FRENCH FAMILIES SAY A LOUD NO TO GOVERNMENT ANTI-FAMILY POLICIES
Half a million people have taken to the streets of Paris to protest the French government’s “anti-family” policies and to express their anger over legalization of surrogate motherhood by stealth. The movement known as “Manif pour tous” continues to attract huge crowds who will not be deterred by past failure nor by governmental soothsaying. Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage last year which brought hundreds of thousands into the French capital in protest, once again families are rising up to say “no.” The march participants stretched for over 5 kms before reaching its endpoint as fixed by police, a small square in front of Montparnasse train station where a podium had been installed.
The venue was far too small to contain the immense crowds and the course offered no good vantage point for photographers to give a realistic impression of crowd numbers. Many joined the march along the way and even more returned home upon reaching Montparnasse to allow the following protesters to complete the course. Mobilizing such numbers to protest was an astonishing feat in secularized France. The rally’s focal point was the condemnation of artificial fertilization and surrogate motherhood for same-sex couples. Both were deliberately left out of the law last year by the socialist government. And François Hollande has repeated that he has no intention of legalizing either under this term of his presidency.
But French families are more and more wary about Hollande and his team’s promises. A circular sent last year to birth registrars and tribunals by the justice minister, Christiane Taubira, required the authorities to facilitate the inscription of children born of surrogate mothers abroad from French “customers” as French citizens in registries, even though surrogacy is illegal in France. While the French Constitutional Court resisted this measure last June, several decisions not to recognize this type of filiation that reached the European Court of Human Rights last month were criticized by the European judges for not having recognized homosexual couples’ right to “private and family life.” Courts are expected to follow the ECHR’s ruling.
A few weeks ago, the Constitutional Court gave its opinion that lesbian couples obtaining artificial insemination abroad should not be punished for this illegal action and that the female partner of the biological mother should be allowed to adopt the child “in the child’s best interest.” This was sufficient to trigger the massive response in what is probably the only major protest in the world to have centred on the ills of deliberately dissociating biological parenthood from “social” parenthood. Many marchers carried blue and pink flags and wore sweatshirts bearing the march’s distinctive logo of a childlike drawing of a father, a mother, a boy and a girl. It has become a rallying sign all over France.
The event was also an occasion to say “no” to gender ideology, which is becoming more and more pervasive in the French school curriculum. March organisers made it clear they saw no hope of seeing the same-sex marriage law repealed by the government, but insisted that it should be a major theme during the presidential election in 2017. A few politicians who have agreed to dismantle same sex marriage have announced that they will seek to “ameliorate” the existing civil union contract tailored for homosexual couples in 2001, but which is attracting ever-increasing numbers of “heterosexual” couples because of its simplicity and flexibility (it can be unilaterally ended without notice), to the detriment of marriage.
The world urgently needs to find a drug that can fight Ebola. More than 100 scientists and industry executives have convened this week at the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in response to a spiralling Ebola crisis. Their urgent mission will be to comb through the world’s stock of experimental Ebola drugs and vaccines and agree on a plan for clinical trials. Experimental Ebola drugs – though still wildcards – have been touted as possible miracle workers in the international fight to quell the outbreak, the worst on record. The epidemic has subsumed Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, and it has appeared in Nigeria, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Meanwhile, the WHO has announced that it has drafted a broad roadmap to “dramatically scale up the international response” to the crisis and halt Ebola’s spread within six to nine months. Health workers have been highly critical of what they say is a lacklustre international response to the emergency. After a recent U.N. meeting, Doctors without Borders president Joanne Liu excoriated the leaders of unaffected nations for scrambling to secure their own borders against the virus, but failing to sending sufficient aid and experts into the crisis zones. “Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it,” Liu said, calling on able countries to send bio-defence teams to West Africa.
