Praise Reports


British Isles


Praise Reports

‘The words came alive’

Richard Sandland was ordained on 4 July and will serve in the parish of Bromsgrove, ten years after watching a play that changed his life. In his previous job at the Royal Shakespeare Company, they did a play called Written on the Heart, about the writing of the King James Version of the Bible. In one scene, Lancelot Andrewes and William Tyndale debated translations of the Beatitudes. He recalls, ‘As I watched and listened these words came alive for me. Gradually, I realised that I had been wrong all my life about God.’ As a direct result, Richard bought a copy of the Bible and began attending church in Kidderminster. Reflecting on his journey to ordination, Richard says, ‘God has drawn me on, step by step, until I reached a place where I knew the call was right.’

Praise: God for the variety of ways He calls us to follow Him. (John 6:44)

Nigeria: Naomi’s story

Naomi, a Nigerian Christian widow, never expected to suffer persecution, but when her town was overrun by Islamists, she was ready. Her Bible had taught her, ‘Persecution is God’s Word being fulfilled.’ While Naomi was working her farmland outside the city she heard distant gunfire. She immediately ran toward the sound, concerned for her children at home. After passing scenes of horrific violence on her way she gathered her children and fled to nearby mountains, where they stayed before moving to a Cameroon refugee camp. Poor conditions there forced them to return to Nigeria. When mission workers learned of her situation, they helped the family move into their own home and arranged for the children to attend a good school. Naomi said, ‘Attacks made my faith stronger.’

Praise: God for Naomi’s strong faith. (Psalm 27:14)

Church grows out of WhatsApp group

A church that was formed from a WhatsApp group during lockdown now meets every fortnight. Lay pioneer minister Venessa Pinto distributed postcards during lockdown to her neighbours, inviting them to join the group as a way of staying in touch during the restrictions. ‘Within a couple of days we received many messages, mostly from young adults.’ Venessa said. ‘We started engaging on questions of spirituality and faith and out of that we began meeting on Zoom for social activities and to talk about faith. Gradually that transformed into something more formal and into an intercultural worshipping community that we call Roots.’

Praise: God for Venessa’s passion to help people to explore faith and each other’s culture. (Ephesians 2:21)

Praise Reports

Hope for the Countryside prayer walk

From 19 June to 4 September, mission teams from Through Faith Mission are walking the ‘Via Beata’ footpath through the countryside of central England and Wales. The teams are going out literally without bread or money and no agenda or programme, trusting the Lord to provide both their needs and opportunities to share the gospel and serve others (Matthew 10:1-15; Luke 10:1-20). By mid-June, around 100 people had signed up for one or more of the eleven weeks. A similar number have pledged to pray. Join them in praying that the Lord will use the teams to bring the hope of the Gospel to many in the countryside of Britain and encourage rural churches along the way and add to their number. Also you are invited to join ‘Hope Countryside Online Prayer Gathering’ on 31 July, where intercession will be for the churches and communities for rural Britain. See

Pray: for the Walking Through Faith Mission to deepen the faith of team members, and for many to engage with the online prayer gathering for rural Britain. (2 Peter 3:18)

Canopy of Prayer

As many in England and across the Land are gripped by the euphoria of football and the Euros, multitudes are learning how to prophesy and believe in Hope. With the singing of ‘its coming home’ everywhere, people may not realise it but they are actually declaring Hope. In the same spirit of faith, may we declare as believers that ALL of God’s Will and promises for our family of nations are coming home! May revival, transformation and restoration visions or prophecies that many have been waiting for over many years finally begin to be fulfilled in this generation. On 8 July, believers joined a Zoom call to pray and declare God’s will and Kingdom promises over our land. This is a regular event. Those who miss the prayer gathering will find it is available on YouTube and Facebook to watch again.

Pray: for this Canopy of Prayer as it spreads across the isles to continue to grow as different groups, churches and networks join this vision of unity. (Psalm 92:12)

Police bill risks criminalising homeless

Thirteen homelessness charities and housing groups made an unprecedented plea to ministers to reconsider the police and crime bill that passed through the Commons this week. It will now go to the House of Lords. They said the bill needs urgent changes to avoid people being arrested and imprisoned for sleeping rough. Traditional Gypsy events like the annual Appleby horse fair face being criminalised, threatening the Gypsy way of life and culture. People will risk fines, imprisonment or confiscation of vehicles, which for Travellers are also their homes. The charities and housing groups said the bill should be scrapped, or amended if it goes ahead. Many people experiencing homelessness sleep in cars; they would be arrested and jailed. An 1824 Vagrancy Act that targeted rough sleeping and begging was abolished, but this new legislation 200 years later would again criminalise them.

Pray: for ministers to amend the proposed police and crime bill so that homeless people who have to sleep somewhere are not prosecuted, fined, or jailed. (Proverbs 14:31)

Speakers’ Corner becomes Sharia Corner?

