Displaying items by tag: Religion
Speaking on a beach in Cornwall at the G7 summit, ITV's Robert Peston asked Boris Johnson whether he is now a practising Roman Catholic, having recently married in Westminster Cathedral. The Prime Minister replied, ‘I don't discuss these deep issues, certainly not with you’. Peston laughed and followed up by saying that Sir Keir Starmer has said he does not believe in God, and asked again if Mr Johnson did. The Prime Minister paused then referenced Psalm 14: ‘The foolish man has said in his heart there is no God’. Peston accepted his answer and finished the interview. The sentence also appears in Psalm 53. The rest of the verse describes those who deny God: ‘They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.’
Lament for the children and young people missing from the pews is ‘the heart’s cry of the Church’, the Archbishop of York said this week. He described his visits to churches mainly populated by older people and sometimes with no children or young people at all. ‘When I speak to them and ask them about their hopes and dreams for their church, almost without exception the first thing so-called older people say is “We wish there were more children and young people here.”’ Dr Sanjee Perera, the Archbishops’ adviser on minority ethnic Anglican concerns, spoke of decades of youth work in Anglican provinces that felt like ‘an exhausting losing battle’. Youth pastor Amanda Neill acknowledged that having a large youth group of more than 50 young people was ‘definitely unusual’. Young people think that the Church is outdated and irrelevant.
Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest nation, is often devastated by floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, with poverty making these disasters harsher than in richer countries. Money sent home by Haitians overseas saves lives but does not fill Haiti’s biggest needs: roads, bridges, clinics, schools and electricity. 70% of Haitians are Catholics, but many mingle their Catholicism with voodoo, which is rooted in West African animism. Evangelicals have grown in numbers, through love in action and openly standing against voodoo. Pray for good leaders at every level of society and church who will build the nation rather than loot or exploit it. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Haiti that will transform lives and communities. A truly renewed Catholic Church would be a great force for good. Pray that Catholics re-centre on simple, personal trust in Christ so that God can build their lives.
Israel: God’s chosen people in Scripture, the very bloodline of Jesus Christ: yet most Jews in Israel still wait for the Messiah, not realising or recognising that Jesus already came to save them. But the Holy Spirit is moving. A growing number of Jews are recognising Jesus as their Saviour, and Arabs in Israel are also turning to Christ. In fact, following the recent violence, Arab and Jewish Christians gathered at the Gaza fence to pray together!
In November Christian Concern and the Christian Schools’ Trust are jointly hosting another online conference, with free follow-up networking events, for Christians in education. In C S Lewis’ The Last Battle, the call to come ‘further up and further in’ is made to those on the cusp of a great new adventure. Those in education with a distinctively Christian vision will be stirred through these events, to ‘go deeper’ into His plans for them personally and for those they educate. Over 300 teachers and educationalists joined the previous online conference in February. The organisers are inviting all Christians in education to be part of this growing movement, seeking to be distinctively Christian in schools across the UK and beyond: being encouraged, envisioned, and equipped to serve the Lord in their schools, and to meet and network with other Christian teachers in the same key stage or subject.
M4 Ready is a ten-month online training course for people who have a potential to plant, lead and multiply churches in their nations. It is intended for younger leaders in local churches, denominations, networks or organisations with a more than average leadership potential who already have some track record of entrepreneurship, initiating new things, and bringing change. The M4 team process goes on to give further two years of training that seeks to help the church planter and their team succeed in the first years of church-planting. Success means that, at the end of the training process, the team is prepared to launch a healthy reproducing church that glorifies God and impacts society. See also the UK article ‘Bringing the Word of God back to the UK’.
St John's Seminary, near Guildford, has come to the end of an era. The 130-year-old institution has only five trainee priests and no new enrolments. The five students will continue their studies at the only other two remaining seminaries in England. In 2019 there were just 29 trainee Catholic priests in the whole country. 100 years ago there were enough seminarians to fill the steps of the grand Victorian building of St John’s. Its rector said, 'It's a very sad moment, but to carry on was not viable. When I trained here in 1973 I was one of 90. I never thought I'd be back overseeing its closure.' The loss of the seminary comes against a backdrop of an increasingly secular world and the fallout from countless sex abuse scandals in the church. The seminaries are swimming against the tide in an increasingly secular and materialistic society.
We prayed recently for the capture of terrorists in Indonesiawho killed four Christians. See ‘When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks’ (Qur’an 47:4). Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long wrestled with extremist militancy and terror attacks, while Central Sulawesi has seen intermittent violence between Christians and Muslims for decades. After President Suharto’s fall in 1998, Indonesian Muslims who had travelled to join the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s returned to Indonesia and formed various militant groups and launched multiple terrorist attacks. IS has capitalised on Indonesia’s Islamist networks to boost its recruitment efforts and carry out attacks in the country. IS propaganda is singling out Indonesian Muslims for recruitment.
Across Nigeria 1,470 Christians have been murdered and 2,200 abducted since January. The most recent offence was in Kaduna State when eight Christians were killed and a church was burned down. Pray for an end to such attacks by Fulani Muslim herdsmen and jihadists. In Burkina Faso jihadists ambushed a baptism and killed 15 of the Christians. Al-Qaeda and IS have been growing in West Africa since January. Pray for God's peace for the many who are living in fear and protection over those who ran away. In India’s Rajasthan state 15 radical Hindu nationalists carrying swords, sickles, and a gun attacked the family of a pastor after they all refused to renounce their Christian faith. The assailants killed the pastor’s 52-year-old father. Pray for God to strengthen and encourage church planters and house churches in different Hindu-dominant villages. Armenian Christian gravestones are used to build roads in Azerbaijan as they seek to eradicate evidence of Armenian culture and identity.
A Christian journalist in Bethlehem said the unrest between Israel and Gaza is a ‘spiritual battle’. In Genesis God tells the Jews, ‘I will give you this land’. Muslims believe that ‘a Messiah is coming soon and will free Jerusalem and give Israel and Palestine to them’. In his opinion this is making for a spiritual battle in the Holy Land - a view partly echoed by a Canon of St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem, Rev David Longe. ‘I think it's quite clear that elements within each of the warring factions will see it as a spiritual battle, because they will actually look to Scripture to give them the grounding for the reasons why these actions are happening.’ Rev Longe is desperately concerned for both sides in the violence, and believes it is vital for people across the world to continue to pray for peace in the region.