A BBC investigation found criminals setting up fake businesses on an industrial scale and successfully applying for government-backed Covid-19 emergency loans, with no intention of paying the money back. Builder Mark Telling had his details stolen to set up a bogus company which ‘borrowed’ £50,000 from the scheme. Mark, who had no idea the company had been set up in his name, was horrified when the BBC told him what had happened. Victims like him could find themselves liable for the debt and have their credit rating badly affected. Also the public has been warned to be on their guard against scammers taking advantage of the current coronavirus situation to extort money, or gain access to homes. Online shopping scams are the most widely reported method: see
Commenting on the latest week of negotiations, one UK source said, ‘Obviously we are ready to up the pace but people are getting over-excited - there still is a long way to go and fish remains very tricky.’ On 29 September Downing Street played down the idea that a deal was imminent despite hopes that an end to talks was in sight. EU access to British fishing waters has not been solved, there remains much to be done and many do not expect a breakthrough before the mid-October summit of EU leaders. Government ministers have agreed to give Parliament a say before ever using the powers they would be granted by the Internal Market Bill. However, the latest news is that the EU has begun legal proceedings against the UK because of some controversial clauses in this bill, which could result in a court case at the European Court of Justice.
A second coronavirus wave is expanding fast, and Madrid is the worst-affected place in Spain and indeed in Europe. A row has erupted over a lockdown there. The regional government did not vote in favour of the restrictions, and questioned the legality of stricter curbs on personal movement and social gatherings. Political disputes have angered many Spaniards. Health officials from Spain’s central government and the Madrid region agreed on a set of health metrics that dictate standardised restrictions in cities with a population of 100,000 or more. There are uncontrolled virus clusters in the Spanish capital. Spain has seen more than 748,000 infections and has a confirmed virus death toll of over 31,400. However, experts say all numbers understate the true toll of the pandemic due to limited testing and other factors.
Ebrahim’s ordeal began in 2013 when he was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of internal exile in the remote town of Sarbaz for ‘propaganda against the regime by establishing and organising Christian gatherings’ and ‘having contacts with anti-revolutionary networks outside Iran’. He expected to be released in 2015, but instead he was retried and sentenced to an additional five years in prison for ‘acting against national security’. On 27 September, he had to answer a further charge of ‘propaganda against the state’, carrying a prison sentence of three to twelve months. Thankfully, the next day the case closed for lack of evidence. Iranian Christians are thankful that the prosecutor did not press charges, but request prayer that Ebrahim will know the Lord’s peace during this time of increased pressure from the authorities, even while continuing to serve the internal exile sentence.
‘There are no heroes in Yemen, just criminals and victims’, said a human rights investigator. The victims are millions of ordinary Yemenis caught in a protracted proxy war that brought Yemen to its knees and turned it into the world's biggest humanitarian disaster. The lack of easy access to the country for journalists and international monitors means many Yemenis feel, as one doctor put it, that ‘we are screaming in pain, but no one is hearing’. Recently a Sky investigation team travelled hundreds of miles through armed checkpoints and rough terrain to gather testimonies from the victims, witnesses and survivors. Families in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest municipality and once a cultural epicentre, have experienced some of the fiercest fighting during the six-year civil war between pro-government troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition (supported by the USA and the UK) and Houthi rebels, supported by Iran. Both sides are guilty of grave human rights abuses: see
Imagine what life is like when it is unsafe to live in your own home, or you can’t guarantee you and your children will have food each day? That’s the awful reality for many Christian women in northern and central Nigeria - on top of the grief and trauma brought about by violent conflict and killings. Tirham, a volunteer at an Open Doors trauma centre in Nigeria, says, ‘Sometimes there are days without any help from anyone for them to be fed.’ She was speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on daily life for many Christian women living in the shadow of violence. We are asked to pray that every Christian family affected by violence in Nigeria will be provided with food, shelter and safety, and that violent militant attacks will cease. Pray for continued strength, protection, and encouragement for Open Doors partners like Tirham, who come alongside those affected by persecution.
Due to their work being sensitive names of places and people are omitted in this prayer request, but God knows who you mean when you pray. D was in NWB for five months before safely returning to the UK with his family. They are all currently in quarantine and then will enter further training. Please pray for God to prepare a community for them to return to in the mission field. Pray for God to protect their business and the team that they left behind and for visa options to open up for those wishing to join the team. Pray also for God’s guidance as they work out their fundraising plans and for open doors to be revealed so that their ministry grows. Please pray for protection for non-Covid patients and staff, and for enough income to keep going; Ask for wisdom for R, who is unsure when to return to the UK for home assignment, and for any visas that have been delayed by closures in immigration due to Covid.
The long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region erupted on 27 September, with over 100 confirmed deaths already in the fiercest fighting in years. Many are asking, ‘Will it escalate into an all-out war that threatens regional stability and drags in major outside players?’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54356336 For years, mainly Christian Armenia and Muslim-majority Azerbaijan have been at odds over the rugged Nagorno-Karabakh highlands. Between 1988 and 1994 the two sides fought a bloody war to control the enclave, which was part of Azerbaijan but mainly populated by ethnic Armenian Christians. The conflict resulted in over 30,000 dead, a million displaced, and a fragile truce that left Nagorno-Karabakh as a de facto independent state, recognised by Armenia but not by most other countries, including Azerbaijan. The recent violence sparked an uproar in Azerbaijan. Thousands took to the streets calling for the army to ‘recapture’ Nagorno-Karabakh.