From: Chris Seiple
To: Friends of The Cradle Fund (TCF)
Subject: "You Can Cut Our Throats but Our God is Stronger than the Sword:"
Trip Report, Northern Iraq, 7-11 February 2015
"And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God."—Revelation 4:20
Backdrop: "You Can Cut Our Throats but Our God is Stronger than the Sword." These words were uttered to ISIS by one Christian father on behalf of his family, whom we met in Diyana (in Northeast Iraqi Kurdistan, near the Iranian border). Incredibly, ISIS let this family go.
The same unswerving belief was true of the 21 Christians martyred this weekend in Libya. But ISIS chose to kill them; because they were "people of the Cross." I wonder if I could ever be so brave. Sadness saturates the soul.
As you consider the below summary & actions items, please consider how they might relate to the whole. Please consider how what is being revealed through The Cradle Fund might further reveal the strategy, structure, and staffing needed by Christians to take on this global threat—loving God, neighbor, and enemy as they do—while working with others of good will.
Summary: We are making a difference, serving the most marginalized, especially Christians and other minorities, and Muslims as well, who are not in the UN camps. To date, through our Christian partners,1 we have served 57,000 people—providing such things as food, blankets, clothing, kerosene, heaters, and winter-proofing materials for abandoned buildings (e.g., glassless windows)—expecting, we estimate, to serve at least another 31,000.
1 TCF’s public partners include: Assyrian Aid, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Mosul’s Archbishop Mouche, the Preemptive Love Coalition, and the International Orthodox Christian Charities serving in Iraq; Canon Andrew White’s Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East serving in Iraq and Jordan; and, Heart for Lebanon serving in Lebanon.
As spring approaches, The Cradle Fund is preparing to move beyond the "Recue" phase of our strategy to the "Restore" and "Return" phases, building on the trust that has been developed during the "Rescue" phase.
The bottom line: The situation remains complexly dire: from life as a persecuted refugee with no hope, to the continuing threat of ISIS, to the geo-politics, to the general absence of leadership on all fronts. The best solution—to which all agree—is to return the persecuted to their homes. It will take a global citizenry mobilized, beginning with the global Church.
Until then, we provide hope in the context of history, through help that is trusted, and tangible.
What does G-d say? The trauma in Iraq over the lastfew days has been immense. People have been killed bombs have gone of one stop and it would be normal for people to say why? Why does G-d allow such awful things? It is question that is often asked to us Whatas Christian's. Why does God allow such awful things to happen if he is really in control? Bombs, illness, famine. These are indeed the real questions of life.
I remember the days when I was at studying theology in Cambridge. I was at a very good Evangelical College Ridley Hall. Studying theology is never easy, training for ministry it is always difficult but the hardest thing for me was dealing with the intensity and negativity of so many of my fellow students. The doubts and anger and theological questions. When are faced with suffering we always have questions. They main one being "Why Lord why?" it is natural to ask questions, but the issue is how we respond. For us as Christians our response has to be different.
In the midst of our immense difficulties and problems we have to remember the most basic thing in our life, our relationship with God. It is a relationship based in LOVE it is only the love of God that can sustain us in such suffering. It is only knowing His love that will sustain us and enable us to cope with out major theological questions of theodicy, (Why does a good God allow evil). We may be faced with major theological questions but our response is also a major theological. Like the response to most issues of suffering there is no clear easy response. The fundamental issue is the we live with a partially
inaugurated eschatology. In other words God glory and majesty have been revealed yet at the same time the present evil age continues. In other words Man and the world fell soon after creation. The world remained in a fallen state until Jesus comes in all his glory. When our Lord comes the world radically changes. Suddenly light is revealed in darkness. People have hope, light and a future. Jesus has come, life has changed.
Whilst change has come, the way of salvation has been revealed miracles happen and we live with supernatural God given power the present evil age continues. So we live in a post cross world but the present evil age continues. With its evil brokenness, terror trauma and evil continue. Yet there are so many Christians who think all brokenness and evil has gone. Indeed in 2 Cor.5 :17 we read that "the old has gone, the new has come" but that does not mean that all evil is over forever. It does not but we are told that "the suffering of this world is nothing to compare with the glory that is to come" Rom 8:28. So in scripture we are told of this ongoing battle between suffering and glory. Is the nature of the challenge we live with daily. It is the challenge of a partially inaugurated eschatology. I find it very difficult when Christian friends imply that if we are really living in Christ we have all the answers. We only need the real faith to have total healing and a total end of all tragedy. My Lord is with us always despite the suffering. Our God suffers with us, as I will write about that soon when I look at the suffering of Christ.
WITH EVERY BLESSING
Dames and Knights All:
It’s the only day all year that chancel hangings and clergy vestments may be Gold. Not all parishes and clergy have such hangings and vestments. After all, they are used only one day a year!
