AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – INTERNATIONAL NEWS 9th DECEMBER 2013
- WAVE OF PERSECUTION SWEEPS ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
- SYRIA, IRAN AND THE SHI’ITE CRESCENT
- OVER 10,000 EGYPTIAN YOUTH GATHER IN DESERT TO DEDICATE THEIR LIVES TO CHRIST
- NORTH KOREA PUBLICLY EXECUTES UP TO 80 – SOME FOR SIMPLY POSSESSING A BIBLE
- LAWYERS SEEK TO BAN CHRISTIAN CORONATION
- A DAD WHO HAD PUSHED FOR ABORTION FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIS DAUGHTER WITH DOWN SYNDROME
HOMOSEXUAL MOVEMENT SEEKING TO RE-DEFINE CHRISTIANITY
WAVE OF PERSECUTION SWEEPS ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Believers in northeast Nigeria are reeling after Islamic militants killed their pastor and his son, and set fire to their church building and five homes. The Islamic attack on the church in Yobe went unnoticed by nearly all major media outlets. Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, points to the attack as the latest in a rising tide of persecution sweeping the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). “We’ve had situations in the last three weeks in Iraq, in Syria, in Pakistan, and now in northern Nigeria, where people are targeting believers,” says Curry. “My greatest concern is that attack after attack on Christians seems to be ignored.”
Thousands have fallen in Nigeria alone at the hands of the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. They have been prosecuting their four-year-old terror campaign in order to rid northeast Nigeria of all who follow Christ. Yobe is one of three north-eastern states currently under emergency rule, as Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan tries to quell Boko Haram insurgents.”The threat of terrorism in a few states in the north-eastern part of our country has proven to be a challenge to national stability,” Jonathan told UN leaders recently. “We will spare no effort in addressing this menace.”
In the nearby Central African Republic (CAR), there is a band of Islamic terrorists known as Seleka. They rose to power in March following the ousting of former President Bozize. Their primary target soon became the Church. “The various atrocities that preceded, accompanied, and followed Seleka’s rise to power have been specifically aimed at the Christian population,” states a letter from the CAR Evangelical Alliance to Seleka Islamist leader and CAR President Michel Djotodia. “Churches and Christian institutions have been desecrated and plundered, priests and pastors have been assaulted, and nuns raped.” In CAR, 50% of the population is Christian and 15% are Muslim.
Despite being in the majority, Christian communities in CAR claim their Muslim neighbours are joining Seleka’s violent campaigns. “Ever since the March coup, persecution of Christians has increased,” said Open Doors spokesman Jerry Dykstra. A similar situation unfolds in Egypt as violence against Christians reaches historic levels. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) were quick to blame Coptic Christians for the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi from office. This summer many believers have endured beatings, their homes and businesses looted and destroyed, and churches set aflame. One church was forced to close its doors for the first time in 1,600 years.
Open Doors who has been trying to raise awareness of these attacks among Western believers, believe it’s worthwhile asking the question: ‘Are these attacks coordinated?’ Certainly they seem to be intentional and directed at believers.” Over the last decades the population of Christians in the Middle East has gone from 20% to 4% due to a concerted effort to force Christians to convert or to drive them from their homes.” “Pray for safety of people who want to worship Jesus, who want to simply call themselves followers of Christ,” Curry suggests. “This is a hinge of history. If we don’t stand up and have our voice heard on this issue, it may well get much worse.”
Source: Mission Network News
SYRIA, IRAN AND THE SHI’ITE CRESCENT
The war in Syria is complex and multi-faceted. For the religious minorities and pro-Assad Syrians it is about surviving. For the Muslim Brotherhood and fundamentalist Sunnis, it is about restoring Sunni power. For Turkey it is about expanding Turkey’s sphere of influence. For Iran and Hezbollah, it is about maintaining the Shi’ite crescent, which is an arch of Iranian influence. For the USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is about weakening Iran by taking a piece out of the Shi’ite crescent. For the Arabs, it is about restoring Syria to the Arab axis. For Russia, it is about not empowering al-Qaeda and other jihadis. For al-Qaeda, it is about controlling territory and establishing bases.
The war in Syria is about whether the U.S.-Arab-Turkey axis or the Russia-Persia axis will control the flow of natural gas from the Persian Gulf to Europe. U.S.-Arab axis control would require regime change in Syria. The key element in all of this is Arab, Sunni Syria’s strategic alliance with Persian, Shi’ite Iran. The dilemma is, while Assad is good for Christians, other religious minorities and non-fundamentalist Muslims, Iran and the whole Shi’ite crescent — is openly hostile and belligerent towards Israel and the West. The Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni Arab monarchies are just as anti-Semitic and anti-West as the Iranian regime — they are just more duplicitous and more pragmatic.
