Praise Reports

 Europe

Intercessor Focus: Russian elections 

Europe to forcibly repatriate Iraqis

Irish referendum on abortion by end of May

 Worldwide

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‘The Turning’ grows

In May 2016 a two-week mission began in Reading. On the first day 80+ people accepted the invitation to pray to Jesus. Many more heard that God had an awesome plan for them and allowed a church member to pray a blessing over their life. On 8 June, Reading Christian Network affirmed that something extraordinary was happening. After ten days over 720 people had prayed on the streets of Reading, the mission was extended, and The Turning was born. It is now becoming a phenomenon – a gift from heaven that empowers ordinary Christians to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. What started in a Baptist Church is not just for one Church or even one town. The Turning leaders are considering the possibility of reaching three million people across Europe within five years. There will be a national day of prayer and worship at City Gates Church, IG1 1BH on Wednesday 21 February, to launch ‘Turning’ in London. See also

Praise:

God for the teams now visiting towns and cities across the UK to equip local churches in evangelism and discipleship, and for the thousands who have been saved. (Psalm 150:1,2)

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Christianity’s astonishing growth in Nepal

Intercessors have been praying for God’s Kingdom to grow in Hindu-dominant Nepal. Although proselytising has been banned in the country for decades, the church has exploded! Recent reports state that Nepali Christians are now one of the fastest-growing Christian communities in the world! After the 2015 earthquake, Christian groups gave aid to needy Nepalis, and were some of the first and most sustained groups to help. This growth has not come without a price. To curb it, the government will introduce a new criminal code in August, increasing jail sentences for proselytising from three to five years. Convicted foreigners will be deported after serving their time.

Praise:

God and thank Him for answering prayers for the Hindu nations. May He continue to protect his missionaries and tent-makers witnessing in foreign lands. (Philippians 4:7)

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Intercessor Focus: Brexit discussions this week

Downing Street said there was ‘some distance’ between what the UK wants for the Brexit transition and what the EU wants. Pray for grace and strength for all our politicians who are involved in the negotiations, both now and in the weeks to come. When the EU Bill was debated in the House of Lords it was said to be ‘constitutionally unacceptable’. Pray for clarity of thought to replace confusion and God-inspired debate to replace controlling attitudes that dominate debate; also that the doubts about Theresa May’s leadership which have been expressed this week do not adversely affect the Brexit negotiations.

Pray:

for God’s presence and strengthening power to direct our politicians’ thoughts and actions along the paths He would lead them. (2 Timothy 1:7)

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Church calls for curb on betting adverts

The CofE has called for a ban on betting adverts before the 9pm watershed, in a bid to tackle the growing ‘moral crisis’ facing children and young people. Rev Alan Smith said, ‘There is a lot of evidence that young people are seeing extraordinary levels of advertising, which is normalising and socialising gambling. That is a moral issue, one which we as a society need to stand back and reflect about. We will reap a terrible harvest if gambling is “normalised” for children and young people.’ The Church is calling for social media giants to take greater responsibility. According to official figures, children see an average of 185 gambling adverts a year, and one in five adverts broadcast across 25 British football matches are for betting firms. The world has changed dramatically, with a huge rise in gambling adverts on every sort of media.

Pray:

for the fun in sport to return to involvement in it, not gambling on the outcome. (Proverbs 23:4)

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PM urged to challenge China

Theresa May is currently on a three-day state visit to China, to discuss expanding trade between the two countries. CSW says that while such talks are important, they shouldn’t come at the expense of challenging President Xi on his treatment of Christians. Mrs May’s visit coincides with new restrictions on churches. The government wants all churches to be registered, and to control the appointment of pastors and what they teach. Some Christians simply cannot do that. Christians who are not part of the official, government-sanctioned, church are branded as evil cults. This month in Yunnan Province, six members of an unregistered church were sentenced to up to 13 years in prison for ‘using an evil cult to organise and undermine law enforcement’, and a 500-member church in Shanxi Province was demolished with dynamite.

