Praise Reports - CLICK to return to Top of Bulletin

Trafficking gang caught in dawn raids

On 6 February police arrested over 20 people across the UK in a huge operation to tackle a Kurdish gang smuggling hundreds of illegal immigrants into the UK for up to £10,000 a time. Over 300 officers coordinated by the National Crime Agency raided properties in Northumbria, Cleveland, Sussex and London to arrest suspected traffickers. Hundreds of Iraqi Kurds, men, women and children, are being brought into the UK in lorries and on ferries by the gang, paying up to £10,000 each. A number of car washes were also raided, in what is said to be a bid to shut down the gang’s money laundering operation. Senior investigating officer Mark Spoors said all of the agency’s targets had been arrested, and a significant trafficking network has been disrupted.

Praise:

God for this successful operation – may there be more. Pray for the victims to receive all the care and help they need to build a positive future in a safe environment. (Proverbs 23:18)

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Christian athletes in the winter Olympics

Nearly 3,000 athletes will compete in 102 events in this year’s Winter Olympics. Among them are Christian Olympians who have spoken openly about their faith. Kelly Clark (snowboarding halfpipe) said she didn’t get her worth from what she did, it was from Christ. David Wise (freestyle skiing halfpipe) said his Christian faith ‘plays a huge role because it enables me to be confident’. Elana Meyers Taylor (bobsled) said, ‘Regardless of whether I win gold or not, I just have to trust that God has a plan for my life and I’m called to be his representative through the sport and outside the sport.’ Katie Uhlaender (skeleton) said God guides her and gives her the strength to keep going. Gigi Marvin (hockey) said her mission is more than winning medals: it’s about sharing Christ and leading others to him.

Praise:

God for these and all Christians involved in the 2018 Olympics who will be sharing their faith with fellow-athletes and their teams from across the nations. (Acts 5:20)

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British Isles and Ireland - CLICK to return to Top of Bulletin

Terminally ill homeless people need housing

Sir Ed Davey put the ‘Homelessness End of Life Care Bill’ before Parliament on Wednesday, but it will need to win the support of MPs and ministers to move forward and end the current situation where people with cancer or long term illnesses are ‘dying on doorsteps’. The plan is to offer homeless people with terminal illnesses a right to housing. Under current laws, many who are sleeping rough, living in hostels or staying on friends’ sofas are not automatically eligible for long-term housing. The local authority deems they have other options. The number of people sleeping rough in England hit a record high of 4,751 last autumn, double the 2010 number. Those who are expected to die in the next twelve months need palliative care. They are cold and in pain, possibly in hostels with staff who have no medical training and no painkillers or drugs to manage people who are dying.

Pray:

for the bill to go through Parliament (its second reading will be on 16 March), and give the most vulnerable people in our communities the attention they need. (Job 42:2)

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Russian oligarchs want to return to Moscow

In the wake of an announcement that the UK is to clamp down on rich foreigners, a number of Russian oligarchs have reportedly asked the Kremlin if they can return to their country without being arrested. British security minister Ben Wallace is said to have sparked fear among some of London’s wealthy foreign contingent when he announced tough measures to crack down on criminals and corrupt politicians, resembling those portrayed in the TV series McMafia. The High Court has started issuing unexplained wealth orders (UWO’s), in which money of those who were unable to explain how they acquired British assets of more than £50,000 could be frozen. Last March the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project stated 500 wealthy and well-connected Russians were behind a ‘global laundromat’ when their banking records were obtained.

Pray:

for Britain to repatriate foreigners engaged in unlawful money laundering. (Proverbs 18:17)

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The God of incomparable power in Westminster

Every Tuesday lunchtime, a service in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in Westminster gives people an opportunity for reflection in the midst of a busy and demanding parliamentary life. On 6 March the theme will be ‘The God of incomparable power – Isaiah 40:12-26’. We can pray for the Lord Jesus to pour out a fresh move of his Spirit across Parliament at this time. Pray also for our leaders and all who work in Westminster to recognise how powerful our God is and the vastness of His ability to change situations, turn circumstances around and give those who know Him the ability to hear His voice of wisdom in all decision making. Pray for the power of God to rest on our appointed politicians and bring about His Kingdom purpose for our nation.

Pray:

for powerful anointing on all who speak at the chapel, releasing God’s vision and peace. (1 Corinthians 4:20)

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EU threat to restrict UK single market access

A draft section of the UK and EU withdrawal agreement, reflecting the EU’s stated directives (yet to be finalised), was leaked to the media. It said that the EU wants to restrict the UK’s access to the single market in the transition phase if there is a difference of opinion after Brexit. There will be an EU summit at the end of March. Between now and then Theresa May and her government will be discussing options and deciding the best proposals for a way forward which would avoid having tariffs imposed on British goods. Speaking on Radio 4, Bernard Jenkin, chair of the Commons public administration committee, said it would be utterly perverse if the EU imposed tariffs on British goods, and its comments indicate how fearful it is – so much so that it has to make these silly threats.

