Over 2,500 people gathered at Surabaya's Mawar Sharon Christian megachurch on Sunday to pray for the missing 41 church members who were on board the AirAsia QZ8501 flight, hoping for their return despite any signs that there could have been survivors in the fatal crash last week.
"Obviously in this situation, for people who believe in God, it is very easy to blame [and ask] why is all this so unfair," said Pastor Caleb Natanielliem. "As a pastor, I know that we are a family and we need to stand together."
The church members were traveling along with 121 other people on board the AirAsia flight on Dec. 28 from Indonesia to Singapore, when air traffic control lost contact with the flight. Two days later, debris from the plane and bodies were discovered in the Java Sea, leading search authorities to confirm that the flight had crashed. more >>
A group of Christian surfers in New Zealand saved a mother and her two sons from drowning on Christmas Day after the family was caught in a near-lethal rip tip tide off the shore of a beach an hour west of Auckland.
The five surfers, who are all members of a local Christian surf club called the North Shore Christian Surfers Group, saved the mother and her two teenage sons who were allegedly close to drowning when the surfers rescued them, The New Zealand Herald reported Thursday.
The surfers, Darren Celliers, Caleb Lemkus, Olly Mason, Lewis Mennie and Troy Duckworth, arrived at Bethells Beach around 6:30 p.m. last Thursday when they were quickly told by a beachgoer of the swimmers in distress. more >>
Forty-one passengers of AirAsia Fight QZ8501, which crashed on Sunday with 162 people on board, were reportedly members of a single church in Indonesia, reports have said. The search for the bodies of the victims in the Java Sea meanwhile continues around much grief and tragedy.
The Straits Times reported on Thursday that the 41 Christians were members of the Mawar Sharon Church of Surabaya, part of one of the largest megachurches in the region, with 30,000 members.
A pastor at the church, Philip Mantofa, said that he was shocked to learn of the big loss to his parish. He urged relatives of the victims not to allow the tragedy to shake their faith. more >>
In a review of its 2014 efforts, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reveals that it has shared the Gospel with close to 9.5 million people around the world through its outreaches. More than 1.6 million of those people have made a decision for Christ, reports the BGEA.
Those outreaches include BGEA collaborations with local churches in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia to hold large scale festivals and celebrations. BGEA President and CEO Franklin Graham and his son, Will Graham, also preached the Gospel at functions hosted in parts of the United States, Canada, Japan, Sri Lanka and Papau New Guinea.
Franklin Graham praised God for the BGEA's efforts in a recent letter. He wrote "Our hearts overflow with gratitude to God for all He has done and is doing, and we are eager to keep pressing forward as He continues to open doors." more >>
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A New York City pastor and Texas-based Yazidi activist who flew to Iraq the week before Christmas to assess the humanitarian needs of displaced Yazidis persecuted by the Islamic State have called the present situation of more than 300,000 refugees "genocidal" and "insane."
William Devlin and Murad Ismael connected via phone with a radio show in New York City live from Iraq just days before Christmas to describe the living conditions of distraught Yazidis staying at several refugee camps in Dohak in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq. more >>
AirAsia has confirmed that debris from Flight QZ8501 has been discovered in the Karimata Strait, south west of Pangkalan Bun in the Borneo province of Central Kalimantan. At least 40 bodies from the 162 passenger list have already been recovered, leaving grieving family members devastated.
"The warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing. They are very busy now," an Indonesia navy spokesman said, according to Fox News.
AirAsia confirmed that the debris and the bodies, found six miles from the flight's last point of contact, are from the missing aircraft. more >>