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North Korea: an unlikely evangelist

As Kyung-ja drifted in and out of consciousness, her head bloodied by repeated blows from a club, she heard her North Korean guard shouting words she had never heard before – Bible, God, Jesus. She couldn’t understand why the guard kept asking about them and then beating her when she didn’t or couldn’t answer. Two months later she was transferred to a labour camp, where she asked a fellow-prisoner, ‘What is God? What is a Bible?’ The prisoner told her there was a God, but that they couldn’t discuss it because it was too dangerous. Months later, while talking on the phone with her daughter in South Korea, Kyung-ja finally got answers to her questions. Soon afterwards, she placed her faith in Christ, and today she lives and serves Him in South Korea. North Koreans will not be changed by politics or missiles. They will be changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Praise:

God for the many ways He is reaching into dark places with His light. (2 Thessalonians 1:3)

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Dignity and humanity of people with Down’s syndrome

Following the proposal by the NHS for a new form of prenatal screening, Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), for women ‘at high risk’ of having a child with Down’s syndrome, Prayer Alert readers prayed for the General Synod to call for regulation on providers of this screening. See also. The Synod members have now affirmed that they welcome medical advances, but are also calling for the Government and health professionals to ensure that women whose unborn child has Down’s syndrome are given comprehensive and unbiased information about it. They added that people with this condition should be welcomed, celebrated and treated with dignity and respect.

Praise:

God that the Church’s beliefs are being shared with the NHS and the Government. (John 10:10)

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Christian sues the Scouts after being ejected

After 62-year-old Brian Walker’s membership of the Scout Association was cancelled, he is taking legal action, claiming he was discriminated against on account of his Christian faith. Brian fears that the association is increasingly promoting Islam and moving away from its Christian roots. He accuses it of ‘making a mockery of what was once a respectable organisation’ by its emphasis on Islam, as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex issues. Mr Walker argues that the movement has contravened its own Equal Opportunities policy. Scouting was founded in 1907 and based on Christian principles, while welcoming those of all faiths and none. Brian said that parents need to be aware of what is happening at the centre of Scouting; the organisation is increasingly promoting political correctness and interfaith issues above Christian values. See also the next article.

Pray:

for God to ensure Christian values are adhered to in the Scouting movement. (Psalm 25:4,5a)

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Petition to protect religious freedom in UK

Many believe religious freedom is being eroded in the UK, and want the Government to protect it in law. Affinity, a fellowship of evangelical churches, has joined forces with Barnabas Fund to call for a new law to protect freedoms that have taken centuries to establish in the UK. Religious freedom is being replaced with secular freedom. People are invited to sign a petition at OurReligiousFreedom.org; it asks the Government to clarify religious rights in law so that potential persecution is prevented in the future. Currently believers have many legal rights that are being tested in the courts. Clarifying the current law would end spurious cases to prosecute Christians for things like preaching in public and end the need for social workers, teachers and healthcare workers to take their employers to court after being sacked for rejecting a politically correct version of the Bible, for example sexual ethics.
See also and the previous article.

Pray:

for UK laws that will clarify and protect the freedoms we have and stop the trend of silencing Christian truths. (Proverbs 12:19)

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Oxfam corruption

In November Prayer Alert drew attention to Oxfam dismissing 22 employees over sexual abuse allegations, and you prayed for all that is hidden to be revealed in its management of overseas networks. See also. In 2015/16 Oxfam, the fourth biggest fundraiser in the UK, saw £553,479 go missing to fraud and corruption. It is tackling problems of sex assaults and sexual exploitation among its workforce, and a number of investigations into deaths of people driving or struck by its delivery vehicles overseas. Pray that the current scandal will not mar the public’s confidence to give to needy causes, through established charities (during 2016/17 Oxfam provided emergency support for 8.6 million people hit by conflict and natural disaster).

Pray:

for Oxfam to show moral leadership in every area of its work, and every situation. (Psalm 1:1,6)

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Brexit speeches by cabinet ministers

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson delivered the first of a series of planned speeches by cabinet ministers on Brexit. He called upon pro-Leave figures to understand the concerns of those who wanted to remain in the EU. Johnson said he wanted to ‘reach out to those who still have anxieties’, and urges Remainers to recognise the benefits of leaving EU. Many believe that his call for unity in Westminster largely fell on deaf ears as Remain supporters accused Johnson of hypocrisy, labelling him one of the most divisive figures of the Brexit campaign. Business leaders and trade unionists also reacted coolly to Johnson’s speech. Pray for the media as they digest and comment on this and the coming wave of Brexit speeches by ministers. Pray for honest and wise communicating and reporting of their views. Pray for logical comments based on facts, and for any temptation to exaggerate to be moderated by integrity.

