compiled by Dee Finney

updated 3-13-04 


Chartres, Loire Valley, France

4-29-02 - DREAM - The dream starts out in a large church. It feels like it might be Europe but I'm not sure. It's a Christian church - some kind of Protestant church. I didn't have any sense that I was myself - but someone else.

This is an important Sunday, the anniversary of a very important event. My Father is the minister. This event is so important that guests are allowed to come up near the altar and partake in the service.

I don't want to do this, but it is expected - at least a few words, like everyone else.

There is nobody in the church right now as it is early in the day. I have decided to write about the history of this event. Everyone will be interested in it. I have a calendar on which certain things happened which will be inserted into this history to make it more exciting to the reader.

I decided to go into the next room and work on the story while I'm waiting for people to come to the church.

In the next room, there are two large rectangular mounds. I don't know what these are exactly - they have flat tops, but are slightly curved on the sides. They actually look like large biers where caskets are laid on top for display.

I go into this room which is part of the history of this event. There are other people here, looking at the room and remembering what happened here.

All of a sudden, holes open up in the corners of these mounds/biers and soldiers wearing dark green uniforms, and black masks pop out of the holes and start shooting at the people. I see the people dropping over like flies, and I am shot in the leg as well. I fall over and play dead just to make sure I am not shot again. Pandemonium reigns and then dead silence. It is over.

Rescuers come in, take away the bodies, but I get up and don't tell anyone I am shot. I don't want to be in any spotlight or draw attention to myself. I gather my writing materials together and head back into the church.

But my silence is not respected. I am expected, as a witness, to tell others what happened here and I have to re-enact the event so others know what happened and the enemy can be punished.

I don't want to go through this again but it is expect, so we go back into the room, full of fear. I don't want to cal attention to myself but I must do this.

So I start retelling the story and I discover that under the biers there are secret rooms that had been dug when the soldiers had been hiding and people re-enacted the scene and when I fell over to show where I had been and what had been done, they saw the blood on my leg and now they know I am wounded.

Now I almost feel proud to have been wounded and I have my story to tell because I am part of a historical event.

I am marking on my calendar with a orange leaded pencil what my schedule is going to be. I know that my Father is going to be made at me, because I want some days off to rest during this next month, but I know he's going to be especially mad because I want to take the 49th day off. I look on my calendar to be sure and I'm right about the day. It's a Sunday.  It's Pentecost!


Pentecost, the great Feast of the Holy Trinity and the celebration of the descent of the Holy
Spirit on the Disciples of Christ owes its name to the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which occurs
fifty days after Pesach, Passover, and on which the descent of the Spirit occurred.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost has three traditional names, all three of which offer insight into
the deeper meaning of the Christian feast:

The Feast of Weeks - Shavuot - since a week of weeks divides Pesach, Passover, from
Shavuot. Interestingly, the Christian Pentecost occurs on the 49th day after Pascha, the
Jewish Pentecost on the 50th. The 50th day in the Eastern Orthodox calendar is the Day of
the Holy Spirit. 

The instruction for the wave sheaf ceremony is given in Leviticus 23:10-11, which states that God said to Moses, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it'

So the priest was to wave the sheaf before the Lord on "the day after the Sabbath." The King James Version uses the phrase "on the morrow after the Sabbath." Both phrases mean "the following day." But the particular Sabbath referenced here has become a point of controversy for some, who think that it refers to the annual Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread. This is the conclusion of those Jews who follow Pharisaic tradition and others who always observe Pentecost on the sixth of the Hebrew month Sivan.

Which Sabbath?

The key question is this: To arrive at Pentecost, do we start counting from a
weekly Sabbath or from the annual Sabbath?

The word "Sabbath" in verse 11 is translated from the Hebrew word shabbath,
which means to "rest" or "cease," to "refrain from doing work." The word
shabbath (or its plural form, shabbathoth) is used more than 100 times in the
Old Testament and is always translated "Sabbath" or "Sabbaths" in the King
James Version, a correct and proper translation according to the most
authoritative lexicons. At times it is claimed that shabbathoth also means weeks,
but that definition is based on circular reasoning from a desired interpretation of
its use in Leviticus 23:15. The Bible uses a different word to clearly describe a
period of one week (see Deuteronomy 16:9).

One reference to shabbath is found in verse 3 of Leviticus 23, which clearly relates to the weekly Sabbath: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath (shabbath) of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath (shabbath) of the Lord in all your dwellings." The word is not used again until verse 11, where God instructs that "on the day after the Sabbath (shabbath) the priest shall wave it".

Because the context offers no alternative meaning for shabbath between verses 3 and 11, we have no reason to believe that "Sabbath" in the latter verse means anything different than it does in verse 3. This would indicate that the priest waved the sheaf of grain in the air before God on the day after the weekly Sabbath, which would be the first day of the week.

Verse 15 goes on to say, "And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord" (Leviticus 23:15-16).

We are to count seven Sabbaths "from the day after the Sabbath" (shabbath) when the priest waved the barley sheaf. Again, as no other meaning for shabbath has been introduced in the meantime, it follows that Pentecost is to be counted from the day after the weekly Sabbath and not the annual Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread. Additionally, nowhere in the Old Testament is the word shabbath used in reference to the first or seventh day of Unleavened Bread, though of course they are both days when a solemn convocation is to be held and no "customary" or occupational work is to be done. It is as though Moses, in writing Leviticus 23, avoided using the term Sabbath in relation to the first and last days of Unleavened Bread to avoid confusion as to which Sabbath was the marker for counting Pentecost.

Thus shabbath, within the context of Leviticus 23, consistently refers to the weekly Sabbath. To interpret the Hebrew word as an annual Sabbath in verse 11 and the first part of verse 15, and then to interpret the same word as a weekly Sabbath later in verse 15, where the context clearly indicates that seven weekly Sabbaths are to be completed, is simply insupportable.

But there is another important reason for believing that Leviticus 23:11 and 15 refer to the weekly Sabbath rather than the annual Sabbath. The Jews and others today count from the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15), so the 50th day always falls on Sivan 6. Jewish religious leaders acknowledge that the basis for counting from the day following the Holy Day is oral tradition, not an understanding of the Scriptures. Surely, if Pentecost were intended to fall on a set day of the month, God would not require that we count the days and weeks to determine when it should be observed. Such counting of days would be unnecessary and superfluous.

