Displaying items by tag: Asia
Lebanon has failed again to form a new government. President Michel Aoun wants help from other countries to overcome the deadlock. There is economic despair as political instability drives the currency down. As the currency dips further, the minimum wage sinks below that of third-world countries. It is unbelievable how little people are earning now. They are stuck in a vicious circle, with no end in sight. Each time the currency loses value, prices go up, and people can buy fewer daily essentials. A bottle of milk was 3,000 Lebanese lira, now it’s 8,000. But that same bottle of milk bought with US dollars is less than 50 cents. It becomes ¼ of the price for people with dollars, but the poor people pay over double the price. As the crisis worsens, people have nowhere to put their hope, so they are starting to put their hope in Christ.
Just one of the Christian prisoners in China is Pastor John Cao (60), serving a seven-year prison sentence for ‘organising illegal border crossings’ between China and Myanmar. He made many trips from America to his native China to establish schools and work among the poor before expanding his humanitarian work into Myanmar. He was detained in 2017 while returning to China from Myanmar and sentenced a year later. His defence lawyer and his mother asked prison authorities to deliver a Bible to him. They refused. His mother writes Bible verses in each letter she sends. Please ask God to bless Pastor John and keep his faith strong, and pray for healing from his various health problems. Pray that he will be released early. Pray for his witness to prisoners and guards, and that others would continue his ministry to the poor.
Myanmar protesters burned down and looted Chinese-owned businesses in Yangon. When China's embassy asked the junta to restore order, they obliged and killed scores of demonstrators. The anti-China riots add a fresh international dimension to Myanmar's political crisis. The protesters are angry at China's thinly veiled support for Myanmar’s junta. This backlash is a big test for Beijing, a rising global power and regional heavyweight. Many believe China will not look the other way while its interests in Myanmar literally go up in flames. China has always wanted a piece of Myanmar’s earth metals and waterways. Beijing wants the generals to restart long-shelved plans for a controversial hydropower dam to generate electricity for China, which locals fear will damage the environment and force thousands to relocate. China also needs Myanmar to continue building a natural gas pipeline which will give them access to the Indian Ocean, where China is competing for maritime supremacy with India.
Many Christians in Iran are paying a high price for their faith in Jesus. They have lost jobs, homes or even custody of children. Some have been physically abused. Many are rejected by friends and family, and some are unjustly imprisoned in Iran’s notorious prison system. Prayer strengthens our brothers and sisters and reminds them that they are not forgotten. In a letter from prison, Pastor Farshid Fathi writes, ‘I sense the fragrance of your prayers as a cool breeze on my heart and it strengthens me from afar’. For the region’s Christians, SAT-7’s Persian TV channel presenters will also mark the New Year (Nowruz) festival on 20 March by highlighting the new life we have in Christ.
In what has been called Myanmar's ‘Tiananmen moment’, Sister Ann Roza knelt in front of armed security forces to stop them firing on civilians. She was giving treatment at a clinic when groups of protesters passed by; then they were fired on and beaten by the police and military. ‘I was shocked and thought today is the day I will die. I was asking and begging them not to do it and was crying like a mad person, like a mother hen protecting the chicks. I thought it would be better that I die instead of lots of people. I was crying out loud. My throat was in pain. My intention was to help people escape and be free to protest and to stop the security forces. I was begging them. At that time I was not afraid.’
The 23 March election will be unique in Israel's modern history. One of the most important variables is the number of people in isolation or tested sick with Covid, who will forgo their right to vote at the last minute, in spite of stringent measures to protect their health. Also, an outbreak of infection in specific areas (Arab or Haredi communities) could sharply reduce turnout and affect votes for specific parties. Three of the top four parties are right-wing. Many are concerned about Israel's lack of progress toward peace with the Palestinians. They blame it on Israel's right-wing leaders and the Israelis who have shifted rightward because of the persistent ‘Palestinian failure to accept Israel's overtures for peace’, which has led to increased terrorism. Today most Israelis do not see the Palestinians as truly wanting peace. See
With limited space and a lack of options for hydro-electricity and wind power, Singapore faces logistical challenges in the push towards renewable energy. Environmental advocacy groups have long accused the country of failing to do enough to address climate change, even as rising sea levels have become a growing threat. Climate Action Tracker said Singapore’s efforts to combat climate change have been weak. It is now investing in a huge floating solar farm at sea. Oceans are the ‘new frontier’ in electricity production, says Shawn Tan, the firm carrying out the project. The solar farm has 13,000 solar panels laid out at sea between Singapore and Malaysia, capable of producing up to five megawatts of electricity - enough energy to power 1,400 residential flats year-round. Meanwhile, Pentagon scientists are currently testing solar satellites to beam energy to anywhere on Earth.
To boost international travel, China has launched a digital health certificate programme for citizens with an encrypted QR code that gives authorities a traveller’s health information. QR health codes on smartphone apps are already required to gain entry to domestic transport and many public spaces. The apps track a user’s location and produce a ‘green’ code if a user has not been in close contact with a confirmed case or has not travelled to a virus hotspot. But the system has sparked privacy concerns and fears it marks an expansion of government surveillance. The certificate, launched on 8 March, shows a user’s vaccination status and test results via China’s social media platform WeChat. It will ‘help promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross-border travel’, a foreign ministry spokesman said. Bahrain has introduced a vaccine passport; the USA, UK and EU are considering similar permits.
A video from Pakistan shows Tabitha, a Christian nurse, who was beaten by fellow nurses and staff after accusations of blasphemy. The hospital where she worked issued an order that medical staff could not receive tips or deal with money from patients. Tabitha reminded a Muslim co-worker of the order when she saw she was collecting money from a patient. When Tabitha mentioned it to her superior, she was dragged off into a closet, tied and beaten up. Blasphemy accusations are highly inflammatory in Pakistan and often lead to mob violence and vigilante killings. The life of a blasphemer is much like the story The Scarlet Letter, but instead of wearing the letter A for adulterer, they walk through life with an invisible B for blasphemer. Police investigated and found the accusations to be false. However, the family remains in hiding due to threats associated with the accusations.
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”.’