Honest, Real Conversation! MONDO Show Begins Tonight on PTL Television Network

Mondo Show - PTL Television Network Mondo De La Vega

By Kami Klein

Mondo De Va Lega has been on a journey that most of us could not fathom. From gang life to an incredible walk with God this young co-host of The Jim Bakker Show understands that each step has brought a deeply profound testimony and direction.  For 18 years he has prepared to fulfill the call of God on his life and the potential to change a generation. The time is NOW for him to take this next step.  

Today, Monday, August the 12th, his new program, “MONDO Show” begins at 8 pm ct on the PTL Television Network.  

Years ago, Mondo had a conversation with a very influential leader in America who recognized God’s hand on his life.  He advised him, “Just because you are called doesn’t mean you are ready for your call.” He told Mondo that Jim Bakker had much to teach him and that he needed to learn to serve under him and in time God would show him his call and appoint the right time to fulfill the call of God in his life.  Mondo has done just that gleaning as much as he could from his teacher.

 “I began to serve under Pastor Jim, learning everything about television and began to be mentored by him about how to know Christ in an intimate way. I thank Pastor Jim for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to fulfill the call of God in my life. Today Pastor Jim has become my father, my mentor, and my friend,” Mondo responded when asked about the timing of his new show.  

“On July 4th, the opening of Prayer Mountain Chapel at Morningside USA, Jim Bakker prayed and laid hands on my head and began to prophesy over me. He told me that this is my time and the beginning of God’s calling in my life. I have learned to pace myself and be patient, walking in obedience waiting for God to release the time for me to step into my calling. My show is for a generation that wants to have a real, straight forward conversation about today’s issues.”

Mondo’s show is a raw, non-polished, organic way to have a  conversation. The topics are all about life today. Subjects such as: 

Latinos in America: “America doesn’t know what to do with us”

Technology: How it is increasing so rapidly, even though many in the scientific community are loudly warning about the potential health effects

Artificial Intelligence: The way of the Future, the way of a New life

Christianity: The war to destroy Christian America, what does this look like in real life?

Bible prophecy: Where are we according to the Bible?

Politics: News headlines and how they are affecting us in today’s society

Millennials and the culture change that is taking place

Relationships: Finding love and sustaining a relationship 

 “The subject matter, the questions, are the things people are afraid to ask because it makes everyone feel nervous; even though we are all thinking about it,” Mondo said about the new show.  “I want to bring in the men and women who are making a difference in our communities, in our culture and in our lives. It’s a journey to understand the misunderstood.”  

Mondo De La Vega recognizes that more people are seeing that the times are changing. They can’t explain why or what it is but certainly what used to be considered good is now being perceived as Evil and Evil is now the new Norm. “The Christian community is having a difficult time adjusting and finding their place in society and in our culture. Our country is no longer being accepted as Christian and it has left Christianity in a state of shock.” 

In fighting this spiritual battle for our nation and our world Mondo believes we must continue to engage in conversation about today’s culture but also stresses on the most powerful:

“The most important thing we need is to pray and ask God to continue to give us wisdom and show us the way. Without the anointing, we are just another show, another film trying to compete with Hollywood. The very thing that makes us different is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We need the anointing back in our lives.  It’s the game-changer!”

Please join us tonight and every Monday evening at 8 pm ct and connect on a new level.  “Mondo Show” can be seen on the PTL Network from your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or ptlnetwork.com to tune in! 

Don’t forget!  Get our new smartphone app for PTL Television Network and watch this and other amazing Christian programming, anytime, anywhere! 

 

In Lebanon, a monastery brings together Christians scattered by war

A view of the Monastery of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya in the heart of the Qadisha valley, in Zgharta district, LebanonJune 23, 2019. REUTERS/Imad Creidi

By Ayat Basma

QOZHAYA, Lebanon (Reuters) – The last time Samuel Botros stepped into the Lebanese monastery of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya was in 1978. He was 24, newly married, and the country was in the grip of an all-out war. Like many of his generation, he left. It took him 41 years to return.

