AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – INTERNATIONAL NEWS 2nd DECEMBER 2013
- AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN PRAYER INITIATIVE PRAYER POINTS
- THE DAY GOD SAID ‘GO FEED THE STRIPPERS’
- BOKO HARAM VIOLENCE CRIPPLES CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA’S BORNO STATE
- CHRISTIAN COLLEGE STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT IS AN ATHEIST
- CATHOLIC CARDINAL SLAMS GLOBALISATION
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER EXPRESSES REGRET AT LEGALISING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN PRAYER INITIATIVE PRAYER POINTS
This year has been set aside by the International Prayer Movement as a year of prayer for Pakistan and Afghanistan. This month’s prayer points are the final ones for this project. Here are this month’s prayer points.
What is happening in Afghanistan will affect the rest of the world for years to come and is a top international security concern. Please continue to pray for the overthrow of radical Islamists who want to take over both nations and use them to project their violent, destructive ideology across the rest of the world.
* Pray that Jesus would be revealed in a powerful way to the Muslim people of Afghanistan through dreams and visions.
* Pray for the end of the wave of terrorism and extremism in the country. Pray for the arrest of the Taliban leadership and their removal from power. They are responsible for the deaths of many thousands of people and the awful destruction and chaos that continues to plague the nation.
* Pray too for those in the Haqqani movement that works closely with the Taliban: They are very dangerous and cruel. Pray strongly and authoritatively for the overthrow of these wicked men and that all their efforts will be thrown into confusion, disunity and come to naught.
Pakistan lies at the very heart of the unevangelized world. Over 350 people groups can be regarded as unevangelized. Many of these have no churches, no Christian witness and no missionaries to take the Gospel to them. Pakistan is the world’s second-largest concentration of unevangelized peoples and the world’s second largest Muslim population. Few countries, if any, present a greater challenge for missions.
* Pray that the cooperation between the Pakistan and Afghanistan Taliban will be broken, that they will be separated and all their efforts brought to an end.
* Pray for the many Christians who face persecution and who daily look into the face of death, for their faith.
* Pray that the Lord, who is in the history-changing business, will hear the cry of His people and overthrow their enemy, allowing Pakistan to be opened up to the Gospel as never before.
Source: International Prayer Council
THE DAY GOD SAID ‘GO FEED THE STRIPPERS’
Last year Erin Stevens was a happy home-schooling mum of 3 and a pastor’swife in a growing church of several hundred. Then, following a 21-day fast, she heard God speak — and what He said surprised her. “I felt God impress on my heart ‘Go feed the strippers,’ which did not make any sense to me,” she said. “I grew up in a Southern Baptist home with a deacon father and a Sunday school mama. I never drank. I never smoked. I was a virgin when I got married,” Erin said. “I’d never been to a strip club. I didn’t know anybody in a strip club. So why would I do that?” “The minute I heard from God, I told my husband Todd and he said ‘go’ Erin recalled.
Todd explained that’s because it seemed such a logical next step for the outgoing nature of our Church ministry. “We’ve always tried to cultivate a culture where people far from God, who are broken, feel comfortable,” the young pastor said. “They can come, hang out, and bump into Jesus.” “I picked up the phone the next day,” Erin said. “I called the general manager at the largest strip club in Nashville and just said, ‘I would like to come feed your girls. I’m not going to preach. I just want to show God’s love in a practical way with no strings attached.'” Erin’s husband said the strip club surprisingly welcomed his wife’s offer.”From the very first call, they were just open arms,” Todd said.
Todd said the club manager told Erin, ” We’d love to have you. Can you come next Thursday? ‘ And so she was off and running.” Since October 2012, she’s kept going every other Thursday, bringing a big meal or huge cup cakes each time. A few months in, she felt a new divine push to also start taking gift-filled goodie bags every time she visited the strippers — but still no open preaching. “We never took a Bible. We never took a tract. We just talked to the girls about their lives, about their kids, about where they’re from,” Erin said. “We started building relationships with them. We wanted them to see Jesus in us.”
A young stripper named Katherine had been one of the most sceptical ladies at the strip club. Katherine said she was worried at first Erin would be judgmental. “She’s going to preach at me or hand me one of those tracts that says ‘hell and damnation and this is how to go to heaven,’ but she didn’t,” Katherine recalled. Then Erin showed up one evening with goodie bags filled with $3,750 worth of extravagant gifts donated by a Mary Kay representative. At first Erin was going to break up the gift and spread the products across several visits. But she again heard the voice of the Lord mention His gift of salvation to her. “I gave you an extravagant gift. Now you give an extravagant gift.”
