Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don Francisco - Forgiven

Down memory lane - so nice to get my Don Francisco CDs yesterday. My favourite Don Francisco album.

Egypt's Regime Orders Church Restoration (ANS)

With so much negative news in the Middle East especially religious persecution of Christians by Muslim extremists, it is so wonderful to get this news item, which I think needs to be highlighted as another example of courageous Egyptian Muslims who refuse to be influenced by Islamic extremists.

I think it is very significant to read about Muslim craftsmen helping repair Christian religious icons!

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: www.assistnews.net -- E-mail: assistnews@aol.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

Egypt's Regime Orders Church Restoration
Many Muslim craftsmen are helping

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST MinistriesCAIRO, EGYPT (ANS) -- CBN News (www.cbn.com/cbnnews) is reporting that some Egyptian Muslims are helping Christians rebuild a church building attacked by radical Islamists earlier this month.

Egyptians gather as firefighters extinguish a fire at St. Mary's Church after clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo on May 7, 2011 (Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)
Militants set St. Mary's Church on fire May 7, 2011, in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba. The building was heavily damaged by the fire and the entire ground floor was left in ruin."The church restoration was ordered by Egypt's military government. The work is expected to be completed in about three weeks," said CBN.
"Muslim craftsmen are helping to restore burned icons and paintings in the church to their original condition.
"Many of Egypt's Christians, who make up only 10 percent of the country's population, currently fear further attacks. However, Egypt's ruling military council has vowed to protect Christians by increasing security around churches."
The story concluded by saying that critics fear the military rulers will struggle to ease interfaith relations. They wonder if the regime will be able to keep the peace without resorting to violent tactics that former President Hosni Mubarak used.
In a separate story from www.dawn.com, it said that one of those Muslim volunteers is Mohammed Fathi who, "worked his brush gently over an icon of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, removing soot from its surface inside a church gutted in an attack by Islamist militants this month."
Fathi was quoted as saying, "It takes a lot of careful work to do that. We have to do a lot of tests with chemicals to try to restore the icon to its original condition."

Another Muslim volunteer, Ahmed Ibrahim, a restoration specialist, works over a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus inside St. Mary church in Imbaba, Cairo May 25, 2011 (Photo by Reuters)
The 26-year-old is one of a vast group of mostly Muslim craftsmen tasked with restoring St Mary's Church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba after militants set it on fire on May 7."Attacks have triggered protests and pose a challenge for Egypt's new rulers, under pressure to impose security while seeking to avoid the tough tactics against Islamists used by deposed President Hosni Mubarak," said the DAWN story.
"The ground floor of the four-storey church was gutted in the fire, destroying 10 out of 27 old icons beyond repair."
On Wednesday, a team of mostly Muslim restorers - working for one of Egypt's biggest construction firms known as The Arab Contractors - huddled in one corner, using special chemicals, paint and brushes to rescue the remaining paintings.
"My job is to restore historic art pieces, be they Muslim, Coptic or Jewish," Fathi said.
DAWN said that Malak Gerges, a 56-year-old church driver who was inside the church at the time of the attack, recalled how bearded Islamists led a group of young men into St Mary's, opened fire on icons and set the building ablaze.
He said he and his younger brother Saleh tried to hide in the corridor behind the altar but the militants found them.
"They dragged me out and threatened and abused me," Gerges told Reuters.
He said he did not know what happened to Saleh, an attendant who helped look after the church, until rescue workers found his burned corpse inside the church. According to an investigation report, there was a wound on Saleh's throat, he said.
Abdel-Aziz Mohammed, working on another icon, said he was angry at the people who burned the church. "I felt this was an act of vandalism," he said. "Islam does not distinguish between church and mosque - both are houses of God."
"Egypt's ruling military council has vowed to punish those behind sectarian violence and promised to protect Christians by tightening security around places of worship," said DAWN.
"Sectarian tension grew during Mubarak's three decades in office and accelerated in the chaos that followed his overthrow.
"Many Christians say the military-led government is being too soft on the Islamist radicals who whip up inter-faith hatred."
The governorate of Giza, where Imbaba is located, has pledged to pay for restoration of St Mary's church, expected to cost around 6 million Egyptian pounds ($1 million USD).
For now, the DAWN story continued, workers are busy plastering and painting its walls and sweeping out the dust, pushing to finish their work as quickly as possible.
"This work would normally require up to three months. We are doing it in 21 days," Ibrahim Mahlab, chief executive of The Arab Contractors, said while inspecting the work. "We want to show that no intruder can create a rift between Muslims and Christians."

Dan Wooding, 70, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 47 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly "Front Page Radio" show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 200 countries. You can follow Dan on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel "Red Dagger" which is available this link.