Pray:

for the conversations that Mrs May has with the Chinese be remembered long into the future, reaping rewards for future Christian faith groups as well as trade. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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Synod: Down’s Syndrome abortions

CofE leaders are concerned that a growing number of parents who discover their child will be born with Down’s Syndrome are choosing to terminate the pregnancy, a pattern which could see such children wiped out completely. The General Synod next week will debate a call to regulate providers of non-invasive prenatal testing, a relatively new test for the condition which carries no risk of miscarriage, unlike older procedures. The Church said that women should be provided with ‘comprehensive, unbiased information’ by doctors and test providers. In a document entitled Valuing People with Down’s Syndrome, the Church warned that the test might lead to major reductions of Down’s Syndrome live births. Iceland and Denmark have screening and almost 100% termination rates. Currently there are unregulated websites offering a blood test for a few hundred pounds, with no context or information about the prospects for someone with Down’s Syndrome. See also

Pray:

for people to be given the full information in a neutral way so that the Icelandic or Danish experience will not be repeated here. (Psalm 8:4,5)

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Synod: Methodist unity plans

Anglo-Catholics warn that proposals to end the 200-year-old split with Methodism ‘threaten the fundamentals’ of the CofE. A motion will be debated at its General Synod to allow ministers from each church to practise in the other’s. If passed, it would be ‘a profound sign of reconciliation, a healing of wounds that go back to the origins of Methodism in the 18th century,’ says the Bishop of Coventry. However the catholic wing of the Church places great importance on churches being led by bishops who follow on from Jesus’ apostles in ‘apostolic succession’. If the plans are passed by the synod next week and by the Methodist Church in the summer, the two churches will join forces and combine resources in areas where there are challenges in sustaining a Christian presence. It will also mean that for the first time ever, Methodists in the UK will have a bishop of their own.

Pray:

for an all-embracing, undiscriminating body of Christ to fulfil his commission with one voice without division, accusation or discrimination. (Ephesians 4:2,3)

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Salvation Army – living with dementia

The Salvation Army has launched a dynamic programme for people with dementia which uses singing to help them connect with others and bring back memories. The scheme, called Singing By Heart, uses a mix of popular hymns such as ‘Joy in my Heart’ and popular songs like ‘Moon River’. Each song (which begins with a Bible passage and finishes with a prayer) has been carefully selected to ensure it is fondly recognised by the people in the groups. It is widely acknowledged that music can trigger past memories and feelings in those living with dementia. The sessions are designed to encourage communication, recollection of memories, and happy thoughts for those taking part. It is also hoped they will benefit carers by giving them time to relax, make friends, and share experiences.

Pray:

for the development and growth of this scheme and similar initiatives to help dementia sufferers to retain and recall memories and engage with their surroundings. (Psalm 89:48,49,15)

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Manchester United urged to address pay differences

Community leaders, unions and churches are backing a call for Manchester United to increase the pay of workers employed by contractors, such as waitresses and cleaners, noting a ‘grotesque pay difference’ between their wages and players’ salaries. On 1 February Manchester citizens handed a letter to the club, urging it to take a ‘community-first business approach’ to ensure that the cost of living is met for low-paid workers. The group said that if new signing Alexis Sanchez is paid £400,000 a week, as some have reported, it will take him just 82 minutes in a game to earn the annual salary of a low-paid stadium worker. Group chairman Rev Ian Rutherford, minister at Methodist Central Hall, Manchester, said, ‘As the winter transfer window closes many workers at Old Trafford will be choosing between putting the heating on or a hot meal.’

Pray:

for Manchester United and similar organisations with unfair salary structures to realise the real cost of living by low-paid workers and address the issue fairly. (Matthew 16:26)

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Intercessor Focus: Russian elections

In 2017 anti-Putin rallies attracted thousands in remote regions where people opposed Kremlin-run politics and called for credible opposition to be allowed to stand in elections. Alexei Navalny planned to face President Putin in March’s Presidential election, but was banned after dubious fraud accusations. On 28 January he was freed from a twenty-day jail term for organising anti-Putin protests, but was re-arrested the same day. Thousands protested against government corruption outside the Kremlin and across Russia, calling the election a farce and urging people not to vote. Kremlin-controlled media are not covering the protests. Putin is expected to win, but his main concern is getting enough people voting to make the election appear credible. For INSIGHTS into unethical, corrupt elections due in 2018 click the ‘More’ link.

