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)

 

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Latest Situation regarding Papua New Guinea and Manus Island Refugee Situation

Today’s (3/2/2017) Sydney Morning Herald and other major newspapers inform us of the embarassing situation Australia is finding itself in, due to Trump’s unsurprising ?final response regarding the so-called resettlement deal with America, brokered by the Obama administration during his last days in office.

Much has been and will be said about this:

As Christian intercessors we urgently need to pray as follows:

You may have heard today’s news about refugees on Papua New Guinea and Manus Island’s latest letdown and terrible ongoing trauma. Even though Trump seems to have extracted himself from the previous deal by Obama with our government, the responsibility for these refugees is and always has been our own government’s and it is my very strong conviction that we have failed miserably to care for them in a responsible and humane way!

This latest letdown for them will no doubt cause severe additional suffering and trauma and possible suicide and self-harm attempts.

We need to cover them in earnest and heartfelt prayer and ask our Lord to change the Australian government’s heart towards them; from a heart of stone to a heart of compassion.

Also pray for the Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari who has escaped to Fiji from Manus Island Detention Centre to seek asylum in Fiji. His future seems very bleak indeed! I admire him for his initiative and why shouldn’t he seek protection elsewhere, if Australia has failed to provide such!

Thank you, on behalf of the most powerless ones on this planet!

 

 

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.…).

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.

NAURU DETENTION FOR CHILDREN UNACCEPTABLE SAY ANGLICAN CHURCH BISHOPS

Melbourne’s Anglican bishops have again urged the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Turnbull, to change the narrative on children in detention despite the High Court decision that there is no legal impediment to returning more than 250 asylum seekers to Nauru. In a published statement The Bishops claim “The fact that a legal determination has been made does not require the Government to act to return women and children to off-shore detention. No reasonable Australian wants to encourage people smugglers in any way, but it is simply morally unacceptable to leave children to languish in appalling conditions in off-shore detention centres. If the nation can agree on these two principles, surely it is not beyond us to find a solution.”

The Bishops statement went on, “The Anglican Church in Melbourne will continue to support asylum seekers and refugees with services and advocacy and spiritual help. The Church and its welfare agencies have long had considerable involvement in resettling refugees and helping them build a life in Australia. We applaud the motives of those Christian churches who intend to test the ancient common law notion of sanctuary, but our churches are not equipped to provide temporary accommodation. A better answer would be for Mr Turnbull to exercise compassion and moral principle and allow the asylum seekers to remain in Australia as the processes unfold.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, says Anglicans along with other Christians in Sydney are concerned by the prospect of 91 asylum seeker children being returned to Nauru following the High Court ruling, a situation which he said ‘should concern every Australian’. Australia is currently detaining around 80 children, at Wickham Point, and about 70 children on Nauru. The High Court’s ruling means that dozens of asylum-seeker families, including babies born in Australia, could be deported to Nauru. Dr Davies says the Human Rights Commission Report (2014) and the contemporary testimony of paediatricians indicate that the overwhelming majority of children suffer considerable trauma during detention. “There is no safe level of exposure when it concerns children in detention” Dr Davies said.

Dr Davies said he was mindful of the difficult decisions that the Immigration Department, under various governments, has had to make. “It is my sincere hope that the Immigration Minister and his Department can find a way to keep these children in Australia” the Archbishop said. “The Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney stands ready to offer help and facilities in whatever way we can.”

Source: Press Release from Anglican Church in Australia

Published in the Australian Prayer Network, 10 February 2016

A few thoughts regarding the turmoil in Europe

My heart goes out to the people in Europe at this time, especially the countries at the epicentre of the latest terrorist event in Paris.

I sense great turmoil in the minds and hearts of Europeans, especially so as at the same time they are being flooded by refugees seeking asylum. As it has been revealed that some terrorists have managed to slip in under the guise of asylum seekers; this creates enormous conflict in the minds and hearts of the host nations.

In the midst of all these fluctuating emotions and opinions, Christians in particular need to draw aside and hear from the Spirit of God who certainly is not silent regarding these events! He always has and continues to want to speak to His people (John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me).

Whenever Jesus, after His crucifixion and resurrection, appeared to His disciples His first words were always: “Peace be with you”, bringing that peace to those who would receive it. Without that peace first, we cannot possibly hear Him over the chatter of our anxious minds (John 20:19;  14:27) .