Liu said “We cannot cut off the affected countries and hope this epidemic will simply burn out. To put out this fire, we must run into the burning building.” Liu also told the U.N. much of what has been done so far to stop the virus is not working. “Riots are breaking out,” she said. “Isolation centres are overwhelmed. Health workers on the front lines are becoming infected and are dying in shocking numbers. Others have fled in fear, leaving people without care for even the most common illnesses. Entire health systems have crumbled.” The U.N. meanwhile warned that the quarantines are expected to cause a food crisis in West Africa.
As restrictions on movement in and out of afflicted communities are affecting food supplies panic buying is jacking up the prices of ever-scarce staples. More than 1,500 people have died in West Africa – almost half of the some 3,500 cases confirmed since the disease was identified in March. The WHO predicts that around 20,000 more people will fall ill with the virus before its spread can be stopped. Please pray for a cure to be found for Ebola and for the WHO and other organizations and national governments to become effective in containing and eradicating this awful, death-dealing disease.
A Christian Aid Mission team works in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region to help those displaced by the threats and violence of the terror group Islamic State. Members of one of these teams recently came into contact with a colonel from the Kurdish forces battling ISIS. The colonel was serving in the Peshmerga, the Kurdish army group, which have helped to slow the incursion of ISIS in its push to establish a caliphate imposing a strict version of Sunni Islam. With the aid of U.S. airstrikes, the Peshmerga have slowly retaken some territory. They are helping to secure the Kurdish city of Erbil, where the ministry team is supplying people with food, clothing, beds and medicine.
The colonel had a few questions. Why were they offering all this aid? What was the motivation and the source of it? The team told him that Christ taught us to love and express our love to the people in a practical way explaining that all relief items had been donated or purchased locally. The colonel, whose name is withheld for security reasons, was quick to respond. “The Arabs in the Gulf states, which claim to be religious Muslims, have not sent us nothing but terrorists,” he said. “But you who follow Christ send love and peace and goodness to people every day.” After a long discussion, he bowed and prayed, asking Christ into his life,” the director said. “And he accepted a copy of the Bible.”
The colonel’s experience was just one of many taking place in Iraq. In cities of refuge like Erbil for people displaced from their homes in other parts of Iraq, people are turning to Christ at a stunning pace. Tent churches are springing up in the makeshift camps. The challenge is keeping pace with the number who want to receive Him, the director said. “In all our travel to deliver the aid and preach God’s Word, we did not find anyone opposed to or rejecting our message. Christian Aid Mission’s Middle East director said that as a result of this trend, some church leaders and workers are remaining in Iraq even as the cruel practices of ISIS—beheading Iraqi children who refuse to deny Christ gain greater notoriety.
“Workers who stay behind in Mosul and the surrounding areas are willing to risk being in an area under the rule of ISIS for the privilege of more and more fruit for Christ.” Forced to trust God more than ever before, these Christians are growing in their relationship with God he said. “I respected them before but now they are serving more and maturing even more,” he said. “We need to intercede for these workers. They are all always in danger. They need God’s power to show His love to the thousands of helpless people.” He added. “God has put within the hearts of thousands of Muslims a desire to read His Word,” he said. “We can be the instruments of providing them with New Testaments and audio Bibles.”
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH NOVEMBER 2 OR 9
More than 100 million Christians around the world face persecution daily because they confess faith in Jesus Christ. These brothers and sisters are in urgent need of prayer and help. Every year, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) gives the opportunity of joining together with millions of Christians around the world to pray for persecuted Christians. Over the past year, thousands of Christians in Iraq and Syria have been forced to flee as a result of atrocities committed by radical Islamists. Elsewhere such as in Nigeria scores of Christians have been killed for their faith. For hundreds of thousands of Christians in 2014, their day to day routine has resembled nothing of the life they once knew.
Many have had every material comfort stripped away, replaced with struggle, persecution and a fight for survival. However, the assurance that no matter what situation they are facing, God knows and cares deeply for them, keeps them going. We and they can gain great comfort in the fact we can boldly approach God’s throne of grace through prayer and share with Him all our hopes for the future and ask for His care throughout our trials. “We are calling on Christians everywhere to stand by these persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ by praying for them as commanded in Scripture” said, Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.
