Happy New Year

A very Happy New Year to all! May God be your strength and anchor throughout 2013.

Love Compels

We love the world's poor and suffering. The Bible tells us that the Lord is loving toward all he has made, upholds the cause of the oppressed, loves the foreigner, feeds the hungry, sustains the fatherless and widow. (Psalm 145:9, 13, 17: 147:7-9; Deuteronomy 10:17-18) The Bible also shows that God wills to do these things through human beings committed to such action. God holds responsible especially those who are appointed to political or judicial leadership in society, (Genesis 18:19; Exodus 23:6-9; Psalm 72:4, 12-14; 82) but all God's people are commanded - by the law and prophets, Psalms and Wisdom, Jesus and Paul, James and John - to reflect the love and justice of God in practical love and justice for the needy. (Luke 14:12-14; 1 John 3:16-18)

Such love for the poor demands that we not only love mercy and deeds of compassion, but also that we do justice through exposing and opposing all that oppresses and exploits the poor. 'We must not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist.'(Lausanne Covenant paragraph 5) We confess with shame that on this matter we fail to share God's passion, fail to embody God's love, fail to reflect God's character and fail to do God's will. We give ourselves afresh to the promotion of justice, including solidarity and advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed. We recognize such struggle against evil as a dimension of spiritual warfare that can only be waged through the victory of the cross and resurrection, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with constant prayer.

We embrace the witness of the whole Bible, as it shows us God's desire both for systemic economic justice and for personal compassion, respect and generosity towards the poor and needy. We rejoice that this extensive biblical teaching has become more integrated into our mission strategy and practice, as it was for the early Church and the Apostle Paul.

Accordingly, let us:

Recognize the great opportunity that the Millennium Development Goals have presented for the local and global Church. We call on churches to advocate for them before governments, and to participate in efforts to achieve them, such as the Micah Challenge.

Have courage to declare that the world cannot address, let alone solve, the problem of poverty without also challenging excessive wealth and greed. The gospel challenges the idolatry of rampant consumerism. We are called, as those who serve God and not mammon, to recognize that greed perpetuates poverty, and to renounce it. At the same time, we rejoice that the gospel includes the rich in its call to repentance, and invites them to join the fellowship of those transformed by forgiving grace.
Extracts from the Lausanne Cape Town Commitment.

Lord – as we pray this through help us to know how to effectively use our time, resources and gifts to reach out in love to those around us. We offer ourselves to you and say – here we are send us!

Poverty Focus

Robert Chambers describes poverty as living in a cluster of disadvantages, including:

1. Material Poverty: having little or no access to essential assets (e.g. shelter / house; utilities such as water, warmth, sanitation, energy; land and or livestock)

Lord, we know there are many thousands who struggle to survive because they have no access to water, to shelter, to adequate heating. May we join our strengths and resources together in 2013 to reach out to these families and advocate and support shelter and adequate warmth for all. We pray for access to clean water to be prioritised in our response to vulnerable communities.

2. Physical Weakness: have a lack of strength due to poor health and or inadequate nutrition.

On the news this week there is a report that almost half of all food is wasted! Some of this waste is because of linked to poor engineering and agricultural practices and limited transport and storage services. However, a large percentage is because supermarkets demands cosmetically perfect looking food stuffs. There is also in some countries a push to convince consumers to over by (e.g. buy one get one free), packing pushing up costs and unfair trade practices.

Lord, we pray for good stewardship of our food resources and the sharing of food with those in need. As we start this New Year Lord, may we actively choose to buy sensibly and to seek ways to share with those in need. Lord we pray for improved agricultural practices, the logistics of getting produce to markets and fair trade practices that give greater access to food for all.

As the recession affects more and more families who in turn need food support – Lord help our churches to lead the way in service provision.

We continue to pray for health access especially for family providers.

3. Isolation:  have limited to no access to information and community services. This could be because of remote locations, but could also be because of marginalisation, oppression and exploitation, as well incarceration.

