- A Letter from the Editor: Two Migrations
- Spain: Evangelical Christian Numbers on the Rise
- Pakistan: Mosque Broadcasts Scripture over Loudspeakers
- Israel: Hamas Attacks Israel, Triggers War
- Laos: Local Officials Shut Down Worship Service and Threaten Christians
I live near a busy border. The din of thousands of migrants coming across the border has been constant these last few weeks. It happens every year at this time, but this year we have had a long, warm fall season, so I’ve been outside a lot, hearing them and seeing one group after another. I’ve been wondering what on earth they say to each other, but imagine them saying, “Look! A place we can rest!”
I’m referring, of course, to Canadian feathered friends who are heading south for the winter.
But if I come into the house to warm up a bit, I see another group of migrants on the TV. One million Gazans heading south hoping to cross a border and find rest. Millions of others are like them, fleeing other conflicts or migrating due to one pressure or another.
I am pretty sure that when the geese fly over my house in years to come, I’ll think of these migrants, too, and wonder: What are they saying? Where are they now? Did they get to go home?
When it comes to Canada geese, I’ve heard it is especially tiring to be in front, so they take turns leading the flock. I am praying for a new leader in Gaza. I have a name in mind but I won’t mention it. He was a visiting professor I met years ago. I sensed he was a real man of peace and I’ve prayed for him ever since to be a gospel light in his part of the world. Please join me in praying for him as you pray for this region.
For the gospel and the homeless people of the world,
Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, October 11, 2023
At 11:30pm on Friday, October 6, Gaza-based Islamic terror group Hamas started firing the first of 5,000 rockets into Israel. At 1:15am Saturday October 7, Hamas announced the start of a military operation dubbed “Al-Aqsa Flood.” By 1:45am, Israel was returning fire; and at 3:34am, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel was at war. As the sun rose on Israel, some 1,000 Hamas terrorists invaded the “Gaza envelope” (populated area within seven kilometers of Gaza) by land, sea, and air.
By Monday, the death toll had risen to over 1,500 including some 900 Israelis, mostly civilians (including whole families, even infants) who were slaughtered in cold blood. A further 2,500 Israelis had been wounded and around 150 abducted—including small children and an elderly holocaust survivor.
On October 8, HizbAllah official Hashem Salhab delivered a speech in Lebanon where he claimed that “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” is just a maneuver in advance of a larger and multi-arena operation that will eliminate Israel, indicating that what we have seen is just the beginning.
Read the full story with links and analysis. It also addresses ways this war puts many vulnerable Christians in danger. Other news channels are full of developments related to this situation. Other news channels are full of developments related to this situation. Thanks for praying.
Source: Christian Today, September 20, 2023
An update from the Observatory of Religious Pluralism in Spain [reveals] some of the challenges and opportunities facing Christians in the traditionally Catholic country.
The latest release of data collected across a municipal level has revealed that while Catholicism continues to be the dominant Christian expression, with three-quarters of the places of worship recorded in the report belonging to that tradition, evangelical Christianity has continued to grow over the last two decades.
Of the almost 31,000 places of worship across the nation, the vast majority were either Catholic or evangelical, with 22,947 and 4,259 churches respectively, with Muslims following in third with 1,749.
The number of evangelical churches has shown a significant increase since 2011, when there were only 2,944.
The growth in the numbers of evangelical Christians has been driven by an influx of believers from Latin America, but a 2019 report from Evangelical Focus Europe pointed to their numbers being concentrated in urban centers, with only Madrid (420), Barcelona (220), and Valencia (112) having over 100 evangelical churches. This leaves over 90% of towns and villages across Spain without an evangelical place of worship.
For another snapshot of religious data, see More Singaporeans Are Choosing Christianity or No Religion at All.
Source: Mission Network News, October 4, 2023
A Muslim mosque, especially in volatile Pakistan, is the last place you’d expect to broadcast the Bible. Yet, nothing is impossible with God.
In an Afghan refugee village in northern Pakistan, the tribal chief’s son was known as a bit of a troublemaker. But eventually, this boy’s rebellious attitude softened. He began to show more respect and kindness and even stayed out of trouble.
When his father asked what changed, the boy told him about a Keys for Kids Storyteller he received and had been listening to. The Storyteller is a solar-powered mp3 player containing an audio Bible and Keys for Kids devotionals. The boy told his chieftain father that he believed in Jesus.
Greg Yoder, Executive Director of Keys for Kids Ministries shares, “The Muslim village chief said, ‘If this can change my son’s heart, we need to have more in this village.’ So I believe it was about 200 of them that were delivered into this Muslim village.”
Yoder says, “The village chief was just so amazed at what was happening within his village, he decided that… accompanying the Muslim call to prayer, they were going to play Keys for Kids in audio over these loudspeakers from the mosque itself.”
See also Christian Persecuted in Pakistan Has Life Changed by Bible (Global Christian Relief).
Source: Morning Star News, October 3, 2023
In Savannakhet Province’s Khampou village, Assaphone District, the village deputy village chief and local security officials on Sunday [October 1] disrupted the service and ordered church leader Sard Onmeunsee and 17 other Christians to stop worship, according to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).
“They were threatened with arrest and a huge fine if they did not follow the officials’ order to discontinue exercising their religious freedom or belief to worship,” HRWLRF said in a press statement.
On the supposition that the church members had angered spirits or gods by leaving them for Christianity, the officials also threatened to impose large fines on the Christians if other people in the village became ill or died. In addition, two Christians from a nearby village who had come to the service were threatened with automatic arrest if they rejoined the church for worship, according to HRWLRF.
After a family in the animist village became the first Christians there in 2019, about 180 Lao villagers accepted Christ over the next two years, HRWLRF stated.
“Thus began pressures and threats from the local government upon Christians, coercing them to give up their religious faith,” the group stated. “The local government subjected Christians to intimidation, threats, and coercion throughout 2022 and 2023, forcing them to abandon their Christian religion until today; only three families (15 Christian believers) from around 180 Christians remained in the Christian faith, led by Mrs. Sard Onmeunsee.”
The full story also reports on a family of seven whose house was destroyed and have been barred from returning to their village unless they give up their Christian faith.
It’s worth noting that times are tough for many in Laos. See “I Feel Hopeless,” Living in Laos on the Brink (BBC).