Monthly Archives: October 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo, Pray

 

Millions could starve to death within months in Democratic Republic of Congo, UN warns

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More than three million people are at risk of starvation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations (UN) food agency has warned.

Hundreds of thousands of children may die in the coming months if aid is not urgently delivered to the conflict-wracked central African nation, said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

Violence erupted between rebel militia and government forces in Congo’s Kasai province in August 2016 and has intensified since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his constitutional mandate ended in December.

The conflict has left 1.5 million people homeless, many of them children, in a country still recovering from a brutal civil war.

Mr. Beasley visited Kasai this week and described what he saw as a “disaster”.

“We saw burned huts, burned homes, seriously malnourished children that had been stunted, obviously many children have died already,” he told The BBC.

“We’re talking about several hundred thousand children there that will die in the next few months if we don’t get first funds, second food, and then third access in the right locations,” he added.

Mr. Beasley said the WFP had only one per cent of the funding it needed to help people in Kasai and warned the coming rainy season would soon make already difficult roads impassable.

He added: “If we wait another few more weeks before we receive funds to pre-position food, I can’t imagine how horrible the situation is going to be.

“We need help, and we need it right now.”

Violence flared in Kasai last year when the government refused to recognize a local hereditary chief, Kamuina Nsapu, who was considered hostile to the government. He set up a militia before being killed in clashes. Since his death several rebel factions have emerged, each fighting different causes but counting authorities as their common enemy.

The conflict has worsened and spread to five provinces, reportedly killing thousands. Both sides have been accused of human rights violations, while investigators have uncovered mass graves and harrowing evidence of people being hacked to death with machetes and burned alive.

President Kabila has blamed violence in Kasai for delaying elections and has refused to step down until a successor has been voted in. But repeated delays to polls have inflamed unrest, sparked deadly protests, and raised fears the country would slip back into the kind of civil war that killed millions around the turn of the century.

This week the American ambassador to the UN warned Congo would lose international support if Mr. Kabila did not hold elections before the end of 2018.

Nikki Haley met the President on Friday during a three-country African tour.

 

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“YOU PAID IT ALL” By Wes Morgan

Unselfishly died on Calvary, Oh how you gave your life for me. You were bruised, scorned, crowned your head with thorns.  No greater love performed for me.  Nails in your hands, nails in your feet, pierced in your side could barely breathe.  You paid it all!  These are the words to the song “You Paid It All” by Wess Morgan

Much Needed Prayer

 

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NAPLES, Fla. — A Florida man received six death sentences for the murders of his wife and five children eight years ago.

Mesac Damas was sentenced Friday morning by Collier Circuit Judge Christine Greider, bringing resolution to one of the most horrifying Southwest Florida murder case in recent memory.

“In reaching this decision, the court is mindful that, because death is a unique punishment in its finality, its application is reserved only for those cases where only the most aggravating and least mitigating circumstances exist,” Greider said at the end of the 1 ½-hour long proceeding.

It was September 2009 when Damas brutally killed his wife, Guerline Dieu Damas, 32, and the couple’s five young children — Michzach, 9, Marven, 6, Maven, 5, Megan, 3, and Morgan 1 — slicing their throats with a filet knife inside their North Naples townhouse. At the time, Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk called the killings “the most horrific and violent event” in county history.

Damas, now 41, fled to Haiti, where he was born and raised, but authorities soon located him.

While being transported from Haiti back to Florida, Damas confessed his guilt to the Daily News. Did you kill them? Yes, I did. Why? Only God knows.

He was driven to kill by the devil, he said. He wanted death. He wanted to be buried with his family. He expected to go to heaven.

This focus on God and religion and spirits and demons would continue throughout his time in the Collier County jail and during his court appearances. Early on he was prone to courtroom outbursts, begging to be put to death and imploring a courtroom gallery to come to Jesus. He has maintained that he was “possessed by demons” at the time of the crime.

In jail he fasted, leading to drastic weight fluctuations. He was, he said, trying to starve out the demons. He also shared his Christian faith with other inmates.

It was a lapse in faith before the killings had left him vulnerable to a demonic attack or hex, he would later tell a defense expert, a specialist in Haitian religion.   His court case was marked by fits and stops — a trip to a state mental hospital, challenges to the state’s death penalty law, and a rotating door of public defenders and judges (Greider was the fourth judge to oversee Damas’ case).
Toward the end, Damas virtually shut down in court, refusing to participate in hearings or speak with his court-appointed lawyers. He wanted to represent himself in court; a request that was denied.
In early September, Greider allowed Damas to plead guilty to the six counts of first-degree murder. He waived his right to a jury. He also waived his right to have his attorneys present mitigating evidence in his favor.
On Tuesday, when Greider asked Damas if he still wanted to waive his right to mitigating evidence, he refused to speak. Instead, he wrote her a note.
“Go ahead, continue your work, may my blood be upon your shoulders.”
He signed the note, “COG” — Child of God.

