Turkey: Good morning!


A former Turkish soap-opera star became the host of the first live daily Christian women’s show on the Christian satellite platform SAT-7, it was reported in August.

In her ten-year acting career, 33-year-old Şemsa Deniz Tolunay has appeared in long-running soaps, historic drama series and comedy roles. But she admits how much more at ease she is in her new role.

‘Soap operas are very popular here, but I wasn’t very comfortable,’ Tolunay said. In TV dramas, ‘it’s about money and about popularity’.

Tolunay said that Turkey’s TV dramas also reinforce attitudes to women that need challenging. ‘There is a wrong point of view towards women in this country and I wanted to do something to change that,’ she says. ‘In soap operas here, people look at you as if you are an object. They notice your figure; they are not thinking about your mind or your soul. I wanted to change that so that people will look to see more of the inside of a woman, her mind and her thoughts and the beauty!’

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Help a pastor stay in ministry

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An extract from John Benton’s new book Resilient: how 2 Timothy teaches us to bounce back in Christian leadership

His name was Tony.

He was married, the father of five children and he worked as a civil servant. He was one of the most tenacious men I ever knew. He was a deacon and then an elder of the church of which I was pastor before he moved on to help lead a church replanting project in which we were involved. Now he is with the Lord.

But in the mid-1960s – long before I arrived – the church went through a bad time. The congregation had dwindled to just a handful on Sunday evenings. There was often acrimony among members, especially at church meetings. The church building was old and not in a good state of repair. While other churches in the town were thriving, God seemed to have passed this one by. People weren’t up for serving in the church, some were leaving and much of what needed to be done by way of administration and practical jobs got left to Tony.

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Believing in Barrow

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A new Cumbrian church plant is giving thanks for six months of life and looking ahead to God’s provision as they face the future…

The joke is often made that Barrow-in-Furness is at the end of the longest cul-de-sac in the country!

With a population of 70,000 it is the second-largest urban area in Cumbria, but is located at the end of the Furness peninsula. For those who’ve experienced the 45-minute drive down the A590 from the M6 turn-off, there’s more than a hint of truth to this joke!

Our first time making the journey was back in November 2014, part of a seemingly epic trek from north London, where we were training for ministry at Oak Hill College. Even in the space of a weekend the town made an impression on us: the strong sense of Barrovian identity, the stunning beach vistas looking north up the west Cumbrian coastline, not to mention the huge looming hulk of the Devonshire Dock Hall at the centre of the town’s shipyard.

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Mass church closure

More than 8,000 churches in Rwanda have been closed by the government after they failed to meet requirements laid down earlier this year, it was revealed in July.

en previously reported that 700 churches had their activities suspended on 1 March, as a result of the restrictive new law.

A government official said: ‘Churches are expected to meet basic requirements in terms of safety, hygiene, infrastructure and legality’.

In one village the church was closed while a wedding was ongoing. The couple and all the guests were simply told to leave the building during the service, and the church was closed.

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Please fight for the unborn

As the 19th century draws to a close, English missionaries in King Leopold II’s Congo Free State face a heart-searching dilemma.

The increasingly well-known systematic atrocities against the native people in the pursuit of lucrative rubber production include the cutting off of hands for the crime of failing to meet the quota. The population is even terrorised by brutal native soldiers weaponised against their own: they eat people, including children, in full view of their fellow-villagers as punishment for under-production.

The decision faced by the missionaries – uniquely placed to provide evidence and expose this injustice – is whether or not to speak out publicly back in Europe, to apply international pressure on King Leopold for change.

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Christian doctor loses civil service role

A Christian doctor due to take on a key civil service role has lost the position, for asserting that gender is determined by biology, it was reported in July.

Dr David Mackereth, who has worked for the NHS for 26 years, was set to become a disability assessor for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

But he was deemed ‘unfit to work’ after he said he would refer to patients according to their biological sex.

Dr Mackereth had started training for the new role in May, but in his training he was told that all reports must refer to a patient or client by the gender they ‘identify’ as.

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A woman who – understood children

Favell Lee Mortimer? Never heard the name! This small biography tells her story and it is a surprising, engaging and inspiring one.

In fact, I quickly discovered that I had come across Mrs Mortimer: when I was seven, I was introduced to her book The Peep of Day, but the title page did not give the author’s name. The book had a profound effect on me, and is still on my bookshelves.

This biography sets the author in the context of the 19th century and traces the out-working of God’s providence. Many influential characters crossed her path, especially from the circle of William Wilberforce. She even fell in love with Henry Edward – later Cardinal – Manning! They discussed and corresponded at length, but Favell failed to convince him of the way of salvation. What if he had indeed been convinced?

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‘Why I was crying last night’

‘I want to tell you why I was crying last night. I had just heard them praying and reading in our language.’

Until recently, Yoke had only heard speakers of her language pray or read Scripture in the national language, Indonesian. Yoke lives in the Aru Islands in Eastern Indonesia, where her language, Dobel, is spoken along with 16 other local languages in addition to the trade language, Aru Malay. While many Dobel speakers also speak Indonesian, it’s not their language.

A lack of access to the Bible in their own language has not been without its consequences. Only having access to the Bible in the national language has given rise to an expectation that faith should be practised in Indonesian, on a par with official matters and schooling.

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Can you do better?

A diverse, packed meeting in Oxford during April 2016 saw the launch of this book, the aim of which is self-explanatory.

Arguably, few concerns are more vital, given Islamic State terrorism, the murder of an Ahmadi in Glasgow by a Sunni, intensifying Muslim outreach towards Christians and others, and the election of a Muslim as Mayor of London.

Ida asked, with characteristic humility, that ‘if anyone can do better,’ (to answer how to think biblically about Islam) ‘please do’! Her central point was that Islam was a reversal of the Transfiguration – where the Law (represented by Moses) and the Prophets (by Elijah) find their climactic fulfilment in Jesus, something Islam rejects. She asked whether we could move beyond the trauma of events (like the Lahore bombing), to forgiveness and celebration of survival.

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