The sudden shutdown of India, due to COVID-19, has taken all of us by surprise! This has led to massive confusion, as people do not know how to respond. Factories, shops, industries, offices, schools, and colleges have been shut down. Public and private transportation have completely ceased to function. People are prevented from going out of their homes, and those who venture out are beaten by the police. Heavy restrictions limit people’s movements. The shutdown has drastically affected people’s lives. While life at every level has been disturbed, the poorest of the poor are the ones most deeply affected by this shutdown.read more
On the night when Christ was born, a group of shepherds watched over their flocks in the fields near Bethlehem. Scripture tells us that, suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared. In the midst of his radiant glory, the shepherds were terrified. With words of reassurance, the angel brought good news of great joy: the Savior – the Messiah, the Lord – had been born in Bethlehem!
This unlikely audience for such a heavenly announcement then saw the skies filled with angels, each one praising God, saying:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
This Advent season, we turn our eyes toward Bethlehem and sing familiar hymns of Christmas praise – even as we face the anxiety, fear, frustration, and need caused by the pandemic. Although many of us may be locked down and separated from one another, we still join with the worldwide Body of Christ in celebration of the Incarnation: the coming of Emmanuel, our God who is with us.
This year, we have again invited several leaders from around the world to offer a meditation on Scripture and to share about their own local celebratory customs. We hope that these Christmas devotionals and stories will encourage you as we celebrate the Lord’s first coming and anticipate his next.
Image: “The Birth of Jesus Announced to Shepherds” by Lu Hongnian (1914-1989)
This Easter will be unlike any other, perhaps in the history of the Church. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most church buildings will remain locked and empty on what is usually the best-attended Sunday service of the year.read more
My doctoral research focuses on social justice, particularly for immigrants. This interest comes from my own experiences working with Karen refugees, displaced by communal violence, at the Thai-Myanmar border and in Australia. In my own context, the influx of Muslim Bangladeshis into Nagaland has led to serious issues. To the natives, immigrants are outsiders who are invading our land, exhausting our resources, and threatening the identities of our indigenous peoples.read more
Like almost everyone, ScholarLeaders has felt COVID-19’s impact. This week, please join us in prayer for a situation that has reached over 180 countries. First, we pray for those infected by the virus and those who have lost loved ones. We pray that the most vulnerable among us would be protected. We pray too for those facing quarantines, travel and employment restrictions, financial pressures in shrinking economies, new caregiving and homeschooling responsibilities, and limited supplies.read more
Eighty percent of the rural pastors in India, especially non-denominational or non-affiliated church planters and pastors, have very little knowledge of the Word of God because they enter ministry with no theological training or in-depth bible knowledge. They seldom have a spiritual mentor. With great passion, faith, and hard work, they successfully plant churches, but are not able to nourish new believers in the Word, since they cannot offer what they do not possess.read more
Maqsood is Vice Principal of Gujranwala Theological Seminary, which trains 80% of church leaders for all major Protestant denominations in Pakistan. He recently completed his PhD in Islamic Studies at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (UK). His research on Christian-Muslim debates in 19th-century India will provide valuable insights for interreligious dialogue in Islamic contexts.read more
Please pray for God’s wisdom in my leadership at Bandung Theological Seminary (BTS). It is a great opportunity to be able to lead in this God-given moment to develop theological education with a holistic vision, to bring the whole gospel to impact the whole society with the whole church.read more
I am currently in my fifth year of PhD studies at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) in the United Kingdom. My research examines the extent to which the practice of the Assemblies of God of Malaysia has changed, with respect to its espoused Pentecostal Theology, since its inception in 1957 to the present day.read more
I ask for your intercessory prayer for my people and my country, Myanmar, which is full of conflicts between the Burmese military and ethnic minorities. Christians and ethnic minorities have been tortured by the military for a long time. Consequently, many ethnic groups are seeking refuge in neighboring countries and in Western countries as well. Please do pray for the total dismantling of military power in the Union government.read more
I am originally from Hong Kong but worked at a Bible school in Phnom Penh before furthering my studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. My husband, Kakda Chan, was also a teacher at that Bible school. Cambodia has a strong need of trained pastors and church leaders. Higher educational levels of younger generations call for higher levels of theological training. We therefore decided to further our studies in the United States in hopes of joining our colleagues later in order to open a theology school that offers graduate-level programs.read more
In last seven months, the pro-democracy anti-extradition protests have completely changed Hong Kong. The protests started as peaceful marches against the extradition bill. However, violence and clashes between protestors and police erupted when the nonviolent protests failed to effect change. To date, police have arrested over 6,000 people and have fired more than 16,000 rounds of tear gas in the city.read more
As the social environment gets more complicated, believers are facing a host of issues related to the family, such as extramarital affairs, homophobia, questions related to sex education and social services, etc. Due to a lack of academically trained professors, and a dearth of Christian writers and researchers, Chinese theological education cannot build itself up and remains ill-equipped to tackle these issues.read more
Pray that the Church would learn how to love and pastor the younger generation, many of whom have become disillusioned with both society and the Church. Some of them, because of their participation in the protests, have been arrested or have broken relationships with their families.read more