Praise Reports


British Isles


Praise Reports

Churches and cathedrals reopen for Easter

Many churches and cathedrals which have remained closed throughout the recent lockdown are reopening in time for in-person worship during Holy Week and Easter – but online services and events remain at the heart of festivities. The stay-at-home rule has been replaced. Now up to two households of unlimited numbers, or up to six households of six people, can meet outdoors. The rector of Bath Abbey said, ‘We look forward eagerly to celebrating the life-renewing hope of Easter. It will be a great joy to celebrate Christ’s victory over death, as a church family back in the abbey once again – especially as we were unable to meet at Easter last year.’

Praise: God for indoor and outdoor Easter worship, live streamed passion plays, and all the events to celebrate the victory over sin and death. (Isaiah 53:5)

Helping Nepalese disabled

The following is part of an email: ‘We give thanks to God for the way the five-year community-based rehabilitation (CBR) project is going in a mountainous district of Nepal. In its first year it has already reached hundreds of people with disabilities and their families, helping them access services, including livelihoods and physical rehabilitation, and is slowly helping to change attitudes in the community so they are included with kindness and respect. C is planning a home assignment after two years without a break! Pray that his successor as leader will enjoy the work, want to stay, and adapt quickly to living remotely.’

Praise: God for the many missionaries living in isolated areas serving the unchurched with God’s love and seeing people coming to Christ. (1 Peter 4:10)

Indonesia: grace of God

Father Tulak was preaching at a Catholic cathedral in Indonesia when it was attacked by suicide bombers on Palm Sunday. He said God protected church members and guards, who were only two metres away from the bombers when they exploded. ‘What happened in my church is a personal testimony for the world.’ Indonesia is one the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nations. Christians in the area are unfortunately used to these types of attacks, especially during Christian celebrations. Please pray for the injured church guards, who are in a police hospital for protection.

Praise: God that there were no fatalities and ask him to heal the few that were injured. (Psalm 37:39)

Praise Reports

Anti-Semitism in universities

The Government formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism in 2016. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, warned that universities faced funding cuts if they failed to adopt the definition by Christmas 2020. However, anti-Semitism is still allowed in British universities under the guise of Israel Apartheid Week: this means that it is operating in plain sight, with events taking place on taxpayer-funded campuses. These events (this year’s will be virtual) are designed to compare Israeli rule to apartheid in South Africa. See also

Pray: for MPs to take action against universities that have not adopted the IHRA definition, and for anti-Semitism to be recognised and stopped. (Exodus 19:5-6)

Teacher fears for his life in cartoon anger

A teacher who showed pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad is in fear for his life. His parents have also gone into hiding, amid growing concerns the wider family may be targeted and even killed by extremists. Mass protests have been held outside the school since the teacher used the cartoon in a lesson looking at blasphemy. A Paris teacher was beheaded in October after showing his class the same image. Despite appealing for calm, local leaders have noticeably stopped short of calling for the protests to stop. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said teachers should be allowed to show such images in free society. ‘We want religions to be taught to children and children to be able to question and query them.’ 70,000 people signed a petition supporting the teacher, but anger grows as others demand that he goes.

Pray: for the ‘culture war’ to end, for free speech to be valued, and the teacher be allowed to get on with his life. (Matthew 5:44)

People with Covid symptoms not self-isolating

A study of the test-and-trace system found that fewer than one in five people with Covid symptoms request a test, and few follow full self-isolation rules. The report also found only half of people knew the main Covid symptoms. Its authors said, ‘With such low rates of symptom recognition, testing, and full self-isolation, the effectiveness of the current UK test, trace, and isolate system is limited.’ Men, younger people, and those with young children were less likely to self-isolate, as were those from working-class backgrounds, people experiencing greater financial hardship, and those working in key sectors. Common reasons for not fully self-isolating included needing to go to the shops or work, a medical need other than Covid-19, to care for a vulnerable person, to exercise or meet others, or because symptoms were only mild or got better. However, while adherence to the rules had been low, ‘some improvement has occurred over time’.

Pray: for more practical and financial support so that everyone does the right thing and self-isolates to keep case rates as low as possible. (Romans 13:1)

Hope for the countryside

23 April is St George’s Day. National identity is controversial in our contemporary culture, but belonging to a nation is important to many people. Solzhenistsyn saw nations as the wealth of mankind. Dostoevsky saw them as moral personalities. God Himself created the nations and determines their boundaries. Rural land plays a special role in our nations, providing a concrete focus for abstract ideas of national identity. Give thanks for the distinctiveness and unity of the nations of the UK and for their diverse and beautiful landscapes. Pray for the Lord to prosper the particular gifts and callings of each nation. As many seek independence, pray for the future of the United Kingdom. Pray especially that believers, whose first citizenship is in the Kingdom of God, will be effective salt and light, reaching out to all nations with loving intercession and mission, whatever our political relationships.

