Displaying items by tag: Middle East
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.
A Turkish court sentenced Syriac priest Father Sefer to two years and one month in prison on terrorism-related charges. This sentence comes just over a year after Father Bileçen was detained alongside twelve others on the charges of aiding the PKK, an internationally recognised terrorist organisation. Father Bileçen said, ‘Two members of the organisation came to the monastery asking for food, and I gave it. It was detected afterwards, and the gendarmerie commander met me through the metropolitan bishop. I did not deny it. I wanted security measures to be taken so that this would not happen again. But no security measures were taken.’ Nevertheless he thought the case was closed. Christians in rural Turkey are caught in the middle of the Turkey-PKK conflict and no matter how they respond - they lose. Religious charity is being criminalised.
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.
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
Pope Francis is making a monumental trip to Iraq in order to bring healing to the war-torn society. As the very first pope to set foot on Iraq's soil, he plans to meet with key Christian and Muslim leaders to address issues faced by both groups. This event is being heralded by the Iraqi government as a ‘historic event, symbolising a message of peace to Iraq and the whole region.’ Peace indeed is needed for the small remnant of Christians left in Iraq. Christian communities were scattered by the Daesh onslaught in 2014, further shrinking the country’s already dwindling Christian population. Their struggle to endure will get a boost from the historic visit in March, his first foreign trip since the coronavirus pandemic and a sign that ‘You’re not alone, there’s someone who is thinking of you, who is with you’.
President Mahmoud Abbas has guaranteed that at least seven seats of a new legislative council will go to Christians in the elections in the occupied territories to be held on 22 May. Hanan Ashrawi, a Christian who recently resigned her position on the PLO’s executive committee, said she is uneasy about reserving seats for specific communities. However, the president of Bethlehem Bible College said, ‘This is an important and long-awaited opportunity for young Palestinian Christians to participate in this public process, whether as candidates or as voters’. Emigration due to violence has produced a huge drop in the Palestinian Christian population. Many believe the way to fight emigration is to give them reasons to stay. What is needed is a system that protects people and provides for their rights, not allow churches to become museums.
Ahead of the March elections, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is repeating promises he made nine years ago to control crime rates in Arab towns and villages. A recent firefight broke out on 1 February, when the police tried to stop men from shooting at a house. The Arab gang started shooting at the police with automatic weapons. When it was over, two young people were dead. One was suspected of firing at the house, but the other, Ahmed Hijazi, was a nursing student who happened to be in the vicinity but was not involved in the incident. The next day, thousands from local Arab towns and villages took to the street to protest Hijazi’s death and the police's inability to rein in crime in Arab society. Over the weekend, thousands more marched against escalating crime rates. Netanyahu has spent the last few weeks visiting Arab towns and villages and holding Zoom meetings with Arab mayors to discuss crime and violence in their towns.
One For Israel (OFI), the world’s only Hebrew Bible college, is challenging the rabbis, in a way they cannot limit,v by posting a series of videos backing Yeshua’s messianic claims on the internet. OFI’s president said, ‘We have seen how ready many hearts are to receive Him, once they hear in a relevant and understandable way. This awakening has largely been brought about by Covid. People forced to stay home are bored and are confronted with a dangerous disease that makes them think about eternity. Revival has started among the Jews in Israel. This is only the tip of the iceberg.’ OFI are also hosting discipleship videos for those still too shy to join a local congregation as Messianic Jews.
International Christian Concern (ICC) has observed a marked increase of reported religious freedom violations within Turkey since the start of the New Year. While most of these recent violations impact church buildings, they also include a lack of interest by the authorities in pursuing and protecting justice for Christian victims. Churches are seen as a source of income both by the government (faith tourism) and by society (treasure hunters). Otherwise, church buildings are neglected by the government and often turned into mosques. Pray for the protection and perseverance of believers in Turkey. Pray that the government will honor Christian landmarks and churches.
The Gaza Strip recently took advantage of the latest technologies used to produce drinkable distilled water, thanks to Israeli cooperation. Damour for Community Development, a nongovernmental organisation based in Ramallah in the West Bank, brought into the besieged enclave two atmospheric water generators that turn air into water using solar power. The machines are produced by an Israeli branch of a US company that obtained the patent for this device. Arava Institute for Environmental Research in Israel also donated a third generator for drinking water at a specialised hospital for children in the Gaza Strip. The generators are three months into a six-month trial phase to assess their operation and quality. They will not solve Gaza’s water crisis but will raise residents’ awareness of this technology, which can be the solution to clean water. The suppliers of the generators managed to work without dealing with the Hamas-controlled government institutions which do not coordinate with the Israeli side.