My heart also goes out to the refugees finding themselves in Europe, in search for hope and a better future. It is possible that the recent tide of goodwill amongst some of the host nations could turn, in view of the recent events. This would add stress upon stress for them; already depleted by existential anxieties and now new suspicions and possible closedness coming from some of their hosts, with some hostile sections gaining greater momentum.

In this scenario, I pray for my Christian brethren; in particular amongst refugees. The call to a walk of faith never ceases, despite circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”). The Eternal Unseen is of course the God which Christ revealed and His many promises of His ready help in times of need. Through steady faith, we receive His promises, just like Abraham and many others. Without faith, we cannot please Him (Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”).

May Christians continue to look to Him in these very difficult times, seek His peace, put their trust in His many promises and be strengthened in body, mind, heart and spirit!

Psalm 27:13-14 “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

Further Prayer Needed for Australian Refugee Situation

2 Chronicles 7:14

“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Folks, in light of the article below, which is just another sorry saga in the litany of cruelty, indifference and irresponsibility perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our midst (in our case refugees) by, sadly, our very own government representing US, its citizens, we need to continue to cry out to our Lord against such unrighteous behaviour, sanctioned by our governing authorities.

PRESS RELEASE 31 AUGUST 2015 by Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce:

Transfield awarded yet another 5 years to mismanage offshore detention centres.

Vice-Chair of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, Sister Brigid Arthur, said today “it’s inconceivable that despite the abuses which have been inflicted on helpless people on Nauru and Manus Island, that the operator of those facilities, Transfield Services, has been awarded another 5 years to inflict even more harm”.

As a regular visitor to mainland detention centres, Sister Brigid Arthur works with women and children who have experienced sexual assault on Nauru. She said that “this company was paid $1.2 billion by Australian taxpayers to manage these gulags on Manus Island and Nauru. Transfield AND their sub-contractors should have been punished by their poor performance, not rewarded!”

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Taskforce, said “now the spotlight will really be on those investors – superannuation funds, mums and dads – who hold shares in Transfield Services.”

She said that Transfield were awarded the contracts the first time around in an uncompetitive process, which the Government of the day justified due to the hasty decision to re-open Nauru and Manus Island and the political need to get them up and running ‘overnight’.

This time around, Coleman said “there was enough time to run the competitive process with full due diligence being applied to competing companies. We’ve had so many inquiries including the Government’s Moss Review, which document a plethora of poor management procedures in Transfield’s Nauru centre, and which have led to the systematic sexual abuse of women and children. Most of this abuse goes largely unprosecuted and unpunished. Surely some of these poor performance issues should have found their way into the judging and scoring for this new round of contracts?”

In evidence given to the Senate Inquiry into recent sexual abuse legislation on Nauru, many submitters talked about the way the toilet areas have become dangerous places where sexual assaults often occur. Coleman said that “the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce will be calling on the government, and Transfield Services, to introduce basic safeguards – such as functioning and safe toilet facilities – into the contracts before they are signed by both parties. Surely that’s the least we can expect from a billion dollar deal.”

Further comment available from:

Misha Coleman
Executive Officer, Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739

Sister Brigid Arthur
Vice Chair of the Australian Churches’ Refugee Taskforce, 0408 101 134

Copyright © 2015 Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, All rights reserved. You are receiving this email because you joined up through Act for Peace or via the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce website.

Our mailing address is:

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
209 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy, Vic 3065
Australia

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Speaking at the Hubert Humphrey Building dedication in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 1977, former U.S. Vice President (1965-69) Hubert Humphrey spoke about the treatment of the weakest members of society as a reflection of a government: “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

From The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When by Ralph Keyes, St. Martin’s Griffin (2006

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Let your heart choose what prayers to send up to our Heavenly Father. We have the confidence that if we pray according to His will, He hears us and will intervene, where man and governing authorities have built strongholds of untouchability, where they perpetrate their unrighteous decision making. God CAN AND WILL smash those walls and shine His light of truth on them and bring a change for righteousness to our Nation.

Do we care enough to cry out to Him, with our whole hearts and continue to do so until the tide turns?

He may ask us to take some further action. Let’s obey Him in all things.

May you sense His pleasure as you seek Him!