Praise Reports

 Europe

Hungary: Viktor Orban – ‘The most dangerous man in Europe’ 

Slovakia: Mass protests continue over journalist’s murder

 Worldwide

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Salisbury – Service of cleansing and celebration

The Zizzi restaurant and sites across Salisbury remain cordoned off after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found poisoned by Novichok nerve-agent in the area last month. The Bishop of Salisbury is inviting members of the public to a special service to celebrate the community life of the city at St. Thomas’ Church at 3 pm on Sunday 15 April. The service will include city leaders in business and community, plus members of the emergency and public services to give thanks for the work they do and pray for those affected by the attack. At the conclusion of the service they will go in procession to the site where the Skripals were found for a ceremony to symbolically ‘reclaim Salisbury for the common good’. The service will include hymns and prayers from both Russia and this country, as well as readings from the Christian Bible – the grounding of both cultures.

Praise:

God for the Christian witness of reconciliation and healing in Salisbury, may the ethos be repeated in the respective governments. (Joshua 1:3)

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Puerto Rico: Hurricane Maria brought Revival

Category 4 Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico in September 2017 and paved the way for revival. Puerto Rican George Santiago returned from the US in summer 2017. Two months later Hurricane Maria turned the mountain stream into a raging river, the town was in shambles without access to food or water, the people were paralysed. Through Southern Baptists, he provided food, water and even washing machines. People asked him ‘Why are you doing this?’ His answer included sharing the Gospel. Since the storm, at least 50 people have come to Christ and Santiago has started what he calls a ‘baby church’ for new believers. It’s all evidence of God’s master plan at work. ‘He placed us in Puerto Rico at the right moment, the perfect moment for a church to give birth,’ he said. Santiago is not alone. Maria has paved the way for enormous spiritual growth in the region.

Praise:

God for the spiritual perspective of Maria outweighing the human perspective. (2 Samuel 22:29)

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UK: Upholding the Chemical Weapons Treaty

In 1997 the Chemical Weapons treaty came into force. Its full title is ‘The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction’. In 2013 Syria agreed to the treaty. On 7 April 2018 Syrian activists, rescue workers and medics reported toxic chemicals dropped on Douma with Assad’s approval. It is believed not to be Syria’s first violation of the treaty. At the time of writing, because of chemical weapons use in Syria, Russia and America are threatening opposing military action over Syrian ground and airspace. Theresa May’s cabinet has ‘agreed on the need to take action’. They are also considering military options with US and French allies. Key prayers for our MOD – What British forces might be used? The targets. What’s the overall strategic aim? Key prayers for Whitehall – How to avoid escalating the conflict? See World article 1

Pray:

for sound evidence and intelligence to precede any action (Matthew 24:6)

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Declaration for our Government

The following was posted online by Passion for the Nation on 9 April. ‘So be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves’. In the Name of Jesus, we declare the political figures, the diplomatic service and the intelligence services in this nation will be marked out by their wisdom, authority and compassion, that they will be wise as serpents, carrying no self-serving agenda. Even as ‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’ (Proverbs 15:1) we declare our government will be slow to speak, slow to anger and their words will produce the fruit of righteousness for this nation and the nations. Now, in the Name of Jesus, over the current confrontation between Russia and the UK, we declare truth will emerge, ungodliness will be revealed.

Pray:

for every work of the enemy to stir up conflict, to come to nothing. (Psalm 106:10)

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Media

Media Bias. Anti-Christian television and cinema agendas. Fake news. Data hacks. Sexting, Facebook, Snapchat. In a growing secular media environment we need to pray for our Christian families to learn how to protect themselves from digital deception and manipulation through the internet and to have God-given insights when watching news channels. Ask God to give us wisdom and discernment when we are about to make a wrong internet choice. Ask him to give us better sensitivities when deciding what screen we watch. Ask Him to raise up more Christian play writers, filmmakers, media programmers, artists, and computer game programmers. May he convict us if we choose unwise media options. May this generation help our children and grandchildren to develop the wisdom and discernment to navigate a disturbing media landscape. Pray for organisations like The MediaNet who support, encourage and inspire Christians who work in, and with, the UK media.

