Tuesday, December 2, 2014

RLPB 289. Towards 2015: India, Nigeria and the UK

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 289 | Wed 03 Dec 2014

TOWARDS 2015: INDIA, NIGERIA and the UK
By Elizabeth Kendal

* INDIA: CATHEDRAL TORCHED IN NATIONAL CAPITAL

India's April-May elections saw Hindu nationalists win majority control of the federal parliament. With anti-Christian Hindutva ideology legitimised and entrenched, it was inevitable that persecution would escalate.
source
In the early hours of Monday 1 December fire-fighters were called to St Sebastian's Catholic Cathedral (built 2001) in Dilshad Garden in the Indian capital, New Delhi. It appears that kerosene was used to fuel the blaze which completely gutted the entire interior. [See NDTV news clip.] 'There has been absolute desecration,' lamented Fr Stanley Kozhichira, the media director of the Delhi archdiocese, 'it's like standing on a funeral pyre.' That evening some 3000 local people attended a candlelight vigil. Church leaders are pressing the government for compensation and an independent inquiry. Parish priest, Fr Anthony Francis, appealed for Indians to preserve the fabric of society. 'A level of intolerance is developing,' he said, 'and this is only getting worse.' Should the government fail to act against intolerance in the national capital, it will signal a green light to escalate violence everywhere.

PLEASE PRAY that our merciful and gracious Lord will move in the hearts of Indians so they will reject violence, demand justice, pursue peace and recognise truth. May the Lord preserve, revive, sanctify and build his Church in India. '... casting all your cares on him, because he cares for you.' (1 Peter 5:7 ESV) May the Lord intervene to turn back the battle.

* NIGERIA: FALLING APART

Boko Haram is escalating its attacks in an effort to expand its Caliphate across north-east Nigeria. The situation is not helped by divisions and corruption in the Nigerian military, with some soldiers aiding jihadists and others perpetrating war crimes. In fact the terror being perpetrated by the military and its civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) is so extreme that a coalition of nine civil society groups has filed a suit in a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order to compel the President to launch an investigation. Nigeria recently ended co-operation with the US after the US refused to provide attack helicopters, citing the military's horrendous human rights record. With Boko Haram spreading into Cameroon, a coalition force is being assembled comprised of 3500 soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Benin and Chad; it is expected to be operational within weeks. The situation is also not helped by oppositional political forces having sponsored and fuelled the destabilisation of Nigeria with the aim of discrediting President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the February 2015 elections. [See RLPB 279, September Update]. Furthermore, the OPEC oil-price war -- which is aimed primarily at forcing Russia to reverse its policy on Syria -- is hitting Nigeria hard, further elevating the risk of widespread unrest. With sectarian tensions soaring and the economy in meltdown, the 14 Feb 2015 presidential poll could be explosive.

PLEASE PRAY that our merciful and gracious Lord will protect and preserve the church in the north while reviving, sanctifying and energising the church in the south. May the Holy Spirit visit Nigeria in a powerful way, so that the Church will arise to turn back the battle. May God redeem all suffering so that what was meant for evil might turn out for good. May the Lord continue to build his Church in Nigeria, especially across the north where Muslims are turning to Christ in unprecedented numbers.  'In all these things [suffering and persecution] we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.' (From Romans 8:31-39 ESV)

* UNITED KINGDOM: DEFINING 'BRITISH VALUES'

In March 2014 a scandal broke in Birmingham, UK, when it was revealed that Islamic fundamentalists had conspired to take control of a number of public schools in the city through an operation called 'Trojan Horse'.  The aim was to work with Salafi (fundamentalist) parents to have Muslim governors installed who would then oust the non-Muslim staff and Islamise the curriculum. By the time the scandal broke, four head teachers had already been ousted. Birmingham Council has confessed that while it knew what was happening, it did not act for fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic. In response, the British government has formulated new guidelines for schools. But as Christians were quick to point out, the language is so ambiguous that the new rules could actually be used as a tool to enforce ideology and political correctness -- which is exactly what is happening.

According to the new rules which came into force on 29 September, British schools must 'actively promote the fundamental British values' of democracy, rule of law, liberty and tolerance. Schools must 'encourage respect for other people, paying particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010'.  Christian and Jewish schools that had previously been recognised for their academic excellence, even classified as 'outstanding', are now failing inspections and being downgraded and threatened with closure.  A number of MPs have spoken out against what they regard as 'state-enforced orthodoxy'. The Christian Institute is preparing a legal challenge, maintaining the new regulations are 'flawed and unlawful'. Should the court rule that cultural and moral relativism are integral to 'British values' it would be a watershed moment for the British Church. [Relativism rejects the concept of absolute truth.] The reality that Culture Change has left the Church as a counter-cultural force facing massive resistance would be finally official.

PLEASE PRAY that our merciful and gracious Lord will revive, energise and sanctify the British Church so that she will rise to turn back the battle. Pray for the Christian Institute's legal challenge -- may the Lord work everything for his good purpose. Pray for a Great Awakening in the UK.

I know not what may soon betide,
Or how my wants shall be supplied,
But Jesus knows, and will provide. (John Newton, 1725-1807)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS 
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TOWARDS 2015: INDIA, NIGERIA & THE UK

Three countries undergoing radical change as 2015 looms are India, Nigeria and the UK. Hindu nationalists now control India's federal parliament, allowing them to further entrench their anti-Christian Hindutva ideology. On 1 December St Sebastian's Catholic Cathedral in the national capital New Delhi was torched in an arson attack. Northern Nigerians are reeling as Islamic jihad escalates across the north-east. With sectarian tensions soaring, the economy is in meltdown and, with general elections scheduled for February 2015, Nigeria is ripe for implosion. British culture is increasingly anti-Christian with Christian schools in the firing line. A battle to define 'British values' has begun and could prove to be a watershed moment for the Church. Please pray for the Church in India, Nigeria and the UK. May the Lord be 'strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate' (from Isaiah 28:5-6 ESV).

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).