The 1975-90 civil war may be over in Lebanon but conflicts in nearby countries like Iraq and Syria have devastated entire communities where Christians once lived alongside Muslims. That has triggered an exodus among people of both faiths, especially among minority sects – like Botros’ Syriac Orthodox community whose roots are in early Christianity.

The monastery, which is nestled in a remote valley in the northern Lebanese mountains and dates from the fourth century, is a meeting place for Christians who have fled conflict.

“It is the war that did this to us. It is the wars that continue to leave behind destruction and force people to leave,” said Botros, visiting the monastery as part of a gathering of his community’s scout group – their first in the region since the 1950s.

The scout group’s roughly 150 members include people living in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and further afield. Lebanon was the only country where they could all meet easily and safely, Botros said.

In Iraq, years of conflict, most recently with Islamic State, erased much of the Christian heritage in ancient cities like Mosul and Sinjar in the north. In Syria’s civil war, some of the oldest churches in Aleppo, Homs and other cities were damaged.

Botros, now 65, is about to retire in Sweden where he made his home years ago. He is father and grandfather to children who know Lebanon only through photos.

“I would like them to visit so that when I pass, there is something to pull them back,” he said.

ANCIENT SANCTUARY

On Sundays and public holidays, the monastery’s small church, with the bell tower and facade, etched into the cliffs is full of people huddled in the pews or standing at the back of the vaulted interior.

Its patron is Saint Anthony, a monk who is believed to have lived in rural Egypt in the fourth or fifth century.

“This place has always been a shrine…we don’t even know when it started. Even when there was no development…people still came,” said Father Fadi Imad, the priest who gives sermons.

Qozhaya lies within a valley known as the Valley of Saints, or Qannoubine in ancient Syriac, part of a wider valley network called Qadisha that has a long history as a refuge for monks. At one time, Qadisha was home to hundreds of hermitages, churches, caves and monasteries. The monastery of Saint Anthony is the last surviving one.

It was an early home for Lebanon’s Christian Maronites, the first followers of the Roman Catholic church in the East.

The Maronites and sometimes the Druze, a Muslim sect, sought the sanctuary of the mountains away from the political and religious dynasties of the times with whom they did not always agree, Father Imad said.

“The inhabitants of this mountain…and they were not only Christians, came here because they were persecuted and weak,” he said.

“Qozhaya holds in its heart 1,600 years of history and it doesn’t belong to anyone, church or faith, … it belongs to the homeland,” he said.

The monastery is surrounded by forests of pine and cedar and orchards that can only be reached via a narrow, winding road.

Its grounds include a cave where visitors light candles, a museum housing the Middle East’s oldest printing press in ancient Syriac and halls for resident priests.

Visitors nowadays include foreign and Arab tourists and local residents including Muslims who sometimes come to ask for a blessing.

Father Imad said the monastery was the safest it had been in its history despite being surrounded by countries at war or suffering its aftermath.

“No one is telling us that they are coming to kill us anymore … at least in Lebanon,” he said.

Before he left, Botros and his fellows stood for a final photo outside the building with the valley behind. With their flags and scarves around their necks, they smiled and cheered as the bells rang.

“What I have seen today I will never forget for as long as I live,” Botros said.

“No matter how long it takes, the son always returns to the mother.”

(Reporting by Ayat Basma; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Freed Sri Lanka Buddhist monk vows to expose Islamist militancy

Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, head of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or "Buddhist Power Force", arrives at a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

By Ranga Sirilal

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A hardline Buddhist monk accused of inciting violence against minority Muslims in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday he planned to denounce Islamist militants after he was freed from prison last week by presidential pardon.

Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, head of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or “Buddhist Power Force”, was pardoned by President Maithripala Sirisena after serving nine months of a six-year sentence for contempt of court.

Rights activists said his release sent a message that majority Buddhists could incite hate against minorities. Gnanasara has denied allegations that he encouraged violence against Muslims and Christians, saying he only highlighted threats from militants.