As we have seen in Leviticus 23:15, we count seven Sabbaths. The Hebrew word used here for "Sabbaths" is once again shabbathoth. Some English-language translations incorrectly say "seven full weeks." In Deuteronomy 16:9 the word 'weeks' is different from 'Sabbaths' in any case.

Leviticus 23:16 further says we are to count 50 days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. The seventh Sabbath would be the 49th day. The 50th day is a first day of the week, "Sunday", the day after the seventh Sabbath.

Pascha - Sunday of the Resurrection

The Sunday of the Resurrection is the glorious day described by the Orthodox Church as the “...unique and Holy day, king and lord of days, feast of feasts, solemnity of solemnities...” Pascha is the centre and heart of the Orthodox Christian year. It is on its date that the whole Liturgical cycle depends. The Resurrection of Christ is solemnly proclaimed during the matins service held at midnight on Great and Holy Saturday.

The Christian Passover

On the Great and Holy Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Pascha, which is translated from the Hebrew, means Passover. 

For this is the day on which God created the world from nothingness. On this day, He delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh's hands and led them through the Red Sea. On this day, he descended from Heaven and took His dwelling in the Virgin's womb; now drawing forth mankind held in Hades. He raised them to Heaven and brought them to the first to the first-created honor incorruption.

While the soldiers guarded the tomb, at midnight the earth quaked, for the angel of the Lord had descended and rolled the stone from the entrance of the tomb and the soldiers set to guard the tomb, were so frightened that they fled. The women came to the tomb very early in the morning on the day following the Sabbath - that is to say at midnight on Saturday. Therefore, late on the first day of the Resurrection, the Mother of God was there together with St. Mary Magdalene, who was sitting near the tomb according to St. Matthew. The Evangelists say that He first appeared to St. Mary Magdalene (rather than His Mother) - so that there would be no doubts or suspicions concerning the truth of the Resurrection.

It was St. Mary Magdalene who saw the angel upon the stone; then bowing down, she saw the other angels inside. The angels announced the Lord’s Resurrection to her and said, “He is risen! He is not here! Behold the place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:6). Hearing this, the women turned to run and announce the Resurrection to the most fervent of the Apostles, that is, to St. Peter and St. John. But when they returned, they met Christ Himself, Who said to them, “Re-joice” (Matthew 28:9).

Translated from Romanian; Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Penetcostarion, pp. 163-166 (Rives Junction, Mi.: HDM Press, 1999).

Dates of Pascha/Easter 2000-2050

The English word "Easter" is not a biblical word. It is thought to be a translation of the name of the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess, "Eostre". In any case, it is an English word which is used today to translate the Greek term 'Pascha', which translates the Hebrew term for 'Passover'. The Christian Church transformed the Jewish Passover, which commemorated the freeing of the Hebrew people from Egyptian bondage into a feast which commemorated the death and resurrection of Christ which freed humanity from the bondage of death, sin and evil.

The 50 days before Pascha, known as a part of the period of the Triodion (meaning three odes) are the period for strengthening faith in the Lord. The means are well-known to people of spiritual experience. They are repentance, which means to change from indifference to full devotion; prayer, which is considered the soul of faith, and through which faith emerges from theory into practise, and self-control, which governs our relationships with our neighbour. These means are practical indicators of our vivid faith in God. With this preparation we are invited to enter the sanctuary of Holy Week, not as spectators, but as participants in the commemoration and enactment of the divine Acts that changed the world. A Christian must always be well-trained and well-armed to fight against those who try to corrupt his spirit and take away his freedom. The Christian must keep his own spiritual kingdom intact and his freedom of religion and uprightness vivid in order to be a part of the Kingdom of God, where the compassions of the Lord and His Resurrection will be experienced. There is no other place where the Kingdom of God can be expanded except the heart of man; and there is no other gate whereby we can enter the Kingdom but that of "repentance". This was the proclamation of the new era of Jesus Christ, who said:

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mat 3:2).
Albigensian Crusades - 1209 - 1255

Red and White Terror

Massacre of the Albigensians




Healing Wounds By Confronting The Nation's Past

Who were responsible for the Lutheran Church massacre, where over 500 Liberians fleeing for safety were hacked to death?

The war is over, but the battle is not yet won" is a common military maxim often used to describe how military solutions by themselves are not adequate means of resolving issues of great national concern. But rather a combination of political and non-military approaches are required to resolve such issues. This analogy holds true for the current Liberian situation. In spite of the fact that the seven year civil war has come to an end, that one no longer hears the "sound of guns", elections have been held and a president sworn into office, there are still lingering, unresolved socio-historical issues that are yet to be won. The underlying question
therefore is: How does a nation emerging from the shackles of a bruising civil war address those issues that have caused deep divisions within the society?

Does an end of the civil war and the advent of an elected president abruptly end those century-old socio-historical problems that continue to challenge the Liberian nation? Should the nation simply shrug-off the civil war, forget about the past, and pretend that all is well and fine? How does the nation face the past and come to terms with injustice, heal itself and move on? Should the perpetrators of the war be brought to trial and face the wrath of justice by going to jail or face death? Should the nation simply seek the truth and forgive? What is more important, justice or healing? 

These are serious questions that Liberians must deal with honestly, and with determined resolve to finding lasting, equitable answers. The times for equivocation, pretension and self-delusion of supremacy are in the past. We are faced with a dire situation, which could determine whether Liberians opt for realistic, lasting solutions to a multi-faceted, endemic predicament, and an opportunity to set our country on the right path for unity. On the other hand, Liberians could continue to indulge themselves in the diabolical class system, the paralysis of timidity, that sent the nation crumbling to near self- annihilation. 

Civil wars are not new phenomenon. There are numerous examples of contemporary and historical civil wars. In Argentina, for example, the "Dirty War" of the 1970s and 1980s caused 30,000 people to be snatched away from their homes, schools and work. 

