An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile at 3:34 a.m. local time Feb. 27, affecting 1.5 million Chileans and leaving 500,000 homes severely damaged. Ninety aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater rattled Chile since the initial quake and a tsunami swept across the Pacific Ocean. Mennonite Central Committee has allocated $150,000 for earthquake response and will accept donations for this effort, to be administered through Mennonite Church Canada, which relates to 3 groups of Anabaptists and Mennonites in Chile.
Canadian Mennonite University’s eight-month discipleship school is launching a one-semester French program in fall 2010. Ideally intended for 15 participants and 2 student leaders, the 4-month session will offer discipleship and faith formation opportunities in St. Boniface, Manitoba; Montreal, Quebec; Paris, France; and Burkina Faso. The program “offers significant opportunities to connect with ministries and geographical locations that lead to understandings of Islam,” says Outtatown director Paul Kroeker. Participants can earn up to 9 university credits.
A report for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says Shariah-compliant mortgages pose no legal problems. No chartered banks currently offer Islamic mortgages to the 700,000-strong Canadian Muslim community, but UM Financial in Toronto estimates that 5,000 are prepared to transfer current conventional mortgages to Shariah-compliant ones if a bank offered the service. Because Shariah forbids interest, Islamic mortgages work by having the lender either buy the home or become an equity partner in its purchase.
Mennonite Central Committee appointed Haiti alumna, pediatrician, and healthcare legislation analyst Susanne Bradley Brown as Haiti disaster coordinator for a 3-year term. “I look forward to figuring out how MCC’s partners, the Haitian government, and nongovernmental organizations can work together,” said Brown.
ICOMB (International Community of Mennonite Brethren) reports in their Global Higher Education Newsletter that the Missiological University Centre founded by Nzash Lumeya in Kinshasa, DR Congo, bought a campus free of debt. The campus can hold 100 people and includes a chapel, classroom building, and library.
Students at MB Biblical Seminary’s (Fresno) Ministry Quest retreat in February attracted the attention of 5 local radio and television stations when, as part of their leadership development activities for the weekend, they packed relief kits for MCC’s Haiti efforts. For 3 hours, the 26 high school students from MB churches in Canada and the U.S. packed supplies collected by MBBS staff, students, and faculty. “The day prior, we’d talked about spiritual gifts,” says Ministry Quest director Mike Rea, so as the students were packing, “they were talking about how their gifts and strengths best work in service and what types of service they’re best fitted for.”
—KB with files from MBBS, KSEE news
Ron Toews, director of leadership development for the B.C. MB conference, has launched a course on “non-sin conflict,” focusing on how to make conflict productive. The one-day seminar for church leaders began in Chilliwack in February, and moves to the Okanagan in April as part of a plan to cover B.C.’s major regions. It will be offered to Vancouver’s diverse MB churches, as well. Toews says conflicts within Christian organizations – like all human groups – are bound to occur, but participants who take a mistaken view often waste a chance to grow and develop together. Understanding what is going on, and responding within that understanding, can bring great benefits. Places and dates for the course will be listed on the B.C. conference website,
Suspected Islamic militants attacked the offices of Christian relief and development organization, World Vision, in northwest Pakistan Mar. 10, killing 6 and wounding several others. Some 10 or 15 gunmen opened fire on the Pakistani aid workers and threw grenades before fleeing. Senior police officer Waqar Ahmed blamed the attack on Taliban militants opposed to co-education. World Vision has operated in Oghi since an October 2005 earthquake left thousands dead and millions homeless.
—Compass Direct, Associated Press
As Burma’s (Myanmar) military junta gears up for its first parliamentary election in two decades, observers fear attacks on the Christian minority could intensify. Mungpi Suangtak, assistant editor of a New Dehli-based news agency run by exiled journalists from Burma, said the junta has “one of the world’s worst human rights records.” Many Christians are part of the Karen National Union and the Chin National Front, armed resistance groups who have demanded freedom or autonomy for their respective states for decades, so the minority is taken as a threat.