Call to prayer for America
In January 2014, God spoke to my heart yet again that he desires to bring a new Great Awakening for the United States. In upcoming weeks, I’ll post blogs about the first two Great Awakenings in the 1700s with evangelists Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and others that joined those historic moves of God.
But the challenge today, right now for American Christians, is … ‘Do we want to complain about America or pray for our nation?’
Some friends who are leading American Christians into meaningful prayer include:
- Evangelist James and Michelle Cruise, Repent America Now (the Harrisburg, PA initiative)
- Youth for Christ (YFC) National President, Dan Wolgemuth and YFC leaders from across the USA. are joining Bob Vander Plaats, The Family Leader (stylised The FAMiLY LEADER – no big ‘I’ emphasis) and Mike Huckabee who is leading the If 7:14 movement.
- While people are fasting and praying, God is sending evangelists out into the harvest fields, on fire for winning souls! Evangelists such as Reinhard Bonnke, Franklin and Will Graham, Greg Laurie and Anne Graham Lotz are preaching the gospel with holy zeal all over America.
- Anne Graham Lotz, Dr Billy Graham’s second daughter, started a prayer initiative for our nation earlier this month declaring that we are headed for a great new awakening.
Many believe harvest is coming but today, this very hour, right now, it is incredibly dark in America. Sin is abounding. What will we do? We will do what we must do – pray.
‘If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14, NASV) is a pertinent scripture for today in America – and in many other nations!
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British Christian NHS manager suspended for praying with Muslim colleague
Jeremy Reynalds, ASSIST’s Senior Correspondent, reports that a Christian occupational therapist has been disciplined for praying for a Muslim colleague, despite being encouraged by the colleague to talk about her faith.
A news release from the British based Christian Concern said that Victoria Wasteney (left), head of occupational therapy at the East London National Health Service (NHS) Trust, heard a newly qualified Muslim worker expressing concerns about her health. When Wasteney offered to pray with her, she agreed and replied, ‘OK.’
But in June 2013, the colleague raised a complaint against Wasteney, who was called before the Associate Director of Therapies the next day and suspended for nine months pending an investigation. Christian Concern said the colleague had never complained to her personally and had always initiated discussions about Wasteney’s faith.
‘I would have stopped praying immediately if I had thought I was distressing her in any way, but faith was openly discussed and encouraged and welcomed by the complainant,’ Wasteney said.
A disciplinary hearing ruled that Wasteney was ‘guilty’ of three offences: Praying for her colleague, inviting her to church charity events, and giving her a Christian book titled I Dared to call him Father, the story of a Muslim girl converting to Christianity. (Wasteney had given the complainant the book just before she was scheduled to go into hospital for treatment).
Christian Concern said the ruling against Wasteney was made despite the complainant not showing up for the disciplinary hearing, and one of the witnesses saying he was pressured into making statements against her.
‘I fear I may have been entrapped by a colleague who encouraged me to discuss my faith, who willingly agreed that I could pray for her and who even accepted an invitation to a church charity event,’ Christian Concern reported Wasteney said, adding that Christian groups wanting to meet have to work their requests around ‘managerial arrangements’ in the Trust whereas, joint staff and service-user Muslim fellowship meetings are always facilitated, regardless of any staffing issues.
‘There is undoubtedly a pattern of inequality of treatment of Christians and Muslims in the NHS. Regardless of allocated break times, Muslim staff can pray five times a day, which I am not objecting to, but Christians are often denied time off on Sundays or permission to take breaks during their lunchtime for prayer or religious worship,’ Wasteney said in the news release.
Christian Concern said Wasteney is bringing her appeal under the Equality Act 2010 for discrimination and harassment on grounds of religion or belief. She is supported in her appeal by the Christian Legal Centre.
Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said in the news release, ‘The NHS was founded and inspired by Christian principles and precepts. Such heritage meant that the NHS was a model of how to deliver health care across the world; a place of safety, care, freedom and flourishing. Sadly, this case, along with others, demonstrates that today’s climate in the NHS is increasingly dominated by a political correctness, and a lack of freedom to live out and manifest Christian belief.’
