AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER

NIGERIA’S CHURCHES WILL NOT STAY SILENT DURING VIOLENCE

Nigeria’s largest church network is calling on the country’s president formore protection from Boko Haram attacks. The president, meanwhile, iscalling for more prayer. “We will not keep silence amidst persecution Christians are facing,” Rev. Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria said. “The killings in Northern Nigeria are condemnable and an act of wickedness to humanity,” Oritsejafor said. “It is unfortunate that worshippers are being killed in their homes and places of worship. We are not happy with this trend and will continue to pray to God to bring an end to this excruciating situation we are going through in Northern Nigeria.”

Deadly attacks have been carried out on an almost daily basis in central and northern-eastern States of Nigeria. Recently three churches were burnt down to ashes in an attack attributed to Boko Haram in Fota town, in the Gombi Local Government area of Adamawa state. The attackers, suspected to be from the militant Islamic Boko Haram insurgency, also burnt down a police station and killed seven police before moving to the churches, said Rev. Lawrence Dim, a Catholic priest in the area. “Many of the people have fled the area, however some people were injured and others killed but we are not certain how many”.

In late February at least 14 people were killed in coordinated attacks by heavily armed Boko Haram fighters on Kirchinga, Michika and Shuwa villages in Adamawa State. Many properties including three Catholic churches were set on fire. More than 400 were killed in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in February. In Central Nigeria, widely called the Middle belt, the predominantly Christian Berom community has sustained heavy loss following increasing attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen. Eighteen people, most of them women and children, were killed on March 4 and 5 in four villages – Dorok, Gwon, Gwarama, and Gwarim; all in the Riyom Local Government area of Plateau State.

Among the victims were eight people of the same family. The assailants, wearing military-style uniforms and armed with sophisticated weapons, burnt more than 200 houses, churches and other places of prayer. According to one survivor, who identified himself as Peter Daniel, the attackers vowed to annihilate residents who returned back to their villages. Across Plateaustate, at least 163 people have been killed in attacks by suspected Fulanis since the beginning of the year. Each wave of violence brings renewed criticism, from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other quarters, that Nigerian security forces are not doing enough to stop the killings.

Of Nigeria’s estimated 160 million people, about 70 million are Christians.The CAN is their most representative umbrella group, comprising notably five major denominational groups: the Catholic Church in Nigeria, the Christian Council of Nigeria, the Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, the Organization of African Instituted Churches, and the Evangelical Church Winning All. Rev. Oritsejafor, the CAN president, appealed to government and security agencies to be proactive towards protecting lives and properties, and to prosecute the perpetrators. Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan recently sacked his army chiefs, replacing them with new generals with orders to crush Boko Haram.

A presidential spokesman acknowledged the conflict with Boko Haram is a “war situation” and that the army is dealing with a “serious enemy.”  President Goodluck Jonathan has called for more prayer to defeat the insurgency.  “We need more prayers to end terrorism. With prayers and the measures put in place, we will surmount the challenges”, the President said in a speech at the opening session of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, in Abuja, the federal capital. The government’s inability to put down the Islamists urge has raised widespread criticism from religious and political leaders. Violence is expected only to increase as federal elections scheduled for February 2015 approach.

Source: World Watch Monitor

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GROWING HATE CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN SRI LANKA

Christians in Sri Lanka are facing growing pressure to stop church activities and close their churches. There has been an increase in religious hatred, organised violence and intimidation of Sri Lanka’s Christian minority. In many cases, it is Buddhist monks who have led protests against the churches. In the past year growing numbers of churches have been forced to close and Christians have been forbidden from holding prayer meetings or Bible studies in their homes. Religious intolerance has been building in Sri Lanka for a decade. In recent years, there have been upwards of 450 documented acts of violence against Christians, including arson and murder.

Although the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, there have been legal moves to pass anti-conversion legislation, restrict the construction of places of worship, and to impose limits on where worship can take place.The burning and demolition of churches, personal death threats and forced displacement have shown a marked increase since 2012. ‘There is a growing climate of hostility and religious hatred towards the Christian minority in Sri Lanka,’ says Release International Chief Executive Paul Robinson. Sadly, it is often Buddhist monks and Buddhist organisations that are trying to force the churches to close.’

