Thursdays in Black: “Pray for God’s protection for everyone”

10 April 2020

Thursdays in Black ambassadors and supporters are calling on us all to protect women who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are in situations that make them vulnerable to violence.

In many countries, the rise of domestic abuse is being called “a new COVID-19 crisis” as movement restrictions aimed to stop the spread of the coronavirus is making violence in homes more frequent, more severe and more dangerous.

In Spain, the emergency number for domestic violence received 18 percent more calls in the first two weeks of lockdown than in the same period a month earlier. French police reported a nationwide spike of about 30 percent in domestic violence. Domestic violence reports in the UK are up by 20 percent. In the US, Rhode Island state police reported domestic violence calls had jumped by 36 percent.

Women also comprise 70 percent of frontline healthcare workforce across the globe, lacking protective gear despite their increased risk of exposure.

Ambassadors speak out

Ambassadors of Thursdays in Black, the global campaign for a world free from rape and violence, spoke out on Maundy Thursday to bring attention to an increasingly dire situation for millions of women across the world.

On social media, through poems and posts, comments and statements, they provided emotional support, advocacy and practical help.

The World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, led by president Alison Judd, posted: "We are told to stay at home and stay safe. But for some that feels impossible. Some women, some children, men even, face another risk during this pandemic. They fear the person who lives with them.”

Rev. Dr Anders Göranzon, general secretary of the Swedish Bible Society, reflected: “A person close to Jesus betrayed him. It happens to many vulnerable persons in times of isolation, mostly women and children.”

Rev. Dr Chris Ferguson, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, noted: "Women continue to be the majority of the most exposed caregivers and low wage workers.” He called for a “faith imperative”: “the new normal must be a world without violence against women.”

Rev. Damon Mkandawire, hospital administrator for the United Church of Zambia’s Mbereshi Mission Hospital, said: “Women who are displaced, refugees, and living in conflict-affected areas are particularly vulnerable.”

The Rev. Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America led by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, have posted across social media, “Domestic violence has increased with #StayAtHome” and are publicizing national and local domestic violence hotlines and text helplines.

Hanbeet Rhee, a member of the Ecumenical Youth Council in Korea, stated that, after COVID-19, "we cannot, and should not, go back to that ‘normal society,’ and we need to dream a better society, which loves and protects the weak, especially victims of gender-based violence.”

Concern—and action—for the most vulnerable

With 1.5 billion children now out of school, unemployment rising at a staggering rate, and women more vulnerable than ever to rising rates of violence, we all need to not only raise awareness but take action, urged Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, World Council of Churches deputy general secretary.

“Ensuring that women and children have access to help and places of safety should be a top priority of our governments and our churches,” said Phiri. “We need to put in place protection for the most vulnerable women and children, and share accurate information and resources that will cross national borders and faith lines to get to the communities that are suffering.”

As one ambassador’s post ended, “Wear black this Thursday and pray for God’s protection for everyone.”

WCC reiterates firm commitment to protecting and nurturing children

WCC reiterates firm commitment to protecting and nurturing children

Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary at the meeting organized by Arigatou International. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

04 December 2019

During a consortium focusing on nurturing values and spirituality in early childhood, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit reiterated the WCC’s firm commitment to protecting children. His message was read by Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary.

“We have often in this venue addressed the particular needs of children, especially global deficits in healthcare delivery, the need to protect children in their homes and in the churches, and the specific plight of migrant and refugee children," said Phiri.

The consortium, organized by Arigatou International, is being held at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva from 3-5 December. The theme is “Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence.”

“Our own commitments in this arena are firm,” said Phiri. “The WCC is strongly committed to buttressing the protection, participation, and well-being of children.”

Arigatou at EC

Participants of the consortium organized by Arigatou International at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

Nurturing values and spirituality in early childhood goes to the heart of the challenges and gifts that people of faith can bring, added Phiri. “It is the particular genius of this annual consortium to focus your attention and tap your expertise—across disciplines, across organizations, across religious lines, from homes and churches to international fora—on the intimate connections among early childhood formation, conflict resolution or preventing violence, and the prospects for peace,” she said. “We all, whether children or adults, have a vital stake in this work and this future.”

It is incumbent on people of faith to critically examine their own traditions and practices, concluded Phiri. “May your and the consortium’s work find encouragement and energy in your gathering,” she said. “I look forward to learning more about your presentations and discussions as you further explore how fostering values and spirituality can ensure a future of human dignity for all.”

Learn more about Churches´ Commitments to Children (

Chilean crisis sparks churches’ alarm and concern.
Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

24 October 2019

As anger and protests in Chile have escalated into violence and caused 18 deaths, the World Council of Churches’ general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has joined other church leaders in calling for a cessation of violence and a mechanism for addressing its root causes.

