AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – INTERNATIONAL NEWS 11th NOVEMBER 2013
- AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN PRAYER INITIATIVE PRAYER POINTS
- FINLAND LEADER MAKING INTERNATIONAL WAVES WITH PRO-LIFE PROCLAMATIONS
- SYRIAN PASTOR SAYS ALMOST HALF OF DAMASCUS CHURCH GONE
- FINANCIAL CRISIS DRIVES UP GREEK SUICIDES
- CHURCH OF SCOTLAND MAY STOP PERFORMING ALL WEDDINGS TO AVOID LAWSUITS
- CAPITALISM REQUIRES TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN VIRTUES TO SUCCEED
- SCHOOL AFFIRMS PARENT’S RIGHT TO PRAY
FEDERAL COURT RULES TO KEEP “IN GOD WE TRUST” ON U.S. CURRENCY
AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN PRAYER INITIATIVE PRAYER POINTS
This year has been set aside by the International Prayer Movement as a year of prayer for Pakistan and Afghanistan. To assist this initiative, each month we are publishing prayer points to assist those participating in this assignment to focus in on specific issues in each of those nations. Here are this month’s prayer points.
If the Taliban were to succeed against the Afghan Army, Afghanistan would again become a training base for international terrorism as it was before and this would affect many nations!
* Pray that the weapon supply to the Taliban in Afghanistan will be cut off and that they will be thrown into confusion and disunity. There have been instances of this happening in the past.
Billions of dollars in foreign aid are being poured into the country – especially by the NATO countries, China and India. Over 1,500 Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) are registered – only 350 of them are foreign. Inefficiency and corruption are very real threats, but the recent implementation of tighter government regulations has forced NGOs to be transparent and efficient with their funds and activities.
* Pray that the foreign aid that is pouring into Afghanistan will not be wasted through inefficiency nor diverted by corruption but will find its way to the most needy people in the country, and to rebuild the nation’s shattered infrastructure Sixty% of Afghans are under the age of 20 and have known nothing but war; they long for opportunities in education and employment and some freedom of choice. Up to 4.5 million Afghans have returned after fleeing the country when it was under Taliban control. Many of them bring financial resources, international connections and an entrepreneurial spirit to help establish new businesses.
* Pray for the raising up of strong and effective leaders from the emerging generation in Afghanistan. Pray that the youth of Afghanistan will not be drawn into the ongoing war but be able to break free from the control of the Taliban and local warlords and provide new impetus to efforts to bring freedom and peace to this troubled nation.
In the past month Pakistan was rocked by a pair of suicide bombers who blew themselves up outside a 130-year-old Anglican church killing at least 78 people in the deadliest attack on Christians in this predominantly Muslim country. Explosions struck the historic All Saints Church as hundreds of parishioners, many of them women and children, streamed out of the building. An estimated 100 people were wounded. The Taliban-linked militant group, TTP Jundullah, claimed responsibility.
* Pray for the end of Islamic militancy in Pakistan. Ask God to shield government officials from further attacks and violence. Ask the Lord to physically and spiritually heal those injured in the bombings.
The roots of spiritual darkness in Pakistan go back for many centuries and result from false religion, idolatry and terrible bloodshed which have brought deep bondage and oppression to this nation.
* Pray for grace and comfort for the Pakistan Christians to remain faithful to Christ as they face persecution by the majority religion of their nation, and the oppression of the spiritual darkness that is over their nation. .
There is growing and out of control violence in the Punjab region where death has become commonplace. Fear is an everyday reality for all. Even so, the increasing severity of the attacks against poor Christians is startling to all in the nation of Pakistan. The religious minority makes up 5.3% of the total population of 160 million. The Christian population is 3% of the total. Because Christians are such a minority group, they are often unable to obtain jobs that provide a decent income and these persons are the poorest of the poor in Pakistan.
* Pray for leaders of integrity to carefully navigate ongoing tensions which threaten the nation’s stability. Pray for breakthroughs in reaching spiritually oppressed people living in areas currently beyond the reach of a Christian witness.
Source: International Prayer Council
FINLAND LEADER MAKING INTERNATIONAL WAVES WITH PRO-LIFE PROCLAMATIONS
Christian physician Dr. Paivi Rasanen, who is also Finland’s Interior Minister, has become the target of a massive backlash from abortion-rights groups across the world. Rasanen obviously touched a nerve among those who are terrified by the very thought that there might really be a God, or that the babies whose slaughter they undertake might be made in His image. The enemy has thoroughly convinced the vast majority in Scandinavia that there is no God, but that they can be gods, deciding for themselves what is Good and what is Evil.” But she has withstood the assault with grace and calmness and now even some major journalists are taking a closer look.
