CHINA SHUTS DOWN SUNDAY SCHOOLS AND VACATION BIBLE SCHOOLS FOR CHILDREN
A Purdue University study has found China is on course to become the world’s “most Christian nation” by 2030. In an effort to curb the growth of Christianity, officials in China’s Zhejiang province have issued orders aimed at closing Sunday schools and keeping children from Christian events over the summer months. “For a long time, teenagers and students have not been allowed to participate in religious activities,” a local Christian told persecution watchdog China Aid, referencing a Chinese law that seeks to control religion among children by forbidding them from attending religious events. “However, the Three-Self Churches and house churches would usually hold summer camps during the summer vacation. The government then emphasized that even the Sunday schools would be closed down. The government’s major intention is to shut down the Sunday schools.”
Earlier, the Henan Provincial Three-Self Patriotic Committee and the China Christian Council handed down an order preventing churches from organizing summer camps for minors and students, citing “high temperatures” as a possible health hazard. A Christian from Henan said that such camps have typically been allowed in previous summers, and the government would originally only interfere if they received a tip-off about the event. “The government is trying to control ideology,” Zhang told the outlet. “During Chinese Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao’s time, the government was tolerant toward preaching and missionary work. After Xi Jinping came into power, the government’s grip on religion has strengthened.” Over the past year, President Xi Jinping has directed the party to bring the country’s ethnic and religious minorities under Chinese culture in efforts to counter religious “extremism”.
Authorities believe Christianity, whose followers are said to rival in number the 85 million members of the Communist Party, “poses a major threat” to its long-term stability. Chinese officials previously warned Christian parents that if they continue to take their children to churches not approved by the government, their offspring will be banned from attending college or serving in the military, and will face legal action. The government sanctioned Protestant church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, specifically forbids its members from “brainwashing” teenagers with religious beliefs and bringing children to religious activities. Despite the ongoing persecution of Christians in China, the Gospel continues to spread at an unprecedented rate, with an increasing number of parents “begging” teachers to teach their children about Jesus.
Sean Elgut, the headmaster of Veritas Christian Academy, revealed that Christian schools are on the rise in China. He said, most parents are open to Christianity, and some even encourage their children to learn all they can about Christ. “Chinese parents want their kids to live with faith” Elgut said. In addition to teaching Christian values, teachers spend time with students in the hope of leading them to Christ: Chinese millennials are also embracing Christianity at a dramatic rate. Two Christian converts shared how the Gospel opened their eyes to happiness and peace in an entirely new way. “Before attending school, I knew little about Jesus. While I was attending classes, I learned so much about God and His love for His children,” Crystal Lu said. “My Christian parents are extremely happy that the Lord finally provided a way for me to know Him, too. My whole family are Christians today.”
RICHARD DAWKINS ASKS WHY IS IT FINE TO CRITICIZE CHRISTIANITY BUT NOT ISLAM
Famed atheist Richard Dawkins has asked why it’s “fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam” after a California radio station dropped him from speaking and accused him of “abusive speech” against the Muslim community. Richard Dawkins was lined up to speak about his memoir A Brief Candle in the Dark at an event hosted by Berkeley’s KPFA Radio. However, the event was cancelled over his “abusive speech” against Islam. “I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that,” Dawkins wrote in an open letter he shared on his website. “Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?” KPFA management claimed the famed evolutionary biologist “offended and hurt” the Muslim community with his “abusive comments” against Islam.
“The KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech,” said KPFA in an email to ticket buyers. “While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins’s views much earlier. We also apologize to all those inconvenienced by this cancellation.” In his letter, Dawkins called the decision “truly astonishing” and said that he had “never used abusive speech against Islam”, adding that while he has called Islamism “vile”, Islamism is not the same as Islam. “I have criticized the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticized the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief,” he explained. “Far from attacking Muslims, I understand, as perhaps you do not, that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.”