For more information visit www.christianconcern.com
Sudanese authorities demolish Church of Christ building while leaving mosque standing
Jeremy Reynalds also reports: Sudanese authorities demolished the Church of Christ in Thiba Al Hamyida, North Khartoum on June 30, after giving the church’s leaders 24 hours’ notice of the action. However, a mosque on the same plot of land was left standing.
According to a news release from British based human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), after their June 29 Sunday service was interrupted by the authorities, who announced the planned demolition, church leader Rev. Kwa Shamal appealed to the North Khartoum Commissioner.
CSW said he provided evidence that the Church of Christ was the legitimate owner of the land on which the church was built. Morning Star News reported that Abdel Aziz Omer, office director for the commissioner, told Shamal that the government had been planning to destroy the church since 2012 to make way for the construction of a hospital. Christians in Sudan have come under increasing pressure since the secession of South Sudan in January 2011. In April 2013, the government announced that new church licences would no longer be issued.
Since then the destruction of church buildings has continued unabated. Christians have also faced detention and interrogation by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), with several non-Sudanese Christians being deported at short notice.
CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in the news release, ‘It is deeply concerning that Christians in Sudan are experiencing increasing repression. The demolition of the Church of Christ, while a mosque in the same location was left untouched is … a blatant act of discrimination.’
He added that it ‘also appears to be part of a strategy aimed at restricting the rights of religious minorities incrementally, and in violation of the Sudan’s own constitution, which recognises the nation as “multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual and multireligious”.’ CSW said the organisation is calling on Sudanese authorities to return the land and rebuild the Church of Christ in Thiba Al Hamyida, or to compensate the church and provide a similar location for a new building.Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. For further information, visit www.csw.org.uk
50,000 Assyrians flee fighting in North Iraq
Dan Wooding, ASSIST Ministries founder, reports that fighting between ISIS and Kurdish forces in Qaraqosh has forced 50,000 Assyrians to leave the northern Iraq city.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency (www.aina.org), nearly all of the population of Qaraqosh has fled the city amid fighting between ISIS and Kurds.
‘Syrian Catholic Archbishop Mar Youhana Boutros Moshe attempted to negotiate with ISIS and the Kurds to convince them to leave the city, but the negotiations failed. ISIS and the Revolutionary Tribes (Sunnis) are set to storm the city,’ said the AINA story.
A source reporting from Qaraqosh told AINA the population has fled to Arbel, Dohuk, Alqosh, Tel Kepe, Telsqop and Ankawa. Monasteries and churches are filled with displaced Christian refugees from Baghdede.
‘There is an urgent need for food, water, medical aid and blankets,’ said AINA. ‘Kurdish forces and ISIS pounded each other with mortars. The Kurds have positioned themselves on the east side of Qaraqosh, ISIS and the ‘Revolutionary Tribes’ have stationed themselves on the west and south side, near the villages of Tawajna and Qurtaba-Arab and south of Balawat. ISIS had given the Kurdish forces an ultimatum to leave by 7 pm else face an attack.’
MAGHERAFELT, NORTHERN IRELAND
Ireland’s children leading parents to the Lord
Dan Wooding also reports that Catholic and Protestant schools throughout Ireland have joined in the search to know more about God through Spottea & Dottea Travels.
This new dynamic brand that is designed to hook readers into the mysteries of God, reveals a truth behind each biblical story, and has already received an opening to 155,000 children in Ireland.
Maurice Wylie, director of Maurice Wylie Media, shares how it started: ‘Over twenty years, I have had several visions and one of those was a vision regarding Ireland, which revealed that the move of God would take place from a valley in the south of Ireland (I live in Northern Ireland).’