Hatun Tash preaches Christianity at Speakers’ Corner, but when she criticises Islam she is assaulted. Police have warned her it is dangerous for her to speak there. Some Muslims want to kill her. But she feels called to preach to Muslims. Her provocative style effectively attracts attention, and people listen. When she wore a T-shirt with a cartoon of Mohammad on it, she was mobbed, arrested, and carried into a police van, to the cheers of the many Muslims nearby. Cartoons of any other figures would be within the bounds of free speech. Only under sharia law would a cartoon of Muhammad be prohibited. One Muslim suggested that ‘wearing that T-shirt is a breach of the peace’.

Pray: for free speech to be re-established in Hyde Park. May the police never allow violent groups to dictate what they should or should not do. (Galatians 4:16)

Wisdom and grace needed as singing is allowed

Sung worship in churches will be allowed from 19 July. Danny Webster of the Evangelical Alliance said that the prospect of worshipping together is exciting but will have many challenges. ‘We need to be very aware that we’re in a context where cases are rising and, while the vaccine seems to be doing its job, churches may well want to be cautious and careful with how they proceed in the next few weeks. Every church will come to its own conclusions.’ Danny added, ‘There will be people who are vulnerable, people who are uncertain or anxious that aren’t necessarily willing to come straight back into a church. Churches are going to have to act with a lot of wisdom and a lot of grace.’ Pray for an outpouring of wisdom on church leaders as they consider their congregation sizes, venue ventilation, and welfare of church members.

Pray: for congregations to stay safe as they meet together as a family again. (Acts 20:28)

Scientists in congregations

Church and science can seem like separate worlds, but many scientists appear in pews and pulpits across the UK. ‘Encouraging Christian Leadership in an Age of Science’ (ECLAS) affirms the work of faith-filled scientists who bring their vocation in science to the church, as members and active friends of congregations. ECLAS want to help them create spaces of engagement, build confidence and competence around scientific issues, and foster thoughtful, prayerful communities working in the world. They are funding 22 churches in England and Wales creatively to change the conversation between the church and the scientific world, focussing on topics from climate change to mental health, with the aim of showing how engaging with science can lead to a deeper experience of faith. ECLAS are supported by a grant of £400,000 to enable congregations and organisations to host these projects and shepherd follow-up projects for one or more additional congregations by 2022.

Pray: for stronger bonds between the church and science to be blessed by this programme and bring many people into God’s kingdom. (Hebrews 3:4)

Covid: young people’s mental health

Covid-related pupil absence in England has hit a new high since students returned to school in March. Over 640,000 English pupils were not in school due to Covid last week; only 62,000 were confirmed or suspected Covid cases. Gavin Williamson plans to replace the present bubble system with a new increased testing regime so that pupils would only be sent home if they tested positive. Also the mental health impact of the pandemic could have lasting repercussions for young people leaving education to take their first steps on the career ladder, with over one in four 18- to 24-year-olds believing poor mental health will affect their ability to find a job. Research found that while the UK’s public health crisis has eased and the economy is recovering, over 20% of that age group are still reporting poor mental health. Pray for pupils in higher education to receive proactive support to thrive before any further damage is done.

Pray: for employers to care for and protect young people entering employment. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Praise Reports

Russia/China: joint defence ties

Beijing and Moscow have prioritised strengthening their military relationship, under the leadership of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Their defence ties have matured to the point that analysts claim the relationship constitutes a ‘de facto military alliance’ characterised by mostly high-level contacts and technical cooperation. There have been thirty joint exercises since 2003, and the scenarios associated with them (controlling islands and reefs; amphibious and air defence operations), the locations (Baltic, Mediterranean, and South China Sea), and live-fire operations with air missiles against cruise missile targets are quite telling. Meanwhile, the US has cut the size of its navy.

Pray: for God to prevent a slide into an east-west ‘cold war’ between military giants. (Romans 12:18)

Germany: hundreds arrested over encrypted data

German security officials have arrested over 750 people after infiltrating encrypted mobile phone chat data. The investigation focused on a communications service used particularly by criminals in the illegal drug trade. Authorities seized 3.2 tonnes of cannabis, 320 kilos of synthetic drugs, over 125,500 ecstasy pills, 400 kilos of cocaine, ten kilos of heroin, 310 weapons, more than 12,200 rounds of ammunition, and assets worth €168 million. Frankfurt prosecutor Julia Bussweiler said that the investigation was far from over; they are still sifting through and evaluating seized data. Many people are in pre-trial detention. The investigation was assisted by authorities from France and the Netherlands; a further 45 were arrested across Europe, and authorities also seized a ‘record haul’ of cocaine.

