Prayer Alert - Informing and equipping Christians - Online and to Inbox
Informing and equipping Christians – Online and to Inbox

 


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JustOne Day with J John

On Saturday 8 July 2017 at 3 pm, over 40,000 people of all ages will gather at the Emirates Stadium in London. Thousands will hear how the Good News of Jesus can transform lives and bring purpose. The simple idea is that JustOne will enable 20,000 people to invite a ‘plus one’ – a relative, friend, neighbour or colleague. The event is being led by J John – born less than two miles from the Emirates Stadium – who will talk about the relevance of Jesus and what he can do in our lives today. Worship will be led by Matt Redman, Hillsong London, Dr Noel Tredinnick with a large children’s choir, Noel Robinson. and the London Community Gospel Choir. Canon Andrew White (Jerusalem Ministries), Julia Immonen (Sport for Freedom), Lord Michael Hastings (KPMG) and Linvoy Primus (Faith and Football) will be among a number of people sharing their testimonies.

Praise:

God for this initiative, and pray for the 20,000 ‘plus-ones’, that they will come to a living faith in the Lord Jesus through the testimonies and preaching. (Ephesians 6:19)

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Family forgives murderer

On 15 June Jacob Stockdale, 25, allegedly used a shotgun to kill his mother and younger brother at his family’s farm in Ohio. When deputies went to investigate, he shot himself, and is now in a critical condition in hospital. His oldest brother Calvin said: ‘I don’t know why Jacob did what he did, but I do know he is my brother; I speak for our family when I say we love him and forgive him. The prayers and support for my family have been deeply appreciated and we ask for continued prayers for Jacob’s healing – body, mind, and spirit.’ The reasons for the shooting are not clear. The Stockdale family are members of the Zion Reformed Church, part of the Presbyterian Church in America, The church is now accepting donations to help the family, and already more than half the $40,000 goal has been raised.

Praise:

God for the power of forgiveness, even in the midst of grief. (Matthew 18:21-22)

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Friday Focus: discipleship

The apostle Paul gives us an interesting insight on discipleship. It does not begin in the will but in the mind where we store our beliefs and values. One area for discipleship is our missionality; how we reach out to other people, and this also begins in the mind. (written by Laurence Singlehurst, Cell UK and HOPE)

Pray:

Heavenly Father, so often I respond to people on the basis of what I see and I don’t see people as You see them. I ask that You enlarge my heart and mind that I might see each individual, whatever their background, as beautiful and wonderful, created in Your image. Amen. (Romans 12:2)

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Finsbury Park attack

Right-wing extremists have defended the attack in London on 19 June, in which a man deliberately drove a van into a group of Muslim worshippers after late-night Ramadan prayers, by claiming: ‘This is war: we have the right to fight back’. There are concerns that British authorities are ‘way behind’ the increasingly sophisticated tactics used by such extremists to radicalise followers online. They now cover their tracks by using untraceable mobile phones and services that conceal their computer’s location – leaving the police unable to find them. They have also used less regulated social networks like the Russian-based VKontakte (VK) service to build up ‘spider’s web’ groups of like-minded individuals who then support and radicalise each other. Meanwhile, many Muslims have expressed fears that they are not safe, and the Muslim Council of Great Britain has called for extra security around mosques, describing the attack as ‘the most violent manifestation’ of Islamophobia.

Pray:

for all those who are responding to this attack in different ways. Pray that hatred and violence will not be allowed to hold sway in any community. (Romans 12:18)

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Lord Adonis urges support for ‘soft Brexit’

Former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Adonis has called on his party to give its ‘full support’ to Philip Hammond’s vision of a ‘soft Brexit’ instead of the ‘ideologically crazed’ alternative. He described himself as a ‘progressive Christian’ as opposed to the ‘bigotry’ of some conservative strands of the faith. Speaking on the same day as the Queen’s Speech, he said, ‘The overwhelming issue of importance is Brexit. There is clearly a battle going on between hard and soft Brexit, and it is entirely unclear at the moment where this might end up. But it seems to me vital that Britain doesn’t leave the customs union or the single market.’ On his faith, Lord Adonis said: ‘I’m what I like to term a progressive Christian: I see no incompatibility at all between a strong Christian faith and being entirely liberal on social issues.’ He also disapproved of Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron’s decision to resign last week, adding that it is perfectly possible to be a Christian and the leader of a progressive party.