Pray:

for God to inspire ministers as they turn drafts into legally-binding documents and pray for the media to report responsibly on information from trustworthy sources. (Psalm 15:2,3)

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Assisted dying debate continues

Noel Conway has motor-neurone disease and has taken his case for a medically-assisted death to appeal. He is supported by Dignity in Dying, the campaign group for legalising assisted suicide. They say Noel should have the option of an assisted death and be able to die with dignity. ‘Dignity’ is being used in this debate to mean ‘freedom to choose how and when to end your life medically’. Traditionally, it means recognising and conferring value on a person. Noel’s condition prompts compassion, as did Tony Nicklinson and Debbie Purdy, who also fought to have medically-assisted deaths. But linking dignity with assisted dying sends the wrong message. Dignity means deserving honour or respect, but this use of the word means something different. If we let ‘dignity’ be hijacked to mean choice and independence, we will add to the sufferings of those at the end of life.

Pray:

for those facing fear of incurable illness to be given physical, emotional and spiritual support to maintain self-respect in crushing life situations. (Psalm 118:17)

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Post-Brexit trade opportunities

An event designed for entrepreneurs and business owners looking for ways to grow and export their products into the UK market is to be held on 6 March. The workshop is aimed at people who want to learn strategies and practical skills so that they can plan for export for future trade in the United Kingdom. This particular event is targeting Nigerians, but it is recognised that similar events need to be organised elsewhere and be available to businesses wanting overseas trading opportunities with the UK post-Brexit. Pray for this type of event to be multiplied across the nations, to enable men and women in manufacturing, information technology, and other enterprises to enter new UK markets.

Pray:

for God to prompt business owners who have not previously considered trading in the UK to begin to gauge their capacity to enable them to trade in a UK marketplace. (Genesis 34:10)

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Bishop calls for patriarchal culture to be challenged

To mark the 100th anniversary of the first women getting the vote in the UK, the Bishop-elect of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, has called for patriarchal culture to be ‘challenged at every possible opportunity’. She writes: ‘In the year that I am to be installed as Bishop of London, the year we celebrate the centenary of the vote for some women, I believe more is possible – not just possible, but necessary.’ The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, echoed this opinion, saying there was ‘still a long way to go’ for gender equality. Bishop Treweek, the Church of England’s first female diocesan bishop, said that ‘we need to go on adding our voices to those who stand against practices and accepted cultural norms which demean women and girls across our world’. British business have been warned by the Church Investors Group that unless firms have at least 33% of women on their boards, the group will vote against the re-election of their directors.

Pray:

that the Church will consider carefully its attitude to issues of gender equality. (Galatians 3:28)

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Europe - CLICK to return to Top of Bulletin

Increased risk of war, warns report

The 2018 annual Munich Security Report cited growing pressure on nuclear disarmament treaties and ongoing security concerns in eastern and central Europe as a cause for concern, and most worryingly the erosion of arms control agreements. ‘Deployment of additional weapons and tensions over military exercises has increased the risk of an inadvertent armed clash’, the report warns. ‘In this dire state of affairs, miscalculations and misunderstandings could lead to unintended military clashes. The Ukraine conflict was a stumbling block to de-escalation of tensions between Russia and the West.’ America’s decision to provide lethal arms to Ukraine would cement the current stalemate as countries in eastern Europe struggle in an environment of contested security, with the EU and NATO on one side and Russia on the other, at a time when the EU’s Eastern partnership policy has ‘lost its steam’.

Pray:

for God to end the speculation of European leaders and inspire them to repair the cracks in relationships and face the challenges highlighted in the report with Godly wisdom. (Psalm 2:10b,11)

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Poland: Catholic Church of the far right

Far-right Polish groups are using links to religion to gain mainstream influence. A terrified onlooker saw hooligans chanting overtly racist and fascist slogans, calling for ‘White Poland’, and shouting ‘Beat the red scum’. He saw priests simply moving to the rhythm of these chants, doing nothing about them. Approaching two of them, he asked, ‘Is this what your Catholicism looks like?’ They lowered their heads, but said nothing. The church’s hard-line nationalist wing is out of control, and nobody is able or willing to stop it. Observers point to the close connections between the Catholic Church and two high-profile nationalist movements. The messages that Catholicism is the only true religion and that Poles are superior to other nations are thinly veiled by shallow humanitarian slogans.