His pardon came a week after rioters attacked Muslim-owned homes, shops, and mosques in apparent reprisal for Easter bombings, claimed by Islamic State, that killed more than 250 people.

Police said Gnanasara’s group had no links to the attacks.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Gnanasara said Sri Lankan followers of Wahhabism, a conservative branch of Islam, were indirectly responsible for the April 21 bombings on churches and hotels.

“I urge the government to arrest the main people responsible for the spreading of Wahhabism,” Gnanasara said.

Hilmy Ahmed, the vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said he was willing to meet him.

“We will talk to him and see what he wants to discuss. We have always had cordial discussions with him even though he has his extremist views,” Ahmed said.

Some political analysts see the pardon as a bid by Sirisena to woo Sinhala Buddhists, who make 70 percent of the nation’s 22 million people, ahead of elections this year.

“He is trying to build the Sinhala Buddhist votes,” said Kusal Perera, a political columnist.

Gnanasara was convicted in 2018 on four counts of contempt of court. The case stemmed from a 2016 court hearing on the abduction of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda over which military intelligence officials were accused.

Gnanasara shouted at the judge and lawyers because the military officials had not been given bail. He also threatened Eknaligoda’s wife.

During a Monday evening visit to a temple, Gnanasara said he is “active once more… Attaining nirvana can wait.”

“Now I have decided to act swiftly until this danger moves away,” he said in an apparent reference to Islamist militancy.

(Additional reporting by Shihar Aneez; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Morocco’s hidden Christians see Pope trip as chance to push for freedom

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis is seen during the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square, at the Vatican February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo

By Ahmed Eljechtimi

RABAT (Reuters) – Moroccan converts to Christianity, a tiny minority in an overwhelmingly Muslim country, are looking to Pope Francis’ visit next week as an chance to press their demands for religious freedom.

Francis will spend two days in Rabat on his first trip to the North African country from March 30-31 – the first visit there by any pope in nearly 35 years.

He will spend time with Roman Catholics – most of them expatriate Europeans, mainly French, and sub-Saharan African migrants – who are free to worship in churches such as the capital’s art deco St. Peter’s Cathedral.

But unlike those “foreign Christians”, Moroccan converts say they are forced to worship at home, in secret. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is banned – as it is in many Muslim countries – and proselytizing is punishable by up to three years in prison.

One group backing them – the Moroccan Association for Religious Rights and Freedoms – has already written to the Vatican, raising its concerns, and it is planning a sit-in outside a church in Rabat on the eve of the visit.

“We want laws that protect religious minorities in the country on an equal footing,” the head of the association, Jawad El Hamidy, said.

“We will seize the pope’s visit to put more pressure on the state to protect religious freedoms.”

“NO DISCRIMINATION”

Morocco has marketed itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy – and has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.

Government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi said the authorities did not violate religious freedoms. “There is no persecution in Morocco and there is no discrimination on the basis of faith,” he told reporters when asked about the accusations.

But converts point to the constitution, which formally recognizes the existence of Moroccan Muslims and Jews – but not of Moroccan Christians. They also point to their day-to-day experience.

“When I went to a church to declare my faith, I was told that I was prohibited to do so by Moroccan law,” said a 40-year-old Moroccan Christian who gave his name as Emmanuel and asked not be shown while filmed.

“We call on Moroccan authorities and the Holy Father to seize the opportunity offered by this papal visit to launch a sincere dialogue on religious freedom for Moroccan citizens,” the Coordination of Moroccan Christians, a local lobby group, said.

There are no official statistics, but leaders say there are about 50,000 Moroccan Christians, most of them from the Protestant Evangelical tradition – outnumbering the estimated 30,000 Roman Catholics in the country.

There was no immediate response from the Vatican to the Association’s letter. But the most senior Roman Catholic in Morocco – the Archbishop of Rabat, Cristobal Lopez Romero – offered his support.

“We as Catholic Christians appreciate that we fully enjoy the freedom of faith but we will be happier if the Moroccan people could also enjoy that,” the Spanish cleric told reporters.