Pray:

for all Christian MPs, that they will feel encouraged to stand for their Christian beliefs as well as their political ones. (Matthew 10:16)

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Doctors and abortion

Doctors in the British Medical Association (BMA) will vote on decriminalisation of abortion at its annual conference (24 to 29 June). The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are campaigning hard for a change in the law, and senior figures in the BMA are reported to favour this. However, there is concern that pro-life arguments have not been fairly represented in the lead-up to the vote. Delegates have been given a ‘neutral’ 52-page discussion paper, written by several pro-abortion doctors, which neglects to mention the increasing survival rate of premature babies. The latest official figures show that 190,406 women had abortions in 2016: alarmingly, these included more than 1,500 girls under the age of consent. Also, more babies with Down’s syndrome were aborted than in 2015 (such abortions have increased by 46 per cent since 2010). This debate comes as research shows that many are uneasy about the current law and favour reducing the period during which abortion is legal. See also

Pray:

that all the BMA members will consider carefully all the implications of such a far-reaching vote, and give equal weight to all sides of the argument. (Proverbs 1:20)

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Day of Rage and reactions

Activists descended on Westminster for a ‘Day of Rage’ protest on 21 June, as Theresa May set out her legislative programme for the next two years in the Queen’s Speech. The demonstration, organised by Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ), saw protesters marching to Downing Street, with the aim of ‘bringing down the Government’. Mrs May became the first prime minister in decades to lay out a legislative programme without a guaranteed House of Commons majority, as the Conservatives have yet to reach a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. The MFJ said the protest was in reaction to ‘brutal austerity, cuts and anti-immigrant attacks’, and last week’s Grenfell Tower tragedy in which at least 79 died. Some condemned the protest for politicising the anger, or thought it was inappropriate. A different approach was taken by London City Mission and the Message Trust, who organised a day of prayer and fasting in Kensington.

Pray:

that the voice of constructive criticism will be louder than calls to rage and violence. Give thanks for all those who have helped the Grenfell Tower survivors. (Proverbs 11:25)

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Queen’s Speech: education

The Government, setting out its plans in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, has not announced any legislation for education. This means dropping their most high-profile proposed reform – the expansion of selective education in England. The controversial plan to stop free lunches for all infants is also absent. This takes away the biggest source of extra funding promised for schools in the Conservative manifesto. The re-written plans now call for ‘every child to go to a good or outstanding school’ – but with the recognition that any changes will depend upon being able to command a majority. Four teachers’ unions expressed disappointment about the lack of new funding, saying that schools were ‘sending out begging letters to parents’. One head teacher said, ‘The government said that it had heard the message from the electorate. It’s high time they acted to put things right and fund schools in a way that every child deserves.’

Pray:

for the best possible education for every child in the UK, and for the money to be found which will finance this. (Proverbs 22:6)

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Queen’s Speech: anti-extremist measures

Plans for a counter-extremism commission were announced in the Queen’s Speech, but campaigners urged the Government to pause its plans and consult widely. The speech did not mention any plans for an equality oath, or Ofsted entering Sunday schools and youth clubs, but the Government continues to advocate both these strands of its counter-extremism strategy. Defend Free Speech, which includes the Christian Institute, the National Secular Society, and Index on Censorship, cautioned that the new commission will simply be a scapegoat for ‘when things go wrong’. Its statement said, ‘The Government has yet again said it will bring forward unnecessary and intrusive legislation to counter so-called non-violent extremism. Not only will civil liberties be damaged, but we will all be less safe. For years, government lawyers have tried to come up with a watertight legal definition of who is and is not an extremist. The chances of finding one that does not criminalise those with traditional or challenging views such as people of faith, outspoken academics or anti-fracking campaigners seems highly remote.’

Pray:

for the Government to heed the calls to tread carefully and consult widely before bringing in such legislation. (Ephesians 5: 15-17)

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Portugal: forest fires controlled after over sixty deaths

Forest fires raging in Portugal since 17 June and which have killed more than sixty people have been brought under control, the civil protection agency says. The largest fire, in Pedrógão Grande, which ravaged 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of forests, was doused late on 21 June, and the second biggest blaze, in Góis, was contained the next day. Water-bombing planes and nearly 2,400 firefighters were involved in tackling the fires. Antonio Ribeiro, who led the Pedrógão operations, said that higher humidity levels and lower temperatures had allowed the firefighters to contain the fire and extinguish the remaining hotspots. The president of the League of Firefighters said he believed arson had caused the fire, contradicting an earlier police account.

