Over 2.5 million Ukrainians have now found refuge in Poland, and the number just keeps rising. Even on a rainy day, the border crossing is crowded with war-weary refugees searching for some relief. Denys, a 40-year-old single dad, fled Kharkiv after living in his basement for a month. He's been raising his son alone since his wife died 18 months ago. He arrived at the Operation Blessing tent cold, wet, and hungry, but left full and dry, with a new coat and a suitcase for his belongings. Nearby, a crying baby is now smiling and content after being rocked to sleep by a volunteer. The sounds of war gave Marina’s three young sons nightmares, so she fled leaving behind an older son and husband to defend her homeland. Oksana, Denys, and Marina are so thankful that Operation Blessing was there in their time of need to help and pray with them.
Rita and Zairus felt called by God to serve in a remote area occupied by a predominantly Muslim tribe who are very strict about observing Islamic laws and customs. This tribe desperately needs the gospel, but workers must be extremely careful in evangelising to such highly religious communities so that the people they want to reach do not reject them. The platform they use to reach them is a beach café where many locals gather. They have been successful selling light snacks, and will soon expand their menu. Many locals gather at their café, and Rafi and Zairus are building positive relationships with many in the community. Their goal is for these relationships to lead to opportunities to share the gospel. One of the few believers in their community said, ‘I am very grateful for this café. May it be God’s plan to save our area.’
Despite a 50% increase in students taking a Religious Studies GCSE, no central government funding has been spent on the subject in the last five years. During the same period, £387 million was allocated to music projects, £154 million to maths, £56 million to science, £28.5 million to English, and £16 million to languages. Also many academies fail to offer the high-quality RE provision that according to Ofsted ‘affords students the opportunity to make sense of their own place in the world’. Almost 500 secondary schools are still reporting zero hours of RE provision in year 11; 34% of academies have no timetabled RE. Teaching RE is a legal requirement for all schools. Maintained schools have a statutory duty to teach it, while academies and free schools are contractually required through the terms of their funding agreement to make provision for teaching it.
Prince Charles delivered the Queen’s speech last week, giving the world a glimpse of the future king. Joe Little, editor of Majesty Magazine, says the Queen’s increasingly infrequent appearances have a ‘huge inevitability’ about them given her age; in the future we will only occasionally see her. Rushed to hospital in October, struck down with Covid in February and increasingly frail, her appearances are now rare. Just three weeks from an unprecedented four-day weekend to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, we can pray that her strength and stamina grows in that time. Buckingham Palace speaks of the Queen’s ‘episodic mobility issues’, but she is still sharp and conducting her duties from the comfort of Windsor Castle. On her good days, she needs a walking aid; on bad days she is immobile. In June the Queen will not use the gold state coach in the Platinum Pageant procession. She will travel by car to an easier entrance than the Great West Door of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Cabinet secretary Simon Case has said in a letter to civil servants that the Government wants to cut up to 91,000 jobs within three years to save money. The civil service has grown a lot since 2016. Major changes like Brexit and the response to the pandemic created jobs which are not needed now. No 10 insists its approach is about ‘good housekeeping’, and more efficiency and automation will mean no cut in services. But where the numbers will be reduced is not clear. What would cuts to a big department like works and pensions or defence mean in practice? Although the civil service is often associated with Whitehall and the machinery of government, tens of thousands of people work on things like delivering benefits and keeping the courts running.
Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, has warned Boris Johnson against any move to change the Northern Ireland protocol. He said, ‘What we can’t do is accept that the British government would act unilaterally, they would pass legislation to effectively breach international law, to set aside elements of a treaty that this prime minister designed and put in place. That would cause more problems than it would solve.’ Foreign minister Liz Truss, announcing a new law to change the post-Brexit trade deal for Northern Ireland, insisted it would be legal under international law. She said the proposed legislation would make changes to the deal - rather than scrapping it - to resolve ‘the grave situation in Northern Ireland’. But in response, the EU said it would ‘need to respond with all measures at its disposal’ if the UK went ahead with the legislation. Pray that all decisions will be according to God’s plans.
Rishi Sunak implemented a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty in March, but retailers are taking profits of 2p per litre more than before the cut. The RAC said it seems some of the cut is being swallowed up by increased profits. Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has campaigned for fuel duty cuts, demanded action from his party’s leadership, saying these companies are fleecing motorists; nobody else is doing well out of the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis. The chancellor’s 5p cut has not been reflected at the pumps: ‘Time and time again we see global prices go up and overnight they’re reflected in pump prices. When it’s the other way round, it takes much longer.'
Health campaigners accused Boris Johnson of ‘playing politics’ with children's health after the department of health said it plans to defer the bans on multi-buy deals for junk food and pre-watershed TV advertising for a year. Officials will assess the impact on household finances as families struggle with the increasing cost of living. Curbs on junk food placement in stores will still go ahead in October. Public health minister Maggie Throup insisted the Government remains committed to tackling the issue of childhood obesity. Prof Graham MacGregor, a cardiologist who is chairman of Action on Sugar, said the delays contradicted the ‘levelling up’ agenda.