“I would love to be able to become Moroccan without having to change my religion.”

(Editing by Ulf Laessing, Philip Pullella and Andrew Heavens)

African churches boom in London’s backstreets

Members of the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim & Seraphim Church sing as they celebrate their annual Thanksgiving in Elephant and Castle, London, Britain, July 29, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

By Simon Dawson and William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – On a cold, grey Sunday morning, in a street lined with shuttered builders’ yards and storage units, songs of prayer in the West African language of Yoruba ring out from a former warehouse that is now a church.

The congregation, almost entirely dressed in white robes, steadily grows to around 70 people as musicians playing drums, a keyboard and a guitar pick up the pace of the hymns. Some women prostrate themselves on the floor in prayer.

In the sparse formerly industrial building, its interior brightened by touches of gold paint, a speaker reminds the group of a list of banned activities — no smoking, no drinking of alcohol, no practicing of black magic.

In a street outside, a pastor flicks holy water over the car of a woman who wants a blessing to ward off the risk of accidents.

The busy scene at the Celestial Church of Christ is repeated at a half a dozen other African Christian temples on the same drab street and in the adjacent roads – one corner of the thriving African church community in south London.

Around 250 black majority churches are believed to operate in the borough of Southwark, where 16 percent of the population identifies as having African ethnicity.

Southwark represents the biggest concentration of African Christians in the world outside the continent with an estimated 20,000 congregants attending churches each Sunday, according to researchers at the University of Roehampton.

Reflecting the different waves of migration to Britain in the 20th Century, Caribbean churches began to appear in the late 1940s and 1950s as workers and their families arrived from Jamaica and other former British colonies.

African churches opened their doors in London from the 1960s, followed by a second wave in the 1980s.

Migrants, many of them from Nigeria and Ghana, sought to build communities and maintain cultural connections with their home countries by founding their own churches, often founded in private homes, schools and office spaces.

As the communities grew, the churches moved into bigger spaces in bingo halls, cinemas and warehouses, gathering congregations of up to 500 people where services are streamed online by volunteers with video cameras.

There is a striking contrast with the empty pews at many traditional Church of England churches where congregations have dwindled for years.

Female members of the Apostles Of Muchinjikwa Christian church prepare to enter into the sea during a mass Baptism (Jorodhani) on the beachfront on Southend-on-Sea, Britain, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Female members of the Apostles Of Muchinjikwa Christian church prepare to enter into the sea during a mass Baptism (Jorodhani) on the beachfront on Southend-on-Sea, Britain, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

“We pray for this country,” said Abosede Ajibade, a 54-year-old Nigerian who moved to Britain in 2002 and works for an office maintenance company.

“People here brought Christianity to Africa but it doesn’t feel like they serve Jesus Christ anymore.”

Anyone traveling around south London on a Sunday morning will see worshippers, often dressed in dazzlingly colored African clothes, making their way to churches, each with their different styles of worship.

Hymns are sung only in African languages in some temples, or only in English at others. Some pastors take worshippers for full immersion baptisms in the cold of the English Channel. Others believe that when congregants suddenly start speaking in unknown languages it marks the presence of the Holy Spirit.

But the researchers from the University of Roehampton found things that many churches have in common, including a drive for professional advancement, a commitment to spend three hours or more at Sunday service and typically very loud worship.

“That is how we express our joy and gratitude to God,” Andrew Adeleke, a senior pastor at the House of Praise, one of the biggest African churches in Southwark, in a former theater.

Senior members of the Apostles Of Muchinjikwa Christian church baptise members during a mass Baptism (Jorodhani) on the beachfront on Southend-on-Sea, Britain, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Senior members of the Apostles Of Muchinjikwa Christian church baptise members during a mass Baptism (Jorodhani) on the beachfront on Southend-on-Sea, Britain, August 25, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

“The church is not supposed to be a graveyard,” Adeleke said. “It is supposed to be a temple of celebration and worship and the beauty is to be able to express our love to God, even when things are not perfect in our lives.”

