Displaying items by tag: Christians
Sadiq Khan has won another four years as London's mayor. He said in an interview that the church ‘does a lot of good for all Londoners’, and he finds the prayers for him when he visits churches ‘inspiring’. He thanks Christians for their prayers for himself and all our leaders, saying, ‘It is just so inspiring and I'm always struck.’ The former MP also praised churches for their role in social justice, saying, ‘Over the last five years, I've understood just how much our Christian communities contribute to London’s success. I've seen churches stepping up to provide support for lonely Londoners, give support for those sleeping rough, help the homeless and give young people constructive things to do.’ He added that churches are not just helping Christians, they are doing so much good for all Londoners, irrespective of faith, race or background.
Christians in Media is a UK network and community that supports, encourages and inspires Christians who work in, and with, the media - producers, journalists, photographers, editors, content creators, social media managers, press officers, and war correspondents. Through local meet-ups and a flourishing online network, they seek to help Christians better understand how their faith and work interact, and to encourage and inspire each other to be disciples whilst meeting the demands of the industry. Pray for more Christians to apply for media jobs, and for churches to engage positively with the media. Pray for Christians working in broadcasting and culture to be more visible as they boldly stand up for Christian values when planning programmes, inviting guests for interviews, and organising reviews of the news. Pray that what we read, listen to or watch will help us to go deeper in our faith.
Myanmar's military fired the country's ambassador to the UN after he called for the army to be removed from power. The security forces are intensifying their crackdown on protesters with live ammunition, killing many. A police major resigned in a show of solidarity with anti-coup protesters, saying, ‘I don’t want to continue serving under the current military regime.’ He had been with the Special Branch since 1989. See Christians in the country are asking for help because they have lived under military leadership for decades. They don’t want it back. But the church is not all aligned. Some think they need to be peaceful; others are more activist in nature. Please pray for the safety of Christians in Myanmar. Asian Access said, ‘If you have any way of connecting with people there, sending them words of encouragement is a huge help. You could even send messages to asianaccess.org. We could send those messages along, and say, “People are praying for you, they care about you”.’
Pope Francis is making a monumental trip to Iraq in order to bring healing to the war-torn society. As the very first pope to set foot on Iraq's soil, he plans to meet with key Christian and Muslim leaders to address issues faced by both groups. This event is being heralded by the Iraqi government as a ‘historic event, symbolising a message of peace to Iraq and the whole region.’ Peace indeed is needed for the small remnant of Christians left in Iraq. Christian communities were scattered by the Daesh onslaught in 2014, further shrinking the country’s already dwindling Christian population. Their struggle to endure will get a boost from the historic visit in March, his first foreign trip since the coronavirus pandemic and a sign that ‘You’re not alone, there’s someone who is thinking of you, who is with you’.
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.
Conditions are ripe for another military takeover in Thailand. There have been 13 coups since the 20th century began. Today, any conflict between pro-democracy demonstrators and monarchy supporters could give the military an excuse to take control. Led by students, ongoing pro-democracy protests have been largely peaceful. Demonstrators want the current prime minister to resign, and they are calling for constitutional reform. Protestors appealed to Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday after marching to the German embassy in Bangkok. Supporters of the Thai kingdom criticised this youthful movement saying, ‘Without a monarchy, there would be a civil war’. A lot of people trying to stand up for their lives and rights have others opposing them, leading to outbreaks of violence which are destroying society but also presenting a unique Gospel opportunity. The local church intends to be an agent of peace. Pray for Thai believers to stand out as peacemakers, drawing many to Christ.
‘The fastest-growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalised nations on earth,’ according to Sheep Among Wolves, a two-hour documentary about Iran’s revival that is reproducing discipleship movements that own no property or buildings, have no central leadership, and are predominantly led by women. Many of the ruling class still follow Islam, ‘because that’s where the high paying jobs are’, according to the film; but the majority of the ordinary people love God and recognise that Islam is the problem. The most powerful Christian leaders are very gentle, courageous women going out on the highways and byways sharing with prostitutes, drug addicts and everybody they come into contact with. Praise God for the abundance of Bibles in Farsi being distributed, and pray for those still translating His word into various Persian ethnic languages.
Pastor Fred Drummond gave his church leaders a list of programmes the congregation participated in and asked them to write down why they did these things. Many could not remember why certain programmes had started: not that they were bad, but people had been doing them for so long that they had forgotten their original purpose. Fred said, ‘I think these activities had been the passion of someone in leadership in the past. They had gone well at the start and people liked them - but then they just became part of the furniture. They are valued and take energy and capacity to maintain, but are they still fit for purpose? Having chatted to a variety of leaders of different ages, I found how quickly our thinking can become dominated by such programmes and activities. We keep the plates spinning as best we can because we know people like them, and we begin to use up more and more resources in order to sustain them.’
After more than three decades of Islamist rule, Sudan has passed reforms that include allowing non-Muslims to drink alcohol and have abolished the apostasy laws and flogging. From a Christian perspective, reforming the laws of the old regime allows Sudanese Christians to feel welcome in their country again now that Sudan is moving towards a government based not on religious values, but on general human rights is a major development. Pray that this move leads to an ongoing democratic transformation; so that continued reforms within government and society will favourably impact the lives of all minorities. Pray for Sudanese Christians to take advantage of new freedoms and begin to provide hope to the Muslim majority population.
From Morocco to Iraq there are various forms of lockdowns, strains on hospitals, food shortages, even martial law. These strains put more pressure on already-stressed communities. The potential spread of the disease among refugees and displaced populations could be catastrophic. Many are persecuted believers with no financial safety net and poor medical infrastructures. For war-torn Syria, the pandemic has taken the situation from bad to worse. ‘We are free from the armed militia in Aleppo, but prices here are soaring’, said Kareem, ‘We have all signed up to receive bread from the government, and the needs are overwhelming.’ In Turkey, many are Iranian converts from Islam who fled Iran after being imprisoned or tortured for their faith. Turkish locals now blame them for the spread of coronavirus. The government has cut off all assistance, and many Christians have lost their employment. The Bible advises to go to the Lord with trials and problems; this virus is a serious problem.