400,000 people have been evacuated from ‘red zones’ in the city of Goma, home to between 560,000 and a million people. Nyirangono’s lava flow has destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and severed most electricity into Goma, causing massive black-outs in a panic-stricken and vulnerable area. Lack of power to water pumping stations has disrupted water availability to over a million people, drastically reducing living standards. There are continuing aftershocks and further eruptions, with cholera and Covid causing serious concerns. Poor electricity supplies to four major hospitals in the area effectively limits their ability to deal with serious injuries, casualties and sickness. The eastern region of Congo is one of the most vulnerable areas on the continent. Decades of war have led to extreme poverty. Already limited resources are under enormous strain, and the people of Goma and the surrounding area are in need of urgent assistance. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said 500,000 people are without clean drinking water. See also
We continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and thank God that the fragile ceasefire between Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups in Gaza is holding. Hamas claimed a victory, but Israel did great damage to both the groups - to their leaders, weapons, headquarters, tunnels and personal homes, and probably to their reputation among Gazan civilians. However Israel knows this war is not over - with Iran openly boasting it is the driving force behind it all. The need for intercession has increased. Father, according to Numbers 10:35, we ask You to rise up, and scatter Your enemies. May all schemes plotted by Iran for the destruction of Israel come to ruin. We lift to you whoever leads the next government. Please fill them with heaven's wisdom to bring about Your purposes for the nation. We praise You for being a God who answers prayer (James 5:16b).
A wave of protests has been sweeping across Colombia since 28 April. By 31 May, 59 people had died. Protesters block key roads, causing shortages of fuel and food, and there have been violent clashes between the security forces and demonstrators. The government is holding talks with protest leaders, but with more and more groups joining in the demonstrations a quick resolution seems unlikely. When the protests started the main call was for tax reforms. Four days later the bill was withdrawn. Human rights groups reported that riot police had used tear gas and in some cases shot live ammunition to stop the protests. So rather than abating after the cancellation of the tax reform, the protests intensified. Over 2,300 civilians and members of the security forces have been injured. There have also been marches by thousands of Colombians opposing the roadblocks, causing more violent clashes.
An international group of scientists has ditched ethical guidelines so that they can grow babies for forty days, for the sole purpose of killing them for research. The International Society for Stem Cell Research issued new guidelines that lift restrictions on certain types of unethical research that manipulate, alter, or destroy human embryos. It wants to remove a 14-day rule for research on human embryos, established in 1979, which stated scientists may only experiment on human embryos up to 14 days after fertilisation. This rule has been the current policy in the United States and generally a scientific standard throughout the world. The new guidelines have removed all restraint, creating the potential for ‘baby in a bottle’ experiments. It also wants to use three-parent human embryos (human embryo with DNA from three individuals), which is currently prohibited, and to allow creating a cell from animal and human cells, characteristic, or tissues.
We prayed recently for the capture of terrorists in Indonesiawho killed four Christians. See ‘When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks’ (Qur’an 47:4). Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long wrestled with extremist militancy and terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades. After President Suharto’s fall in 1998, Indonesian Muslims who had travelled to join the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s returned to Indonesia and formed various militant groups and launched multiple terrorist attacks. IS has capitalised on Indonesia’s Islamist networks to boost its recruitment efforts and carry out attacks in the country. IS propaganda is singling out Indonesian Muslims for recruitment.
Since the military junta seized power in Myanmar in February's coup, violent resistance against the regime has been intensifying. Young people across the country have begun taking up arms to join the fight against their own army. Some of them have been getting military training from the separatist Karen National Defence Organisation, which operates near the Thai border. Myanmar’s military launched air strikes on a village and outpost near the Thai border in April. Thailand will provide humanitarian aid but stressed it is not taking a side in the conflict. The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) are one of the biggest adversaries of Myanmar's military. Myanmar soldiers have murdered, burnt villages, forced labour, tortured and systematically raped women and girls. They have also suffered many losses to KNU guerrillas. Other guerrilla forces, in the north and the west, are also supportive of the anti-junta coalition. See also
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.
‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1.8, ESV) Believers today have the same gift of the Holy Spirit that was given in Acts 2, and no matter how stony the ground might appear to be, we have the power to witness to others about ‘the mighty works of God’. This is a gift we have as individuals and as a body of believers, the Church. Pentecost is often described as the birthday of the Church. This year, via the internet, over 46,000 Christians united from different church traditions, different languages and races, standing together as God's people to celebrate Pentecost and asking for a fresh outpouring of His Spirit upon the church, our families, our communities and Nations. The event was saved on YouTube; click the ‘More’ button to view and engage with what God is doing today.