Enthusiastically he added, ‘About three years ago, I was asked to minister at a conference at the bottom of Ireland and, during that time, I shared the vision. A lady at that conference shared that same vision, and months later, introduced me to Melanie O’Sullivan, a Christian who had a desire to write a children’s book and happens to live in a valley in Southern Ireland. When she presented me with the script, God brought the vision back to me and placed the ideas. Out of that was born, Spottea & Dottea Travels!’
This new series has been designed for those years of understanding and, according to the feedback that Maurice Wylie Media is receiving, children and adults alike love it. Each book has 48 full colour pages and carries mystery, intrigue, humour, real life issues, Bible based story, different personalities, follow-up questions, seek and find, life lessons and a prayer.
Here’s what ‘the experts’ say:
- Sophie, age 6: ‘I love Spottea and Dottea! They taught me that everybody is different but that we all need someone to care for.’
- Mother of Sophie: ‘I enjoyed reading the book to my children. My 6-year-old was able to read along too. She was really interested in the story. We’ll definitely get the series.’
- Keira, age 7: ‘That was fantastic! I learnt that Adam named all the animals, I didn’t know that.
- Aidan, age 11: ‘This story is very well described. You learn a lot from it and it is funny too. I learned that we should be obedient.’
- Aisling, age 7: ‘It explains everything so well. I love Spottea and Dottea. I can’t wait to read the next one!’
- Mother of Aisling, ‘A great book; so child friendly. I love the life lessons they learn from it and hope you do a series! It was very interesting reading and should be in all the schools so that children hear the truth early on. Thank you for writing it.’
- Rachel age 11: ‘I think the Spottea and Dottea book is a good way of telling children about the Bible in a fun way. When I was reading it I thought of how it relates to the Bible, it is adventurous, creative, artistic, and funny. I found it intriguing I would recommend it.’
- A businessman: ‘My son made me read the book to him twice and then insisted on taking it on his school trip with him today!’
When I asked Maurice Wylie (left) how people can help with this God-given vision, he replied, ‘When God opens a door, it is our responsibility to go through it with everything we can muster so we can reach as many as possible for what could be a limited time. Because of that, it is our desire to have individuals, businesses, and churches to partner with us in placing the first book into every school throughout Ireland for free.’
He added, ‘We ask for people who have ears to hear what God is doing, and to join with us and help raise monthly sponsorship allowing us to run through this massive door to reach hundreds of thousands of kids. Whether you’re an individual, church or business we would love to hear from you.’
Louis Zamperini, Olympian and Unbroken war survivor, with the Lord at 97
Dan Wooding writes: I have interviewed some extraordinary people in my more than 45 years as a journalist, but some time back I was able to meet with one of the most inspiring men I have ever met – Louis Zamperini – a true living legend who, passed away July 2 at the age of 97 after a battle with pneumonia.
Zamperini, an Olympic runner whose remarkable story of survival as a prisoner of war in World War II gained new attention in 2010 with the publication of Unbroken – A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, a best-selling biography by Laura Hillenbrand, and which is being turned into a major motion picture by Angelina Jolie (Pictured right with Louis Zamperini), was a truly extraordinary man.
The movie is an adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s book and directed by Jolie, who called Zamperini’s death ‘a loss impossible to describe’ adding, ‘We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him.’
When I arrived at his picturesque home, Louis was sitting at a desk with a marvellous view of downtown Los Angeles, wearing a red University of Southern California (USC) cap, and was busy signing scores of books for his many fans from around the world.
As I began my interview for my Front Page Radio program on the KWVE Radio Network, Southern California (www.kwve.com) I learned that Zamperini, who despite his advanced age, remains active and full of life, lecturing to audiences around the world about how to deal with stress, the meaning of the Olympic movement and the freedom he has found through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
During the interview he told me that he was born in Olean, New York. The Zamperini family moved to Torrance, California in the 1920s, where he attended Torrance High School. The son of Italian immigrants, Louis spoke no English when his family moved to California, which made him a target for bullies. His father taught Louis how to box for self-defence. Pretty soon, according to Louis, he was ‘beating the tar out of every one of them… But I was so good at it that I started relishing the idea of getting even. I was sort of addicted to it.’
