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A Christian group working in the Middle East said it is "devastating" that Iraq's oldest monastery has been destroyed.

On Wednesday satellite photos have confirmed fears that the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been destroyed by Islamic State.

Miles Windsor, advocacy and development officer at Middle East Concern, told Premier's News Hour it is more than just a building. He said: "It would be easy, and possibly a bit glib for me to say these things are just bricks and mortar.

"[It's] part of the identity of the Christian heritage of Iraq, this erasing of the past of Iraq does have an impact on the psychology of Christians in the country.

"There's been problems before and whilst this is a dark period in Iraq's history, actually we believe that our God is greater than IS and that Christianity will last beyond it."

St Elijah's Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, and was most recently used by US troops. – Hannah Tooley, Premier News

Urgent Prayer Needed for  Dr Ken & Jocelyn Elliott in Burkina Faso 

 These long-term missionaries in Djibo, Burkina Faso are missing – presumably taken hostage. They have been in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa – Dahomey, Upper Volta and Burkina Faso since 1967 – 48 years on the field.

The hotel in Ouagadougou (200km away) has also been attacked and many have been killed. An Al Qaeda group seems to have been responsible. 
Ken did his final year of medicine at UWA in 1963, a year ahead of my brother Malcolm and myself. (As an aside Malcolm and Ken were both mature age students and had worked together in the PMG – Telecomm – before entering medicine. Ken would now be aged 81.)

Ken and Jocelyn went to Bimbereke in Dahomey in 1967 and were affiliated with Sudan Interior Mission.  They have three children, David, Stephen and Judith who live in Australia. Ken did a tropical medicine course in UK and they crossed the Sahara by Land Rover with their children to Djibo in what was then Haute Volta (Upper Volta), now Burkina Faso, and built a hospital, land being granted by the government.

Since then the hospital has been the main surgical facility in that region. Jocelyn did a course in pathology and has done that also for all these years.

In 1980 Ken was the inaugural recipient of the Robert W Pierce award for Christian Service by World Vision after its founder.

They have received help from many sources over the years – friends in Australia, Peace Corp volunteers, Emmanuel International, Oxfam, Dutch and Swiss Christian groups, British Volunteer Abroad, Mennonite Missions and Christoffel Blinden Mission.

They were gifted a surplus US Army Hospital, vehicles and drugs at some stage.

I think they have only had 4 trips back to Australia.

As a side matter of history in 1974 Brian Taylor (engineer) and Dr Doug Hill visited them and helped with the ongoing building project and setting up of an operating theatre.  Brian and Doug travelled across to Ethiopia and it was there that Doug was stabbed and killed by a fanatical tribesman. As a result of this the Doug Hill Memorial Fund was set up to help finance medical students to do electives in places of mission. This fund is under the auspices of Christian Medical & Dental Fellowship in WA.

Ken and Jocelyn have been truly remarkable in continuing to manage the hospital and carry out surgery. A remarkable story that I am sure will one day be told more fully.

– Dr Lachlan Dunjey via National Association of Christian Leaders



New Life is in recess until 15 February 2016, when the next issue will be posted, DV.

We wish all our readers God's richest blessings for 2016, and thank you for your support and goodwill expressed in so many ways.