Iran is a highly strategic nation, historically, geographically, linguistically and culturally. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 brought nothing but suffering and shame to Iranians, especially for those who do not believe hard-line Islam is compatible with their culture. Despair is evident. The birth-rate has plunged from 8.1 at the time of the revolution to 1.6 today. According to the U.N.’s statistics, around 2.2% of all adult Iranians are addicted to drugs. This is the highest incidence of drug addiction in the world. Iran’s suicide rate is also climbing — this, in a nation once lauded for its poets, cinematographers, artists and philosophers; a nation once allied to Israel and friendly with the West.
Another vital statistic is the rise in the number of Iranians leaving Islam and embracing Christianity, both inside Iran and throughout the Iranian diaspora. The Lord is doing something new — a new exodus, a transformation (Isaiah 43:16-21). Meanwhile, converts in Iran are imprisoned on charges of threatening national security. Despised as traitors, they are treated harshly. In Syria, the rebel and opposition forces are fracturing due to infighting. Many Syrian rebels are defecting from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), some to the al-Qaeda-linked al Nusra Front, others to the government side, horrified at the prospect of Syria being over-run by international jihadis.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT —
* the Lord of Hosts will intervene to liberate Syria from those seeking to eliminate Christianity, impose Sharia Law and establish bases for terrorist operations and imperialistic Islamic jihad.
* God will supply all the needs of Syria’s imperilled believers, especially Christian prisoners, and that they will be sustained, comforted and encouraged.
* the Lord of Hosts will intervene to liberate Iran from the cleric-led regime that persecutes the Church and suppresses the hope-restoring, life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
OVER 10,000 EGYPTIAN YOUTH GATHER IN DESERT TO DEDICATE THEIR LIVES TO CHRIST
Given the precarious political and security situation in Egypt, it is hard to imagine a huge Christian youth conference being held for three days attended by over 11,000 youth from 250 churches of all denominations. But the youth conference took place for the fifth year in a row in a stadium out in the desert 70 miles north of Cairo. Thousands of youth gathered to seek God’s will for their own lives, and also for their country of Egypt. In a major logistical operation thousands were transported from their home cities and towns to the conference venue. About 4,000 youth came from various southern Egyptian cities, even though Egypt’s train system was suspended due to security threats.
Around 7,000 young people commuted each day to and from Cairo, Alexandria and other nearby cities in order to attend the conference. To make sure people came and left on time inside curfew hours, and buses safely commuted everyone, was a daily miracle. None of these hundreds of cars, vans or buses engaged in any minor or major road accidents – something that Christian Egyptians don’t take for granted. The young people came to hear what the Lord had to say to them and to dedicate their lives to Him. The main prayer for the conference was that God may set apart these young people as a whole sacred generation for Himself and for the work of His Kingdom.
They were encouraged to live faithfully for the Lord; to be prepared with a heart of love vigilantly waiting for His timings, so that when the day comes for the Lord to release signs and wonders, He will find this generation of Egyptian Believers ready to receive His glory and do His work on earth, as it is in Heaven. Millions watched the conference sessions live on two Christian Channels, while tens of thousands watched live over the Internet. The Internet participants were not only from all around Egypt, but also across the Middle East and even worldwide. The genuine spirit of love and angelic worship made a deep impression on a Muslim journalist who attended.
A Facebook post by the journalist, who joined her Christian friends to visit the conference out of curiosity, stated: “Over the last three days, I’ve witnessed the activities of a large Christian youth conference where massive numbers of people gather around one theme: love, the essence of Christianity. I went there with a group of other Muslim friends and we were overwhelmed by the spirit of love that spread out all over the place, from people who have just been facing a severe wave of attacks, burning and looting – people who had been suffering severely at the hands of fanatical Muslims. I was surrounded by a massive crowd of people who were taught to love and forgive.
Source: Open Doors
NORTH KOREA PUBLICLY EXECUTES UP TO 80 – SOME FOR SIMPLY POSSESSING A BIBLE
As many as 80 people were publicly executed in North Korea last month, for offenses such as watching South Korean movies or possessing a Bible. A South Korean newspaper reported that the victims were put to death in 7 cities across North Korea in the first known large-scale public executions by the Kim Jong-un regime. “A source familiar with affairs in the North who recently visited the country, reported that people with their heads covered with white bags — were tied to stakes at a stadium in the city of Wonsan, where authorities shot them with a machine gun. Authorities had gathered a crowd of 10,000 people, including children, and forced them to watch the killings.”