In the 1970s, the military under dictator Allende of Chile killed thousands for simply seeking freedom. Mention must also be made of the death of one million people during the Chinese cultural revolution. Similarly, and in recent times, the mass murders of more than two million people during the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; and the mass genocide in Rwanda where thousands were killed. The horrors of these tragedies have remained etched in the memories of many who still suffer in silence, carry a gaping pain, and seek to forget the ugly chapter of their nation's past.

While civil war is sometimes inevitable, since it's a historical process of change in many societies, there are clearly, however, certain elements of war that are not acceptable by humanity, or established international laws. One such element is: "mass killings" - the wanton and indiscriminate murder, maiming, and elimination of innocent people who have no involvement in the war being fought. That is why the international community has not taken kindly to such evil acts that occurred during civil wars and has put in place an International Court of Justice to seek redress on these matters.

The Liberian civil war bears resemblance to such evil and inhumane acts that had occurred in other war-torn countries. It has been estimated that well over 200,000 innocent people died during the course of the Liberian civil war. These individuals have become faceless, nameless statistics. In essence, they have simply been forgotten. There has not been any real accounting of who they were, who their families are, and where they came from. 

For the sake of our future stability and their memories, we cannot simply dismiss their loss as insignificant. Liberians must seek closure with justice, so as to avert recurrence of the tragedy.

As experts in the conflict resolution field put it succinctly: "...No country can completely escape the past, and no country can completely live with the past... there is a moral interest in making sure every crime is punished. There is a societal interest in healing, so the country can go forward."

How then does Liberia confront its past, such that the ghost of the past doesn't haunt us or linger? For Liberians to successfully confront the past, we have to understand the past in order to deal with the present, and prepare for the future. In this regard, we must break away from our old way of pretending that all is well. We must admit that Liberia has changed in a profound way, and adopt to the prevailing reality.

A sad commentary on our nation's history is our failure to confront the past, which also means confronting the truth. There have been several missed opportunities, and several false starts. That is why time and time again, the nation seemed unable to address the deep-rooted problems of the past. Two-and-a-half decades have been lost, by our failure to confront this hideous history. A classic example is the recently held "Reconciliation Conference" in Chicago, Illinois from April 17 - 18. 

A few months ago, the government of Liberia called upon the Liberian people and proclaimed the need to begin a national conversation on reconciliation. While many Liberians considered this a positive move in addressing the nation's sad past, the attempt itself was a failure from the beginning. 

Rather than initiating this conversation on reconciliation at home, in the towns, villages, and churches throughout the civil society where it matters most, the government of Liberia opted to bring the so-called reconciliation talk to the United States. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., was anointed to lead this initiative. 

Since his appointment as President Clinton's Special Envoy on Africa, Reverend Jackson has been involved in a globe-trotting mission. He recently visited some African countries, carrying President Clinton's message about the need for improved human rights, democratic reforms and universal freedom of speech and the press. A message some regard as preconditions for U. S. support, and for being accepted into the international community of democratic nations. 

Sadly, however, Rev. Jackson has allowed himself to be hoodwinked by Mr. Taylor, who has portrayed himself as a peacemaker, while terrorizing his countrymen since he took over the Liberian presidency. The fact that Reverend Jackson would thrust himself into Liberian politics, a nation which he doesn't understand, smacks off a patronizing tendency that is so typical of Black American leaders who, ironically, are often quick to blame whites for similar treatment of Blacks. Furthermore, Reverend Jackson demonstrated a lack of political sensitivity and evenhandedness by accepting to play such a role.

But the Reverend Jackson is really secondary to this crucial debate on reconciliation which Liberia must go through to be healed. There are, however, still a number of unanswered questions: If there was a real commitment to reconciliation, why didn't the government initiate such conference at home, rather than convening it in the United States? Why haven't we established a national commission comprising of elders, religious leaders and ordinary citizens chaired by a neutral person to examine this important issue?

These questions do bear relevance as to how we proceed to engaging in a real, genuine and honest national conversation on reconciliation. Such a conversation should not be treated in a casual fashion. Importantly also, such a conversation must not involve a third party or external participation. How the people and their leaders seek to confront the nation's past will provide a defining framework that should give birth to a new nation and a better country.

There are several issues, therefore, regarding the nation's history and the war that must be put on the table as a starting point. There are those, for example, who want to reconstruct and revise Liberian history by situating our problem as starting 18 years ago. But in fact the Liberian civil conflict, which began in 1989, was only a culmination of a long-brewing and simmering crisis that had its roots in the founding of the nation. What went wrong in the founding of the state? Why was the majority population mistreated, brutalized and virtually excluded from the political process? How do we address this continuous divide? How do we reconstruct a country in which there could exist real mass participation and majority rule? Why has the nation been in denial of its ugly past? 

Importantly, who were responsible for some of the "mass killings" that went on? For example, who were responsible for the Lutheran Church massacre, where over 500 Liberians fleeing for safety were hacked to death? How about the Harbel massacre of 1992 (who oversaw the raping of women and young girls at Carter Camp)? Who were responsible for the Tapitta and Sinje massacres? How were "child soldiers" - young boys, 8 - 14 years of age - recruited, then drugged, and then turned into ruthless killers? Who killed Jackson F. Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh, David Dwayen and several other prominent Liberian politicians? These questions must be answered.

A real conversation on reconciliation therefore must seek to confront the truth, the whole truth about our civil war, and nothing but the truth. It, therefore, must be comprehensive and inclusive, rather than a scheme designed to promote the Taylor government. Only by so doing, the people of Liberia who are victims of this conflict will have a say and be given the chance to grieve. Such efforts will bring a genuine closure to this painful ordeal. This exercise will surely heal our dysfunctional nation. 

FACING THE TRUTH WITH BILL MOYERS  March 30, 1999 - History of Apartheid



Two firefighters killed, 29 injured in Pittsburgh church fire

By JOE MANDAK, Associated Press

March 13, 2004, 3:38 PM)

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Two firefighters were killed and 29 were injured Saturday when the church on fire collapsed as they tried to put out the flames, officials said.

