AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER – INTERNATIONAL NEWS 19th AUGUST 2013

  • WOMEN AND CHILDREN FACE VIOLENCE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
  • A CRY FOR PRAYER SUPPORT FROM BESIEGED EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS
  • TEXAS TURNS THE TIDE ON HUMAN RIGHTS FOR THE UNBORN
  • PASTOR LETS ATHEIST EXPLAIN TO CHURCH HOW BEST TO REACH OTHERS LIKE HIM
  • FINLAND’S INTERIOR MINISTER SPARKS FIRESTORM WITH BOLD SUPPORT OF THE UNBORN
  • FULLER SEMINARY ALLOWS FIRST HOMOSEXUAL CAMPUS GROUP
  • EGYPT’S NEW INTERIM CABINET INCLUDES CHRISTIANS AND WOMEN
     

WOMEN AND CHILDREN FACE VIOLENCE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Australia’s nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea (PNG) has inspiring terrain, unique flora & fauna and beautiful people. However, there are significant challenges in PNG concerning women, children and families which impact its society. This report provides a brief overview of some of the issues currently facing Papua New Guinea, the role of the Churches and possible responses. The United Nations (UN) has stated that violence against women in PNG occurs at almost pandemic levels, with two in three women aged 15-24 providing sex in exchange for money, food and shelter.

It is estimated that 70% of women in PNG will be raped  in their lifetime -potentially the worst place in the world for gender violence. Recently an American woman was gang-raped there. She said, “My story should not come out just because I am white. My story should come out in the hopes that it empowers Papua New Guinean women to stand up and say no more violence against women in this country. I hope my story can make a change.” Following the burning to death of a woman in the Highlands of PNG, many people, particularly women, have said enough is enough.

The Remembering Kepari Leniata campaign is one of the many now underway. Tragically many children are also involved in sex work in PNG. A committee, including the PNG Trade Union Congress and the Young Women’s Christian Association noted that there is even child trafficking involving parents and guardians who sell their children to clients. The International Labour Organisation in Papua New Guinea found that children living in Port Moresby are being driven to prostitution, as the main bread winners for their families. Statistics coming out of clinics in Lae related to child sex abuse are disturbing and something needs to be done to address the issue.

The UN Children’s Fund notes that children in PNG remain some of the most vulnerable children in the world. Many suffer from domestic violence or are victims of sexual assault. Social media is reported as facilitating a growth in pornography for PNG youth. A Facebook page has been created to share knowledge and ideas on how to fight pornography in PNG, “a disease which is affecting adults and the younger generation”. Concern by the church and others has been raised regarding drugs and pornography coming in from PNG’s western border.A National Haus Krai was recently organised to highlight increasing violence against women through rape, murder and witchcraft.

During the Haus Krai there was a prayer vigil held throughout the night. The churches of PNG played a significant part in organising the Haus Krai. Much of the proceedings involved church presentations. During the Haus Krai the PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill apologised for the violence against women and vowed to toughen penalties for offenders including the reintroduction of the death penalty. The Catholic Church and others however are opposed to that approach. Sadly the violence continues with the recent torture and beheading of a female teacher. What Australians can do?

* Pray for the people of PNG

* Encourage PNG churches working in this area, including support for organisations such as the City Mission PNG

* Support the PNG Government through its High Commission and Consulates in Australia

* Seek that a portion of Australian Aid money to PNG be specifically directed towards these issues for the short, medium and long term

* Participate in, or organise, events such as the PNG800 Bike & Hike sponsored by the Christian Outreach Churches

* Visit PNG as a holiday and/or potential business destination.

Source: Doctors Without Borders

 

A CRY FOR PRAYER SUPPORT FROM BESIEGED EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS

The news coming from Egypt changes many times throughout each day, and perhaps may even be different by the time you read this. But God has a plan for this country, and together we can pray for the current situation and particularly for our precious Christian brothers and sisters there. Amongst the bloodshed of the past week, there are ongoing reprisals against Christian targets for perceived support of the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July. The Guardian reports Christian leaders saying violence against Egypt’s minority Coptic community is now at its highest in decades.