Pray:

for God to control Government communication and media reporting. (Psalm 8:6)

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Lent plastic challenge

Pope Francis and the Church of England are encouraging us to give up plastic for Lent. 41 Conservative MPs have pledged to give up single-use plastics for Lent, and are urging others to do the same. Eight tonnes of plastic are dumped in the sea every minute, and plastics have reached every part of the world’s oceans. If we reduce our own use of plastic, we follow the fifth mark of mission, ‘to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain the life of the earth’. The Church of England also quoted this fifth mark, saying that we can reflect on God’s purpose for our life and accept the challenge to give up single-use plastics, thus reducing the actions which damage God’s creation. Tory MPs signed up to the Lent challenge after watching Blue Planet II. Congregations are invited to share their Lent journey with others on http://www.churchcare.co.uk/images/Plastic_Free_Lent.pdf

Pray:

for the Lent Challenge to stimulate more people to be more responsible and more aware of biodiversity losses and ecosystem destruction. (Genesis 1:10)

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Northern Ireland: next political move?

On 14 February another round of talks between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin ended without practical steps forward. Northern Ireland secretary of state Karen Bradley said she will consider ‘practical steps’ after the talks collapsed. She said that, while substantive progress has been made in recent weeks, this phase of talks had concluded. DUP leader Arlene Foster said there is no prospect of a restored, devolved government for Northern Ireland, while Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill said the DUP failed to close the deal after Foster pulled out of talks. Theresa May said she would continue to work with everyone to make sure there is legislation to enable an Executive to be formed, ‘We now need to consider practical steps. In the continued absence of an Executive, challenging decisions will have to be taken by the UK Government and I will update Parliament after recess.’

Pray:

for God to be the author of every detail of ‘challenging decisions’ and plans. (1 Chronicles 28:19)

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Misconceptions about mission

Christians hold back from getting involved in mission because of misconceptions, a survey has found. On 15 February, Church Mission Society (CMS) revealed that the top four mission myths are: ‘Mission means we have to save the world’, ‘Mission is mainly about doing things for people in need’, ‘Mission is primarily a Western thing’, and ‘Mission is only for extraordinary people’. Naomi Steinberg, CMS head of communications, said, ‘There are many myths about mission out there; we know that today mission is a little word with a lot of baggage. Having taken time to listen to people’s impressions of mission, our task now is to clarify what mission is – and isn’t. The goal is to make mission easier for people to understand, and ultimately, to be part of.’ CMS has produced a Bible study series and videos featuring interviews with a variety of people involved in mission to untangle fact from fiction.

Pray:

for the studies and videos to inspire more people to recognise God’s call on their lives to use their gifts and talents both at home and abroad. (Matthew 25:15)

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Poland: Holocaust complicity bill

Recently a bill was approved that makes it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in crimes committed by Nazi Germany, including the Holocaust. The bill bans the use of terms like ‘Polish death camps’ in relation to Auschwitz and others located in Nazi-occupied Poland. To become law, the bill must be signed by President Duda, who has expressed his support. Historians agree that Polish individuals and groups collaborated with the Nazi occupiers, but recent Polish governments have sought to challenge that narrative. This legislation will outlaw any remark that attributes responsibility to Poland for the Nazi crimes. Benjamin Netanyahu called the bill ‘baseless’, saying, ‘One cannot change history, and the Holocaust cannot be denied.’ Death camp survivors fear Holocaust deniers are winning. The new legislation risks blurring the historical truths regarding the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust. There is no doubt that the term ‘Polish death camps’ is a historical misrepresentation.

Pray:

for the memory of over three million Polish Jews and other citizens killed in the Holocaust never to be forgotten. Pray also for a good relationship between Poland and Israel. (Numbers 24:9b)

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Hungary: NGOs helping immigrants could be banned

Viktor Orbán’s government has outlined plans for a new law giving it powers to ban any NGOs that ‘sponsor, organise or support a third-country national’s entry into or stay in Hungary via a safe third country in order to ensure international protection’. Mr Orban has campaigned heavily on the issue of immigration to Hungary. He says that the law will prevent the giving up of ‘national independence’ and hinder politicians who he claims want to ‘transform Hungary into an immigrant country’. His party is expected to win a huge victory in the 8 April election. NGOs would need a permit to operate, and even then could be prevented from working on ‘national security’ grounds. NGOs with approval would pay a special 25% tax on any international funding aimed at helping migrants and refugees. Some could be labelled activists and be issued with restraining orders to prevent them from going near Hungary’s borders.

Pray:

for the basic laws of the country’s constitution and democracy to remain unchanged. (Matthew 25:35)

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Worldwide - CLICK to return to Top of Bulletin

USA: another school gun shooting

19-year-old Nikolas Cruz massacred 17 students on Valentine’s day in Coconut Creek, Florida, and injured dozens more. He carried an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and ‘countless magazines’ into the school; he wore a gas mask, and may have had smoke bombs. When he activated the fire alarm, the children poured out of the classrooms into the hall, where they were killed or wounded. Cruz was described as having an obsessive interest in weapons; all he talked about was guns, knives and hunting. A fellow student said, ‘Everyone predicted the shooting’. Pray for anointed grief counsellors who will be seeing students and families in the coming days. Pray for peace and comfort for those mourning the loss of family members and friends, and for speedy recovery of the wounded. Meanwhile several lawmakers called for gun control. Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor and criticised congressional inaction on gun issues even after multiple deadly shootings year after year. See also

