and British rulers in the past, the community has not been given its due place in the country. They often use the Swahili word, “Mfumo Kristo,” which roughly translates as “Christian dominance,” to describe the country’s politics.

Some Muslims also claim that they outnumber Christians even on the mainland. There are no official figures on the demographical composition of the country. However, according to a 2010 Pew Forum survey, roughly 60 percent of the population is Christian, 36 percent Muslim, and 4 percent are from other religious groups.

Thus far, Tanzania’s Islamist forces have generally remained confined to addressing issues in their local contexts. However, visible attempts are being made by Islamist militant and terror groups operating from elsewhere in East Africa and beyond to target Muslims in Tanzania for recruitment and mobilization.

In 1998, suicide bombers linked to al-Qaeda killed 11 people in an attack on the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam with the involvement of some people from Zanzibar. This was an early warning sign for Tanzania.

The bombing came six years after the abolition of the single-party state through a 1992 law guaranteeing freedom of political organizations, which allowed for formation of diverse kinds of associations. Groups that were formerly banned emerged and began to call for a more purified Islam.

Most recently, police arrested more than a dozen youngsters in the southern Mtwara area (last September) for doing armed drills, using videos of alleged training manuals by al Qaeda and al Shabaab.

Tanzania is attractive for international terror groups. It has a significant number of Muslims and it lies close to nations like Somalia, Kenya and Uganda. Black marketing of arms and weapons is rampant around the borders of Tanzania, which also has a wide-open coastline.

The president of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who is a Muslim, cannot evade responsibility for the growing sectarian tensions on the mainland or in Zanzibar.

The constitution of Tanzania and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. The Zanzibar constitution also contains religious freedom provisions. And while the archipelago has its own president and constitution, it is subject to the Tanzanian constitution.

The successive governments of the country have already ignored early signs of religious intolerance, and the result is evident. Continuing to do so can be catastrophic for not only Christians but also for the nation as a whole.