Before long he was picking fights ‘just to see if anyone could keep up with me.’ From juvenile thug, he progressed to ‘teenage hobo.’ Hopping a train to Mexico, he courted danger for the thrill of it.
Louis said that he had a ‘knack for getting into trouble,’ so his brother got him involved in the school track team. In 1934 Louis set a world interscholastic record in the mile, clocking in at 4 minutes and 21.2 seconds. The record would last for over twenty years, until broken by Dennis Hansen in 1959. That record helped Louis win a scholarship to the University of Southern California, and a place on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team.
In the Olympic trials in New York, Louis finished in a dead heat against world-record holder Don Lash, and qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Unfortunately, Louis ruined his chance at gaining the gold by gorging himself on the free food that was provided to the Olympic athletes during the trans-Atlantic cruise.
He shared a cabin with the great Jesse Owens who achieved international fame by winning four gold medals: one each in the 100 metres, the 200 metres, the long jump, and as part of the 4×100 metre relay team.
‘I was a Depression-era kid who had never even been to a drugstore for a sandwich,’ he said. ‘And all the food was free. I had not just one sweet roll, but about seven every morning, with bacon and eggs. My eyes were like saucers.’ By the end of the trip, he had gained 12 pounds.
As a consequence, Louis only finished eighth in the 5000 metre distance event at that Berlin Olympics, but his final lap was fast enough to catch the attention of Adolf Hitler, who insisted on a personal meeting. As Louis tells the story, Hitler shook his hand, and said simply, ‘The boy with the fast finish.’
I then asked Louis if he had been a Christian at that time, would he have witnessed to Hitler. He smiled and replied, ‘I would share about Jesus Christ with anyone.’
Two years later, in 1938, Zamperini set a national collegiate mile record which held for 15 years and his speed earned him the nickname of ‘The Torrance Tornado.’
Zamperini enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in September 1941, and after being commissioned a second lieutenant the following August, he was deployed to Hawaii as a B-24 bombardier. After flying a number of missions, his aircraft went down due to mechanical failure on May 27, 1943. After 47 days adrift in the ocean, Zamperini and the only other surviving crew member (pilot Russ Phillips) were rescued by the Japanese Navy.
Louis was held in captivity through the end of the war and his family thought he had been killed in action, but he eventually returned to a hero’s welcome. Zamperini was held in a Japanese Navy camp for captives not labelled as Prisoners of War at Ofuna. Major Greg ‘Pappy’ Boyington was held at the same camp and in Boyington’s book, Baa Baa Black Sheep he discussed Zamperini and the Italian recipes he would write to keep the prisoners minds off of the food and conditions.
Zamperini then spoke about how, after his return home, he would have horrific nightmares because of what had occurred in the prison camps and one night he awoke to find his hands around the neck of his wife. It was then that he realised he was in deep trouble.
His wife, he told me, went to Billy Graham’s historic 1949 Los Angeles Crusade and there she found the Lord. She then persuaded him to go along with her and he said that was very upset with having to attend, but eventually, he too made a personal commitment to Christ, and his whole life turned around in the right direction.
He said that he has since become close friends with Billy Graham (left) and said that it was Dr. Graham who helped him launch a new career as a Christian inspirational speaker. One of his favourite themes is ‘forgiveness,’ and he has visited many of the guards from his POW days to let them know that he has forgiven them. Many of the war criminals who committed the worst atrocities were held in the Sugamo prison in Tokyo.
In October 1950, Zamperini went to Japan and gave his testimony and preached through an interpreter (missionary Fred Jarvis). The colonel in charge of the prison encouraged any of the prisoners who recognised Zamperini to come forward and meet him again. Zamperini threw his arms around each of them. Once again he explained the Christian gospel of forgiveness to them.
The prisoners were somewhat surprised by Zamperini’s genuine affection for those who had once ill-treated him. Most of the prisoners accepted copies of the New Testament which had been given by The Gideons.