Pray:

for this incident to prompt long overdue changes in gun legislation. Pray for Congress to act swiftly and change laws regardless of gun lobbyists’ objections. (Micah 3:11)

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South Africa: God’s ‘process of change’

In January, the voices of a praying and fasting network of Christians across the country stirred God’s heart to reveal some of His plans for the country at the start of the year. One of God’s revelations during this strategic prayer time was that He would accelerate the process of change within the country. On 14 February, President Jacob Zuma resigned, ending weeks of speculation. Cyril Ramaphosa is now the fifth President of democratic South Africa. Pray for the beginning of an honourable era in South African national politics under God’s leadership through Ramaphosa. Pray for the ANC as they face deep structural challenges. Pray also for Mr Zuma’s future to be in God’s hands, whether it is quiet retirement or court appearances. See also

Pray:

for Cyril Ramaphosa to rebuild good governance, restore trust in democracy, resurrect hope for a better life for all, and regain a straight and narrow way of political service. (Amos 5:14)

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Syria: Israeli air strikes

Israeli planes regularly strike Syrian facilities to disrupt and prevent Iranian missiles being delivered to Hezbollah in Lebanon. However the loss of an Israeli fighter jet marked a serious escalation in hostility as Israel bombarded Syria in their largest air strikes since 1982. The final chapters of this battle should be a shift of opportunity but US, Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Israeli forces are active parties to the conflict. The UN said, ‘The conduct and management of this war has been utterly shameful and the failure to end it marks an epic failure of global diplomacy.’ Many now believe steps toward a new and lasting approach to Syria should begin in Washington and Moscow, because local and regional parties cannot make peace amongst themselves – and may not have an interest in doing so. Pray for the Security Council to be united in bringing peace to the region, and to be a forum for action rather than a podium for speeches and recriminations. See also

Pray:

for God to turn around mindsets and prompt all parties to show restraint, with strategic planning for a peaceful future. (Isaiah 59:15,16)

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South Korea: Olympics opportunities

Over five billion people across the world are not followers of Jesus, and two billion have never even heard the Gospel. Most will never hear unless somebody tells them. Pyeongchang has welcomed the world for the 2018 Olympic Games. 92 nations are participating. The world’s best athletes are competing side by side with people from every corner of the world. They represent every possible worldview, religious background, and political system. Many – maybe most – of these athletes, families, and fans have never heard the Gospel. This is a special window of time for Christian athletes and participants to shine His light to those around them. What if the Olympic Games became an open door for the message of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed to the nations? Pray for an anointing of evangelism for every Christian involved in the Olympic Games.

Pray:

for all gathered in South Korea to take home an awareness of Jesus Christ. (John 17:3)

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USA: Tortured for Christ film

The Voice of the Martyrs movie ‘Tortured for Christ’ will show in nearly a hundred cinemas across the USA. Some of the screenings are already sold out! Voice of the Martyrs are thankful for all those who have pre-purchased tickets for this film highlighting the testimony of VOM’s founder. Another 500+ events are scheduled but haven’t yet reached the minimum ticket sales necessary to confirm the event. Pray for more people to hear about this film and ask cinema managers in their area to screen it.

Pray:

for thousands to purchase tickets for themselves and their friends. (Isaiah 52:7)

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Cameroon: Christian persecution

‘They threatened to kill me.’ ‘They’ are not jihadist groups, they are A’s family. When A committed his life to Christ in 2000, his Muslim family from the ethnic Kotoko people acted as if he had pointed a challenging dagger at them. The Kotoko take pride in the fact that they are one of the few tribes in their region with no known Christians. A said, ‘When all their spells and curses with the help of the local medicine man failed, they tried to kill me themselves.’ More than once, his family tried to poison his food. One night, strangers kidnapped him and took him to an unknown destination. ‘On the way there, I prayed for God to confuse them so that they could release me. And He did! They just let me go without saying anything.’ A and others face constant insults, exclusion and danger from their families when they become Christians.

Pray:

for God to encourage, equip and protect Muslim background believers and build His Kingdom through them. May Kotoko people be able to worship freely. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

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Canada: returning Islamists

Prime minister Justin Trudeau believes the IS combatants returning to Canada will be ‘a powerful voice for deradicalisation’. Many Canadians believe his desire to reintegrate IS fighters is unreasonable. Canada’s ‘Centre for Community Participation and De-radicalisation’ has no director or centre for de-radicalisation. It is not clear if Canadian law can force returning fighters to submit to such a programme. A similar programme in France failed. Trudeau said, ‘We know that someone who has turned away from that hateful ideology can be an extraordinarily powerful voice for preventing radicalisation in future generations.’ However observers do not think that Canadian mosques and Islamic schools will open their doors to anyone who previously engaged in terrorism. Trudeau’s assumptions seem to omit the prospect of justice for the victims of IS genocide and war crimes. See also

Pray:

for God to break into the lives of ex-IS members powerfully, so that they let go of terrorist ideology and understand the salvation offered by Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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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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