Saturday, 10 January 2009

on gaza (part 3)

 this is the official statement released by the council of churches malaysia recently. the CCM composes of mainline churches in malaysia. it is a balanced statement calling for both sides to cease all violence and attacks and for a peaceful solution to be found.

--------------------------------------------


MAJLIS GEREJA-GEREJA MALAYSIA

COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF MALAYSIA
No. 10, Jalan 11/9, Section 11, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Tel: 03-79608926 Fax: 03-79560353 E-Mail: cchurchm@streamyx. com

 

Call for an Immediate

Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire

 
The violent carnage cannot go on! The killing and injuring of innocent civilians in Gaza as well as and in Israel must stop. 
 
Israeli airstrikes must end along with further threats of increased military action. Palestinian militant groups must also cease all current and future attacks on Israel. Violence only breeds more violence and impedes the path that leads to lasting peace. 
 
The "right to self defense" can never be an excuse to inflict violence and wanton destruction to civilian communities. It is morally unjustifiable and it is against international law. 
 
The CCM supports the call of the World Council of Churches for an immediate negotiated ceasefire between the political leaders in Israel and Gaza. 
 
They must ensure that all measures are taken to protect civilians and for international relief agencies to have unfettered access to provide the humanitarian aid urgently required.
 
The CCM also supports the call of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, for the United Nations to hold a special session on resolving the current crisis in Gaza.
 
The CCM calls upon all its member churches to pray for the progress of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, with the accompaniment and full support of peace-loving countries around the world.
 
The CCM also calls upon all powerful nations of the West to exert pressure to stop Israel from using violence disproportionately executed upon the helpless Palestinians.
 
A special Gaza Humanitarian Fund has been set-up in order that churches can contribute generously to help churches in Gaza to assist in humanitarian relief by funds provided by international Christian funders.
 
Cheques are to be made out in favour of  

"Council of Churches of Malaysia"

And to be written at the back 

"Gaza Humanitarian Relief Funds"

 
Thank you.
 
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri
General Secretary
Council of Churches of Malaysia
 
Date: 8th January 2009

on gaza (part 2)

here is another perspective of the gaza conflict from a writeup posted on malaysiakini. it shows how the malaysian government's recent strong protest about the conflict is tied in with the ruling political party's self interests. how do you separate religion from politics? as in the previous post, if the government choose to take this stand, what about individual citizens who choose otherwise? why must all the citizens necessarily follow the government's position? how do christians in malaysia present a fair view of the situation (like that outlined by salim munayer in the previous psot)?