“The residents watched in terror as the corpses were riddled by machine-gunfire to the extent that they were hard to identify afterwards,” the source said. Most of the Wonsan victims were charged with watching or trafficking South Korean videos, involvement in prostitution, or possessing a Bible. Relatives or accomplices of the victims were sent to prison camps. “There is no clear reason for the executions. One government official noted they occurred in cities that are centres of economic development. Wonsan is a port city that Kim is reportedly planning to make a tourist destination by building an airport, hotels and a ski resort in,” said Fox News.
“Simultaneous executions in 7 cities could suggest an attempt by the North Korean government to quell public unrest or any capitalistic inclinations that may accompany its development projects. North Korea has been known however to order public executions for infractions such as religious activism, cell-phone use or stealing food, in an effort to intimidate the public.” There were no executions in the capital of Pyongyang, where Kim depends on the support of the country’s elite. The young leader continues to build luxury and recreational facilities in the capital, including a new water park.
Source: Assist Ministries
LAWYERS SEEK TO BAN CHRISTIAN CORONATION
The Prince of Wales is facing a legal challenge to bar him and future monarchs from having a Christian coronation. A secularist campaign group has instructed a leading firm of solicitors to challenge the religious rite, which stems from the time of King Edgar in AD973 and rests on the belief that God chooses monarchs. If the coronation oath were abolished the nation would take a significant step from being a Christian country to becoming a secular state. Keith Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “Lawyers are investigating a challenge to the oaths connected with the accession and coronation.”
Mr Wood, whose group was involved in the abolition of the blasphemy laws and in the successful campaign to give royal sons and daughters equal rights of succession, said: “The investiture ceremony should be an inclusive one in which all should feel equally valued, not a religious service of one denomination which, on a normal Sunday, less than 2% of the population attend.” Charles has reportedly said he would like a “multi-faith” service to follow the Christian coronation. At the Queen’s coronation she promised to “maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the gospel”; the “Protestant religion” and the “doctrine, worship, discipline and government”of the Church of England.
One senior figure in the Church of England said if the courts forbade the central element of the coronation, it would “not amount to disestablishmentof the Church of England per se. But it would be a major blow to the Christian religion since it would strike down the perception that the crown is dependent in any way on the church for its legitimacy”. The source said it would also “hasten the removal of many of the remaining vestiges of church involvement in public life, such as prayers in parliament and at council meetings.” Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
Source: The Times
A DAD WHO HAD PUSHED FOR ABORTION FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIS DAUGHTER WITH DOWN SYNDROME
Heath White, an FBI agent, will tell you that his 5-year-old daughter Paisley is a “light in the darkness.” But he didn’t always feel that way. In fact, upon finding out back in 2006 that the baby his wife Jennifer was carrying had Down syndrome, White had pressed her to end the child’s life.”I did everything I could to try and force her into having an abortion,”said White. Jennifer stood firm, however, and refused to abort her baby. White says it took some time for him to “realize Paisley was just like any other kid.” The “turning point” came when White set his daughter to giggling and laughing after he tickled her.
Now, White – always a runner – is running races behind a special streamlined stroller, with his precious daughter Paisley aboard. Together, father and daughter have taken part in nine marathons, as well as 5 and 10K races. Says White, “Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve tried to accomplish, it was never going to be perfect, but my love for Paisley is perfect.” Paisley’s dad goes out of his way to get the message across to other would-be parents of Down syndrome babies, to try to help them see how valuable is the life he once wanted to end. White says, “if I can keep one family from having to live with the guilt from making the mistake that I almost made, it’s going to be worth it.”
Source: Charisma News
HOMOSEXUAL MOVEMENT SEEKING TO RE-DEFINE CHRISTIANITY
A pro-family Christian activist says there’s a movement afoot to re-define Christianity to fit the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender agenda. Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality notes that homosexual groups have been set up to promote the “gay Christian” message. Political groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have been engaged in Christian advocacy for a long time. “This alternative Christianity movement is started by some of the most hateful, secular-minded people, even atheists, who live on the planet,”says LaBarbera. “And yet they are going to redefine Christianity for us?”
Pro-homosexual activists campaign against religious “homophobia” and argue the gay-Christian message in evangelical circles. LaBarbera, says “There’s lots of money being spent on this and lots of activism, and I’m afraid Christians just have no clue that all this is going on.” LaBarbera warns that pastors need to “stand up and defend the truth of the Bible on the homosexual issue.” The pro-family activist says that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community knows Christians are the last bulwark to conquer and because of that, it’s pushing against Christianity with even greater intensity.