NEWS AND PRAYER BRIEFS

SIERRA  LEONE  RELEASES LAST  EBOLA  PATIENT

     In August, for the first time since the Ebola outbreak began about fifteen months ago, there were no reports of new infections in Sierra Leone.  And on August 24th, the last known Ebola patient was released from a treatment center and the 42-day countdown started for the country to be considered Ebola-free.  This is tremendous progress, especially considering that at the height of the outbreak Sierra Leone was reporting over 500 new cases a week, with almost 4,000 deaths altogether in that country.

    While the progress is great news, there is still reason for caution as there were a few new infections being reported in the neighboring country of Guinea.  Also, there were still some people in Sierra Leone in quarantine being monitored in case they developed symptoms.  But overall, there is much cause for hope.  As a medical director stated on the day the last patient was released, “Today is a day of hope.  People hope this is the beginning of the end.  We have fought for so long.”

    Praise the Lord for the progress that has been made in the fight against Ebola, including the fact that Liberia has had no new cases since the end of July.  Pray that the good news will continue in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and that Guinea will also see the end of infections.  Pray also for His special help and provision for all who are suffering because of the loss of loved ones during the outbreak of this disease.  And please pray for survivors of Ebola who are facing lingering health problems.

 
PERSECUTION  IN UZBEKISTAN

    Uzbekistan in Central Asia is ranked 15th on the Open Doors World Watch List of nations where Christians face the most persecution.  “Persecution is classified as ‘severe’ in Uzbekistan, with Islamic extremism being one of the main sources of oppression.  According to Open Doors, believers are under constant scrutiny, and Muslim-background believers regularly face problems from their family, friends and community.”

    One such believer recently shared, “My father is a Muslim and a very well­respected person in our community.  When he found a Bible in my room and asked if I was a Christian, I had to choose between my family and Christ.  …My ­father cursed me, and he beat me severely because I had renounced Islam.  ...Thanks be to God that, during this difficult time, my brothers in Christ opened their homes to me.  I felt like Jesus was with me….”  Information by permission from Mission Network News, www.mnnonline.org.

    Pray for the Lord to strengthen believers in Uzbekistan and in other Muslim-dominated countries to stand firm in their faith as they face pressures and persecution.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to their families and to open their hearts to the Gospel message as well.
 

SYRIAN  REFUGEES

    The conditions in Syria from these last four years of civil war are devastating.  It is estimated that over 220,000 people have lost their lives during this time.  Added to the calamity is the terror brought on by the rise of jihadist militants from Islamic State. 

    The fighting and terror have also led to a refugee crisis as about 4 million people have fled the country.  In addition, 7.8 million people are internally displaced, and more than 450,000 Christians have lost their homes.

    Thankfully, in the midst of all of the hardship and suffering these refugees are facing, there are Christian organizations working to help bring hope and relief.  For example, a staff member of Christian Aid Ministries gives this report about a recent trip to Turkey, one of the countries to which the Syrian refugees have fled:

    “As soon as we arrived with a supply truck of food parcels, people began pouring out of tents and down dusty streets from other nearby camps.  The amount of parcels we brought seemed a pittance among the crowd that gathered.  Many faces were desperate as they begged for help.  One man came to us carrying a young child, perhaps one and a half years old.  The little one lay listlessly in his arms, the child’s skin shriveled and his body malnourished.  Another mother came with her twin daughters who were under a year old.  She needed milk to feed her babies.

    “…One little girl came up to me, chattering earnestly in Arabic.  From her motions I gathered she was begging for shoes for her bare feet.  She soon understood that I couldn’t respond in her language.  But I smiled at her and gently touched her hair.  She quickly warmed up and clung to my hand for the rest of our time at the camp.  I’m so thankful that the language of love is a universal one.”

    A representative from another ministry that meets needs by distributing food, water and blankets, and by building showers and by providing medical help, states, “Once we work through the physical, then we’re able to share about the love and grace of Jesus, and the forgiveness of Jesus, and most importantly, the hope and peace that only He can bring, especially in this situation when there’s no peace.”

