Before talking in Geneva relations between the USA and Russia were at rock bottom. After talking, both presidents praised their talks but have made little concrete progress at the first such meeting since 2018. Disagreements were stated, said Joe Biden, but not in a hyperbolic way, and he said Russia did not want a new cold war. Vladimir Putin said Mr Biden was an experienced statesman and the two ‘spoke the same language’. They agreed to begin a dialogue on nuclear arms control and said they would return ambassadors to each other's capitals. However, there was little sign of agreement on cyber-security, Ukraine, or the fate of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a penal colony. Mr Biden said there would be ‘devastating consequences’ for Russia if Navalny died in prison. Mr Putin hinted at a possible deal on exchanging prisoners, saying he believed compromises could be found.
The head of Amnesty International said China has created a ‘dystopian hellscape’ for people detained in Xinjiang camps, who are routinely tortured. A report based on 50+ former detainees details crimes against humanity - including mass imprisonment, torture and persecution - carried out by Chinese authorities against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities. The secretary general of Amnesty said, ‘China must immediately dismantle the internment camps, release the people arbitrarily detained in them and in prisons, and end the systematic attacks against Muslims in Xinjiang.’ Since 2017 hundreds of thousands - and possibly more than one million people - have been sent to camps in Xinjiang. China for a long time denied the existence of any camps. It eventually changed tack and now says the camps are voluntary ‘vocational training centres’, necessary to combat terrorism. President Xi Jinping said his government's policies in the region are ‘totally correct’.
On 10 June a bipartisan group of members of the US Congress launched a caucus against foreign corruption and kleptocracy at a virtual kickoff event. The new caucus will focus on fighting global corruption and kleptocracy (authoritarian governance model in which foreign officials use corruption to maintain their power and grow their influence in countries). Transparency International said this caucus is a clear recognition of the importance of combating global corruption by leaders, which has increased since the pandemic. Corruption, including stolen and misappropriated relief funding, harsh crackdowns on pandemic reporting in the media, and attempts to appropriate or dismantle democratic and rule-of-law institutions, robs all those in need of urgent aid.
11-year-old Chan-Rey always wondered who created the whole world. Her mother didn’t know, so she kept searching for an answer. One Sunday a girl invited her to church. The Sunday school class was watching the Superbook episode ‘In the beginning’, about the creation of the world. ‘The story was AMAZING!’ she declared. ‘I saw the Spirit of God flying around. He said, “Let there be light”, and there was light! Then He made the world. It looked so beautiful. Then He created a man from dust and let them take care of everything!’ After watching the episode, Chan-Rey prayed with the teacher to become a Christian. She couldn’t wait to tell her family about what happened. ‘I shared the gospel with my parents and sisters. Then I brought them to church. Now they believe in Jesus too!’
The Queen was ‘delighted’ after Harry and Meghan announced the birth of their second child, Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. Lilibet is a very intimate name that the Queen has used since she was very little and her sister could not pronounce her name properly. Many believe this is a diplomatic olive branch offered to the royal family after what has been a fractious year between Harry and Meghan and the rest of the royals. Lilibet was born in a California hospital, weighing 7 lbs 11oz.
Israel: God’s chosen people in Scripture, the very bloodline of Jesus Christ: yet most Jews in Israel still wait for the Messiah, not realising or recognising that Jesus already came to save them. But the Holy Spirit is moving. A growing number of Jews are recognising Jesus as their Saviour, and Arabs in Israel are also turning to Christ. In fact, following the recent violence, Arab and Jewish Christians gathered at the Gaza fence to pray together!
Some schools became hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Students staged a number of demonstrations. Angry protesters gathered outside a Leeds school to support anti-semitism when the headteacher called the Palestinian flag a ‘call to arms’. During a protest at Clapton Girls’ Academy students sat down and chanted, ‘Free Palestine’, refusing to return to lessons. They did so after teachers removed posters about the Palestinian struggle from the walls of the schools. A north London school removed images of the Palestinian flag from school noticeboards, and told parents that schools were ‘apolitical organisations’ and ‘not to use political messaging to a captive audience’. Manchester’s Loreto College closed after hearing of planned demonstrations. A Jewish teacher in a non-Jewish school was bullied by students and resigned. Twenty-five teachers from a Jewish school quit their trade union to protest against its call for participation in pro-Palestinian rallies.
A 2017 survey found that very few practising Christians decided to become Christians during adulthood. The UK is becoming more secular, with churches declining and fewer believers. As a nation we are losing our Biblical foundation, and our culture is paying the heavy price of change. Many people have a false impression about what the Bible says because they have never actually read it for themselves. The survey defined 'practising Christians' as people who read or listen to the Bible at least once a week, pray at least once a week, and attend a church service at least once a month. The Pocket Testament League is full of Christians who have committed to reading the Word of God, carrying the Word with them wherever they go, and sharing the Word with others. They ask, ‘How will our friends and neighbours ever know about the transformative power of Jesus unless we share the Word of God with them?’ Like-minded Christians are invited to join them in sharing the Word and fulfilling the Great Commission.