STORIES OF FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE IN THE MIDST OF CHARLOTTE CHAOS
Pastors and faith leaders in Charlotte are offering hope and spiritual healing in the wake of the killing of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man shot by a black police officer. Police say a gun was recovered on the scene. His family, however, insists he didn’t have a gun, but a book. Violent protests erupted in the city as a result of the shooting. Dot Cannamela lives in the same neighbourhood as Scott and she said that God protected her by delaying her commute by 15 minutes that night. “I prayed with a pastor friend of mine for safety and protection. I didn’t have a good feeling,” she recalled. Dozens of people came out and harassed officers and lab workers. Cannamela said what she experienced could only be described as chaos.
“The violence and destruction, people cannot imagine,” she said. “There was vulgarity … I was called names that I don’t even want to tell you,” she added. Cannamela said that the violence and tension was so high that she could not approach the victim’s family to share the words of encouragement the Lord put on her heart. “I want to give encouragement, plant a seed with people, to my brothers and sisters in the Lord and people unsaved that we can overcome and God is in control.” “I believe the leaders in this town, in this state, in our government they shouldn’t take this lightly and my prayer to the Lord is that we try to be in peace and unity and show love to people. What we need to try to do here is show love to people. That’s what Christ represented,” she added.
North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency, calling in the National Guard and state police to help restore order. Pastor Kirby Anthony of R5 Church said he felt God compelled him to attend the protests. He said, “Myself and a couple of brothers from our church decided to go uptown for one reason and one reason only, to pray and to be a light for those that were there. To be a light for the police officers and a light for the protesters.” He shared what he saw at the protests, many of which, he said, were peaceful. “We saw some people protesting silently, obviously we saw the police officers, who at that time were very reserved, standing in a straight line, just standing there quietly and then we did see some protesters down there. You could tell they were there just to cause trouble,” he explained.
The shooting death of Scott came just days after another shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by an officer the previous Friday. In both cases, police said they felt threatened and were forced to take lethal action. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) sends its Rapid Response team of chaplains to minister in crisis situations. The team has been deployed to a number of cities that have seen unrest after police shootings. The team was in its hometown of Charlotte to offer a beacon of hope amidst the protests. Kelly Burke, manager of Emergency Response for BGEA’s Rapid Response team said, “Our chaplains were in the area where the shooting took place where they heard the shot. They saw some of the windows broken,” Burke said.
He recalled that one man had asked for prayer. “He just said I’m overwhelmed with life right now. And that’s a constant theme that we hear often,” said Burke.When asked how churches can help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the inner city communities. “To be engaged,” he answered. It’s kind of a reactive impulse, that we all have, to maybe withdraw inside the church while things are tense and chaotic out there on the streets,” he said. “They’re tense and chaotic on the streets because they don’t know the hope. They’re looking for answers. They’re looking for solutions.” Pastor Anthony said that anger is what is fuelling the black community in light of black men killed by white, and sometimes even black police officers.
“I believe the gentleman who got shot in Oklahoma was referred to as a ‘bad dude.’ Well he’s not just a bad dude,” said Anthony. “That’s somebody’s father, somebody’s son, somebody’s neighbour. So when they get killed it angers you.” The other cause for the anger among blacks said Anthony is that “The legal system has failed to prosecute these officers for the way that they handled the situation and the way that they took the individual’s life,” he said. Communication and humility between officers and the black community is part of the solution Anthony said. “The officer – when he goes out into the community, needs to check his attitude,” said Anthony. “Are these just people who have no rights that you are you’re lording your power and authority over? I think that’s a very dangerous attitude to have.”
He said blacks have a role to play in moving forward as well. “At the same time there are plenty of us in the black community that when we look at these officers we can’t just look at them as the enemy.” America’s inner cities are in need of people who will go and show the love of Christ, Trent and Carmen Post said. The couple head Make Your Mark, an international, non-profit ministry based in Charlotte. The couple moved into downtown Charlotte more than a decade ago, with no other ambition than to renovate and re-sell an old home. Within months, they started sharing their lives with drug addicts, prostitutes and street kids who felt they have no hope. “They feel marginalized, they feel forgotten about, they have no voice and we like to stand in the gap for them and we know Jesus does, too,” Trent said.
He emphasizes that the key to understanding the needs of people in the inner cities is relationship. “We always say, ‘The world needs more Jesus in the flesh.’ Jesus didn’t just come out and pray. He engaged people, He loved them, He fed them, He healed them … it was all about relationship.” Carmen said a Facebook post. Jesus showed her the need to drop her defences, let go of her need to be right and listen to the pain of others. After one of her posts, one of the mothers of a child in their ministry responded in pain and anger. “All I could do was selflessly understand her and put myself in her shoes and put anything that I thought away, that’s what it takes. We don’t have to be right, we don’t have to prove a point, but we should put it away for the Gospel so that people are feeling loved.”
BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY THREATENS FUTURE OF NORTH EAST NIGERIA
Leaders of African countries affected by Boko Haram’s intensifying insurgency are calling on the international community to act urgently against the region’s ongoing humanitarian “catastrophe”. The Presidents of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon met recently in a special Summit on the crisis at the United Nations. The seven-year Islamist rebellion has left 20,000 people dead and about 2.6 million displaced across the four countries. Many families have been displaced several times. In Nigeria, the crisis is particularly acute in Borno State, but the neighbouring states of Adamawa and Yobe are also affected. Recent Nigerian Army military operations, which led to the recovery of territories previously under Boko Haram’s control, have revealed the scale of the humanitarian needs of civilians in the three states.
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State and epicenter of the insurgency, has seen its population rise from 1 million inhabitants to 2.5 million because of internally displayed persons (IDPs) fleeing Boko Haram. Nigeria’s neighbours Chad, Cameroon and Niger are also flooded with refugees from Nigeria. The number of displaced people in the most affected areas has tripled over the last two years. Rev. Samuel Dali, President of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria, said that despite the government’s persistent victory claims, Boko Haram continues to pose security threats. In many areas militants are still active, he said, forcing people to put their lives in danger each time they go to their farms. Last week, Boko Haram attacks near Chibok killed 12.
On 18 September, 8 Christians were killed as militants opened fire outside a church near Chibok, where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014. The assailants also burned down the church, blocked roads and began shooting randomly, prompting people to seek refuge in the bush and the nearby town of Chibok. The next morning, militants stormed Tari, a community near Chibok. The assailants slit the throats of the village head and his son before setting fire to their houses. Two other villagers were shot dead as they were trying to escape. Rev. Dali also decried the corruption and mismanagement of relief materials by officials he said are hampering the aid efforts. “The relief materials are not always reaching the right persons,” said Dali. “Some officials keep them for themselves.”
Dali’s claim echoed the accusations of Father Maurice Kweirang, in charge of the IDP camp in Yola, in Nigeria’s north-east. ”This crisis is a result of mismanagement by officials,” Fr. Kweirang said. “Food and other non-food items destined for IDPs have been diverted. They are selling them in open market in the city and elsewhere.” International NGOS are not doing enough either, he claimed, since they are working under the state Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which he called “ineffective”. On 16 September, two top humanitarian officials raised the alarm for the Lake Chad Basin region at a conference in London’s Chatham House. The situation has reached a “critical point”, noted Dr. Mercedes Tatay, International Medical Secretary of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
After visiting north-east Nigeria she reported that in many areas where Boko Haram militants had been in control, MSF found people without water, food or sanitation. “We are in a catastrophe. There are huge mortality rates. In parts of north-east Nigeria, the under-5 mortality rate is quite low only because all the young children have already died. ”More than 100,000 displaced women and children are fully dependent on food aid, but MSF only has a narrow space for intervention.” The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer visited the South-Eastern Niger region of Diffa and said the area now hosts some 157,000 IDPs. The international community must pay more attention, he said, because the current crisis could have lasting consequence for the region and elsewhere.
Lanzer said the combined population of the region is estimated at 22 million and likely to double every 20 years. “This will have huge impact on the migration phenomenon,” he said. Niger lies on a major migrant route between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Some 120,000 migrants from 15 African countries crossed through Niger’s arid northern region last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration. The international community needs to drastically scale up its operations, Tatay said. “The humanitarian response is still inadequate in quality and quantity,” she said. “Some places, like Maiduguri, are not receiving enough assistance even though there are no access problems. The host population is also in great need of attention as they are often in the same situation as the IDPs.”
WOMEN’S SHELTERS MUST ADMIT TRANSGENDER MEN SAYS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
Women’s shelters must admit men who say they are “transgender” if they receive federal funding, according to a new regulation imposed by the Obama administration. The administration stripped out a provision that would allow shelters to deny a biological male access to the women’s facilities, under narrow circumstances, if they felt it would endanger women’s “health and safety.” The requirement applies to federally funded faith-based shelters and homeless facilities, as well. “We take another important step to ensure full acceptance of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals in the programs HUD supports,” said Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro when the rule, originally proposed last October, was finalized.
The final rule erased a measure that would have let shelters, which often protect women and children from their abusers, refuse to house a man in a women’s shelter based on safety concerns on a “case-by-case basis.” The final report states, “HUD removes the proposed rule language that under narrow circumstances, a written case-by-case determination could be made on whether an alternative accommodation for a transgender individual would be necessary to ensure health and safety.” “Public commenters expressed concern that the exception could be inappropriately used to avoid compliance with the equal access requirement,” the Obama administration’s rule says.
