Kenya – It is Sunday, February 14, at 9 AM in Otamba, Kisii County. It is a cool but bright day as ICC visits the sites of recent attacks in Western Kenya.
The residents of Otamba move throughout the community as they head to their respective places of worship. Pastor Charles Mayore begins his service as he always does by leading morning prayers at the Worldwide Gospel Church, a charred, broken building with a gaping hole in the back. Those entering the building sit on borrowed primary school wooden desks or the few plastic chairs that survived the attack. Charles thanks the Lord for keeping the saints strong in the faith just one month after an arson attack that destroyed their sanctuary.
ICC spoke to Charles about how the church has been recovering from the devastating January fire. He narrated the horrific incident, “Our church was attacked on the night of January 14. It was among the first churches to be burned down together with the Seventh Day Adventist Church just across (the street). Neighbors raised the alarm when they saw the flames. The fire was too huge to be contained immediately, but with the help of water from the SDA church, which was also burning, Christians managed to put it out. But we lost everything that was in the storage; chairs, cabinet, registers, Christian literature, tables, and one side of the roof.”
Charles continued, “The first two Sundays after the church was burned down, believers were scared about attending worship. We kept praying and encouraging them, and now we meet every Sunday for usual worship services. Others have not yet resumed worship because we do not have enough chairs. We have been able to replace just ten new chairs against a church membership of one hundred and six. We also borrowed a few wooden desks from the nearby primary school to use as we trust the Lord for new chairs.”
A few kilometers from Worldwide Gospel is the Otamba Pentecostal Church. As you enter the church, members sit in groups, attending their morning classes before the general worship service. Speaking with ICC, Pastor James Ondima, head pastor of the church, said, “We never stopped our usual meetings. Before the security agents could visit and file a report of the extent of the attack, we used to meet outside for services. We did this for two weeks, but now we are back to the church building. We have replaced a few things, although we are yet to replace the scorched iron sheets, interior curtains, the lectern, and other items that were burnt to ashes. The believers have remained steadfast, and we have also seen our membership grow. The new members are convinced that the churches are being targeted for speaking the truth of the gospel.”
Shortly after leaving Worldwide Gospel church, ICC walked across town to St. Augustine Catholic Church Otamba, where the Seminarian is finishing his sermon outside of the church building. Over 200 members are seated patiently in the cold, hoping that their church building will be ready soon. Afterward, the Seminarian had a word with us. “The attackers cut the grill of one of the windows to find entry and set ablaze the items in the priest’s altar. With the help of the Lord, we have replaced everything and also repainted the church. The only reason making us worship from outside is that the Parish leader has not come to dedicate the replaced items. We hope this shall be done in the coming few days.”
It was not just these three churches that were attacked, though. Nyangeni SDA church and the Holy Spirit Church were also set ablaze that same day in early January. Despite this destruction, all five Otamba churches are still meeting weekly for worship regardless of the losses and shock they’ve endured.
The Nyangeni SDA church has been unable to replace all of the items burned inside their office. “We lost a lot of things inside the church office; office chairs, cabinets, Bibles, hymn books, Christian literature, communion vessels, tables, etc. We are waiting until Easter to begin raising money to replace these items, one by one. We do not want to burden the members who are still reeling from the effects of the arson attack and the difficult life during this season of Coronavirus. We can only ask for prayers, and we trust the Lord for strength and provision.” Explained the elder in charge.
When the attackers failed to gain entrance into the Holy Spirit Church, they resolved to burn the church bathroom. The leader, Pastor Linnet, thanked God, saying, “They did not burn the items inside the church that we had sacrificially gathered for many years. It would have taken us back a great deal. We also trust God that we shall be able to build another toilet”.
This wanton destruction of so much property shows the extreme hatred the attackers have for the gospel. It is unclear who these attackers are or why they targeted these churches. Despite this, we want to lift them up in our prayers, asking God to forgive them and to turn their hearts to Christ. Likewise, please pray for the churches that have lost so much. Thank God for his faithfulness and steadfastness throughout these ordeals and that the Christians would more fully know and love Him through these challenges.
Do Christians Really Donate More? Bible’s Stunning Impact on Charitable Giving Revealed in Fascinating New Study
As the debate over the impact of Christianity on charitable behavior forges on, a new study reveals Scripturally-engaged Americans are “far more likely than others to donate to charity.”
In fact, the majority of these individuals — people who interact consistently with Scripture and allow it to shape their lives and relationships — report giving to such causes, according to the eighth chapter of “The State of the Bible” report.
“Americans who are engaged with the Bible gave $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021,” a statement from the American Bible Society read. “And … Practicing Christians, those who are actively living out their faith, are much more likely to give.”
The results are pretty stunning when comparing people engaged in the Bible with those who are disengaged as well as the so-called Moveable Middle, a group falling between those dynamics.
Bible-engaged Americans gave a total of $145 billion to charities in 2021, amounting to about $2,907 per household. The same figure for the Bible disengaged was just $924.
To underscore the monumental nature of that giving, consider that Scripturally engaged Americans account for just 19% of adults yet give 44% of every dollar donated.
The finer details point to the fascinating nature of this group’s generosity.