In February, Release partners documented more than ten attempts by Buddhists to close places of worship.  In one incident, at Holy Family Church, in Asgiriya, Kandy District, a 250-strong mob led by 11 Buddhist monks stormed the pastor’s premises, demanding that worship services be stopped immediately. The mob dragged out the pastor and his wife and assaulted them. The leader described the Christians as traitors and warned villagers they would be treated the same way if they encouraged Christian worship in the village. ‘This incident was just the tip of the iceberg,’ says Paul Robinson. ‘This year, Buddhist protesters have stoned and set fire to churches.

‘One of our staff met Christian families who said they live in constant fear. Even their children face discrimination and taunts at school for being Christian. One tearful child asked, “Why do they hate us?” We urge the Sri Lankan authorities to uphold the right of Christians to worship.’ Release International is working with partners in Sri Lanka to provide a sanctuary for persecuted pastors and their families, and is holding conferences to help church leaders and congregations who are facing persecution. Through its international network of missions Release International serves persecuted Christians in more than 30 countries around the world.

Source: Release International

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BISHOP CALLS ON MEN TO RECOMMIT TO PURITY AND RENEW SACRED COMMITMENT

The growth of pornography use, particularly on the internet, is “a matter of utmost urgency for every son and father today,” Bishop Paul Loverde of the Catholic diocese of Arlington, Virginia said in a letter to his flock recently. Titled “Bought with a Price: Every Man’s Duty to Protect Himself and His Family from a Pornographic Culture,” the 77-page letter was first issued in 2006, but in his introduction, Bishop Loverde emphasizes that the porn industry has grown exponentially in the last eight years. Since 2006, Loverde said, “The porn epidemic engulfing our families, marriages and communities, has reached a pandemic scale.

“Pornography, Loverde wrote, “has been excused as an outlet for free expression and condoned as just another form of entertainment. But it is not widely recognized as a threat to happiness and not often treated as a destructive addiction that changes the way men and women treat one another. I call on every man in the Diocese of Arlington to search his heart and renew his commitment to purity. I call on every husband and father to renew his sacred commitment to his wife and children,” Loverde wrote. “Rather than being the expression of a married couple’s intimate union of life and love, sex is reduced to a demeaning source of entertainment and even profit for others.

Pornography violates chastity also because it introduces impure thoughts into the viewer’s mind and often leads to unchaste acts, such as masturbation or adultery.”  Answering the objection that pornography is a “harmless” vice, Loverde writes that to the contrary, the porn industry” preys on the most vulnerable: the poor, the abused and marginalized, and even children” with promises of easy money. “This exploitation of the weak is gravely sinful. Those who produce and distribute pornography leave a wide path of broken and devalued men and women in their wake” Loverde wrote.

The largest demographic for internet pornography is the 12-17 age group and 80% of 15-17 year olds have experienced multiple “hard-core” exposures. Ninety percent of 8-16 year-olds have viewed porn online, most while doing homework on their personal computers. Loverde wrote “Today’s father must protect himself and his children from the relentless assault of an increasingly pornographic culture. “If we are not vigilant, our sons and daughters will pay a steep and heartrending price. Never before has there been such temptation to view pornography. Never before have the accountability structures and societal defences which defend the precious gift of her children – been so weak.”

Source: LifeSiteNews

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POPE APOLOGISES FOR CLERICAL SEX ABUSE AND PROMISES TOUGH SANCTIONS

“I feel called to take responsibility for all the evil some priests have committed and to ask forgiveness for the damage they’ve done with the sexual abuse of children,” Pope Francis said. “The church is committed to strengthening child protection programs and punishing offenders, he told members of the International Catholic Child Bureau during a meeting on April 11 at the Vatican. The remarks appeared to be the Pope’s first apology for the sex abuse scandal, following earlier statements affirming the Vatican’s work investigating and punishing perpetrators, and encouraging bishops to support abuse victims. The Pope also has said the church deserves to be forced to make monetary settlements to victims.

