Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ethiopian Orthodoxy

Icon JesusOne of our participants at the 2014 LOI Consultation will be Tekle Belachew from Ethiopia. He has just written a short introduction to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which may be of interest to those joining us in Albania and others. Tekle himself grew up within the culture of the Orthodox community in Ethiopia, has studied in Ethiopia and the US and is now an evangelical wishing to maintain strong links with Orthodox communities.  You can read his article by using the link below.

From Abba Salama To Lalibela

REMEMBER  If you are attending the 2014 LOI Consultation in Albania and have not yet returned your ‘Participant Information Form’ you risk not being met at the airport!  Please return it today.

Hope amongst Catholics and Evangelicals

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Just days before the Lausanne-Orthodox Consultation takes place in Albania (15-19 September 2014) a similar group of people will meet in Chicago, USA, although they will come from Roman Catholic and Evangelical communities. Facilitated by John Armstrong, this Lausanne-Catholic Initiative was established at the same time as the LOI and has been working to create better understand between Catholic and Evangelical leaders. Like us they have a focus on mission.

Speaking to John Armstrong today, he reported that there is a distinct feeling of hope in their group partly generated by the election of Pope Francis and the way that his Evangelical friends in Latin America have responded to his election. The pope’s refreshing attitude to inter-confessional relations has opened up new possibilities in Christian fellowship as well as mission.

Please pray for John and the 25 participants of the Lausanne-Catholic Initiative as they meet in Chicago from 11-13 September 2014.

Resources treasury

KalistosWith the second Lausanne-Orthodox Consultation now less than a month away a rich file of resources has been added to our LOI website. With deep gratitude to two of our Steering Committee members, Dr. Tim Grass and Dr. Danut Manastireanu, we have published several pages which list resources on Orthodox-Evangelical relations, how Orthodox Christians understand Evangelicalism and how Evangelicals understand Orthodoxy.  Many of the items recorded have direct links for downloading the relevant resource whilst others tell you where the resource can be found.

The resource section can be found at  http://www.loimission.net/resources/

LOI are wanting to add to these listings so if you are aware of any additions which should be made please send full details to mark@loimission.net

One month to go to LOI 2014

P1090929With just a month to go before 60 participants from around the world will gather at the monastery of St. Vlash in Albania for the second Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative consultation, a whole new section has just been published on our website.

Especially important for those actually participating in the consultation, these pages will also inform the prayer of those who support our work in other ways.  There are a total of 12 new pages covering everything from the programme, names of participants and background reading to travel instructions and weather advice!

Please visit the website to read these new pages.

Do also visit the LOI prayer page and uphold all our work in prayer – we need it!

Opening doors in Gaza

The following article appeared on www.dawn.com recently. We republish it because it expresses the spirit of ‘open doors’ to all in need in the midst of crisis.

For Gaza resident Mahmud Khalaf, it was a bizarre new experience, prostrating himself for his daily Muslim prayers beneath the gaze of an icon of Jesus Christ.

But since the war in Gaza began, he has had no choice but to worship in a Christian house of God, where he took refuge after Israeli air strikes pummelled his neighbourhood in the north of the Palestinian territory.

“They let us pray. It’s changed my view of Christians — I didn’t really know any before, but they’ve become our brothers,” said Khalaf, 27, who admitted he never expected to perform his evening prayers in a church.

“We (Muslims) prayed all together last night,” he said. “Here, the love between Muslims and Christians has grown.”

????????????????????????????????“Walking into the Saint Porphyrius Church courtyard in Gaza City, visitors are greeted with a “marhaban” by Christian helpers, but with a decidedly more Islamic “peace be upon you” (Arabic: al-salamu aleikum) by most of its current residents — displaced Gazans who have made it their shelter for almost two weeks.

 

Paramedics in Gaza: Risking it all

Khalaf, who fled his home in Shaaf after the area became a target for Israeli warplanes, twirls his prayer beads anxiously, but is relieved to have found sanctuary alongside some 500 other displaced Muslims.

“The Christians took us in. We thank them for that, for standing by our side,” he said.

Khalaf has now grown accustomed to worshipping on the premises of an alien religion — a particularly acute contrast during the fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

Every day he faces Makkah, whispers Quranic passages and prostrates himself, as he would in a mosque. Pastors and parishioners have been respectful to their Muslim guests during Ramazan.

“The Christians aren’t fasting of course, but they’re deliberately avoiding eating in front of us during the day. They don’t smoke or drink around us, “Khalaf says.

But he admits it has been difficult to concentrate on religious piety during the bloody and indiscriminate conflict that has killed more than 800 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

“I’m normally an observant Muslim, but I’ve been smoking during Ramazan. I’m not fasting — I’m too scared and tense from the war. “

Feast of martyrs

Muslims will no longer have to fast, as of the Eid festival next week that ends Ramazan.

But with ongoing bombardments, hundreds dead and thousands homeless, the normally joyous affair is set to be rather muted.

“Christians and Muslims might celebrate Eid together here,” said Sabreen al-Ziyara, a Muslim woman who has worked at the church for 10 years as a cleaner.

“But this year it’s not the Feast of Breaking the Fast (Eid al-Fitr) – it’s the feast of martyrs,” she said, in respectful reference to the dead.

It is a harmonious and tolerant atmosphere, but in the middle of a battleground, tension is still felt.

As food provisions arrive, scuffles nearly break out when women and children lunge for the plastic bags containing bread and water, distributed in as orderly a fashion as possible by church helpers.

A pitched argument between the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios and a local helper, apparently over who is allowed to enter the premises, heats up against a cacophony of loud explosions a short distance away.

The adjacent church cemetery was hit by mortar shells Tuesday, with shrapnel peppering surrounding buildings.

The bombs do not discriminate — the Muslim cemetery opposite was also hit by a separate shell.

Gaza’s Christians have dwindled in number to around 1,500 out of a predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 1.7 million.

The Christian community, like elsewhere in the Middle East, has been shrinking due to both conflict and unemployment.

But the sheer terror of this shared experience appears to have fostered the feeling of brotherhood.

“Jesus said, love your neighbour, not just your family but your colleague, your classmate — Muslim, Shiite, Hindu, Jewish,” said Christian volunteer Tawfiq Khader.

“We open our doors to all people.“