Eight Years of Hell in Syria and No End in Sight!

I know that most people’s reaction when seeing events in Syria, which is entering into its eighth’ year of war, is to switch off, literally by turning off the TV, or sound, or just mentally. On the other hand, we may gasp and gloat at the increasing horror of this war, when we thought that it couldn’t possibly get any worse! As Christians, we are asked to pray and continue to pray into this situation and also to give wisely and with discernment.

Last Monday’s (19.2.) Four Corners Programme http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/four-corners/NC1803H003S00… showed the present situation in Raqqa, after the horrendous American bombing raids to successfully expel ISIS, at devastating cost to the civilian population! It featured a young Australian who is trying to help the Kurdish contingent to remove booby traps, left by ISIS in such places as inside toys, under mattresses and under gravel, where people walk. These diabolical traps continue to kill and maim both civilians and soldiers, but these brave souls continue their work at the cost of their own lives. The Syrian government, aided by the Russian lucrative weapons of war machinery, and by sinister Iran, considers them rebels and terrorists and is bombing them in Eastern Ghouta!

The UN seems to have lost its original vision and is sending BILLIONS to the Assad regime, for so-called aid, which is used in dubious ways https://www.theguardian.com/…/un-pays-tens-of-millions-to-a… The world has truly gone mad! Pray therefore like madmen! And give like lunatics! I will! I promise!

Scale of attacks preventing recovery of bodies as medics struggle to treat injured
THEGUARDIAN.COM

 

Modern Day Slavery – Thoughts and Prayer

As I read in Exodus 21, about God’s directions to the Israelites regarding slaves, I realize that it wasn’t and isn’t God who instituted slavery but rather, it is a fruit of the kingdom of darkness. This fruit has plagued humanity for millenia and is particularly evil! As a matter of fact, despite the general abolition of slavery a century ago, this practice has continued covertly, unhindered!

My study into present human trafficking statistics, published on this website,  (https://worldwiderefugeeprayernetwork.com/2015/05/13/the-curse-of-people-smuggling-2/  reveals that it is at present one of the most lucrative trades in the world! I quote from my study, for those who want the facts, without having to look up the whole report (very worthwhile reading!):

“The value of the black market in human smuggling was estimated to be worth $35 Billion a year (conservative estimate, my comment), according to the IOM.”
Source: “It’s Time to Take Action and Save Lives of Migrants Caught in Crisis,” International Organization for Migration, Press Release, December 17, 2013.

My additionSome comparisons; “Human trafficking creates approximately $150 billion in illegal revenue annually” Taken from ENDcrowd website. This compares favourably with  … “the arms trade has been approaching US$100 billion annually.
[Source: Solutions, “The Arms Trade Treaty: Building a Path to Disarmament”, 2013]”

On the other hand, Microsoft’s income in the US is said to have been 22.07 Billion US$ (Statistica Website) and 76.4 Billion (untaxed) US$ in foreign earnings (Reuters 2015, quoted in Wikipedia).

Although a while ago since publishing my article and since the publication of these figures, they certainly would not have decreased, on the contrary! With refugee figures  constantly increasing, there is a lucrative connection between people smuggling and people trafficking, and these vulnerable people often end up being trafficked, against their will!

PRAYER:

Jesus’ words in John 10:10 (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full…”) and John 8:36 (“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”) require to be prayed over this people group worldwide!

Let us pray for all those who have been forcefully enslaved; that they would come to know Jesus and that He would set them free! Amen.

ANGLICAN SYNOD PLEADS FOR AUSTRALIA TO TAKE 12,000 MORE REFUGEES

The Anglican Church of Australia has urged the Federal Government to take another 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq, especially Christians and other minorities. The church also asked the Government, as a matter of human decency, to resettle in Australia any refugees and asylum seekers still detained on Manus Island and Nauru, and urged the Government to partner with the churches in healing and resettling the refugees. At its triennial General Synod in Maroochydore, Queensland, late last year the church affirmed the life-saving consequences of the earlier allotment of 12,000 extra places, particularly for Christians and other minorities who had been targeted by Islamic State.