----------------------------------------------

Date: Thursday, January 8, 2009, 6:56 AM
> Gaza Conflict Exposes UMNO Hypocrisy - Malaysiakini 
> While the attention of the world is presently riveted on
> the conflict in Gaza. The conflict also exposes the
> hypocrisy of many Islamic countries rushing to defend &
> aid the Palestinians. No less, it exposes the hypocrisy of
> UMNO back here in Malaysia, a fascist political party steep
> in desperate corruption. 
> Why is UMNO screaming & ranting like a sex-starved male
> hog during mating season about Gaza? The answer is simple -
> the victims this time are Muslims, the aggressors are
> non-Muslims, Israelis to be sure.
> One must ask why was UMNO silent when rampaging Indonesian
> Muslims ransacked & burnt Chinese-owned business at
> will, at the height of the financial crisis in the late
> 1990's? Hundreds if not thousands of Chinese girls &
> women were raped by gangs of Indonesian Muslim thugs. UMNO
> & its leader PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad said nothing. The
> reason - the victims were non-Muslims, the aggressors were
> Muslims.
> When East Timor declared independence from Indonesian rule
> under a UN mandate, Indonesian Islamic militants poured into
> that country. Whole towns were burnt to the ground, tens of
> thousands were tortured or shot to death. Thousands of girls
> & women were systematically raped by Indonesian Islamic
> militants. UMNO & its leader PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad said
> nothing. The reason - the victims were non-Muslims, the
> aggressors were Muslims. In fact, Dr Mahathir Mohamad
> dismissed the crisis at that point of time as an Indonesian
> internal affair.
> The Darfur tragedy began when the Islamic majority in
> northern Sudan seek to impose Islamic rule on the whole
> country. The secular southern part of the country resisted
> & were burnt & bombed as a result. At least 2.7
> million Sudanese have been displaced by the civil war. Since
> 2003, at least 300,000 Sudanese, mostly non-Muslims have
> been killed. Thousands of non-Muslim girls & women have
> been gang-raped by Islamic militants. Thousands more have
> been forced into sex-slavery by Islamic militants - all
> these time, the Islamic militants were funded by rich Arab
> countries in the Middle-East. UMNO & its leader PM Dr
> Mahathir
> Mohamad said nothing. The reason - the victims were
> non-Muslims, the aggressors were Muslims.
> The Gaza conflict exposes the corruption & hypocrisy of
> UMNO & its leaders like never before.
> The Palestinians problem did not arise as a result of an
> Israeli invasion & subsequent occupation in the
> Middle-East, as often outlined in Malaysian revisionist
> world history books. In reality, it was a result of failed
> attempts by Arab countries to exterminate Israel via
> military force. The Palestinians were left behind by a
> retreating Pan-Arab military in the twice failed invasions
> of Israel.
> Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza is a known
> international terrorist organization. UMNO has known ties
> with Hamas for a very long time. Oil rich Arab countries
> have funded Hamas aggressions against Israel from the very
> beginning. Whether UMNO has funded Hamas will never be
> knownsince UMNO human couriers are never apprehended - for
> obvious reasons. Hamas has refused to renewed its truce with
> Israel. Instead, Hamas using the Palestinians as human
> shields, fired hundreds of rockets into Israel every week.
> I've no interest in the Middle-East conflicts between
> the Arab states & Israel. To me, we've bigger
> problems at home. The global recession is biting hard into
> the national economy. Thousands are losing their jobs &
> maybe their homes. And we've a ruling government living
> in denial. The Gaza conflict is Israel's internal
> problem which Malaysians should not pay attention to. UMNO
> is merely exposing its hypocrisy & hidden agenda against
> non-Muslims or non-Malays.
> Posted by Jom Man at 5:41 PM

Friday, 9 January 2009

on gaza

where does one draw the line in the recent Gaza fighting? does one side with the Palestinians because they are out-numbered and out-gunned by the Israelis? or does one side with the Israelis because they are trying to defned themselves from the Hamas' rocket attacks? is the issue also tied with the divisive issue of the land? 

where does religion come into this situation? does it mean that because one is a Christian, one must support Israel? This is the stand of many american and western christians because they understood Israel as having an important part to play in God's plan for the end times. but does one's support for Israel means turning a blind-eye to the atrocities committed by modern-day Israel like now where more civilians die at the hands of the Israelis? should one's support for Israel be unequivocal?

in Malaysia where the ruling political party is islamic, naturally their support is for the Palestinians. where do Christians in malaysia stand? if they support Israel, they seem to be going against their government. on the other hand, if they support the Palestinians, they feel they are going aganist God! (because somehow they think modern Israel is the same as ancient Israel in the Bible and Israel is supposed to play an important role in the end times before Jesus returns...) 

where does the reb stand? the reb's two cents worth ----

1] modern Israel is not equivalent to ancient Israel.
2] modern Israel does not have a significant role to play in God's plan. the Church is God's instrument, not modern-day Israel.
3] modern-day Israel is not exempted from moral demands like any other nation. in the recent gaza intrusion, the disproportionate number of deaths is unacceptable.
4] Hamas has to bear responsibility too for their part in the violence, for deliberately using high density civilian areas and drawing in civilians into their armed struggle.

here is reproduced a response from an arab christian who graduated from OCMS PhD program.

---------------------------------

Conflict in Gaza: thoughtful sharing from Salim, a PhD graduate from OCMS.


