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By Bible Speaks
REGIONAL CONVENTION IN Johannesburg, South Africa.
Arrangement where provided to use electric cars to help those most in need to approach the meeting room, from the car parks. ??
By Guest Nicole
The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., is now home to some of Ethiopia’s most important religious manuscripts after they were recently donated to the university by Chicago-based collectors Gerald and Barbara Weiner. The couple gave out the handmade leather manuscripts with the hope of allowing Ethiopians in the U.S. to use them for prayers and study, according to Catholic News Agency.
Dr. Aaron M. Butts, a professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literature at the university, put up a statement saying the collection “provides unparalleled primary sources for the study of Eastern Christianity.”
What’s In the Collection?
In total, the collection is comprised of 125 Christian manuscripts, including liturgical books, hagiographies, psalters, and 215 Islamic manuscripts, including the Quran and commentaries on Quran.
According to the Catholic News Agency, it’s the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside of Ethiopia.
More than 600 manuscripts were handmade using hides from calves, sheep, and goats, and are estimated to date back to the 18th and 19th century.
In the collection, there are over 350 “magic” scrolls, which are traditional Christian prayer talismans, and each was handwritten by a “debtera,” or a cleric in the Ethiopian church, and includes the name of the person it was written for.
Pieces of the manuscripts were worn around the neck for purposes of helping people with different kinds of ailments, including headaches, painful menstruation, and complicated childbirth.
Butts suggests that some of these scrolls, which were predominantly worn by women, may have been passed down through many generations, mainly from mother to daughter.
He added that the prayer jewels haven’t been studied much due to the personal nature of their use.
Washington, D.C., hosts one of the largest Ethiopian communities outside Ethiopia, and has several Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic churches and cultural centers, making it the best location to donate the manuscripts.
Ethiopia is predominantly a Christian country, with the majority of Christians belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
However, there are other small religious communities in the country, including Muslims, Judaists, and Pagans. There is also a minority section of Christians who are Roman Catholics or Protestants.
Many Ethiopians still use the prayer scrolls for protection and healing. They are often inscribed with prayers, spells, and charms to offer protection to their specific owner.
The text on these “magic” scrolls is often derived from the bible, which is why the majority of churches in the country tolerate despite their connection to magic.
FULL-TIME devotees of the Jehovah's Witnesses Christian congregation in Namibia are entitled to the same social security protection as other employees in the country, a Windhoek Labour Court judgement confirmed last week.
The judgement was delivered in a case in which the legal employment status of members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses was in dispute.
In the judgement, acting judge Petrus Unengu ruled that members of that religious order fall within the definition of an “employee” in the Labour Act and the Social Security Act, and as a result the Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses of Namibia should be regarded as an employer in terms of the Social Security Act.
The congregation lodged an appeal to the Labour Court after the Social Security Commission decided in March last year that the congregation, which wanted to be de-registered as an employer, was an employer in terms of the Social Security Act.
De-registration would mean that members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses working for the Namibian congregation would not have to be registered with the Social Security Commission and would then also not be entitled to social security benefits like maternity and sick leave payments.
The congregation's argument was that members of the order, who perform religious work in furtherance of their faith, had chosen a lifestyle rather than assumed work or a job when they joined the order.
Acting judge Unengu noted in his judgement that although the congregation and members of the order did not sign written employment contracts with each other, members of the order completed application forms to become a member in order to serve the church in a full-time capacity.
Once accepted as a member, they are also required to take a vow of obedience and poverty, which is taken to be an indication that they are prepared to live a modest lifestyle and to perform any tasks assigned to them by the order. Members of the order are also required to abstain from outside employment.
Acting judge Unengu further noted that members of the order had fixed hours of service from Mondays to Fridays and received a monthly allowance of about N$940.
The congregation previously registered itself with the SSC as an employer and failed to show to the court why it now no longer considered itself an employer as per the Social Security Act, acting judge Unengu said.
He added that he agreed with the SSC's argument that the congregation was trying to evade its obligations under the law. The court could not allow the congregation's employees to be unprotected in the event that they, for instance, fell ill or became pregnant, he stated.
The congregation “cannot pick and choose which laws should apply to them and which not”, he remarked.
Senior counsel Theo Frank, assisted by Adolf Denk, represented the congregation when the matter was argued in February. The SSC was represented by Norman Tjombe.
Ernest Gericke claimed he had been appointed in the office of ‘the Christ’ and wanted the court to hear his ‘public oath of office of the King’.
An urgent application by a Centurion man who wanted the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to place him in control of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world has been struck off the roll.
Ernest Ronald Gericke, an “anointed one” of the religious group, claimed in court papers he had been appointed in the office of “the Christ” and wanted the court to hear his “public oath of office of the King”.
