Displaying items by tag: Religion
The war in Ukraine and the poor global economy have enabled dictators, regimes, and terrorists to take advantage of the situation while the world’s attention was distracted. This will worsen in 2023, to the detriment of Christians. Ask God to protect China’s Christians as the crackdown on house churches accelerates. Pray for all the minorities in Myanmar, where the 2021 political coup has led to many attacks and bombings of churches. The internally displaced use churches as shelters. Iran has also taken the opportunity to crack down on churches, Christians, and Muslim-background believers this year. Pray for Christian arrests and torture to diminish in 2023. Indian Christians need our prayers for an end to the anti-conversion laws being enforced in Hindu communities. Afghanistan has no national income and no natural resources, and all assets are frozen worldwide. Christianity is illegal. Those forced to stay or needing support to find safe havens need God's protection.
11-year-old Abdel at a Turkey refugee camp spent most evenings reading a New Testament that local Christian workers gave him - to the grief of his Muslim parents. Recently his mother became angry at him and ordered him to do his schoolwork. Abdel told her it reminded him of the passage he had just read in Matthew 19:13-15 about children being kept from drawing close to the Prophet Jesus, as He is known among Muslims. Stunned, his mother asked him where he had read this. Abdel told her the passage was in the Gospel of Matthew. As scripture is given to refugees the missionaries sometimes find children learning the gospel and explaining it to their parents, or vice versa. His mother explained this event to his father and together they sat down and read the New Testament. The missionary said, ‘I am not saying that they accepted Christ immediately, but truly God is doing amazing miracles here.’
The Cry is a gathering of Christians from across the nation to pray for revival at Wembley Arena on 7 January focusing on empowering young people and refreshing the body of Christ. This is the first of a series of such gatherings, across the nation and internationally, over 2023. Please consider attending, or praying at home, for a generation of young people to arise: people who know they are forgiven, loved by Father God and know His Word. May they be a generation of overcomers, because they have seen and overcome the enemy in their own lives. We can pray for the power of the cross to rend their hearts so that they move in humility, stand in purity, withstand the culture of the world around them, and pioneer new territory for the Kingdom in today’s society. May friendship with Jesus undergird them, strengthen and lead them in all His ways.
Christians in Parliament, who will begin a new programme of chapel services on 10 January, have been encouraged by growing numbers and fellowship at them. Please pray the increase will continue and parliamentarians and staff will be strengthened to live out their faith and invite others along. Please also pray for the speakers preparing this term’s themes. On 6 March Tom Holland, author and presenter of Europe’s most downloaded history podcast, will reflect on Christianity’s impact on the modern world. Please pray for a thought-provoking evening for all. On 20 March parliamentarians and Professor Robert Song will dine and have theme-based conversations on ‘What difference does Christianity make to politics?’ Pray for further deepening of relationships and a great blessing to all who attend. Weekly bible study and fellowship groups are looking at Revelation and 1 Peter. Please pray that members will be encouraged by meeting with other Christians to read God's Word, pray, and fix their eyes on Jesus in all that they do.
On 26 December intelligence agents raided Pastor Matthias house church during Christmas celebrations. Matthias and two other converts were arrested and transferred to Lakan Prison in Rasht. On 3 January Matthias’ wife Anna was summoned to intelligence offices, arrested, and also transferred to Rasht. Matthias was jailed in January 2022 for a six-year sentence on national security charges, saying that he was an enemy of the state. Although detained in prison, he was allowed regular leave, and continued to minister in the local house church. Friends are concerned about Anna’s health in detention as she has back problems. They request prayer that God will strengthen and encourage them, and that their teenage daughter will be adequately cared for while her parents are in prison. Criminal charges will not be brought against Matthias and Anna or the two other converts arrested at the Christmas gathering.
Immigration is a reality of national life. London has 10,000+ people of over fifty various nationalities. Many Brits struggle to welcome immigrants, who often struggle to adjust to life in the UK. Pray for society to face the challenges of many cultures living together in peace. Immigrants from Christian nations like Nigeria and Brazil bring new church life and church growth. Pray for local congregations to plant new churches, reach new peoples, and glorify Jesus as they partner with believers from many lands. Sadly, England's inner cities are becoming physical and spiritual wastelands of drugs and crime. Dying churches and empty churches have been converted to mosques, temples, or gurdwaras as white evangelicals move to the suburbs. Inner-city whites in poverty and joblessness have few prospects. Pray for God to raise an army of workers to meet the many needs of impoverished and often troubled areas.
In a stunning announcement, President Zelenskiy said he intends to ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from Ukraine. His decision came on the heels of an investigation into the church's ties with ‘the Patriarchate in Russia.’ Ukraine will also ban the activities of any religious organisation affiliated with ‘centres of influence’ within Russia. `We will ensure for our state the fullness of independence - in particular, spiritual independence. We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul’, Zelensky said. Orthodox Christians are the largest demographic in Ukraine. There have been some internal disagreements about who they support in the war between Ukraine and Russia, and Zelensky fears Russia may be using the church to plant agents in the church to undermine Ukraine’s war effort. The majority of Orthodox leaders have announced their support for Ukraine, and Ukraine’s Orthodox Church announced its full independence from Moscow’s Patriarchate. It does not support Russia’s invasion.
Livia Tossici-Bolt was praying quietly with a friend in a public space when she was warned by prayer-patrol officers that ‘their prayer could cause intimidation, harassment or distress’; they were asked to move away. Livia filed a complaint against Bournemouth Council for breaching her freedom to pray on a public street. The officers said they prayed close to the edge of a new buffer zone around an abortion clinic, where a protection order bans praying, protesting, vigils, and handing out leaflets. Ms Bolt said, ‘Everyone has the freedom to pray quietly in a public place. I would never dream of doing something that causes intimidation and harassment. We complied with the new rules instituted by the council and didn’t pray within the censorship zone. They tried to intimidate us out of exercising our freedom of thought and of expression in the form of prayer - which has been a foundational part of our society for generations.’
The latest census by the Office for National Statistics shows that 46.2% of people in England and Wales describe themselves as Christian, the lowest ever recorded. Those with no religion increased to 37.2%, up from 25%. Of those who answered under the ‘any other religion’ option, the largest group were pagan, with a tenfold rise identifying themselves as Shaman. Muslim rose from 4.9% to 6.5%. The most recent faith survey shows that the major Christian denominations, Catholic and Presbyterian, saw membership fall. Orthodox, Pentecostal Evangelical, and Charismatic saw an increase in membership. The biggest decline in church membership is in Scotland.
There is no lack of UK church buildings, but less than 2% of the population are evangelical Christians, despite a strong Christian history. M4UK’s vision is to engage with the people who are unreached in 2022 and beyond, by revitalising and growing churches and planting new churches that declare and demonstrate the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Its Team Process is two years of training that helps the church planter and their team succeed in their first years. At the end of the training process, the church-planting team is fully prepared to launch a healthy reproducing church that glorifies God and impacts society. It is Christ himself who builds his church, and the authority of the Bible is essential for the content and message of the M4 process.