Displaying items by tag: Christians
As thousands of protesters around the world took to the streets in a show of solidarity, a year after the killing of hijab protester Mahsa Zhina Amini, there are reports that Christians are coming under pressure from the authorities to boycott the protests. Those who participate have been arrested and face sexual assault in prison, according to a new report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Since the freedom protests began in Iran, the country has detained some 20,000 protesters and killed at least 530, by conservative estimates. It is claimed that seven protesters have been executed after ‘sham trials’ and dozens more have been sentenced to death. The women’s rights protests in Iran have turned into a movement pressing for greater freedom of religion or belief. For more information about the pressure on Christians in Iran, including many being jailed for their involvement with house churches, see 'More'.
The Catholic Union, Christian Institute, and Evangelical Alliance have written to the chair of the human rights committee, asking for religious freedom to be a ‘key part’ of a parliamentary inquiry into human rights at work. Catholic Union director Nigel Parker says that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a faithful Catholic in many workplaces in this country, and his concerns are shared by people from other denominations and other faiths. A Catholic Union survey found that almost five in ten workers do not feel able to talk about their faith openly with colleagues, with 41% of respondents saying they didn’t believe religious discrimination was given the same weight as age, race, sex, and sexuality discrimination. Although the inquiry's focus includes ‘freedom of thought, conscience, and religion’, they worry this won’t receive enough attention. They want a separate session discussing religious freedom at work to help shape the final recommendations for the Government.
Christian Aid have cut ties with Barclays over the bank’s investments in oil and gas industries. The bank is known to be one of Europe’s leading funders of fossil fuels. Sarah Edwards from Just Money Movement said, ‘I think charities, companies, churches, and individuals are all having to think now more about what our money is doing, and the kind of world that our money is shaping. I think that's a really positive step. And we're really pleased that Christian Aid have done this. Money shapes the kind of world we want to see. Banks don’t just sit on our money when it is in a current or savings account, they invest it, they lend it, and use it in different ways. Some of those ways we might not be happy with.’ Barclays said it will set an ambition to become net zero by 2050, as addressing climate change is an urgent and complex challenge.
It is a fraught situation for Christians trapped in Khartoum since Sudan’s civil war erupted on 15 April between the Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militias. Pastor Desta said living in his area was becoming almost impossible. Fire burned down his church and the local market. ‘Every two days we walk to a distant district to get water and provisions. Most of our neighbours have left. The other day two friends and I took the church car to get water and provisions, then RSF members searched and questioned us. It is getting awful. We are waiting for a couple of days. If it gets worse, we will leave. Many are saying that intense fighting means escape has become too dangerous now that RSF members surround those who remain. RSF uses nearby homes for shelter; they are targeted by the army. Indirectly, we are under siege. Nowhere is safe.’
Violence against Christian women and girls continues to rise everywhere. Christian women are abducted and used as sex slaves. The 'honour' culture is used to shame and stigmatise victims of sexual or physical abuse, so victims are silent. Men attack with impunity because victims keep quiet for fear of dishonour to their family or community, so wrongdoing often goes punished. This, in turn, makes women and girls increasingly vulnerable to psychological violence. Rape victims are often viewed as sexually impure, making them vulnerable to rejection and limiting their future prospects. In many cultures, women do not hold the same value as men. This undergirds much of the persecution faced by our sisters. And in many cases, being a Christian means they are regarded as having even less worth. Open Doors’ vision is that every woman who is persecuted for her faith and gender is seen, valued, and empowered to reach her God-given potential.
Jewish and Christian leaders representing fifteen nations gathered at Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to discuss how scripture says the law of the Lord will come out of Jerusalem. Micah 4:2 says, ‘For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ Knesset members from the Netanyahu coalition and the opposition addressed the gathering. Ohad from the Religious Zionist Party said, ‘The Bible is the core of the base and the core of our identity and of all Western civilisations. We all need to strengthen and deepen our relation, connection and knowledge of the Bible.’ Michael from the opposition National Unity Party thanked others for their commitment to the state of Israel. Dr Ruth Plummer added, ‘Today was such an important time for the Knesset members, the rabbis and Christian leaders to study the word of God together in the capital, Jerusalem. It was just beautiful.’
8% of China’s population is Christian and Christianity is established in every province, but many do not have enough Bible knowledge. Rural areas still have a shortage of Bibles and Christian teaching. Pray for wise, godly leadership to be multiplied at every level in the Church and for Christians to be part of shaping China as the nation amasses wealth and political influence. The Church has many mature leaders, but needs more as the church grows. Pray for Christians to have integrity in a culture where corruption is a temptation. 200 years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte said, ’Let China Sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.’ This is being realised as China’s church is awakened by God’s Spirit. Pray for this to be a significant Christian movement with continuing growth. China is a significant global power, economically and militarily, pray for wise leaders to walk a path of peace.
Less than 2% of deaf people follow Jesus. A new form of sign language technology can now transform presenting Scripture to a deaf person. ‘Chameleon’ features a digital avatar, or animated character, signing the Bible to the viewer. Chameleon technology offered by Wycliffe Bible Translators and global partners transcends race and culture. ‘As a white man, if I sign the Bible to another culture, I don't want that culture to think the Scripture is merely “the white man's beliefs”.’ The avatar can be converted to the local nationality, making the translator's appearance anonymous. Filming someone signing the gospel in one of these countries can be dangerous. The avatar allows Christian sign language to be presented in countries unfriendly to the Bible while protecting the person responsible for the translation. A win for the deaf community, taking Bible translation to the next level.
We have all been praising God in recent weeks as we have heard of an increasing number of American Christian universities experiencing God’s Holy Spirit moving powerfully in and through their campuses. Many of us are praying for more of the same to happen here in the UK. For a spiritual awakening in the UK, God wants to first see a people who will humbly walk in obedience to His Spirit. Every outpouring of God’s Spirit in Acts happened first among believers. None were truly outside of Judaism. In Acts 2 and 4, they were Jews from Jerusalem and the Diaspora. Acts 8 saw Samaritans who worshipped YAHWEH in their own ways and places. Historically, revival has happened first among believers and then its effect spills out on communities and societies, resulting in social transformation. May God see His Church here become more passionately devoted to Him, spurred on towards further repentance and obedience to His Word.
Last week we praised God for the revival fires burning at Asbury University, and now this outpouring of the Holy Spirit is spreading. CBN News reported that for days, people have been giving testimonies, reading scripture, worshipping God, and praying in the ongoing revival that began on 8 February. Four auditoriums on the campus are now filled with people. Graduates, pastors, seekers, and busloads of students from over 24 other universities began visiting Asbury, seeking God. The wave of revival fire shows no signs of stopping. Lee Christian University Campus caught the fire next. By 23 February reports were coming in from colleges and universities across the nation fully igniting into spontaneous worship, prayer, and repentance as the Holy Spirit continues to fill students' hearts and minds. Christian leaders are speaking about the timing and what it could mean for this point in history. Also this outpouring coincides with the national Collegiate Day of Prayer on 23 February.