The two remaining candidates for leader of the Conservative party and our next Prime Minister are now criss-crossing the country engaging with party members and setting out their policies. This is a difficult and dangerous time for the UK. Boris Johnson lost his position primarily due to a lack of integrity and honesty - lack of ‘righteousness’. Proverbs 14:34 says, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.’ Whatever we may think of the candidates and their politics, we all must pray, as Paul exhorted Timothy, for ‘those in authority’ so that we may ‘live peaceful lives’. Scripture reminds us that even one person’s intercession can change God’s mind. The prayers of many affected the future of the UK during WW2. Today tens of thousands of people are praying over and for our ‘rulers’. We can trust Him to take all our prayers and through them reshape the future of our Government, Parliament, and nation for His purposes.
An MP social care report said the large number of NHS job vacancies is a serious risk to staff and patient safety. England needs 12,000 more hospital doctors (it takes six years to train one) and 50,000+ nurses and midwives, in the worst-ever NHS workforce crisis. Current projections estimate a million new jobs will need to be filled in health and social care by the early part of the next decade. Extra staff will be needed to keep up with rising demands as the population gets older and healthcare becomes more complex and technologically advanced. The situation is compounded by the absence of a long-term plan by the Government to tackle it. 28% of staff experienced at least one incident of bullying or abuse in the past year. Sajid Javid said the Government was not on track to deliver its manifesto commitment to increase GPs in England by 6,000, and NHS pensions arrangements allow senior doctors to retire or reduce their hours and become better-off.
Last week's wildfires across London showed lessons learned tackling rural blazes must urgently be applied to built-up areas after grass fires spread to forty houses and shops nearby. Prolonged dry weather parching gardens, verges and green spaces followed by temperatures of 40C sparked blazes normally seen in the countryside. 500 wildfires have been reported so far this year, compared with 237 last year. The group commander for Hereford and Worcester Fire Service said, ‘Everything is bone-dry and services need to recognise the risk they've now got. If they don't, then they're naïve. There are very urban services that think wildfires are low down on the risk list. I understand their need to prioritise resources, but there must be a review.’ A 2021 risk assessment report for the government found that two out of eight fire services made no reference to wildfires in their risk management plans.
It is not too late to avert the climate crisis from becoming even more deadly – but the window is closing. Across western Europe high temperature records are being obliterated; some had been set during the heatwave in 2003 that left tens of thousands dead. Raging wildfires are displacing thousands of people, one of the many compounding impacts of the climate crisis. This heatwave is another reminder that we have already reached unsafe levels of global heating. As our planet warms, heatwaves will become more frequent and more intense. In fact, we may look back on these years as some of the coolest, compared with what will come if we do not act now. Human life will encounter life-threatening impacts with increasing frequency and mounting consequences. Countless scientific reports have been conveying this reality for decades.
Although over half of the population is defined as Christian, most have never had authentic contact with the Gospel. Only 2% are Evangelical, and 8% regularly attend church. A staggering 50 million have no link to a church, and 80% have never even handled a Bible. Many are suspicious of organised religion. Defined by secularism, the country has separated itself from its only source of healing. The philosophies and post-modern relative truth have left many seeking meaning and purpose. Despair and hopelessness have led to Europe’s highest number of youth suicides. However, this search for meaning has also led some to seek and find Christ. Dozens of churches are now being planted each year. France stands in desperate need of a move of God: only He can bring the healing and hope this nation needs.
While on vacation in Marmaris, 51-year-old GJH was rushed to hospital after falling and hitting his head. He could not be saved. Due to the circumstances of his death and his son's ‘suspicious’ behaviour, the police launched an investigation and reviewed CCTV footage from the area around their hotel. It showed that GJH's 22-year-old son punched his father on the face, causing him to fall. The suspect was taken into custody by the police before being referred to court on 28 July. Please pray for the safety of this tourist. Data shared by two human rights organisations reported that 531 people were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in official places of detention last year, and torture in Turkey’s prisons has reached unprecedented levels.
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.
On 24 July part of California had to declare another state of emergency and evacuate over 6,000 people as the largest active wildfire in the USA rapidly spread near Yosemite National Park (home to some of the largest and oldest sequoia trees in the world). The Oak Fire started two days earlier but the explosive behaviour of the fire meant firefighters struggled to control it. The state of emergency allows access to federal help. By 27 July the wildfires grew to 18,824 acres with 36% containment, but the northward direction of the wind was taking it into the Sierra National Forest - no longer in the direction of Yosemite. The scale of the blaze marks an ominous start to California's wildfire season. Pray for the families and business owners of 100 destroyed structures and for the safety of the 1,000 structures being threatened.