Category Archives: Ray Barnett

WAYS CHRISTIANS SHOULD PRAY FOLLOWING A MASS SHOOTING

We are remembering all those who have lost family members and friends, as well as those who survived the massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida. As part of the worldwide Christian Church, we pray for those in the local community, being torn apart by grief after this atrocity. Although we mean well and want to bring comfort through our prayers, sometimes it’s difficult to know how exactly to pray in a manner that will be effective. We are grateful to Dr Jeremy Roberts and The Christian Post for the article below which suggests ‘how’ to pray at a time like this:

By Dr. Jeremy Roberts

The mass school shooting that took place in South Florida was a tragic act of violence that shows demonic activity is alive. This shooting was purely from Satan. It was anti-God. It was evil. We have a desperate need for God’s peace.

Now is the time to turn to God in prayer. I encourage you to pray through several Psalms as you process what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida.

How Should You Pray, in Response to the Shooting?

1. Pray for God’s peace and comfort to fall upon all affected. (Pray Psalm 86:17)

Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

2. Pray that this trend of school and church shootings would cease, via the power of God and wisdom of police and security experts. (Pray Psalm 11:5)

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

3. Pray that American politicians would unite in the midst of this tragedy and work together to lead a safer country instead of fighting and blaming. Pray that politicians would not seek to destroy their “political enemies” in the heat of this proverbial summer. (Pray Psalm 32:3-4)

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

4. Pray that Christians would respond to this in compassionate ways instead of using this event to merely push opinions of gun control. (Pray Psalm 116:5)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.

5. Pray for a sweeping revival to come to America. We must come back to God. (Pray Psalm 9:9)

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Jeremy Roberts is the lead pastor at Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors, SC.

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the amended law designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. This year, the National Day of Prayer will be observed by millions of Americans on Thursday, May 3.

 

Source: The Christian Post

SUDAN GOVERNMENT DEMOLISHES CHURCH DESPITE PENDING APPEAL

The demolished Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Haj Yousif, Feb 2018 (World Watch Monitor)

A church belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) denomination in the Khartoum suburb of Haj Yousif was demolished yesterday (11 February). The police arrived with three lorries shortly after the Sunday morning service and confiscated furniture, Bibles and musical instruments, before knocking down the 29-year-old building.

The demolition went ahead despite a pending legal appeal.

“We had hoped [officials] would not attack our church outside of the court ruling, but it is clear the government is acting outside of the courts,” a SPEC leader, who wished to remain anonymous, told World Watch Monitor.

Workers demolishing the SPEC church
Government officials claimed the congregation did not have the required permission to meet in the area, though SPEC leaders said they have the correct legal documents for the church, which was built in 1989.

The congregation was aware of objections to the presence of a church. Five years ago the Public Peace and Safety Committee, which consisted of local people, decided it wanted the church to be knocked down. In 2017 the building was placed on a list of 27 churches that the government was planning to demolish because they were said to be in violation of the designated purposes of the land they were built on.

The church’s problems with the government date back to 2012, when the Evangelical Community Council, a SPEC committee responsible for managing the denomination’s properties, appointed Rafat Samir as chair to replace Hamad Muhammad Salah. Salah was dismissed over fraud but won his appeal and was reinstated by the government, even though it had no legal authority to do so.

A number of SPEC members who objected to Salah’s reinstatement ended up in court. Earlier this month seven of the church’s leaders were fined for their “objection to the authorities” . Nineteen other members were freed due to lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, five leaders from the Sudan Church of Christ (SCOC) are scheduled to appear in court on 6 March to face unknown charges in another ongoing case against a church in Khartoum. The five men were detained in October 2017 and ordered to hand over ownership of their church from the church-elected committee to a state-sanctioned rival committee. They refused and were released without further instruction. But a few days later they were charged with causing sound pollution because their church services were “too noisy”.

Two SCOC buildings, which were also on the list of 27 churches scheduled for demolition by the government, were torn down in May 2017.

In November 2017 the US Deputy Secretary of State called on Sudan to “immediately suspend” its demolition of churches. John J. Sullivan, speaking at the Al-Neelain Mosque in Omdurman, told a group of interfaith leaders that “the treatment of members of religious minorities is often the ultimate indicator of a government’s commitment” to religious freedom.