The designated date for this year’s IDOP is November 9. However, people are free to pray on November 2 as well. Our brothers and sisters suffering for their faith tell us what strength and peace it lays on their hearts to know the worldwide church is praying for them. Join with Christians around the world as one global voice in unity, lifting the persecuted church up in prayer these International Days of Prayer (IDOP). Open Doors Australia has a number of free resources, including prayer sheets, a promotional video and a Powerpoint presentation, to equip individuals and churches to share about and pray for the persecuted church this IDOP. For more information and to download, visit www.idop.org.au orwww.opendoors.org.au.
THE BATTLE FOR POWER IN INDONESIA CONTINUES AS NEW PRESIDENT IS INSTALLED
Today, 20 October, Joko Widodo (known as ‘Jokowi’) will be inaugurated as President of Indonesia. The election of this ‘new breed’ outsider has caused the “old political elite” to go apoplectic. The ‘old elite’, who rose to power during the Suharto dictatorship, is not used to seeing its monopoly on power challenged. As the inauguration has come closer, the attacks on Jokowi and on Indonesian democracy have begun in earnest. Exploiting their majority in parliament, the ‘old elite’, led by Prabowo Subianto (who lost to Jokowi in the presidential election), has passed a law returning Indonesia to indirect elections for mayors and governors. This way the political elite, not the citizens, will elect Indonesia’s mayors and governors.
Indonesians are outraged by this attack on their democracy. The ‘old elite’ will do everything it can to restrain and ultimately remove Jokowi, and to ensure that no ‘new breed’ politician challenges its monopoly on power again. Meanwhile, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) are protesting against the incoming mayor of Jakarta , Basuki Purnama (known as ‘Ahok’). He is a Chinese Christian who was directly elected as deputy mayor under Jokowi. The FPI insists that Sharia Law does not permit a Christian to rule over Muslims. Ahok said he was not surprised by the FPI protest but vowed not to be intimidated by their intolerance. ‘They are only a small group who have yet to accept me,’ he said. ‘Everyone else has.’
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL —
* bless, protect and preserve Jokowi (president of Indonesia) and Ahok (governor of Jakarta);
* enable Jokowi to survive politically as president to press through reforms — to ease suffering in Papua and to rein in Islamic intolerance across the archipelago; may God use Jokowi for his purposes.
* enable Ahok (a Christian) to survive; Pray that no violent hand would be permitted to touch him and that God would use him for his purpose and for his glory.
The death toll from Ebola in Liberia has climbed above 4,000. Now the country’s president and vice president are calling on people to pray for their nation. The Ebola crisis has driven many Liberians to their knees. Churches are jam-packed every Sunday with people pouring out their hearts before God. Bethel Cathedral of Hope is one such church experiencing unprecedented attendance. “Liberia is not a stranger to crisis and so we have that resilience by the grace of God to be hopeful and to rise up in the midst of impossible situations,” Bishop Wollo Belleh said. Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is a committed Christian who says that it’s vital that churches play a calming role in the midst of a national calamity.
“When you meet circumstances that you don’t understand and that you don’t control …you can turn somewhere, where do you turn? You have to turn to your faith, you have to turn to God and that’s a Liberian experience that’s deep rooted,” the President said. A few weeks after the latest Ebola crisis erupted, Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai helped launch weekly prayer meetings encouraging Christians to take hold of God. Boakai said “My prayer is that God would help us overcome this in the shortest time possible and console those that are bereaved and also help us to understand our current predicament.” Today, Liberia is a nation putting all its natural and spiritual resources together to defeat a deadly enemy.
From September 11, 2001 until the beginning of this year, 22,000 Muslim terrorist attacks worldwide–an average of five a day—have killed more than 125,000 people and injured nearly three times as many. The death toll does not include honour killings or those murders not reported in the media. The website Thereligionofpeace.com says the death toll comes from published news reports about terror attacks and says it shows that, “No other religion inspires the sort of terrorism that the “Religion of Peace” (Islam) produces.