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Short trip to Malaysia almost over (ramblings)

Tomorrow I fly back To Auckland. My short trip here is almost over.

It's almost over and kind of sad ... but looking forward as well to going back to NZ for obvious reasons :-)

Think I have put on weight - according to my mum's weighing scales ... but she told me that her electronic scales is actually unreliable - makes one seem heavier. Hope so LOL

Heard from some people that there were some "questions" as to why I was so secretive about my trip and a "little unhappiness" over "not wanting to meet up" with most people here (many who are people I consider good friends). So here's some reasons for those who do not already know (not that I need to explain myself :-) but I think they are helpful things to consider.

1. Last couple of trips back to Malaysia was exhausting and last one I even fell very sick. While it wonderful to catch up with friends etc., such activity packed trips home visits are not not helpful to my health. Not much of a holiday if I have no time to rest or take a healthy dose of time off for my own physical, emotional and mental needs.

2. This trip is specifically for the purpose of handling personal and family matters especially for my mother. The older I get, the more important it is for me to spend quality (and quantity) time with my mother. It was a priority for me to spend practically every morning and night with my mother. It was interesting that I automatically woke up by around 5 to 5.30 AM every morning and spent time with my mother before she went off to work and had dinner with her every night (whether she cooked a simple meal for the two of us, had dinner with family members and family friends or one night out with her cell group), and staying up late taking about all kinds of things . Only one dinner out with an old friend for a couple of hours of catching up.

Was nice to kick back and do stuff like house hold chores, fixing / reorganizing a few things, being around for the repairman to fix a broken toilet etc. And taking short naps :-) ... since I am up early and sleep late every night.

So basically, priority is mum first and then me second .... it would be very unfair to my church for me to return "dead tired" especially since there is so much that needs to be done when I return (including 6 weeks in a row of preaching)

3. On ... why no ministry engagements while back in Malaysia ... some may have thought I was being a bit arrogant but my statement was simply "I am no longer the church full time worker (i.e. context of the brethren church in Malaysia). I am the pastor of another church."

Doesn't mean I don't care anymore for those from my former church(es) or friends in Malaysia but I can only manage keeping in close contact with a limited number of people. AND more importantly, it is not my responsibility anymore because God has (and will always) raise up others better suited for ministry.

I am glad many understood and supported this! Thanks fellas! :-))

There is I think too a subtle danger of thinking too highly of myself ... as if I need to meet up with people   ...

* If things work out I will be back next year specifically for ministry purposes and if that happens, that trip will be very different.

4. BTW, I did actually did meet up with some people - but these meetings were planned ahead of time...


But on a lighter note (I think) - did not go crazy eating malaysian food. Was very disciplined Just one meal of some of the things on my list... one paper thosai, one rawa thosai, one bowl of chendol, one bowl of tay foo fah, one ham cheen pang, one yow char kwai (oops two), one chinese pancake, one bowl sarawak laksa, one plate wan tan mee, one plate nasi kandar, one plate Indian rojak, one plate chinese rojak, ...and a small sampling of various Chinese New year cookies. But so far, three mangoes - and the expected "dim sum" (yam char) with my in laws - which covers a wide variety of little bits of this and that ... and one fancy dinner with my mums cell group core members paid for by her best friend.

* BTW, I love how my mum's closest charismatic Christian friends always insist that they want to "bless me".

 One old friend gave me RM 500 which was hard to refuse without causing offense so I told her I would add it to a  project I have I mind to "bless a family in ministry". It's wonderful really how God works to confirm this project I have been thinking off and just fleshed out the key details on this trip. (One of those things I spent some time doing - I have not been just eating and sleeping you know! :-))

I really enjoyed meeting up with some members of my local Malaysian magic club. Pity many whom I know were unable to make the meeting that day. But still, was nice to catch up with those who came, talk about magic and listen in to the planning details of a coming show by Shoot Ogawa to help raise funds for Japan.

And was so cool to find a magic trick I have been thinking about buying (very costly especially because of postage) at the club magic shop! Closed both eyes and bought it! :-)

Another thing I enjoyed was using my mum's massage chair every night - aiyo - so nice ! :-)

This may be a bad thing but I have been watching a lot of CSI (original and NY) as it is on frequently (satellite TV) - different seasons and repeats on in the afternoons - may end up wanting to watch the series again in NZ... :-(

I actually bought a few things in Malaysia. Surprising I know! Some I had planned - more Thai balloons and Juwita Suwito CDs and some velvet cloth. But this was unintended. I bought a couple of ties and a couple of souvenirs from a Christian bookshop - had time on my hand while waiting for my mum and here friends who had some things to do in a mall (Me being the driver :-)) and they caught my eye,

Question is ... will the person I bought the tie for wear it. KCC people ... am thinking of Uncle Max. - I did pick the least gaudiest of the Christian ties so he might consent to wear one of them. :-)

Ok, got to go. KCC folks, see you on Friday evening / Saturday (40 hour famine) or Sunday. And if I can manage working out an idea / new recipe I hope to make a test round of home made mini "pau" (flour dumplings) for Sunday's finger food lunch.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hard line Islamic agenda hijacks "pro democracy" demonstrations

A pattern is emerging as in Egypt as warned much earlier by Christian leaders in Middle East Muslim countries.  "Pro democracy" activities are being hijacked to push a hard line  Islamic agenda.

