BALTIMORE, Aug. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has committed an initial $1 million in private funding to help victims of the escalating violence in northern Iraq. With the help of our partners in Iraq, CRS is currently providing food, water and essential living supplies to families in desperate need of the essentials. Over the next six months, CRS hopes to more than double our initial $1 million commitment and help an additional 30,000 people with social support and trauma counseling, education for children and preparation for longer-term resettlement.
The situation is horrific, said Kris Ozar, CRS emergency response coordinator in Iraq. People are completely traumatized after being forced to flee their homes under threat of death. Many have nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Some who tried to pack their belongings were stripped of everything–even the rings off their fingers–at mandatory checkpoints,” he said.
With support from our Catholic Church partners in Iraq, CRS has provided immediate, life-saving assistance to almost 4,000 families forced to flee their homes by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Religious minorities including Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen and Shia Muslims have been singled out for attack. Many are living in empty houses, schools, clinics, church compounds and abandoned buildings, with living conditions deteriorating.
“Every day, I meet brave but frightened people who have no idea what the future holds. Recently I met a young mother with a three-week-old baby living in a school. Then, I met a man who took in 20 orphaned children from Mt. Sinjar. Another day, I met a former humanitarian aid worker from Caritas Iraq huddled with his family under the shade of a lone tree in the desert. This man, who used to help people, now needs help himself,” said Ozar.
Pope Francis launched an appeal for unity, calling for “security, peace and a future of reconciliation and justice, where all Iraqis, whatever their religion, could build their nation together, creating a model of coexistence.” For more information about how CRS is assisting persecuted minorities in Iraq, visit crs.org.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS eases suffering and provides assistance to people in need in 93 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. Our programs touch nearly 100 million lives. CRS has been helping people in need for more than 70 years. For more information, please visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org.
Brant equips readers with the knowledge and understanding to defend their faith.
MAITLAND, Fla., Aug. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Within his new book, Setting the Record Straight, ($28.49, paperback, 9781629524900; $40.49, hardcover, 9781498402606; $9.99, e-book, 9781629524917), James R. Brant provides Christians with the knowledge they need to be able to refute the claims the secular world makes against Christianity. The author takes readers on a riveting journey into the mind of God, while separating Christianity from other religions by proving Jesus’ resurrection to be a factual event in history.
“The most important feature of this book is that the ultimate law of cause and effect will be the key to understanding how to successfully refute the world’s claims,” states the author. He wants his readers “to know the specifics that are needed to defend the Christian faith. This can make sharing their faith easier and allow them to conduct their lives in a way that will draw others to Christ.”
When asked about his credentials in authoring Setting the Record Straight, James R. Brant shared, “I believe that I offer a unique and fun way of revealing irrefutable facts and an ease with which the reader can apply these ‘tools’ to their endeavors.” Brant has accumulated facts for his book from over twenty years of research. He believes the key to his book lies in the idea that anyone can do what needs to be done.
Xulon Press, a division of Salem Communications, is the world’s largest Christian self-publisher, with more than 8,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order Setting the Record Straight through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors. The book is available online through xulonpress.com/bookstore, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com.
By Andrew Starnes:
“While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” Romans 5:8
In life, we are often wounded deeply by individuals and even more so by those close to us. These events lead us to feel bitter, hurt, and justified in feeling anger towards them. We even go as far as condemning them.
The great contradiction in the fire service is that we are willing to lay down our lives for a complete stranger but we refuse to forgive a fellow firefighter that we work with.
Take a moment and look at forgiveness from another perspective.
What if we caused someone great harm?
What if we went out of our way to persecute, ridicule, condemn and falsely accuse this person?
And our actions ultimately lead to their death. Would we feel that we deserve their forgiveness?
Consider the life of Jesus:
Jesus led a life of love, teaching, and healing everywhere He went. He committed no wrongs yet others condemned Him because of His message. It made them feel uncomfortable and exposed their sinful ways. So what did they do?
They falsely accused Him, paid witnesses to lie about Him in a trial, and then He was tortured, ridiculed. and He was made to carry the very thing He would be killed on for a half a mile.
When we think of every face in the crowd that were shouting “crucify Him” and suddenly we see our own face staring back at us.
We often ridicule and say bad things about others who make us feel uncomfortable by their good works. We look for chinks on their armor because we feel inferior. When they mess up; we call them hypocrites and gloat at their misfortune.