Apparently the Editor-in-chief of one of Finland’s most widely read newspapers agrees. “I realized that those attacking Rasanen simply had not read her speech,” he wrote. “It is structured, logical and authentic.” Indeed, the Rev. Timo Keskitalo, pastor of the International Evangelical Church in Helsinki, said that “it upsets the other politicians and the media that there is a government minister who is an evangelical Believer.” Earlier Dr. Rasanen caused an uproar in Europe when she used a speech at a Lutheran Church conference to call for a discussion on abortion in her country.
In the speech Dr. Rasanen compared abortion to ‘butchery’ and said that animals are better protected under Finnish law than unborn human beings. ‘Animals may not be slaughtered in a painful manner, but it’s not permitted to even discuss the painfulness of abortion,’ said Rasanen. She went on “We have to consider whether we have the courage to act in the face of general public opinion or norms, peer pressure, and sometimes even the law, if these contradict the Word of God. We must obey God rather than men.” Her courage in speaking out for the unborn from the highest levels of government has ignited a national conversation about abortion in Finland.
Dr Rasanen believes there is a need for a strong and vibrant right to life organization in Finland that can reach across all faith lines and to those outside the faith community with a strong human rights message – especiallyfor young people. Finnish Christian youth have rallied to support Dr.Rasanen and have been holding prayer rallies outside Parliament under the banner “Youth of Finland Praying”. In speaking to them Dr. Rasanen has encouraged them to persevere in their efforts for their country and for the cause of abolishing abortion until final victory was achieved.
SYRIAN PASTOR SAYS ALMOST HALF OF DAMASCUS CHURCH GONE
SYRIAN PASTOR SAYS ALMOST HALF OF DAMASCUS CHURCH GONESource: CNN”The situation is very grim and there is deep sadness, much stress andanxiety” That is the summary Pastor Edward from Damascus gives on thesituation in the Syrian capital. According to him, approximately 40% of themembers of his church have left the country since the civil war in Syriastarted two-and-a-half years ago. People that have the financial means andthe contacts abroad often leave the war-torn country. Pastor Edward knowsthat in his church some members still are waiting for the opportunity toleave Syria, too. “They are still trying to find a place to go.” However,all the people that left didn’t leave the church services empty. “We see new people coming to church,” states Edward. “Many of the familiesthat we help with a monthly food supply come to our services now.” Althoughthere is no fighting going on in the central area of Damascus, in severalsuburbs fighting is a daily reality. No one can escape from the distantsound of explosions and shooting. “It seems that there is no end in sight.Christians are like all other people concerned for their safety and thefuture of their children,” says Edward. In a way life goes on for manypeople in Damascus. People who work in the public sector still go to work.”After two-and-a-half years most people are suffering economically and aretraumatized emotionally.” The pastor also mentions “a brighter side.” He says that “church people arecloser to the Lord and to each other.” “The relief work through our Churchis still going on,” he continues. “It is becoming more difficult because ofthe higher risk and the unavailability of materials. In some cases it takesus a couple of weeks to get some of the items for the food packages. Butthank God we have committed people who are still doing the job and therelief package is still one of the very few good things that many displacedfamilies receive. The
visiting teams are still doing their wonderful work inpersonally
touching the pain of many families and offering some physical
andemotional support.”Pastor Edward wants to stay in Syria. “My
wife and I have a deep sense ofpeace and we both believe that this peace is a gift from God so we can stayin the country to encourage our people and to relieve some of the suffering.We strongly see the hand of God in the Church and with the Church, whichmakes us want to stay. We believe that God will help us overcome thechallenges that come on our way. We have a strong sense of responsibilityand see it as a privilege to stay at such times in the country. Although wego through low times and some struggles, we trust the sovereign hand of
FINANCIAL CRISIS DRIVES UP GREEK SUICIDES
Suicides increased by 45% during the first 4 years of Greece’s financial crisis, a mental health group says, warning there are indications of a further “very large rise” in the current year. The Athens-based group Klimaka said officially reported suicides rose steadily, accounting for an annual jump in deaths from 328 in 2007 to 477 in 2011.The group said, based on its own research, the number of suicides had continued to rise through 2012 and 2013. Greece still has one of the lowest suicide rates in Europe, but a dramatic rise in poverty and unemployment since the debt-strapped nation began imposing harsh austerity measures has been blamed for the increase in deaths.