He called on the radio station to find examples of abuse, and when it “failed to discover any”, he would expect a public apology. In a report about the cancellation, KPFA said it had been contacted by activists who had described Dawkins as “a very well-known Islamophobe” and cited tweets from the author including one that read: “I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today”. It also referenced a recent Telegraph article in which Dawkins was quoted as saying that “if you look at the actual impact that different religions have on the world it’s quite apparent that at present the most evil religion in the world has to be Islam”. However, the station did not include the Telegraph quote in its entirety, in which Dawkins continues: “It’s terribly important to modify that because of course that doesn’t mean all Muslims are evil, very far from it. Individual Muslims suffer more from Islam than anyone else.”
Despite his opposition to all religions, Dawkins has asserted that all beliefs should be debated in an open and honest manner. He regularly takes issue with the liberal media for treating Christianity as a hostile force while refusing to criticize Islam. “Regressive left turns treacherous, blind eye on misogyny and homophobia because they absurdly think Islam must be ‘respected’ as a ‘race,'” he once wrote. Last year, he slammed the media for claiming that the atrocities carried out by Islamic extremists have “nothing to do with religion” following the attack that killed 70 Pakistani Christians, mostly women and children, on Easter Sunday. At the time, he Twittered: “Pak bomb kills 72,” and quoted the perpetrators of the attack as stating, “We have carried out this attack to target Christians who were celebrating Easter.” “Ah, nothing to do with religion, then,” Dawkins quipped.
PRAYER CONCERNS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL PRAYER COUNCIL
Dear Praying Friends,
Here are some serious prayer concerns we would like to share with you.
1. North Korea. Let’s pray for the regime there to back down on its threats and to realize it is not in their best interest to continue pursuing a showdown with the USA and other nations after the UN Security Council’s unanimous vote to reimpose/increase sanctions against them. It is potentially an extremely dangerous situation that in a worst case scenario could lead to nuclear war, with the possible destruction of millions of people. Pray for the Lord’s hand to be on this standoff and that all the parties, Kim Jong Un and his government, Donald Trump and the USA, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia will be very wise and careful, not miscalculating in what they do or say. Pray too for the unity of South Korea’s church and prayer movement and that somehow out of all this tension and apprehension, God will bring about the reunification of North and South Korea, for which we have prayed so long.
2. Iraqi Christians are undertaking a prayer initiative in the areas where ISIS caused so much destruction. A team of mostly Iraqis and two foreigners will go into Mosul, Batala, Qaraqosh and Baghdad from now until 21st August to repent for the mass crimes and bloodshed and to ask God to destroy the work of the evil one by way of covenants, lawlessness, death, destruction, and terror. Pray that the “strong man” over these areas will be bound and that Iraq can be dedicated back to its Creator as this team proclaim a new covenant of peace through Jesus Christ. Pray also for the strong guidance of the Holy Spirit, inspiration, unity and for new Iraqi intercessors to be available throughout the time; for protection over them and their families and all other participants. Pray that God will move in power and there will be one breakthrough after another for His glory and the healing of this long-suffering land!
3. Please pray for Children in Prayer (CIP), who will be doing a series of teaching and training seminars on CIP from now until September 3. Please pray that all who participate in the seminars will “experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a deeper revelation of our Father, for signs and wonders to follow and an increased alertness in the Spirit for what the Lord is doing as well as for safety and health.” Pray too for the effective planning and provision of funding for Uprising, the youth prayer movement, as it holds national assemblies in various nations over the coming year culminating in a global youth gathering in Indonesia in October 2018. Pray for the international planning team led by Pastor Jerome Ocampo and for all those serving this cause. Pray that the youth will be drawn to participate and that they will feel His call to the unique missions He has for them.
CHRISTIANS RISING UP IN THE MIDST OF THE CRISIS IN VENEZUELA
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is insisting he will proceed with plans to hold an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. His intransigence comes despite last weekend’s vote where 98 percent of more than seven million voters rejected making constitutional changes. The country’s evangelical Christians are speaking out, asking God to restore unity and prosperity to the nation. Opposition parties say a constitutional assembly is just an attempt by the socialist president to impose a dictatorship in Venezuela. Many are at a breaking point after suffering for months from food shortages and heavy-handed government control. The crisis has motivated Venezuela’s churches to action. Leading up to the vote, public plazas around the nation echoed with the prayers of Christians.
