AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER
- WOMAN TELLS HOW JESUS SAVED HER FROM HER SORDID PAST
- EGYPT: EVIL THRIVES IN LAWLESS SINAI
- ATMOSPHERE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC REMAINS TENSE
- CALIFORNIA POISED TO STRIP BOY SCOUTS OF TAX-EXEMPT STATUS
- CHRISTIANS IN UZBEKISTAN HARASSED AND BULLIED WITH IMPUNITY
CHRISTIAN LEADER DIES IN POLICE CUSTODY IN VIETNAM
WOMAN TELLS HOW JESUS SAVED HER FROM HER SORDID PAST
While still in high school, Melissa closed her heart to the opposite sex and embraced a lesbian identity. Now a senior analyst for gender issues at a Christian organisation she recalls sitting in church with her parents and opening the Bible to Leviticus 18:22, which reads “A man should not lie with another man as one lies with a woman: that is detestable.” When she read the verse, she misunderstood it and thought it meant: she was detestable. She closed the Bible and shut her heart to God. As her teenage years unfolded,she was tormented as she developed crushes on girls.” I hate being a girl,”she told herself. “Why couldn’t I have been born a boy instead?”
Melissa’s freshman year of high school was the last time she dated a young man. One day between classes he handed her a note asking if she would be his girlfriend. The note asked her to check a box: Yes or No.” I checked the ‘No’ box,” she says, refolded the note and slipped it into his locker later that afternoon. Then she erected a wall toward men. “I tried to look like a man as a suit of armour,” she says. At 16 she got involved in her first homosexual relationship, and estimates she was intimate with 40 other women during the next ten years. “Everything in my world revolved around being gay,” she says.
After college, Melissa worked at an advertising agency owned by three men. One of the owners, Bill, happened to be a Christian. “I worked more closely with Bill than I did with the other two owners,” she says. “I assumed he knew I was living homosexually. Because I presumed to know what Christians thought of gays and lesbians, I fully expected Bill to treat me poorly. “I expected him to judge me and to act rudely and unkindly, but he never did.” “Instead, without exception, he treated me with kindness and always showed me respect, both professionally and personally,” she notes.
Overtime, her conversations with Bill gravitated to spiritual issues. When Bill discussed his relationship with Jesus it was always with incredible enthusiasm and contagious zeal, yet he never forced his faith on her. Bill never confronted Melissa about her homosexuality.” Although I had grown up attending church I had not accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, she says. “Bill understood this was my first and greatest need.” After dozens of conversations with Bill, something began to stir in her soul. Out of the blue on a Saturday night, Melissa asked her live-in lesbian partner if she wanted to go to church the next morning. Amazingly, she agreed to go.
Melissa’s partner had grown up in the Catholic church and as a young girl had even wanted to be a nun. Both women’s hearts seemed to be in a state of spiritual ferment. They grabbed the yellow pages, and began to look at the listings under “Churches.” Because Melissa had grown up in the Presbyterian Church, they headed there the next morning dressed in their Sunday best.They nervously walked through the entry doors and slid into a pew near the back. They immediately realized it was a small congregation of predominantly older couples. “We stood out in stark contrast to the other churchgoers, particularly the ‘blue hairs’ as we endearingly refer to them.”
Melissa was shocked when the members of this small church treated her with unexpected kindness and warmth. “Overwhelmed by their friendliness, we decided to go back the next Sunday, and then the Sunday after that,” she says .”Before too long I was accepting invitations to everything the church offered-Wednesday night potluck dinners, adult Sunday morning Bible study and I even joined the adult hand bell choir”. “An older couple in their 70’s, L.J. and Doris, took Melissa into their spiritual care. L.J .was an intelligent and gentle man and Doris, his wife, was red haired and had a spirited personality to match; and oh my how they both loved the Lord Jesus.
Melissa fitted many people’s stereotype of a lesbian. “I was very masculine in my appearance, was 50 pounds overweight, and smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes a day.” Although Bill, L.J. and Doris knew about Melissa’s involvement in homosexuality they accepted her with grace, loved her unconditionally and prayed for her fervently.” I was so soiled and tainted; but they loved me unconditionally no matter what I did wrong.” Due to these loving Christian relationships, Melissa was led one afternoon, to ask Jesus,would He please come and be the Saviour of her soul and the Lord of her life?” And He did. A new seed was planted in her heart that day.
