Unity among believers is a key issue for the diverse churches in Aruba. Division can undermine any numerical growth of believers. The greatest threat to this unity is the importation of alien theology, church culture and preaching style common among the televangelists and prosperity preachers seen on foreign Christian TV. Praise God for increased fellowship and cooperation among pastors, enabling evangelicals to present a united front and impact society on issues such as homosexual marriage legislation, teen drug addiction, and the high rate of illegitimate births (about 50%). There are three Christian radio stations: Radio Victoria (originally TEAM) and two others broadcast to Aruba and the Venezuelan coast. TWR broadcasts to Bonaire on its FM station and internationally through shortwave and the Internet. The gospel is also proclaimed on programmes that appear on secular radio and TV.
Pastor Michael travelled to Turkey in 1999 as a relief worker, following the devastating earthquake that killed 17,000 people. He and his family settled there, and he has been pastor of Yalova Lighthouse Church since 2003. Earlier in February he was detained by the authorities and held for 30 hours, then given ten days to leave the country, an order deferred while his case proceeds. An appeal against the deportation order is to be heard in Ankara. Since 2019, about 70 overseas Christian leaders have been similarly expelled from Turkey as ‘threats to national security’. Hostility towards Christians has worsened as secularism gives way to Islam with the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Its founder, President Erdogan, is outspoken about his desire to recreate the Ottoman Empire.
Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan has warned of an attempted military coup, after the country's armed forces said he and his cabinet must resign. The army ‘must obey the people and elected authorities’, he told thousands of supporters in the capital Yerevan. His opponents held a rival rally. The military's top brass was angered by the PM's sacking of a commander. Mr Pashinyan has faced protests after losing last year's bloody conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh - an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians since a 1994 truce. During the six weeks of fighting late in 2020, Azerbaijan not only recaptured areas around the enclave but also took the key town of Shusha inside it. Under the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards, Azerbaijan keeps the areas it has captured.
Pfizer and Moderna have promised to boost vaccine production in the coming months, as the country’s death toll from Covid-19 went past 500,000. Pfizer said the company will have 120 million doses of the vaccine available for shipment by the end of March and an additional 80 million doses by the end of May. Pfizer expects that all 300 million contracted doses - enough for up to 150 million Americans - will be available by the end of July. Moderna President Stephen Hoge plans to double vaccine production to over 40 million doses per month: 300 million doses will be ready by the end of July. The main concern is that new variants could become dominant in the US by March. A leading forecasting institute says over 90,000 more Americans are likely to die from Covid, and Americans will still be wearing masks in 2022.
President Mahmoud Abbas has guaranteed that at least seven seats of a new legislative council will go to Christians in the elections in the occupied territories to be held on 22 May. Hanan Ashrawi, a Christian who recently resigned her position on the PLO’s executive committee, said she is uneasy about reserving seats for specific communities. However, the president of Bethlehem Bible College said, ‘This is an important and long-awaited opportunity for young Palestinian Christians to participate in this public process, whether as candidates or as voters’. Emigration due to violence has produced a huge drop in the Palestinian Christian population. Many believe the way to fight emigration is to give them reasons to stay. What is needed is a system that protects people and provides for their rights, not allow churches to become museums.
An army document has been discovered instructing soldiers to ‘punish and break down’ ethnic-minority Christians and anyone objecting to the military regime. The discovery came as the army ramped up armed patrols in Karen and Kachin States. Since December 2020, the military have increased ceasefire violations in Karen State, shelling villages in order to clear land for new roads and military installations. The official document states military personnel should fire 12mm weapons (equivalent to a machine gun) at individuals or use a 38mm weapon (a gun to launch grenades) on groups of civilians. The directives include special instructions to round up any dissenting civilian doctors and nurses and to report on any local leaders who are not fully cooperating with the military. There are many Christians amongst both the Karen and the Kachin ethnic groups, and thousands of Christian villagers fled to remote jungle areas when persecution began.
Home is a place where everyone can flourish: somewhere we can belong, feel safe, and grow. Millions of people, forced to flee their homes because of years of conflict, are having to raise their families in cramped conditions in refugee camps, lacking the basic essentials. Life is a struggle to survive. Pray for people like Tamam who used to live a quiet and comfortable life in Northern Syria, with her loving husband and children. Then IS occupied the area; no electricity or running water, crops and animals died. Her husband was killed, and they joined around 1 million Syrians living in makeshift settlements in the middle of a slum in Lebanon. Pray for the mission agencies bringing relief in dangerous situations, and for the network of churches attempting to support displaced people.
When Iranian authorities arrested and executed his 18-year-old brother for a minor political crime. Hormoz wanted revenge. But God spoke to his heart: ‘Those people who killed your brother are not your enemies. They are victims in the hands of your enemies. When you see Muslims killing others they are victims.’ Today house churches in Iran celebrate with satellite broadcasts of Hormoz. He is now an evangelist in the tsunami of salvation washing over Iran. While Iran’s regional ambitions and nuclear programme dominate the news, widespread underground unseen revival is occurring.