In December, Pope Francis established a Vatican commission to promote improved child protection policies in the church. Meeting with leaders of the International Catholic Child Bureau, an organization dedicated to defending children’s rights, Pope Francis said it was hard to believe “men of the church” would commit such horrors. ” I believe we must be very strong. You don’t play with children’s lives!” Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of defending children’s right “to grow in a family with a mother and father able to create a healthy environment for their growth and affective maturity.”

Parents have a right to determine the appropriate “moral and religiouse ducation” of their children, he said, and should not be subject to school curriculums that are thinly veiled courses of indoctrination into whatever ideology is strongest at the moment. Obviously, he said, children need help in responding to the problems and challenges contemporary culture and the media raise. Young people can’t be kept in “glass jars,” but must be given the values that will help them evaluate what cultural trends respect their dignity and freedom and the dignity and freedom of others.

Source: Catholic News Service

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GLOBAL CALL TO PRAY AND FAST FOR U.S.A. 30 April – 1 May 2014

The nations of the world are being asked to pray for the United States of America for 48 hours from 30 April – 1 May 2014.  April 30 is America’s National Day of Repentance (NDOR) while May 1st is the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer (NDP) celebrated throughout the USA. April 30 is the 225th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as a devout Christian President and the 151st anniversary of Lincoln’s day of ‘humiliation, prayer and fasting’ held during the devastating times of the Civil War. The theme for the USA National Day of Prayer on May 1st, 2014 is ‘One Voice, United in Prayer’. 

The Motto ‘In God We Trust’ is the foundation for America’s success however in recent years the American nation has increasingly turned away from God. We are being asked to pray for God to heal America, restore its Christian foundations, and transform it once again into a nation that can inspire the nations of the world to greater heights. Organisers of this two day initiative believe that prayer, fasting and repentance can lead to both national and spiritual breakthrough.

Please pray:

*  that America would repent of its pride and self-idolatry and invite and welcome God back into government, the legal system, churches, family, education, military, business, media and the arts. 

*  that America would seek wisdom from God and once again become a God fearing nation.

*  that the Church in America would reject her lukewarm apathetic attitude and arise to her full God-given destiny in Christ and together walk in their first love for God.

Source: National Day of Prayer organisers

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WEST PAPUANS TORTURED AND TERRORISED

Indonesia has been accused of using torture as a ”mode of governance” in West Papua – security forces have committed at least one incident of torture, on average, every six weeks for the past half century, a study has found. The research, which collected documentation on 431 cases of torture from 1963 to 2010, found that most West Papuans tortured were ”innocent civilians” targeted as part of a ”policy of terror”. In only 0.05 percent of torture cases reviewed were the accused found to be members of the armed resistance. Victims were most commonly farmers and students.

A low-level separatist insurgency has been waged in the former Dutch colony since Indonesia took control of the province in 1963. Researcher Budi Hernawan, said he believed the incidences of torture over the 48-year period were much higher than the 431 cases he drew on. His findings came to light as 3 West Papuan activists climbed into the Australian consulate in Bali recently to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling for international journalists to be allowed into West Papua and for the release of political prisoners from Indonesian jails. Mr Abbott told journalists he was confident West Papuans could have ”the best possible life as part of an indissoluble Indonesia.”

Source: National Alliance of Christian Leaders

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JEWS IN EAST UKRAINE ORDERED TO REGISTER AND LIST THEIR PROPERTY OR BE DEPORTED

In a chilling throwback to the beginnings of the Holocaust, there has been disturbing news this week that pro-Russian militants – who’ve reportedly’ taken over’ government buildings in Donetsk, Ukraine – are ordering Jews in the area to “register” with them. According to a report, Jews who were coming out of a synagogue were handed leaflets ordering them to provide a list of their property and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated.” The report noted that the leaflets bore the name of Denis Pushilin, who is calling himself the “chairman of Donetsk’s temporary government.”  

The city of Donetsk in Ukraine has been dominated by certain Ukrainians “who are trying to make the city become part of Russia,” according to reports. One resident of Donetsk, Olga Reznikova, 32, told an Israeli newspaper that she had not experienced any anti-Semitism there until she received the leaflet. “We don’t know if these notifications were distributed by pro-Russian activists or someone else, but it’s serious that it exists,”said Reznikova, adding that “The text reminds me of the fascists in 1940.”

Source: USA Today

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