For some, the noise from amplified services is a problem, leading to complaints to local authorities from residents.

But many churches face bigger challenges than unhappy neighbors: Some provide food for people struggling to make ends meet, or work with young people at risk of recruitment by gangs.

Andrew Rogers, who led the University of Roehampton researchers, said pastors had to juggle retaining the churches’ African identity while appealing to children of first generation immigrants, many of whom have never lived outside Britain.

They typically have a more liberal world view which can be hard to reconcile with conservative Pentecostal teachings.

Rogers recalled speaking to one pastor who lamented he was unable to talk about religious miracles to his children.

“If the church doesn’t adapt, then they are going to leave and look elsewhere,” Rogers said.

Click on https://reut.rs/2GgX5Qv for a related photo essay.

(Writing by William Schomberg, Editing by William Maclean)

Lebanese Christian civil war foes shake hands, make up after 40 years

FILE PHOTO: Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his home in the Christian village of Maarab in the mountains overlooking the seaside town of Jounieh, October 31, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Christian rivals from the Lebanese civil war, Samir Geagea and Suleiman Frangieh, shook hands with each other on Wednesday, marking a formal reconciliation to end more than four decades of enmity.

Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) political party, and Frangieh, head of the Marada party, have been foes since the early days of the 1975-1990 civil war.

The two parties had armed militias during the conflict that battled against each other. The war, which drew in regional powers, included fighting between the country’s main sects and rival factions within those sects.

The men, both Maronite Christians, met to reconcile at the seat of the sect’s Patriarch Bechara al-Rai in Bkerki, north of Beirut. They shook hands with Rai and then with each other after several failed reconciliation attempts over the years.

Geagea has been accused of leading a raid in 1978 on the home of Frangieh’s father, Tony Franjieh, a rival Maronite Christian chieftain, who was killed with his wife, daughter, and others. Geagea has said he was wounded before reaching Frangieh’s house and did not take part himself.

This is the second rapprochement of recent years between civil war Maronite Christian rivals.

In January 2016 Geagea endorsed then presidential candidate Michel Aoun for the Lebanese presidency, ending his own rival candidacy for the position, which must be held by a Maronite Christian under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system.

Geagea and Aoun, who fought each other in the 1975-90 civil war, have been on opposite sides of the political divide since Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2005.

President Aoun is a political ally of the Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah, whereas Geagea is a staunch opponent of the group. Frangieh is a close ally of Syrian President and Hezbollah ally Bashar al-Assad.

Tony Frangieh, Suleiman’s son, said the reconciliation was a good thing for all Lebanese and was not connected to any presidential aims.

“We are looking forward to the future by achieving this reconciliation,” he told Lebanese broadcaster al-Jadeed at the ceremony.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington, Laila Bassam and Ellen Francis; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

YOUR VOTE MATTERS! Don’t forget Election Night Coverage on The Jim Bakker Show! LIVE Tuesday night at 7 PM!

By Kami Klein

Two years ago, Christians came en masse to vote for the future of this country.  Conservative values were being ridiculed. Our Constitution was being put to the test and our belief that God was the foundation of this country was ignored.  In a stunning turn-around, the Church made their voices known. NOW is the time to show we mean it. Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 6th, America once again goes to the polls to vote.  It is vital that you make your voice heard!

Voting is our power and it is the responsibility of all Americans to remember the importance of “We The People”.  You do not have to hold a sign or shout; you do not have to fight! In America, there is a way to let your feelings and beliefs be heard. This is your chance to speak!  Speak with YOUR vote!

For the last few months, our guests on The Jim Bakker Show have strongly encouraged us to not sit idly by but to get out and Vote.  The importance of mid-term elections has never been more paramount. The Church must be heard in this election. You must not throw your vote away!  

On election night we invite you to join The Jim Bakker Show LIVE at 7 pm CT as we watch the results come in on this extremely important time in America!  This exciting Live broadcast can be found on PTL Television Network on your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or by going to jimbakkershow.com or the PTL Television Network at Ptlnetwork.com.    

