‘At this time of uncertainty and rebellion in many countries because of the Covid crisis and the restrictions imposed by our governments, it is good to remember that we as intercessors must seek God for discernment. The wide range of information and interpretations that we get from mainstream media or other sources can only help us to a limited extent in our intercession. First and foremost, we get discernment from the heart of God - from the tree of life, and not by seeking to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). God's Word brings life, correction, healing and restoration, which we all need (Revelation 22:2; Psalm 36:9). Hearing God's voice at this time is more important than any other information. We encourage you to take your time - wait for God and listen. His presence changes us and He has the words we need to intercede.’
A remote Papua tribe has received 2,500 Bibles 55 years after two missionaries trying to reach them with the Gospel were killed. Some Yali tribespeople walked an entire day to reach the Oakbisik airstrip in the mountains of Papua, Indonesia, to receive the shipment of Bibles in their own language from Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). Now, instead of waiting for war, the Yali church has been waiting for more Bibles in their language. Yali tribes no longer walk the path of darkness. Their path is lit by the Word of God.
A ban on households meeting indoors was part of further restrictions announced on 1st October for the north of England. Many universities are reporting coronavirus cases and thousands of students are self-isolating, having lectures delivered online with few face to face tutorials. Students are struggling to get food supplies, others are questioning why they were told to leave home when most teaching is being done remotely. On 27 September University Hospitals Birmingham reported 1,001 deaths since 14 March. It was the first hospital trust to record 1,000 Covid-19 deaths, saying the toll is the ‘terrible reality’ of the virus. Pray that God will use His people to bring hope to the thousands caught in anxiety over a fresh coronavirus wave. May His peace rest on those in fear because not knowing what tomorrow will bring, and His presence and hope for the future into lives tormented with a sense of not being in control.
A document entitled Levelling Up Our Communities, written by Christian MP Danny Kruger at the request of Boris Johnson, outlines how the UK can build on the goodwill and togetherness established as a result of the pandemic, with thousands of people volunteering to help those in isolation. Among his recommendations are a bank holiday called Neighbour Day and a national database of volunteers for use in future emergencies. He also writes, ‘The Government should invite the country's faith leaders to make an offer of help in exchange for a reciprocal commitment from the state.‘ Faith communities will mobilise their congregations and commit their resources to tackling social problems of debt, children in care, prisoner rehabilitation, rough sleeping, or something else. Boris Johnson said the document was ‘comprehensive and highly ambitious, containing many exciting ideas’. The department for culture and sport would now consider the proposals.
Evangelical theologian Dr Ian Paul warns that a second lockdown could create more problems than it solves. He and 800 church leaders have signed an open letter pleading with the UK governments not to close churches again. He said lockdown was having a huge effect on people, because it was creating fear and isolation: the people who suffer disproportionately are those living on their own, the poor, and those without the luxury of large places to live in or gardens to visit. He also suggested it was misguided of the Government to plan its response around any notions of 'beating' coronavirus, saying, ‘One of the things the virus has done is confront us with our own mortality.’ He added, ‘The spiritual dimension of life is really important. The Christian Church has a message of hope to offer the world.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Durham have asked the Government to expand free school meals over school holidays as more families face hardship due to the pandemic. They said free school meals should be available to all children in families on universal credit and that the scheme should cover holidays. They also want funding to help schools that are supporting poorer families through services like breakfast clubs. They said, ‘All schools must have the appropriate resources to be able to address issues of child hunger and poverty and expand their role as places of security for children who are at risk, whilst maintaining safety at school. Outdoor play, exercise and access to nature are vital to healthy learning. Helping schools ensure outside activities continue will aid mental as well as physical health.’
A home in Newcastle for twenty disabled children aged between six and eleven was closed after Ofsted inspectors visited in September. Issues at the home included staff not knowing the ‘complex’ health needs of children. The inspectors’ report said there was serious risk of harm and loss of life because of the way the home was run. Children and young people were not safe when a fire was caused by a build-up of dirt in an oven. One child suffered ‘actual harm’ when a risk assessment was not observed, and a vulnerable child left alone together with one with challenging behaviour without adequate supervision. Not all staff were trained to administer emergency medication, which could have resulted in loss of life. High staff turnover meant they were unfamiliar with individuals’ needs. Pray that residents can adapt easily to different routines, surroundings, and staff at their new homes.
Documents seen by the Guardian newspaper suggest the Government has been working on detailed proposals to build asylum detention camps on two south Atlantic islands, and also in Moldova, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea. These proposals might go further than Australia’s hard-line system, based on migrants ‘being intercepted outside Australian waters’, allowing Australia to claim no immigration obligations to them. The Financial Times reported that the home secretary has asked officials to consider processing asylum seekers at Ascension and St Helena. Home Office sources distanced Priti Patel from the proposals, and Downing Street has also played down the story.