But Judge Bill Prinsloo struck the matter off the court roll.
In what appeared to be papers drawn up by himself, Gericke sought an order placing him in full control and ownership over all the assets of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, disbanding the governing body of the organisation and declaring him the rightful leader.
He also wanted the court to interdict anyone who openly opposed the “new arrangement” and did not cooperate with him, and to order the police to assist him.
In addition, he wanted the court to order that the organisation should immediately be providing him and his family with living and office space and cover their expenses.
Gericke relied on quotes from the Bible and various publications of the organisation to sustain his claim to overall leadership and said as the new leader and “the Christ”, his order was that the South African branch of the organisation in Krugersdorp was declared as their new temporary headquarters; that the governing body was disbanded; memberships of committees revoked; and anyone who opposed him should be removed from the organisation’s property.
He said that after the court had heard his public oath of office, members of the organisation would then be presented, on April 11, with an oath to the king and would then become citizens of the Kingdom of God on Earth, which he would establish on that day. He wanted the court to order that this new arrangement be communicated to all congregations of the organisation around the world.
By Guest Nicole
From Ugandan camp to Lowell, a Congolese family starts again
HARDSHIP, AND HOPE: Sendegeya Bayavuge joins his family, newly arrived from Africa, on the porch of their apartment in Lowell. With him, from left, are Dusenge Tuyishime, 14, Maria Uwimana, 16, Nyirakabanza Muhawenimana, 20, Sarah Nyiramana Bayavuge, 6, their mother, Vanisi Uzamukunda, 43, and Lea Nyiramahoro, 11. See a slide show at lowellsun.com. (SUN / JOHN LOVE)
LOWELL -- The Congolese family's home in Lowell is sparsely decorated, a sign of their recent arrival.
There's no art on the walls, no photos of smiling faces, no toys cluttering the floors. However, there is furniture and food and the basic necessities for a fresh start in the United States.
The family of seven -- father Sendegeya Bayavuge, 52, mother Vanisi Uzamukunda, 43, and five children ages 6-20 -- arrived in early February with help from a resettlement agency. The family had spent the past two decades at a Ugandan refugee camp after fleeing violent unrest in their native Democratic Republic of Congo, a country located in Central Africa.
"I see America as good and I can live in America," said Sendegeya through an
interpreter on a recent Monday afternoon, his hands clasped together as he sat in the corner of the living room. "I see here they have security. The way I was (living in Uganda), I was always in fear ... with security, I find everything good."
Maria Uwimana, 16, sat on a carpet beside her father in the family's second-floor apartment. Three of her siblings, sisters Nyirakabanza Muhawenimana, 20, and Lea Nyiramahoro, 11, and brother Dusenge Tuyishime, 14, sat across the room on a worn, cream-colored couch. The family's "princess," 6-year-old Sarah Nyiramana Bayavuge, nestled onto her mother's lap.
The family was spared in late January from President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, which in part suspended the refugee admissions program for 120 days. Vanisi recalled hearing about the order as she waited with her family in a hotel for their flight to the United States.
"He said he don't want the guests. We lost the hope to come," Vanisi said through the interpreter. "After the situation changed and we came here, we were happy.
"I'm really grateful that they were not immediately impacted by the proposed suspension of the resettlement program," said Cheryl Hamilton, director of the Lowell site of the International Institute of New England, the agency assigned to resettle the family in partnership with the State Department.
A refugee is someone who has fled from his or her country and cannot return due to fears of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group and, according to the State Department. Since 1975 the U.S. has welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world. The city of Lowell has received 508 Iraqis, 220 Somalis, 31 Syrians, and 7 Sudanese during the 10-year period from 2007 through January 2017, according to federal data analyzed by the Associated Press.
Hamilton said about half of her staff's cases are refugees from the Congo since the U.S. government committed to accepting 25,000 of them across the country. According to 2009-2013 data on Massachusetts refugee arrivals from the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, 25 percent of 11,155 refugees admitted in the state hailed from the Congo.
Journey to a new life
It took over 24 hours for Sendegeya, Vanisi and their family to arrive in Lowell. They first stopped in Manchester, N.H. before being brought by resettlement workers to the light yellow multi-family house they now call home.
"In the beginning, we had a fear to fly because it was our first time to go on the airplane," Sendegeya said.
daughters, Maria Uwimana, 16. (SUN / JOHN LOVE)
"After that, we realized we are with other people."
He and Vanisi are bracing for the long road ahead. The children are still waiting to be enrolled in school, and the family as a whole is still struggling with having left their eldest child behind in Uganda. They don't have immediate family here and don't speak English. The language barrier, both parents admit, is a big obstacle they hope to overcome so they can have a better chance at finding jobs to support their family. Back in Uganda, Sendegeya worked as a farmer.
