Displaying items by tag: Asia

Friday, 01 July 2022 15:07

Japan: Worst heatwave since 1875

Japan is sweltering under its worst heatwave for almost 150 years. The city of Isesaki, northwest of the capital, saw a record 40.2C - the highest temperature ever recorded for Japan. There are official warnings of a looming power shortage and calls for people to conserve energy where possible. But the government is still advising people to use air conditioning to avoid heatstroke as cases of hospitalisation rise with the heat. Meteorologists warn the heat will continue in the coming days. Pray for the elderly and those with heart disease. In the heat blood vessels open up, leading to lower blood pressure. The heart works harder to push the blood around the body which could lead to a heart attack. Weather officials warn the heat is likely to continue in the coming days. See also

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Thursday, 23 June 2022 22:26

India: discrimination, floods, heatwave

India is the most ethnically diverse nation on earth, with over 2,500 people groups, 22 official languages, and thousands of castes. It hosts most of the world’s Hindus and Muslims. The country traditionally maintains free speech and religious freedom, but these are being tested by Hindu nationalism; this mainly targets Muslims, but Christians also face discrimination, persecution and anti-conversion laws. Pray that India’s proud traditions of tolerance and freedom will continue and strengthen. Its churches have sent 100,000 people across India to communicate the gospel, start churches, and relieve suffering and injustice: resulting in tens of thousands of new congregations. Pray that this amazing missionary movement will transform India through Christ. However, this week the most urgent prayer need is for the millions displaced by floods in the north and 25 days of heatwave in densely-populated Delhi, where vast numbers are falling ill from heatstroke. Some have little access to clean water.

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Thursday, 23 June 2022 22:19

Afghanistan: earthquake kills over 1,000

Pictures show landslides and ruined mud-built homes where rescuers scramble to find people buried under the ground and treat the injured in the deadliest earthquake in twenty years. On 22 June, people started to bury over 1,000 dead, and help over 1,500 injured. The Taliban leadership appealed to the international community to clear any barriers created by sanctions and come to their aid. Communication is difficult because mobile phone towers are damaged, and the death toll could rise still further where dwellings in rural areas are unstable or poorly built. Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan's emergency services were stretched to deal with natural disasters. A doctor from Paktika province said medical workers were among the victims: ‘We didn't have enough people and facilities before the earthquake, and now it has ruined the little we had. I don't know how many of our colleagues are still alive.’  Some have expressed surprise because the Taliban have said their rescue operation is complete, less than 48 hours after the quake.

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Thursday, 23 June 2022 22:00

Pakistan: Christians encounter injustice

Patras Masih was 18 when he was accused of sharing a photo posted on Facebook deemed insulting to Muhammad. This triggered protests by a violent Islamic extremist group who sent hundreds of Christian families fleeing from their homes in Lahore. That was four years ago and the courts still do not want to hear his case because of the involvement of the extremist Muslims. Patras’s lawyer said that the prejudice and discrimination he and his defence team have faced from trial and superior courts is unprecedented in her experience. In the last four years her team has filed five bail petitions in the Lahore High Court, including one last month, and one in the Supreme Court, all without success. Meanwhile on 8 June a court sentenced two brothers to death despite the absence of hard evidence. The unjust persecution of Christians via Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is worsening. See

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Thursday, 23 June 2022 21:52

Israel: political instability

Once again there is political tumult in Israel, where the fifth election cycle in three years is about to begin. Crippled by dysfunction and tribalism, Israel has joined the ranks of Italy and Greece, where general elections occur with infuriating frequency. In June 2021 there was a big change when the new government sworn in was not headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, who had held the position for twelve years. A politically diverse coalition was cobbled together by Yair Lapid, leading the centrist Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party. The coalition government, headed by rightwing prime minister Naftali Bennett, was a grouping of eight political parties, including an Arab Islamist party. It began crumbling in recent months after two right-wing lawmakers defected, which meant that the coalition lost its majority. In recent weeks left-wing and Arab coalition members were not backing key legislation. The next coalition will form after October’s polls.

