Displaying items by tag: Pacific
Most opposition to religious freedom is opposition to the knowledge of the truth. Laws to prevent Christian schools teaching Christianity compromise a mission field. Laws that claim to ban ‘LGBT conversion therapy’ are more likely laws that ban parts of the Bible, key aspects of the Christian gospel, and a parent’s right to raise their gender-dysphoric child to affirm their biological sex. These laws are a serious attack on Christianity and the Christian home - another mission field. When employees cannot hold down their job whilst discussing beliefs grounded in God’s truth at work, another evangelistic option is lost. When people are losing professional accreditations, getting drummed out of universities, disciplined at work, and generally facing the prospect that the godly life is no longer a life of peace. We need to remember Paul’s call to ‘pray for our leaders’. The content of that prayer is that the godly life might be a life of peace.
The Australian Christian Lobby has been asking Christians to make their voices heard, as the Labour government plans to ban public schools from employing a school chaplain from January 2020. For almost two decades, students enrolled in a public school who sought advice and counsel have been able to receive help from a chaplain with religious and spiritual capabilities. The education minister explained the move by saying, ‘All we’re doing is taking the religion out of it’. But banning school chaplains is a ban on spiritual support for children. The government has decided that faith does not matter to children, and that relevant questions cannot be answered for students of faith. Depression and anxiety in youth are the highest in a very long time, so this is not the time to ban chaplains.
Crews are currently battling 120+ fires. ‘Leave now' warnings have gone to homes and dozens more are at ‘Watch and Act’ level. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and over a million hectares consumed. A water-bombing helicopter crashed in gusty conditions. Pray for the farmers who have lost entire crops and farm infrastructures. Ask God to comfort residents told to evacuate immediately and now fearful of what they will return to. Pray for stamina for the crews fighting fires and those patrolling smouldering zones. Pray for the police to have wisdom and discernment as they contend with looters impersonating firefighters to gain access to empty homes. The deputy prime minister dismissed talk of climate change as the concerns of ‘raving inner-city lefties’, adding, ‘We've had fires in Australia since time began’. See also
In June police raided Australia's national broadcaster and arrested a prominent journalist, Annika Smethurst, after government allegations of ‘publishing classified material’. At the time ABC stated, ‘An untrammelled media is important to public discourse and democracy’. Recently Australia’s biggest news outlets, normally fierce rivals, united in support of press freedom with a campaign including blacked-out newspaper front pages and slots on prime time broadcasts. The media are highlighting the constraints on them under strict national security legislation. The news outlets joined forces through a coalition known as the 'Right to Know’, in a joint action designed to agitate readers into action. One newspaper asked, ‘When government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?’ Annika Smethurst now faces possible criminal charges, ironically because she reported that the government was considering new powers to spy on all of us.
From Queensland to New South Wales, successive droughts and the need for extra water to fight bushfires have caused unprecedented shortages. Regions face the prospect of taps running out within months. This is a portion of a national prayer for rain issued by Christian leaders: ‘We acknowledge that You are the Lord of the universe, the One who provides the rain to water the Earth so that crops, livestock and humans can flourish. We ask that in Your mercy You would send rain. We pray for physical rain and spiritual revival rain to flow through Australia. We thank You, Lord, for past revivals, and pray that the latter rain would be even greater than the former rain. Bless the work of our hands, especially the farmers on the land, and give us peace. We thank You for renewal of our land and renewal of our faith.’ See also
A five-year-old boy, from a family of Holocaust survivors, suffered anti-Semitic harassment at a school in Melbourne where pupils hounded him in the school toilets, calling him a ‘Jewish cockroach’. He was chased continuously to the bathroom and laughed at for being circumcised, to the point that he started to wet himself in class rather than using the toilet. His mother said that after behaving strangely for months, one morning he burst out crying over breakfast and literally fell down on the floor, saying, ‘Mummy, you shouldn’t love me. I’m a worthless Jewish rodent. I’m vermin’. Meanwhile a 12-year-old Jewish student was forced to kneel and kiss the shoes of a Muslim classmate. Then nine boys beat him up. Because the incident happened outside school, education officials denied responsibility for the incident. Melbourne media also reported other acts of anti-Semitism.
Mission Australia is a Christian charity supporting disadvantaged families and children, fighting homelessness and issues around mental health and addiction. They have invited young people aged 15-19 to participate in a wide-ranging national survey. Last year’s survey identified mental health as the top issue facing young Australians, with a rating of 43% (it was 34% in 2017 and 21% in 2016). The top three personal concerns in previous surveys were coping with stress, school or study problems, and mental health. The annual survey provides a valuable snapshot of where young people are and offers important insights that inform the work of charities, community groups and government decision makers.
Western and central New South Wales faces a water crisis within months unless it rains. The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia has two rivers (Murray and Darling) draining 1/7th of Australia’s land mass. They expect 10% reduced water entitlements in Australia’s most significant agricultural area. In 114 years of record-keeping, 2019 is among the driest years and it is getting worse. The NSW government sent 13 representatives to towns to discuss their water supplies and assess the impact of the prolonged and severe drought on businesses. Burrendong Dam is at 5.9% capacity and even with water restrictions, will be empty within 12 months. There is no ground water to be accessed by bores. Authorities are considering building emergency pipelines. The Bureau of Meteorology has put Australia on an “El Niño WATCH. Meaning a 50% likelihood of El Niño developing. Meanwhile India focuses on acute water challenge in major cities. See
The Australian Christian Lobby is raising the profile of the need to protect religious freedom. They are stating that for some time now, the threat to religious freedom in Australia has not been merely a threat, but a reality and Australians now live in a country where religious freedom isn’t guaranteed. Countless court cases and new laws have already prevented Christians from living out and sharing their faith – and the cost is great. Loss of religious freedom paves the way for loss of other freedoms, and also restricts Australian Christians from sharing their faith with others. Pray for the voice of the Christian Lobby to be heard by the Governor-General, and in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and for those in society who are doing and thinking wrongly to be changed.
Townsville, with 180,000 people, has been facing tropical cyclones, king tides and drenching summer rain. Over a metre of rain fell in seven days, leaving many residents without power; others were cut off by flooded roads. The Ross River dam flooded beyond capacity, necessitating the opening of gates and the release of 1,900 cubic metres of water a second. 20,000 homes were flooded. A flotilla of boats rescued hundreds, with police, emergency services and soldiers stretched to the limit. Authorities have now warned residents not to swim in flooded suburbs, where crocodiles and snakes have been spotted. More monsoon rain is forecast for next week. Meanwhile, parts of southern Australia are in the grip of a severe drought, and record temperatures of 49.5C have caused bushfires and hospital admissions. See