We then tear others down at their expense to make us feel better. Yet, we call ourselves good and some of us even claim to be Christians. It is our bad example that causes many non-believers to reject Christianity.
Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 15;
“These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Matthew 15:8-9
“How are we to share the love of God if our own methods aren’t loving?” (Ravi Zacharias)
Are we truly “loving one another?”
Jesus chose to die for us even though “we were sinners.” He forgave us and He even goes a step farther. He wants a close and personal relationship with each of us!
When we take a new look at the cross and realize that our sin put Him there…We don’t feel worthy of forgiveness. Yet, He forgave us.
So let us take a look back at our own lives for a moment from the perspective of Jesus:
Despite those who have wronged us, hurt us, and betrayed us we now can realize that we need to Forgive them for we have been forgiven much.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each another, just as in Christ, God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32
If we fail to forgive others when we ourselves have been forgiven so great a debt; we are actually condemning ourselves.
Jesus said “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14
As Christians, we must forgive and show God’s love to others no matter how difficult. For if we fail to do so we are actually leading others away from Christ and condemning ourselves.
Let’s speak the truth in love and live out our beliefs by forgiving others as Christ forgave us.
As firefighters, shouldn’t we already understand this principle? He has written it on our hearts.
Virginia-based Nonprofit Works with Honduran Government to Address Child Welfare, Juvenile Violence, and Border Crisis
NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Aug. 11, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Orphan Helpers commended today the new Department of Children, Youth and Family (DINAF) in Honduras for taking important steps to improve the lives of children in government custody, as the government also deals with children involved in the border crisis.
DINAF was established in June by the President of Honduras aimed at improving services and conditions for abused and neglected children and at-risk youth. During the past several weeks, DINAF has taken several key steps, including:
- Working to provide homes at private, non-governmental organizations for more than 300 children currently living in substandard government institutions.
- Planning to outsource the administration and operation of juvenile detention facilities that have been wracked by violence.
- Expediting hearings on reports of child abuse and neglect to address family issues immediately or provide protective services.
- Launching public service campaigns to warn parents about the dangers and penalties for risking their children’s lives and attempting to smuggle them across the U.S. border.
“Orphan Helpers has been working for more than a decade to provide services and programs for the orphaned, abused, and incarcerated children of Honduras. While much work remains, the recent steps taken by the government are the most promising structural changes we’ve seen to improve the lives of these children,” said Greg Harris, Orphan Helpers Executive Director, who met recently in Honduras with government officials, non-profit leaders, churches, and business owners.
“The Department of Children, Youth and Families is making much-needed reforms in the child welfare system. On top of that, they’re doing it while trying to deal with the huge numbers of children coming back to Honduras after being deported from the U.S. and Mexico. Orphan Helpers is pleased the government is reaching out to non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups, and churches to be part of the solution.”
In addition to its regular day-to-day work inside the government-run orphanages and detention centers, Orphan Helpers is assisting DINAF at the government center in San Pedro Sula where children are returning from the U.S. and Mexico. Orphan Helpers also is serving on a government advisory panel to provide recommendations for improving programs and conditions at juvenile detention centers.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Coptic Solidarity condemns the grossly inadequate and slow response by the international community to the ongoing genocide and humanitarian crisis in Iraq driven by ISIL Jihadists against religious and ethnic minorities. The founding words of the United Nations, “Never Again” ring hollow as the UN and powerful member states lack the will-power to intervene and stop the genocide of religious minorities, yet again.
As ISIL seeks to establish a Sunni Caliphate in the Middle East, their advances “bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide“ against communities and individuals who do not share their faith. Hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities have been forced to convert, pay jizya and live in submission, or flee empty-handed. There are plentiful videos and firsthand accounts of the massacring of minority men, the kidnapping, rape, and selling of minority women, and even the murder of innocent minority children. Cultural cleansing has reached unprecedented levels. With such abominable barbarities, humanity is facing a real incarnation of evil.
The UN Security Council’s statement last week, condemning ISIL actions and calling on member states to provide humanitarian aid, rings hollow and shows duplicity when compared with others. The effacement of Europe on the international scene at this tragic moment is shameful.