Pray:

for Christian producers, journalists, photographers, editors, content creators, social media managers, press officers and correspondents to speak with the voice of the Lord. (Ps.29:9)

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Portion of a reflection on today’s Church

Jesus, Paul and John warned of counterfeit spiritual activity and false doctrine in the last days – Christians will fall away. The following are observations from David Noakes – It is of vital importance in these days that we are alert to the dangers of false teaching. Those of us who teach must be diligent to declare the whole counsel of God; it was only on that basis that Paul was able to declare ‘I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God’ (Acts 20:27). He was warning the Ephesian church elders to be equally diligent saying that we in the church need to re-examine our diet of the seemingly-endless flow of books and magazines, and to ensure that above all we are fully acquainted and familiar with the whole of the Bible. Only by knowing what is in God’s word can we walk in safety.

Pray:

for every believer to cling to Scripture and be spiritually prepared for every occasion. (2Tim.4:2,3)

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Smuggling migrants from Spain to the UK

Investigations are ongoing to identify, tackle and dismantle organised crime groups involved in movements of migrants entering Europe via the Western Mediterranean Route to the UK. Recently, Europol supported Spanish Guardia Civil in dismantling a criminal group smuggling Spanish migrants and refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria into the UK. The gang used regular ferries from the northern Spanish ports of Santander and Santurtzi to carry out their criminal activities. Their modus operandi was to smuggle the migrants through restricted areas at the ports and hide them in trailers, containers, caravans and lorries waiting to board the ferries in restricted parking bays.

Pray:

for God to give even more wisdom and insight to Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre as they investigate and cross-check illegal movement of vulnerable people. (Psalm 3:7)

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Scotland: Celebration and Clerics

In June, Falkirk hosts the Celebration of Hope. Thousands will gather in football stadia or be out on the streets talking about Jesus. Some will not be directly involved, but everyone can intercede and ask for God’s blessings for abundant harvest. Scotland desperately needs a fresh move of God, a breakthrough, a turning of direction, another Pentecost. What would have happened to past revivals if Christians had not prayed? Would they have happened? How many potential harvests have been lost because the church did not appreciate and use the power of prayer? Also the Church of Scotland may start training people over 55 to be ministers for the first time to shore up dwindling cleric numbers. They are considering overhauling the rules that prevent men or women being ordained unless all aspects of their training are completed by the time they reach 55. See also

Pray:

for God to ignite prayer for these events and for the recruitment process to help parishes to tap into the wealth of experience among mature Christians (Psalm 92:14)

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Humanist Hospital Chaplains

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has appointed a team of atheist priests after demand for pastoral support from patients with no religion. These ‘Clerics’ will be working under a non-religious chaplain for the first time in NHS history. Humanist Lindsay van Dijk was appointed head chaplain at Stoke Mandeville Hospital after a British Social Attitudes survey found 53% of Britons had no religion. Ms van Dijk told a meeting at Stoke Mandeville Hospital that the chaplaincy team will visit patients to lend a listening ear, provide ‘spiritual’ and emotional support and won’t specifically say ‘I’m from this faith’. She said that in her new role she has experienced ‘mostly curiosity’ rather than objections. Pray for the church to declare more loudly that Christian Chaplains support for hospital patients is for those of all faiths and none and that putting a humanist in charge of a chaplaincy team takes us further away from the NHS’s Christian roots.

Pray:

for the Christian ministry of hospital chaplains not to be diverted by non-religious incumbents. (Hebrews 11:1,2)

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Hungary: Viktor Orban – ‘The most dangerous man in Europe’

This week, Viktor Orbán was elected for a third consecutive four-year term as Prime-Minister of Hungary. In 1989, he addressed 250,000 people in Budapest calling for free elections and the withdrawal of Soviet troops. He became famous in Hungary and abroad overnight. The right-wing populist now leads Hungary towards the return of ethnic nationalism and deep-rooted corruption. He eliminated constitutional safeguards, successfully reshaped the state in his own image, and is considered to be a potential threat to the EU. He has been described by the European Stability Initiative as the ‘most dangerous man in the European Union’. A Pew Research poll in 2016 ascertained, ‘Hungarians were the most likely to believe ‘refugees would increase terrorism in their country’. Orban pioneered what scholars describe as either ‘half democracy in decline’ or ‘soft autocracy;’ merging crony capitalism with right-wing rhetoric. He flatly rejects accusations of impropriety of the sources of his allies’ enrichment. Opposition speakers in parliament repeatedly complain that he has become not only the most powerful but also the richest millionaire in Hungary.

