This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Mission Network News, A crisis like the Beirut blast can either divide or unite a community. Uncharted Ministries’ Tom Doyle says it’s bringing believers together throughout Lebanon. “Often, there are divisions within the Church in places like Lebanon and Syria,” he explains. “But, at a time like this, the Body of Christ comes together. That’s the way it needs to be; that’s the way it should be.” As rescue teams find bodies in the rubble and new information floods in, few people remain unaffected. “Initially, there’s just this massive shock, but Jesus calls the body of Christ to not sit back during this time,” Doyle says. In some cases, a unified response involves practical aid and support. In others, believers collectively turn to God for help. “Believers all through Lebanon and Syria are praying together,” Doyle says. They’re praying “that God would stop the madness, the terrorism, all the terrible things they’ve gone through.”
According to Christian Post, China’s state-approved churches that were forced to close due to COVID-19 are only permitted to reopen if they praise the Chinese Communist Party in sermons and extol President Xi Jinping, according to a new report. Religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter reports that the Religious Affairs Bureau of Zhengzhou, the capital of the province of Henan, released in mid-June a list of 42 prerequisites for churches that sought to reopen. Among the requirements, churches were ordered to “intensify patriotic education” and “study China’s religious policies,” Bitter Winter reported. Additionally, churches were ordered to promote the “four requirements,” a nationwide campaign launched in 2018 to promote the “sinicization” of religion. The campaign involves requiring religious communities to ritually raise the national flag; promoting the Chinese Constitution and laws, core socialist values, and “China’s excellent traditional culture.” “Instead of a normal sermon, the preacher talked about the patriotism of medical workers during the epidemic, and their sacrifice to the state,” a member of a Three-Self church told Bitter Winter. “These things are important, but political things were discussed for half of the time. Many believers complained afterward.” Churches that refused to comply with the CCP’s demands were not permitted to reopen. In Henan, one church was not allowed to reopen because officials didn’t approve the pastor’s sermons.
According to Mission Network News, Record-setting summer heat and government incompetence are taking a toll on Iraq. Two people were killed by security forces in Baghdad last week while protesting power cuts. “What I’m hearing from people on the ground is frustration and disappointment with the situation in the country,” Jane* from the prayer ministry Cry Out says. “The instability that has always been part of Iraq is continuing, and, although there are glimpses of hope, there’s still the underlying concern [and] stress.” Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced compensation for the families of protestors killed by security forces. Yet, trouble remains. Falling oil prices and the pandemic have made Iraq’s economic crisis even worse. No money means no electricity, which means no relief from the sweltering desert heat. And yet, Jane says, hope remains. “Amid the heaviness of the situation and so many people overwhelmed by despair, there’s also this golden opportunity. Hearts are opening up to receive the Gospel, to receive the truth of who Jesus is.”
According to Charisma News, Giving birth to a new era of justice first envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one goal of an international racial equality and justice movement that begins this weekend in 200 cities across the United States and 11 nations. For two hours on Saturday, Martin Luther King boulevards, streets and monuments around the world will become altars of prayer, repentance, praise, worship, outreach and proclamation hosted by believers from across denominational and ethnic backgrounds. Called “Pray on MLK,” the historic event will unite believers in a global, socially distanced, human prayer chain against racism and injustice from 6:01 to 8:01 p.m. It is a project of Civil Righteousness, a Ferguson, Missouri-based nonprofit dedicated to racial reconciliation and restorative justice through spiritual, cultural and economic renewal. The organization’s president, Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, says Dr. King’s dream 50-plus years ago is a rallying cry for the church to move out to troubled streets with the hope that’s rooted in the Bible. “I believe that we are in one of the most important and critical moments in the modern era due to—not only the global pandemic—but also because of the disease that’s been epidemic since the beginning of time: the sinfulness of man, which causes humanity to be inhumane to and violate one another,” says Thomas. An African American living in a city that’s experienced its share of justified anger and division over poor race relations, Thomas says the Lord is bringing correction first to the church because judgment begins there. From the church, the Lord wants to use His people to demonstrate to the culture a love of justice and righteousness.
According to Mission Network News, Planning a new project during a pandemic is difficult work. Unforeseen complications, ever-shifting restrictions, and the danger of the virus itself all make event-organizing incredibly challenging. And yet Bibles For The World has been working on a new initiative for some time now. They’re focusing on Vietnam, a country with high persecution rates and very few Christians. In fact, Vietnam lands 21st on Open Doors’ World Watch List, a ranking of countries with the highest persecution rates. For years, Vietnam has been on the radar for Bibles For The World’s John Pudaite. Until now, they’ve simply been biding their time. Admittedly, COVID-19 has made things more difficult. Distribution could be hindered by safety concerns, increased restrictions, or travel guidelines. “The whole shroud of COVID-19 hands over the entire world continuously,” Pudaite says, and that includes Vietnam. Recent spikes in cases don’t do much to dissuade concern. Still, this project could mark a dramatic change for Vietnam. It could see locals finding hope during a crisis, peace in a country still wounded by war, and freedom for people unfamiliar with the concept. God’s Word could be exactly what Vietnam needs.
According to Assist News Service, Samaritan’s Purse DC-8 aircraft left Greensboro, North Carolina, on Friday for Beirut, Lebanon, with a 14-member Disaster Assistance Response Team and 26 tons of desperately needed relief supplies. The cargo includes thousands of hygiene kits, solar lights, and hundreds of rolls of heavy-duty tarp material to make emergency repairs to homes and churches. Beirut’s citizens are still reeling after a terrible explosion rocked their city on Tuesday evening. The catastrophe killed more than 100 people, injured thousands, and left 300,000 displaced. Working with a longtime church partner in the area, the charity will distribute relief supplies and evaluate how we can best serve those who are hurting. “It’s just devastating. It’s completely unfathomable. We’ve never had anything like this before even in the civil war [1975-1990] in Lebanon,” said our Beirut church partner. He asked that we pray for the Light of Christ to shine through his church members as they assist and for wisdom for those who are leading the effort on the ground.
According to Mission Network News, For kids, summer means camp, trips to the beach, and grabbing ice cream with friends. What it doesn’t usually mean is doing it all in facemasks – or in many cases, not doing it at all. But like it or not, that’s what 2020’s summer brought. Games, camps, and other summer activities have seen cancellation around the world. So as stir-crazy kids started to run out of things to do, Keys for Kids stepped up with the Summer of Fun. “We wanted to provide families with activities and things they could do at home with their own families or with a limited group of people: something to keep the summer still being fun for the kids, especially since they were home an extra couple of months, and still make this a good summer for them,” says Dylan Raayenbrink. The activities bring families together, give kids a list of things to do, and emphasize God’s roll in the world. And although the summer is coming to a close, it’s not too late to get involved. Admittedly, this program was only designed to be a temporary fix to 2020’s unique problems. However, that doesn’t mean concepts from this new program won’t carry over into future Keys for Kids projects. Whatever the means, the goal for Keys for Kids has always been the same; show kids and families how to live like a Christian in the world we’ve been given.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless you.