Five firefighters suffered serious or critical head and chest injuries when the roof of the Ebenezer Baptist Church collapsed Saturday morning, said city Operations Director Bob Kennedy. At least one was undergoing surgery at a Pittsburgh hospital.

"There's every indication that there was an electrical fire in the basement that jumped up the walls and spread rapidly," Kennedy said.

Firefighters entered the building about an hour after the fire started to douse hot spots, Kennedy said.

The fire then "flashed over," engulfing the sanctuary, and the roof and steeple collapsed, trapping the firefighters, he said. Emergency crews located the firefighters' bodies in the rubble, Kennedy said. He did not release their identities but said one was a battalion captain.

Firefighters at the scene removed their helmets and turned off warning lights on their vehicles in tribute as each body was removed.

The senior pastor of the church, the Rev. J. Van Alfred Winsett, told Pittsburgh television stations that the congregation was preparing for a breakfast when the fire started.

© 2004, The Fresno Bee

1994 Church Massacre

Trial News: Wednesday, March 10, 1999 

Court to rule on Baha'i massacre soon 

BISHO -- Judgment is due in the high court here next week in the trial of the Azanian People's Liberation Army  (Apla) pair accused of the Baha'i Faith church massacre in March 1994.

Mr Dumisane Ncamazana, 20, and Mr Zukile Augustine Mbambo, 26, have pleaded not guilty to the murders of Mr Houshmand Anvari, 43, of Beacon Bay, East London, Mr Rias Razavi,
44, of King William's Town and Dr Shamam Bakhshandegi, 29, of Vincent, East London. 

Judge A E Dhlodhlo informed the court yesterday that even though his judgment had been completed, his assessor, Mr Norman Oosthuizen, was unable to attend yesterday's proceedings. 

He could therefore not deliver his judgement as Oosthuizen still needed to study it. 

Dhlodhlo postponed the judgment until Monday. 

It was alleged by the state that the accused lined their victims up against the church wall and shot and killed them with automatic weapons. 

State advocate Joe Kristafor, who prosecuted the case, said after proceedings yesterday that his department had not yet been informed about the outcome of the accused's amnesty applications to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's amnesty committee for
the Baha'i attack. -- DDR 


(Post date: March 03, 1997) 

ABU QURQAS, Egypt (Compass) -- The death toll from the massacre of 10 Coptic Christians inside a Fikriya village church near Abu Qurqas in Southern Egypt mounted by week's end, as two more Christians died from their wounds in the hospital and three others were killed in nearby sugarcane fields. 

With 15 dead, the attacks on February 12 and 14 have resulted in the largest number of Egyptian Christians killed in the country's recent history. Twelve Christian farmers were killed in 1992 near Sanabu and Dairut villages, just south of Abu Qurqas. More recently, attacks in February 1996 left eight dead in Ezbet el-Aqbat, and some 90 Christian houses were
damaged in Kafr Damyan. 

In Fikriya, the Church of Mar Girgis' interior is riddled with bullet holes. Over 200 bullets were fired by three gunmen using automatic weapons on a group of 29 young people. 

One young Christian named Maged, who barely survived the attack, cried as he told his story. "We were attacked from behind as we were listening to the priest's sermon. We tried to hide behind the benches, but they followed us even up to the ltar of the church." Maged pointed to the bench where 20-year-old Milad Mikhael sat, until two bullets ended his life. 

"I was inside the altar hearing confessions when suddenly the shooting started," added Father Marcos. "Wounded girls crawled inside the altar. I tried desperately to help them in." 

Among the victims were Olfat Butros, 22. She had come to the church to speak with the priest about her upcoming marriage. Another victim, 25-year-old accountant Joseph Musa, had just gotten a job with the Coptic evangelical relief organization, CEOSS. Others were students or had just finished their studies. 

A funeral en masse was held the next day against the wishes of the Egyptian security forces, who asked the families to hold separate funerals. "They died together and they should be buried together," said a brother-in-law of one of the dead. 

One father refused to accept condolences. "My son died as a martyr," he cried softly. "No condolences are needed for martyrdom." 

Although the three gunmen at the church were masked, the identity of the suspects was made public four days later, when Egypt's main daily "Al-Ahram" published on February 16 the names and photographs of six terrorists implicated. Villagers say the perpetrators were already known for previous crimes, for which the police had never arrested them. Although press reports claimed upwards of 79 people had been arrested within 24 hours, none of the named suspects has been apprehended. 

The day after Fikriya village buried its church massacre victims police remained hidden inside their armored cars, one still positioned beside the church where it had been stationed after the attack. 

Egypt's security forces have routinely guarded all churches since 1992, but the police in Abu Qurqas decided a year ago to withdraw this protection. The police now claim that the churches requested their security guards be removed. But many priests interviewed in the province denied the police claim. Residents said the police give the impression that their own security is more important than the safety of local civilians. 

A young man who was inside the church during the early evening attack said, "I ran quickly towards the armed vehicle that was two minutes away from the church, but the officer inside yelled at me and sent me away. He arrived only after the assault took place." 

And one priest asked, "Why are the police in Dairut and Sanabu able to control that area, while the police in Abu Qurqas are not? There are no other differences other than that they are in different governorates, headed by different security chiefs." 

In most of the country, security crackdowns have largely succeeded in suppressing terrorism. The assaults in Cairo's district of Imbaba have stopped. The police in the Asyut governorate in the south seem to have the security situation under control. But not so in the area of Abu Qurqas. 

Although a number of Christians have been killed in the area around Abu Qurqas since 1992, the local police have suffered even greater losses. "Egypt has a shortage of police officers," said an officer who wished to remain anonymous. "Many officers are insufficiently trained, and in Abu Qurqas they are short of sophisticated weapons. Many officers try to avoid
going to Abu Qurqas. They are afraid of being killed by terrorists." 

After the attack, the government announced that Egypt's Minister for Religious Affairs, Dr. Hamdi Zakzouk, would travel to the area, instructing people that such acts of terror violated the teachings and values of Islam. Well known for his open attitude towards Christians, Dr. Zakzouk offered his personal condolences to the families of the victims. 