Pray: for God to bless the land and all who live and work in rural areas. (James 1:17)

11,000+ incidents of school abuse reported

Please pray for an end to sexual violence and abuse to pupils by pupils in the same school or social group. Children are sharing stories online of a rape culture where abnormal behaviour is now normalised. Soma Sara has set up a website, ‘Everyone’s Invited’, for children to report sexual abuse and harassment. So far 11,000+ incidents have been reported. Police blamed a ‘high consumption of pornographic material. There’s an erosion of understanding as to what normal sexual relationships look like. We are normalising sexual violence and have a real problem here’ said the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on child protection. A police helpline will be set up to ‘investigate allegations which are of a criminal nature’. The trivialisation of sexism and misogyny is a gateway to rape and sexual assault.

Pray: for police, parents and teachers to provide support, protection and advice to those reporting abuse, and for the children to be empowered to call out bad behaviour. (Proverbs 22:6)

Government urged to take over private jail

Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre is privately run, by MTC, on the same site as two prisons. MPs want the Government to take over this detention centre, where children are kept in their cells for all but thirty minutes a day. MTC had previously been told to improve. The House of Commons justice committee said the Government should act by June 2020 if conditions tantamount to solitary confinement are not addressed. MP Sir Bob Neill said, ‘The experience of the inspectors over the past year has shown that some of the promises made by MTC are worth less than the paper they are written on. The ministry of justice has failed in its oversight of this private contractor.’ The centre holds 87 boys and girls convicted or awaiting trial for serious offences. They have complex behavioural problems or other vulnerabilities, such as self-harming.

Pray: for the centre to provide an education as close as possible to school and care that meets the special needs of the detainees. (Ephesians 6:4)

Addiction service cuts condemn people to dependence

Psychiatrists have warned that ‘cuts to addiction services for young people risk condemning them to a lifetime of dependence and poor health or even an early death’. The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) reported that between 2014 and 2021 budgets were cut by over a third (37%), amounting to £26 million, leaving thousands of young people with limited access to drug and alcohol treatment or specialist help. It is asking the Government to inject £43 million into public health funding for councils, to bring spending on youth addiction services back to 2013/14 levels. RCP said we need to wake up to the fact that money spent on addictions services saves the NHS a lot more in the long run, whether in A&E or in other mental health services. The second most common substance abuse after cannabis is alcohol.

Pray: for the Government to commit to substantial investment in youth addiction services, and for God to empower the Church to help those with drug and alcohol abuse. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Praise Reports

EU threaten UK over AstraZeneca jabs

Brussels will not export AstraZeneca’s (AZ) vaccine manufactured in the EU to the UK until it meets its vaccine commitment to the EU. Its internal market commissioner, emphasised, ‘there is nothing to negotiate’ referring to EU’s ongoing talks over vaccine production. He said coronavirus vaccine production from Belgium and the Netherlands matches vaccine commitment made by AZ to the EU and thus must be reserved for them. ‘If AZ does more, we don’t have any issue, but as long as it doesn’t deliver its commitment to us, the doses stay in Europe – except for Covax (a vaccine programme delivering vaccines to poor countries).’ He said they are trying to ensure that AZ’s contract with the EU is delivered. In August AZ agreed to supply 300 million doses, with an option for another 100 million doses. Unfortunately, the supply has been slow, and they slashed their commitment to 30 million in the first quarter.

Pray: that Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and other immunisation developers can meet the needs of all nations without reservations. (Hebrews 13:16)

EU sounds alarm for Great Barrier Reef

The EU’s environment commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said he was deeply concerned by the threats facing the Great Barrier Reef. ‘As long as we do not change our behaviours, things will not improve,’ he said. He hopes Australia will sign up to the 84-country Leaders’ Pledge for Nature – a document that calls for a ‘green and just’ recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and stronger political will to act against the ‘crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change’. The leaders’ pledge backs the objective of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said this is his preference, but he has resisted making a formal commitment amid divisions within his government over climate policy. Coral reefs are threatened because of human activity – unsustainable ways of living, producing, and consuming.

Pray: for all countries to recognize the EU’s call for action and make more ambitious changes to behaviour so that greenhouse gas emissions are cut. (Mark 4:19)

Praise Reports

Brazil: who controls the ‘lungs of Earth’?

Those fighting to halt climate change call the Amazon rainforest the ‘lungs of Earth,’ and Brazil’s current president has made his country a chain-smoker. A healthy Amazon is crucial for the fight against climate change. Human activity is pumping unsustainable amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, trapping enough heat to warm the planet and profoundly disrupt the climate. Trees, and the soils they grow in, store carbon that might otherwise reach the atmosphere, but cutting down or burning them releases more carbon into the air, making Amazon deforestation a problem for the entire planet. President Jair Bolsonaro has made matters much worse for the remaining 60% of Amazon tree cover. He deprived environmental protection agencies of funding and manpower, allowing farmers to cut and burn trees to open land for farms and cattle ranches. But now Joe Biden’s climate envoy is engaged in an international effort to raise $20 billion for Brazil’s environmental protection agency, only to be given if deforestation is reduced.