Pray:

for Orbán’s new majority government to operate honorably, justly and without corruption. Pray that the anticipated threats to the stability of the European Union do not materialise. (1 Samuel 2:9)

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Slovakia: Mass protests continue over journalist’s murder

For the second Friday running thousands of people protested across Slovakia against their government’s handling of a journalist’s murder and an end to high-level corruption, as talks between the country’s leaders failed to end a spiraling crisis that began in February. Slovakia’s cabinet is dogged by allegations of corruption and incompetence, and when investigative reporter Jan Kuciak was about to publish an article revealing links between senior Slovak political figures and Italy’s Ndrangheta mafia group he and his girlfriend were murdered. Slovak president Andrej Kiska, opposition parties and members of the ruling coalition are urging populist Prime Minister Robert Fico to call elections or overhaul the cabinet. He rejected the demands and accused Mr Kiska of conspiring with a liberal philanthropist to launch a ‘coup’ in Slovakia with the help of opposition leaders and national media outlets that are critical of the government. See also

Pray:

for the, ‘For a Decent Slovakia’ marches – the largest marches since the end of communism – to create momentum towards a peaceful end to mafia activity in the country. (Proverbs 14:14)

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Trump warns Russia: ‘Missiles will be coming’

Brushing aside Russia’s pledge to repel any Syria attack, President Trump used Twitter to put Moscow on notice that a military response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons is on the way, telling Russia to ‘get ready’ as missiles will be coming, telling him he ‘shouldn’t be partners with a ‘“Gas Killing Animal” who kills his people and enjoys it!’ Although Russia, Syria and Iran forcefully deny that chemical weapons were deployed on the rebel-held city of Douma, the US and its allies claim that they have evidence validating the charge. The precise timing and nature of the attack remains unknown. Recently the White House spoke of building support for an international response to Syria that would emphasise ‘the use of chemical weapons is a red-line no nation should feel comfortable crossing’. Currently, France and Britain are in consultation with the US to coordinate a response to the use of chemical weapons. See also ‘UK: Upholding Chemical Weapons Treaty’ above.

Pray:

for the President’s national security team, currently backing a robust response. (Pr.16:14)

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Nigeria Update: Justin Welby’s mediation progresses

Last month, Archbishop Justin Welby offered to do what he could towards peace negotiations in Nigeria as violence escalates. Last week we reported that Justin, ‘once again exhorted President Buhari and other authorities, civil and religious, national and international, to build a coalition to end violence immediately.’ On 11 April, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and High Commissioner George-Oguntade met Archbishop Welby and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, in London to discuss ‘inter-religious harmony in Nigeria and the world’. Pray that their efforts will end the suffering resulting from raids on Christian communities and villages as far south as Delta State. May their discussions lead to God-inspired actions against escalating violence in Nigeria, and the end of the suffering of the poor. President Buhari will have more meetings in London ahead of next week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Pray:

for the current round of meetings to resolve a complex Nigerian security situation. (Pr.21:22)

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Gaza Strip and West Bank

Thousands of Palestinians have gathered along Israel’s border for a six-week protest. The situation has escalated, and Israel has doubled its troops. Multiple deaths and hundreds wounded make this the deadliest conflict since 2014. Palestinians have long demanded their right to return to the land they claim. Gaza Strip and West Bank are some of the world’s most contested lands. But take a minute to look beyond politics, land, and religion. Stop to see the millions who call this land home – people Jesus loves and died to save. Life in Gaza is dominated by conflict, war and extremist violence. In addition to viewing Israel as their oppressor, their own leadership oppresses them, but, above all, they suffer immense spiritual oppression. Yet Hope was born in the West Bank a little over 2,000 years ago. His name is Jesus. Peace is only possible through Him in some of the most contested and contentious lands on earth.