Pray:

for a high level of non-participation to lead to Russia’s embarrassment and cause them to work towards establishing an actual democracy without dishonesty. (Proverbs 11:2)

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Europe to forcibly repatriate Iraqis

European countries are to send Iraqi refugees back to Iraq if their asylum cases are rejected. Baghdad said returning them should be voluntary, not compulsory. Ivan Sahda Moshi has been hiding at a friend’s house in Gothenburg since 1 December, 2017, when a Swedish ruling demanded he return to Iraq. ‘I hope my case is looked over again,’ said Moshi, a Christian who fled Iraq in 2007. He fears returning, as militias threatened to kill him because he worked with US forces; also Christians are a threatened minority in Iraq. In a similar case, Hassan Amer’s asylum request was rejected by Austrian authorities. He submitted an appeal and is waiting for a new hearing so that he can explain his position. Media reporting about forcible repatriation is terrifying Iraqi asylum seekers.

Pray:

for these refugees to be allowed to reside where they choose, for as long as they want. Pray for restored stability in Iraq. (Proverbs 29:14)

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Irish referendum on abortion by end of May

Abortions are illegal in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There is a new wave of youth-driven campaigning on both sides of the abortion argument, which will come to a head over the next few months now that the Irish government has confirmed it will hold a referendum on reform of the country’s strict anti-abortion laws by the end of May.

Pray:

for God to be in every detail of the all-important youth comments and votes. (Proverbs 8:6)

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A 2009 prayer still relevant worldwide

The following is a shortened version of a prayer given at the opening session of the Kansas Senate. ‘Heavenly Father, we ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good”, but that is what we do. We have lost spiritual stability and reversed our values. We ridicule the truth of Your Word and call it pluralism; we worship other gods, calling it multiculturalism; we endorse perversion, calling it alternative lifestyle; we exploit the poor, calling it a lottery; we reward laziness with welfare; we kill our unborn, calling it choice; we neglect disciplining our children, calling it building their self-esteem; the abuse of power is called politics; we embezzle public funds, calling it expenses; and we call bribery ‘sweets of office.’ Coveting others’ possessions is called ambition, and pornography is called freedom of expression. We ridicule our forefathers’ values, calling it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!’

Pray:

for God to turn our hearts from worldly values and back to His word, His morals. (John 1:1)

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Afghanistan: unsaved people are dying

Bombings are so frequent, the media hardly notice. Last week’s assault on Kabul’s luxury hotel received attention because some westerners were victims. Days later, a car bomb killed 100+; last month a suicide bomber killed 41 and a truck bomb killed 150. Afghans live this reality daily. But the greatest conflict is not terrorism, poverty, or drugs. It is spiritual. 99.9% of the population are Muslim, and 72 people groups do not have the Gospel. A missionary writes, ‘A dear sister was murdered in the Kabul hotel bombing, then two days later the office of an NGO working here for many years was attacked and many were killed. This increase in armed aggression against foreigners and NGOs needs re-evaluation by Christian missions. Please pray for wisdom as to how we can improve the safety of our workers, and for much-needed peace and security in the country. There are serious differences between the governor in a northern province and the president. Tension is rising, and there are fears of a feud within the government. Pray that this will be stopped.’