Aris Violatzis, head psychiatrist at Klimaka, said the organisation gathered suicide data from families of victims, local churches, funeral homes and other sources, as well as official statistics. “Our data suggests a very large rise in the number of suicides since the onset of the financial crisis. We are talking about specific individuals whose names and circumstances have been recorded,” Violatzis said. Klimaka have found men took their own lives more than four times as frequently as women, with males who suicided most commonly in their mid-50s and females in their late 30s.
Some 43% of suicide deaths in 2011 involved unemployed people, while 25.7per cent of hotline callers with suicidal thoughts last year said they were experiencing serious financial difficulties. The Greek aid group urged the government to adopt plans to create a national strategy against the rise in suicides, with improved data gathering and training for police and healthcare workers. “For every suicide death, there are some 30 attempts by others,” Violatzis said. “So, we are creating a growing bank of people who are potentially suicidal. That is a long-term problem.”
Source: Assist News
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND MAY STOP PERFORMING ALL WEDDINGS TO AVOID LAWSUITS
Remember when your parents, or a schoolteacher, would respond to a situation in which no one would fess up to an indiscretion or disruption in class by disciplining everyone? Typically the technique worked because 1) the innocent realize it’s not fair that the guilty remain silent while the rest suffer for their crime or, 2) the guilty party confesses because they realize it’s not fair that their peers take the blame for something they are responsible for. Either way, the end result is a community wake-up call. Such seems to be the case in Scotland as church ministers there are feeling backed into a corner when it comes to conducting their affairs with a clear Biblical conscience.
Church of Scotland representatives have notified their nation’s legislators that if plans to redefine marriage become a legal reality, they may have to stop conducting marriage ceremonies altogether. Rev Alan Hamilton, a representative from the church governing body told the Equal Opportunities Committee that “the prospect of years of exhausting legal challenges is very concerning.” Although the Church currently still performs weddings, final decisions made by 2015 may greatly affect the future. The Church of Scotland wasn’t the only group registering their displeasure to authorities.
The Scottish Episcopal Church, the Free Church of Scotland, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and Scotland for Marriage, all presented their concerns before the Committee. While at first glance it doesn’t seem fair that all church marriages will be stopped if same-sex marriage is allowed in Scotland, as in the case of Angelina Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt, who famously said they wouldn’t marry until homosexuals could marry, taking such a stand sends a strong message – something the Church is finding itself forced to do more and more these days. And that, like it or not, is a good thing.
Source: The Christian Institute
CAPITALISM REQUIRES TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN VIRTUES TO SUCCEED
Speaking at the Lanier Theological Library, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, spoke of the importance of Christian ethics in the successfu limplementation of capitalism on society. “While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism,” he said, “it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is. For in order for capitalism to work – inorder for it to produce a good and a stable society – the traditional Christian virtues are essential.” Scalia was also quoted as saying the expansion of government into charities came at an expense to churches.
“The governmentalization of charity,” he noted, “affects not just the donor but also the recipient. What was once asked as a favour is now demanded as an entitlement. The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced donors without love and recipients without gratitude. It’s not my place or my purpose to criticize these developments, only to observe that they do not suggest the expanding role of government is good for Christianity.”
Source: Breaking Christian News
SCHOOL AFFIRMS PARENT’S RIGHT TO PRAY
Lizarda Urena, the mother of a student at Concord (USA) High School, responded to an incident in which bullets were found in the schools’ bathroom, by asking permission to pray on campus for everyone’s safety. After being granted permission to do so, she subsequently prayed every morning for no more than 15 minutes on the steps of the school. Urena’sprayers did not interfere with classes, and were never endorsed by the school, yet in July the group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a complaint demanding that she stop. After weighing the arguments put forth by ADF, the school didn’t buy it and is allowing Urena to continue.
Source: Alliance Defending Freedom
FEDERAL COURT RULES TO KEEP “IN GOD WE TRUST” ON U.S. CURRENCY
In response to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawsuit suing to delete the phrase “In God, We Trust” from America’s national currency, a federal court has ruled a resounding, “No.” Jay Sekulow, Chief Council for the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which represented 41 members of Congress and nearly 90,000 Americans who opposed the lawsuit, had argued that the national motto reflects the historical underpinnings of this nation and that belief in a Christian God was integral to its founding. They further argued that “The national motto simply echoes the principle found in the Declaration of Independence that our freedoms come from God and not the state.”
Source: Breaking Christian News