But last month, Abu Bakr Ibrahim, Sudan’s Minister of Guidance, countered allegations of an absence of religious freedom in the country. He said his ministry was “fighting the phenomena of extremism and radicalism by adopting the principle of moderation”. He added that the embassies of Norway and the Netherlands had requested translations of the materials used in a recent workshop by the Ministry for Religious Co-existence, which was said to have been attended by a number of Christians.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Churchgoers and Priest Injured by Sword Attack at St. Lidwina Church in Indonesia

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on February 11 a 22-year-old university student attacked a priest and churchgoers with a samurai sword at St. Lidwina Church in Yogyakarta, Java, injuring four people.

Suliyono, the young man believed to be a university student, first entered from the west door of the church, shouting in the outer yard. Suddenly, while still yelling, he attacked one of the churchgoers. According to a witness, “One of the fathers who was carrying his son was hit by the sword. He was on the outside yard.” The congregation under the canopy quickly dispersed, as Suliyono moved on to the main church building.

Suliyono then ran forward and attacked priest Karl Edmund Prier who was leading the mass and one other remaining congregant who was still inside the church. He also slashed the statues of Jesus and Mary near the pulpit of the church.

A police officer, Officer Munir, arrived on the scene and tried to negotiate with the perpetrator to surrender. However, Suliyono instead attacked Munir, leading him to fire a warning shot. Yet Suliyono did not relent and injured Munir’s hand. The assailant was then shot in the stomach and transported to the hospital.

In a video shared by Detik News, Suliyono can be seen swinging his sword at the altar and later apprehended by police.

This is the second time in Indonesia that a violent assault has been carried out against a priest while presiding over the Eucharist. In August 2016, a teenager attacked a priest with a knife and axe during mass after a bomb in his backpack failed to explode.

A Christian pastor in West Java familiar with Christian persecution in Indonesia believes that “this attack did not specifically target Catholics, rather it is a random attack against any Christian church due to hostility.” No radical Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but according to the pastor, “Suliyono must be brainwashed by radical thoughts, as he called his father before the attack and said he will marry ‘virgin’ in heaven, a reward for carrying out acts of terror and martyrdom believed by jihadists.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The attacker sought to create chaos and conflict at the church, but the church responded calmly to the attack, preventing further casualties. Thankfully, the police arrived in time to apprehend the perpetrator. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims at St. Lidwina Church, and we pray for the recovery of all those who were injured during this attack.”

For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

Source: International Christian Concern (ICC)

COLOSSEUM TO BE LIT RED FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

by Hannah Brockhaus

(Credit: Ruslan Kalnitsky/Shutterstock.)

ROME – The Roman Colosseum will be illuminated by red lights later this month to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, and especially in Syria and Iraq.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. the Colosseum will be spotlighted in red, to represent the blood of Christians who have been wounded or lost their lives due to religious persecution.

Simultaneously, in Syria and Iraq, prominent churches will be illuminated with red lights. In Aleppo, the St. Elijah Maronite Cathedral will be lit, and in Mosul, the Church of St. Paul, where this past Dec. 24, the first Mass was celebrated after the city’s liberation from ISIS.

The event, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), follows a similar initiative last year, which lit-up London’s Parliament building in red, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. In 2016, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit.

Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told journalists Feb. 7 that the “illumination [of the Colosseum] will have two symbolic figures: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian condemned to death for blasphemy and whose umpteenth judgment is expected to revoke the sentence; and Rebecca, a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram along with her two children when she was pregnant with a third.”

“One of the children was killed,” he said, “she lost the baby she was carrying, and then became pregnant after one of the many brutalities she was subjected to by her captors.”

Once she was freed and reunited with her husband, she decided she “could not hate those who caused her so much pain,” Monteduro said.

Aid to the Church in Need released a biennial report on anti-Christian persecution Oct. 12, 2017, detailing how Christianity is “the world’s most oppressed faith community,” and how anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak.”

The report reviewed 13 countries, and concluded that in all but one, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms for the period 2015-2017 than during the prior two years.
“The one exception is Saudi Arabia, where the situation was already so bad it could scarcely get any worse,” the report said.

China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. Egypt, India, and Iran were rated “high to extreme,” while Turkey was rated “moderate to high.”

