This is an abridged edition of the International News prepared whilst the office of the Australian Prayer Network is closed to allow editorial staff to undertake overseas travel. Full editions of the International News will resume onMonday 23rd March 2015.
THE WORLD HAS CHANGED AND THE CHURCH MUST RISE TO MEET THE CHALLENGE
As we move into 2015, hundreds of thousands of Christians are struggling to survive as refugees or IDPs (internally displaced peoples). Driven from their historic homeland in Upper Mesopotamia, hundreds of thousands of Assyrian Christians are struggling in camps and shared accommodation across Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Having lost everything, they are dependent on Christian aid groups and local churches for their day-to-day survival. Around 150,000 Assyrian IDPs are in Iraqi Kurdistan (and some in Baghdad) being sheltered in churches, schools, shopping centres and by local believers.
Arriving with only the clothes on their backs, they are dependent on the generosity of others. In Sudan, thousands of Christians have been driven from their homes by the genocidal regime in Khartoum. Tens of thousands have fled to camps in South Sudan. Tens of thousands seek shelter in caves and trenches in the Nuba Mountains awaiting Khartoum’s threatened Final Solution. The number of Christians displaced by Islamic militants in Nigeria, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo is quite enormous. These refugees and IDPs have been traumatised by war, with most having lost loved ones. Understandably, their faith is sorely tested.
People are slowly becoming aware that slavery is alive and flourishing in the 21st Century and growing at an alarming rate. The victims are commonly from poor and marginalised communities. Thousands of Christians exist as bonded labourers in Pakistan and as trapped labourers in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Thousands of Christian suffer as sex slaves to Islamic jihadists in Northern Nigeria, Cameroon and ‘Islamic State’, and as chattel slaves of Sudanese and Gulf Arabs. Christians fleeing persecution in the Horn of Africa are snatched from camps and trafficked into the Sinai where they are tortured to extort ransom payments.
Committed Christian abolitionists and anti-trafficking activists are getting busier, rescuing captives and redeeming slaves with full knowledge that nothing will change until the culture changes through spiritual transformation. We have entered an age where mission and persecution must be seen as inseparable; where the needs of the Body are so enormous they simply must be shared globally; where faith-building is imperative for the purpose of survival; and where worship must have room for idignation, lament and the very serious business of intercessory prayer.
DEAR FATHER WE PRAY you will give us insight into your heart, which grieves over those who suffer. May we weep with those who weep while serving the persecuted as comforters and advocates. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to give of our time, funds, energy and possessions for the benefit of believers in desperate need. Lord, fan our flickering faith into flame, that we might truly believe that Jesus Christ is ‘able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’. May this year be a year of awakening, transformation and sanctification, for the sake of those who suffer for Christ, and for the glory of God. Amen.
Source: by Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring
OLYMPICS NOW BANNED FROM ANY COUNTRY RESTRICTING SPREAD OF HOMOSEXUALITY
A decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will apply new restrictive anti-family pressure on nations wanting to host the Olympic Games. The IOC has unanimously approved a wide-ranging package of 40 recommendations, the Olympic Agenda 2020, that includes a rewording of its anti-discrimination Principle 6 clause to include a reference to “sexual orientation” as a protected category. Hosting the games, or ‘belonging to the Olympic movement’ as its styled by the IOC, “requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.”
Thus, countries hoping to host Olympic Games in the future, such as the two contenders for the 2022 Winter Games – Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, China – would not be able to implement laws restricting homosexual proselytizing such as those enacted by Russia, or other measures aimed at limiting the spread of the harmful sexual behaviour. The Principle 6 clause of the Olympic Charter will be amended to state that “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”
During the Winter Games held in Sochi, the Russian law banning homosexual propaganda aimed at children became a rallying point for homosexual activists bent on disrupting the Games. However, prior to the commencement of the Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that while homosexuality itself is not a crime in Russia and homosexual people were welcome to attend the Sochi Olympics and could “feel safe and free” during the Winter Games, he warned them to “leave children in peace.”