AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – INTERNATIONAL NEWS 16th SEPTEMBER 2013
- PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN PRAYER INITIATIVE PRAYER POINTS
- MILLIONAIRE HOMOSEXUALS SUE CHURCH OF ENGLAND FOR NOT ALLOWING THEM TO MARRY IN CHURCH
- COPTIC POPE CANCELS PUBLIC SERMONS DUE TO CONCERNS ABOUT ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS
- POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN SYRIA
- TERROR AND SIEGE IN SYRIA’S NORTH
- WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN SYRIA – A PERSONAL ACCOUNT
- ARE THE REBELS IN SYRIA REALLY MODERATE?
WHITE HOUSE BACKS PRAYER AT LOCAL GOVERNMENT MEETINGS
PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN 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.
The honeymoon time between the newly-elected government and the Taliban is over. The Taliban have killed over 1700 people in the last couple of months and broken out 248 of their colleagues from prison. The government seems to be afraid to do anything out of fear of retaliation.
* Pray that the government will boldly take action and bring down the Taliban for their own security and the good of the nation. Pray that the Taliban leaders will repent or otherwise be stopped and that their followers will be disheartened and demoralized, thrown also into disunity and confusion like King Jehoshaphat witnessed when God threw Judah’s enemies into conflict with one another in 2 Chron. 20.
* Pray that the “strong men” (the pirs who are spirit mediums), the spirit beings they offer blood sacrifice to, as well as the occult shrines where they operate will be bound according to Jesus’ promise in Matthew18:18.
* Pray for the local intercessors and Christian leaders to take on the spiritual responsibility of praying for their land in unity and faith. Like David, may they take the spiritual battle to the Goliath they face that is destroying their land!
The good news is that the Taliban attacks have diminished and there has been some decrease in the fighting. Bombs have gone off prematurely, saving many. However, over 600 soldiers and police have been killed recently. Government officials are also being targeted with their families, which is discouraging for them. We are thankful to report that the Taliban’s “peace meetings” have fallen apart since they would have most likely led to a sell-out of the country to these radicals by the departing coalition forces.
* Pray for the national elections that the right people, especially for the right person to be elected president through the selection process that is currently in train. The actual elections will be held in April next year. Incumbent president Hamid Karzai will not be eligible to run due to term limits.
* Pray that the Taliban will experience massive demoralization and quit fighting, overcome by war-weariness after so much bloodshed and fighting. Pray too that the Pushtun tribe, 400 of whose tribal leaders have been killed, will reject and drive out the Taliban from using their territories.
* Pray for the Kabul prayer initiative that is being led by local believers. May they and other believers in the country arise and do exploits for the Lord, full of faith and unity, wielding His authority to drive the spiritual forces of evil out of their land!
Source: International Prayer Council
MILLIONAIRE HOMOSEXUALS SUE CHURCH OF ENGLAND FOR NOT ALLOWING THEM TO MARRY IN CHURCH
The first legal challenge to the Church of England’s ban on same-sex marriage has been launched – months before the first homosexual wedding can take place. Homosexual Barrie Drewitt-Barlow declared: ‘I want to go into my church and marry my husband.’ He added: ‘The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the Church.’ The legal move means an early test for David Cameron’s promise to the Church of England and Roman Catholic bishops that no church would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings against the will of its leaders and its faithful.
Mr Drewitt-Barlow and his civil partner have been a couple since 1999, when they became the first homosexual couple to be named on the birth certificate of a child. They now have 5 children through surrogate mothers. He said : ‘We need to convince the church that it is the right thing for them to recognise us as practising Christians. ‘I am a practising Christian. My children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church.’ Mr Drewitt-Barlow added: ‘If I was a Sikh I could get married at the Gurdwara. Liberal Jews can marry in the Synagogue – just not the Christians. ‘It upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works.