Pray:

for God to encourage and anoint His Church to speak out His word and reject the ethos of radical groups. May teenagers seeking an identity find it in Christ. (Psalm 2:7)

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Worldwide - CLICK to return to Top of Bulletin

South Africa: polluted political power

Since the end of apartheid the African National Congress (ANC) has dominated South African politics. The people struggle with 30% unemployment, 55% live below the poverty line, and the 75-year-old president faces serious corruption charges. Amid calls for him to resign, Zuma still has many supporters, including two of the six ANC leaders even though he is no longer the party leader. He is widely blamed for the corruption, misrule and economic stagnation that now afflict the nation. Charges of corruption – always vehemently denied – appear to be catching up with him. Zuma refuses to step down, but opposition parties are discussing the possibility of taking to the streets on 22 February‚ the day of a no confidence vote in parliament.

Pray:

for a peaceful and ‘objective’ recalling of President Zuma, and for any supporters or opposition street demonstrations to be calm. (Proverbs 29:4)

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Turkish offensive on Afrin

On 20 January, Turkey launched an air and ground offensive against the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in Afrin, on the Syrian/Turkish border. The action has revealed a well-defined split in the Syrian public between supporters and opponents of the operation of daily bombing by troops, tanks, artillery and war planes. Some Syrians support this action as it could provide an opportunity for them to return home; others fear Turkey’s intentions are far from noble. Hundreds have died. 400,000 Kurds are sheltering in Afrin, and no one can enter or leave the area. Many believers are sheltering in churches. See also

Pray:

for relief for all those sheltering in buildings, and the displaced Syrians living in refugee camps. (Psalm 69:29)

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Syria still using banned chemical weapons

Amnesty International says that testimony gathered from the scene showed evidence that on 4 February the Syrian government used internationally-banned chemical weapons on the town of Saraqib. It accuses the Assad regime of showing ‘utter contempt’ for international law. The next day the UN Security Council failed to agree on a US-proposed statement condemning the continued use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia was blamed by some diplomats for this failure. On 6 February, another chemical attack is reported to have targeted Afrin. An eyewitness reported, ‘Russian airplanes have not left the skies of East Ghouta. I watched missiles that look like they were made locally, carrying chemicals targeting civilians specifically in Douma. The fear is difficult to comprehend. Women and children are running in chaos. Injured are everywhere with blood all over. It is a civilian massacre. The airplanes come back to target the rescuers attending the wounded.’

Pray:

for God to end Russia’s propping up the Syrian regime and condoning its use of chemical weapons. (Isaiah 33:1)

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North Korea: Olympic involvement, a trigger for prayer

The North Korean missile crisis must be turned into a rallying cry for prayer for persecuted Christians in that country, says Release International, which supports Christians under pressure around the world. North Korea brought forward its annual display of military might to 8 February ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The muscle-flexing has been described as grandstanding in a crisis that could threaten nuclear war – but many believe the crisis should be turned into a rallying cry for prayer for the persecuted. North Korea is probably the harshest persecutor of Christians on the face of the earth.

Pray:

for a mighty wave of prayer to reach God’s throne of grace for the 100,000 Christians In North Korea, 30,000 of them in concentration camps. (Psalm 10:12)

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Maldives: flashpoint in Indo-Chinese rivalry

A power struggle in the Maldives is taking centre stage in a battle for regional influence between India and China. Maldives President Yameen declared a state of emergency after the supreme court ordered him to free political prisoners and opposition politicians he jailed. Security forces then stormed the court and arrested two judges and a former leader. The remaining judges annulled a previous ruling. It is being called an assault on democracy. The political drama sparked concern in India, which issued a strong statement saying it is imperative for the government to adhere to a free trade agreement it made with the Maldives. India views China as a geopolitical foe in Asia and is pushing to maintain geo-strategic supremacy in the Indian Ocean, with backing from the US and Japan. Meanwhile, it has expanded its influence by building ports in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Djibouti (now home to its first overseas military base). See also

Pray:

for fair trading and peaceful proposals by diplomats in and around the Maldives. (Psalm 18:35)

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US prison conditions and British hacker

A British appeals court rejected demands from America for the extradition of British hacker Lauri Love, citing the inability of US prisons to treat his medical and mental health ailments humanely and adequately. The court ruled that extradition to the US would be ‘oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition’. Lauri has severe depression, Asperger’s syndrome, asthma, and eczema that has incapacitated him for years, causing him to drop out of colleges despite very high intellectual capability. If extradited, he would have faced solitary confinement and a 99-year prison sentence. American prisons are woefully inadequate to treat his ailments. Incarceration would produce a high risk of suicide. This case highlights the fact that the US prison system has a cruel and abusive attitude when it comes to treating inmates with mental health problems.

Pray:

for this case to shine international light on the oppressive and brutal conditions inside the solitary-confinement American prison system, particularly for those with mental illness. (Psalm 31:10)

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Prayer Forum of British Isles and Ireland - CLICK to return to Top of Bulletin

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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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