“I want to express our solidarity with the churches and people of Chile in this situation,” said Tveit. “We fully support the churches in their call for adequate responses to the situation by the government and the people, addressing the root causes for this unrest. In this crisis we see the future of democracy and social justice in Chile at stake.”

After protests initiated by students in Santiago on 16 October over a rise in the price of public transport were met with a strong response by police, the protests widened beyond the students to engage the broader public, workers’ unions and other organizations in several cities, encompassing other issues of concern, including low wages, access to healthcare and economic inequality. Protesters have called for the resignation of President Sebastián Piñera Echenique, despite his mandating an increase in wages and in taxes on the wealthy.

Vandalism and violence have triggered a forceful police response, leading to deaths, thousands of detentions, and a government-declared state of emergency with curfews.

WCC member churches, together with ecumenical partners, have been speaking out about the situation. Calling for peace and condemning acts of violence, they are urging the Chilean government to address underlying inequalities in the country.

Citing widespread economic and social problems, leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chile (IELCH), a WCC member church, pointed to deeper problems sparking the street violence, saying, “What we saw and lived last night in Santiago was the manifestation of a disagreement and silent rage that was contained in the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of our society. And this demonstration is not silenced by repression by the state. It is unfortunate that the government does not have the capacity and willingness to realize that our country is not the oasis of Latin America as the President has declared, but a country with tremendous social inequalities.”

Himself from Chile, Rev. Dr Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, also echoed those convictions, saying, “Difficult and shocking as this is, there are underlying causes that contribute to this eruption of social rage: inequalities and injustices experienced by the people of Chile. Let this be a time to address the root causes. Violence is not the way to solve the issue.”

WCC Faith and Order Commission, Nanjing, China, June 2019, Photo: WCC

14 August 2019

“Come and See,” a theological invitation to the World Council of Churches (WCC) Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace was published in May 2019 and, for the close-knit group who labored to develop it, the journey was life-changing.

The special study group, part of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission, traveled the globe together, discussing in different contexts how to open the doors to common witness with an appreciation of diverse traditions.

The “Come and See” text draws from four different traditions that pave the way for a road on which churches might go on a pilgrimage together.

Sandra Beardsall, professor of Church History and Ecumenics at St Andrew's College, Saskatoon, Canada, is the co-convenor for the study group, and she spoke of her love for the brief glimpse, early in John’s gospel, of Andrew and his friend as they begin walking behind Jesus in a street in Bethany. “Teacher where are you staying?” they ask him. “Come and see,” says Jesus, and their lives are never the same again.

“When the 10th Assembly of the WCC invited the churches on a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, it asked Christians to take up the challenge of journeying together in ways that challenge and change us,” reflected Beardsall. "Pilgrimage is both personal and communal. It is prayerful, and it is curious.”

The “Come and See” text invites us to consider the theology that grounds our walk, she said. “It walks us through scripture and history, theological reflection and contemporary issues,” she said. “It reminds us that journeying together builds community and even unity among persons and churches.”

As the group reflected and re-reflected, through many of hours of dialogue to craft the “Come and See” document, their lives, too, would never be the same again.

Co-convenor Rev. Prof. Dr Jaeshik Shin said that, for him, preparing “Come and See” was a kind of pilgrimage in itself. By meeting at different places around the world, the group had an opportunity to consider the document from different contexts.

“During the pilgrimage of preparing 'Come and See,’ our members have travelled together and become one family beyond differences such as religious affiliation, gender, region, and age,” reflected Shin. “As a Faith and Order document, ‘Come and See’ focuses on the biblical, historical, and theological aspects of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. We expect it might be used in the context of theological education and encourage those struggling for peace and justice.”

Billy Graham ministry recources for you .

‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’—part 1 of a 5-part series.
‘Morning By Morning, New Mercies I See’
We’ve all experienced disappointment with one thing or another. Maybe you’ve even been disappointed with God. Yet His faithfulness toward us has never failed—not once—from the beginning of time until now.

This summer, we’re taking a look at five popular hymns sung at Billy Graham Crusades—and how those songs fit into our lives today. This Father’s Day weekend, read part 1 about our heavenly Father’s great faithfulness.

Watch: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by CeCe Winans (1996 Minneapolis Crusade).
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This week would have marked Ruth Bell Graham’s 99th birthday. It also marks the 12th anniversary of her homegoing. As Billy Graham’s wife, a mother of five and faithful follower of Christ, she left a legacy of grace and truth. “My mother loved the Lord with all of her heart,” Franklin Graham shared on Facebook.
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Verse of the Week: Lamentations 3:22–23
Look no further than God’s Word for limitless examples of His faithfulness to those who trust and believe.

This verse from Lamentations reminds us that God’s promises never fail; they are new each day. Share this photo with friends and family on social media.
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Dear Friend,

Along with 250+ Christian leaders, I am asking followers of Christ across our nation to set aside next Sunday, June 2, as a special day of prayer for the President, Donald J. Trump.