"I think that anybody moving into a new community, you're having to rebuild your entire social network and, with that, obviously being less familiar with employment opportunities or navigating transportation," Hamilton said. "Essentially, you are rebuilding every area of your life."
The United States allocates $925 per individual for the first three months in the country, according to Hamilton. Like with other refugee families the International Institute of New England helps resettle, Sendegeya and Vanisi's family will have access to integration services for the first year and be eligible to come back to the organization for employment services for up to a year and benefit from citizenship services for five years. Hamilton said her staff also offers other programs, such as after-school homework help.
"Obviously, the federal financial assistance is lean and it's remarkable the resiliency and the ability of families to navigate and overcome these challenges," Hamilton said.
Vanisi said her greatest fear involves protecting her children. Recently, while the children played outside, the mother said a neighbor warned them to be quiet and threatened to call the police.
"We saw our neighbor just coming to give us a warning without saying 'Good morning' or 'Welcome,'" Vanisi recalled. "It was just a warning -- 'Kids, shut up!'"
The incident was traumatic for Vanisi, who said her family now spends most of their time inside their home.
"In Uganda, it's different because in Uganda you can play and dance," she said. "Not that kind of warning."
There have been tiny victories through the murkiness. The family found a market with familiar foods and established a friendship with fellow Jehovah's Witnesses in nearby Chelmsford. Twice a week, members of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses pick up the family for meetings.
The four daughters later walked up a flight of stairs to proudly show off their rooms -- Nyirakabanza and Maria in one, and Lea and Sarah in the other. Both rooms are bare except for neatly made twin-sized beds. In Lea and Sarah's closet, there are clothes and several pairs of shoes. The family's only son, Dusenge, has his own room. He remained quiet for the duration of the family's interview and smiled shyly when asked about his thoughts on his new home.
"Right now, what I like and what I have desired, I have found it," he said through the interpreter, his hands fiddling with a pale pink throw. "Everything is OK for me."
Ask the eldest, Nyirakabanza and Maria, what they dream of becoming someday and their eyes light up. Both said they hope to become nurses to help others.
"I'm happy here, but not yet," Nyirakabanza said, later clarifying that she is still sorting out her feelings about the family's new life in America. "I will be happy and confirm the happiness when I see my achievement. My goal is to go to school to continue my education -- to become someone self-sufficient. If I achieve that, I will be very very happy."
SWEET HOME: Sarah Nyiramana Bayavuge, 6, and her sister Lea Nyiramahoro, 11, in their new bedroom. The family was spared in late January from President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. (SUN / JOHN LOVE)
Paynesville — The Jehovah Witnesses Congregation in Liberia has denied reports in the public that they have condemned the voters registration exercise.
In an interview with FrontPage Africa on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Thomas Nyain, communications officer, of the Jehovah Witnesses Congregation in Liberia said at no time did the organization condemn the exercise since it began.
"We teach the Bible and we encourage people to apply Bible principles to better their lives," he said.
"We don't get involved in political activities so anybody that who say that witnesses in Liberia condemned the voters registration exercise, then I don't know where do they get their information from, because I speak for Jehovah witnesses in Liberia and since I don't utter these words, it means that I am not aware of such information. The witnesses in Liberia have a central media outlet, and I am the one that speak for them.
According to Thomas Nyain the information is misleading and far from the truth, something he described as fabrication to mark the image of his noble institution.
He said one of the major challenges being faced by the organization is reaching the gospel out to Liberians in the remotest part of the country.
"One of our major challenges is to get to the deeper part of Liberia, where people haven't heard anything about the Bible, not sitting and worrying about fabrication from people who are not aware of activities. We will be happy if everyone in Liberia accepts the truth about the Bible through our teaching.
He called on every Liberian to take interest in reading their biblical materials that have been translated in the various dialects.
By The Librarian
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nairobi, Kenya at a recent convention
I’m pretty sure the white guys use these clothes in daily life as well. It’s not just to play dress up at a convention.
At our next convention in New England I plan to go dressed up as a Pilgrim who literally just walked off the Mayflower. ;-)
Why is it we only play dress up in other countries? Shouldn’t someone in New York show up dressed like George Washington?
It’s only fair to all of us in the USA.
just sayin’ ;-)
Update: I just found some photos of other actual Kenyans attending the assembly in their normal suits.
I think that the 1958 Yankee stadium convention was different because people came to NY dressed in their normal public attire from around the world.
Now New Yorkers go around the world dressing up in folkloric attire.
So… the morale of the story is…..