Unlike previous incidents, Egyptian television gave full coverage to the tragedy and its widespread denouncement by national leaders. "Egyptian TV normally does not pay attention to such events in order not to instigate more unrest," reported a Ministry of Information official. President Hosni Mubarak, Dr. Mohammed Tantawi, sheikh of the prestigious Al-Azhar Mosque and other leaders publicly spoke out against the assault. 

The government has announced it will pay families nearly $900 for each relative killed and $100 for each person who was wounded. In a village where the average monthly income is around $30, this is no small amount. It is also a marked difference from previous attacks, when little if any compensation came from the state. 

Church massacre starts new gun debate 

Gun violence in America: special report 

Michael Ellison in New York
Friday September 17, 1999
The Guardian 

Guns used by a jobless man to shoot dead seven people and wound seven more in a Baptist
church in Texas were bought at a flea market, it was disclosed last night. 

It was the 12th major multiple shooting of the year in the US but measures to introduce controls on guns tabled after the Columbine high school massacre, in Littleton near Denver remain bogged down in congress. 

Police named the killer as Larry Gene Ashbrook, 47. He walked into the Wedgwood Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas, and opened fire on teenagers at a prayer service before turning the gun on himself. 

Ashbrook, who lived at his late parents' home five miles away, was said to be upset about the death of his father. Neighbors had considered him eccentric rather than dangerous. 

He had no criminal record and no ties with either the church or any extremist group. 

About 150 teenagers were singing with a Christian rock band at the church after an annual See You Round The Pole meeting at local schools, in which students gather around flagpoles to affirm their faith. 

Ashbrook shouted obscenities and mocked religion before opening fire with a 9mm handgun and a .380 semi-automatic rifle. 

He also threw a crude pipe bomb. Three adults and three teenagers died at the scene and a teenage girl later died in hospital. 

"He hit the door real hard to make his presence known and he just immediately started firing," said Dax Hughes, a church minister. 

Some thought it was part of the service at first. "I never really knew it was for real until it was over and the cops were running us out of there and I saw blood on people's clothes," said Ben Killmer, 17. "It was so strange. People were smiling, at least at first, and laughing." 

When Ashbrook finished shooting at the congregation, he went to the back pew, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. 

Bob Garrity, an FBI spokesman, said: "It's clear in his writings that he was troubled by the fact that he didn't have a job. He couldn't hold a job, apparently. That might have been a causal factor."  

The FBI said he bought his two guns at flea markets. Texas does not demand that gun owners have licenses to buy or keep weapons. 

The US attorney general, Janet Reno, who favors tougher gun laws, said the US needed to
address the issue of gun possession - there are 200m in a country of 270m people - and how
it deals with mental health and hate. 

"I would hope that people would look not just at what handguns have done to America this year but what handguns have done to America over many years," she said. 

President Clinton added: "We know we must redouble our efforts to protect our children. We know there's nothing we can do to ensure that this will never happen again but there's a lot we can do to ensure that this will happen more rarely." 

George W Bush, the governor of Texas, said: "This is a terrible tragedy made worse by the fact that it took place in a house of hope and love." 

However Mr Bush, the likely Republican candidate in next year's  presidential election, has already signed bills that allows Texans to carry concealed weapons and that prevent Texan cities from suing gun manufacturers. Some have speculated that his attitude to guns may yet prove his Achilles' heel in the campaign. 

But evidence of an appetite for stricter controls is contradictory. Congress, which seemed likely to act after two students shot dead 13 people at Columbine high school, near Denver, in April, is bogged down in talks over how to proceed. 

The senate approved a bill to allow more extensive checks on gun buyers at the equivalent of car boot sales but the house of representatives rejected that measure in August. 

The latest poll on gun control shows that most Americans favor tougher controls, though membership of the powerful National Rifle Association has also risen to 3m. 

And yesterday there was another reminder of the perennial role guns play in American life when the observation platform at the University of Texas tower in Austin, from which a student shot dead 14 people 25 years ago, was reopened. 


September 19, 1999

Day 'of phenomenal sadness' for church massacre mourners

From staff and wires reports 

FORT WORTH, Texas (CNN) -- Friends and family of those slain in Wednesday's church
massacre sought comfort in each other and their faith Saturday as Fort Worth held multiple funerals on a day "of phenomenal sadness and mourning." 

The four funerals were the first after Larry Gene Ashbrook killed seven people, wounded eight
others and committed suicide Wednesday night at Wedgwood Baptist Church.  

Susan Kimberly Jones, 23, was remembered for her ready smile and love of missionary work at a packed service at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which hosted three of the services. 

Jones worked wit youth at Wedgwood and lived on campus at the seminary, where she recently began classes after graduating from Texas Christian University. 

"We are not angry, and we have peace that God is in control," said Jones' mother, Stephanie Jones. "She was a joy and a delight." 

The grieving mother recalled that her daughter wanted to travel to other countries to share her faith. This is an opportunity to tell the world about Kim's love of the Lord," Jones said. 

Jones' white casket was covered with messages scrawled by family and friends in black marker. One read: "Let your light so shine," and was signed, "Dad." 

'Shawn ran the race victoriously' 

Hundreds of people crowded a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary auditorium, where Shawn Brown, 23, was remembered as a warm and compassionate man with a sense of humor. 

"Don't expend too much energy trying to understand what happened ... the other night," said Pastor Al Meredith, who called the funerals "a day of phenomenal sadness and mourning." 

Brown, a Sunday school teacher, was studying to be a youth minister at the seminary. His widow, Kathy Jo, told the mourners that she "loved being Shawn Brown's wife." 

"We had a marriage based on God, and we often said we felt like we were living in a dream," she said. "We were a team, and we challenged each other." 

"Shawn ran the race victoriously all the way to God's arms," Kathy Jo Brown said tearfully. 

'Unique wisdom' of children's choir director recalled 

A bagpiper led the funeral procession for Sydney R. Browning, a 1991 seminary graduate and the children's choir director at Wedgwood. Brett Cooper, a friend of Browning's, recalled her "unique Sydney wisdom" for the standing room only crowd. 

"As long as you thought she was funny, she was OK with any other opinion" of her, he said. 