He said it was a shame that he and his partner were being forced to take Christians to court, but he said the new law did not give them what they have been campaigning for. Mr Drewitt-Barlow, who took out a civil partnership in 2006. Under the Government’s same-sex marriage law, which is expected to lead to the first homosexual wedding next summer, churches must legally opt in before they can conduct same-sex ceremonies. Those that hold objections to gay marriage have been told the quadruple lock will prevent the courts from forcing them to stage gay weddings against the conscience of priests and most congregations.
The lock says that no religious organisation could be compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises. It would be unlawful for ministers to marry same-sex couples unless their organisation’s governing body has opted into provisions for doing so. The Equality Act 2010 would be amended to ensure no discrimination claim could be brought against religious organisations for refusing to marry a same-sex couple. The law also states that it is illegal for the Church of England to marry same-sex couples. The Church of England is also protected by its own canon laws, which are part of the law of the land, which say marriage must be between a man and a woman.
In a succession of past court cases over equality laws, courts have always found in favour of homosexuals who have challenged Christians. Colin Hart, of the Coalition for Marriage said: ‘The ink’s not even dry on the Bill and churches are already facing litigation. We warned Mr Cameron this would happen and that he was making promises that he couldn’t keep. ‘He didn’t listen. He didn’t care. He’s the one who has created this mess. Mr Cameron’s chickens are now coming home to roost.’ Mr Hart added: ‘We now face the real prospect of churches having to choose between stopping conducting weddings, or vicars, and priests defying the law and finding themselves in the dock.’
Source: Daily Mail
COPTIC POPE CANCELS PUBLIC SERMONS DUE TO CONCERNS ABOUT ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is deeply concerned by continuing attacks against Egyptian Christians, which have increased in frequency since the removal of the Morsi regime and have prompted Pope Tawadros II to cancel his weekly public sermons. The group says that violence and hate speech targeting religious minorities was already on the increase under the former president’s rule. Since his removal from power, attacks on the Coptic community in particular have increased sharply, primarily but not exclusively in Upper Egypt, following allegations from several Islamist sources that Christians played a pivotal role in the removal of Morsi’s regime.
Egyptian human rights organizations have issued a statement expressing “grave concern at the level of sectarian violence against Christians and their churches since the June 30 uprising” and denounced the “continued negligence of the state in providing protection to Christian citizens against sectarian attacks, and in enforcing the law by holding thoseresponsible for the violence.” In a statement, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said, “Egypt cannot move forward while state apparatus does not hold people accountable for these unlawful hate crimes that stand to divide the country further, promoting increased polarization at every level.
Proactive efforts must be made towards promoting social cohesion and inclusion for all members of society so that this new phase of Egyptian history can be built upon true unity, collaboration, and reconciliation.” CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW urges the interim government to ensure security for the Coptic community, and that those perpetrating sectarian violence are apprehended and charged. Egypt’s Christians must be afforded the same protection under the law as their fellow citizens. We continue to pray and stand in solidarity with all Egyptians at this critical time in their nation’s journey to full democracy.”
Source: ASSIST News Service
POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN SYRIA
Pope Francis has called for reconciliation in Syria as he led a mass peace vigil on St Peter’s square. Millions of Catholics worldwide were joined by other faiths in a day of prayer, as Francis called for a “cry for peace” from humanity, opposing all fighting, including military strikes against the Syrian regime. “In beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world, let us pray for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace,” the Pontiff told tens of thousands who gathered on the square for the four-hour event. “War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity.”
Earlier in the week he wrote to leaders of the G20 top world economies meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, urging them to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution”. Vatican officials have warned international armed intervention could escalate the war into a wider conflagration that would further harm Christian minorities in the Middle East. The Syrian conflict has killed an estimated 110,000 people since March 2011, and the United Nations estimates two million refugees have fled the country. Syria’s Sunni Muslim leader, Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassoun, also called for Syrians to join in the prayers as did the patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox.
Chief Rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni said the Jewish community was also “in harmony” with the Vatican. In Lebanon, the vice president of the Shiite Higher Council, Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan, voiced support, as did Christian leaders across the Balkans and in Latin America. The appeal has been well received by Christian minorities in the Middle East, where leaders have been united in their concern of a possible spread of the Syrian conflict and the rise of radical Islam. The pope’s call is not unprecedented – previous popes have appealed against the Iraq war, the conflicts in the Balkans and the Vietnam War – but it is rare and unusual.