Lord, help us to be aware that sometimes the greatest aid we can bring is information and linking people up to services. May we always be conscious of the important of sharing information and helping others to link into the services and community activities around. God, for all who are lonely and separated from loved ones, we pray that we would be able to connect, visit and support and be a bridge for them. Thank you Jesus for being our bridge from isolation from God and one another.

4. Vulnerability: people who have no buffer or reserve to cope with disasters or life struggles, people who have no choices or options to cope with meeting essential needs.
Lord we are conscious that whether through natural or man-made disasters, many families are vulnerable to the struggles of life. We pray for families caught up in:
• The Syria civil war
• The families affected by the fires in Australia
• The civil unrest in Mali
• The high unemployment in Greece
• The families still recovering in Haiti post the earthquake and storms.
• The community recovering from the shooting at the Newton school in the USA
• For those who have been forced into roles (e.g. criminal, prostitution) in order to survive
• For young people who cannot access training, education or find jobs.

5. Powerlessness: limited or no ability to influence life and decisions around themselves and their community, (e.g. the social systems restricts them, no freedom to vote or to have a say in their life)

Lord, thank you for the social reaction to the rape of the student in Delhi – the protests and the raising awareness of the role and treatment of women in India. We pray for her family as they mourn for her and ask that the government and activists would use this devastating tragedy to transform society. That women would be able to move towards grater equality and respect in this society.

6. Spiritual Poverty: whether through a lack of knowledge, through oppression and lack of freedom or through rebellion, for all who have no relationship or a dysfunctional relationship with God.

Lord, we know that you so loved the world that you sent Jesus to restore our broken relationship with you, with one another and with creation. Thank you for this gift of new life. May our lives reflect this as we share your truth with one another. May it impact every part of our life. Lord my we move into 2013 inspired and motivated to seek holistic transformation in all aspects of life.

Member Focus: Angola

The 27 year old civil war ended in 2002 leaving thousands dead, many more displaced. With widespread poverty, Angola had much to focus on these last years.

President: Jose Eduardo dos Santos – has been in power since 1979. Last elections were in 2012, won by Mr dos Santos, which guaranteed him a further 5 years in power.

Economic: Angola potentially is one of the wealthiest resource countries in the world: large oil reserves, diamonds, minerals and good agricultural land. China investing significantly in Angola, allocating billions of credit.

Social: 59% of the population now live in cities (Luanda and Huamba two largest cities). Corruption erodes the wealth away from infrastructure and poverty alleviation.

Faith: during the civil war the church grew rapidly which is amazing, however there is concern about the level of syncretistic cults which mix Christan beliefs with animistic religions. Christian leadership is a critical need in Angola.

Micah Network members: There are 3 members in Angola:
• El Shaddai Association
• Igreja Evangelica Reformada de Angola (IERA)
• Council of Christian Churches in Angola (CICA)

Prayer Focus

Government: that there would be a significant investment in community development, health infrastructure and agricultural development. Pray for all those involved that God would open a way for transformation to evolve.

Training: pray for the Bible Colleges and training institutes in Angola, that they would be able to provide good and effective training to the up and coming leaders

Integral Mission: pray for the opportunity for Micah Network to help facilitate a conversation and build supportive links in Angola. Thank God for our Portuguese translators that faithfully translate for us so that news reaches our members here.

Prayer Points in Brief

1) Micah Network Strategy Development: thanks for all the feedback received. The Micah Network International Board will meet on the 30th and 31st January to prayerfully consider and develop our vision and strategy for the coming few years. Lease pray for this meeting.

2) Urban Mission Summit: 26th to 29th January 2013: please pray for ISUM as they facilitate this event in Bangkok. Pray for the +150 participants as they prepare to travel to Thailand and share this time of learning together.

3) International Holistic Missions Conference: 9th to 11th January 2013: please pray for the CHE team as they facilitate this even in Phoenix, USA. Pray that participants will catch the vision and be mobilised for integral mission in the USA and globally.