The Middle East is a major focus for the report.

“Governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the report said. “If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”

The exodus of Christians from Iraq has been “very severe.” Christians in the country now may number as few as 150,000, a decline from 275,000 in mid-2015. By spring 2017 there were some signs of hope, with the defeat of the Islamic State group and the return of some Christians to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.

The departure of Christians from Syria has also threatened the survival of their communities in the country, including historic Christian centers like Aleppo, ACN said. Syrian Christians there suffer threats of forced conversion and extortion. One Chaldean bishop in the country estimates the Christian population to be at 500,000, down from 1.2 million before the war.

Many Christians in the region fear going to official refugee camps, due to concerns about rape and other violence, according to the report.

ACN also discussed the genocide committed in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State and other militants. While ISIS and other groups have lost their major strongholds, ACN said that many Christian groups are threatened with extinction and would likely not survive another attack.

Source: CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

MPS CALL FOR ‘DECLARATION OF FAMINE’ IN NORTH DARFUR

By L FASHER

A woman farmer in Darfur (file photo)

Members of the North Darfur Parliament have urged the local government to declare famine in the state. They criticised the authorities for their silence about the deteriorating living conditions and the growing corruption in the region.

About 1,000 people died from hunger and tuberculosis in El Hara and Ein Bassar, north of Jebel Meidob, during the past few months, MP Mahasin Abakar told reporters in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher last week.

She explained that in addition to bread, most people in El Malha locality cannot afford to buy sorghum any more, as the price of the native staple food reached SDG 2,000 ($ 110*) per 100 kg.

According to MP Hari Khamees Arbab school children in a number of localities go to the valleys in the morning to eat wild berries for breakfast.

Food gap

The MPs held a press conference on Thursday after discussing statements of the North Darfur Minister of Finance, Mohamed Yahya Hamid on the economic crisis and the measures taken by the Ministry to support the poorest in the state.

They called on the North Darfur government to immediately intervene to face the threat of famine in a number of localities, and take action to stop the corruption concerning the distribution of food.

In particular people in the northern and eastern parts of the state are hit by a food gap, they said. They further mentioned the shortage of electricity and fuel, and a significant decrease in services.

Suleiman Mukhtar, MP for El Taweisha constituency, pointed to the poor sorghum and millet harvests in the areas of Koraya Laban, Um Katkut and Jabir. He told the press in El Fasher they had notified the state government already in September that the agricultural season failed because of the poor rainfall.

MP Ali El Siddig stressed the rapid decrease in services in North Darfur, especially water and electricity. He accused the North Darfur government of being “too weak and too late to tackle the current economic crisis and ease the burden of living for the Sudanese”.

Corruption

The MPs further complained about the considerable manipulation and corruption by employees of the state Ministry of Social Affairs and members of the committees distributing relief goods.

This means that most of the poor are not supported by the Ministry, they said. Most of the sugar is sold on the black market.

The measures taken by the state government to ease the burden of living is “only ink on paper,” they commented. They called on the Ministry of Finance to control the prices of the basic commodities on the markets.

Price hikes

In early January, the Sudanese government implemented new austerity measures. In addition to increased levies and taxes imposed on traders and citizens, the customs rate of the US Dollar was raised from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18.

The prices of the main consumer goods immediately doubled or even tripled. As the government completely cut its wheat subsidies, the price of flour increased with 233 per cent. Bakeries began to sell smaller loafes of bread for double the price.

The rapid plummeting of the Sudanese Pound on the Khartoum parallel forex market continues. The US Dollar rate on the black market increased from SDG 28 (January 3) to SDG 42 (February 4).

Agricultural season

In December last year, members of Sudan’s federal Parliament warned for a food gap in the country. Poor rainfall in El Gedaref, Blue Nile, Darfur, and Kordofan states that year caused poor sorghum and millet harvests.

In addition, 25 per cent of the country’s strategic crop stocks were damaged last year because of poor storage techniques.

MP Mahmoud Abdeljabar called for a stop on the export of strategic sorghum stocks, as “Consumers will not be able to afford the food prices.

“A sack of millet costs SDG1,200 and is expected to amount to SDG1,500 in the coming months,” he said.

Source: Dabanga