“I believe the Church has awakened to how difficult the Venezuelan situation is, and that each of us Christians needs to become active in this process of change,” explained Hugo Diaz of the Movement for the Defence of the Constitution. “Today you can see joy in the streets. You see the desire of people for a change, and above all we see the active presence of the Christian Church of Venezuela,” he said. Many Venezuelan Christians believe their country will prosper only as people look to God, not politicians, for solutions. “We have been fasting before the Lord, asking Him to turn the heart of the people to Him. We had this idea to participate in this activity because it’s not a matter of giving support to any political party,” said Pastor Jose Rivero of Alliance Youth Leadership. He says the government should submit to the authority of God and the constitution.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, and members of the European Union called on President Maduro to honour the will of the voters and cancel the planned constitutional assembly. President Trump described the Venezuelan president as an “aspiring dictator.” He’s threatened to take “strong and swift economic actions” against Maduro if he tries to rewrite the constitution. Maduro fired back, saying he won’t “be governed by the northern empire.” With more hardship ahead, Christians are stepping in to the conflict to pray, and raise hope in the midst of economic and political upheaval. Evangelical Council of Venezuela spokesman Juan Maraver urged Venezuelans to take heart. “This is your hour. This is your time,” he said. “While many are seeing chaos and no solutions to the current crisis, restoration will take a long time. God says: I will raise you up. I will bless you!”
CHINA GIVES NEW ULTIMATUM TO CHRISTIANS – GIVE UP YOUR FAITH OR ELSE
It is officially illegal to be a person of faith in China’s communist party according to a new statement released by the country’s State Administration for Religious Affairs. “Party members should not have religious beliefs,” wrote Wang Zuoan, director of the religious affairs administration. Instead “Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey Party rules and stick to the Party’s faith, they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion,” Zuoan said. Communist leaders say the party’s recent crackdown on faith is due to its powerful influence. They believe religion is dangerous to the unity of the Communist party. “Some people who claim to be scholars support religious beliefs in the Party, which has undermined the Party’s values based on dialectical materialism,” said Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Some party leaders believe faith is a threat to national security. “Some foreign forces have used religion to infiltrate China, and extremism and illegal religious activities are spreading and have threatened national security and social stability,” Wang said. China Source President Brent Fulton says the latest announcement could see Christians in China’s communist government being forced to leave. “Moving forward, we may see Christians removed from the party,” Fulton said. Fulton said “We need to pray that the Lord will move the hearts of China’s leaders to recognize that the Christians in their midst are not a threat to the country, but are in fact people who will make a great contribution to the future of the nation.” Fulton also asks Believers around the world to pray so that China’sChristians will know how to react to the pressures of the government.
U.S.FEDERAL COURT PROTECTS CHRISTIAN DOCTORS FROM PROMOTING ABORTION
A federal judge in Illinois has blocked enforcement of a law that would have forced doctors to promote abortions, no matter their religious beliefs. “The government is out of line when it attempts to force Americans to communicate a message that is contrary to their most deeply held beliefs,” said Elissa Graves, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Legal Counsel. ADF attorneys challenged the law which they say violates the U.S. Constitution as well as the rights of physicians. This is the second time the law has been challenged. The first injunction only protected a select group of pregnancy centres involved in the case. The federal court ruling takes it a step further, protecting all health care professionals who want to exercise their right of conscience. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois stated that the law clearly targets the free speech of people with a specific viewpoint.
They go on to say that the plaintiffs clearly demonstrated that, “the amended act discriminates based on their viewpoint by compelling them to tell their patients that abortion is a legal treatment option, which has benefits, and, at a minimum and upon request, to give their patients the identifying information of providers who will perform an abortion.” According to the law, doctors as well as medical and pregnancy facilities would be required to offer women a list of abortion information and resources if they ask for it. “We applaud this ruling that stops the state of Illinois from forcing pro-life pregnancy medical clinics to become abortion referral agencies,” said Thomas A. Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.