WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - October 16, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Turkish Invasion Kicks off with Bloodshed for US Allies and Christian Minority in Syria
The carnage has begun in northern Syria: More than 100 dead, including civilians. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), and Syriac Christians of Northeast Syria, have issued a desperate plea to President Donald Trump: to establish a no-fly zone over northeast Syria or expect a tremendous massacre. The Turkish Defense Military said its jets and artillery had struck 181 Kurdish targets so far. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that so far, 109 "terrorists" were killed in the offensive, a reference to the US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters. Tens of thousands of Christians live on the northern border of Syria near Turkey. Thousands have fled for their lives since the invasion began. Only a few years ago, this same scene unfolded when thousands were forced to flee on foot from the emerging Islamic State. CBN News interviewed Pastor Zani Bakr of the Church of the Brethren in Kobane on the Turkish/Syrian border earlier this year. He issued this plea just after his wife Chinar and their son fled for their lives."There is fear and panic among the people. Most of the people left. My family and the families of the believers left. The men only stayed in Kobani. We're waiting and praying to see what God would do till tomorrow morning. We're asking God for the nations to intervene, and for the UN Security Council to stop this war, and the displacement from Kobani and Tall Abyad and Ras el-Ein, in about six hundred kilometers of war and fire along the border," Bakr said. Kurdish authorities said Turkey bombed a prison in the city of Qamishli Wednesday night holding ISIS terrorists from more than 60 nationalities. The Kurds say the prison attack is "a clear attempt" to help the jihadists escape. read more
The United States imposed economic sanctions on Turkey after its onslaught of violence against the Kurds in Syria. All of this is in the wake of President Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Northern Syria. Vice President Pence is leading a delegation to the region to pursue a ceasefire and negotiate a settlement. According to Vice President Pence, President Trump has asked the President of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, for an immediate ceasefire in Syria. Pence said America’s economic sanctions on Turkey will continue “until they bring this violence to an end.” President Trump has also directed the U.S. to provide 50 million dollars in aid to help Christians and minority groups in Syria. Before the Syrian Civil War, there were roughly 250,000 Christians in the Kurdish Rojava region. However, since 2019, this number is now around 150,000 after five years of fighting and conflict between the Kurdish forces and the militants of the Islamic State. The Kurdish people in Syria now face a new enemy, Turkey and Islamic imperialism threatening minorities and Christians in the region. Matthew 5:10 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” While the Christians in the region experience all the evil of this earth because of their faith, we know that their reward in heaven will be great.
We must pray continually for our brothers and sisters in Syria as they endure extreme persecution (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray for God to strengthen them and protect them. Priscilla Shirer calls prayer the "portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth."
If you want to help rescue Christians out of this dangerous region, consider supporting the Nazarene Fund, an organization working in the Middle East and specifically in Syria to help rescue Christians and other persecuted religious and ethnic minorities.
Kentucky School Must Remove ‘Prayer Lockers’ After Group Says It’s Unconstitutional
An attorney representing a Kentucky public school board has convinced his district to remove "prayer lockers" with immediate effect following a complaint. The specific lockers in question were located at Pike Central High School had a sign emblazoned across them urging students to submit prayer requests. Facebook posts indicate that the Fellowship of Christian Athletes sponsored the initiative. “Do you have a prayer request?” reads the sign, which can be seen clearly in a photo posted to Facebook. “Write it on a piece of paper. Slip it into the locker. Our prayer team/FCA students would love to pray for you. All requests will remain anonymous.” Shortly after hearing news of the initiative and seeing the Facebook post themselves, the anti-religion group “Americans United for Separation of Church and State” lodged a complaint, arguing that the locker was “likely a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.” A complaint was also made to the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability. “It is pretty straightforward that public schools cannot display religious messages, and they can’t encourage their students to pray or engage in religious activity,” added the American United’s attorney, Ian Smith. read more
It’s been more than 50 years since the Supreme Court’s ruling to remove prayer from public schools, and many experts would argue our schools are not better off for it. In fact, U.S. Attorney General recently spoke at Notre Dame University and attributed the increased rates of mental illness and drug abuse to the decline of religion in the United States. Barr said “the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has coincided with immense suffering and misery, and yet the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.” Attorney Barr stated “the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor.” According to a Public Religion Research Institute Survey in 2016, 24 percent of Americans identify as having “no religion”, a number up from just 16 percent in 2011. If God is not welcomed in the public square, and student-led prayer efforts banned, then we should not be surprised when the next generations know nothing of God and embrace and champion a secular anti-biblical worldview. These stories should encourage us, not only to bring our faith to the voting booth to advance better policies and elect Godly leaders, but also to engage the next generation at church and in our communities. We must help train them up in truth and righteousness - found only through a relationship with Jesus Christ and in His Word.
Pray today for the next generation. Pray for God to give you opportunities with the young people He has placed in your life to help mentor, disciple, and speak the truth in love to them (Proverbs 22:6).
While public schools no longer lead prayer, students are still protected by the First Amendment to pray at school. The Alliance Defending Freedom has outlined students’ rights and what schools cannot do so that we can help our children and our grandchildren understand how to bring prayer and faith to school.