See the Barnabas Fund report below ....

Syrian Christians threatened: join anti-government uprising or leave
Barnabas is helping Christians affected by the unrest
As demonstrations against the Syrian government intensify, Christians are coming under increasing pressure to join the uprising - or leave.
Syrian churches have received threatening letters calling them to join demonstrations
Image: Jan Smith / CC BY 2.0
In one Christian village outside the southern city of Deraa a home came under fire by a group of masked men on motorbikes, while Muslim residents in the village of Hala have issued an ultimatum to their Christian neighbours either to join the demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad's regime or to leave. Their demands are making life extremely difficult for the Christians, who have closed their shops and are considering what course of action to take. Churches have also received threatening letters.
Barnabas Fund is one of the very few Christian agencies working to assist the Christians in Syria, and has done so for many years. They are in particular need of humanitarian help now, with food prices rocketing as the country's economy is affected by the unrest.
Christians have largely stayed away from the protests, having generally been safe and well-treated by the secular Baathist government, which has allowed them a considerable amount of religious freedom. They are fearful of what may replace it as Islamists attempt to hijack the demonstrations, which were originally concerned with political and economic change.
Muslims have been rallied by prominent Islamists in the region in support of the demonstrations. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, mentor of the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who led al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq, said:
Just as the fall of the regime is necessary for someone calling for democracy, it is also necessary for someone calling for application of sharia.
Christians "first victims" of Arab revolutions
In a letter to Western leaders, a senior Syrian church leader appealed for them to "Ask the Heads of State of Arab countries to work for real development... But don't encourage revolutions". He said:
The situation has deteriorated into organised crime, robbery, fear, terror being spread, rumours of threats to churches... Fundamentalist groups are threatening citizens and wanting to create ‘Islamic Emirates'... Christians especially are very fragile in the face of crises and bloody revolutions! Christians will be the first victims of these revolutions, especially in Syria. A new wave of emigration will follow immediately.
Some fear that for Christians a post-Assad Syria could deteriorate like post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Saddam, like Assad, restrained the influence of militant Islamists, but after his fall they were free to wreak havoc on the Christian community; hundreds of thousands of Christians were consequently forced to flee the violence. Many of them went to Syria, which has a long-standing history of welcoming Christian refugees, but the current unrest is driving some back to their dangerous homeland.
Christians comprise around 10 per cent of the Syrian population. They are able to worship and practise their faith largely without interference, although evangelism among Muslims is strongly discouraged and conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden by law. It seems highly unlikely that regime change would benefit the Syrian Church.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
Syria has been a beacon of freedom and security for Christians in a largely hostile Arab world. If they are now forced to leave the country, where will they go? The entire region is rocked by instability, and as Islamist groups seek to capitalise on the political unrest to advance their own agenda, the future of Christianity in that part of the world looks increasingly uncertain.
Please Pray
  • That peace and stability will soon be established in Syria and other parts of the Arab world, and that Islamists will not be able to increase their influence in the region.
  • For Syrian Christians, that the Lord will give them great wisdom and discernment as they consider their future. Pray that they will know His peace in the midst of this turmoil.
  • For Iraqi Christian refugees who are having to leave Syria; pray that they will be protected and provided with all they need.
Give Today
If you would like to help Christians affected by the unrest in Syria, please send your donation to project 49-890 (Syria General Fund). Please click to donate online using our secure server.
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference 49-890 (Syria General Fund).
If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference49-890 (Syria General Fund).
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) textBarnabas/890 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lesson on integrity from Tim "the Toolman" Taylor

I have not blogged in a while ... and was reading and commenting on a friend's blog and posted this (below)  in the comments section ... thought I would repost my own comments here even if the context might not make sense :-)

A couple of days ago I saw an episode (rerun) of one of fav sitcoms (Home Improvement).

Tim had an ethical dilemma as he was asked to promote an inferior tool (new line of Binford tools). His new boss / owner (the founder and Tim's mentor, Binford had already passed away) refused to fix the inferior tool and Tim was given an ultimatum - promote the tool, endorse it on Tool Time or be sacked.

