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Praise Reports

Progress towards ending child marriages

One of the UN’s sustainable development goals is to end child marriages by 2030, and UNICEF reported this month that approximately 25 million child marriages have been prevented in the past decade, with a substantial drop in the number of child marriages worldwide. While this is a great improvement, progress still needs to be accelerated significantly . At current rates, more than 150 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030. Without far more intensive and sustained action now from all parts of society, hundreds of millions more girls will suffer profound, permanent, and utterly unnecessary harm.

Praise: God for leaders and communities who value life and health above customs. (Psalm 32:7)
More: www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58008.html

North Korea frees three men ahead of summit

Three US citizens have been set free from prison by North Korea, according to a tweet on 9 May from US president Donald Trump. This is viewed as a goodwill gesture before a historic summit between Mr Trump and Kim Jong-un. Mr Trump greeted the men when they returned with secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who was in Pyongyang to arrange a date and location for the planned talks. Missionary Kim Hak-song, humanitarian worker Tony Kim, and pastor Kim Dong-chul boarded the plane ‘without assistance’, the White House said. They had been jailed for alleged anti-state activities and placed in labour camps.

Praise: God for these further signs of a thaw in relationships between the two countries. (Daniel 4:17b)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44056972

Praise Reports

Thy Kingdom Come: pray for five friends

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement which invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus Christ. What started in 2016 as a call from the archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer, with many events planned between 10 and 20 May. Have confidence in the Gospel and choose five people to commit to pray for during Thy Kingdom Come, for them to come to know Christ: see https://www.thykingdomcome.global/resources/9 Those with smartphones may like to download an app from iTunes or Google Play, containing inspirational daily prayers, reflections, readings and videos to equip you to take part in this global wave of prayer.

Pray: that these ten days will see many significant prayer events and encouragements. (Philippians 4:6)
More: www.thykingdomcome.global/

Freedom of speech at stake

As reported last week, five Northern Ireland supreme court judges are currently considering the Ashers Bakery case – see Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell backs Ashers even though he disagrees with their views because he said it’s wrong to compel people to say things they don’t agree with. It is not merely a ‘gay cake case’; what is on trial is society’s attitude to tolerance and the freedom to disagree. Will Muslim bakers be compelled to bake a Charlie Hebdo cake ridiculing their faith? Will lesbian T-shirt makers have to produce T-shirts saying ‘Gay marriage is an abomination’? Will Catholic printers have to print leaflets denouncing the Pope? If Ashers Bakery loses, then everyone loses. The case shows how ‘equality’ is being used to silence anyone who disagrees – with devastating consequences for free speech.

Pray: for a culture of free speech to replace a current culture of tolerance of intolerance. (Pr.21:2)
More: mailchi.mp/c4m/compelled-speech-can-never-be-free?e=7ea9f53118

Euthanasia in Guernsey?

Guernsey wants to introduce a law which will allow terminally ill people to end their life. The island is due to debate a ‘requête’ and vote (equivalent to a Westminster private member’s bill), which if approved could pave the way to assisted dying. The British Medical Association opposes assisted dying and supports current legal frameworks allowing compassionate and ethical care for the dying to die with dignity. Guernsey doctors must be registered with the General Medical Council in the UK in order to practise medicine on the island. The GMC states it is a criminal offence for anyone to encourage or assist a person to commit suicide. As doctors need to remain GMC members to work in Guernsey, it is difficult to know how they could do so if there was a unilateral change in legislation there.

Pray: for the requête to fail on practical and legal grounds. (Deuteronomy 32:39)
More: guernseypress.com/news/2018/03/22/assisted-dying-debate-gets-national-attention/

Brexit: peers call for UK to remain in EEA

The House of Lords, by 245 votes to 218, has voted for the UK effectively to remain in the EU’s single market after Brexit, even though neither the government nor the Labour leadership backed the move. Ministers warned that staying in the European Economic Area (EEA) would not give the UK ‘control of our borders or our laws’. The issue will now return to the Commons, where pro-EU MPs said they were hopeful of getting the support needed to prevent the changes being overturned. Under what is known as the ‘Norway model’ (Norway is one of three countries outside the EU which belong to the EEA) free movement laws would also apply, so that EU citizens could move to all EEA countries to work and live. The government’s Brexit bill also suffered a series of other defeats in the Lords.

Pray: for all concerned to act with wisdom and insight as all the Brexit implications continue to be debated. (Proverbs 2:6)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44038476

Christians in parliament May-June

Between 8 May and 12 June those attending parliament’s weekly chapel services will be looking at the gospel of John and the different stories of ‘Encounters with Jesus’. Please pray for the speakers as they prepare. Pray for increasing numbers of parliamentarians and staff to attend regularly, be inspired to invite others and be strengthened in their faith. There are several Bible study groups meeting every week; pray that the members of all these groups will continue to grow in their love for Jesus and be better equipped to live out their faith in Parliament. Pray and thank God for the new Wednesday Bible study group, now firmly established with a committed core group attending regularly. Also please pray for the preparations for the national parliamentary prayer breakfast on 19 June, with the topic ‘What can Christianity offer our society in the 21st century?’

Pray: for politicians and staff to have rich encounters with God and His teaching. (Jeremiah 29:13)
More: mailchi.mp/710a6b2a9a95/christians-in-parliament-prayer-update-september-2128689?e=437caba2aa

Mental health plans ‘failing a generation’, say MPs

Sally, now 20, believes her mental distress should have been spotted years before she received treatment that helped her. She says she became ill when she first started secondary school. Teachers noticed, describing her as ‘an odd child’, but in the end Sally had to ask her doctor for help herself. She was 16 and on the edge of suicide before she got any effective treatment. The charity Young Minds says it is not uncommon for families to have to wait 18 months even to get an assessment for their child, let alone treatment. In December, the government announced plans to overhaul children’s mental health care in England, with proposals limiting waiting time to four weeks and allowing children to access mental health support in schools. Now a report from MPs has branded the strategy ‘unambitious’, providing no help to most of the children who need it. But ministers reject this suggestion, saying their proposals will transform the system.

Pray: for all those concerned to agree on the best strategy to help young people with mental health needs. (Matthew 18:10)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-44041116

Praise Reports

Russia/Greece/France: protests

Two days before President Putin’s fourth inauguration, over a thousand people were detained after protests against his extended rule turned violent. Riot police barricaded protesters who then ran into adjoining streets, chanting, ‘Putin is a thief!’ and ‘He’s not my Tsar’. After lighting smoke bombs and throwing bricks, many were beaten bloody with batons in scenes reminiscent of 2012’s opposition movement. Many protesters held yellow duck symbols of ‘anti-corruption’. Pray for honest politics. See Over 2,500 Greeks protested against 2016’s EU/Turkey deal that left thousands of asylum-seekers stranded on Lesbos. When prime minister Alexis Tsipras arrived at Lesbos, protesters used loudspeakers to promote dissent and violence, and riot police fired teargas. See France’s May Day turned nasty when 1000+ ‘Black Bloc’ anarchists burnt cars and vandalised businesses, chanted anti-fascist slogans, threw firecrackers, and built barricades against police water cannons.

Pray: for God to strengthen Mr Macron and his supporters fighting the anarchists. (1 Timothy 2:2)
More: www.euronews.com/2018/05/01/may-day-marches-turn-ugly-in-paris-as-anarchists-crash-party

Spain moves to block Puigdemont

Spain acted on 9 May to stop pro-independence politicians in Catalonia voting in ex-leader Carles Puigdemont, now in Germany, as their regional head, with an important deadline looming. The constitutional court accepted a government appeal against a new Catalan law that would allow Puigdemont to be elected at a distance while he waits for German courts to rule on a Spanish request to extradite him. This means the law will be blocked until the court makes a final decision, which could take months. Catalan lawmakers must pick a leader to form a government by 22 May, to avert more elections and plot a path out of a seven-month standoff which has given Spain, the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy, its worst dose of instability in decades.

Pray: for wisdom and insight about how to break the political deadlock. (Colossians 4:5-6)
More: www.euronews.com/2018/05/09/spain-moves-to-block-catalan-ex-leader-forming-government

Praise Reports

Trump threatens Iran

A day after Donald Trump said he was withdrawing from the Iran weapons deal, he created further anxiety by threatening Iran with ‘severe consequences’ if it restarted its nuclear programme. He is also preparing to impose new sanctions, perhaps as early as next week. His comments came as officials in Iran and leaders across Europe scrambled to see if they could continue to operate the 2015 deal negotiated by Barack Obama. France’s foreign minister claimed that the deal could yet continue, but Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told Emmanuel Macron that Europe had only a ‘limited opportunity’ to preserve it.

Pray: that all the leaders concerned will have wise advice about how to proceed. (Proverbs 19:20)
More: www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-latest-updates-rouhani-threat-macron-a8343856.html

Kenya: dam burst kills many

A dam burst in Kenya on 9 May after heavy rain, causing huge destruction and killing at least forty people. The breach happened on farmland 120 miles northwest of Nairobi. The dead are thought to include children and women trapped in mud. The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued some 40 people so far, and over 2,000 people have been left homeless. There are fears that the death toll could rise as the search-and-rescue operation continues. The Patel dam, one of three reservoirs owned by a large-scale farmer, broke its walls and swept away a primary school and hundreds of homes downstream, following the heavy rains that have been pounding the country. The toll now brings to 162 the number of people who have died countrywide as a result of the rains since March, according to official statistics. More than 220,000 people have had their homes destroyed.

Pray: for all those who are seeking to bring assistance and relief to those affected. (Acts 20:35)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-44065340

Syria: Christian fears after takeover

The city of Afrin welcomed refugees fleeing Syria’s war, but in January Turkey, backed by Syrian rebels, took control there. Hanan, a Syrian Kurdish Christian, fears for those who converted from Islam to Christianity. Six years ago he started a church there, which now has 230 members. Many are from a Muslim background, becoming Christians when the grinding civil war drove them to the church searching for peace. Syrian rebels are now threatening to kill Kurds unless they convert to Islam. ‘By Allah, if you repent and come back to Allah, then know that you are our brothers,’ a soldier said in an online video. ‘But if you refuse, then we see that your heads are ripe, and that it is time for us to pluck them.’ There are serious fears of ethnic cleansing in the region.

Pray: for God’s peace and protection for the non-Muslim residents in the region. (Psalm 29:11)
More: mailchi.mp/05adb8944ba1/syrian-christians-fear-persecution-after-turkish-takeover?e=079862a884

Worldwide: ageing populations

Elderly healthcare is today’s challenge for tomorrow. Between 2015 and 2030 people aged 60+ will grow by 56% globally, to nearly 1.5 billion. By 2050 it is expected to be two billion. Americans aged 65+ will double to nearly 100 million by 2060. Central and South America face similar challenges. In every country in the region, the proportion of elderly will increase significantly. Similar demographic changes apply to the Caribbean where falling fertility rates compound the problem. After the 2008 financial crisis European governments reformed pension systems and retirement ages, creating a commercial care challenge. China and India’s large numbers of older people are expected to jump from 8% to 24% of the population in the next thirty years.

Pray: for age-friendly cities and housing, updated services, policies and financing, wise recruitment, training and forward planning. (Psalm 71:18)
More: www.forbes.com/sites/williamhaseltine/2018/04/02/aging-populations-will-challenge-healthcare-systems-all-over-the-world/#6ece75142cc3

Nigeria: gunmen attack bishop

The Bishop of Makurdi, Nathan Inyom, was attacked by gunmen in Nigeria’s Benue state on 6 May. None of the five passengers (who included his wife Becky and his chaplain) was injured, but his car was stolen in the attack. Benue is an area that has been beset by increasing levels of violence in recent weeks. Last month two Catholic priests, Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, were killed when herdsmen stormed the church in Ukpor where they were celebrating Mass. ‘This was an attack on everything that we ever stood for and believed in’, a spokesman said. See

Pray: for safety for all Christian leaders, and for peace in the whole of Nigeria. (Luke 1:79)
More: thenationonlineng.net/gunmen-attack-anglican-bishop-2/

More than just English lessons

The UN has declared South Sudan a famine nation. People receive food, humanitarian aid, and English lessons. A pastor passionately shouts slowly in English to the community attending English classes. In Juba there are 21 learning centres with 2,100 learners and 61 volunteer teachers. In Ugandan refugee camps there are 22 learning centres with 647 students and 32 volunteer teachers. They come to centres only to learn English, but through a discipleship programme some are giving their lives to Jesus. The impact of learning English is transformative, but what they read in English is the Word of God – even more transformative! Hostile groups are being transformed into peacemakers. They are learning to love God, and love each other. Only God can make this happen: this is the answer to prayer, the sword that cuts through war.

Pray: for all these English students, and thank God for the many ways He is reaching unreached people groups. (Romans 10:14)
More: win1040.com/post.php?id=3381&cat=news

Malaysia: opposition scores historic victory

In Malaysia’s national election on 9 May, there has been a stunning victory for the opposition led by former PM Mahathir Mohamad. Aged 92, he came out of a long retirement to take on the current PM Najib Razak and his Barisan National party, who are widely considered to have become terribly corrupted and self-serving. After some Christian leaders were kidnapped (they are still missing), and with laws threatening their religious freedom increasingly being enacted, the churches decided to join together in an all-out initiative of desperate prayer called ‘Light up Malaysia’. It looks as if their prayers are now being answered, thanks be to the Lord! Let us continue to pray with them that the results of the election will be quickly and widely accepted, and that the ruling party will accept the results and relinquish its hold on power gracefully.

Pray: for God’s peace to rule and for a new, reformed government that serves the nation’s people justly and honestly, upholding human rights and religious freedom for all. (Nehemiah 7:2)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-44036178

Israel attacks Iranian forces in Syria

On 10 May, Israel said it had struck almost all of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria following an Iranian attack. After twenty rockets were fired at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, it responded by launching what a spokesman called ‘one of the broadest aerial operations in recent years’. There was no immediate comment from Iran, whose deployment of troops to Syria to back the government in the country’s civil war has alarmed Israel. Iran has repeatedly called for an end to the existence of the Jewish state.

Pray: for this exchange of rocket attacks not to lead to anything more serious. (Matthew 5:9)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-44063022

Praise Reports
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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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