President Obama has finally started to react, by authorizing limited air strikes to defend “American interests” in Iraq, bolster the threatened Kurdish region, and deliver some humanitarian aid. Yet, the response is woefully inadequate. It falls far short of what the catastrophic situation on the ground requires. Essentially preserving the status quo, this response fails to make it an objective of driving the dark forces of ISIL into retreating. It also fails to recognize that ISIL is an international, not just Iraqi, problem, as a hotbed of terrorism makes roots in such a vital area.
In response to the current genocide and humanitarian crisis, Coptic Solidarity makes the following recommendations to the UN and its member states, especially the United States:
- Authorize air strikes against ISIL forces, by NATO or an alliance of willing countries;
- Refer all ISIL leaders to the International Criminal Court under Chapter VII;
- Immediately create safe havens for the minority communities in Iraq and Syria;
- Provide arms to the Kurdish Peshmerga for their self-defense and protection of the minorities who have sought refuge in the Kurdish-controlled region;
- Expose and block the financial networks that support ISIL terrorists;
- Develop a plan and provide assistance and protection for refugees to return to their homes.
The West has blood on its hands by its past actions and inactions that helped “create” the current situation. Leaders of the international community bear responsibility for the agony and deaths of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. Now is the time for immediate action, not for more empty, feel-good, statements and posturing by the international community.
Coptic Solidarity is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt and minorities in Middle East.
SOURCE Coptic Solidarity
Metro-area church joins national nonprofit in the effort to beautify one of Detroit’s west central neighborhoods
PLYMOUTH, Mich., Aug. 7, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — More than 10,000 of the expected 20,000 volunteers are signed up for a great restoration project happening this month in the city of Detroit. Among the ranks will be NorthRidge Church of Plymouth, Mich. On their website Life Remodeled describes theirs goals this way, ” Our strategy includes remodeling a Detroit Public School each summer in order to create academic and athletic improvements. Additionally, we believe that if we partner with the local residents to remove blight in the surrounding area and create safe and inspirational pathways to the school, we will help to sustain and build up a neighborhood that radiates hope to the rest of the city!”
Life Remodeled, a nonprofit organization devoted to “remodeling lives — one neighborhood at a time,” will focus their 2014 efforts on Cody High School and the surrounding Detroit area neighborhoods during the week of August 11-17. NorthRidge Church volunteers will provide and serve the food for all volunteers during the six-day event, as well as participate in general areas. The church plans to have 900 volunteers dedicated to food efforts alone.
“We love the idea of NorthRidge attenders serving the Detroit community, and Life Remodeled is helping make this more possible,” said Michael Miller, Director of Stewardship and Outreach for NorthRidge Church. “Our hope is to see something sustainable come from this; we want to see our spiritual influence continue well beyond just this week.”
With its main location at 49555 N. Territorial Road in Plymouth, Michigan, NorthRidge Church is a non-denominational ministry that serves approximately 20,000 southeastern Michigan residents. Senior Pastor Brad Powell has led the congregation for the past 24 years. NorthRidge offers six services each weekend; four at the Plymouth location and one at each of their satellite locations. For more information, visit NorthRidgeChurch.com.
132nd International Convention hears of first council in Korea
ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 6, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The Knights of Columbus has set a new record in charitable giving, is continuing to experience membership growth, and has established a new council in South Korea, said the organization’s supreme knight in his annual report to the Knights’ 132nd annual international convention in Orlando.
“Florida is a fitting place for us to remember the great Catholic contribution to our hemisphere,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson as he opened his report. “Before the colonies of Jamestown and Plymouth, the first permanent European settlement was here in Florida, and it was Catholic.”
The supreme knight spoke to an audience of nearly 90 archbishops and bishops, including 11 cardinals, scores of clergy and approximately 2,000 members of the Knights and their families from throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe.
The annual convention — centered this year on the theme “You Will All Be Brothers: Our Vocation to Fraternity” — was drawn from the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Peace, in which the Holy Father observed: “Without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society.”
“This sense of fraternity is at the foundation of our call,” said Anderson. “Our charitable activity is all the more effective because it is supported by our fraternal brotherhood.”
For the 14th consecutive year, Anderson reported, the Knights set a new record in charitable giving, with over $170 million and 70.5 million hours of voluntary service given during 2013. According to independent sector, the time donated by Knights to charity was worth more than $1.6 billion.