To lose his job at Binford was more than just losing his TV show, drop in income etc but would force him to have to go back to the only other job he was good at - selling tools which meant long weeks away from his family.

This time even Wilson could offer no help - he was left with the question - how important was this to him - the Binford quality / name, his mentor's legacy, his integrity as opposed to the harsh reality of his family's financial security, time with his family etc.

Climax - Tim refuses to endorse the product despite his boss being on set etc. But being a sitcom, he creatively gets out of the mess by making his boss look like a hero on live TV by cornering his boss to discontinue the product ... getting his way and still keeping his job ... and making the company look good by forcing it to fix the poor quality product. Ah, if life were as simple :-)

But I liked the story line and how Tim Taylor decides on integrity (and has the support of his wife)

Wish they would bring back and write such sitcoms!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One child in four in single-parent home (NZ)

This is disturbing and sad ....

One child in four in single-parent home

Last updated 05:00 30/04/2011
New Zealand has the third-highest rate of children living in single-parent homes, an OECD study says.
This means nearly one in four Kiwi children are growing up in single-parent homes as more marriages break up and single women choose to enter motherhood on their own.
Of 27 industrialised countries, New Zealand ranked third in the Doing Better for Families study, with 23.7 per cent of children living in a one-parent household, compared with the 14.9 per cent average across all countries. The United States ranked first with 25.9 per cent and Ireland was second with 24.3 per cent.
Children's Commissioner John Angus said Kiwi children were four times more likely to be living under the poverty line if they were being raised by a single parent.
New Zealand's child poverty rate, at 12.2 per cent, is nearly on a par with the OECD average. Child poverty includes going hungry and living in poor housing that can lead to poor health.
At the end of March, 113,000 people were receiving a domestic purposes benefit, of whom 88 per cent were women.
The OECD said New Zealand could do more to support sole parents into fulltime work through the provision of quality childcare. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, herself a single mother, said the Government was focusing on this.
"No parent wants their child to spend a life in poverty, but the fact is that children whose parents are working have more opportunities and better health and education than those from benefit-dependent households."
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said children raised by married parents were able to provide the best opportunities for children. "We've tried to delude ourselves that family structure doesn't make a difference, but it does."
Meanwhile, more single professional women were choosing to become mothers using sperm donors because of increased fears about their biological clock ticking, Fertility Associates Wellington medical director Andrew Murray said. "Anecdotally, I would say that there is an increased number of women at least looking at the option of starting a family on their own."
The introduction two years ago of a test measuring women's egg reserves had prompted at least three Wellington women a month to investigate single motherhood, Dr Murray said.
Birthright national manager John Donaghy said there were about 219,000 single-parent families in New Zealand, most of whom were middle-aged.

Click HERE for the rest of the article ...

US Could Have Used bin Laden's Death to Expose Sympathizers (Tawfik Hamid)

Interesting piece ...

US Could Have Used bin Laden's Death to Expose Sympathizers
Monday, May 2, 2011 01:05 PM
By: Tawfik Hamid
The issue of burial is very important in the Muslim mind. There is a special prayer over the body which is typically followed by burial in the dust.

Burying in the Islamic way gives the close relatives and friends (or followers in case of bin Laden) psychological comfort that the person died as a Muslim and will go to the paradise. This concept has roots in the following verse "Quran 12:101 . . . O Thou Creator of the heavens and the earth! Thou art my Protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Take Thou my soul (at death) as a Muslim . . . "

The punishment for early Muslims who refused to share in jihad was to forego the funeral prayer and not to bury them as Muslims (see Quran 9:84 Nor do thou ever pray for any of them [who refused to do Jihad] that dies, nor stand at his grave; for they rejected Allah and His Messenger, and died in a state of perverse rebellion).

Furthermore, according to shariah, if a Muslim is considered to be an apostate, he must not be buried as a Muslim. Indian Muslims, for example, refused to bury as Muslims the Islamic terrorists who committed the Mumbai attacks in 2008, as refusing to bury them as Muslims is the most powerful sign of rejecting terrorism.

After killing bin Laden the United States should have asked leading Islamic organizations such as the OIC, Muslim Brotherhood, and leading Islamic institutes & scholars whether or not they would consider bin Laden a Muslim and thus wanted to give him a Muslim funeral or not.

If these groups, which claim to be peaceful, consider bin Laden a Muslim and asked for a Muslim burial for him, then their sympathy and support for bin Laden would be exposed.

On the contrary, if these groups refuse to give him a funeral prayer and reject considering him a Muslim, then this would have been a stronger blow to al-Qaida ideology and its supporters than the killing bin Laden itself.

Asking Muslim groups and organizations if they wanted to bury bin Laden as a Muslim would have been a win-win situation for the U.S.