AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER
- IRAN: CHRISTIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN TOLD CONVERT TO ISLAM OR LEAVE
- THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGULAR BIBLE READERS AND THOSE WHO DON’T
- BIBLICAL TYPE MIRACLE HAPPENS IN TAMPA BAY AS HURRICANE ROARED THROUGH
- AUSTRALIAN COPTS REFUTE STATEMENT THAT PERSECUTION IS JUST A RUMOUR
- U.S.SUPREME COURT LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL BAN FROM SOME ISLAMIC NATIONS
- INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH – SUNDAY 5th NOVEMBER
IRAN: CHRISTIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN TOLD CONVERT TO ISLAM OR LEAVE
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has been informed that children from Christian families in the cities of Rasht and Shiraz have been told they must either study Shi’a Islam, or leave school. The majority of these children are second generation Christians. As part of a minority faith community recognised in the Iranian constitution, they are allowed, by law, to have access to religious instruction designed by members of the Christian community, and approved by the Ministry of Education. Until recently, their families were able to present a signed letter from the denomination that exempted them from studying Shi’a Islam. However, the authorities are now rejecting this letter on the grounds that the church is an “illegal organisation”, and are insisting the children either agree to study Islam, or go home. Sources in the denomination have told CSW that “the message is clear: convert or leave.”
Under Article 30 of the Iranian constitution, the government is obligated to provide free education for all children until they complete secondary school. However, the policy adopted by school authorities in Rasht and Shiraz effectively deprives children who are currently in primary and secondary school of education unless they agree to religious instruction that does not conform with their own faith. Iran is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which recognises the right of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in line with their own convictions, and has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which also recognises this right. The country has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which commits signatories to ensuring access to primary, secondary and tertiary education.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas says: “It is worrying that the education of so many children will be unduly interrupted until their parents agree for them to study a religion different to their own. Education is a basic right which Iran has undertaken to guarantee to all of its citizens. Children should not be victimised in an effort to penalise their parents for exercising the right to adopt a religion of their choice. Since education is the responsibility of central government, we urge the Special Rapporteur on the right to education and other key international human rights experts to make urgent representations with President Rouhani, with a view to ensuring the country fulfils its national and international obligations to respect the right of the child to education, and particularly to religious education commensurate with the convictions and beliefs of their parents.”
In other news, Church of Iran member Suroush Saraie, who was rearrested on 18 July, is now in Adelabad Prison. He was initially taken to Pelak 100, a notorious detention centre run by the Intelligence Services (VEVAK). CSW is informed that while there, attempts were made to pressurise him into making an unspecified “confession”. Mr Saraie was rearrested at his home in Shiraz after being released early from Adelabad Prison in November 2015. Another Church of Iran member, Eskandar Rezaie, was rearrested on 6 July, after being released temporarily from Adelabad Prison in December 2015. Both men were initially arrested on 12 October 2012, along with five other Christians, during a raid on a prayer meeting, and were found guilty of ‘action against national security’ and ‘propaganda against the order of the system’.
Mr Saraie received a two-and-a-half year sentence on 16 July 2013, later upheld on appeal, which he began serving in July 2014. Mr Rezaie was given a one year sentence, which he began serving in July 2015. “These re-arrests and the initial transfer of Mr Saraie to the notorious detention centre are deeply disturbing. Despite the country’s constitutional and international obligations, Iran continues to criminalise members of the Christian community for exercising their right to the freedoms of religion or belief and association. Once again, we call on the international community not to neglect human rights issues during dialogues with Iran, and to urge the government to release all prisoners of conscience, and to respect the right of every citizen to freedom of religion or belief.”
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGULAR BIBLE READERS AND THOSE WHO DON’T
The team behind the megapopular YouVersion Bible app recently surveyed some users who regularly rely on the mobile and tablet app to read the Bible and their poll yielded some stunning results. When comparing the responses from YouVersion users to the reactions of everyday Americans who participated in the “Stress in America” study, a separate analysis conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), the YouVersion team found that regular Bible readers in their community reported experiencing less stress. A YouVersion press release has some of the finer details:
The APA survey reports 59 percent of its respondents say terrorism is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. In contrast, 18 percent of Bible App survey respondents say terrorism is the current event that causes them the most stress. Similarly, the APA survey showed 57 percent of people say the current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, while 16 percent of YouVersion respondents say the national political climate is the current event that causes them the most stress. In the YouVersion study, 30 percent of respondents say that reading Scripture before a stressful event occurs helps them best deal with stress, and 41 percent say reading Scripture in the moment best helps them find relief.
And when they turn to Scripture to deal with stress, 47 percent first look at the Bible App’s Verse of the Day. Others first look up their favourite verses from memory (45 percent), resume reading where they last left off in the Bible (45), or search for a YouVersion Bible Plan (40 percent) to deal with stress. YouVersion creator Bobby Gruenewald said that the results didn’t surprise him, as he believes “the Bible withstands the test of time” and speaks to the challenges that people face on a daily basis. And with scripture becoming so accessible via technology, Gruenewald believes that the benefits are paying off. “People are opening and engaging with it throughout the course of their daily life, no matter where they find themselves,” he said of YouVersion. “We’re thankful to offer access, anytime, anywhere, to this source of timeless wisdom.”