That day is Easter. It is the queen of all the festivals, even higher than Christmas, whose color is white. A bit of history explains why. You see, Easter is the oldest of the festivals. It was nearly three centuries before the date of Christmas was widely accepted, and even now, it is not totally so. Some, using an older calendar and tradition, celebrate Christmas on January 6, Epiphany Day. Truth is, the date of the birth of Jesus is a mystery. It was witnessed mostly by angels, a few shepherds, and a bit later, three kings. It is Easter that finally brought Christmas into focus. We know the date of Easter. The resurrection, through the witness of the apostles, quickly become a very public proclamation.
Around the time of Jesus, many were expecting the coming of the Messiah. There were quite a number who claimed to be the messiah. Pilate dealt with a few of them himself. But they came and they went. Many of their names are lost altogether, and a few are known only to historians and scholars.
It would have been the same with Jesus, had God not raised him up from the dead. That’s how the New Testament apostles proclaimed the Good News. Peter peached in his Pentecost sermon: "God raised him up from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." (Acts 2:24) Paul would write: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." (II Corinthians 5:19) Again Paul writes: "Therefore, God has highly exalted him and given Him a name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow . . . and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." (Philippians 2:9-11).
The color of Easter is gold! It defines our lives, the way we live. Of course we celebrate His birth. It is the story of God sending His Son into the world to redeem the world. (John 3:16) But it is fulfilled in awesome glory on Easter. "He is not here. He is risen. Why do you seek the living among the dead?"(Luke 24:5-6) Indeed! We shall never find the Risen Christ in the cemetery. He is alive walking in the midst of this world’s despair, working through his "resurrection people," people like us, who live always in the Good News of this day with the courage of the Risen Christ and the perspective of eternity. That changes things, you know! Canon White has written us, just this week, of the carnage and suffering in Baghdad. Still, he serves there and calls upon us to serve with him.
So Dames and Knights, as we celebrate again this Good News, we are committed to assist the Christians in the Holy Lands and elsewhere, bringing hope and sharing the courage that Easter should be giving to us all.
The color is gold! Its brilliant light illumines every day of the year. This is the news that can change lives. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
In Christ, Our Risen Lord,
+ Theodore F. Schneider, Bishop Emeritus, SCTJ
AN EASTER PRAYER:
ALMIGHTY GOD, you have renewed in us again the joy of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection. Give us also the joys of life in your service, and bring us at last to the full joy of life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN.
Adapted from the Gelasian Sacramentary (7th to 8th Century)
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Whether or not Christians will have a voice in the political landscape of Egypt is at stake during the presidential election taking place in the country Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, persecution against Christians may worsen depending on the outcome, said Open Doors USA president Carl Moeller.
The Grand Prior CAPT Chevalier Keith Larson, GCTJ, GMTJ has asked all Templars to consider the recent CBS "60 Minutes" video regarding the plight of the dwindling Christians in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Please pray for and support these Christians with a contribution to the Jerusalem Mite. Thank you and God Bless.
Christians of the Holy Land
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We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm
The Executive Committee (“ExCom”) met in multiple sessions late this summer to discuss a variety of topics. I’m writing to inform you of two interrelated decisions, one that will be implemented later this year. The second will be implemented in 2012. For as long as I have been a member, the annual oblation has been mailed out in late November or early December. However, GPUSA relies heavily on the Grand Administrative Officer (Michael Burke), and members of his Firm (York, Burke, and Lee) to perform the related administrative work that includes the processing of all of the oblation returns. Unfortunately, by sending out the oblation notices at year’s end, we are asking York, Burke and Lee to collect and process the bulk of oblation returns during the first three months of the year, when the Firm’s attention needs to be focused on tax preparation and filing. The EXCOM has therefore voted unanimously to change the timing of the issuance of the annual oblation notices.
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Just days after Iran released two Americans accused of spying, an Iranian court has upheld the apostasy conviction and execution sentence of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.
The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.
However, the judges, acting like terrorists with a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws, they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.
We realise that a great number of our emails ask you for prayer and support. And when we pray, it's often to ask for something, or because we're faced with a challenge and we're in need of extra guidance. Yet we rarely take the time to really give thanks.This week, then, we'd like to do just that. We give thanks to God, for his protection, peace, patience, grace and guidance. We give thanks for his continued provision, and for being with us when we need Him most.
An Open Message Following the Killings in Utøya, Norway
The International Order of the Knights Templar, known throughout the world as Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Herosolymitani (OSMTH), expresses its deepest sympathy to the people of Norway for the horrific events of Friday, July 22. International Grand Master Patrick Rea, International Grand Commander Robert Disney and the Grand Prior of Norway, Stein Tennebø, as well as all members of the Order deplore the senseless acts of terrorism by Anders Behring Breivik and send our sincere condolences to the family of the deceased, their friends and the people of Norway.
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