Source: Catholic World News
TERROR AND SIEGE IN SYRIA’S NORTH
The Syrian Army is based in Damascus (in the south), Syria’s political capital. Distance makes the north difficult to defend. The north-east has been effectively abandoned to be contested by Kurds and al-Qaeda-linked jihadis. Kidnapping, forced conversions, looting and killing are endemic, and Christians are fleeing. Aleppo, in the north-west, is Syria’s commercial capital, having some 2 million mostly loyalist, business-oriented residents, with a 10% Christian minority. The city is divided into rebel-held and government-held territories. The rebels are blockading the government-held districts, creating siege conditions. Hunger is escalating. The stalemate could go on for some time.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT —
* God will work multitudes of miracles every day: to enable safe travel, to shield from shrapnel, to provide food, water and medical aid, to enable secure and efficient money transfers, to bringing comfort, to enable healing and to sustain faith.
* the Lord of Hosts will effect a breakthrough to end the siege of Aleppo.
* Islam will be totally discredited in Syria as being a highway to death. Pray the God of grace will reveal Himself to Syrians.
Source: Charisma News Service
WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN SYRIA – A PERSONAL ACCOUNT
A Syrian Christian has brought valuable insight into what Believers there are facing on a daily basis, and how the Body of Christ can be interceding for these faithful. Her words highlight the work the Holy Spirit is doing amid all of the violence and persecution. Jane (name changed for her protection) said, “Many of the Muslim families came to our church, and now our church has 2,000 families of refugees. They told us, “We don’t know if this [the terrorism] is the real Islam.” We said, “Yes, this is Islam. This is what they teach in the Quran.” They said, “We don’t want to follow Muhammad anymore. We don’t want Islam. We want to know the real God.”
“So we give them New Testaments, and we follow them up, have meetings, preach the gospel, and then give them food. We see how God is moving among those families that before we couldn’t reach because they didn’t even know there were Christians in this country. It’s very hard. So we thank God, because everything happens because of His goodness. We pray each day for six months for the country, inviting all people, Muslims and Christians alike to pray with us for the country. And when we pray, we pray for Sunni and Shia and Christians and Jews and enemy religions. We pray for all religions and all people that we may be able to live together in peace.”
Source: Charisma News
ARE THE REBELS IN SYRIA REALLY MODERATE?
Rebel fighters have been battling President Bashar al Assad regime in Syria for years. While some claim the rebels are moderates, others worry the fighters are extremists. To help understand the situation, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell spoke with Jonathan Spyer, an analyst with the Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) in Israel. Who are these rebel forces and what do they stand for? Spyer explained there are actually three rebel groups in Syria, including a small group connected with al Qaeda. But the largest group, called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, could not be described as moderate, despite what some are claiming, Spyer said.
“I would say these are people are from a Muslim Brotherhood type outlook,” he said. So what would Syria look like if the rebels gained control? Spyer cited the examples of Hamas-controlled Gaza and the year-long “experiment” in Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood governors. “Those are the examples we should be looking at to learn what it would be like if the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front took over Syria,” he said. “We don’t need to speculate, we have concrete examples in history right now.”
Source: CBN News
WHITE HOUSE BACKS PRAYER AT LOCAL GOVERNMENT MEETINGS
Lawyers representing the White House and the U.S. House and Senate, mostly Republicans, have briefed the Supreme Court in favour of allowing local town councils to open their meetings with Christian prayer. The case could lead to a change in the law on religion that may go well beyond prayers at council meetings. Ken Klukowski, a lawyer for the Family Research Council, said that the White House filing was a “surprisingly conservative brief and it came as a pleasant surprise. It’s gratifying that even the Obama administration recognizes that the courts are not qualified to censor prayers. This is a big deal because of what it could mean.”
Source: Los Angeles Times