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NAIROBI: World Authority on Islam says GAFCON must embrace new technologies

NAIROBI: World Christian Authority on Islam says GAFCON must embrace new technologies
Economic priorities of West a dilemma over how to address Islamic persecution of Christians

By David W. Virtue in Nairobi
www.virtueonline.org
October 24, 2013

A world authority on Islam and an outspoken advocate for persecuted Christian minorities around the world says orthodox Anglicans meeting here in Nairobi under the banner of GAFCON must embrace new technologies if they are to make an impact for the gospel in the 21st Century.

"The information age is upon us. Unless we can shape and influence the information being put out about what is going on in the Global South then we will always be given a negative condition. We are backwards in social media and that has to change," said The Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo. He said he was involved in developing a communications network between Abuja, Nairobi and London.

The International Director of The Barnabas Fund an interdenominational Christian aid agency that supports Christians who face discrimination and persecution as a consequence of their faith, told VOL that GAFCON leaders need to step up to the plate and assume leadership roles in developing policies and strategies without the influence from the Western agenda. "The first issue for GAFCON if it is to be truly global is that it must be representative of two thirds world Christians.

"They must address concerns of the Global South and their concerns are crucial to their survival. They still live with the old fault lines of Christianity in an increasingly growing Islamic world. "The church faces potential armed conflicts in Nigeria, Sudan and problems in Kenya Uganda as well as issues in Malaysia. Those issues are how the church survives and flourishes in areas where there is war and conflict.

"How is the church in the Global South to be resourced? In some places it is weak and in some places strong, while in other places it is struggling to survive. How can a united church in the north and south able to help them."

Sookhdeo said GAFCON's strength was its theology. The strength of the churches has moved to the Global South. The north needs the south as the south has the spiritual resources; the north is struggling with their own battles and concerns.

"On theological issues we have historically deal with ethical issues, now we face theological issues centered on Christ and his salvation and the uniqueness of Christ. The Church exists in pluralistic societies, how does she reflect the uniqueness of Christ. She needs missiological resources."

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

The church of the Global South is now facing acute difficulties in areas of persecution where she is under pressure and this is coming from areas in growing conflict, said Sookhdeo.

The advocate for human rights and freedom of religion said the secular press is not reporting the murder of Christians.

"In the last two days two pastors were shot dead in Mombasa. Last Sunday there was an attack in Dar es Salaam. The Church is living with the reality of suffering. Christians are dying daily in Nigeria. They have whole dioceses without people, clergy and bishops and no people forced to leave. Most of the Christians in some dioceses have gone south to live with their relatives.

"The church must recognize that we live in a violent and hostile environment, however we must not react with violence and hate. We are called to love, that is essential to our calling to evangelize and this is paramount to nation building. We have to look at how we can help the church where she is suffering and is under acute stress and pressure."

Asked how the West should address Islamic persecution, Sookhdeo said the West finds itself in a dilemma and does not know how to respond to persecution from Islamic contexts. "The West is fundamentally secular. It is very easy to say they are all calling each other to stay out. The secular West is hostile Christianity but sympathetic to other religions. She has linked Christianity to the crusades, slavery and the evils of society. Other religions are also part of the culture in the West.

"The West is also suffering from intense guilt recognizing their own failures and asks how she can criticize others. The West's geo-political interests are shaped by Middle East oil and investments. She also has strategic military alliances.

"It is very difficult for he the West to criticize those countries like Saudi Arabia. Now Muslim minorities and western leaders have Muslim advisors. This is very difficult to address Christian persecution."

Sookhdeo said the media underplays the persecution of Christians. He noted this had begun to change.

"When All Saints Church in Peshawar with 85 killed by Islamic extremists, the BBC mentioned it and then downgraded it saying it was not of interest to the British people.

"In Kano, Nigeria 400 Christians were incinerated on buses when extremists attacked them but there was not a single reference in any western media. The Bishop of Kano said neither the BBC, CNN nor any Western Government showed they sympathized with us. Some 400,000 face potential extinction in Aleppo a city in Northern Syria. Media did not present it to us."

Sookhdeo said Syria used to be the most stable and safest of all countries in the Middle East with Christianity given full equality, allowed to build churches and institutions in an autocratic regime. The dilemma is the West is backing Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia with some 100,000 rebel forces and 40,000 Al Qaeda who are all destructive of Christianity. "If Syria falls who is going to guarantee the safety and very survival of Christianity?"

For a number of years, Sookhdeo has been an outspoken spokesman for the persecuted church and has made many media appearances in Great Britain. He is also a commentator on jihadist ideology, and has lectured British and NATO military officers on radical Islam.

END

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