We would love for you to join us as we speak via Skype with some of our most influential prophetic guests such as Rick Joyner, General Boykin, Lance Wallnau, David Horowitz, Jim Garlow, Carl Gallups and more.

Speak this Tuesday on your voting ballot as we exercise our freedom to vote and send a message to the world that God is in control and we believe in His plans for us.  

Please, go vote and continue praying for our President, for our leaders, and for our nation!  The Church is the key to our future!

 

The Procedural Vote – Special Edition, Washington, D.C.

by Billye Brim | Oct 6, 2018

The Procedural Vote

Four of us left our hotel at 8 AM Friday morning and arrived early at the private entry door where we waited until 9 to get in.

Our special passes were issued by high-ranking Senators. Two of them, whose names are most-associated with these proceedings entered the room where 150 or so of us were gathered. They asked that we not record or take pictures. So—I will not reveal their names. But one of them said to us, “I believe in the power of prayer. Don’t pay so much attention to what is happening on the floor. But keep focused on prayer as you ask that the Lord’s will be done.”

Inside the Senate Gallery, there was decorum. No shouting. On both sides of the Gallery, people behaved with respect. The prayer on the Republican side where we sat was amazing. The people were amazing. We were instructed that we could not react to anything said on the floor. Nor could we react to the outcome of the vote. Everyone on both sides respected the place. The atmosphere was one of peace. Even before any speeches or any votes. I believe the powers of the air were bound and muted by the strong army of believers here in D.C. and there where you are. The Prayer Force all across America and even the world was in action.

The Mobs
and
The Prayer Force

I wasn’t going to give any “ink” to the mobs but I want you to see where the real power was—in the praying people. And this morning (Saturday, October 6,) I was reading in Acts and saw that the enemy’s M.O. has been operating in MOBS for centuries.

The rabble-rousers are not affecting things in the magnitude the media is portraying. Wherever they are, cameras are following them. The press is paying little or no attention to the many, many praying people who are here.

Max is here. He did not have a Gallery pass. He was praying in Grassley’s office on Friday with about 150 believers he said were from across America. He prayed closely with one family which consisted of a mother and her 15-year old son and his grandfather. The husband and father is overseas in the military serving our country. The family has a strong military heritage. They gave Max the shirt you see him wearing in the attached photograph.

When this family group decided to walk the halls praying, and wearing these t-shirts, the 15-year old said to Max, “Walk with me, Uncle.” The grandfather, the son, and Max followed the women in their little group. A scruffy looking man (Max’s description) walked up to the boy and hit him full force in the stomach. The young man fell to the ground in pain. The Capitol Police came up to arrest the man (and incidentally they want to be arrested). However, the mother said that she didn’t want to press charges and that they would pray for the man.

Greater Is He That Is In Us
Than he that is in the world.

On Thursday we met other praying people in Senator Grassley’s office when the mob decided to take over the halls. Hannah caught a video of the leader outside Grassley’s office door yelling that we didn’t have any black people inside (Facebook video – click here). She did not know that at that very moment, the Lord had anointed a young black woman inside to lead us in prayer. I was impressed by the Power of the Holy Spirit upon her as she led in a loud voice. Her words were those of Authority, Power, and Dominion. I was thrilled at who the Lord used so mightily to put to naught the accusatory words being shouted outside the door. The adversary knew what was happening inside and that he was defeated. (Instagram video – click here)

We are awaiting now (Saturday morning) word for when the vote will take place.

Again, the Lord is providing great Gallery seats for us. But as I said, wherever you are, we all meet at the Right Hand of the Father from where we operate.

Shalom and Blessings
Love in Him
Billye Brim

Anger, dismay as Indonesia says search for quake victims to end

People attend an outdoor church service in the earthquake damaged area of Jono oge village, in Sigi district, south of Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

By Kanupriya Kapoor and Fathin Ungku

PALU, Indonesia (Reuters) – Relatives of hundreds of people missing after an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia reacted with anger, sadness and resignation on Sunday to a decision by the state disaster agency to end searches for bodies later this week.