World Watch Monitor lists dozens of Christian churches, homes and businesses that have been looted, attacked or set on fire in the past few days. These including clinics, pharmacies and police stations. The attacks are not only against the Coptic community, but others such as Jesuit, Baptist, Adventist, Evangelical and Catholic denominations. The list of assaults across Egypt seems never-ending – in Fayoum, The Bible Society of Egypt bookshop was set on fire; in Assiut, the pastor and his wife of the Adventist church were kidnapped; in an unnamed village, a Christian man was killed defending his church.

Three churches and six buildings at the 5th-century Monastery of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am in Dalga, Minya – one of the oldest churches in Egypt – were also set alight. Father Silwanis Lutfi says radical Islamists broke into the grounds and torched the churches, as well as six buildings which house a clinic, retreat, pre-school nursery and the bishop’s residence. This follows the death last week of 10-year-old Jessi Boulus, a young Christian girl who was shot while walking home from Bible class at a church where her uncle serves as the pastor. As always, small pockets of light shine through amongst the violence and confusion.

Some examples include Muslims buying groceries for their Christian neighbours so they don’t have to take the risk of leaving their homes, and of Christian women being smuggled out of their workplaces under veils brought in by their Muslim colleagues. “Please continue to pray for my country!” asks an Egyptian Christian. “These are the hardest days we’ve ever witnessed. The peaceful Egypt is now soaked into violence, hatred and desire for revenge. My heart and the hearts of millions of Christian and Muslim Egyptians are bleeding as we see Egypt turning into a strange country we’ve never known before.”

Egyptian Christians ask that we pray for:

. Peace to come back to their cities, and wisdom for Egyptian police and army forces as they handle the major upcoming security issues facing them. Please pray for boldness, perseverance and protection for Christians in Egypt.

. The tremendous power of love and forgiveness to fall on the hearts of Egyptian Christians as they seek to follow the teachings of Jesus to pray and forgive their attackers and persecutors.

. A rational voice to come back to the crowds of protestors, so that brainwashed followers may stop, think and follow the sound of reason – not the orders of deceiving leadership.

Source: Open Doors

 

TEXAS TURNS THE TIDE ON HUMAN RIGHTS FOR THE UNBORN

There has been a significant win for the human rights of the unborn with new laws protecting unborn babies and their mothers passed in Texas, USA. A bill regulating abortions was passed convincingly in the Texas lower house by 96-49 votes, and then passed in the Senate 19 votes to 11. This comes after it failed to pass last month because of a filibuster and angry protests by pro-abortion activists. While pro-abortion activists claim that the new laws will force most abortion clinics across the state to shut, those in support of the new legislation argue that the bill is necessary to ensure women’s health is protected and foetuses are kept from feeling pain.

The new laws mean that:

a) Most abortions on unborn children will be banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point at which scientific evidence shows babies can feel pain. An exception to this ban is granted when it is to protect the life and medical health of the mother or when the child has a “severe foetal abnormality.” A recent poll shows 59 per cent of Americans would favour a federal law banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and almost half believe abortion to be morally wrong.

b) Safety standards at Texas abortion clinics will be increased to the level of ambulatory surgical centres (ASCs), of which there are 420 in Texas, including six that conduct abortions. This would treat abortion facilities in the same manner as other ambulatory care facilities.

c) Doctors who perform abortions will have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic to treat life-threatening complications after botched abortions.

d) A woman’s access to abortion-inducing pills will be limited by requiring the 18,000 RU-486 abortions performed each year in the state to be conducted according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards.

This ensures a doctor has greater oversight over their administration thus improving safety for the mother. In the U.S. 8 women have died from bacterial infections following an RU-486 chemical abortion but no women have died from such infections when following the FDA approved protocol. Whilst it would have been ideal if the law changes had gone further, the Texas measures at least acknowledge the dangers to women of the R-486 drug and seek to redress this to some extent. The regulation of abortion clinics as outlined in the new laws is a measure that would effectively make them safer by allowing for medical transportation in the event of emergencies.

On another front Virginia’s busiest abortion clinic has closed its doors following the lifting of standards required for abortion clinics to continue to operate in that State. Abortionist Mi-Yong Kim and her staff ended the lives of more than 3,000 babies each year in that clinic – by far the largest number of any abortion centre in the state. A Pro-Choice Virginia spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Post that it was the state’s”largest abortion provider.” The tougher safety standards were the final blow in the embattled abortionist’s long battle to stay in the prime location, conveniently located near several major communter highways.