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Friday, 17 June 2022 10:05

China: land grab

A meeting between China’s defence minister Wei Fenghe and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin took place during an Asian security summit in Singapore. The hour-long meeting took double the time allotted. The USA is concerned about China’s increasingly unsafe, aggressive, unprofessional military behaviour, which indicates an attempt to change the status quo. A Chinese fighter plane dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane over the South China Sea, and Chinese warplanes harassed Canada’s aircraft monitoring North Korean sanction evasions. ‘If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost,’ said Fenghe. The Chinese minister also pledged, ‘Beijing will smash to smithereens any Taiwan independence plot and resolutely uphold the unification of the motherland. Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. Using Taiwan to contain China will never prevail.’ Joe Biden intends to spend more time on Asian security issues after months focusing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Iran's proxy militias have caused the decline of Christians in many regions by adopting ‘forced immigration’. In Lebanon Hezbollah targets missionaries, impedes conversions, imposes strict dress codes and alcohol bans, and limits mixed sexes in public, in what have been dubbed ‘mini-Tehrans.’ A sizeable amount of land owned by Christians has been taken over by Hezbollah through eviction. In Iraq, initially employed to resist American forces, the Shiite Mahdi Army has changed the demography, Making Baghdad 'Christian-free' was high on its agenda when they morphed into IS. Iran had influence in Syria through the Assad family (Alawite Sunni). After the uprising Iran restructured the Syrian Army and created several militias within the Shia Liberation Army. It saved the Assad regime, killing 600,000 people, displacing 6.5 million internally, and forcing 6.6 million to flee Syria. In Yemen the Houthis have invested considerable effort into ending the Christian presence in the territories under their control.

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Church leaders are common targets for violations of rights in Uzbekistan. They are fined for meeting illegally, possession of religious literature, having Christian songs on their smartphones and more. They can be detained, denied exit visas, and put under house arrest: all tactics to cause a ripple effect of fear and anxiety throughout their congregations. Pastors and lay leaders of unregistered churches are insulted, beaten and humiliated. Some men will be denied promotion at work, while others may lose their job altogether. When a church does try to officially register, persecution increases. Adam tried unsuccessfully to register with the government. Then the police demanded he renounce his faith because he had asked for registration. Ask God to encourage, equip and empower believers facing pressure and persecution. May hostility against them soften. Grant leaders wisdom and discernment when they navigate state restrictions. Keep them in good health and spirits.

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Friday, 17 June 2022 09:43

Afghanistan: Christian media

The situation for women deteriorates rapidly as restrictions erase girls and women from public life. They are virtually prisoners in their homes. Christians remain in danger as the Taliban do house-to-house searches and even confiscate people’s smartphones. Men, women and children are being deprived of freedom to think and live freely in different ways. But Pastor Ebadi speaks hope into viewers’ lives on SAT7 Christian broadcasting, saying, ‘Jesus Christ is the only one who can help us be freed from the cage in which we are held. Whatever the chains, whether sin, power, desire, or temptation, Jesus can rescue us. While we are alive, we must encourage and help one another.’ SAT7 is responding to the need for emotional and spiritual support through regular live broadcasts of Secret of Life and the pre-recorded programme Window of Light. Later this year they will broadcast two seasons of the Dari scripture teaching programme.

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The World Bank has extended another year of financial aid to Lebanon despite political bickering. Inflation reached 206% in April, Lebanon’s currency dropped yet again last week, and Heart for Lebanon reports shortages of everything from electricity to fuel to bread. Everything costs more, and 78% of the population needs some kind of food assistance to survive. They are becoming more desperate every day. Divisions are deepening among the newly-elected parliament members. Fighting between parties that are for and against Hezbollah is taking priority over much-needed reform. People are looking for answers. They are turning to God in record numbers. Heart for Lebanon and local churches provide food and encouragement to families, showing them the love of Christ before telling them about the love of Christ. Ask God to strengthen and encourage Lebanese believers. They are staying put to care for people in need, instead of leaving the country to benefit themselves.

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