Displaying items by tag: Praise
Katy Perry went back to her Christian roots for her performance at the American Music Awards. The pop star was joined by country music star Darius Rucker to sing their duet ‘Only love’, but she began the performance with a short version of the hymn ‘As the deer’ that is based on Psalm 42:1: ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.’ Perry’s parents are pastors and started their daughter’s career as Christian artists. She got her big break in 2008 with a secular song. Then in 2018 she said, ‘My mum has prayed for me my entire life, hoping I'd come back to God. I never left him, I was just a little bit secular, I was more materialistic and more career-driven. But now it's more about spirituality and heart wholeness.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to return to church on Christmas Day, as social distancing rules are relaxed over the festive period. Justin Welby said that people should not be put off physically attending worship on 25 December. He told BBC’s Newsnight, ‘Yes, of course they should go to church. Go to church online. Go to church physically. You'll find that far fewer people will be there, because we're keeping people two metres apart. Go to church, pray. Remember at the heart of Christmas is the gift of Jesus Christ, by God, to give us hope and life and a future. And it's that hope that's at the centre of Christmas.’ The archbishop added, ‘I will certainly be in church. That's one of the safest places going at the moment, and it will be permitted from the end of lockdown. But there will be very few people there.’
Praise God for the rescue of three teenage girls from online child sexual exploitation in the Philippines. They are receiving trauma-informed care from the city social welfare department. Also, a group of 13 women and men were struggling to rebuild life in freedom after being rescued. An NGO bought new bicycles for them and helped them set up small businesses delivering milk and cloth in their community - where they now earn steady incomes. Pray for more creative ways to support survivors long-term. Praise God that there have been over 100 convictions by government prosecutors for cases of online exploitation of children.
A married Christian couple, detained for being ‘apostates and evangelists spreading Christianity’ in Muslim-majority Somaliland, have been suddenly released and deported to Somalia, allowing them to subsequently travel with their youngest child to a safe country and be reunited with their two elder sons. The couple were arrested by police on 21 September when Christian material was found at their home. They made several appearances in the Somaliland regional court. Then European representatives raised the case with the ministry of religious affairs and the couple were unexpectedly released and ordered to be deported on 1 November.
At the Global Outreach Day, Christian felt that there was someone in the audience who had attempted suicide in the last couple of weeks. Using the microphone, he shared this word of knowledge and some other words of encouragement. A woman who was part of the outreach team then gave her testimony publicly for the first time. After the testimony, a young woman approached the ministry team and shared private details about her life. She said she had been raped several times in her life as a child and had already tried suicide several times: the last time was six days earlier. After the team shared the Gospel with her, she experienced the presence of Jesus and gave her life to him. She felt a wind blow on her back, not understanding what was going on. The team explained this could be the Holy Spirit who wanted to reveal himself and to touch her life. She said she will not attempt suicide again.
Only New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving interrupt the daily 6 am prayer meetings that Pastor David Galvan has held since 5 February 1996 at New Life Church in Dallas. On Thanksgiving, the church holds an annual baptism in an area lake, incorporating prayer into the meeting. On New Year’s Day, the church is in worship and fellowship from 7 pm on New Year’s Eve to the early hours of the New Year, including prayer. Other holidays, including Christmas, are included in the daily schedule. When Covid-19 restrictions briefly limited gatherings to ten people months ago, Galvan transitioned the daily prayer hour from the church’s 190-seat chapel to a conference call. Attendance has more than quadrupled. ‘All these years up to the pandemic, it attracted from 5 to 12 people on weekdays and on Saturday it was about 70. Now we’re averaging 35 to 50 daily’.
On 2 November Karachi police recovered a 13-year-old Christian girl and arrested the Muslim accused of abducting and forcibly marrying and converting her. The action came after a rising tide of protests over the previous validation of the marriage. The girl, Arzoo Raja, was due to appear on 5 November at a court hearing which will hear evidence about Arzoo’s age (her parents have provided proof that she was born in 2007) and decide whether she was forcibly converted and if her marriage is legal.
Praise God for the successful rescue of two teenage girls from a small-town brothel in South Asia. A partner NGO of International Justice Mission (IJM) discovered this case and worked with local police, while IJM helped provide security and legal advice. Police also arrested one man and one woman who were selling the girls for sex in the brothel.
Comic Relief will stop sending celebrities to Africa after criticism that stars like Stacey Dooley were going to Africa as ‘white saviours’. The charity will also stop using images of starving people or critically ill children to portray the continent, it has announced. Instead, its fundraising appeals will be made by local film-makers with a ‘more authentic perspective’. Sir Lenny Henry, who co-founded Comic Relief in 1985, welcomed the move; saying, ‘A lot has changed over Comic Relief's 35 years, and so the way we raise money and talk about the issues and the people we are here to support, must change as well. African people don't want us to tell their stories for them. What they need is more agency, a platform and partnership.’ The films will explore issues including mental health, climate change and forced marriages.
‘Volleyball has taught me many valuable life lessons about integrity, hard work and perseverance, but my athletic experiences and lessons learned pale in comparison to my greatest passion, living a life committed to the person of Jesus Christ,’ said Jenny the daughter of 1960 decathlete gold-medal winner Rafer Johnson. Jenny grew up in the world of sports and joined a highly competitive UCLA college programme. ‘When I made it to the collegiate level I was just learning how to own my faith and what it means to have God in my sport, that they’re not separate things’ She had a Christian coach who encouraged her to keep up her Christian testimony. As she accepted the challenge, she got even better at volleyball and became the team captain. Her team won All-Tournament Team honours. Later, she and her partner won the silver medal at the beach volleyball world championships in Marseille.