France and Britain have clashed repeatedly over migrants crossing the Channel, post-Brexit trade arrangements, the sale of submarines to Australia, and fishing territories. The fishing dispute has come to a head as France threatened the UK with a lawsuit unless a few dozen fishing licences are granted as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ before 10 December. The deadline expired without a breakthrough in talks, despite France's threat, and 104 French boats still lack licences to operate in British and Channel Island waters. Britain earlier denied discriminating against French boats, saying many of the vessels are unable to provide the paperwork required to qualify for a licence. ‘This is a technical process based on evidence rather than deadlines’, a UK government spokesman said. France's Europe minister Clement Beaune said, ‘If they stick to their guns, then we will ask the European Commission to begin a legal complaint’.

Pray for Europe

15 Dec 2021

Since 1960 we have witnessed a move away from traditional norms and values connected to Christianity and embraced ‘new’ cultural values unrelated to religious conviction regarding marriage, sexuality, family, education, beginning and end of life. It is cultural liberalism, which calls itself progressive compared to ‘conservative’ traditional norms and values. Cultural liberalism is to live an ‘authentic’ life. Church, social environment and the state should give ‘me’ the freedom to live and act according to what ‘I’ feel and desire. What was wrong yesterday is acceptable today - which is described as ‘progress’. However, while cultural liberalism spreads in western Europe it meets resistance in eastern Europe, encouraging us that it may not be the inevitable future of European society. Christians are challenged to remain faithful to God’s Biblical commandments and Church principles. We have good arguments to expose weaknesses in cultural liberalism. We have the enormous power of prayer.

USA: tornadoes

15 Dec 2021

Entire towns in the USA were destroyed by about 30 tornadoes causing widespread devastation on 10 December. Kentucky is a disaster area; Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois are in a state of emergency. One tornado flattened a candle factory with 100+ inside. An Amazon warehouse collapsed causing a ‘mass casualty incident’. Churches and mission groups, including Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams chaplains, and mobile ministry centres are there to pray with people. Please pray for God to bind up broken hearts and for many to come to know Jesus - ‘a stronghold to the poor, help to the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm’. Pray for the emergency teams offering resources and temporary housing for the homeless. Pray for the tens of thousands of people without power and water. Pray for 300+ National Guards going door to door, though many don’t have doors any more. Pray for those salvaging homes reduced to rubble

An Algerian message: ‘Christians eagerly wait for Christmas. We wait for joyous worship services, time to gather with family and friends, presents to open, and the celebration of the hope we have in Christ. But since authorities closed our churches in 2019, we won’t be able to celebrate Christmas together for the third year running. The churches are doing their best to take care of their sheep in an impossible situation and are waiting for heavenly intervention. In the midst of these hardships, Christians meet on Zoom, and watch church services on TV. We believe in a mighty God: nothing is impossible with Him.’ Pray for God to renew the spiritual strength of Algerian Christians waiting on God to shift the things beyond their control. May we join with the pastors who proclaim that the best is yet to come. Pray that Algerian churches will be permanently re-opened.

11% of Lebanon’s population is over the retirement age (65), and 80% of retired people have no health care coverage. Previously Habeeb and Elham had a good life; they could eat meat, afford medicine and have the lights on. But those times are over. When Habeeb retired their income stopped and now the 80-year-olds face poverty and uncertainty. ‘There is no government pension when you are old, no one is helping. How can we pay our bills?’ asks Habeeb with tears in his eyes. Lebanon has one of the world's worst economic crises. The Lebanese pound has lost 90% of its value since 2019. The banking system crumbled with much of the elderly’s life savings. The young are abandoning Lebanon in search of a more dignified life. Lebanese lack electricity and water, and food and medicine are difficult to import. The aid group Medonations imports medication and provides it to those who need it, and there are a few relief outlets for the vulnerable.

Some villagers thought it was just flooding, but it was searing, volcanic mud. We recently prayed for Indonesians on Java where Mount Semeru catastrophically erupted, killing dozens, burying whole communities, and making thousands homeless. Disasters are common across Indonesia’s islands - displacing millions by volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population: most of its 260 million people face tragedies without the hope of Jesus Christ. Those who choose to follow Jesus frequently face persecution from neighbors, family, and friends. As the people grieve another natural disaster, may increasing numbers be introduced to the only Hope of the world - Jesus Christ. Pray for Christians to boldly demonstrate and proclaim the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ. Pray for peace and protection for believers amid growing Islamic momentum and expansion. Pray for entire families to put their faith in Jesus Christ.

A Christian children’s home has filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration, challenging its rule requiring the agency to place children in the homes of unmarried, cohabitating couples, same-sex couples and non-Christian couples. Holston United Methodist Home for Children has operated in Tennessee and Virginia since 1895 and helped over 8,000 children reunite with family or find a new adoptive family through to transition into adulthood. Their core mission is facilitating relationships so children can be ‘raised by families which prepare them to live the fulfilling adult lives that God intended for them.’ The lawsuit argues that by forcing the home to place children with couples that do not share in its Christian statement of faith, the department of health is violating the right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

On 13 December, after two years of hearings, the Uyghur tribunal found the Chinese government guilty of crimes against humanity, systematic torture, and genocide against Uyghurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region. The founder of ChinaAid said, ‘The unanimous judgment by the independent tribunal after nearly two years of extensive hearings from a number of credible witnesses and experts that the Chinese Communist government had verifiably committed systematic genocide and crime against humanity (in particular against ethnic minorities such as Uyghurs and Kazakhs inside Xinjiang) is another vindication of the same finding by the international community. It further proves the brutality of the worst human rights violations in the modern history of China in the past seventy years. It is imperative both morally and legally for all of the free countries, especially the US and EU and international organisations such as the UN, to take immediate and urgent actions to stop these atrocities from happening before they get worse.’