Source: Assist News
EGYPT: EVIL THRIVES IN LAWLESS SINAI
The nation of Israel received God’s law in the Sinai desert.. Consequently we think of the Sinai as a place of law-giving. Today, however, under Egyptian control, the Sinai is a place of law-breaking. Not only has al-Qaeda established a presence, but Bedouin criminal gangs and human traffickers operate with impunity. The Egyptian government knows that many buildings dotting the Sinai desert are being used as torture chambers by human traffickers. The traffickers relay their victims’ agony to family members via mobile phone to facilitate payment of ransom. Even when ransom is paid however victims are often sold on to other traffickers who repeat the process.
Failure to pay, results in death by torture, including the extraction of saleable organs. It is estimated that over the past 4 years some 7000 refugees have been abused in this way and that 4000 of them have died. The victims include many Christians who have fled persecution in their homelands. Most of the victims have been kidnapped from refugee camps in Sudan, and then transferred to the Sinai where they are sold to criminals. The Ethiopia-based Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA), says human trafficking is carried out by highly organised networks that stretch from Eritrea to the refugee camps in Sudan and to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.
It is a highly lucrative business, not only for the Bedouin, but for the Eritrean, Sudanese and Egyptian officials who are involved either directly or indirectly through taking bribes. According to intelligence sources, it is a major form of revenue for the corrupt and wicked regime ruling Eritrea. Reporting on a typical case, Amnesty International writes, ‘On 22 January2013, two Eritrean women living in the refugee camps set out to go to church, but did not arrive at their destination. Camp residents believe they were kidnapped. Recently 5 Eritreans escaped their captors during a fierce night storm. Whilst 2 perished en route, 3 made it to safety.’
Mhretab (27) is frail and heavily scarred. ‘We had barely anything to eat or drink,’ he explains. ‘And we weren’t allowed to sleep. They scorched the skin on our arms or backs with burning plastic, or burned us directly with lighters. They hung us from our feet and hit us. If we cried, they called our families and we had to beg them over the phone to pay for us.’ By selling everything they owned and taking up a collection at church, Mhretab’s family raised the ransom. But instead of releasing Mhretab, his kidnappers sold him on to other human traffickers.
Lemlem (15) is totally traumatised. Wearing only a sweater, she asks the home owner if there is any underwear she can put on. In another case, Ahlam(8) saw her ‘parents’ brutalised and other hostages murdered. On 12 March her captors put her on the phone to Swedish-Eritrean radio journalist Meron Estefanos. After recalling the horrors she had witnessed, Ahlam confirmed that the traffickers were threatening to take her from her ‘parents’ and sell her on to another gang. Fortunately for this family, they were released alive in late March after payment of ransom.
Ms Estefanos said that relatives of those abducted sell land and possessions to raise ransoms. ‘They borrow money from people and go from church to church raising funds.’ This evil thrives because nobody is prepared to act against it. It is not in the interests of Egyptian President Morsi to pick a fight with criminals who are hurting only non-Arabs and mostly non-Muslims.The Arab-supremacist, Islamist President Bashir in Sudan, would say the same. It is certainly not in the interests of the Eritrean regime to see its refugees protected or its human trafficking revenues cut off. The whole situation would be totally hopeless were it not for the reality of the Lord of Hosts.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT THE LORD OF HOSTS —
* who demands ‘Let my people go,’ will shake the Sinai and break the power of the wicked, that his people might be delivered and law and order restored to the desert.
* will send his forces to guard the mostly Eritrean refugees — many of whom are Christians — in Sudan’s refugee camps. Pray that all the refugees would look to him and put their hope in him.
* will intervene in Eritrea, the source of the problem, to liberate it from its corrupt, repressive and wicked regime.
Source: Elizabeth Kendall, Religious Liberty Monitoring
ATMOSPHERE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC REMAINS TENSE
Peace and stability remain a distant dream for the people of the Central African Republic (CAR). “The situation in Bangui is still complex and difficult; there is a lot of tension in the city,” wrote an Open Doors worker from the capital. He says the Seleka rebels, who have many child soldiers in their ranks, recently brutally killed more than 100 people in Damara, a suburb of North-Bangui because they protested the looting of their homes. The rebels also tortured the local chief because he refused to cooperate with them. Open Doors co-worker in Bangui says Christians are filled with apprehension over their future.