The synod has urged each of Australia’s 23 dioceses to give 0.7 per cent of gross income to projects supporting sustainable development goals, and asked the Government to give 0.7 per cent of gross national income to overseas development. It also asked the Government to increase diplomatic and humanitarian efforts for Rohingya Muslims. The synod voted to oppose assisted dying, urge the government to improve palliative care resources, and to encourage Anglicans to contact their MPs.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports
Published 23 January 2018

Reminder: What does GOD say about refugees?

Quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 10, verses 16 to 19: “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

You might be tempted to reply that this only applied to the Israelites, as it was spoken to them by God, through Moses, but may I remind you that God, as revealed in the Scriptures and through Jesus Christ “…is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) and “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

 

Brief overview of present – day Greece

Greece’s Economic & Political Climate:

The (Greek) economy has shrunk by a quarter in five years, and unemployment is about 25 percent.

The (EU) bailout money mainly goes toward paying off Greece’s international loans, rather than making its way into the economy. And the government still has a staggering debt load that it cannot begin to pay down unless a recovery takes hold.

The government will now need to continue putting in place deep economic overhauls required by the bailout deal Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras brokered in August (2015), as well as the unwinding of capital controls introduced after political upheaval prompted a run on Greek banks.

Greece’s relations with Europe are in a fragile state, and several of its leaders are showing impatience, unlikely to tolerate the foot-dragging of past administrations. Under the terms of the bailout, Greece must continue to pass deep-reaching overhauls, many of them measures that were supposed to have been passed years ago.

The New York Times, June 2016

 

The situation in Greece is extremely volatile! The economic crisis of the last several years is getting worse and worse without any real end in sight. Unemployment is on the rise and affecting every working age group. Incomes are decreasing; the cost of living is continuing to rise, as are taxes. All of this has created a situation that has left families devastated and unable to provide for themselves. Hope is diminishing day by day and people are continuing to respond thru protests and rioting!

The Gonzalez Gazette, Frank & Suzie Gonzalez, Athens

 

 Over the last 6 years, Greece has suffered an unprecedented exodus of young professionals, igniting the potential for a massive brain drain in the years to come. This phenomenon is due to high levels of unemployment among people under 25 years of age. Youth unemployment is now at 52%, down from 63% in 2013. High levels of youth emigration, coupled with unsustainable low levels of repopulation, could result in massive instability for future generations.

A recent study by the City of Athens Homeless Shelter (KYADA) found that 71% of all homeless population in the capital have been on the streets for 5 years or less. Of these, the great majority are Greek men aged 35-55. The latest figures reveal the destructive toll the economic crisis has taken on local individuals and families.

Pray for Greece Ministry

 

Greece’s (Muslim) Refugee Situation:  Greece is at the gateway of the Middle-East. There are some who have called it the doorstep of the 10/40 window. Due to its location and vast coastline, Greece has seen an unprecedented influx of clandestine Muslim immigrants from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle-East. These men, women and children have come here searching for a better life but have been met with great disappointment. As is typical in many situations like these; the situation has grown increasingly challenging for these refugees as they’ve been caught in the bureaucratic maze of the asylum process and face a significant degree of animosity toward them from the Greek people. However it has been amazing to see growing numbers of Greek believers and many local Protestant churches step in to help and represent the love of Christ to these suffering people.

The Gonzalez Gazette, Frank & Suzie Gonzalez, Athens

Insert: https://youtu.be/_PToQuxvZgM  (Al Jazeera’s report on Syrian refugees in Europe, Oct. 2015)

 

Greece’s Spiritual Climate:

Although Greece was the first nation in Europe to receive the gospel (Acts 16-18) it has become one of the most unreached countries in the world. Out of a population of 11 million, there are less than .02% who are born-again disciples of Jesus Christ. By law it is technically illegal to “proselytize” or share the gospel with non-believers. In Athens alone, the city we minister in, there are nearly 6 million people, but only about 50 evangelical/protestant churches.

The Gonzalez Gazette, Frank & Suzie Gonzalez, Athens

 

Despite the fact that the European Union constitutionally guarantees the freedom of worship and religion, only a few historic mainline protestant and episcopal churches operate with a valid church license in Greece today. Non-Orthodox Christian churches face many roadblocks in order to legally exist. This situation also affects missionaries and other religious workers who face tremendous opposition when requesting visas. Prayer can be an effective tool in policy changing.