Pray: for more of the ‘untouchables’ in the drug trade to be identified and removed from society. (Proverbs 21:15)

Praise Reports

Myanmar: Kachin pastors jailed for praying for peace

Recently three Baptist pastors from Kachin state were detained and charged with organising prayers for peace. The pastors are now facing three years in jail because of a penal code which criminalises causing fear, spreading false news, and agitating for criminal offenses against government employees. They were praying that the fighting between the Burmese military and the pro-democracy forces in Kachin state, which has intensified recently, would cease. It is reported that the pastors, who are elderly and in poor health, were sent to a prison on 29 June to await their court hearing on 12 July. Their imprisonment was met with an outcry from Christians in the country. Many are using social media to publish prayers and pleas for their release. Other church attacks and arrests have occurred elsewhere throughout the country.

Pray: for justice to be done, and for the pastors’ immediate release. (Isaiah 61:8a)

China: ‘hunt down’ all religious books

China Aid, which provides legal aid to Christians in China, recently tweeted, ‘New Cultural Revolution starts. Government tells students’ parents and teachers to hunt all religious books, antagonistic books and overseas books. Everyone is mandated!’ CBN News said the communist government does not want any disruptions for the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February. ‘They really fear there could be protests, a pro-democracy movement going, leading up to and during the Olympics. So this sends a message to the parents: “Look, no outside influence. We don’t want any collusion with foreigners here”, because they know that foreigners are pro-democracy. They are indoctrinating students, and also sending a message to the adults.’ Pray for the world to recognise false religion when they see communist party flags in pulpits.

Pray: for a new Christian revolution to replace the 100-year-old cultural revolution. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Palestinian human rights violations

The USA is resuming unconditional financial aid to the Palestinians without any stipulation that the PA end human rights violations and assaults on public freedoms. Lawyers for Justice said that the forms of torture in the PA-controlled Jericho Prison included hanging detainees from the ceilings, beatings, verbal abuse and electric shocks. ‘The Future List calls on all electoral lists approved by the Central Elections Committee, all human rights bodies and all honourable people of this country to form a united front to confront the arbitrary political arrests that aim to silence every free voice that rises in the face of tyranny and corruption practiced by the Palestinian Authority.’ It appears the diplomats care little that the PA is arresting, torturing and intimidating social media users and political activists. Western journalists loudly raise their voices when damning Israel. International silence and absolute support for the PA encourages Palestinian leadership to continue their repression.

Pray: for the Palestinians who despair of improvement in the PA leadership to reject Hamas or other terrorist groups thinking they are a better alternative to Abbas and Fatah. (Matthew 7:15-17)

Haiti: bishops urged president to resign then he was killed

President Moïse was assassinated on 7 July amid rising political tensions and violence. He was killed after pursuing an aggressive agenda, including rewriting the country’s constitution. The Bishops’ Conference said the proposed changes to Haiti’s constitution while in the middle of a socio-political crisis were not wise. Vatican News reported violence had escalated under Moïse’s rule, and the Haitian people were bearing the brunt of it. The bishops wrote, ‘The daily life of the Haitian people is reduced to death, murders, impunity and insecurity. Discontent is everywhere, in almost all areas.’ They called on Moïse to step down as his five-year term had expired in February. Jamaica’s prime minister said, ‘The assassination is a stain on Haiti and a sorrowful time for the Caribbean. May God be a special covering over his family and over the people of Haiti during this dark time in the nation’s history.’

Pray: for a new season free of hostility, poverty, kidnapping and political instability. (Isaiah 43:19)

Afghanistan: destabilising and displaced people

Afghanistan and its neighbours have spent decades relying on the US and NATO to resolve the country’s problems. Wikipedia reports there are up to 18,000 Afghan Christians (3,300 from a Muslim background) practising their faith secretly in the country. Displacement and suffering experienced by those forced to flee their homes and communities is not new for the brave people of this land. Escalating conflict recently has resulted in thousands of new displaced people being registered each week. Around 327,000 people were displaced in 2020, 80% of them women and children. Now that foreign troops are almost gone, security and peace are going with them. The Russians and Chinese fear the further destabilisation of Afghanistan by the Taliban will spill over to five neighbouring Central Asian countries which have their own history of jihadist violence.

Pray: for agencies to prepare safe paths into troubled areas to meet humanitarian needs. (Philippians 4:19)

Iran: London, Paris Berlin concerned over 20% enrichment

On 6 July Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it was enriching uranium to 20% at its research reactor. Uranium metal is used to make a nuclear warhead core. The development immediately prompted Berlin, London and Paris, which are all parties to the 2015 nuclear deal – along with the USA, Russia, and China – to issue a damning joint statement accusing Iran of a ‘grave breach’ of its obligations. ‘Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon,’ the statement said. According to Iran’s foreign minister, this enrichment is needed for ‘peaceful, medicinal and humanitarian uses.’ The three countries urged Tehran to stop the violations and return to Vienna’s negotiating table where the original signatories to the deal have been working for months to mediate indirect talks between Iran and the USA.

Pray: for the USA and Iran to humbly and truthfully resume talks without further threats. (Isaiah 5:20)

Praise Reports
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