Cooper asked friends and family to think of "the joy, the laughter ... that she brought into our lives, that made them immeasurably richer." 

The 36-year-old Browning taught at Success High School, a night school on the Trimble Tech High School campus, where many of her students were dropouts. She was shot while sitting on a couch in the foyer with a friend. She also sang in the choir and was a favored soloist. 

Youth aspired to career in film production  Services for Justin Ray, a high school senior, took place at Westcliff United Methodist Church. The 17-year old is said to have blossomed after transferring to the Cassata Learning Center, an alternative school with a self- paced environment.  He was a devoted Boy Scout who had developed an interest in the audiovisual arts and wanted to pursue a career in film and sound production.  

Ray held a video camera, taping the performance of a Christian rock group, when Ashbrook, 47, burst into the church and opened fire. The tape ends after Ashbrook aimed at the camera and fired.    

Governor to attend Sunday service 

Kristi Beckel, Joseph D. Ennis and Cassandra Griffin, all 14, also were killed. Seven people were injured; two of the injured remain hospitalized, listed in fair condition. 

A large community memorial service is planned for Sunday at Texas Christian University's football stadium. Texas Gov. George W. Bush plans to attend. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 30, 1999 

World: Africa

Burundi army rounds up civilians 

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the violence 

The army in Burundi has forcibly moved 260,000 civilians into makeshift camps in the past fortnight to clear the way for operations against rebels, according to United Nations officials. 

But reports say the displaced villagers face appalling conditions and people are dying every day. 

One priest described the sites as ''concentration camps'' and warned people would start ''dying like flies'' unless there was immediate help. 

The camps are all in the farming province which surrounds the capital, Bujumbura. Many have
little or no water, few if any latrines and little shelter. 

The army says moving people to camps will help it track down Hutu rebels who in recent
months have stepped up their attacks on the city. 

It says it is simply trying to protect the civilians from the violence or from getting caught in

But correspondents say it is widely believed that the real motive is to prevent them from
feeding or sheltering the rebels. 

Harvest fears 

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) says it is worried by reports indicating people are
being prevented from leaving the camps. 

It is particularly alarmed that people may be denied access to their fields during what is now
planting season for the next harvest. 

A priest at one camp site told the French news agency AFP he had seen thousands of people
arrive over the last week. 

"They are living in inhuman conditions, with no water or medicine and with nothing to eat. At
least five people die every day," he said. 

Burundi's civil war, which has claimed around 150,000 lives, pits an army dominated by the
Tutsi minority against several Hutu rebel movements. 

Most of those who have been "regrouped" are Hutus, who represent some 85% of the total

Church massacre 

Details of the crisis follow reports of an attack on a church on Sunday in which 30 Catholics
were said to have been massacred by uniformed men. 

The gunmen opened fire on worshippers in Nyambuye, 55 miles (90km) from Bujumbura,
according to the Rome-based missionary news service Misna. 

The government of Burundi has denied that any of its troops were involved. 

The government blames the recent upsurge in violence on Rwandan militia groups which it
says are working alongside Hutu rebel organisations.

The war began after the break down of a power-sharing agreement set up following the
assassination of the democratically elected Hutu president Melchior Ndadaye. 
JSMP/IPJET: Suai Church massacre trial starts in Jakarta

JSMP/IPJET, Jakarta  3/19/02

The third Indonesian trial related to the violence in East Timor in 1999 commenced this morning in a fully packed courtroom of the Central Jakarta District Court.

On trial before the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court were five accused, all charged with committing crimes against humanity in relation to the Suai Church massacre on 6 September 1999. According to the prosecutor, they had failed in preventing the attack and thus both violated orders from the Indonesian President and principles on command responsibility incorporated in Law No 26/2000 on the Human Rights Court.

According to the indictment, the actual attack was carried out by Mahidi and Laksaur militia supported by lower level members of the Indonesian Armed Forces. The prosecutor claimed approximately 27 people were killed in the attack, including three priests. The figure is
disputed by East Timorese sources that claim the number is closer to 200. Several of the people named in the indictment as direct perpetrators were earlier on a list of people under investigation but will not be tried before the court, reportedly due to lack of evidence.

The accused, who were all present in court, are lieutenant colonel Herman Sudyono, former Bupati of Covalima district, lieutenant colonel Liliek Koehadianto, former commander Suai District Military Command, captain Achmad Syamsudin, former chief-of-staff, Suai District
Military Command, lieutenant Sugito, former commander, Suai Military Sector Command and lieutenant colonel Gatot Subiyaktoro, the former police chief of Suai.

All the accused were charged under Law 26/2000 Article 7b and 9a, and may, if found guilty, face punishment from minimum 10 years imprisonment to death penalty.

Sitting at the front row of the public gallery today were TNI chief Adm. Widodo and army chief of staff General Sutarto, heading a group of TNI observers to the trial. Approximately 30 Koppassus officers were also present and so was former Aitarak militia leader Eurico Gutteres.

A large group of demonstrators from the United Front of Indonesia headed by artist Renny Djajoesman were demonstrating outside the courtroom, and it was at times difficult to hear the actual court proceedings.

The trial was adjourned after the reading of the indictment, and will resume on Monday 25 March.

-------The Judicial System Monitoring Programme ----

For more information, contact the IPJET and JSMP observer team in Jakarta:

Christian Ranheim - E-mail:
Mobile: (+47) 91694079
Landline: (+62 -21) 390 8215
Church massacre leaves Pakistan in turmoil 

Women and children die as gunmen spray bullets at morning prayers 

Luke Harding and Rory Carroll in Islamabad
Monday October 29, 2001
The Guardian 

Suspected Islamist gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs yesterday deepened the sense of creeping anarchy engulfing Pakistan by shooting dead 16 people, mainly women and children, inside a church during morning prayers, in apparent revenge against Christians for America's bombing of Afghanistan. 

The six militants pulled up on motorbikes at the church in the southern town of Bahawalpur shortly after 9am. They killed the Muslim security guard at the gate, before storming into St Dominic's church. The morning service attended by around 100 Catholic and Protestant worshippers had just begun. 

