Wednesday, June 10, 2009

008. Concerning elections in Indonesia, India, Lebanon and Iran

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 008 | Wed 10 Jun 2009

VIGILANT INTERCESSION AND A PROVIDENT GOD
-- concerning elections in Indonesia, India, Lebanon and Iran.

So far this year we have prayed about three significant elections: Indonesia, where Islamists were poised to take the balance of power; India, where analysts predicted that the Hindu nationalists would come out in front; and Lebanon, where analysts and domestic opinion polls indicated that the Hezballah, leading its March 8 Alliance, would win the mandate it was seeking. In each of these elections, the results predicted would have seriously undermined religious liberty and risked the security of Christians. Therefore we prayed.

Whilst the Indonesian elections did give the Islamist coalition considerable influence in President Yudhoyono's ruling coalition, Yudhoyono surprised everyone in mid-May when he marginalised the Islamists by choosing Bank Indonesia governor Boediono to be his running-mate in the July presidential election. A struggle continues -- more on this at a later date. As noted in RLPB 005 (21 May 2009) India's Congress-led United Progressive Alliance collected a swath of swinging voters and romped home, even routing the Hindu nationalists in some of their former strongholds, particularly the prayer-soaked state of Orissa. God frustrated the ways of the wicked magnificently, providing India with another five-year window of opportunity to advance liberty and combat Hindutva. And in Lebanon, so many Christians (and Sunnis) deserted the Hezballah-led opposition out of fear of Hezballah that the scales tipped in favour of the more moderate March 14 Alliance. Now Hezballah cannot choose which ministries it will control or claim to have a mandate to rule Lebanon or fight Israel, which it has been claiming for some time. We must pause -- 'selah' -- to acknowledge God's provident hand and to thank him for his mercy. May the Lord alone be exalted!

LEBANON'S ELECTION RESULTS

Lebanon's surprising election result retains the status quo. Before the elections the Sunni-Druze-Christian March 14 Alliance, backed by the Arab states and America, held 70 of the parliament's 128 seats, while the Hezballah-led Shi'ite-Christian 'March 8' opposition backed by Iran and Syria held 58. Though opinion polls and analysis had placed the 'March 8' forces on a winning trajectory, the March 14 Alliance maintained its majority, holding 71 seats to the 'March 8' opposition's 57. Hezballah's ally, the predominantly-Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), failed to deliver Hezballah the mandate it was seeking. In some majority-Christian districts, FPM candidates only held their seats thanks to Shi'ite votes. Despite being the election's biggest loser, the FPM is still the largest Christian bloc in the parliament. Lebanon's Christians remain deeply divided.

The 'Unity Government' established under the 21 May 2008 Doha Declaration which was formulated after Hezballah's 7 March 2008 blitzkrieg takeover of Beirut, will doubtless continue. So too will the Doha Declaration's concession that Hezballah have the right to veto the democratically elected government's decisions as long as it has the support of one-third of the assembly, a foregone conclusion as the Hezballah-led opposition controls well over that. Hezballah will continue to operate as a state within a state: monitoring Beirut airport, running a separate telecommunications network, building up its weapons caches and fortification, and preaching 'resistance!' to free people in a sovereign state. In essence, little has changed domestically: Hezballah will continue to dictate the terms, for while it might not have a mandate, it will have the right of veto and the strongest fighting force in the state. Furthermore, it will still have the support of Iran, the ascendant power in the region.

Once a cosmopolitan majority-Christian state, Lebanon's trajectory is clear. The election result has not changed that -- it has only applied the brakes. What Lebanon needs is for the direction to be reversed. So we pray for Lebanon, that Christianity will be revived, but not through a return of the Christian diaspora. Rather may the Lebanese Church -- particularly in Lebanon -- experience profound spiritual renewal and revival, leading to the conversion of many Lebanese and regional Muslims. For peace is essentially a fruit of a spiritually transformed people. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY:

* thanking God for his mercy and restraint, for while he is warning (roaring like a lion -- Amos 3:4a,8a) he is giving nations more time to repent, and so we pray for revival in the Church leading to the drawing in of many peoples and transformation of society. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

* for God to bring the eyes of all Lebanese Christians to focus on Christ their Saviour, for he is central and key to their spiritual revival, their wisdom, unity, hope and witness.

'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.' (John 13:34,35 ESV)

* for IRAN, that our sovereign God will use the Friday 12 June presidential elections to further the cause of openness and liberty.

~~~~

SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PRAYING FOR LEBANON AFTER THE ELECTIONS

Contrary to all opinion polls and analysis, the Hezballah-led 'March 8' opposition failed to gain a mandate. Enough Christians (and Sunnis) voted instead to deliver victory to the more moderate governing March 14 Alliance. Hezballah cannot now choose what ministries it will control in a 'Unity Government' or claim a mandate to rule Lebanon or fight Israel. However, it will still dictate terms as it controls the strongest fighting force in Lebanon and will doubtless retain its veto power over decisions of the government. Hezballah will also retain the support of Iran. While we thank God the brakes have been applied, we pray for a change in direction. Christians remain deeply divided. May the churches experience revival leading to unity and for this to lead many Muslims to Christ.