Pray: for Mr Biden to successfully engage Brazil’s civilian environmental protection agency and begin to preserve and protect the density of the Amazon. (Isaiah 24:5-6)

Myanmar: murder and airstrikes

On 27 March security forces killed over fifty protesters who defied a warning that they could be shot ‘in the head and back’ if they came out while the country’s generals celebrated Armed Forces Day. ‘Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,’ said Dr Sasa, a spokesman for the anti-junta group of deposed lawmakers. Local media reported that around 3,000 people from Karen state have left the country and crossed the border into Thailand to escape the violence. Airstrikes that sent villagers fleeing into the jungle show the Myanmar situation is ‘much worse’, a humanitarian worker said. At least 114 people were killed by security forces on 29 March, including a five-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl. Despite the bloodshed, protesters returned to the streets. Citizens are living amid increasing violence. People are being beaten and shot; now they face multiple airstrikes. Myanmar has not had airstrikes there for over twenty years.

Pray: for the safety of the refugees, and for international pressure (especially from China). May US and European sanctions bring freedom for Ang Suu Kyi, fair democratic elections, and peaceful streets. (Isaiah 61:8)

Nigeria: Christian missionaries kidnapped

Eight Christians have been abducted while on their way to evangelise in Kaduna state. The group of members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God were travelling towards the town of Kafanchan when gunmen intercepted the bus, according to International Christian Concern and the Nigerian Tribune. Eje Kenny Faraday, a witness, posted a picture on Facebook showing the empty bus saying, ‘All passengers in the bus are just kidnapped along Kachia Road, Km 63 from Kaduna.’ The kidnappers have demanded the equivalent of £88,000 for their release. A search for the members has been launched by security agencies including the police and the military.

Pray: for the kidnapped and their family members to know God’s peace, and for the abducted to be protected. (Romans 16:20)

USA: Derek Chauvin v George Floyd or White v Black?

Curtis Hayes, a community activist running for city council in Charlotte, said, ‘We have some of the most horrific mass murderers of our time in custody without a scratch, but this black man who allegedly uses a counterfeit $20 bill loses his life. They have got to convict the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd by sitting on his neck for over nine minutes. The officer came to a situation which he should have de-escalated and given out a ticket in the worst-case scenario. Are we going to hold him accountable for his actions? This is a chance for America to show exactly what it represents: giving everybody liberty and justice. If you don’t convict him, you’re simply telling black and minority Americans that we do not care for you: this is a white America and you’re going to get down or lay down. Now people are fighting for equality, but they could soon be fighting for revenge.’

Pray: for justice to be done and peace on the streets to follow the verdict. (Malachi 2:10a)

Iran ‘still hiding key parts’ of nuclear programme

The latest evidence of Iran concealing vital elements of its nuclear programme from the outside world suggest that even if there is a resumption of negotiations, the regime has little genuine interest in complying with the terms of any future deal. Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament has ordered the government to start limiting some inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN-sponsored body responsible for monitoring nuclear activities. This came after the IAEA published a report revealing last summer’s inspectors found uranium particles at two Iranian nuclear sites that Iran tried to block access to. With the Biden administration seemingly keen to recommence negotiations with Tehran, fresh photographic evidence is emerging that the regime is up to its old tricks by attempting to conceal key elements of the Isfahan uranium enrichment facility from UN inspectors.

Pray: for the nations to work towards ending Iran’s history of making weapons-grade nuclear material in underground facilities while denying its existence. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

Pakistan: preparing for possible Easter attacks

Christian volunteer security guards are preparing to defend their churches in the run-up to Easter. With world-wide concern peaking after Palm Sunday’s suicide bomb in Indonesia, William Arif Khan and his team of fifteen security volunteers at Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral stressed the need for extra vigilance. ‘For the past twelve years, I have been leading young men dedicated to support the police’s security guards stationed at the cathedral. We don’t expect any rewards. All of them have dedicated their holiday to the Church. They have metal detectors. The police have allowed us to keep some licensed weapons on church premises; but only my deputy and I are armed with a pistol. Everybody is afraid of the terrorists. But we stand for the One who protects us all. Our faith tells us that God won’t let us down. We perform our duties with complete passion and avoid negative thinking.’

Pray: for God to give wisdom and protection to the police and security guards protecting churches and cathedrals. (John 17:15)

USA: attacks on Asian-Americans

Hate crimes involving Asian-American victims soared in New York city last year. Officials are grappling with the problem as new incidents occur. ‘I’ve never cried like that before,’ Maggie Cheng said, after seeing security footage showing her mother being shoved to the ground on a crowded street. ‘To see my mother get thrown like that, she looks like a feather, a rag doll.’ The attack, which gained widespread attention on social media, was one of four attacks in a day against Asian-American women in New York. Concerns intensified after an Asian man was stabbed on Thursday night near Chinatown. Asian-Americans make up 16% of the population of the city: it is feared that the wave of racism and violence against them during the pandemic is surging again. The attacks are random, fast and furious, stoking a lot of fear and paranoia. Many Asians are not leaving their homes.

Pray: for xenophobia and violence to be recognised, and for the law to deal with hate crimes appropriately. (Luke 10:27)

Praise Reports
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