Displaying items by tag: Asia
Christians in Myanmar are praying for their country, they are in the streets, on their knees with their head bowed or laying down stretched out with arms raised. Whole neighbourhoods are involved in visible prayer. Christians in Myanmar have been persecuted for probably a hundred years in this Buddhist country; they make up about 6% of the population. The military has been continually attacking them, and they have suffered terribly. When there was a democratically elected government the Christians were doing better. But with the recent military coup, under Chinese pressure, the whole population, including Buddhists have had enough of the military and they want democracy. The Christians are lying down in the streets: not a political protest, they’re crying out to God for peace and healing. Please join those praying for an end to this deteriorating situation and relieve the population from fear of civil war.
Shi Minglei remembers the fear when twenty security officers arrested her husband, put a black hood over her head, and interrogated her for thirty hours. Her daughter Aliyah was unable to speak after the incident. On countless occasions she felt pain, fear loneliness and hopelessness as a wife of an imprisoned human rights activist. She received no responses to her requests for information; the authorities had dismissed his lawyer and assigned communist party lawyers to convince him to plead guilty. She was desperate and she prayed like Jesus had prayed in Gethsemane, ‘Father, take this cup from me, but not my will, Your will be done.’ Then Jesus spoke to her heart: ‘I know. I know everything about you.’ Later ChinaAid staff found her and helped her escape with her daughter from China. After living a life of fear and hopelessness she now felt secure, so she changed her name to Hope.
Speaking at a party conference, Kim Jong Un has told citizens to prepare for hard times ahead, following warnings from rights groups that the country faces dire food shortages and economic instability. North Korea has shut its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic, and trade with China, its economic lifeline, has come to a standstill. This is on top of existing international economic sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear programme. In a rare admission of looming hardship, the authoritarian leader of the single-party state called on officials to ‘wage another, more difficult Arduous March in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little’. The Arduous March is a term used by North Korean officials to refer to the country's struggle during the 1990s famine, when the fall of the Soviet Union left the country without crucial aid. The total number who starved to death is not known, but estimates range up to three million.
Sejun’s parents sent him to an Indian Buddhist monastery when he was 4 years old. For nine years, he studied Buddhist texts eight hours a day in the hope of becoming a monk. When he grew tired of being beaten for not perfectly memorising the texts, he went home to Nepal and enrolled in school. Whilst there, he heard about Jesus and started attending church. He said, ‘I found the Christians to be loving, kind and caring. I saw how if people love Jesus they learn to love and care for others.’ Two years later, he placed his faith in Christ and received a Bible from someone at school. He learned what Scripture teaches about sin and forgiveness. He had learned a similar concept of sin from Buddhist texts, but the idea of forgiveness was new to him. ‘In the Bible, I found that our sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ.’
Iran's foreign minister, blaming Israel for what Tehran called a 'terrorist attack' on its Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, has vowed to take revenge: 'The Zionists did this because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions; they have publicly said that they will not allow that. But we will take our revenge upon them'. Natanz was hit by a cyber-attack just a day after Tehran unveiled new uranium enrichment centrifuges there. Centrifuges are used in the process to create enriched uranium, which is used to make reactor fuel but can also be used to create nuclear weapons. Israeli media said its Mossad spy agency was responsible for the attack.
By 9 April authorities were struggling to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak just days before the country's New Year's holiday (April 13 - 15) when millions of people travel around the country. The government response was to close nightlife venues for two weeks. New infections are expected to rise to 10,000 per day if no adequate measures are taken. Some provinces are preventing travellers arriving from elsewhere, The government’s pandemic control is minimal and criticised. The New Year holiday was cancelled last year during the first outbreak. The slow vaccination drive means less than 1% have had their jabs. The government has field hospitals to accommodate any surge in patients, and said vacant rooms in hotels could be converted to accommodate infected people if numbers keep rising.
Kumbh Mela began this month. Hundreds of thousands of ash-smeared devout Hindus jostled to dip into the Ganges hoping to wash away their sins, while India reported a record surge in coronavirus infections. Huge crowds entered the river on special bathing days in the month-long festival. Health authorities had to pull back a Covid testing crew to avoid a stampede-like situation. 650,000 devotees bathed in the river on bathing day; many failed to observe social distancing. Infections in the city are over 500 daily since Kumbh Mela. It was just 25 to 30 last month. Hotels are isolation shelters for those infected. The government refused to call off the festival, fearing backlashes from religious leaders in the Hindu-majority country. New Covid cases hit a record 184,372 in 24 hours, more than double the figure at the start of the month. The festival has become a super-spreader.
No party leader has enough support to form a governing majority, so Israel’s president has handed the job to Benjamin Netanyahu amid his corruption trial. If there is another election, a definite possibility, we are looking at another five to six months in which the current government is still running the nation. Lord, do not allow this government to miss anything it needs to do during this time: yet do not allow them to touch anything that is to be reserved for the next government. We remember Your promise, ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.’ (Psalm 32:8). Thank You that Mr Netanyahu is still Israel's prime minister in all the world's chaos at this time. Strengthen him for as long as You have ordained him to lead Your nation. Psalm 75:7 says that You are the Judge; You put down one and exalt another.
While a Russian minister visited Myanmar for Armed Forces Day, security forces killed 114 peaceful protesters. His visit left observers wondering what Russia wanted to gain by strongly supporting the junta amid the bloodshed. But the timing was such that Russia, which never admits to anything, let alone apologise, felt the need to distance itself from Myanmar and sought to soften the damage to its image amid outrage over the deadly violence. Mr Putin’s spokesman said, ‘We are really worried by the growing number of civilian casualties. It is a source of deep concern. We are following Myanmar’s unfolding situation closely.’ The violence also challenges the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which must decide whether to stick to its principle of non-interference in members' internal affairs or not. China, which is the only nation against imposing sanctions on Myanmar, is influencing the situation for its own commercial and political advantage.
Last week we prayed for the nations to work towards ending Iran’s history of making weapons-grade nuclear material in underground facilities while denying their existence. This week the USA has joined talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal which the Trump administration abandoned in 2018. Acting as intermediaries, officials from the UK, France, and Germany are shuttling between two hotels in the Austrian capital. Diplomats from the two other remaining parties, Russia and China, are also attending. President Biden has said he wants to return to the landmark accord. But the six remaining states need to find a way for him to lift the sanctions imposed by his predecessor and for Iran to return to the agreed limits on its nuclear programme. Iran has said it will not meet the USA face to face until that happens.