Displaying items by tag: Culture
Attacking families is one of the best ways for Satan to ruin a nation - and in Chile, marriages are under serious spiritual attack. Domestic abuse is a social plague. Around 35% of Chilean women have suffered physical or sexual violence by a partner or spouse. The emotional and physical pain wounds all members of the family. If husbands and wives began loving and honouring one another as Christ loves the Church, it could transform neighbourhoods, cities, and even the whole nation. The Chilean people are overwhelmingly Christian in name - roughly 60% Catholic and 20% Evangelical. But church attendances are dwindling, and claims of faith tend to be based in culture rather than relationship with Jesus Christ. Crime, drug abuse, and materialism are increasing. One in seven women are mothers by the age of 14. During Pinochet’s rule the Church ignored the needy people. There will soon be an election for a controversial new constitution.
127 million Japanese enjoy low crime and great wealth but face changes due to population decline and ageing. By 2060 there could be 40 million fewer Japanese, and 40% of them will be over 65. Buddhism and Shintoism are soaked into the culture with widely practised rituals. But few identify as Shinto or Buddhist, preferring to be non-religious or atheist. As the population shrinks, faddish religious trends have started. Everything is mixed: Santa Claus, gospel-music choirs, Shinto shrines. Christianity is followed by 0.5% of the population; it was established by missionaries 500 years ago. The church has known 17th-century persecution and post-WW2 Protestant growth, but struggles to make an impact and battles internally with formalism and cultural relevance. But we can praise God for the Japanese Christians and pastors who persevere despite all their discouragements.
Chinese officials locked down a popular resort city after 450 Covid-19 cases emerged, causing over 2,000 tourists to be stranded as the city conducts mass testing. China’s ‘zero-Covid’ policy puts immense pressure on regional leaders to eliminate the virus. Wuhan also has a lockdown over a case of cholera. Bibles for China’s Kurt Rovenstine said it was a local official who restricted travel. That incited some panic. Rovenstine said that churches and schools suffer the worst from lockdowns. One parent said her son could only attend school six weeks out of the seventeen in the semester. Churches can’t meet to offer the Lord’s Supper, and people can’t go to church to receive a Bible. There are many requests for Bibles around China. Despite the challenges, Christians throughout China remain committed to growing in Jesus. They want to share His story with their neighbours.
Female doctors have launched an online campaign that exposes shocking gender-based discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault in healthcare. Surviving in Scrubs is an issue for all healthcare workers, say the campaign’s founders, Becky Cox and Chelcie Jewitt, who are encouraging women to share stories of harassment and abuse to ‘push for change and to reach the people in power’. The campaign has called for the GMC, which regulates doctors, to explicitly denounce sexist and misogynistic behaviour towards female colleagues and ‘treat them with respect’. Over 40 stories have been shared on the campaign’s website, ranging from sexual harassment by patients to inappropriate remarks and sexual advances from supervisors. The report stopped short of detailing where racism and classism overlap, but they wrote on Twitter: ‘Sexism in the healthcare workforce is intersectional. Race, disability, sexuality, ethnicity, class, gender all interlink to create a multitude of experiences. Sexism doesn’t exist in a vacuum.’
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.
Boris Johnson has said he does not think ‘biological males should be competing in women’s sports and the ‘sensible’ view was that transgender athletes - such as Lia Thomas, a swimmer who won America’s top trophy in university sports - should not be allowed to compete alongside cisgendered women and that children should not be allowed to decide their own gender without parental assistance. His most comprehensive comments yet on transgender issues came days after the Government decided not to ban trans conversion therapy, as the Conservative Party promised at the last election. Conversion therapy attempts to change or suppress someone’s sexuality or gender identity. Mr Johnson also said he thought it was important to have women-only spaces in hospitals, prisons and changing rooms but admitted there were ‘complexities and sensitivities’ around transgender issues that ‘still need to be worked out’. It is already outlawed in several other countries.
Extreme hunger is causing parents to sell their kidneys to feed their children. Illegal organ trading existed before the Taliban takeover, but the black market exploded when millions more were plunged into poverty after international sanctions. Currently the UN estimates that 24 million people, 59% of the population, are in need of lifesaving humanitarian aid. ‘I had to do it (sell a kidney) for the sake of my children,’ said 32-year-old Nooruddin, ‘I didn’t have any other option. I regret it now.’ He was speaking outside his home, where clothes hang from a tree and a plastic sheet is a window pane. ‘I can no longer work. I’m in pain and I cannot lift anything heavy.’ The practice is so widespread where Nooruddin lives, that it is nicknamed ‘one kidney village’. Children desperately search through litter for food waste, and shops are closed. People have no money to buy things. Mother-of-three Aziza said, ‘If I don’t sell my kidney, I will be forced to sell my one-year-old daughter.’
The murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer caused a national outcry over gender-based crimes, and a new question: should misogyny be considered a hate crime? Activists, criminal justice experts, and opposition lawmakers say the definition of a hate crime should be expanded to ensure greater punishment for crimes of harassment, domestic abuse and stalking. But the government has so far ruled that out. Boris Johnson said the legislation currently in place was ‘abundant’ but not properly enforced. Widening the scope would increase the burden on police. Ruth Davison, CEO of the charity Refuge, said, ‘When did we ever take the scale of a problem as a reason not to act on it?’ Government statistics reveal that one in four women have experienced sexual assault, one in three women will face domestic abuse in their lifetime, and a woman is killed by a man every three days, with many cases involving domestic violence.
At the time of writing there are 16 days to the start of COP26 in Glasgow when leaders from 197 nations will assemble and decide what to do about climate change. This will be the largest gathering of world leaders ever to take place in the UK. We can pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that God will inspire all in authority with understanding, wisdom and discernment. May they be as the men of Issachar and understand the times and know what to do. Pray for God to give His church clear directions for prayer in accordance with His will in the days leading up to the conference and during the event, and for His Kingdom before and during the conference so that ‘as the ‘kings of the earth take counsel together’ they will know that ‘they are but men’ (Psalm 9:19-20) and that God’s sovereign purposes will prevail (Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 66:18).
On ‘National Coming Out Day’, America’s LGBT awareness day, DC Comics announced that their latest Superman, Clark Kent’s son Jon, will be bisexual. In previous issues Jon was friendly with Jay Nakamura - a bespectacled, pink-haired reporter. In the next issue their relationship will become romantic. The storyline follows Jon as he takes on the mantle of Superman from his father. He fights wildfires caused by climate change, scuppers a high school shooting, and protests against deporting refugees. DC Comics said the pair become romantically involved after Jon ‘mentally and physically burns out from trying to save everyone that he can’. Even though this issue has not yet been released, DC Comics say that reaction to the storyline has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’. They hope people who see this Superman will say, 'He is like me, he fights for things that concern me’.