Displaying items by tag: Religion
Christian MPs have shared their views on the Chancellor's economic plan. Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said, ‘What are we going to do to help 16-24 yr olds who have not even gone into the labour market yet? I didn't hear enough on that. I don't think there was any mention of the NHS or social care; nor of teachers and schools, when we have this massive educational challenge ahead of us. I felt it wasn't looking long-term enough.’ Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne said Mr Sunak's timetable was ‘masterful’, adding, ‘We will have to pay for it, and that was an important message to have got across’. Former Labour politician and Christian peer Frank Field said it was the best budget he had seen in his 42 years in politics, saying it met current needs and set out a plan for the future. For many more Christian insights, click the 'More' button.
Over a dozen lives are claimed in nightly raids in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On 1 March Italian diplomats and World Food Programme workers were killed in an attack on a UN convoy. Officials blame the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, for this incident - the latest in a disturbing trend. Armed groups have killed over a thousand civilians in eastern DRC since late 2019. ‘In 2021, we’ve seen mass attacks by these Muslim extremists,’ said Voice of the Martyrs Canada. There are more than 100 armed groups operating in DRC. Not all of them are Islamic, but those that are have one goal in mind. They are radical, and even though they may have lost some control in places like Iraq and Syria they’re doing whatever they can to cause destruction, particularly where a large majority of people are Christian.
Four Christian men were beaten and scarred by knives carving Xs on their skin, and forced to eat sheets of the Bible in a recent shocking incident in Venezuela. The perpetrators are believed to oppose the work of Restoration House, a church-led drug rehabilitation programme in the city of Libertador, which the four victims had joined. Threats had been made against the house before the attack. In Latin America, the illegal activities of drug gangs are endangered by churches who deter people from criminality. This can lead to opposition, which explains this latest Venezuelan incident. The men have since been discharged from hospital. One remains in particularly poor health, with injuries to his lungs and head and two broken ribs. Two others have their legs and arms in casts. Pray for God to surround them with His healing presence, and that they will continue their recoveries from drug addiction and grow in their walks with Jesus.
From Belarus and Portugal to Sri Lanka and Suriname, Bible Societies are facing financial collapse in countries hardest-hit by the pandemic. Two thirds of Bible Societies around the world now face significant survival challenges: 20% risk immediate closure. However, we can thank God for $4.1 million given to them by a global Solidarity Fund, to provide finances for staff salaries, Bible translations, and continued work on essential outreach projects.
Egypt will now allow Muslims to build Christian churches as paid labourers. In the past, Muslims have often seen this kind of work as taboo. The pronouncement allows them to help build any of the 44 churches now under construction around Egypt. They can also join the work on 16 historic Coptic churches now being restored. Tom Doyle of Uncharted Ministries says, ‘This is a big step. This is the government saying, “We are giving our okay for this”. And that’s another good sign. So we are thankful for that, and pray that there will be better relations between Muslims and Christians. We know as Muslims become exposed to the Gospel and see the joy of the Lord in believers, it is attractive to them. They want to know more. Saudi Arabia is the heart of Arab Islam. But Egypt is the brains of Arab Islam.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury has launched a new commission to explore how the Church can help resolve Britain's housing crisis. The housing shortage is one of the ‘major challenges’ facing Britain. He said the nation must think about building strong communities not just bricks and mortar. Academics and theologians will discuss Christian perspectives on providing affordable homes and flourishing neighborhoods. The commission follows the archbishop's book published last year, Reimagining Britain, in which he connected good-quality housing with equality and justice. The report recommends that thousands of hectares of unused church land be used to build affordable homes in the next few years. The legalities for selling church assets could be amended so that land and buildings are used for social and environmental needs, not just economic benefits. See
Unity among believers is a key issue for the diverse churches in Aruba. Division can undermine any numerical growth of believers. The greatest threat to this unity is the importation of alien theology, church culture and preaching style common among the televangelists and prosperity preachers seen on foreign Christian TV. Praise God for increased fellowship and cooperation among pastors, enabling evangelicals to present a united front and impact society on issues such as homosexual marriage legislation, teen drug addiction, and the high rate of illegitimate births (about 50%). There are three Christian radio stations: Radio Victoria (originally TEAM) and two others broadcast to Aruba and the Venezuelan coast. TWR broadcasts to Bonaire on its FM station and internationally through shortwave and the Internet. The gospel is also proclaimed on programmes that appear on secular radio and TV.
Pastor Michael travelled to Turkey in 1999 as a relief worker, following the devastating earthquake that killed 17,000 people. He and his family settled there, and he has been pastor of Yalova Lighthouse Church since 2003. Earlier in February he was detained by the authorities and held for 30 hours, then given ten days to leave the country, an order deferred while his case proceeds. An appeal against the deportation order is to be heard in Ankara. Since 2019, about 70 overseas Christian leaders have been similarly expelled from Turkey as ‘threats to national security’. Hostility towards Christians has worsened as secularism gives way to Islam with the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Its founder, President Erdogan, is outspoken about his desire to recreate the Ottoman Empire.
President Mahmoud Abbas has guaranteed that at least seven seats of a new legislative council will go to Christians in the elections in the occupied territories to be held on 22 May. Hanan Ashrawi, a Christian who recently resigned her position on the PLO’s executive committee, said she is uneasy about reserving seats for specific communities. However, the president of Bethlehem Bible College said, ‘This is an important and long-awaited opportunity for young Palestinian Christians to participate in this public process, whether as candidates or as voters’. Emigration due to violence has produced a huge drop in the Palestinian Christian population. Many believe the way to fight emigration is to give them reasons to stay. What is needed is a system that protects people and provides for their rights, not allow churches to become museums.
Following last week’s intercessions for our Christians in Parliament as they meet up virtually to read the Bible and offer pastoral support, pray for God to anoint them as they walk alongside other people in difficult circumstances and for new opportunities to give one-to-one support. Our Christian MPs also hope to run a course exploring the Christian faith soon; please pray that those who would benefit from such a course would be able to find the right time to meet. Also, plans are being made for this year's National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. Please pray for God to give the organisers wisdom as they work out what will be feasible given the ongoing Covid restrictions. Pray that whatever format the event takes, it will be an encouragement for all who attend and a vehicle for strengthening relationships between church leaders and their local MPs.