POPE CALLS FOR FRATERNITY
According to Melbourne’s Herald-Sun, Pope Francis, in his Christmas message, declared that ‘God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters.’ Without fraternity, the Pope said, ‘even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty.’ He urged the world to put aside ‘partisan interests’ to find a political solution to wars in Syria and Yemen and conflicts in Ukraine and on the Korean peninsula.
‘AHOK’ TO BE RELEASED
Jakarta’s former governor, known as “Ahok”, who was sentenced last year to two years in jail for blasphemy against Islam, is to be released from prison next month, four months ahead of schedule. The ethnic Chinese Christian was due to be released in May. But he has been granted early release, scheduled for 24 January, for good behaviour, according to the Director General for Prison Affairs, as reported by AsiaNews.
CALL TO PRAYER
Eternity News reports that more than 50 nations have responded to a call by Australian prayer leaders to pray at sunrise on New Year’s Day at a public location such as a hill, lookout or landmark in their city or town, or even at home. “Basically the New Year’s Day Sunrise Prayer Relay is a relay of people praying all around the world at sunrise on New Year’s Day, said Pat Steele, a prayer and worship leader in Wollongong on the NSW south coast.
NATIVITY SCENE GOES WALKABOUT
LifeSiteNews reports that when the Thistles Centre shopping mall in Stirling, Scotland, cancelled the annual static Nativity Scene, ‘Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ staged a walkabout, creating a living Nativity there after news reports appeared that the shopping mall would not permit a traditional manger scene to become part of its Christmas display. The actors playing Mary and Joseph said that they wanted particularly to underscore the fact that Christmas is about Christ.
CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY
Renovation of the Church of the Nativity is lifting spirits in the Biblical town of Bethlehem ahead of Christmas. Visitors are looking at ancient mosaics and columns that have been restored to their original glory for the first time in 600 years. City officials, according to a report from Sydneyanglican.net, hope the renovation at the traditional birthplace of Jesus will boost tourism and a weak economy in the Israeli‐occupied West Bank.
POP-UP TOY STORE
World Vision has set up a pop‐up toy store in Melbourne to tell the story of toys left behind by children forced to flee their homes. In this way, World Vision is seeking to shine a light on the plight of the world’s 30 million displaced children. ‘The Lost Toy Store,’ created by artist Emma Davies, aims to provide a point of connection between shoppers and displaced children. It is hoped that shoppers will pass on a ‘message of generosity’ to the children and their families for Christmas.
CHURCHES HELP THE HOMELESS
More than 2,000 Church of England congregations will be running or supporting night shelters in the UK winter as homelessness projects cope with rising demand. Premier News states that churches are reporting that they are adding extra beds to night shelters and opening more days a week after figures show a rise in homelessness. In Manchester, guests sit down with volunteers to eat a hot meal every night and are supported during the day to find new accommodation and access benefits.
CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
According to christianheadlines.com the archbishop of Canterbury says that Christians in the Middle East face extinction from radical Islam and need help from the worldwide community if they are going to survive. “Christians face daily the threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote in a Sunday column for The Telegraph.
ANDREA BOCELLI TO SHARE HIS FAITH
The Christian Post reports that singer Andrea Bocelli will premiere his Christmas special, “Andrea Bocelli: The Heart of Christmas,” on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in the United States later this month, where he will also be sharing his faith in Jesus Christ. In 2017, following a tour of the Holy Land, the singer publicly shared his faith in a message on Facebook, writing: “[A]s a man of faith, a Christian, a practicing Catholic, when I was in Jordan I felt the need to express my devotion, praying at the site where our Lord Jesus was baptized …”
AN AWARD FOR MAF AUSTRALIA
New Life reports that Mission Aviation Fellowship Australia has received the prestigious Southern Cross Award For Outstanding Contribution And Service To Civil Aviation In Australia for 2018 and was inducted last month into the Australian Aviation Hall Of Fame held in the hangar of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, Illawarra Regional Airport, Albion Park, NSW.
NEW CHURCH IN CHRISTCHURCH
According to Anglican News, the first Anglican parish church to be built from scratch in the New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch in 40 years is set to use their new buildings to serve their community. The Bishop-elect of Christchurch, Dr Peter Carrell, has performed a dedication ceremony for the All Souls’ Anglican Church complex.
NEW BELIEVERS IN ARGENTINA
About 1,400 people are now following Jesus after responding to the Gospel presented recently in Argentina by evangelist Andrew Palau, son of Luis Palau.
My Christian Daily states that the event unified 140 churches, trained 2,000 Christians in personal evangelism, and reached more than 19,000 people in person at the two‐day festival. Another 31,000 people watched the festival online.