So Erin showed up with the gift bags. Katherine recalled “One day she brought Mary Kay packages, and I love Mary Kay. I’ve always used it.” Erin recalled “Katherine had tears in her eyes and she said, ‘What you’ve given me, you’ll never know how much it means. I’ve been a lifelong user of Mary Kay and I can’t afford it anymore’. Katherine said “I went up to her and asked, Why are you bringing us gifts?” Katherine recalled. “Why are you showing us love without asking us to pay for it or at least preaching at us?'” “‘Because you are valuable to God, and you’re valuable to me,'” was Erin’s reply. For the next 3 months, Katherine couldn’t forget the encounter and the extravagant gifts.
She had been raised in a religious home, but felt forced into stripping to make ends meet after her marriage broke up and she was left alone with two small children. She’d tried other work but faced destitution. The stripping however was something she could hardly stand. “The customers just made me want to crawl in my shell and hide,” Katherine said. “I was drinking a lot. And to go to work I had to drink,” she recalled. She said she was haunted by Erin’s words to her: “God loves you as you are, where you are. And no matter what you’ve done, who you’ve done it with, and how many times you’ve done it, He still sees you as completely, 100 percent forgivable.”
And Katherine began to believe what Erin had told her about her church. “She said, ‘No, no one will judge you. There are tons of people there who have tattoos,'” the much-tattooed Katherine recalled. “‘There are other ex-dancers there. There are people who’ve done porn. There are people who’ve been porn addicts.’ And she said, ‘You won’t even stand out.'” Katherine finally told Erin she might come to church, but stalled for three weeks. Then she finally went one Sunday and ran right into Erin. “Biggest hug ever welcoming me,” Katherine said of Erin’s greeting. “And she had a seat sitting next to her empty that she said she’d been saving three weeks in a row in case I came.”
The Church happened to be baptizing new believers that day — people “with tattoos, coloured hair, from every race,” Katherine said. “They’re saying, ‘I’m going to live my life for Jesus.’ And I said, ‘Why can’t I?'” Katherine recalled. She immediately turned away from stripping and toward God that Sunday. “Quitting the club was my first step,” Katherine said. Then Katherine talked with Erin on the phone. “She said, ‘Erin, I walked away. I quit my job.’ Without another job lined up,” Erin recalled. “She said, ‘I’m trusting God to take care of me.'” Erin said the next time Katherine returned to the church, “She accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour.”
Erin immediately launched into action to help the newly unemployed mother of two. Katherine said “she had me instantly connected with probably 40 different opportunities.” Erin said, “She’s going to graduate in Januarywith a degree in criminal justice. She wants to be a cop.” Katherine’s hoping her year stripping will just fade away and not hamper her career. Now Katherine joins Erin every other Thursday in visiting the strip club. “She’s at a point now where she’s able to go back and minister,” Pastor Todd said. “She’s got relationships there and they’ve seen what’s happened in her life.They know she hasn’t been judged, and they know how her life has changed for the better.”
Katherine said the strippers listened intently to what she had to say. “I think it was the glow of happiness and getting rid of depression and alcoholism and inviting Jesus to control my life,” Katherine said. Erin said of Katherine, “She’s just like the woman at the well that left Jesus and went to town and said ‘Come and see.’ Now she’s saying, ‘Girls, look at me. Come and see this church I’ve found that loves you as you are.'” Both the pastor’s wife and the ex-stripper hope for more salvations as they continue their work side-by-side, reaching out to these dancers in the darkest parts of Nashville.
Erin has faced some criticism for making friends with strippers. But Todd points to Jesus’ own ministry. “He was criticized for hanging out with sinners, having meals and things like that with them,” Todd stated. “And so we point that out to people. “I call it relational evangelism,” Erin said.”You know what? They’re not going to listen to us till they know how much we love them.” Todd added, Erin said Christians need to start seeing those outside the church walls as worthy of love. “The Muslim, the homosexual, the abortionist, the stripper, the pornographer, the addict — they’re not the enemy of the Church,” she said. “They’re our mission field. They’re who we’re called to love and reach out to.”
Source: CBN News
BOKO HARAM VIOLENCE CRIPPLES CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA’S BORNO STATE
Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, have driven thousands of Christians from areas of Borno state, with some of those remaining unable to hold worship services, church leaders said. Boko Haram attacks have killed at least 150 members of the Church of the Brethren alone in Nigeria in the past 10 months also causing 8,000 Christians to flee. “Most of our church members affected by these attacks have fled to other communities, and they are in desperate need of help,” said Rev. Daniel Yumuna, district secretary for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria which is the dominant denomination in north-eastern Nigeria with 180,000 members.
