Overcoming the Darkness - Lenten Appeal

In May 2017, Marawi a city of over 200,000 people in the South of the Philippines was overtaken by jihadists. They attacked the cathedral on May 23rd and kidnapped the parish priest who finally escaped 4 months later. The city was under siege for nearly five months and was destroyed.

In January 2017, under a heavy military escort, a small delegation including Aid to the Church in Need personnel was able to enter the perimeter originally named Ground zero. This was the first delegation to enter the area since the war and it included the Bishop of Marawi, Edwin de la Peña.

As he approached his church for the first time since 22nd May 2017, he later confessed that he felt his heart break. The first thing he did was to kneel in silence and in prayer in front of the devastated altar.

The bishop’s residence, just in front of the cathedral and where he had been living for the past 16 years, was also totally destroyed.

Bringing the Christian population back home and re-building peace in this land which has been so tortured by militant Islamic fundamentalists is now the Bishop’s top priority.

This good shepherd and his flock need our help. Helping him fulfil his mission is the mission of Aid to the Church in Need.

This article can be found in Mirror 0218.

Because of your help, we still have Christians in Iraq

Three years after being forced out of their towns and villages by extremist group Daesh (ISIS) – many thousand of Iraqi Christian families have the opportunity to return to their homes  in the Nineveh Plains.

The very fact that they have this chance to return home is due to Aid to the Church in Need and our  benefactors who have sustained them, materially and spiritually, while living as a displaced community in Kurdish northern Iraq.

These persecuted Christians continue to need our prayers and commitment as the road back home while filled with Hope and Joy remains fraught with difficulties, very real and often life-threatening difficulties.

Difficulties notwithstanding real progress has been made and in being made and for this reason Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil writes to thank Aid to the Church in Need and its benefactors ‘for the help you have given us, to our brothers and sisters in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains. Because of your help, we still have Christians in Iraq…’ 

Aid to the Church in Need’s Middle East expert Fr. Andrzej Halemba is in no doubt about the importance of what we what we are doing to retain a Christian presence in this the cradle of Christianity. ‘This is a decisive historical moment. If we miss this opportunity to help the Christians return to their homes on the Plains of Nineveh.’ 

This article can be found in Mirror 0218.

The Church Under Attack - Lenten Appeal

The people of Nigeria, particularly in the Diocese of Maiduguri have endured great atrocities.

Their churches have been desecrated; their loved ones slaughtered – and the women, girls and young men have been kidnapped.

The Islamic fundamentalist (BOKO HARAM) Campaign of Terror has:

  • Destroyed 200 Churches and Mass stations destroyed
  • Displaced 1.8 million people in Borno State  and
  • Created 5,000 widows and 25,000 orphans in Maiduguri alone

Over 100 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014 are still being held in captivity by Boko Haram and their whereabouts are unknown.

But it is not just the Islamic militants who are causing misery for Nigeria’s Christians – nomadic Fulani tribesmen are attacking towns and villages.

Problems such as these along with extreme poverty and widespread corruption confront the African Church throughout the continent and this largely goes to explain why in 2017 almost 30% of Aid to the Church in Need’s help went to support the Church in Africa.

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndgoso of Kaduna, Nigeria  said:

‘Aid to the Church in Need’s solidarity visit gives us hope and courage. We are immensely indebted to all of you.  Please be assured of our continued spiritual support and cooperation in your commitment to help the Church in need wherever she exists.’ 

This article can be found in Mirror 0218.

Our Dignity is God-Given - Lenten Appeal

‘The woman’s face was marked by suffering and devoid of expression as we spoke about her life, then suddenly, at the mention of Jesus a radiant smile spread across her face; as if the mere thought of him would ignite her soul’, recounts Maria Lozano after her trip to North East India with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

During their visit, ACN’s representatives encountered witness upon witness testifying to the power of the Word of God.

This Dalit woman, considered an outcast and discriminated against as such and as a woman, told of how she was introduced to the teachings of the Bible and became so eager to learn more about it, that she decided to visit a local school with her infant child on her arm in order to learn how to read so that she could herself read the Bible.

‘Today even if they threaten to kill me, I will not allow the Bible to be removed from my house’,  concluded the woman who at times had been reduced to begging to feed her children.

When Dalits become Christians they add another plight to their already punishing lives, since as Christians they will face further exclusion and harassments. Still, it is estimated that roughly 60% of all Christians are Dalits who have had a true experience of the living God, a God of love and compassion who confirms their true nature as dignified human beings.

This article can be found in Mirror 0218.