Source: Intercessors for America

 

PASTOR LETS ATHEIST EXPLAIN TO CHURCH HOW BEST TO REACH OTHERS LIKE HIM

It’s not every day that a pastor invites an atheist to speak to their congregation. But that’s exactly what Rev. Randy Frezee of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, did recently. According to reports, Frazee became acquainted with Hermant Mehta – a high school teacher who writes the “Friendly Atheist” blog-after Mehta fulfilled an unusual promise. The promise was the result of a former pastor challenging Mehta to visit ten churches and write about his experiences. It was when Mehta heard Frazee speak at another Church, that the two struck up a friendship.

To date, Mehta – raised in the Jain religion – is still an atheist, albeit anatheist with a softening heart towards Christians. Speaking to Frazee’s congregation, Mehta said, “Christians do an amazing job of charity. They have a habit of giving. of being part of their community-praying for people, making people dinner when they’re sick, providing financial assistance to people who’ve lost their job. That total strangers could care for other people like that, that’s awesome to see. It’s very hard to go to atheists and say, ‘religion is bad and Christianity is evil,’ when that’s what I’m seeing.”

The flip side of that, contends Mehta. is that Christians need to remember to “treat a person as a human being, and reach out and get to know them,” rather than treating those who don’t share their beliefs as “projects.” That – and because of his own experience of not being able to ask hisJ ain-practicing parents about issues in their faith that he didn’t understand or doubted – Mehta contends Christians should also nurture a trusting atmosphere for family and friends, both Believers and non-believers alike, to ask questions without fear of rejection or reprisal.

Source: Christian Post

 

FINLAND’S INTERIOR MINISTER SPARKS FIRESTORM WITH BOLD SUPPORT OF THE UNBORN

In a speech to a Lutheran gathering in Finland, Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen lamented that animals have more protection in Finland than unborn human babies. The minister cited the fact that in Finland animals being slaughtered must be killed painlessly, but that Finnish politicians refuse to even discuss the pain that foetuses feel during an abortion. Räsänen, who is also a medical doctor, used Acts 5:29 as the basis for her comments, saying, “We must weigh whether we are ready to go against public opinion, peer pressure and even law if these contradict the Word of God.”  In response to criticism from some Church leaders Räsänen insisted she was not calling “for breaking the law”. 

She said “we should be seeking to bring about a change in the law which would allow a conscience protection for health care professionals so that they would not be forced to abort a pregnancy.” One Lutheran pastor was succinct in his assessment of the state of Christianity in Finland, saying “that if people were upset with the church and left as a result of the Interior Minister’s comments, they probably have “never actually encountered the Christian Gospel.  The position Räsänen has urged on the community is not specifically Christian doctrine. Rather, they conform to the natural law, which can be grasped and understood even by those who are outside the explicit Christian confession.”

Source: Life News

 

FULLER SEMINARY ALLOWS FIRST HOMOSEXUAL CAMPUS GROUP

Fuller Theological Seminary in the USA has approved a student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The decision has sparked debate amongst Christian colleges. Although other Christian schools have approved similar organizations, Fuller is the first evangelical seminary to do so. The group, called OneTable, has attracted about three dozen students. “Fuller should not be sanctioning such a group but be teaching reorientation as the students’ best option,” Peter Sprigg, of the Family Research Council and ordained Baptist minister said. The group’s founder said he’s hoping that “people will see Fuller and OneTable as a model for others to follow.”

Source: CBN News

 

EGYPT’S NEW INTERIM CABINET INCLUDES CHRISTIANS AND WOMEN

Egypt’s first interim government reflects a stark difference from ex-President Mohamed Morsi’s prior cabinet. None of the appointed ministers are affiliated to any Islamist party or movement.  The new government is led by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, said to be an economist, and women have been appointed to three ministries, including the Information and Health ministries – the most women to be appointed into top level government positions in recent Egyptian history. Three Christians are also in the new government, with one of them also being a woman – Environment Minister Laila Rashed Iskander.

Source: Breaking Christian News