According to the introductory lines of the Open Doors Report (2016) titled Freedom of Religion and the Persecution of Christians, ‘the persecution of Christians is getting worse –in every region in which we work –and It is getting worse fast.” The analysis of this statement shows that religious extremism is becoming worse in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Central Asia. And North Korea is the worst place to be a Christian. By far, the report indicates that the rise of Islamic extremism in sub-Saharan Africa dwarfs when compared to the violence in the Middle East. The persecution of Christians from across the world is fueled by factors such as Islamic extremism, religious nationalism, tribal antagonism, denominational protectionism, communist oppression, aggressive secularism, organized corruption, and totalitarian paranoia.READ MORE
Jack Myers' The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century (2016) is a good read for building healthy relationships between men and women. The concept of gender war has caused untold pain to men and women of every generation. Instead of making life meaningful we seek greedy living that further confuses our values of what life is all about. Nonetheless there is nothing new under the sun (Read Eccl. 1:9) and it is amazing how human societies have evolved. For instance, the concept of urban or rural living suggests greater cooperation between the genders in building peaceful societies as compared to lawless republics. One thing is sure; the survival of humans on the face of the earth depends on their ability to respect their laws.READ MORE
The Greek sage Aristotle once said, "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime." I reflected on these words for a few days and I found sense in his words. I read more witty quotes from the life of Jesus. The public ministry of Jesus unveiled his mission and vision to the people of Israel. With no contact with the people, Jesus could not have displayed such altruism in dealing with the issues of those he met. Yet, through his daily contact with the ordinary people he demonstrated his inner love for them. He was able to match words with action, and the people could relate with him because they needed a simple man with simple answers to their complex problems.READ MORE
In my few years in this country, I often get touched by narratives of parents talking about their children. The byline I often hear is, "My kid is a good kid." When a parent talks about their child this way, it reflects the approach to family upbringing. I'm touched the most when I see a grandparent relating with their grandchildren as they just walk together as friends. It is soothing for both children and grandparents. Coming from an extended family myself in Africa, I reminisce how I relied on my grandparents to learn the hard lessons of life.
Although we always disagreed on many issues, they used their better judgment to guide me and to show me all about life and what the future could be. When I look back at some of my interactions with them, I can only praise their sense of judgment, patience and love for me; a child without experience.READ MORE
The influence of Paul in Christianity is based on his missionary journeys around the towns and cities adjoining the Mediterranean Sea. His name will always be remembered among Christians because he is a role model in spreading the gospel of Jesus to distant lands far from Jerusalem. In his early life, Paul was not a Christian himself, but his encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus to arrest 'believers in the way,' reformed him. He became an apostle specially appointed by Jesus to preach to the Gentiles. He had major missionary journeys mainly to people in the Hellenistic culture. The popular towns and cities Paul evangelized are Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi, Thessaloniki, Rome, and others. Eventually he wrote letters to these locations instructing the new converts to stay firm in the faith. He produced many spiritual writings about the faith and sixteen enjoy a place in the bible.READ MORE
After the celebratory engagements of Christmas and New Year, we face the next stage in God's revelation about the personality of Jesus. The work of John the Baptist is not yet over. There is one important event he must accomplish: Introduce Jesus.
John the Baptist refused to accept that he was the Messiah. He did not know Jesus when he was baptizing people by the Jordan River. In fact, he was performing all the baptisms by the river so that the personality of the Messiah could be identified. After so many baptisms, Jesus appeared before John needing to be baptized like others. It was at this encounter that John recognized Jesus by the signs God revealed to him. Biblical theologians give us many signs, but we but here we note only two significant signs. The first sign is the appearance of the Spirit upon Jesus like a dove. The second sign is the divine confirmation through the voice of the Father. John knew that Jesus was the Chosen One.READ MORE
One Sunday, I had only one candidate for baptism after Mass. The family arrived well before the Mass ended and took up positions in the front pews ready for the baptism of their lovely baby. Since I had the afternoon Mass, I dressed up appropriately in the sacristy and proceeded to the altar to start the initiation of this lovely baby into the Christian faith. The baby was dressed all in white, but he was busy having his lunch from a small feeding bottle and his face beamed with angelic smiles. I was later told that his father ﬂew in from Germany to attend his son's baptism. What a proud family! An older child was beside them wondering "who's this baby that has taken my position as the number one in the family." I guess the father of this baby is in the military because I could see his haircut was neat and his body looked as ﬁt like as a ﬁddle. The mother was there with her dress, elegant and beautiful and as happy as every woman can be. Beside her were three people; a couple as baptism sponsors of the baby and one lady as witness.READ MORE
In 2012, we watched the London Olympics. It was one of the highlights of 2012 in sports. It made me wish I was a young boy again with a ﬂexible body. I used to do acroba cs during my high school days but no more. Can you imagine how those Olympians prac ced winning the gold for themselves and their countries? They spent endless hours swea ng, rehearsing, and accep ng correc ons from their coaches.