“People who are Scripture-engaged gave six-times as much to churches as those in the Movable Middle and 13-times as much as those who are Bible-disengaged,” a statement explained. “When it comes to non-church giving, Scripture-engaged Americans gave 9% more than the Bible-disengaged and 165% more than the Movable Middle.”
Giving among active believers is, thus, much higher than for other cohorts.
Dr. John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, said his organization’s research continues to show “a strong correlation between charitable giving and human flourishing.” This is particularly relevant among Christians surveyed in the annual report.
“Engaging with the Bible and actively living out our faith doesn’t simply mean reading the words in the pages of Scripture — rather, it is a transformation of the heart that inspires us to love and live well,” Plake said.
The results for this chapter of the “State of the Bible” were collected from 2,598 phone and online responses from American adults in January 2022.
Atheists will often decry the Bible and its contents, yet study after study shows the strong benefits faith offers individuals and, in turn, the culture at large.
As Faithwire reported, an earlier chapter from the “State of the Bible” report showed “Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.” Read more about the Bible’s significant impact on the faithful here.
PASTOR JACOB MATHEW – 57 MEMORIAL SERVICE 12/02/2022
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel,and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We walk by faith, and not by sight! Pastor Jacob Mathew (57 ) has been promoted to his eternal home and went to be with Jesus on 11/24/2022 . He served as the assistant Pastor of the Mizpah Church of God. Pullad. He lived a life that exampled Jesus Christ, a life of servitude,faith,and love. He will be missed by his family, his wife Shiney,daughter Jesna Jacob and son Joel Jacob.
We kindly request for prayers at this time for the family. He is Survived by his mother, Thankamma Mathew, sister Mary Mathew, and brother Paul Mathew and family.
Christian Organization Wins Legal Battle, Will Be Allowed to Hire Christians
Just two months after the Wyoming Rescue Mission filed its federal lawsuit against state and federal agencies for threatening to punish the Christian nonprofit for hiring employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced they reached a favorable settlement in the case.
As part of the settlement, state officials acknowledged that the rescue mission, as a religious organization, is free to hire like-minded employees who share the ministry’s religious beliefs and mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through its homeless shelter, clothing voucher service, faith-based recovery programs, and life-rebuilding assistance to Casper residents.
“The First Amendment protects Wyoming Rescue Mission’s freedom to hire those who share its beliefs without being threatened and investigated by the government,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed. “We’re pleased to favorably settle this case for the rescue mission so it can continue its critical work of serving some of Casper’s most vulnerable citizens and spreading the Gospel.”
On behalf of the faith-based organization, ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in the US District Court for the District of Wyoming.
According to court documents, the mission requires all employees to agree with its religious beliefs. Before being forced to remove it, the mission’s “Career Opportunities” webpage explicitly stated that “Employees are expected to commit to the precepts in our Statement of Faith, and to help the Mission fulfill its mission statement, vision statement, and ends statement.”
And the Mission’s employment application says: “The Mission considers every position one of ministry and a vital and valued part of our team. Therefore, it is essential that all employees of the Mission have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and subscribe to our Statement of Faith and Ministry Principles. Employees must be willing to lead and/or participate in Bible study, prayer, devotions, and sharing the Gospel.”
As CBN News reported, in 2020, the mission decided not to hire a self-proclaimed non-Christian for one of its Rescued Treasures Thrift Store associate positions. Included with this job is the responsibility of teaching the mission’s Discipleship Recovery Program guests how to spread the gospel and model Jesus Christ.
The lawsuit explains that the mission advised the applicant during the pre-screen interview that it is a Christian ministry and that all employees must agree with the Mission’s statement of faith and demonstrate Christian principles in their life and work as a condition of employment. The applicant responded that she did not have any faith.
The non-Christian applicant then filed a discrimination charge against the mission with Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to Decision Magazine.
State officials conducted a 16-month-long investigation to determine if the mission engaged in discrimination as prohibited by law.
The officials determined the mission likely violated the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act of 1965 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire the non-Christian applicant, ignoring the fact that neither of those laws applies to faith-based organizations’ religiously based employment decisions.
After ADF attorneys filed suit, the government capitulated and agreed the mission can hire only “those individuals who agree with and live out the mission’s religious beliefs and practices.”
“Like-minded employees who share the mission’s purpose to spread the Gospel and uplift the Casper community by providing free meals, shelter, recovery programs, and job training are essential for the Wyoming Rescue Mission to continue its important work,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “Wyoming officials have rightly recognized that both state and federal laws protect religious organizations’ ability to hire those who share their beliefs.”
As part of the settlement in Wyoming Rescue Mission v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed to pay the rescue mission’s attorneys’ fees. In light of the settlement, the court dismissed the EEOC from the case and signed a consent decree settling the case with the state.
A press release from the ADF revealed that in 2021, the mission served 60,862 free meals to the public; provided 41,037 beds for men, women, and children; enrolled 92 Discipleship Recovery Program participants; offered 5,597 case management sessions, and gave 1,208 thrift store vouchers worth $39,649.92 that provided free clothing and essentials to families and guests in need.
John G. Knepper, one of more than 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, served as local counsel for the Wyoming Rescue Mission.
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS
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