    Although the needs are so overwhelming, we can offer thanks to the Lord for the ministries and organizations that are doing what they can to care for these refugees.  Pray for the Lord’s provision so that they can meet more and more of the physical needs.  Pray as well for His grace and power to be at work so that many of the refugees will come to know the love of Christ as His people minister to them.

    The refugees from Syria are mostly women and children.  Ask the Lord to make a way for them, and to provide them with comfort and the basic necessities of life.  “For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall” (Isa. 25:4).

 
CHRISTIAN  REFUGEES IN  NIGERIA

    According to a report by Open Doors, more than 12,500 Christians have been killed in religion-related violence in northern Nigeria since 2006, mostly at the hands of Boko Haram.  The violence related to this Islamic terrorist group has also displaced more than 500,000 Christians in northern Nigeria.

    Recently, representatives from Open Doors were able to travel to Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State in northeast Nigeria, and visit one of the camps where displaced people are living.  They offer the following report:

    “…The conditions in the camp are very hard for the almost 2,000 Christians who have found refuge.  They live in squalid circumstances.  When it is time to receive their daily rations, the people form long lines outside the camp kitchen.  ...There are days that the camp dwellers simply go without food.  Some of the Christians have been able to work on farms in the surrounding areas in exchange for food.

    “Once more it was the circumstances of the children that were hardest to observe.  Although children on the surface seem playful and happy, this crisis will leave a permanent mark on them.  And it is not clear what will become of children who have lost both their parents in the violence.”

    The report also includes these prayer requests:  “Please pray for peace in northern Nigeria.  Pray for the Lord to sustain His children and to provide for their needs.  Pray that the Boko Haram insurgency will come to an end soon and that people will be able to resume their normal lives.  Pray for wisdom for the church as it considers how to address the immense needs created by the violence.  Pray for wisdom and for God’s provision as church leaders consider how to help the many children who have been orphaned as a result of the violence.”  – www.opendoorsusa.org

 
PROTECTION  FOR THE  UNBORN

    “Sometimes, exposing the darkness is the only way to eradicate it.  As painful as it may be to hear facts uncovered during the Planned Parenthood scandal, it could be the first of many steps toward healing and freedom.”  (Mission Network News)

    Thank the Lord for the opportunity He is granting to the U.S. to awaken to the horror of abortion and related practices.  Pray that He will open many eyes and hearts in the U.S. (and other nations) during this time, and that He will turn us from such grievous sin and toward respect for the sanctity of all human life, including life in the womb.  Thank Him for all of the organizations and individuals that are striving to protect the rights of the unborn.  Ask for His favor to be upon all of their efforts. 

    “My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret…” (Psa. 139:15).

 
PRAY  FOR  ISRAEL

    At the time of this writing, Anne Graham Lotz has just issued “An Emergency Recall to Pray for Jerusalem.”  As part of this renewed call, she lists several reasons for concern regarding the near future of the Epicenter (Jerusalem and Israel), including the negative impact of the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran, the strained relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and the alarming rise of worldwide anti-Semitism.  She writes, “When war breaks out or missiles explode or terrorists attack…when Israelis are killed…how many families will be left to grieve with no hope?  …There is no hope for the Epicenter except Jesus.  Therefore, the purpose of our prayer is four-fold:

    For God to pour out His Spirit of grace and supplication on Jerusalem

    For God to open her eyes to recognize her Messiah…Yeshua…Jesus

    For God to break her heart for her sin and rejection of Him

    For God to save her spiritually and physically as she cries out to Him…and for Him to grant her permanent peace.”

     Please pray fervently for Israel, Jerusalem and the Jewish people (Psa. 122:6; Rom. 10:1).  To help you in your praying, see the prayer in the November 2014 Herald or an updated version at www.annegrahamlotz.org.