Headliners for the week of 15 December, 2017

US Embassy move in Israel: backlash targets overlooked group

Pixabay -- Jerusalem

Israel (MNN) -- It’s been just over a week since President Trump announced the US Embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem, recognizing the disputed city as Israel’s capital. Tom Doyle, a Middle East advisor with e3 Partners, says Palestinian Christians are suffering some of the worst backlash. "Oftentimes, because Palestinians do not feel like Christians jump in and want to deal a death blow to Israel, they are targeted and they suffer too. So our Palestinian workers that we worked with said, ‘Please, pray for us. This will not be easy.’" So how can we as Christians approach the issue with wisdom and compassion? "We say this at Uncharted: We love both sides. We believe that Israel has a right to exist, that God called them back, he predicted that in the Scriptures, and that legitimately they have been given back this land. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been horribly hard for Palestinians. Many Palestinian believers we work with actually had land that was lost when Israel became a nation. So we just say this: We want to love the Jews. We want to love the Palestinians. God’s heart is big enough to love them both."

Call to action

  • Pray for Christ's peace.
  • Pray for both Jews and Palestinians to be won over by the Gospel.

Christian families in Myanmar survive mob attack, extend grace to attackers

Myanmar/Burma

Myanmar (MNN) -- Myanmar is facing harsh international criticism for its persecution of the Muslim Rohingya people. But what’s less known is the fierce persecution that Christians also suffer in Myanmar. World Mission’s Greg Kelley explains, "The persecution that they face there is different. It’s in the form of Buddhism. It’s very aggressive and violent towards Christians." Kelley shares the story of a family in Myanmar who accepted Christ. The local Buddhist priest gathered a mob to surround this family in their house. The parents shielded their kids as the mob pelted the house with huge rocks all night. "When the sun came up and the villagers came, expecting to see nine corpses, they found people who were coming out of that home and they said, ‘We forgive you.’ And that supernatural gesture of forgiving people who tried to kill you the night before had four people receive Jesus." Pray strength for persecuted Christians in Myanmar to be supernatural witnesses in Jesus’ name.

Call to action

  • Pray strength for persecuted Christians in Myanmar to be bold witnesses for Christ.
  • Ask God to open the hearts of lost people in Myanmar to the truth of the Gospel.
  • Praise Him for protecting these two Christian families from attack and for giving them the courage to forgive and extend grace.

Gospel flourishes in unstable Somalia

pixabay, somalia flag

Somalia (MNN) -- Somalia is not exactly the friendliest place in the world. The nation struggles with governmental instability, inequality, poverty, and persecution. But Greg Kelley of World Mission says despite all that, people are coming to know Jesus. Even a former Muslim leader is telling others about Jesus as he passes out World Mission’s Treasure audio Bible. Because of his work, three new house churches have been planted, and 15 families are now Christians. But it comes at a cost: “One of the men was just recently exposed by the Muslim leaders. He was beaten so badly that he couldn’t even walk. His wife was beaten to the point of her face was totally swollen and she had a miscarriage.” Somalia is number two on the Open Doors World Watchlist where the persecution of Christians is the worst. Kelley says it’s important to learn the struggles these believers face, tell others, and continue to stand behind them in prayer. “So I think it’s important that we realize that although God is moving in places like he Somalis of Somalia and Kenya, it’s critical that we back here in the US take our part which is to pray for these precious believers, to recognize that the price they’re paying to be a follower of Jesus is very different than we experience, but also to understand they’re doing it with great joy.”

Call to action

  • Pray for the Somalian Church to stay strong and grow despite the challenges they face.
  • Ask God to give wisdom to the leaders of Somalia.

Jerusalem controversy and the impact on Christians

Pixabay -- Jerusalem

Israel (MNN) -- Last week when the Trump Administration officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, protests erupted around the world. Not surprisingly, the juncture of politics and religious beliefs, especially when it comes to one of the most notorious land disputes of our time, is the perfect environment for international debate to break out. While Open Doors USA is not caught up in the political arguments, they recognize the implications this could have on Christians around the world. David Curry of Open Doors says, “From Open Doors perspective, what we look at in the Middle East is where are Christians persecuted within that region? What are the issues, what are the tension points? How can we support persecuted Christians, to first survive, in many parts of the Middle East, and then thrive, hopefully, eventually, over time? And so, obviously, this is a thing that we’re going to be looking at over time as to whether or not it plays a part in increasing persecution of Christians in the Middle East, whether it draws attention to these issues in a different way.” Around the world, people hostile towards western culture will often target Christians because they view Christianity as a western religion. Pray that through the muddied waters of religion and politics that the Gospel would shine through and that Christians would stay strong in their witness.

Call to action

  • Ask God to embolden the Church worldwide to true Gospel witness.
  • Pray for Christians who might face retaliation due to difficult situations like this.

Open Doors presents UN with Hope for the Middle East

Middle East (MNN) -- Yesterday was Human Rights Day, marking nearly seventy years since the United Nations established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And today, Open Doors USA is drawing attention to an issue where human rights need to improve—in the lives of Christians in Iraq and Syria. They will present a petition to the UN Secretary-General in Washington D.C. today. David Curry of Open Doors explains:  What we’re really asking is that Christians have the same rights in civil society as everybody else, are part of the restoration and reconciliation within their countries—Iraq and Syria… And that they have a right to housing, you know, the basics of life and that they should not be discriminated upon in Iraq and Syria and the Middle East just because of their faith.” Syria and Iraq are at a crossroads as they begin to rebuild their war-torn communities. Either Christians will be valued members of society going forward, or not. The best way you can get involved right now? Pray: “The entire Body of Christ has been called to pray for and to reach out and care for people who are in prison for the name of Jesus…. And so, when we are advocating, caring for, speaking out for people who are followers of Jesus, we are doing what the Lord has asked us to do.”

Call to action

  • Ask God to raise the Church up to speak out for the oppressed.
  • Pray for encouragement for Christians and that they would be a bold witness to the Gospel with their neighbors.