Wear whatever clothing you want nowadays. ;-)
By Guest Nicole
Robert Fleming comes from a long line of Sault Jehovah's Witnesses
Robert Fleming travels the deserts, jungles, savannahs, and waters of West Africa hoping people will see what he sees in the Bible.
Fleming is a Sault born-and-raised fourth generation Jehovah’s Witness who left the area when he was 24 and came back for the first time in 20 years last week to visit family and attend a regional annual conference of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In an interview with SooToday Fleming talked a bit about his family’s history and about his life preaching in West Africa.
Fleming’s great grandfather John Fleming came from Scotland to the Sault in the early 1900s and when the Spanish flu hit the area he got a job at the cemetery on Fourth Line.
One day he was literally standing body-deep in a grave he’d just dug out when a Jehovah’s Witness approached him and commented, “you know, that’s hell you’re standing in."
John Fleming was puzzled and, after through conversation learned about how Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in an afterlife in the same way other Christians might imagine it and other interpretations the group has of the Bible.
This meeting led to a full-blown conversion and three generations later John Fleming’s descendants are still practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“My earliest memories are me going door to door as a kingdom preacher,” said Robert Fleming who after his father, grandfather, and great grandfather is continuing the tradition.
“Third Line, Carpin Beach Road, Leighs Bay Road. I don’t know if the old-timers are still there or if I’d even remember them. I was very young,” said Robert Fleming.
Fleming left the Sault in 1985 to preach in Quebec and in 1995 he went to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Missionary School in Paterson, NY.
After five months of training there Fleming flew to West Africa where for the last 20 years he’s been preaching for Jehovah out of Douala, Cameroon, which at 3 million people is the country’s largest city.
“I was nervous to go, boy oh boy. I was there one week and I was checking out the price of airplane tickets to go back. Is that too honest?”
Fleming said that Cameroon is not only immensely diverse geographically — it's often called “Africa in miniature” — but also culturally as the country has roughly 200 tribes and dialects and a range of religions that include indigenous beliefs and assorted versions of Christianity and Islam.
“There’s a hundred times more religions than Canada. Every neighbourhood has its own church because they want to worship God how they think God should be worshipped,” he said.
Fleming said Cameroonians are incredibly religious people and that the Christians among them will often carry a Bible around on their phones and regularly consult it.
Fleming said the more traditional African religions that he’s encountered don’t talk about “God” or “gods” so much as they talk about “forces of nature” but that these forces seem to be roughly equivalent to the idea of “gods”.
Most Africans, regardless of their professed religion he said, continue to follow a tradition of ancestry worship, where they believe that their dead relatives are still influencing the world and helping or harming their living descendants based on how pleased they feel.
“They’ll put out salt or palm oil, things like that, to appease, say, their dead grandfather and if something bad happens in the family they might say it’s their grandfather that has done it to them. The Bamelike Tribe in the west of Cameroon, after the grandfather has been dead for a year, will actually dig up the skull and they’ll have a small alter in the home and when they have to make big decisions they’ll consulate with him.”
In his time there, Fleming has travelled by canoe and bush-bike to get to remote tribes in the jungle, like a tribe of pygmies living in grass huts, or to secluded islands off the coast of the continent, but he never goes more than a days journey.
Fleming said Jehovah’s Witnesses have been in Cameroon since the late 1930s and even though they were banned from 1970 until 1993, largely for not participating in local government because it is against their faith, even tribes like the pygmies are quite familiar with his group when they arrive.
As a preacher, Fleming said he follows the standard Jehovah’s witness preaching technique of basically asking people what they think about a topic, then introducing what the Bible teaches about that topic, and then hopefully getting a person out to a bible study group where they can learn more and potentially feel compelled to join the faith.
But unlike other Christian religions, he said, to be a Jehovah’s Witness a person cannot partially follow their old faith, and in the case of Cameroon, that means locals have to leave their ancestry worship behind — something which can be difficult for many when, like Christmas here, it's not just a religious practice but also a social one.
“When we do preach to them and they read the Bible and realize ‘Hey my grandfather is just sleeping’ that means they have to leave these traditions that obviously contradict what the scriptures say, to serve Jehovah.”
Fleming said that when he arrived in 1996 there were about 20,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country and that now there are about 40,000.
He said many people in Cameroon see the positives of the faith, the health benefits it tends to lead to like stopping smoking or reducing AIDS, and actually approach his group to set up Jehovah’s Witnesses centres, or ‘kingdom halls’, in their community.
“Many people in Cameroon make the change. I wouldn’t have stayed there for 20 years if we weren’t having wonderful success,” he said.
By Bible Speaks
REGIONAL CONVENTION IN CAMEROON, AFRICA ASAMBLEA REGIONAL EN CAMERUN, AFRICA
By The Librarian
Organizational Accomplishments—South Africa Literature Distribution
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