For his 81st birthday in January 1998, Zamperini ran a leg in the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. In March 2005 he returned to Germany to visit the Berlin Olympic Stadium for the first time since he competed there and met Adolf Hitler.
Although he won’t see Angelina Jolie’s movie about the life of this extraordinary man who, up until his death, remained unbroken, millions will be inspired by it. See Resources for book details.
Assyrian Christians demand protection
Mardean Issac, Special to ASSIST, writes: As a British-Assyrian writer, journalist, and researcher, I am the leader of the UK branch of a campaign to protect Assyrian Christians in their homelands of Iraq and Syria. If you wish to support us, please join our Facebook – www.facebook.com/DemandforAction. If you have any further questions, wish to promote our cause or get involved more deeply, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is an extract of an e-mail that was sent out by Assyrians in 12 different countries on Wednesday. It
outlines our demand for immediate action.
We are writing on behalf of our people, the Assyrian Christians, as well as their fellow minorities, who are
facing genocide in their homelands of Iraq and Syria.
Following the domestic invasion of Iraq and the occupation of northern Syria by Islamists, Assyrians – a people who also include Chaldean and Syriac Orthodox denominations – have become the victims of daily kidnappings, robberies, rapes, and murders. Assyrians are being violently targeted for their religion, and have absolutely no means of self-defence, let alone legal or political recourse.
In the days following the ISIS onslaught, thousands of Christians fled Mosul amid the forceful imposition of
Islamic law and the looting of homes and churches. An estimated 2,000 Christians remain in Mosul; prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, their number was around 130,000. These last two Sundays, for the first time in 1600 years, no church in Mosul held Mass. Many among those who have fled to the Nineveh Plains face a situation of great uncertainty and are in urgent need of aid.
The Assyrian town of Qaraqosh, located in the Nineveh Plains around 32 km from Mosul, was emptied of almost all of its inhabitants as ISIS assailed it on June 26. Around 40,000 people fled north, often with nothing but the clothes on their back. The migration was desperate and chaotic, and the destination entirely uncertain. Qaraqosh is currently in the midst of heavy fighting, and electricity and water have been cut, ruling out the possibility of return for the departed and leaving the few men who stayed to defend their houses and churches in a grave situation. The video reportage we have linked to below provides vivid footage of this pandemonium.
These recent events follow a broader pattern of terror unleashed against Iraqi Christians since the invasion. 73 churches have been attacked or bombed across Iraq. Dozens of priests have been kidnapped or murdered. Thousands of Assyrians have been the victims of violence, and regions and cities, including Baghdad, have been largely emptied of their indigenous Christian inhabitants.
A similarly grim fate is being forced on the Assyrians of Syria as large swathes of that country fall to Islamist
militants. More than half the Christians of Iraq have fled, and the same exodus is being repeated in Syria. For the first time in history, there are more Assyrians in diaspora than in their ancient homelands of Iraq and Syria.
We members of the Assyrian diaspora – tax-paying, law-abiding, productive citizens of our adopted countries – are being told hourly of unspeakable stories of terror and abuse taking place in the homes and communities of our friends and relatives. A small and dedicated group of writers has chronicled some of these stories. But the western media has long been silent regarding our plight, and mainstream coverage of this ongoing genocide has been scant. Political support has been even less forthcoming.
We represent a broad community of journalists, activists, and academics, all of whom are ready to provide all the knowledge, information and testimonies you require to mount a desperately needed case on our behalf. It is no longer possible for those who possess political influence to claim ignorance of the urgent crisis facing Assyrians. Enclosed below are links to some of the reports and articles on our plight, which illustrate the grave consequences of the international community’s inaction.
If we do not act immediately to protect and support the Assyrians of Iraq and Syria, they will be exterminated. And with their extermination, the legacy of one of the oldest indigenous peoples on the planet will disappear. This tragedy will never be lifted from the conscience of the world. We must act now.
Check – Christian City Under Siege: The Battle for Iraq – www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPRLb0XJIzY