To both Israelis and Palestinians, the current conflict in Gaza has brought
nothing but pain and suffering. It has also caused friction among some
believers as they choose to pledge sole allegiance to their own people group.
Some are even expressing an unabashed hatred for the other side through
articles, e-mails and graphic content on Facebook.


From the Israeli point of view they pulled out of the Gaza Strip in the name
of peace and an Islamic regime took over. Israel’s justification for going
to war was to protect its citizens against Hamas launching rockets on the
communities in the Negev. Soldiers continue to mobilize along the Gaza border
as they prepare to defend their people and country against terror. They claim
that others would have acted more quickly and aggressively. Their reasoning is
that it is necessary to attack now before Hamas has longer-range missiles.


The Palestinians claim that though Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2006, the
army is still controlling the borders making it the biggest open-air prison in
the world. In the last 18-months, 1.5 million Palestinians have been under
siege and were prevented from receiving sufficient water, medical aid and food
supply. For the Palestinians, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was just an
excuse to expand their control in the West Bank and build further settlements.
The Palestinians also believe they have a right to self-defense. For them, the
Israeli reaction is disproportionate. The number of Israelis killed cannot be
compared to the hundreds of Palestinians killed.

Each player in the conflict places the full responsibility of the cycle of
violence on the other side. There is a general unwillingness to enter into
peace talks on ideological or political grounds. For example, Israel will say
Hamas is an ideological religious organization that doesn’t recognize Israel
as a Jewish state. Palestinians, on the other hand, say the Palestinian
Authority has entered into concessions and nothing substantial has evolved;
all that increased were settlements and checkpoints.


So, what is our role as believers in this situation? How can we be a model of
Messiah as we move forward in the reconciliation process? Are we too busy
challenging the moral and ethical position of the other side that we are
unwilling to take responsibility? Because our societies have chosen war and
violence, there is a great need for reconciliation. We can accomplish this
through taking on a priestly role of intercessor and prophetic role of
speaking the truth.


While the conflict has divided some believers, there are those taking a stand
and fulfilling their priestly role. I was greatly encouraged last week to hear
a Messianic pastor lead his congregation in a prayer of repentance, especially
emphasizing that in a time of war, repentance is necessary from both the
Israelis and the Palestinians. We must begin by examining our own sins,
failures and shortcomings and seek God’s forgiveness and direction.


Applying Joel 2, he read, “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting
and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the
Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and
abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:12-13). God
desires us to grieve from within and turn our hearts back towards him. As we
as believers intercede on behalf of the people in our societies we need to
invoke the nature of God and beg for his mercy and compassion to fall upon us
because we have sinned before him. We must also cry out for God’s mercy and
compassion to fall upon the other side.

In time of war we are also called to take on a prophetic role. The prophet
was a representative of God who brought a message primarily to effect social
change. The prophet spoke the truth and reminded us to care for the widow,
orphan and stranger. When speaking the prophetic word, we need to be blunt
without any hidden messages, and we need to have the courage to speak out when
our people are wrong. In the prophetic role we are reminded that we must not
only speak out against the injustice which has been committed against our own
people, but also against others. We have a duty to speak out against the
misuse of power and the blood of the innocent shed whether it is Israeli or
Palestinian.


The world views war as war. Some will say, “in war the innocent also die
and we cannot help it.” My son was greatly distressed when his friend told
him exactly this. I shared with him that in war we need to speak up for the
innocent. We cannot justify the act of killing innocent people and say it was
in self-defense. Yet, we cannot justify killing someone with a weapon just
because they’re holding a weapon. Even killing in war for self-defense
should be taken with caution and reverence. The enemy carrying the weapon is
also a person who has also been created in the image of God. Especially in a
time of war we need to speak louder and clearer against the misuse of power by
our governments and their justification of power and violence. War doesn’t
mean giving a free hand without any moral and ethical boundaries and
limitations.