LeBron Under Fire After Blaming China Row on ‘Misinformed’ Rockets GM
Basketball superstar LeBron James was accused of turning a blind eye to Chinese repression on Tuesday after he criticized a Houston Rockets executive for angering China with a "misinformed" tweet supporting protesters in Hong Kong. James told reporters that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated" on Hong Kong and should have kept his mouth shut, as the outspoken Lakers forward waded into a charged debate that other high-profile NBA figures have shied away from. His remarks drew praise from Chinese social media users, who have savaged Morey for butting into the country's affairs, but the U.S reaction on Twitter was swift and harsh. Following his initial comments to reporters, James -- who has a lucrative lifetime endorsement deal with Nike, which does big business in China -- attempted to clarify his stance with a pair of subsequent tweets. "Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of (Morey's) tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that," he wrote. Hong Kong, the former British colony, now a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, has been rocked by months of demonstrations by citizens who accuse Beijing of chipping away at its freedoms. China, however, portrays the protesters as violent separatists and bristles at any foreign interference in the matter. James complained in his subsequent tweets on Tuesday that Morey's comments put the Lakers through a "difficult week" in China. Twitter users pounced, saying acidly that Hong Kong's demonstrators and China's Uighurs also were "having a difficult week". read more
It is easy for billionaire Lebron James to defend communist China when he enjoys maximum freedom and prosperity in the United States. But freedom isn’t free for millions across the globe. Many have to fight for their freedom and vigilantly protect it - something Lebron appears too privileged to understand. Some estimate that the NBA earns approximately $500 million in revenue from China annually. In July, China’s Tencent reached a five-year, $1.5 billion deal to remain the league’s exclusive digital partner in China. According to Sports Business Journal, NBA China (a separate business arm of the NBA) was valued at $5 billion. Many think the numbers should keep NBA silent, but others believe atrocities warrant a response. Reports indicate that Chinese authorities kidnap, torture, and drug dissenters of the ruling party. Approximately 2 million Uighur Muslims are in concentration camps. According to reports, there are approximately 180,000 mass protests each year, which is 20 times more than there were in the 1990s. In the Scriptures, taking a stand always comes at a cost. Zacchaeus lost money, Stephen lost his life, and Saul lost his standing. Every stand is not worth taking, but every cause is worth considering. (Acts 7, Phillippians 3, Luke 19).
Please continue to pray for those in Hong Kong fighting for their freedom against a communist regime seeking to take more and more of their liberties away. Pray for they would have wisdom for their movement and protection.
If China succeeds in Hong Kong, religious freedom could be the first right to disappear. Take a few minutes to read this informative article so that you know how to pray for Hong Kong during this critical time.
CA Gov. Signs Law Allowing Californians Living in U.S. Illegally to Serve on Government Boards
California lawmakers continued the state’s expansion of rights and protections this year for immigrants who enter the country illegally, with laws signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing them to serve on government boards and commissions and banning arrests for immigration violations in courthouses across the state. The efforts by Newsom and Democrats in the California Legislature to provide refuge to immigrants stand in sharp contrast to the policies of President Trump, who continues to push for a new wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and also crack down on asylum seekers. “Our state doesn’t succeed in spite of our diversity — our state succeeds because of it,” Newsom said in a written statement on Saturday after signing some of the bills into law. The legislation signed by Newsom also expands California’s college student loan program for so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, to include students seeking graduate degrees at the University of California and California State University schools. Undergraduate Dreamers already are eligible for those loans and in-state tuition. The new laws take effect on January 1, 2020. read more
The United States has welcomed more than 7.2 million immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens in the last decade. In 2018 alone, over 756,000 people were sworn in as United States citizens. Some of the general eligibility requirements include being “a person of good moral character,” having “knowledge of the U.S. government and history,” and most importantly, demonstrating “attachment to the principles of the Constitution.” Naturalized citizens study our form of government, understand the Constitution, and take an oath to protect and defend it. All critical requirements for immigrants who not only wish to be good citizens but, most importantly, for any immigrants who want to serve in government positions. By welcoming illegal immigrants to serve on government boards on Governor Gavin Newson is disrespecting American law and naturalized citizens who worked hard to earn their citizenship. This is not the only disappointing news coming out of California recently. Governor Newsom also signed into law SB 24, the College Student Right to Access Act, which requires all California public colleges and universities to offer medicated abortions. It’s clear California needs our prayers, and Christians must continue to be involved and encourage others to stand up and take action.
Pray for Christians to wake up to the importance of getting involved in the political process. Spend some time today in prayer for the believers at your church - pray they would come to realize the incredible opportunity we have to bring the solutions of our faith into the voting booth (Galatians 6:10).
My Faith Votes Voting Assistance Center has launched! With over 80,000 elections taking place across the nation this year, it’s critical that we are ready to vote and help equip others. The Voting Assistance Center will help you find out what’s on your ballot, understand the party platforms, locate your polling place, and so much more. Please check it out and share it with other Christians to ensure they don’t miss their opportunity to vote.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.