Tuesday, March 29, 2011

International Mission Focus for April: Iraq

Each month, RPC highlights Presbyterian ministries in different parts of the world, lifting up our  brothers and sisters in prayer. This month we turn our attention to Iraq. 

Christians continue to flee Iraq. “It is difficult for all the people of Iraq, but especially for Christians,” said Archbishop Georgis Sliwa of the Armenian Church of Iraq. “Those remaining are not feeling any security, especially politically, and have no hope for their children’s futures.”

Attendance at the Baghdad church pastored by Archbishop Avak Asadourian has declined by 85 percent in the last five years. Though their numbers are depleted, the churches’ witness in Iraq persists. Regular worship services still take place, Asadourian said, “but they are quieter and we have some police protection.” The Christian churches in Iraq are not about to give up. “Despite all the difficulties, we are hopeful because we are Christians,” said Asadourian, “and we love our country.” 

Among the five Presbyterian congregations in Iraq, only one currently has a pastor. Pastor Haitham Jazrawi of the Kirkuk Evangelical Presbyterian Church writes, "Since the change of the regime in Iraq in 2003, our church policy has been to demonstrate that despite the fact that we are a small minority in our community, we are a people with a holy and noble message of love, peace, and tolerance."

Elder Yousif Al-Saka of the Presbyterian Church of Baghdad said he does not expect the political unrest sweeping through the Arab world to affect Iraq. “The regimes in all those countries are dictatorial while we are a constitutional system,” he explained. “The main problem in Iraq for all the departures is security. If we want people, especially Christians, to return, we have to establish security.” On a personal note, Yousif Al-Saka of the Presbyterian Church of Baghdad asked the Presbyterian News Service to thank the PC (USA) for its unflagging support of the Presbyterian Church in Iraq. “You came to us before the war and after the war,” he said. “Victor Makari, Nuhad Tomeh and others in the PC(USA) have been best friends to us.” (Nuhad, pictured to the right, visited Ronceverte Presbyterian Church in October ’09 as part of the World Mission/ International Peacemakers event.)

Pray for:
Assembly of the Presbyterian Churches of Iraq (5 congregations)
Kirkuk Church Kindergarten and Child Care Center
Nuhad Tomeh, PC(USA) regional liaison (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, & the Gulf)
Amgad Beblawi, PC(USA) mission work coordinator
Yousif Al-Saka, Elder in Baghdad and Secretary of the PCUSA in Iraq

Additional links for more information:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Morning Worship, 3/27/11

In the wilderness of our lives, we often feel like the Israelites--wandering through the desert praying for direction. Listen for the Holy Spirit's whispers in music provided by Rodger & Leah Trent as you listen to today's Scriptures readings in this third week of Lent.


Friday, March 18, 2011

PDA Responds to Crisis in Japan

‘When they call to me, I will answer them.’ – Psalm 91:15

Earthquake. Tsunami. Nuclear meltdown. Any one of these disasters could be catastrophic.

Rescue efforts continue in Japan following the March 11 tsunami and earthquake and the growing nuclear crisis. Thousands have been confirmed dead, tens of thousands are missing, and hundreds of thousands have been evacuated.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is responding through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and our ecumenical and mission partners. Already, $100,000 from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering has been sent to provide immediate relief.

While Japan is among the world’s most advanced countries, the damage caused by the unprecedented scale of these multiple disasters is beyond imagination. You can make a difference in bringing God’s healing to this devastated nation, where Presbyterians have been engaged in active mission work since 1859.

What you can do:

GIVE — Financial support for relief efforts wherever disasters occur can be designated to DR000148. Support exclusively for these disasters can be designated to DR000117. Donations may also be made to One Great Hour of Sharing, which supports PDA. Gifts can be made online, by phone at (800) 872-3283, or by mailing a check to: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

ACT — Congregations and individuals can put together Gifts of the Heart hygiene kits and baby kits. Stay informed through the PDA website and Rapid Information Network e-mail reports.

PRAY — Join with others in lifting up the people of Japan and those providing aid.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Morning Worship, 3/13/11

When Jesus went into the unknown wilderness, he seemed so prepared.  Like fasting that long was water off his back.  No problem.  And when the accuser tried to throw him for a loop, he seemed so underwhelmed.  Like he already knew the temptations he would face.  No problem.  That strikes me as something we can learn from Jesus, because in the unknown wilderness of our lives, we seem so unprepared and so overwhelmed. 

Be sure to check out the music during the offering by Sidney, Rodger, and Leah Trent. Enjoy!