While the rebels continue to target Christian homes and businesses, local media are speculating over the implications of the “Muslim take-over”. A source in CAR reports: “We had a meeting with some pastors to exchange news and information and to arrange for a wider gathering to take place. In the course of conversation we learned of the experiences of pastors in Bangui, some of whom had barely escaped with their lives. We were told of one part of town where the rebels had a list of names of people they were hunting down. It appears that, out of 217 houses which the rebels burned down in Dékoua, nearly 200 were occupied by Christians.
Pastors in Bossangoa are said to have had their eyes plucked out and a deacon who tried to resist appears to have had his throat cut. As we are not able to travel into the interior of the country at present, we are not in a position to confirm these reports; but if they turn out to be true, then we have indeed reached the heights of barbarity. An army chaplain has confirmed that a project has begun to build mosques on all military bases. The Islamisation of the CAR is the mandate received by the rebels from the President of Chad, who is encouraging those who have fled there from CAR and others from the Gulf States to come and take possession of the country’s riches.
* for the Christians of CAR that God would protect them and give them wisdom as they face this storm.
* that peace and stability will be restored soon
* for opportunities for Christians to preach the Gospel to those overtaken with fear.
Source: Open Doors
CALIFORNIA POISED TO STRIP BOY SCOUTS OF TAX-EXEMPT STATUS
Controversy surrounds the Boy Scouts of America as same-sex activists have pressured the organization to abandon its long-held values and allow homosexual members. Now, they are trying to remove the Boy Scouts ‘tax-exempt’ status. Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to members of the California Legislature to explain the legal and policy problems of a proposed bill designed to punish non-profit organizations like the Boy Scouts. The bill would strip non-profit organizations of their tax-exempt status if they won’t abandon long-held values and admit people into membership who don’t hold to those values. Thirty-nine California attorneys signed the letter.
“Organizations should be free from harassment by those who don’t share their values,” said Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The Constitution allows organizations to promote the values that have defined them and to ensure that their leaders and members adhere to those values.” The Californian bill would strip tax-exempt status from “organizations which operate as public charities and discriminate on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation,nationality, or religion.” If the bill is passed, many organizations will be forced “to choose between following their core beliefs and losing their tax exemptions or abandoning their beliefs to comply with the law.
Source: Charisma News
CHRISTIANS IN UZBEKISTAN HARASSED AND BULLIED WITH IMPUNITY
Uzbekistan is ruled by Communist methods, so is heavily regulated. Islamists are a real threat. Religious laws set up to target them are however also used to persecute Christians. House churches are routinely raided by police. Christians charged with breaching the law by witnessing or worshipping without registration face exorbitant fines often 50 and 100 times the minimum monthly wage which often leaves them destitute. The persecution has nothing to do with state security and everything to do with making Protestant Christianity undesirable to its members. Despite this, Uzbekistan’s Protestant and independent churches are growing. Please pray for them.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT —
* the Holy Spirit will forge unity and solidarity amongst believers so that in assisting one another their love will be a witness to others.
* Christ will build his Church, raising up leaders filled with the Spirit and marked by grace, maturity and wisdom to shepherd the flock through difficult days.
* God, who rules heaven and earth, will raise up political and civic leaders in Uzbekistan who will establish justice and liberty.
Source: Intercessors Network
CHRISTIAN LEADER DIES IN POLICE CUSTODY IN VIETNAM
A Christian leader has died while in police custody in Vietnam after being beaten and electrocuted. Vam Bgaji Vaj, a member of the Hmong ethnic group was an elder in the Evangelical Church of Vietnam. He was arrested on charges of ‘destroying the forest’ while clearing a bush from his field. According to police, Vam Bgaji Vaj died after accidentally putting his hand into an electric socket. However photographs taken soon after his death showed bloody bruise marks on his back and neck. It is believed he was brutally beaten before his death. Hmong Christians are often subject to beatings and having their land confiscated or destroyed by authorities.
* Pray that the family of Vam Bgaji Vaj would experience the comforting presence of Jesus in this time of grief;
* Pray that an impartial investigation into the incident will be carried out, bringing all those responsible to justice;
* Pray that God would strengthen Hmong Christians to stand firm in their faith in spite of the persecution.
Source: World Evangelical Alliance