Displaying items by tag: Christians
Ukraine’s Christians are openly seeking God to calm and ease their pain, and Psalm 31 has a special meaning in their hearts. Countless Ukrainians are reciting it from their bunkers and other safe locations as they turn to the Lord in praise and adoration. They are finding strength, rest, comfort, and stronger faith in God’s Word. The British and Foreign Bible Society said, ‘Psalm 31 is becoming really significant for the entire nation.’ We also can read it and join in spirit those in shelters who are desperately praying for aggression to end. ‘In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn Your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your name lead and guide me.’
Every Generation Ministries bring the transformed life Jesus intends for children in Ukraine. Ukraine is home to over six million children and 5,000 evangelical churches. Russia and the West have battled over influence in Ukraine before. After the annexation of Crimea, thousands of children were displaced from their homes to live in fear and uncertainty. The country is in turmoil again and the world is praying for peace. Ask God to invigorate the church to reach out to searching people during this time of tumult. Pray for boys and girls who are experiencing tremendous fear and anxiety during the current unrest and those still recovering from 2014. Ask God to give church leaders wisdom as they navigate the tensions of civilians bearing arms, bombs, and millions fleeing. Christians in the town of Lviv are deploying a shield of prayer and worship. In an upper room African Christians are praying for their host country, ready to be Jesus’ hands and feet to those who must flee. On the other side of Lviv pastors meet, plan and pray the battle for freedom. In separatist areas Christians forbidden from meeting together meet secretly. Ukraine’s vibrant Jewish community of 200,000 is one of the largest in the world. Many elderly Jews are comfortable with Russians as their neighbours. When their men served in the Soviet army during WWII they couldn’t imagine then that Russia would attack Ukraine. ‘I’m following the news,’ said Vera, a 68-year-old Jewish lady who practises Heseds (generously lovingly helping others). ‘I pray daily to God. I’m trying to cheer up my fellow-seniors.’
The Government wants to ban what it calls 'conversion therapy', putting it on a collision course with the freedom to give and access appropriate support for unwanted same-sex feelings and gender confusion. The official consultation ended on 4 February, but the battle does not end. Civil servants will summarise the responses to the consultation and start drafting legislation. Unless the Government drops its plans, MPs and then the Lords will examine the proposed laws - some opposing them, but others might make the ban even more overbearing. At every stage, we need strong, principled Christian leadership working with parliamentarians and in the media to stop this ban - or to make sure it strictly applies only to genuinely harmful practices (these are already illegal and/or not happening in the UK anyway). 30 MPs are concerned about the proposals, and even the Equality and Human Rights Commission has criticised the plans.
China has been preparing for months to ensure that it puts on its best face for the Winter Olympic Games. Our TV screens will present beautiful images, majestic music, and inspiring athletic performances. They don’t want people to look behind the scenes at the totalitarian government oppressing and abusing its people, including our Christian brothers and sisters. Olympic coverage won’t include images of destroyed church buildings or interviews with imprisoned Christians. However, from 4 February the games can act as a daily reminder to pray for Christians in China. We can pray for pastors and church leaders to stand firmly for biblical truth in spite of government pressure to compromise. Pray for God's protection over Christians in prison, for their health and nutrition, and that they will have opportunities to witness for Christ to guards and fellow prisoners. China is also the biggest incarcerator of journalists; pray for protection over honest journalism.
Despite the pandemic, the Winter Olympic Games hosted by China are expected to go ahead as normal. However human rights groups have raised concern over the religious freedom violations carried out there. US president Joe Biden has already introduced a diplomatic boycott, followed by other nations including the UK. Now Christians are being urged to play their part in standing in solidarity with persecuted brothers and sisters in China. Open Doors and a former US ambassador for religious freedom are calling for action, saying, ‘In the USA people of faith are woefully ignorant of the plight of their fellow believers in China. The persecution of Chinese Christians is rarely if ever mentioned in American megachurches. Raising awareness has been a long, slow struggle for organisations exposing religious persecution in China and elsewhere’. They are calling for Christians to break their silence, pray and fast, and pressurise their politicians to act.
India has the second-largest Christian population in Asia, but a recent report states that over 300 attacks on Christians took place in the first nine months of 2021. 169 of them were in four states: BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, tribal-dominated Jharkhand, and BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. At least nine states have planned anti-conversion laws, including Chhattisgarh which has emerged as a ‘new laboratory’ for anti-Christian hatred in India. Over 1,000 people recently gathered for a Stop Religious Conversions rally - one in a series of events organised in the garb of anti-conversion protests. Addressing the gathering, a far-right Hindu leader urged the people to ‘arm themselves with axes to teach Christians indulging in conversions a lesson’.
Luka Binniyat, a Christian journalist, faces three years’ imprisonment after reporting on attacks against Christian communities and critical assessments of the government’s response. He was arrested on 4 November and charged with electronically transmitting information ‘known to be false’. Many believe his arrest is aimed at silencing dissenting voices and intimidating Luka and Kaduna communities. Luka has persistently challenged the government on issues of security and killings in southern Kaduna. This charge follows his report on police failing to make any arrests after gunmen killed 35 people in two separate attacks on churches. He said, ‘In Nigeria, police decry massacres as “wicked” but make no arrests’. Pray for Luka’s release and for an end to criminalisation of journalism. Meanwhile bandits invaded Emmanuel Baptist Church, service killing two, seriously injuring three, and kidnapping 66. Rev Joseph Hayab said, ‘The abducted worshippers are in danger and require urgent government intervention.’ The insecurity in Kaduna state has grown beyond imagination and is threatening Nigeria’s peace.
Iranians across the world have joined a Bible reading plan organised by the Bible Society. Nahid, a Christian worker, says it is a great way for these Christians to connect with each other. If they think they are alone, they can get depressed, but when they are reading scripture with another sister or brother, it is healing. This Bible reading plan has been especially helpful during the pandemic. Iranian Christians love Jesus with all their hearts, and seek to show His love to the world. But some in the West are still not ready to see them as Christians.
Many Afghan Christians have fled from cities to remote regions to escape Taliban detection; others are hiding in communities. World Mission’s Greg Kelley learned of a Christian leader caught by the Taliban, who publicly tortured and executed him. Continue to pray for Afghan believers, in hiding and meeting in secret locations. Now, with the borders to neighbouring countries closed, they have nowhere to turn. With winter approaching they face extreme difficulties. It is exceedingly difficult to get aid into Afghanistan to meet their needs. Many want to leave because they are known to the Taliban or other extremists. Ask God to protect them and help mission agencies to arrange for their safe escape. Things are changing dramatically in Afghanistan, and those who suffer the most are the weak and vulnerable. Pray for wise short-term strategies to address the needs of elderly, sick and frail refugees.
Many believe Iran and IS are ready to jump in and fill the void as Joe Biden withdraws troops from Iraq by the end of this year. They are emboldened because of the fall of Afghanistan. IS had apparently been absolutely defeated in Iraq, but it restarted in 2019. In the last three months they have been aggressively reorganising, setting up checkpoints and attacking Christians and others around the Kirkuk area. Iran is also showing its infiltration and its might against American interests inside Iraq. Meanwhile, the prime minister has encouraged over one million Christians who fled in recent years to return. Christians still in Iraq warn that there has not been sufficient change to guarantee safety. Open Doors questioned the wisdom of the government statement, saying, ‘How can Christians return to Iraq while many are still living in undignified conditions and facing persecution from Sunni and Shia fundamentalists?’ See