Pray:

for the communities affected by the fires as they deal with the aftermath; also for comfort for the families of those who lost their lives. (Psalm 23:4)

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Romanian PM ousted by his own party

After only six months, Romanian prime minister Sorin Grindeanu has been forced from power, losing a no-confidence vote in parliament by 10 votes to 241. His left-wing Social Democrat party (PSD) had accused him of failing to carry out necessary economic reforms. He had also been involved in a power struggle with party leader Liviu Dragnea, who was barred from office after a conviction for voter fraud. The decision by his own party and its allies to oust him was seen as a first, even for Romania’s turbulent politics. The PSD won elections in December, but within weeks protests erupted across the country over a decree seen as weakening anti-corruption measures in one of the European Union’s most corrupt member states. Although Mr Grindeanu withdrew the decree, the crisis weakened his government and soured relations between himself and Mr Dragnea. In its most recent report, the EU’s executive praised Romania’s anti-corruption agency (DNA), but warned that the fight against corruption was under serious threat from political and media attack.

Pray:

for an end to the corruption and scandals affecting the country, and for a judicious leader with integrity to be elected. (Micah 6:8)

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Worldwide - CLICK to return to Top of Bulletin

North Korea: release of foreign prisoners demanded

South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, said on 20 June that North Korea should repatriate South Koreans and Americans detained in the reclusive country. American student Otto Warmbier, arrested for theft of a political notice while visiting North Korea as a tourist, was held prisoner for 17 months. He has died at a Cincinnati hospital just days after being released from captivity – in a coma, his parents said. Doctors caring for him said he had extensive brain damage. Three other United States citizens (ethnic Koreans) and six South Koreans remain in custody. President Moon deplored North Korea’s lack of respect for human rights, and said his government will make every effort to obtain the return of the detainees. US President Donald Trump blamed the ‘brutality of the North Korean regime’ for Mr Warmbier’s death. Several of those detained are Christian missionaries charged with subversion. North Korea defends its ‘sovereign right to ruthlessly punish’ US citizens held for crimes against the state.

Pray:

for the family of Otto Warmbier. Pray also that this oppressive regime would relent and come to recognise the need for human rights to operate. (Exodus 9:1)

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Pakistan: Christian sanitation worker dies

Irfan Masih, a Christian sanitation worker, died at a hospital in Sindh on 1 June after he was refused treatment by the duty doctors. Sanitation jobs are considered ‘unclean’ and are often reserved for religious minorities. He fell unconscious after inhaling toxic fumes from a manhole he was cleaning without using protective equipment. When he arrived at the hospital he was covered in sludge. The doctors refused to treat him because he was unclean, and asked family members to clean his body first. Then the oxygen cylinder which was ordered was found to be empty, and before another could be delivered, Mr Masih died. The Christian community in Pakistan faces widespread institutional discrimination in religious, societal, economic and political spheres. Many Christians are employed in ‘unclean’ occupations, and employers have been accused of allowing them to work in highly dangerous conditions with little or no protective gear. Three hospital employees and three employees of the local municipal committee have been arrested. The staff allege that Mr Masih was already dead when he was brought to the hospital.

Pray:

that there will be a serious enquiry into the ‘rules’, and that the lowliest in society will be treated with the same dignity as the rest of the workforce. (James 2:1-4)

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Eritrea: Christians rounded up

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), 122 Eritrean Christians were detained in May 2017, in a series of roundups of members of unregistered denominations in various locations around the country. The detentions mark a new phase in a crackdown that has been ongoing since May 2002, when the Eritrean government effectively outlawed all religious practices except the Catholic, Lutheran or Orthodox Christian denominations or Sunni Islam. Forty-five Christians, including entire families, elderly men and a disabled woman, were taken in Adi Quala and transported to a detention camp, leaving 23 children without their parents. 77 others were taken from other places; 45 of them, mostly women, were at a party celebrating a wedding. Further arrests are anticipated as the local authorities and the Orthodox Church continue their enquiries. Christians have begun a period of prayer and fasting for peace and safety.