In addition, “During the fraternal year ending June 30, our membership grew for the 42nd consecutive year,” said Anderson. The Knights now has more than 1.8 million members.
He also announced that the Knights has established St. Andrew Kim Taegon Council 16000, the first K of C council in South Korea.
“There are nearly 5.5 million Catholics in South Korea today. It is the fastest growing Catholic community in the world,” said Anderson. “I am sure that South Korea, like the Philippines, will play a significant role in the future of the Knights of Columbus.”
Other developments reported by the supreme knight included:
- By percentage, the Knights grew the most in Poland, where membership increased by more than 23 percent. Notable growth has also being achieved in Ukraine and Lithuania.
- Texas membership grew by two percent last year, making it the only jurisdiction in North America to top 100,000 members.
- In October, the Knights will launch “Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive” to help families and parishes offer opportunities for daily prayer, catechesis, Scripture reading, charitable projects and social activities.
- The Knights’ New Evangelization Series includes new booklets on prayer, the Eucharist, the theology of the body, marriage and consecrated life.
- The Knights responded quickly and creatively to disasters in the Philippines and North America.
- The Knights added 15 college councils last year, and now has 302 campus councils with 27,000 members.
- More Catholic families are protected by the Knights’ insurance program than ever before with $8.2 billion in new insurance issued last year — another annual record.
- The new Young Adult Insurance Program provides annual renewable term insurance at competitive rates to Knights and their spouses ages 18-29.
- The Knights remains fully committed to Church teaching and supporting Pope Francis and the bishops in defending religious freedom.
- The Knights has made great strides in bringing people together in appreciating the gift of life. The K of C ultrasound initiative has added 480 ultrasound machines to pregnancy resource centers in the United States, Canada and beyond, bringing together mothers and their unborn children in an important way. In addition, the K of C-Marist polling has continued to uncover an ever-growing consensus on life issues and a solid consensus in favor of greater abortion restrictions in the United States.
Follow #KofCFL14 on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for live coverage of the Knights’ 132nd International Convention.
Nancy Writebol Returning to U.S. Tuesday for Further Treatment; American Missionary with Ebola Remains in Stable Condition
Nancy Writebol Returning to U.S. in Few Days for Further Treatment; American Missionary with Ebola Remains in Stable Condition
CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 31, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The condition of Nancy Writebol, a missionary who recently contracted Ebola while serving in Liberia, has worsened, according to SIM (www.simusa.org), the Christian missions organization with which she serves. She continues her battle against the deadly virus.
Photo: Healthcare workers attend to an Ebola patient at the isolation unit of SIM’s ELWA hospital in Monrovia.
Writebol was serving alongside Dr. Kent Brantly on a joint team of people with Samaritan’s Purse and SIM when they contracted Ebola.
Writebol is in stable, but serious condition and is receiving an experimental drug that doctors hope will better address her condition. Her husband, David, is close by. With her condition, he can only visit his wife through a window or dressed in a haz-mat suit.
“We continue to pray for Nancy’s full and complete recovery,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. “Even though her condition has worsened, we know she is receiving the best possible medical care, and we are thankful that she has access to this experimental drug. We believe in the power of prayer and ask people around the world not only to pray for Nancy and Kent, but also for everyone affected by this terrible virus.”
To date, no other SIM personnel have tested positive for Ebola.
SIM remains committed to the safety of all personnel in affected areas and is in the process of removing all non-essential employees from Liberia. SIM is not releasing a timeline for the evacuations or destinations because of a respect for the privacy of its personnel. The missions organization is taking safeguards that exceed the standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Despite these perilous conditions, SIM remains committed to Liberia. The organization currently has two SIM doctors caring for Writebol and Brantly, and SIM’s Liberian staff is still engaged in the region. SIM ministries, including its radio station, school and HIV-AIDS public health education group, continue to operate.
The latest updates on Writebol’s condition and its role in the Ebola epidemic in Liberia are available at SIM’s website, www.simusa.org.
SIM is an international Christian mission with a staff of nearly 3,000 workers serving in more than 65 countries. In addition to medicine, SIM serves on every continent in areas of education, community development, public health and Christian witness. While SIM stood for Sudan Interior Mission when it was founded 120 years ago, it is now a global mission known as SIM. Two of SIM’s three founders died of malaria within the first year of the organization’s founding. Yet SIM continued on to become one of the largest Christian medical missions in the world.