The administration said numerous people who commented on the rule feared that men would say they were transgender in order to physically or sexually abuse women. “Bureaucrats are putting those women at risk for abuse by men claiming to be women,” Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said. Peter Sprigg, from the Family Research Council, agreed the motion would further victimize “vulnerable women and children who may have already been victims of physical or sexual abuse.” Christopher Hambrook said he identified as female before abusing multiple women in a Toronto shelter. Hambrook, whom court documents described as “hypersexual,” had already molested a 5-year-old girl and raped a 27-year-old woman with cognitive delays. Inside the shelter, he watched women shower.
The rule has no exemption for religious organizations that participate in HUD’s Community Planned and Development (CPD) program. “It is HUD’s hope that faith-based organizations will continue to actively participate in HUD’s CPD programs and provide services to transgender persons in accordance with the requirements set in this rule,” the government says in a 73-page report. Juliana Gonen, policy director of the National Centre for Lesbian Rights, said her organization “strongly supports this rule,” because it sets the “example” that laws at every level of government “should respect and affirm the people they affect.” Some on the Left said the regulation reflects the president’s determination to enact his leftist supporters’ political agenda, often by executive orders and administrative regulations.
POLISH PARLIAMENT GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO BANNING ALL ABORTIONS
The lower house of the Polish Parliament has voted to reject a bill proposing abortion on demand and continue the legislative process on a “Stop Abortion” measure that could result in a total ban on abortion in Poland. Members of Parliament heard the reading of three bills – the first banning abortion, the second allowing abortion on demand until the third month of gestation, and the third defining an embryo as a child in the earliest phase of development (in relation to in vitro fertilization). The “Stop Abortion” bill passed by a majority of 267-154 in parliament. It will move on to commissioners for deliberation before a final draft of the bill is written and voted upon. The wide margin is seen as a sign that the final bill will pass.
The “Save Women” proposal, presented by abortion advocates which sought inclusions for the health of the mother and fetal deformity up to 24 weeks, was defeated 230-173. Since 1993, abortion in Poland has been illegal except when the woman’s life or health is endangered, when the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act, and when a doctor believes the baby has a severe and irreversible handicap or an incurable and life-threatening disease. Some politicians consider this law a compromise that should be left untouched. “Abortion is the massacre of innocent children, Hell for women and a moral disgrace for men,” said Joanna Banasiuk, a lawyer from the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture that introduced the bill to the members of Parliament.
The proposed ban on abortion is the work of a grass-roots movement, not the Catholic Church nor the government. The Polish democratic system enables citizens to initiate a legislative procedure in the Parliament by gathering 100,000 signatures. The citizens’ initiative on abortion received more than 450,000 signatures. The new law would give legal protection to all children from the moment of conception, thereby outlawing all abortions in Poland. The bill specifically states that doctors who cause an unborn child’s death trying to save women’s lives will not be punished. It increases punishment for abortionists and others who harm pregnant women and force them to abort by ruse or threat. It also discusses the state’s responsibility in helping parents of handicapped or special-needs children.
SABER RATTLING BETWEEN PAKISTAN AND INDIA THREATENS PEACE
The partition of India and Pakistan after World War II was meant to settle disputed territories between Muslim and Indian dominated lands in the area. The result was not what each country hoped for, and Kashmir, the territory between the two was the prize each wanted. Many wars have been fought over the area. Recently an Army Headquarters was attacked in the Uri area where 4 militants killed 18 Indian troops. Pakistan denies responsibility. Complicating the issue are the attacks of Kashmiri freedom fighters wanting independence for their region. Both India and Pakistan have moved troops to their borders. China has close ties to Pakistan and has stated and has indicated it will side with Pakistan in the dispute. If a conflict is initiated by either side, the effect will be devastating for innocent civilians.
Please pray for:
• leaders with cool heads to evaluate the hostile situation and determine to resolve the conflict diplomatically through dialogue and wise counsel
* Christian Believers in Pakistan, India, and Kashmir to seek the Lord for deliverance and peace and for selfish motives and devious schemes to be exposed to the light of the truth
* the situation that it does not escalate into a violent conflict or a war between the two nations. Ask God to intervene into the affairs of India and Pakistan so that innocent civilians will not be killed.
IN THE NAME OF FAIRNESS SATANIC CLUB ALLOWED TO SET UP IN AMERICAN SCHOOL
The Mount Vernon school district in Washington State has advised its officials to allow the Satanic Temple of Seattle to start an after school Satan club at one of their elementary schools. Lawyer Duncan Fobes says that if the district was to deny the club, they would face costly litigation that would not end in their favour. The district is one out of nine that has received an application for the club. The Satanic Temple has been targeting schools that have a Good News Bible Club. A Satanic Temple of Seattle spokesman said that a parent brought the Bible club to their attention and was concerned that the club was teaching children to evangelize to other kids. A Supreme Court ruling allows all organizations, religious and secular, to use school property as long as it doesn’t promote hate speech or violence.