Displaying items by tag: Christians
Christians in Qatar are inviting the global church to join with them in praying for a move of the Holy Spirit during the World Cup, which begins on 20 November. The country is number 18 on the World Watch List. Although foreign Christians can worship in relative freedom, Qatari Christians are forbidden from having their own churches or even entering a church. Converts can also face extreme pressure from their family and community. Despite these challenges, the church in Qatar is growing - and there is the expectation that it will continue to do so during the World Cup. ‘We’re expecting a big move of the Holy Spirit during the World Cup,’ says a church leader for expats and migrant workers. ‘We already see the move of the Holy Spirit in Qatar. God is visiting people in their dreams. God is doing miracles. God is doing healings among the Qatari people.’
Russians are closing evangelical Protestant churches claiming ‘only one faith would be tolerated - Orthodoxy’. They raided Grace Baptist Church while a worship service was being broadcast live. Viewers watched online while they halted the service, registered the names of all present, detained several ministers, and gave the pastor 48 hours to leave the city. They closed Melitopol’s largest Protestant charismatic church with a 1,000-seat auditorium. They tore down its cross and turned the building into a ‘cultural sports entertainment complex’. They are doing the same as they did when they seized and annexed Crimea: they raided places of worship, closed churches, banned missionary activity, fined people for leading worship meetings, seized religious literature, and forced religious communities to re-register with the state, refusing re-registration to the majority. Christians were also driven to the underground churches in the Soviet era, surviving seventy years of Soviet totalitarian rule - demonstrating that persecution can often strengthen the Church.
‘Our efforts have been fruitless,’ said a Christian farmer in northern Kenya. ‘Wild animals are invading our farms and eating everything - hippos, elephants, buffaloes. Families have been struggling with nothing to eat.’ This is another problem added to the prolonged drought biting ever deeper. Crops fail, livestock perish, and the all-important water source, the Tana River, dwindles and dries up. Children in northern Kenya have already begun to die of hunger. Barnabas Aid is continuing to feed Christians in that area, where our fellow-believers are a minority and do not get help from the main aid agencies in the area. The rainy season, October to December, is forecast to be short and light across most of the country.
A North African country of 37 million people, Morocco has enjoyed a degree of stability and peace. The King takes the lead in politics and religious affairs. He is attempting to spread wealth beyond the main cities, and to open a limited space for political discussion. Positive change is slowed by corruption, political repression, and unemployment. Young people and rural dwellers show their frustration in sporadic protests. Morocco is 99% Muslim. Christians number a couple of thousand, each one born into a hostile environment. Few Moroccans have heard the gospel; many have come across slanderous reports about the Church. Christian workers have been expelled. It is hard to gather Christians together for fellowship and discipleship. Pray for the King, and for fresh hope for the people of Morocco. Praise God for Morocco’s Church, for expatriate believers, and for the internet and satellite TV which are lifelines for Moroccan Christians and seekers.
Drone strikes have killed ten civilians and wounded thirteen in the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Tigray hospitals are cut off from vital supplies, putting the wounded in more danger. The civil war in Ethiopia ignited again in recent weeks. The Tigray Liberation Front offered a ceasefire, but the Ethiopian central government has yet to respond. Unfortunately, some Christians within Ethiopia have advocated for continuing attacks. People calling themselves prophets have arisen among the evangelical leaders, who are quite strong across Ethiopia in their support of the government. They say, ‘God is with you. Now is the time to move forward with the attack.’ After many months of fighting there are ongoing challenges of electricity being off and banks closed. But churches have continued to meet. Under the pressure of hunger and lack of peace, they still worship and serve the Lord. They are like North Korean and Chinese Christians.
The Pakistani Supreme Court has issued a highly significant and welcome ruling, which includes the declaration that the preaching of Christianity ‘is not a crime, nor can it be made into one’. The nine-page ruling is a clear and comprehensive denunciation of the way in which ‘blasphemy’ laws are misused in Pakistan. The court raises issues such as false and malicious accusations, the lack of credible evidence in many cases, and the mob violence with which an accused person is often threatened. One judge said, ‘Many a time false allegations are levelled to settle personal scores, and cases are also registered for mischievous purposes or on account of ulterior motives’.
The military junta continues to bomb civilians, and over 28,000 homes have been burnt down since the February 2021 coup. As order breaks down, soaring food prices cause a hunger crisis. Many are fleeing Myanmar if they get a chance. AMG has established a camp with over fifty homes for refugee families and two hostels for lone children. An AMG member met a young Christian woman at the camp who suffered watching her mother abused and scarred by her alcoholic father. Then her mother became a Christian and prayed fervently for her father. Miraculously, he came to Christ and left his drinking and drugs. As the military violence approached, her parents sent her across the border to safety. Myanmar females live in fear of being sexually assaulted by the military. One boy came into the hostel for lone children traumatised, always wanting to fight others. Now, his voice has been heard singing with other children. Pray for God’s protection over refugee camps.
A recent UN report stated as many as three out of four women are forced into marriage among certain Nigerian groups. Take for example Lena, a 14-year-old girl. She became a Christian, but as her father was a Muslim leader in the mosque, she knew it was going to cause problems. Sure enough, she survived physical abuse from her father, forced marriage, and violent sexual assault. By the time she finally escaped, she was a single mother who could not read or write. She persevered with an education and vocational training to be self-supporting. After attending a discipleship school, Lena plans on going back to her hometown, this time as a missionary. Pray for Nigerian women suffering persecution and assault. Pray for healed emotions for the traumatised. Ask God to touch the hearts of abusers perpetuating violence, and thank Him for the courage of women like Lena.
Seven Australian rugby league team members boycotted a championship match against Sydney Roosters on religious grounds, after being told to wear a jersey celebrating LGBTQ+ rights, replacing white stripes with rainbow bands. Reverend Palu has never met the players but he’s proud of them, saying, ‘Christianity takes a very strong root in our people’. After another team told players to wear such a jersey without consulting them, that was another flashpoint in deepening tensions between people of faith and the mainstream community over sexuality and same-sex marriage. A similar battle is happening in schools, politics and inside the churches as secular and progressive religious communities embrace sexual diversity while theological conservatives say it contradicts the Bible. Reverend Fihaki said Christianity was ‘ingrained into our culture. It’s not just a matter of going to church on Sunday, it’s part of our DNA, it’s part of our culture, it is who we are’.
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.’