Witnesses said the young bearded gunmen shouted "Graveyard of Christians", "Pakistan and
Afghanistan", and "This is just a start", before spraying the terrified congregation with automatic gunfire. 

"They were carrying bags and when they came they took out guns," one witness said. "They had no mercy for the children. They had no mercy for the women. They could see small children were being hit by bullets, but they kept firing," said Shamoon Mashi, who was wounded in the massacre. 

Four of the gunmen entered the church chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is most great). Two waited outside to shoot anyone who tried to flee, witnesses said. Worshippers tried to escape by diving under pews and hiding behind the altar. 

The victims included two children, aged three and five, seven women, and the church's Catholic priest, Father Emanuel. Five other people were injured. Thirteen of the dead were from the same family. 

Yesterday's massacre is the first time violence has rippled into the Punjab, Pakistan's dominant state, whose support is essential to General Pervez Musharraf's pro-American strategy. The attack, in an area previously known only for sectarian intra-Muslim violence, represents a direct and bloody challenge to the Pakistan president. 

His policy of supporting the US-led action against Afghanistan has become increasingly unpopular in Pakistan in recent days, as Muslim civilian casualties pile up. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the killings. But Gen Musharraf last night said the method and "inhuman tactics" used suggested the involvement of "trained terrorists". In the Vatican the Pope called the killings an "evil act" and a "tragic act of intolerance". 

Opposition to what one Pakistani paper described yesterday as the US's "totally aimless" bombing strategy in Afghanistan has been growing. Some 9,000 tribal volunteers who have offered to fight with the Taliban massed yesterday on Afghanistan's border armed with axes, cutlasses and Kalashnikovs. Pakistan's religious parties have called for a nationwide blockade of roads and highways from Thursday, and a boycott of US goods. 

The sense of growing civil unrest deepened last night when a bomb hidden in a bus exploded in the city of Quetta, killing two people and injuring at least 18. The city, close to the Afghan border, was the scene of violent anti-American demonstrations this month. Several Afghan civilian victims of American bombing have been treated in Quetta, where pro-Taliban
sentiment is rampant. 

Police officers in Bahawalpur said that even before yesterday's attack security had been stepped up at the church after worshippers complained they were at risk. The number of guards had been increased to five, they said. But it appears most of them were asleep when the gunmen arrived. "It is a security failure," admitted Pakistan's minister for minorities, SK Tressler. 

News of the atrocity sent shockwaves through Pakistan's Christian community, and emptied Sunday services of many worshippers, despite the posting of armed police guards at church gates. Priests and worshippers at the Our Lady of Fatima church, Islamabad's main Catholic church, had little doubt the massacre was Muslim revenge for the air strikes on Afghanistan and warned of worse to come. 

Many blamed President George Bush for inciting the majority population by calling the war a "crusade", evoking a religious clash between Islam and Christianity. Last week Islamists strung a banner emblazoned with the word "crusade" across the street and some mullahs urged two Christians to be killed for every dead Afghan. 

"What Bush said has caused a terrible reaction here and even before the news this morning we were fearful of some sort of revenge," said Father John Nevin, an Irish missionary. "Now we are even more afraid. I'd say the sitting ducks are the churches." 

Ex-Mayor ordered Church Massacre, says Witness
Internews ARUSHA, November 27, 2001 

Ex-Rwandan mayor Elie Ndayambaje ordered the massacre of Tutsis who had taken refuge in a church, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday. 

The fifth prosecution witness in the Butare trial of six accused said the massacre took place in Mugombwa catholic church in southern Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. 

"The mayor came to the church. He showed us a photo of President Habyarimana and asked us if we recognized him," protected witness QAR told the court. "We said we did. Then he told us we were accomplices of the Inkotanyi (Tutsi) and that we must be killed because the president had been killed by Inkotanyi."Ndayambaje was mayor of Muganza in the southern
Rwandan prefecture of Butare. He is being tried with five other former leaders accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Butare in 1994. 

Witness QAR told the court she was a Tutsi survivor who was 36 at the time of the genocide. She said she had had only five years of primary schooling, and that she could not remember the dates of the alleged crimes. 

According to the witness, two grenades were thrown into the church after Ndayambaje had passed by. "The first time he came it was a Wednesday," she said. "On Thursday he came a second time and told the men there: 'I see you are busy eating the cows of the Tutsis. If they were to escape, how would you compensate them?'" 

QAR said that the accused then asked attackers if they had enough weapons, and went to get more for those who did not. She said Ndayambaje came back with machetes and axes, which he distributed to the attackers. They then used the weapons to massacre the Tutsis both inside and outside the church, according to the witness. 

QAR also said that "a liquid like petrol was poured inside the church" and it was then set on fire. She said she was unable to estimate the number of people who died at Mugombwa church. 


Christians furious over church massacre

Lahore | By Abdullah Iqbal | 10/29/2001

Christian groups reacted with fury yesterday to the unprecedented attack in a Bahawalpur church in central Punjab where 18 Christians were gunned down while attending a church service.

The incident took place in the southern Punjab town which has seen sectarian violence, but never an attack on the tiny Christian community in the area.

According to eye-witnesses, "screams of women and the wails of children filled the air as worshippers fell to the ground." 

One witness, Asif Samuel, told Gulf News, "Even as I watched, the man besides me fell to the ground and blood appeared all around him." 

Samuel said that the man was Bobbi‚ a neighbour and fellow Christian, but was uncertain if he was among the 18 dead, including at least four women and four children. 

Shahbaz Bhatti, head of the Christian Liberation Front (CLF) described the attack as "completely barbaric" and demanded protection for Christians across the country. He also held that "we had warned earlier of increasing animosity to Christians, but no one took heed." 

Other groups representing the interests of Christians were also angered. Dilawar Peter, of the Christians Welfare Forum commented, "This is all the result of failing to crack down on religious extremism. Now even the peaceful Christian community is not safe." 

It is believed that religious groups, holding Christians responsible for the ongoing campaign against Afghanistan, had decided to target the usually peaceful community within the country. 

Harassment and violence against Christians is relatively rare, but the interpretation of the campaign in Afghanistan as a "war between Christians and Muslims" could change this. 