Did you see Usain Bolt, the Jamaican who is considered the fastest man alive? What about the US women gymnasts? They won gold. I cannot forget the admiration that greeted those young ladies when I saw them on The Late Show w/ David Letterman. Dave teased them, drilled them with questions and even oﬀered to go to the next Olympics just to get the gold like they did. The audience went into laughter. I did also in my little room facing my TV. Gold is precious and if you win gold you can appear on many TV shows both at home and abroad. At the end of the London Olympics, America came in ﬁrst with 104 medals, followed by the People's Republic of China with 88 medals and in third place was the Russian Federation with 82 medals. Great Britain, the host nation, came in fourth with 65.READ MORE
I lost my great-grandfather in 1976 when I was seven years of age. He died at the age of 98. He looked very old to me. He was a man well respected in our community. After the passing of my great-grandfather, my great-grandmother lived on for another ten years. She passed away in 1986. By this time, I was in High School and in love with photography. I could afford a camera, so I took several pictures of my great-grandmother. It was only after her death that family members began to value her pictures. She was a sweet petite woman and I have memories of her old age even as I was young. I remember vaguely my great-grandparents, but they were an end of a chapter in our family. I watched my grandparents carefully and they did their best to keep up with the family traditions.READ MORE
'Oh little town of Bethlehem,' so the song begins. We have sung this song for ages in different versions and forms. We are so familiar with the lyrics that we can afford to look away from the songbook while we sing. It is the story of Jesus born in Bethlehem, a little town of Judea in a lonely manger without comfort or luxury under the watchful eyes of Mary and Joseph.
Today in our homes, the Christmas crib is the most recognizable image with the Christmas tree along with the assorted decorative ornaments we can afford. The song becomes relevant when we sing, 'For Christ is born of Mary.' We gather each year to commemorate this event with all our hearts and with all our love. It is not only Mary that is joyful seeing her child, Joseph too stands in awe at the sight of the baby promised by God. The dream is real!READ MORE
The picture is getting clearer. Joseph is betrothed to Mary. He is a just man. He does not want to break Jewish rules by taking Mary home without going by the customs and traditions of the Jewish people. He knows Mary is a fine woman, born and raised in the Jewish culture. She will not play any games with Joseph. Therefore, they both stay apart waiting for that day when their marriage will be recognized, and then consummated.
The drama becomes tense. An archangel visits Joseph and tells him not to be afraid. The archangel tells him to take Mary home because she will conceive and give birth to a child. This child will be born through the power of the Holy Spirit. Can anybody see the misery of Joseph? Is he to obey the Jewish culture or take Mary home as commanded by the archangel in his dream? The pains of Joseph are greater than those of because he could be killed for violating the culture in which they both live. Mary will have her pains too; pains far greater than what Joseph experiences.READ MORE
The world has witnessed new beginnings too innumerable to count. A few examples can help here. After the flood, the biblical Noah and his family started life afresh. In more recent history, after the First and Second World Wars people set about the task of rebuilding their families and nations. Again, after the 911 events, America set about rebuilding itself to face the challenges ahead. There are many examples to show how resilient human beings can be after undergoing tumultuous times.
Babies learn to walk. One-minute they fall but rise the next and continue their efforts. Parents smile with joy at their first steps. Babies learn to persevere. People who are ready to learn lessons from the past can reset their future today. And when you visualize how your future may be, then you can start building it here and now. The Christian man or woman is a person filled with faith that seeks to bloom in the present no matter how ugly conditions are.READ MORE
As a parent, your behavior towards your children should always be the best. You can be harsh with friends, but in your home, you should be gentle with your children by loving them tenderly. In fact, you treat those you love with kindness and complete tolerance. Children by their nature learn quickly from those around them, and especially parents who are the closest to them. Every child usually reflects his parent's character or perhaps the character of both.
When teaching your children, you let them know what is good or evil. They make mistakes . But your instinct as a parent is to forgive, to tolerate, and to focus on your job of teaching good behavior. The ability to offer your children a second chance does not degrade your role as a parent, but it enhances the bonds within the family so the strong can help the weak. That is what family is all about: loving, supporting, and caring for each other. For this reason, parents should lead their children with good examples in words and in deeds.READ MORE
Advent is the season we prepare for the coming of the Lord. It is strange that we highly prepare for the coming of the Lord every year, as if that is the only event in Christianity. Indeed, it is not only the outstanding event but also the definitive in Christianity when Christians remember the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem of Judea. Every year the Church commemorates his first appearance of Jesus with a religious ceremony known to all as Christmas. The taking of flesh of Jesus as a man that lived among us is known as the Incarnation.READ MORE