Church planting and growth in Greece has remained largely stagnant over the last 50 years. Optimistically, it is estimated that the average church attendance is between 15-30 people. The situation became exacerbated since the economic crisis began, which weakened many local communities and forced others to close their doors. However, it is also encouraging to see a fresh push for new church planting in Greece today.

Pray for Greece Ministry

 

Opportunities for the gospel: As hard as this climate is getting, it is our prayer that God would use it to create opportunities for the gospel and to open people’s hearts to Jesus. God has been doing a incredible work among the refugee population, especially those from Iran and Afghanistan. Many of them have had visions of Christ who appeared to them personally and told them about Himself. Many others have responded to the gospel and embraced Christ as their Savior. Please pray for these open doors to increase!

The Need for Workers & Churches: In light of all that is happening we ask you to pray that God would send laborers out into His harvest field. We also ask you to pray that God would establish healthy churches where those being saved in this nation, regardless of their origins, will find a spiritual home. Finally we ask that you pray for God to strengthen the churches that are already here, give wisdom, vision and grace to the pastors and leaders, and that He would stir up the believers to reach out to the nation around them and to the foreigners being brought to their shores.

The Gonzalez Gazette, Frank & Suzie Gonzalez, Athens

 

 

Prayer for Greece

(Compiled from prayer requests by previously mentioned Christian ministries,

including Prayercast, a Ministry by OneWay)

 

Economy/Political Situation

 *Pray for economic stability and patience throughout the country and God’s peace to overcome anger.

*Pray for the political leaders of Greece: President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipris.

*Pray for the financial meltdown to drive people to Jesus for lasting peace and security

*Pray for job creation and innovation in this time of crisis.

 

Spiritual Situation

*Pray for the Church to be purged of any heresy, syncretism, or division.

*Pray for the right of non-Orthodox Christian institutions to exist and work freely.

*Pray for the future of independent churches in Greece.

*Pray for breakthroughs in non-Orthodox/Orthodox relations.

*Pray for existing churches to be strengthened through this time of crises.

*Pray for local churches and workers throughout Greece.

*Pray for new leaders to arise (and for those requiring entry visas to be given such quickly – added by Pia).

*Pray for young people in Greece.

*Pray for a revival among young believers, building a strong church for many years to come.

*Pray for a clear presentation of the Gospel to reach a nation where very few have heard the Truth.

*Pray for believers to be provided for as they trust God in ministry.

*Pray for Operation Joshua; a collaborative effort led by Hellenic Ministries aiming to sow God’s Word into every home in Greece:

*Pray that God’s Word will take root throughout the land.

*Pray for lasting fruit that leads to further evangelism and discipleship.

*Pray for staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to facilitate this massive effort.

P.S. (added 18.8.16: sent following proclamation to claim, to our intercessors: Ezekiel 37:4-5 Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’5“Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.…).

The Upcoming Australian Election (can be applied to any election; anywhere!) – My thoughts

Let’s be those who prayerfully consider the present needs of our precious country of Australia and make the effort to carefully consider the responsibility before us to appoint worthy representatives in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Are they representing our struggling and often forgotten farmers, those most vulnerable in our society such as old people, the unborn and children, mothers and children fleeing from abusive partners, the mentally ill, those in the grip of addiction, refugees and their children, left without hope and ill treated, the sale of our land and houses for mere profit, to those who don’t care for our country or its people and are robbing young couples of what used to be and still should be the great Australian dream? I am sure, you can think of other, presently neglected but vital issues which need to be revived and protected.

The time is now to take responsibility; next week it will be too late!

I wanted to watch a movie last night; instead I felt compelled to do my homework and to plow through the confusing array of choices. Prayer helps in this process!

Ultimately it comes back to one issue: “Hallowed be your Name. Your will be done on earth (as it is in heaven)!” Amen.

God’s promises to refugees in Psalm 107

The Israelites, thousands of years ago, found themselves to be wandering in the wilderness, cut off from their previous lives, with only God’s help as their hope and God appointed leaders to help them.

Today, there are still millions of people in the same situation, many have never heard of the God who deeply cares for their plight. As in the psalm below, they need a revelation of the One True God, Yahweh; now revealed through Jesus Christ, the Saviour. This is one of the most important prayers to pray, on their behalf.

refugee camp

Psalm 107

1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
4Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
8Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
10Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
17Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
19Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
23Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.
33He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
37They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.
39Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.
41But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.
42The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.
43Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.