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BIBLICAL TYPE MIRACLE HAPPENS IN TAMPA BAY AS HURRICANE ROARED THROUGH
Hurricane Irma caused massive flooding as it ripped its way through Florida and the Caribbean last week, but not for everyone. Tampa Bay residents experienced a bizarre phenomenon that some believe comes straight out of the Bible. Instead of pummelling Tampa Bay with massive waves, Hurricane Irma’s powerful winds sucked the water away from the shoreline. “Huge parcels of the Bay became dry enough to walk on,” Tampa Bay resident Aly Yohn said. “People were stunned! Manatees got beached because the water receded so fast, and people had to walk out into the bay, put them onto tarps and pull them further out to water,” she said. Many people decided to take pictures and walk on the dry land that was once submerged by the waters of Tampa Bay. Weather scientists call the eerie event a “reverse storm surge” or a “bulge.”
“In the centre of the storm, where the pressure is lowest and the winds converge, water piles up. Low pressure sucks the air inward. When the pressure is exceptionally low and the winds are very strong, it can create a bulge of ocean water under the centre of the storm,” writes Angela Fritz, a scientist and deputy weather editor at The Washington Post. The unexpected phenomenon is causing some to suggest that God could have used a similar method to part the Red Sea and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. According to Exodus 14:21-22: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, so that the waters were divided. The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right and on their left.”
Yohn isn’t sure what to call the phenomenon, but she believes it is evidence of the hand of God. “Much like Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt and across a dried up Red Sea, the water in Tampa Bay receded and the land dried up,” Yohn says. “You can call this what you want – a fluke, a surprise, a miracle or whatever. What we believe is that God used the natural forces of this storm, to force the water completely out,” Yohn concluded.
Source: CBN News
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AUSTRALIAN COPTS REFUTE STATEMENT THAT PERSECUTION IS JUST A RUMOUR
Her Excellency Nabila Makram, Minister for Emigration and Expatriate Affairs in the Egyptian Government has asserted that the reports of Coptic persecution are merely ‘rumours’. These remarks were reportedly made to Australian Parliamentarians during her recent visit to Australia according to Egyptian press reports. “We understand that Egypt is facing many challenges and threats, however, to assert that the severe persecution of Coptic Christians is merely based on rumours is simply outrageous in light of the great suffering of many Copts in Egypt and abroad”, said Peter Tadros, spokesperson for Australian Coptic Movement (ACM). Coptic Christians have been subject to Islamic terror, mob violence, massacres, restrictions on worship, attacks from security forces and widespread discrimination. Earlier this year, churches were attacked on Palm Sunday in an attempt to assassinate the Coptic Orthodox Pope.
As recently as last month, churches in Minya were closed by authorities. The Egyptian government is responsible for an environment where anti-Christian sentiment is rife. Coptic Christians have been murdered with impunity. Coptic Christian women have been abducted and police are either unwilling or unable to investigate those matters. Copts routinely experience discrimination in almost all sectors. It is incumbent upon the Egyptian government to fulfil its responsibility to protect its own nationals. Egyptians are entitled to feel safe and secure in their homeland. It is not acceptable that the Minister dismisses the persecution and discrimination in the name of ‘National Unity’. We totally reject the Minister’s representation and we will continue to demand justice for all Copts who are victims of discrimination, persecution and terror.
Source: Press Release by the Australian Coptic Movement Association
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U.S.SUPREME COURT LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL BAN FROM SOME ISLAMIC NATIONS
The Supreme Court has made a decision signed by the notoriously liberal Justice Kennedy, to lift restrictions placed on President Trump’s travel ban. Now, they’ve made a decision to reject the appeals court ability to rule on the ban. The Supreme Court granted the Trump Administration’s request to continue to bar the entrance of people from the Middle Eastern countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen . The court made the decision without comment. Their decision meant a “federal appeals court ruling that would have exempted refugees who have a contractual commitment from resettlement organizations from the travel ban while the justices consider its legality. The ruling could impact roughly 24,000 people according to CNN.”. The scope of the travel ban has been debated by courts since the administration announced the ban last spring.
This latest order agrees with the justices decisions to allow President Trump’s ban to impact all those who don’t have a “bona fide” relationship with someone already in the USA. The Supreme Court will decide on the ban permanently in October. This order could either be interpreted as giving hope to supporters of the ban, or it could just indicate that the justices are putting the decision off until October, but it may also simply reflect a desire on the part of the justices to maintain the status quo until the justices can hear the case next month. “Although it may be tempting to see the order as a harbinger of how the court is likely to rule on the merits, it’s better understood as a very modest procedural step to stabilize the full scope of the injunctions against the travel ban over the next four weeks,” Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, said.
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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH – SUNDAY 5th NOVEMBER
Open Doors is encouraging all Christians to join in the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church (IDOP) which they facilitate. Open Doors’ has a mission to strengthen and prepare Christians living in persecution, and to mobilise the Church worldwide to identify with the needs of the global body of Christ. Imagine thousands of churches uniting in prayer for the persecuted! On Sunday 5 November 2017, Open Doors is asking groups and churches across the world to unite in prayer for the persecuted church. We want to see God strengthen His church in the most dangerous countries on the planet. Our prayer is to see those who are being persecuted supported, and to see nations transformed for Christ from the inside out. Open Doors is inviting Churches across Australia to commit 5, 10 or 30 minutes in their services on Sunday 5th November to pray for the persecuted church?
How does IDOP work?
1. Register to get your free digital and printed IDOP resources to assist in organising an easy and powerful prayer event during your church service or in your small group.
2. Pray on 5 November, joining the world in prayer for the persecuted church. Share their stories and prayer requests with your church.
Source: Open Doors
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