Pray:

for the persecution to stop, and for the period of prayer and fasting to be effective. (Matthew 28:20b)

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Syria: US downs Syrian plane and drone

A US fighter jet has blown up a pro-Syrian regime drone, just two days after the US brought down its first Syrian air force warplane. No matter how much Mr Trump personally hankers after better relations with the Russians, the downing of the Russian-made SU-22 on Sunday night has effectively killed any prospect of Washington and Moscow enjoying a new era of detente. The Russian response has been to threaten any coalition aircraft which enters airspace where its forces operate. Meanwhile, an armed Russian warplane flew within five feet of a US reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea in what US officials said was a ‘provocative and unsafe’ way. Tensions between the two powers were already running high after a bipartisan group of US Senators last week voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill that expands financial sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential contest, as well as Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Pray:

for common sense to prevail in an effort to avert possible escalation in the Russo-US antagonism. Pray for the oil of the Holy Spirit to come in and smooth the way. (Matthew 5:9)

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North Africa: mass losses at sea

Some 126 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean after Libyan people-smugglers stole their outboard motor, leaving them at the mercy of the waves and other attackers. The dinghy, which left from a beach in Libya on 16 June, was heading toward Italy when it was attacked. The waves soon engulfed the dinghy and it sank. It is believed there were 130 on board, of whom four (two Nigerians and two Sudanese) were rescued by passing fishermen. Most of the passengers were from Sudan. A spokesman for the UN migration agency said the incident was ‘tantamount to murder’. He added, ‘We believe the motor may even have been stolen by the smugglers who launched the dinghy in the first place, or a rival group. Many motors have been stolen in recent times as they are valuable to the smugglers.’

Pray:

for the Italian coastguards to be able to intervene more often, that more lives can be saved. Pray also for increased stability in the North African countries so that migration is not seen as the only way out of the difficulties. (Luke 1:74)

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Ongoing conflict in CAR

The mayor of a town in Central African Republic (CAR) said on 21 June that over a hundred people are dead after heavy fighting broke out, despite a peace agreement signed recently in Rome. Also, several dozen wounded have been brought to the hospital run by aid group Doctors Without Borders. However, the local Catholic mission says the death toll could be higher because it has been too dangerous for Red Cross teams to recover bodies from the streets. CAR is a country teetering on the edge of becoming a failed state. Half a million of the country’s people have fled to neighbouring nations; a similar number are huddled in squalid camps inside CAR, dependent on food aid and the protection of UN peacekeepers and 900 French troops. CAR has faced fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital city, Bangui. Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christians, fought back, resulting in thousands of people being killed. The peace deal signed on 19 June between nearly all the country’s armed groups had called for an immediate cease-fire.

Pray:

for the cease-fire to be honoured by both parties, and that peace may be the order of the day once again. Pray also that CAR may be able to re-establish itself as a viable country. May God’s will be done. (Psalm 110:5-6)

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Thailand: lack of medical treatment for refugees

A 34-year-old Christian, Ijaz, who had fled Pakistan for fear of persecution, received news on 26 May that his application for refugee status had been refused. The next day he died at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok. Some months earlier he complained of chest pains and was hospitalised, but doctors could not diagnose his problem. At the IDC, he was put in the punishment room because he could not pay his hospital bill. Eventually his local church in Bangkok paid the bill, with help from Barnabas Fund. The IDC doctor refused to allow his pastor to bring him medicine. Around 4,000 Pakistani Christians have fled persecution and made their way to Thailand, only to find that they are treated as criminals there. Immigration police carry out arbitrary mass arrests, even raiding worship services, searching for people without valid visas. Detainees are held in such harsh and horrifically overcrowded conditions that some have chosen to go back to Pakistan and face persecution. One source said that this desperate decision is often made because they are not receiving treatment for life-threatening medical conditions. ‘It is a 21st century concentration camp, without the gas chambers’, he said.

Pray:

for all those caught in refugee traps. Give thanks for groups like Barnabas Fund who seek to stand by these desperate people. Pray also for tolerance and care between cultures and faiths. (Daniel 6:26b-27a)

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Prayer Alert is produced in partnership with The World Prayer Centre, Cornerstone House, 5 Ethel Street, Birmingham, B2 4BG, England.
The views expressed in Prayer Alert and on our website are those of the authors, organisations and websites named, and are not necessarily those of the Prayer Alert Editorial Team, the Prayer Alert Steering Group or the World Prayer Centre or any of its employees or trustees. While we try to ensure that the information we provide is correct, mistakes do occur and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of our material. If you do notice any mistakes then please let us know.

Prayer Alert – World Prayer Centre, Cornerstone House, 5 Ethel street, Birmingham, B2 4BG United Kingdom

 

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