We Need to Take Jesus’ Metaphor of Being Born Again More Seriously

Sometimes I tell people I’m an E. K., an evangelist’s kid. I heard my father use the words born again all the time. By the time I was an adult, the term had lost any meaning beyond the idea of “coming to Jesus” or praying a prayer that led to spiritual change. Born again was a label for the moment of conversion, but I had never thought of it as related to the concept of birth itself.
That was until I was studying the Gospel of John for my PhD and became pregnant with my second child, my son, Atticus. I came upon that familiar story in John 3 where Nicodemus meets with Jesus to speak with him.
I was struck by how many times the words born or birth are repeated in John 3, in part because I was preparing for my own son’s birth. I was also surprised that scholars describe John as mixing his metaphors when talk of being born again (v. 7) turns into talk about the wind of the Spirit (v. 8). I had started rethinking how metaphors work and I wanted to know what was with all of this birth language, and were these actually mixed metaphors or were they something else?
The way we interpret metaphors has recently shifted. Where previously metaphors were understood as equivalent statements (for example, “the man is a wolf” could be made into “the man is aggressive”), metaphor scholars such as George Lakoff, Gilles Fauconnier, and Mark Turner now argue that it is as important to pay attention to how the metaphor speaks to us as what the metaphor means. In fact, the how often provides a deeper understanding of the what. If we say “the man is a wolf,” it matters that wolves are not only aggressive but also sly and known for trickery. Thus, it matters that the man is compared to a wolf and not a bull or a bear, which are also aggressive but not necessarily clever.
Applying this to the Bible, we should not only value what metaphors in Scripture mean but also see these particular metaphors themselves as a gift from God to convey something valuable about who he is and what he is doing. In the case of “born again,” the conception of spiritual life in Christ as a form of birth leads us to think about how birth itself is like our own spiritual journey.
A universal human experience
Birth is a strange metaphor in Christian circles. We tend to think of birth as something that relates mostly to women. But because all of us were born, birth clearly applies to men and women alike. Similarly, metaphors about children apply to each of us because we have all been children at some point.
Modern birth is far less seen or experienced than it was in days of old. It happens in hospitals, often away from the eyes of the general population. In the case of planned C-sections, increasingly common today, even the mother might not see the birth itself.
In the ancient world, however, birth was an experience that impacted everyone. It happened inside homes that made the noise and struggle much more public. Neighbors heard it. Birth, in all of its loud messiness, was a family affair and even a community event.
It shouldn’t surprise us then that birth became a metaphor for a variety of other experiences in both the Old and New Testaments. German scholar Claudia Bergmann states that the ancients used birth to describe experiences of crisis—whether personal or communal.
Bergmann explains in Childbirth as a Metaphor for Crisis that “ancient Near Eastern examples show . . . that there was a tradition of comparing women giving birth to warriors in battle.” This happens in the Old Testament too. It may seem strange to us now, but the ancient authors of the Old Testament saw the crisis of birth—where women were close to death as they struggled to bring new life into the world—as parallel to the warrior’s experience of being close to death before victory in battle.

Prayer in the Catholic Church

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Roman Catholic teachings on the subject of prayer are contained in the Catechism, where quoting St. John of Damascus, prayer is defined as “…the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God”. St. Thérèse of Lisieux describes prayer as “… a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
By prayer one acknowledges God’s power and goodness, and one’s own neediness and dependence. It is therefore an act of the virtue of religion implying the deepest reverence for God and habituating a person to look to him for everything. Prayer presupposes faith in God and hope in his goodness. By both, God, to whom one prays, moves the individual to prayer.

 

Holy Rosary

The best known example of a rosary-based prayer is simply called the “Holy Rosary” and involves contemplation on five rosary mysteries, while Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the Father prayers are recited.
This rosary prayer goes back several centuries and there are differing views among experts on its exact history.  In the sixteenth century, Pope Pius V established the current form of the original 15 mysteries for this rosary and they remained so until the 20th century.  Pope John Paul II extended the mysteries in this rosary during his reign, while keeping the original mysteries intact.

 

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