Pray:

for local believers to be protected, and for doors to open into a neighbouring country to start training programmes. Pray for appropriate, practical solutions to end ongoing terror. (Psalm 18:30)

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South Africa: Cape Town water crisis

South Africa has the worst drought in 23 years. Climate change and massive population growth are blamed for the crisis. They are extracting water from underground springs and developing wastewater treatment and better water conservation, but the crisis worsens. By November 2017 schools were urging students to bring water from home, and asking them to attend school in sports gear so that parents do not need to wash two outfits. It is expected that on 12 April taps will be turned off in the Cape Town area, leaving residents to use 200 water collection points. Commercial areas, hospitals and settlements will be exempt. The city is getting tougher on people who stockpile water and unlicensed stores selling drinkable water. A plant to turn seawater into 15 million litres of usable water every day is planned, but it is not built yet. See also

Pray:

for Cape Town’s elderly, sick and vulnerable trying to use less than 50 litres per day, and for the success of international bodies working to slow down climate change. (Deuteronomy 33:13b)

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Chile: Pope’s envoy to investigate sex abuse claims

Pope Francis is sending the Vatican’s top expert on sexual abuse to Chile to investigate accusations that a bishop covered up for an abusive priest. The Pope met the priest’s victims on a recent visit, but then affirmed his belief that Bishop Juan Barros was innocent, and accused people of slandering him. He later apologised for the comments. Critics have insisted the choice to ordain the bishop should be reviewed, and asked for further action. Investigator Archbishop Charles Scicluna will visit Chile and ‘listen to those who want to submit information in their possession’.

Pray:

for all evidence to be presented and for wise decisions to be made. (Psalm 119:98)

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Australia: bishop advocates for refugees

The assistant bishop of Melbourne, Philip Huggins, has worked with film-maker Richard Keddie on a video advocating for South Sudanese school students in Melbourne. It says that many of these children are frightened, and asks people to ‘give them a wave and a smile to make them feel welcome’. In the state of Victoria, there have been recent high-profile political and media comments about ‘gangs’ of young Africans, which have resulted in discrimination towards and fear of the community. Hundreds of families have survived a dreadful war and seen millions killed. But they’re frightened again, because of messages spreading hate and fear against innocent children.

Pray:

for the promotion of this message to enable South Sudanese communities to be respected and for the school children to feel safe. (Matthew 5:10)

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Turkey: doctors arrested as ‘terrorists’

Police arrested senior members of the Turkish Medical Association, and President Erdogan branded them ‘terrorist lovers’. The association, which represents 80,000 doctors, publicly voiced opposition to the offensive against Syrian Kurdish militia, warning: ‘Every clash, every war, causes physical, psychological, social and environmental health problems, and human tragedy.’ After publishing their statement they were inundated with threats of violence via telephone, email and social media. The New York-based Physicians for Human Rights group condemned the intimidation campaign. ‘It is a bleak commentary on the state of affairs in Turkey that a group of doctors can’t make a peaceful statement without being targeted with physical threats and condemned by the head of state’, said Dr Homer Venters. ‘Medical professionals must have the freedom to call out threats to public health without fear of retribution.’

Pray:

for the release of the 300+ people detained this month for criticising the Turkish incursion into the Kurdish-controlled regions of north-west Syria. (Exodus 23:6)

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Kenya: Odinga inaugurates himself

Last November Mr Kenyatta was officially inaugurated as president, but his victory was not recognised by Raila Odinga, who argues that Mr Kenyatta was elected by a small section of the country. On 31 January he declared himself the people’s president, at a controversial swearing-in ceremony that the government warned is treason. Authorities shut down TV stations to prevent live coverage of the event. Holding a Bible in his right hand at a Nairobi park, he declared he was answering a ‘higher calling to assume the office of the people’s president of the Republic of Kenya’. He said that people had had enough of election rigging, and the event is hoped to be a step towards establishing a proper democracy in the East African state. Mr Odinga turned up for twenty minutes, signed a statement, swore an oath, and left the low-key affair. His deputy, Kalonzo Musyoka, was not at the event.

Pray:

for the political stand-off in Kenya to be resolved peacefully. (Proverbs 29:4)

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Prayer Alert is produced in partnership with The World Prayer Centre, Cornerstone House, 5 Ethel Street, Birmingham, B2 4BG, England.

 

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