The 7.5 magnitude quake on Sept. 28 brought down shopping malls, hotels and other buildings in the city of Palu, while tsunami waves smashed into its beachfront. But perhaps more deadly was soil liquefaction which obliterated several Palu neighborhoods.

No one knows how many people are missing but it is at least in the hundreds, rescuers say.

The official death toll has risen to 1,763 but bodies are still being recovered, at least 34 in one place alone on Saturday and more on Sunday.

“Many of us are angry that we haven’t found our families and friends and they want to give up?” said Hajah Ikaya, 60, who says she lost her sister, brother-in-law and niece in the Balaroa neighborhood in the south of the city. They are all missing.

Balaroa was one of areas particularly hard hit by liquefaction, which turns the ground into a roiling quagmire, destroying houses and dragging people under the mud and debris.

The disaster agency said earlier liquefaction destroyed 1,700 houses in one neighborhood alone with hundreds of people buried in the mud.

“We’re Muslim. We need a proper burial, in the Islamic way,” said Ikaya. “We don’t want this.”

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a briefing in Jakarta some limited searching might continue but large-scale searches with many personnel and heavy equipment would cease on Oct. 11.

Debris would be cleared and areas hit by liquefaction would be turned into parks and sports venues. Surveys would be carried out and people living in vulnerable places would be moved.

“We don’t want the community to be relocated to such dangerous places,” Nugroho said.

Most of the dead from the quake and tsunami were in Palu, the region’s main urban center. Figures for more remote areas are trickling in but they seem to have suffered fewer deaths than the city.

Dede Diman, 25, a resident of Petobo, another neighborhood in Palu that was laid waste by liquefaction, said rescuers hadn’t even started searching where his sister was lost.

“We’re already angry,” said Diman, who is living in a shelter with his brother and another sister. Their mother was killed and her body found.

“We don’t agree with giving up. Even if they give up, we won’t. We want to find our sister.”

Graphic: Catastrophe in Sulawesi – https://tmsnrt.rs/2OqQlUo

PRAYERS

Mohammad Irfan, 25, got home to Palu on Sunday, as air services picked up, from his job on Bali island, to help search for his missing grandfather.

“I’d feel very sad if the search mission ends because there are so many still missing and buried,” he said.

A grieving father was resigned to the search ending without his two-year-old daughter being found.

“What’s the point anyway? At this stage, they’re not even recognizable,” said Ondre, 38, who makes toys for a living.

Villagers affected by the earthquake wave after an Indonesian military helicopter dropped aid in Lindu village south of Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Villagers affected by the earthquake wave after an Indonesian military helicopter dropped aid in Lindu village south of Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

His wife and two daughters were swept away in the tsunami that hit Palu’s seafront after the earthquake. He found the bodies of his wife and older daughter but is still looking for his younger daughter.

“I don’t want her to feel like her father never tried to find her. My soul wouldn’t rest,” he said by a mass grave atop a hill overlooking Palu’s bay as the sun set, where he had come to offer prayers.

Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s five main islands. The archipelago sees frequent earthquakes and occasional tsunami.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Earlier on Sunday, dozens of Christians gathered outside ruined churches for services to give thanks for their survival and to mourn members of their congregation killed in the disaster.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim population but there are Christian communities throughout the archipelago, including in Palu.

“We are so relieved to be alive but sad because so many of our congregation died,” said Dewi Febriani, 26, after a service in a tent outside the Toraja Church in Jono Oge village, south of Palu.

Jono Oge was hit hard by liquefaction with dozens of teenagers at a nearby church and Bible camp killed. Many of lie buried in the mud.

(Additional reporting by Jessica Damiana in JAKARTA, Rozanna Latiff in PALU; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Why is the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem?

A worker on a crane hangs a U.S. flag next to an Israeli flag, next to the entrance to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

By Stephen Farrell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The United States opens its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians.

On Monday, road signs directing traffic there went up around the neighborhood where it will be situated, and next week’s opening ceremony is timed to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.

