Displaying items by tag: Praise
Some of the best golfers in the world are striving for more than a trophy or prize money. In each Professional Golf Association tournament are players whose Christian faith is being communicated to fans and co-competitors. A growing number of competitors are using the rising popularity of golf to share their faith with others. They are becoming more interested in speaking out about their faith during post-event interviews. On 11th April the winner of the US Masters tournament, Scottie Scheffler, said ‘The reason why I play golf is I'm trying to glorify God’ (See) Scheffler has spoken often about the impact his faith has on his life. He is a regular at a Bible study held by professional golfers on tour, while it's understood he chose his caddie because he too was a committed Christian.
Khalia says, ‘After fleeing Iraq’s war, I had concerns about my Islamic faith. With violence, war, and bloodshed everywhere, I rejected the Quran teachings. In a search for truth, I began attending a local Jordanian church and was intrigued by the love I felt there and the teachings about Jesus. I started going over the weekly sermons with members from a Ministry Team. They helped me better understand the Bible. Slowly, my heart began opening to the truth. At an Easter Sunday celebration, I came to personal faith in Christ. Today, I am an active church member and regularly serve with the children’s ministry outreach team. Jesus has given me new life. No matter the cost, I will serve the Lord.’
At the beginning of the year, you prayed for continued freedom to share biblical beliefs with others in Finland when Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen was accused of ‘hate speech’ for publicly voicing her deeply-held beliefs on marriage and human sexuality and Bishop Juhana faced charges for publishing a Christian pamphlet she wrote. The Päivi was facing up to six years in prison for tweeting a Bible verse describing homosexuality as shameful and shared her thoughts on marriage and sexual ethics during a radio debate and in a pamphlet. On 30 March a Finnish district court cleared them both of all hate speech charges over their beliefs on sexuality, arguing that ‘it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts’.
Cheeky Pandas and Thy Kingdom Come are partnering together to bring a variety of free resources to get children excited about Jesus, the Bible and prayer, and ultimately, help each child build a beautiful life-long relationship with Him - with some panda fun along the way. There is a fun-filled, bible-based TV series for use in family services, assemblies, and at home, featuring songs, animated stories, prayer and interviews with special guests. Alongside this, there are activity packs, service plans, a prayer book, a children’s app, and Prayer Bears - each with an illustrated prayer book in their bag. The Church of England is sending out 500,000 free Cheeky Panda books on faithfulness called ‘Queen CJ and the Bouncy Castle’ to primary school children, to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.
Rabbi Jason Sobel came from a Jewish home in New Jersey, which has more Jews than Jerusalem. He attended Hebrew School and was fêted by family and friends at his Bar Mitzvah. At 18, he began his spiritual journey of discovery by studying with his rabbi, then he explored Eastern philosophy and other religions. One day he was meditating and something very unusual happened. ‘My soul began vibrating, it left my body and I had this encounter with this king on a throne in heaven. I felt the power of God pulsate through my body. I knew this king on the throne was Jesus, but I knew nothing about him!’ No one had ever shared the gospel with Sobel. ‘I thought Jesus was a nice Jewish boy who converted to Roman Catholicism. I had this encounter and was overwhelmed. I knew Jesus was real.’
New Life Radio was based in Russia but moved to Odessa, Ukraine, in response to increasingly restrictive Russian laws. New Life’s founder and organiser said despite the current crisis, Christian radio is a crucial ministry for reaching Russian-speaking peoples. He said, ‘The importance of Christian radio is we can ensure Russian-speakers get solid biblical teaching and sound doctrine in a way that overcomes their inability to currently get it. When the government stops the evangelical church from evangelising and doing public discipleship, what’s the next vehicle that can accomplish that? Christian radio’. New Life Radio was launched as an FM station, then expanded its reach across Russia and surrounding Russian-speaking nations through satellite radio. They now broadcast on the internet around the world. During the Ukraine crisis they moved to Romania to continue broadcasting. They also now give updates for informed prayer.
Alexander, Iryna and their children are in Kyiv and tell us how their faith helps them to live under siege. ‘Millions are praying for Ukraine and we believe that God has the victory. It's scary, we feel fear and don't know what the next hour will bring, but God is still the same as 2,000 years ago. We see military helicopters, hear shelling, but we believe we will win. People will have to give lives for this freedom but we know our nation is strong. We know that the truth will win, and the darkness and the lie will be exposed. Sometimes we don’t see God's intentions, but he hasn’t stopped doing his work and we must trust and believe. Our God came to give us life and no doubt, it's a spiritual battle. We are on the prayer frontline. God's word is alive, God’s word comforts. His word is active and gives us strength, his spirit is within us. God is big, he's bigger than any enemy.’
The general secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance said he felt called by God to speak out against the invasion of Ukraine. In an open letter Vitaly Vlasenko said he mourns what Russia has done and shared his sorrow for the victims and those forced to flee Ukraine. He wrote to President Putin twelve hours before the invasion to implore him to think again. He has not received a reply, but he has received letters of support from across the world. ‘They think that I’m really courageous, to openly say something about this, but I’m a simple pastor of the local Baptist Church.’ Vitaly’s parents were children of World War 2 and they told him how tough it was and that nothing is worse than a war. ‘We are in the 21st century and must think differently. We must discuss on a political level with the church, a place of reconciliation, peace and love.’
For the last six years, Prayer Alert readers have often been asked to pray for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held in an Iranian jail on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. She was freed on 16 March, as was retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, and they have both been reunited with their families in the UK. Mr Ashoori had been detained in 2017 on spying charges and sentenced to ten years in prison. Another prisoner, Morad Tahbaz, has been released but must stay in Iran. As Nazanin walked down the plane's stairs seven-year-old Gabriella Radcliffe asked, ‘Is that Mummy?’ Mr Ashoori's daughter Elika spoke of her happiness at seeing her father, sharing a video of the pair's arrival. Their release came after the UK settled a debt to Iran of almost £400m dating from the 1970s. This news follows last week’s positive report of a landmark decision that nine Christians jailed for their faith should be freed from prison.
In the midst of the current conflict that has brought horrendous suffering to the Ukrainian people, numerous reports are coming through of divine intervention and protection, and specific answers to prayer. There are encouraging testimonies of people being led out of danger shortly before an attack, bombs that fail to explode, enemy forces coming under great confusion, angel formations in the sky, and of God’s tangible presence. A pastor based in Kyiv also noted how very heartening it was to see ‘many people in the Ukrainian army asking for prayer’: see