"We do not know which group could be involved. They were well equipped with weapons, and we are on the search for them" a senior police officer said. 

Dr Altaf Malik, medical chief at the Bahawalpur Central Hospital where the many wounded are being treated, said, "We have around 20 people under care, while others have returned home." 

One of those killed was a policeman, Mohammad Saleem, posted near the church. All the others who died were Christians, and the process of identifying bodies and handing them over to families, was continuing last evening. 

"We are sure the attack was carried out by extremists of some religious group, and we are now taking steps to offer greater protection to Christians," Haris Ikram, the Bahawalpur police chief, said, while adding the attack was "totally unexpected."

Christians are the largest minority community in Pakistan where 97 per cent of the population are Muslims. 

A wave of panic ran through the Christian community in Lahore and other cities following the attack on the Bahawalpur church. 

At Fazlia Colony, an area that houses many poor Christians in the city, a phone call was made to several houses in the area, stating a bomb had been planted. 

Local youth immediately formed vigilante groups and searched the area. An attempt was also made to summon the police, but one resident, Rehman Masih, complained that they failed to get response. 

"We called at the local police station, but we were ignored. We are used to this. The police routinely treat us as second class citizens," he complained.


Massacre of Indonesian Christians Averted, though Tension Remains
Your prayers are greatly needed for the safety of thousands of Indonesian Christians in the town of Tentena.

The Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action, a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church, has recently learned that the Indonesian government has sent military help to Tentena just in time to prevent a massacre of Christian Indonesians by a group of Muslim militants. Though the situation is more under control, the possibility of violence remains, and the safety of these Christians is not entirely assured. Please use the links below to learn about the situation in Tentena, and for action steps you can take to help the Christians there.

Indonesian military troops have arrived in Tentena, Indonesia, just in time to prevent a bloody conflict between Christians  and Muslims. Tens of thousands of Christians had gathered in Tentena as militant Muslim groups destroyed Christian villages throughout the central region of the island of Sulawesi. Recent reports had the Christians surrounded, virtually unarmed, waiting for the looming attack by the Muslims. 

The Background
Indonesia is a country made up of a series of islands stretching from the mainland of Southeast Asia to Australia. Its 224 million people, 85 percent of whom are Muslim, make it the most populous Muslim country in the world. Some of these islands, though, have significant Christian populations, and for hundreds of years Christians and Muslims have lived side by
side in relative peace. 

In January, 1999, however, violence erupted on a number of these islands, especially in the Moluccas region in eastern Indonesia. For the most part, the conflict divided the people along religious beliefs, although political, economic, and ethnic factors seem to have been more of a cause of the conflicts than religious differences. The conflict left thousands dead and likely hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes as homes, churches, mosques, and universities were destroyed.  Both Christians and Muslims committed atrocities in the region.

The Laskar Jihad
The fighting changed character with the appearance of the Laskar Jihad, a group of radical, militant Muslims trained on the island of Java. These non-local Muslims, organized, well-equipped, and connected to violent Muslim groups from the Middle East, gained dominance in the region. They have transformed local violence into a more dangerous and more overtly religious conflict. Moreover, they have begun spreading from island to island.

In August of this year the Laskar Jihad declared that Christians should be eliminated from Poso, a coastal town on the island of Sulawesi. Here, as in the Moluccas, there had been relative stability until just a few years ago. 

Since the arrival of the Laskar Jihad, Christians have been placed on the defensive. The Laskar Jihad began arriving in Poso in September and are better organized and far better equipped than the Christians. They destroyed the first Christian village October 1 and destroyed more than 30 villages in October and November. Altogether they have destroyed more than 4,000 homes.

Calls of Distress from Tentena Christians
On November 28, another 900 of these paramilitary troops arrived in Poso. Estimates of the total force range from 1500 to 5000. They are armed with AK47 rifles, grenades and rocket launchers, and have bulldozers and tanker trucks. 

On a fact-finding visit by International Christian Concern, a US-based Christian organization, the team noticed that military troops had been withdrawn from the area. The team had a small military escort, and they were able to get through the numerous checkpoints set up by the Laskar Jihad. The team heard stories of how villages were destroyed by forces of 100-300 men. The police forces, usually fewer than ten persons in a village, could not stand against them. 

As of December 4, the Laskar Jihad had pushed all remaining Christians into the inland town of Tentena. Tentena had 27,000 people originally, but now its population may have swelled to almost 50,000—all but a handful of whom are unarmed. The town has been cut off from food, medicine and fuel supplies, and reports have the Laskar Jihad forces as close as 12 kilometers away.

Protestants and Catholics from Tentena have both issued calls of distress. They have appealed to their national government and to Kofi Annan, the UN General Secretary. Others have been intervening with their own governments and with different embassies in Indonesia to encourage the Indonesian government to take swift action to prevent a possible massacre. 

The most recent reports indicate that the Indonesian government has sent military troops into the region and were beginning patrols to prevent violence. Indonesia’s top security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, visited the region on Tuesday, December 4, and urged security officials to take firm action. 

The Christian Reformed Church in North America urges its members to take up this issue in prayer. Give thanks for the intervention of the Indonesian government and pray that their efforts may be successful in preventing additional violence. Also pray that the government may treat both Christians and Muslims fairly and that the Laskar Jihad may be removed from the region.

To help with a relief effort to supply food and medicine, please consider donating a monetary gift to CRWRC. Please earmark your checks for "Indonesia Relief."

United States: 
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee 
2850 Kalamazoo SE 
Grand Rapids, MI 49560-0001

or Canada: 
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee 
3475 Mainway PO Box 5070 STN LCD 1 
Burlington, ON L7R 3Y8 
The CRC, along with the Reformed Ecumenical Council, is monitoring the situation.

The BBC seems to be covering this conflict in Indonesia more carefully and accurately than any other worldwide news agency. Look for articles on Indonesia and especially Sulawesi. The website of International Christian Concern, a strongly pro-Christian organization based in Washington, DC, which published a report from a fact-finding mission into the Poso region. This report triggered much of the international concern for this situation.

The Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) has released a letter of concern about the unrest in Indonesia. Read the REC’s letter and action suggestions.