Displaying items by tag: christianity
Religious intolerance in one of the most religious countries in Africa is dominating debates ahead of next year's elections. It is rare to find anyone not devout in the mainly Muslim north or mainly Christian south. There is no official religion. Although they are guaranteed religious freedom the religious minorities live in fear. ‘We don't have freedom to worship. You are in trouble if you dress like a Muslim. We hide our religion.’ said Ibrahim, a Muslim in southern Nigeria. Obinna Nnadi once lived in the north but felt it was not safe to practise Christianity, so she moved her family south. Islamic law is in place in much of northern Nigeria. Rev Caleb Ahima, vice-president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, acknowledges that religious discrimination is a consequence of location. Meanwhile Odinani, the African traditional religion before Christianity, is making a comeback with younger people who are also facing intolerance and aggression.
Chinese officials locked down a popular resort city after 450 Covid-19 cases emerged, causing over 2,000 tourists to be stranded as the city conducts mass testing. China’s ‘zero-Covid’ policy puts immense pressure on regional leaders to eliminate the virus. Wuhan also has a lockdown over a case of cholera. Bibles for China’s Kurt Rovenstine said it was a local official who restricted travel. That incited some panic. Rovenstine said that churches and schools suffer the worst from lockdowns. One parent said her son could only attend school six weeks out of the seventeen in the semester. Churches can’t meet to offer the Lord’s Supper, and people can’t go to church to receive a Bible. There are many requests for Bibles around China. Despite the challenges, Christians throughout China remain committed to growing in Jesus. They want to share His story with their neighbours.
Over 24 people were killed and 3,000 displaced this month as the nation battled a surge of election violence in the runup to choosing the next prime minister: either incumbent James Marape or the PM who preceded him, Peter O’Neill. Mr Marape promises to make Papua New Guinea ‘the richest black Christian nation on earth’, while Mr O’Neill’s campaign centres on healthcare, education and job creation. The government funds church programmes that provide health and education services through the Church-State Partnership Programme. Pray for peace to come to the island and for an end to politically-motivated violence. Pray for Christianity to take deep root on the island without being diluted and mixed with traditional and animist beliefs. Pray for God to help His Church overcome the attacks from those who practise sorcery and witchcraft. Pray that people would gain a true understanding of what it means to follow Christ.
Hillsong Phoenix lead pastor Terry Crist has resigned from the Hillsong church and taken his congregation with him. Nine US-based Hillsong churches have left the global organisation in two weeks as the movement shrinks dramatically. The church’s high-profile scandals include the resignation of Australian founder Brian Houston after he breached a code of conduct with two women. The pastor of Hillsong Atlanta left immediately after to launch a new church at Easter. Pastor Crist lost confidence in the global board to continue to lead them as a congregation and had asked to be allowed a local governing board while still operating under the Hillsong banner. The board refused. Pray for the Hillsong families as they process the pain of separation from their community. Pray for healing and change where change is needed.
Sidqi’s family had strong ties to Islamic extremists and hated Christians. He harassed his Christian school friends - but they responded with love. When he beat up a boy and stole his jacket, the boy brought him another jacket the next day, saying ‘You might need this in winter’. These Christians had Sidqi’s attention, and he became friends with the people he had hated. When the father of his friend had an accident, the Christians gathered around to pray for him. Then, when his cousin had an accident, his mother prevented her father from helping someone from that side of the family. Sidqi saw the difference between Christianity and Islam and realised his community had been spreading lies about Christians. He began joining his Christian friends to read the Bible. Then when he prayed to Jesus, ‘Who are you?’ he saw a bright light. A hand touched him. A voice said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’
Most of Jordan's population have not heard a good gospel message. Ways of changing this include literature, media ministry, friendship evangelism, development programmes, home meetings and camps. Pray for a sensitive witness to Muslims and protection of converts amid persecution. Pray also that the growing number of Muslim-background believers have the legal right to convert from Islam. Palestinians are a majority in Jordan. Many are second- or third- generation residents after leaving their traditional homeland. Some integrate into Jordanian life; others suffer from disillusionment, bitterness, and frustration which only the Man of Calvary can heal. Due to the Gulf Wars a million Iraqis also fled to Jordan. Years later, nearly half of these are unable or unwilling to return home. Christian work among them produces a good response. Jordanian churches have effective and widespread ministry to these refugees but need to be granted permission to educate them.
Evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews in Washington have united to offer their sacred spaces for vaccine distribution to assist government and private companies to combat the pandemic. Walter Kim, of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Rabbi Moshe Hauer, of the Orthodox Union, stated, ‘Anyone in need of vaccination, whether or not they are members of our congregations or of our neighborhoods, is welcome.’ They offered to help with coordinating appointments and providing the medically trained volunteers to administer the shots, as well as spreading awareness to our communities about the importance of vaccination. Hauer said that everything about his faith compels him to contribute to the historic vaccination effort. His tradition teaches that not only is life the greatest gift from God, but it is an obligation to care for the well-being of others.
Poverty on the Blackfeet Indian reservation is 37% compared to 15% in Montana state. Dr Mary DesRosier is on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. Her patients struggle with addiction, depression and substance abuse. Liver-related deaths and drug-use-poisoning deaths are among the top five causes of death. But her patients are living examples of their faith; facing unimaginable challenges with faith and humour. ‘It’s been the hardest job I’ve ever done, but the most rewarding,’ she said. ‘I feel like I’m ministered to by them.’ DesRosier believes that God put a love for rituals and sacredness in the hearts of the Blackfeet. ‘Christ is the fulfilment of our traditions. We have a heart for the one true God, Jesus. I can’t do anything without him. He is my springboard, walking with me every day. In difficult situations, his grace just comes in and takes over.’
Many Croatians inhabit the land of the Dalmatian coast which in the 20th century became part of Yugoslavia. The region of Dalmatia is mentioned in the Bible, when Titus left Paul to go there. Croats had access to the Gospel very quickly, and different orders of Roman Catholicism worked among the people. For centuries Croats considered themselves Roman Catholic. Croatia nurtures religious freedom: there are Roman Catholic cathedrals and churches, Orthodox churches, Protestant churches, Islamic mosques, and other minority religions. However, the biggest problem is corruption. ‘Giving favours’, as it is called, is the way of thinking for many. Unfortunately, they do not consider it sinful or recognise the consequences of it for society in general.
Christian doctor David Mackereth, with over 26 years of experience, found that for upholding Biblical truth you can lose your job. A judge has ruled that his belief in Genesis 1:27 is ‘incompatible with human dignity’. The judge is saying that there is no protection in law for the Biblical belief that God made humans unchangeably male and female, putting Christian truth in the same category as racist and Neo-Nazi views. David held to what God says about men and women and his Christian views were not protected in a UK court of law. He lost his job for telling the truth, and now an Employment Tribunal has ruled against him. Christian Concern’s expert legal team has already started work to take this case to an appeal tribunal.