President Trump’s enemies continue to try everything to destroy him, his family, and the presidency. In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. I believe the only hope for him, and this nation, is God.

This is a critical time for America. We’re on the edge of a precipice. Time is short. We need to pray for God to intervene. We need to ask God to protect, strengthen, encourage, and guide the President.

We know that God hears and answers prayer. He can soften hearts and change minds. He is all-powerful, and He rules over the affairs of nations. The Bible instructs us to pray for those in authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:2–3, NKJV).

On June 2, we ask that pastors would lead their congregations in praying for the President, that Sunday schools and other groups would join together and pray, and that individuals and families across the country would have a special focus on praying for the President that day.

Would you please join us in prayer and tell others so that we can have as many people as possible praying?


Franklin Graham
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
& Samaritan’s Purse
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
—Ephesians 6:12, NKJV

WCC Pentecost message “To prophesy is to tell the truth”

Sunrise above the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

23 May 2019

The regional presidents of the World Council of Churches sent special greetings to churches around the world celebrating Pentecost.

“To prophesy is to tell the truth,” reads the message. "No rank or class, no race or club, no gender, nor even any religion, has a monopoly on the truth.”

Even humble fisherman can rise to tell the truth, the message notes. “And no falsehood or lie can withstand the sturdy witness to the all-inclusive, healing, indeed transformative love of God revealed to us in Jesus,” reads the message. "These days, we need such prophetic witness to the truth—in our societies and politics, in ourselves and our churches.”

There are no guarantees of objectivity in science or politics or journalism, the message continues. “We must always search out the truth amid competing probabilities and uncertainties and even self-deception,” the text reads. “Yet the deepest truths of our lives—the goodness of being, the dignity of all persons, the integrity of creation, the need for justice and peace--can be tested not only by the integrity of the quest but also by the authenticity of their proponents and, in the end, by the criteria of love.”

At Pentecost, we witness the birth of the church amid a world of many languages and cultures, continues the message. “God’s truth, enflamed by the action of the Spirit, creates a loving community of truth to counter self-serving deceits of the powerful,” the message reads. “No religious claim that incites extremism or terror can be true.”

God’s vision of justice and peace is the nonviolent alternative to empire, the message concludes. “Its all-embracing kinship prizes yet transcends differences, rebukes self-serving falsehoods, shames demagoguery, and battles oppression,” the message reads. "It heals trauma and reaches out to the stranger and the marginalized.”




May 23, 2019

Assalamu Alaykum,

Dear brothers and sisters,

Assalamu ‘Alaykum,

Dear brothers and sisters,
Our beloved Prophet, Muhammad ﷺ, taught a great lesson when he reminded his followers to help the oppressed and also the oppressor.
What does it mean to help the oppressor? It is to stop him/her from committing aggression.

This is what advocacy is. When you and I stand up for the rights of low wage workers to demand better wages, when together we campaign for immigration reform, when we fight to end torture – you and I are doing what the Prophet ﷺ asked of us.

This is what you can do for justice. Stand with me and support social justice initiatives that seek to make a difference. With your generous support, ICNA is currently:

  A member of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations and ICNA’s Secretary General serves as secretary of this umbrella group
  A representation of the Muslim voice in the Catholic-Muslim Mid-Atlantic Dialogue
  An Executive Member of Religions for Peace – USA and participates in its Faiths for Action program
  Providing assistance to the Kashmir American Council.
  Working closely with American Muslims for Palestine
  A member of:
  • National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms
  • National Religious Campaign against Torture
  • National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Interfaith Workers Justice
  • Faith Advocates for Jobs
  • Fighting Poverty with Faith
  • Interfaith Peace Builders
  • American Muslim Taskforce
There is much more to be done, the struggle for social justice continues. Generously donate in this blessed month of limitless reward, and let your donation become a means of establishing a just society for you, me, and our children.

Your brother in Islam,

Dr. Zahid Bukhari

Dr. Zahid Bukhari currently serves as executive director at the Center for Islam and Public Policy and a member of the Governor of Maryland Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs. He is a former president of ICNA and has served in numerous other positions including, director of the American Muslim Studies Program, and Project, MAPS: Muslims in American Public Square at Georgetown University, Washington DC. Dr. Bukhari completed his Ph.D. in political science from University of Connecticut. His research focuses on religion and politics in the U.S. and South Asia and he has worked as executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Public Opinion, a member of Gallup International.
Do ICNA activities qualify for Zakaat?
Click here for the answer by Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan

ICNA activities include Youth, Sisters, Social Services, Dawah, Education, Organization, Community, IT, Publications, Social Justice, Relief work etc.

This question has been asked by many people over the years whether ICNA or other such like organizations can be recipient of Zakaah. There has been lots of discussion on this issue and stemming out of those discussions are several other issues that we should address.

All donations made to ICNA are tax-deductible. Click here to see how your donations to ICNA are Zakat elligible.