So, while we are in the midst of war, we need to honestly seek the will of
God and be discerning. We must become intercessors for our nation, our leaders
and the other side and ask God to pour out his mercy and compassion. We must
also become the prophet and convey that message of injustice happening in our
societies. We need to attempt to relieve the pain of the innocent even if we
feel our side’s reasoning for war is justified. Instead of pointing the
finger, let us look within ourselves and repent. Then let us look at the other
side with compassion and love, with a love that transcends societal
boundaries, rocket fire and airstrikes.

from
Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D.
Director of Musalaha
Tel: 02-6720376
Fax: 02-6719616
Musalaha@netvision.net.il 

(Musalaha's website, http://www.musalaha.org/ [http://www.musalaha.org/] ,
is under construction, but you can find more details about them on the
following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musalaha

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

physician heal yourself

in the midst of the fighting between israel and the hamas in gaza, the heads of the churches in jerusalem issued a recent press statement. in the middle of their statement, they said 'to the various palestinian factions, we say...' yet, at the bottom of their statement, count the number of heads of the churches within jerusalem itself (13 in fact). isn't it ironic for them to call on the various palestinian factions to cease and come together when the christian church itself in jerusalem is so divided??

-------------------------------------------------------------- 

Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem

On the current devastating situation in Gaza Jerusalem on 30 December 2008


We, the Patriarchs, Bishops and the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem,
follow with deep concern, regret, and shock the war currently raging in the
Gaza Strip and the subsequent destruction, murder and bloodshed, especially at
a time when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the King of love and peace.
As we express our deep sorrow at the renewed cycle of violence between
Israelis and Palestinians and the continued absence of peace in our Holy Land,
we denounce the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip and all forms of
violence and killings from all parties. We believe that the continuation of
this bloodshed and violence will not lead to peace and justice but breed more
hatred and hostility - and thus continued confrontation between the two
peoples.


Accordingly, we call upon all officials of both parties to the conflict to
return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring
destruction and tragedy, and urge them instead to work to resolve their
differences through peaceful and non-violent means. We also call upon the
international community to fulfil its responsibilities and intervene immediately 
and actively stop the bloodshed and end all forms of confrontation; 
to work hard and strong to put an end to the current confrontation and remove 
the causes of conflict between the two peoples; and to finally resolve 
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just and comprehensive solution 
based on international resolutions.


To the various Palestinian factions we say: It is time to end your division
and settle your differences. We call on all factions at this particular time
to put the interests of the Palestinian people above personal and factional
interests and to move immediately toward national comprehensive reconciliation
and use all non-violent means to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the
region.


Finally, we raise our prayers to the Child in the manger to inspire the
authorities and decision makers on both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians,
for immediate action to end the current tragic situation in the Gaza Strip. We
pray for the victims, the wounded and the broken-hearted. May the Lord God
Almighty grant all those who have lost loved ones consolation and patience. We
pray for all those living in panic and fear, that God may bless them with
calm, tranquillity and true peace.


We call on all to observe next Sunday, January 4, as a day for justice and
peace in the land of peace.


+ Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate


+ Patriarch Fuad Twal, Latin Patriarchate


+ Patriarch Torkom II, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate


Fr. Pier Battista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custody of the Holy Land


+ Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate


+ Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate


+ Abune Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate


+ Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate


+ Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem & the Middle East


+ Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land


+ Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate


+ Bishop Youssef Zre'i, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate


Fr. Raphael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Monday, 5 January 2009

laughter


here's a good joke (from groove books jokes and quotes of the month)

Augustine, Calvin and Barth find themselves waiting outside the throne room on the Day of Judgement. Augustine goes in first, and after half an hour comes out and says to the others: 'It was wonderful! I had all the mysteries of sin, grace and salvation explained to me!'

Next, Calvin goes in, comes out an hour later and says to the others: 'It was wonderful! I had all the mysteries of election, predestination and divine sovereignty explained to me!'

Finally, Barth goes in. After two hours, God comes out and says to the others: 'I've still got no idea what he is talking about!'