The initiative was driven by President Donald Trump, after he broke last year with decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump said his administration has a peace proposal in the works, and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of America’s closest ally had “taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.”

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, celebrated Trump’s decision, but the move upset the Arab world and Western allies.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it a “slap in the face” and said Washington could no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.

Initially, a small interim embassy will operate from the building in southern Jerusalem that now houses U.S. consular operations, while a secure site is found to move the rest of the embassy operations from Tel Aviv.

WHY DID TRUMP RECOGNIZE JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL’S CAPITAL, AND ANNOUNCE THE EMBASSY WILL BE MOVED THERE?

There has long been pressure from pro-Israel politicians in Washington to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and Trump made it a signature promise of his 2016 election campaign.

The decision was popular with many conservative and evangelical Christians who voted for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, many of whom support political recognition of Israel’s claim to the city.

Trump acted under a 1995 law that requires the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but to which other presidents since then – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – consistently signed waivers.

WHY DOES JERUSALEM PLAY SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT?

Religion, politics and history.

Jerusalem has been fought over for millennia by its inhabitants, and by regional powers and invaders.

It is sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and each religion has sites of great significance there.

Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country, although that is not recognized internationally. Palestinians feel equally strongly, saying that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The city even has different names. Jews call it Jerusalem, or Yerushalayim, and Arabs call it Al-Quds, which means “The Holy”.

But the city’s significance goes further.

At the heart of the Old City is the hill known to Jews across the world as Har ha-Bayit, or Temple Mount, and to Muslims internationally as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary. It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity but all that remains of them above ground is a restraining wall for the foundations built by Herod the Great. Known as the Western Wall, this is a sacred place of prayer for Jews.

Within yards of the wall, and overlooking it, are two Muslim holy places, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was built in the 8th century. Muslims regard the site as the third holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.

The city is also an important pilgrimage site for Christians, who revere it as the place where they believe that Jesus Christ preached, died and was resurrected.

WHAT IS THE CITY’S MODERN HISTORY AND STATUS?

In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the then British-ruled Palestine should be partitioned into an Arab state and a Jewish state. But it recognized that Jerusalem had special status and proposed international rule for the city, along with nearby Bethlehem, as a ‘corpus separatum’ to be administered by the United Nations.

That never happened. When British rule ended in 1948, Jordanian forces occupied the Old City and Arab East Jerusalem. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it.

In 1980 the Israeli parliament passed a law declaring the “complete and united” city of Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. But the United Nations regards East Jerusalem as occupied, and the city’s status as disputed until resolved by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

DOES ANY OTHER COUNTRY HAVE AN EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM?

In March Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, said that his country will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the U.S. move.

Netanyahu said in April that “at least half a dozen” countries were now “seriously discussing” following the U.S. lead, but he did not identify them.

In December, 128 countries voted in a non-binding U.N. General Assembly resolution calling on the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Nine voted against, 35 abstained and 21 did not cast a vote.

WHAT IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN NEXT? HAS JERUSALEM BEEN A FLASHPOINT BEFORE?

Since Trump’s announcement there have been Palestinian protests and wider political tensions.

Arab leaders across the Middle East have warned the move could lead to turmoil and hamper U.S. efforts to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

More than 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in Gaza during a six-week border protest due to culminate on May 15, the day after the U.S. Embassy move and when Palestinians traditionally lament homes and land lost with Israel’s creation.

Although the clashes have not been on the scale of the Palestinian intifadas of 1987-1993 and 2000-2005, violence has erupted before over matters of sovereignty and religion.

In 1969 an Australian Messianic Christian tried to burn down Al-Aqsa Mosque. He failed but caused damage, and prompted fury across the Arab world.

In 2000, the Israeli politician Ariel Sharon, then opposition leader, led a group of Israeli lawmakers onto the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif complex. A Palestinian protest escalated into the second intifada.

Deadly confrontations also took place in July after Israel installed metal detectors at the complex’s entrance after Arab-Israeli gunmen killed two Israeli policemen there.

(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; editing by John Stonestreet)