Displaying items by tag: Pacific
The Meeting House church in Oakville, Canada has had ‘substantiated’ sexual abuse allegations against its former leader, Bruxy Cavey. In June, he was charged with one count of sexual abuse after an internal investigation. Then the church announced two further investigations, as more accusations of sexual abuse against him and former pastor Tim Day were submitted: see In Australia the Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission launched an investigation into the Hillsong megachurch in March after a former employee alleged financial malpractice, including using tax-free money for ‘large cash gifts’ to former Hillsong global leader Brian Houston and his family. See also
Devastating flash floods have killed 37 people and hundreds are still missing in eastern Kentucky’s worst disaster for decades. The death toll will continue to rise. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed. People are sitting on their porches, hoping somebody is coming to save them. See In July, Sydney in Australia was hit with a month’s worth of rain in five days; people are still cleaning up three feet of swirling mud. Pakistan has 7,000+ glaciers, but rising global temperatures are causing them to melt rapidly, creating thousands of glacial lakes that might burst and release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, flooding villages in just a few hours. Worsening Indian monsoons cause Mumbai residents to commute on Venetian gondolas and inflatable dinghies. This year residents are being asked to tweet details about floods in their neighbourhoods. The data is then used to issue immediate geographically-specific flood alerts.
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’.
Over 24 people were killed and 3,000 displaced this month as the nation battled a surge of election violence in the runup to choosing the next prime minister: either incumbent James Marape or the PM who preceded him, Peter O’Neill. Mr Marape promises to make Papua New Guinea ‘the richest black Christian nation on earth’, while Mr O’Neill’s campaign centres on healthcare, education and job creation. The government funds church programmes that provide health and education services through the Church-State Partnership Programme. Pray for peace to come to the island and for an end to politically-motivated violence. Pray for Christianity to take deep root on the island without being diluted and mixed with traditional and animist beliefs. Pray for God to help His Church overcome the attacks from those who practise sorcery and witchcraft. Pray that people would gain a true understanding of what it means to follow Christ.
In March floods killed 20 people and 60,000 were evacuated. On 2nd July, tens of thousands of people were again fleeing flash floods in a life-threatening emergency. By 4th July, 70 flood evacuation orders were in place across New South Wales, affecting 32,000 people, with further alerts expected as a trough of 100km/h winds and heavy rainfall moved north. Some areas had more rainfall in three days than Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart have in a year. A charity worker reported, ‘Everybody is in shock’. Boats took food and water to those stranded in upper rooms of homes. By July 7th, the week-long deluge affecting 60,000 residents in greater western Sydney continued to threaten communities farther north. Pray for the emotionally exhausted rescue workers to have the stamina and wisdom to know where they are most needed. Pray for the evacuees and those fearfully expecting evacuation orders.
‘Machine guns and fighter jets are not our primary security concern. The single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change, not military tensions’, Fiji defence minister Inia Seruiratu told delegates at the Asian security summit in Singapore, which up to that point had focused on China-US tensions and the Ukraine war. He told delegates, ‘Cyclones have repeatedly battered Fiji and other low-lying Pacific countries. Climate change threatens our very hopes and dreams of prosperity. Waves are crashing at our doorsteps, winds are battering our homes, we are being assaulted by this enemy from many angles.’ In recent years human-induced devastating climate change has displaced thousands of people who have been inundated by floods. Floods and cyclones have also wrought economic havoc, and Pacific states have urged advanced industrialised nations to do more to combat climate change. The world is now 1.2C warmer than it was in the 19th century - mainly because of burning fossil fuels which release greenhouse gases.
Scott Morrison's government is criticised for its inaction on climate change. When Australia - long considered a climate policy laggard – holds an election on 21 May, the outcome could be significant for the planet's future. Still reliant on coal for most electricity, it is one of the dirtiest countries per capita, making up over 1% of global emissions with only 0.3% of the world's population. It is also a massive supplier of fossil fuels globally; when that is factored in, it accounts for 3.6% of the world's emissions. Australia is most at risk from climate change, having recently suffered severe drought, historic bushfires, successive years of record-breaking floods, and six mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. It is racing towards a future full of similar disasters. Climate policy played a role in toppling three prime ministers in a decade. Most voters want tougher climate action, but some coal towns in swing constituencies are key to winning elections.
One in three nursing homes still spend less than $10 a day per resident on food despite being given an extra $10 a day by the government to improve the standard of meals. A government audit of 2,600 residential aged-care facilities’ spending on food and ingredients for the last six months of 2021 shows average daily food spend per resident is about $12.35. 67% of residential services in the past six months reported an average daily spend on food and ingredients of more than $10 per day. The audit concluded that 2% of nursing homes are still spending an average of less than $6 per day. The aged care services minister said the sector’s performance ‘isn’t good enough’. All providers spending less than $10 per resident per day on food would be referred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to consider regulatory action.
Recently the east coast experienced the worst flooding on record; now extraordinary rain has caused thousands of residents to evacuate their homes again. Pray for NSW residents inundated by a month's worth of rain in six hours across already saturated landscapes. Pray for the half a million who have been told to evacuate, or be ready to, as torrents lash Sydney. Pray for those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed. In Lismore water breached the levee for the second time in a month. Flood defences were criticised when there was no official warning of the breach after sirens malfunctioned. The levee system was built to protect the area from extreme flooding, but it reduced flood risk by only 10%. Professor Pittock said the repeated flood risk to towns like Lismore highlights the grave risks of rebuilding in harm's way, ‘No amount of house raising or flood resilient materials will adequately reduce flood risks in some parts.’
On 25 March the Solomon Islands government announced it was ‘expanding’ security arrangements, ‘diversifying the country's security partnership with China’. Beijing is moving from island to island and wants to upgrade an airstrip in Kiribati for civilian purposes; yet the military uses are apparent. Kiribati is 1,900 miles south of Hawaii. A five-year deal, with automatic renewals, will allow Beijing to base its military in the Solomon Islands. If applied to its full extent, the Framework Agreement will give China the ability to sever shipping lanes and air links connecting the USA with its treaty ally Australia and partner New Zealand. For decades the US allowed Canberra and Wellington to manage the Solomons and its region. Beijing, through payoffs now detailed in public, essentially owns the Solomon Islands government. There is also now talk that China will ink a security agreement with Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia.