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TV chef saved from suicide

‘Sometimes, the world can conspire against you. My mother died of leukaemia, and my business started to fail. I suffered severe depression, and one night I was actually standing on the balcony of my flat in London, getting ready to jump.’ In that moment of desperation, Majumdar experienced something quite profound. ‘The people in the flat below started cooking and opened their windows. The smell of beautiful Lebanese food came up to me.’ He suddenly found himself more hungry than suicidal; he came down from the ledge and cooked a meal  (later named ‘life-saving dahl’) for himself. As he did so, his life began to turn around. He is now an author, TV personality and food aficionado who has made a name for himself in the food and entertainment worlds. To read Majumdar’s story of hope, click the ‘More’ button.

Praise: God that when we are in the darkest moments, His brilliance triumphs. (Psalm 118:17)
More: www.christianweek.org/tv-chef-was-about-to-commit-suicide-but-this-saved-him/

Vicar of Baghdad – Met drops investigation

The Metropolitan Police has dropped an investigation into Rev Canon Andrew White – known as the Vicar of Baghdad – who was accused of sending money to IS extremists. He had allegedly done this in order to secure the release of some Yazidi women being held as sex slaves in Syria and Iraq. He had always insisted that the captives had been freed thanks to successful negotiations, utilising his contacts in the region – and not by any illegal payments. Speaking on Premier’s News Hour with a touch of sarcasm, the 54-year-old said, ‘I have had this police investigation hanging over my head because I did the awful thing of trying to get back sex slaves from IS’. Canon White was also suspended from the charity he founded for relief and reconciliation, please pray for his reinstatement.

Praise: God for this commonsense decision. (Psalm 17:15)
More: www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Vicar-of-Baghdad-Canon-Andrew-White-defiant-after-Met-Police-drops-investigation

Praise Reports

Moving youth away from anti-social behaviour

As knife crime rises, the many youth workers and organisations working with young people need our support and prayers. One of these is Ignite, a local grassroots charity working with 13- to 25-year-olds in Harrow to help them re-engage with education, find employment, or move away from anti-social behaviour, gang involvement, and exploitative relationships. It aims for long-term transformation in the lives of those who are at risk, marginalised, or facing barriers to success in life. This is done by activity and education-based programmes that challenge values and behaviour and by equipping young people with tools, resources and opportunities to make positive choices in their current situations.

Pray: for Ignite and all youth workers supporting people to change their lives. (Psalm 34:11)
More: www.ignitetrust.org.uk/

Grenfell Tower inquiry

Behailu Kebede, in whose flat the Grenfell Tower fire broke out, was scapegoated by the media and wrongly blamed for failing to raise the alarm. Pray that all such false reporting is revealed and innocent individuals are exonerated. Leslie Thomas QC claimed the failures of management of Grenfell stemmed from the way social housing was stigmatised; attitudes and stereotyping allowed cost-cutting and the use of deadly materials to become normalised. Michael Mansfield QC called for the inquiry to make urgent recommendations to ensure that tower blocks are safe, claiming the fire was foreseeable and criticising the Government’s failure to implement the coroner’s recommendations after the Lakanal house fire in 2009. He called for the imposition of a regulator on the construction industry to overturn its ‘non-compliance mindset’, and attacked Government-backed red tape for regarding safety as a ‘hindrance to profit-making.’

Pray: for all relevant questions to be asked, and no ‘whitewashing’ to protect reputations. (Deut. 27:19)
More: www.theguardian.com/uk-news/live/2018/jun/06/grenfell-tower-inquiry-day-10-behailu-kebede-account-how-fire-started-live-updates

C of E app to help end car wash slavery

There are an estimated 11,700+ people trapped in forms of modern slavery in the UK. These are just the people who have been noticed: many would say that the figure is vastly greater. Slavery is largely unreported because of the difficulty and expense of regulating small businesses using casual staff. On 11 June a free-to-use smartphone app, commissioned by the Church of England, will help shed light on the true extent of forced labour across the UK by ‘noticing the unnoticed’ among people and businesses in the parish, starting with car washes. The app will ask users to complete a short questionnaire on local car washes to ensure that the business is legitimate and meets employment regulations. If the car wash appears to indicate signs of forced-labour exploitation, the user will be prompted to report the business to the Modern Slavery Helpline (08000 121 700).

Pray: for this awareness-raising app to become a valuable part of intelligence gathering. (Job 36:3)
More: www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/1-june/news/uk/c-of-e-launch-app-for-reporting-signs-of-modern-slavery-in-car-washes

Invisible women

Women of colour are overlooked in public services and policymaking, according to a new report from an all-party parliamentary group on sex equality. Black and ethnic minority women are overlooked by mental health and employment support services, which fail to meet their needs due to a lack of data on their experiences and the exclusion of black women from policymaking. MPs are calling for a way of designing services (especially mental health and employment support) to ensure they are more responsive to the needs and experiences of diverse groups. The report also says that disability, age, race, faith, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and location all influence the pay gaps that women face. Dr Carole Easton said that young women struggle with low pay, job insecurity and debt, particularly young women of colour and the disabled who face bigger pay gaps and more often report workplace discrimination.

Pray: for more women to influence Westminster’s policy decisions for equality. (Psalm 45:6b)
More: www.youngwomenstrust.org/assets/0000/9206/Invisible_Women_final_report.pdf

1.5 million people destitute in the UK

A report has found that over 1.5 million people were destitute in the UK at some point in 2017, including 365,000 children. The chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said that many rely on social security when hit with unexpected job loss, relationship breakdown, or ill-health. Yet local authorities and utility companies are forcing people into a corner when they are penniless and have nowhere to turn. Social security should hold people steady against powerful currents of rising costs, insecure housing and jobs, and low pay. Instead people are becoming destitute with no clear way out. To be destitute doesn’t mean getting by on very little, it’s losing the ability to keep a roof over your head, eat often enough, or afford warm clothes when it’s cold. You can’t keep yourself clean or put the lights on. This shouldn’t happen to anybody, let alone over 1.5 million people.

Pray: for social security restructuring, so that no-one is without the bare essentials. (Psalm 140:12)
More: www.hw.ac.uk/about/news/over-1-5-million-people-were-destitute-in.htm

Al Quds Day

Al Quds day (Jerusalem Day in Arabic) was initiated by Iran in 1979 to support Palestinians and oppose Israel’s existence and rights to Jerusalem. Rallies are held globally: England’s march will take place on Sunday 10 June in central London. At last year’s march Hezbollah flags were flown, exploiting a hole in UK law, which allows support for Hezbollah’s political wing whilst banning its military wing. Hezbollah itself makes no distinction. On 30 May police said they could not stop people flying Hezbollah flags (adorned with machine-guns) on the London march, even though Hezbollah is a recognised anti-Semitic organisation. Those leading the march last year declared publicly, ‘The state of Israel must go’, ‘Everyone knows that Israel and IS are the same’, and ‘Zionist supporters of the Tory Party are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell’. See

Pray: that no anti-Semitic speeches are allowed on London streets. (Job 15:3)
More: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/events/11978-al-quds-day-2018/

Key Brexit dates

Theresa May and David Davis have agreed the wording of a proposed plan for trading with the EU after Brexit. Future key dates: 12 June – MPs to vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill: it suffered 15 defeats in the House of Lords, and must now be debated again in the House of Commons. 28 June – the EU summit may include discussion on the Northern Ireland border. 18 October – EU summit to agree an outline of future relations between the UK and EU. 31 October – negotiations must be complete by this date to give the 27 EU countries time to sign off the deal. MPs in the UK Parliament will also get to vote on the final deal. 13 December – the final EU summit of 2018, the fall-back option if nothing is agreed by 31 October.

Pray: for all negotiations to be under God’s authority and direction. (2 Chronicles 1:10)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44391539

Praise Reports

Being Christian in Western Europe

7 out of 10 Western Europeans call themselves Christians. However, the majority are non-practising (defined as attending church less than once a month). Across the 15 countries studied, 79% of self-identifying Christians believe in God, ranging from 93% in Portugal to 59% in Sweden. No national Christian population in Western Europe puts a high premium on evangelism; only 8% of believers say they try to persuade others to adopt their Christian convictions. Fasting during holy times and wearing religious symbols are also uncommon practices. About 24% say they tithe, ranging from 43% in Portugal to 18% in the UK. Among non-practising Christians less than half believe God is all-knowing (34%), all-powerful (26%), or all-loving (47%). Most practising Christians assert God’s omniscience and His all-loving nature, but barely half agree that God is all-powerful.

Pray: for a Holy Spirit move to turn the tide of complacency into hunger for God. (John 14:26)
More: www.pewforum.org/2018/05/29/being-christian-in-western-europe/

Slovenia: forming a new government

A new government has to be formed after the anti-immigrant Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) won 25% of the vote in the general election. The centre-left, anti-establishment party, Marjan Sarec List (LMS) came second with 12.7%. SDS is led by former PM Janez Janša, a vocal supporter of Hungary’s nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban. The SDS said the door for talks and coalitions is open to all other parties. It would need to join at least two other parties to gain a majority. Most other parties have ruled out a coalition with Mr Janša because of his extremist views. They could form a centrist coalition. SDS believes money spent on migrants would be better used for Slovenia’s security forces. Mr Janša wants Slovenia to ‘become a country that puts wellbeing and security first’. The banking system, the health sector, and pensions will become key issues on the next government’s agenda. Post-election negotiations are expected to be difficult.

Pray: for God to inspire and direct all negotiations for the new government. (Psalm 32:8)
More: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44349007

Praise Reports

Nicaragua: Pope Francis calls for dialogue

Demonstrations against President Ortega’s corruption, his autocratic style, and his control over congress, the courts, the military, and the electoral board started on 19 April and are being met with violence. The church tried to intervene, but called off peace talks after police killed 16+ people on a peaceful march led by victims’ mothers. There are now 113 dead. The Pope said, ‘I am united with my brother bishops in Nicaragua and their grief over violence committed by armed groups. The Church is always in favour of dialogue, but for that it requires an active commitment to respect freedom and, above all, life.’ On 2 June residents hid indoors as pro-government snipers shot people in the street. A local church later opened its doors to offer refuge and medical care to 21 individuals who had been detained and reportedly abused by police. Ortega accuses ‘right-wing groups’ of terrorising the country. Seven weeks of violence have made daily life dangerous for a population increasingly in open rebellion against the government. See

Pray: for God to protect victims from corrupt leaders; may dialogue replace violence. (Isaiah 1:26a)
More: http://www.rappler.com/world/regions/latin-america/204049-pope-francis-calls-dialogue-nicaragua-protests-violence

Afghanistan: ceasefire

On 7 June, president Ashraf Ghani announced a ceasefire with Taliban insurgents until 20 June, coinciding with the end of Ramadan, but said fighting against IS will continue. He added that the ceasefire is an opportunity for the Taliban to realise that their violent campaign is not winning hearts and minds but further alienating people. He recently offered to recognise the Taliban as a legitimate political group, in a proposed political process that he said could lead to ending more than sixteen years of war. At that time he proposed a ceasefire, releasing prisoners, new elections involving the militants, and a constitutional review in a pact with the Taliban, to end a conflict that last year alone killed or wounded over 10,000 Afghan civilians.

Pray: for the ceasefire to hold along the two dozen front lines across Afghanistan. (Psalm 19:6)
More: http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-afghanistan-president-ceasefire/afghan-president-announces-ceasefire-with-taliban-until-june-20-idUKKCN1J30NZ

Central African Republic: Christian / Muslim divide

Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama and Rev Nicolas Guérékoyamé-Gbangou have international recognition for their peacekeeping efforts, and have blamed foreign mercenaries for an upsurge in violence. The so-called ‘Christian rebels’, the Anti-balaka, wear occult charms around their necks and fight with knives, clubs, rifles and machetes to rid the south of Muslims. The Bambari cathedral was looted, as were the bases of nine NGOs including the National Commission for Refugees. The clerics called all armed groups to lay down weapons, stop illegal exploitation of natural resources, and have ‘frank and inclusive dialogue’. The UN reported that 37,000 people, displaced by recent violence, are living in nine camps. The Red Cross said Muslim and Christian communities in Bambari want to live peaceably but are driven apart by violence and revenge attacks that trigger more assaults, making it harder to persuade people to live side-by-side again. See

Pray: for the calls for restraint by political and religious leaders to be acted on. (2 Chron. 30:12)
More: www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2018/06/cars-clerics-warn-against-attempts-to-divide-christians-and-muslims/

India: beating plastic pollution

Nestled in the Himalayas in north-eastern India, Sikkim has been leading a green revolution. Despite being small and isolated, with its people living in extremely tough mountainous terrain, it became the first Indian state to ban disposable plastic bags (1998) and is among the first to target single-use plastic bottles. In 2016 Sikkim banned packaged drinking water in government offices and events, and banned the use of disposable plates and cutlery to cut down toxic plastic and refuse problems. Pray for more governments to be active in promoting environmental programmes that end the global use of single-use plastic. Pray for more research and development into alternative materials to be used to manufacture food packaging, carrier bags, plastic pipes, electrical cable insulation, and artificial limbs. Pray for more innovative recycling and composting programmes, and thank God for the work of Christian environmental organisations such as A Rocha.

Pray: for ecological awareness and concern to be embraced across the nations. (Psalm 96:11b-13)
More: www.anglicannews.org/blogs/2018/06/beating-plastic-pollution.aspx

Myanmar: ‘genocidal campaign’ against Christians

The Myanmar army is waging a ‘genocidal campaign’ against Kachin Christians, using the same tactics that forced nearly a million Rohingya to flee the country. ‘What we found in this forgotten part of the world was worrying evidence of a second genocidal campaign, this time against the Kachin’, stated a Sky News correspondent on 4 June. Attacks on Kachin areas have increased substantially since January. The forces that spent months driving the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority out of western Myanmar are now deployed in the north and applying similar tactics, including helicopters, heavy artillery, and burning villages to the ground. The most recent attacks have displaced 10,000 from the mainly-Christian Kachin ethnic minority. One mother of four told journalists, ‘The Burmese government is trying to carry out ethnic cleansing of the Kachin people. Whenever they see Kachin civilians they kill them. If they see a Kachin woman they will rape her, even a pregnant woman.’

Pray: for God to watch over those escaping on foot and hiding in churches. (Job 10:12)
More: http://barnabasfund.org/en/news/myanmar-army-waging-genocidal-campaign-against-kachin-christians#

Guatemala: volcano casualties

There are over 75 people dead, 200 still missing and 3,319 in shelters, many of them with dead or missing loved ones, unable to return to homes and land destroyed by Guatemala’s most active volcano. Firefighters said the chance of finding anyone alive was now practically non-existent. The thick grey ash covering the region has been hardened by rainfall, making it even more difficult to dig through the piles of rocks and debris. Pray for the exhausted rescue workers still searching for survivors. Pray for those who have lost loved ones. Pray for the rural communities who have lost everything – land, livestock and livelihood – in a once-fertile collection of canyons, hillsides and farms now reduced to a moonscape of ash and debris. ‘In a matter of three or four minutes the village disappeared as a sea of muck came crashing into homes, inundating people, pets and wildlife’, said one survivor.

Pray: for God’s help to the traumatised and the bereaved, facing an uncertain future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
More: www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/06/guatemala-volcano-latest-los-lotes-200-missing

Action plan on physical activity

The WHO has launched a global action plan on physical activity and health. Worldwide, one in five adults and four out of five adolescents do not do enough physical activity. Girls, women, older adults, poorer people, people with disabilities and chronic diseases, marginalised populations, and indigenous people have fewer opportunities to be active. Regular physical activity is key to preventing and treating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer – which are responsible for 71% of all deaths globally. The action plan calls for training health-care workers and other professionals, stronger data systems, and the use of digital technologies. On 27 September world leaders will meet to take action on physical inactivity and mental disorders at the third UN General Assembly high-level meeting on NCDs in New York.

Pray: for countries to work towards creating more active and healthy societies. (Deut. 17:11)
More: www.who.int/news-room/detail/04-06-2018-who-launches-global-action-plan-on-physical-activity

Trade tariffs and G7 8-9 June

The G7 leaders will discuss many things, including trade tariffs. France says tariffs are illegal. Macron will not shy away from telling Trump what he thinks. Merkel may try to calm down her EU counterparts to avoid a full-scale trade war. Italy’s new prime minister is a political novice who said Italy is ‘second to no-one,’ and shares some of Trump’s views about ‘putting national needs ahead of global ones’. Japan is not expected to support Trump’s tariff decisions. Some believe Theresa May could look for concessions to calm the waters ahead of Trump’s UK visit in mid-July. On 3 June US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin faced sharp criticism from the angry finance ministers of all the G7 nations over America’s imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs. See

Pray: for world leaders and the World Trade Organisation to work towards ending biased barriers to trade. (Proverbs 17:23,24a)
More: http://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/03/opinions/presidential-weekly-briefing-g7-summit-vinograd/index.html

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