Boko Haram militants have destroyed 15 places of worship, killed at least 900 Christians and destroyed 400 houses across Nigeria in the past year in its stated campaign to establish strict sharia law throughout the country. Church of the Brethren President Rev. Samuel Dante Dali, said that church services have become impossible in some areas. “They attacked Christians from house to house and burned almost every church in the Gwoza and Gavva areas,” Dali said. “We are very confused and depressed because there’s not much we can do,” he adds. “The church cannot mobilize and provide security. The resources aren’t there.”
Islamic extremists from other countries have joined Boko Haram. In the recent attack, the armed men came from Cameroon, Niger Chad and Mali, and joined together with Nigerian terrorists to attack Maiduguri. Most of them are trained in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. Boko Haram has targeted Christians as well as government, police and military installations in its effort to destabilize the government and impose sharia nationwide. Christians make up 51.3% of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45% and reside primarily in the north.
Source: Morning Star News
CHRISTIAN COLLEGE STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT IS AN ATHEIST
Fellow students at Northwest Christian University (NCU) in Oregon may have been shocked by what their student body president, Eric Fromm disclosed in an op-ed he wrote in the online Beacon Bolt recently. “My name is Eric Fromm,” he wrote, titling the piece “Lifting the Curtain. I am a senior at NCU majoring in communications, and I am an atheist. Yes, you read that correctly, I am an atheist. For those of you who didn’t already know about my nonbelief, this news may be a bit shocking, but I was an atheist long before I came to NCU.” Fromm explained that he had decided to attend the well-known Christian university because of the quality of their communications program.
He described checking out the college’s chapel services to make sure he’d be “comfortable enough” that he’d be able to “fulfil the requirement” to attend them. He added that he had often found himself wanting to “be a part of the excitement and energy” but that he could not “force belief in God upon himself.” Part of Fromm’s disclosure was to bring to attention some of the treatment by Christians once they found out about his unbelief. When people found out that I was an atheist, they started treating me differently,”Fromm said. “Sometimes they would verbally attack me, sometimes they would give me the cold shoulder, and sometimes they just gave me dirty looks.”
NCU’s vice president for enrolment and student development, Michael Fuller, noted that he had known about the student’s atheism for years, and that it didn’t make him question his becoming student body president. “He’s a man of high character and respect,” said Fuller. “He’s a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be. I want students like Eric here. students who are looking to explore their faith and willing to look hard and make their faith their own,” Fuller continued. “We all wish Eric would become a strong Christian man.” But he added, “We’re an open and welcome community, and we meet students exactly where they’re at.”
Source: Intercessors for America
CATHOLIC CARDINAL SLAMS GLOBALISATION
One of Pope Francis’s closest advisers has hit out at “Eurocentric democracies” for “taking everything” from the poor — life, culture, dignity and freedom. In a provocative speech in Dallas, Honduran cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, co-ordinator of the group of eight cardinals advising Pope Francis on church reform, said the church had to address the issues of hunger, housing, clothing, shoes, health and education as well as spiritual concerns. Globalisation, he said, had “crucified people” and produced “neoliberal dictatorships that rule democracies . . . invade us with the industry of entertainment, they make us forget about human rights, convincing us that nothing could be done”.
Whatever its difficulties, the globalisation of investment, technology and trade has helped hundreds of millions of people find their way out of poverty. The cardinal criticised the church’s past approach, insisting it needed to be more open to doubt, freedom, dissension or dialogue. “No more excommunicating the world, or trying to solve the world’s problems by returning to authoritarianism, rigidity and moralism, but instead keeping always the message of Jesus as her sole source of inspiration.” The church hierarchy “has no purpose in itself and for itself, but only in reference and subordination to the community” he said.
Source: Catholic World News
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER EXPRESSES REGRET AT LEGALISING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
David Cameron has admitted in a private meeting of senior Conservative constituency officials that he never expected the issue of same-sex marriage to cause such a furore. In a brutally frank series of exchanges with activists behind closed doors at the party conference, he conceded it had been a political error to have forced the contentious legislation through Parliament. The Prime Minister said that although he remained a committed supporter of gay marriage, he regretted the uproar the policy had caused. He admitted he had under-estimated the scale of the opposition from his own supporters and the Church.
One association chairman who was at the meeting but declined to be named said: ‘Cameron was repeatedly and forcefully challenged over gay marriage. He said he still believed that gay marriage was right but regretted the way he had forced it through Parliament. ‘He was really saying he wished he had left it well alone. We wished he had too.’ Another constituency chairman said: ‘Feelings were running high. We told him that we were losing good members over gay marriage which was when he did his mea culpa. The trouble is the damage is already done as I’ve lost dozens of members from my association.’ Mr Cameron was politely applauded when he revealed his regret over the policy.
Source: Daily Mail