Pray:

for Jesus to bring reconciliation between Jewish and Arab leaders, for Christians to live out the gospel boldly and demonstrate love and concern for Palestinian exiles. (Deuteronomy 10:19)

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Pakistan, Iran, Burma, Nigeria, Mexico: Religious discrimination in schools

Christian Solidarity Worldwide called for action to end religious discrimination in Pakistani, Iranian, Burmese, Nigerian and Mexican schools. They explored violations where many children experience various forms of mistreatment because of their faith. During an event at the Speaker’s House, in the United Kingdom Parliament, attendees heard how children and young people experience discrimination, verbal abuse, physical violence and even forced conversion at school because of their religion or belief. The Executive Director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace in Pakistan said religious intolerance in his country is facilitated by syllabuses that fuel prejudice. He said, ‘This intolerance has threatened the entire social fabric of our nation, and we have to begin by addressing the biased education system, policies and practices prevalent in Pakistan,’ A speaker representing the Iranian Baha’i community called it ‘cradle to grave’ persecution, ‘Baha’i children do not have an absolute right to education.’

Pray:

for the United Nations Human Rights Council to apply pressure on governments to protect minors and minorities suffering persecution (Luke 18:16)

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Uzbekistan: Officials bully Baptists

Freedom of religion and belief without state permission is currently prohibited – even though the Uzbekistan constitution legally provides for freedom of religion. Baptists refused to register their congregations with the state, insisting international law states, ‘registration is not necessary to meet for worship.’ Baptists said police ‘watch us, follow us, and threaten us with court cases and fines to stop us attending church’. We are told that, if members continue to share their beliefs with others, criminal cases will be opened against them. In an Urgench court authorities tried to coerce two Baptists to ‘repent and ask for forgiveness’ during their court hearing – then the judge ‘would lessen the punishment.’ They saw TV cameras and realised it was a show trial so they witnessed about their faith instead. They were then fined 100 times the minimum monthly salary. Even an 8-year-old was taken from school without his parents’ permission to face ‘official’ questioning.

Pray:

for the constitution of Uzbekistan, that legally provides for freedom of religion and respect for separation of church and state’ to be upheld. ( Psalm 140:12)

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China: Religious freedom

China presented a ‘religion white paper’ guaranteeing protection for religious freedom four days after banning online sale of Bibles. The paper was publicised at a press conference after Chinese believers found that online searches for the ‘Holy Bible’ got no results. JD.com, Amazon.cn and China’s biggest online marketplaces did not include the Bible in their search results. Online merchants said copies can be obtained through private message. Sensitive religious topics and groups are among the most censored in China. Chinese authorities increasingly use more high-tech methods to control religion and punish believers – including surveillance and arrest of believers for sharing information online. These developments follow February’s new ‘religion regulations’ which some Churches said violated religious freedom. World Watch Monitor reported in October 2017 that the estimated number of Christians in China could reach 247 million by 2030, ‘making it the world’s largest congregation’. See also

Pray:

for international criticism and actions to end China’s breaches of religious freedoms. (Pr. 29:4)

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America: Top 10 moral issues

Christian teacher Chuck Colson has published a list of moral issues facing America today. They are – Preserving sanctity of life by resisting the encroachment of abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research. – Defending the persecuted Church around the world, and defending freedom of religion in America. – Protecting human rights. – Protecting by law the traditional heterosexual definition of the marriage and family. – Strength in the War on Terrorism and in the clash of civilisations against radical Islam. – Restoring the constitutional role of the Supreme Court and restricting judicial activism. – Advocating faith-based solutions to societal problems. – Caring for the poor and restoring prisoners. – Improving education and promoting choices within the educational system. – Challenging the negative impact of mass media on culture, including speaking out against pornography, sexual exploitation, and violence.

Pray:

for the church in America and across the nations to confront and speak out God’s perspective on all moral issues that offend God. (Exodus 12:49)

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

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