PODCAST: Sri Lankan Pastor Forced to Shut Down Church After Threats (Whyte House Report 11.01.20)

This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to Christian Post, A Sri Lankan pastor has been forced to shut down his church and end his ministry work after being detained by police and threatened by Buddhist monks, the Barnabas Fund reports. The Barnabas Fund learned from local sources that the pastor shut down his ministry following five years of intimidation that culminated in him being ordered to a police station where he faced further threats not only to himself but against his parishioners. To protect his identity, The Christian Post will refer to the pastor in this article as “Daniel.” On Oct. 18, police arrived at Daniel’s house in Bakamuna, a town in Sri Lanka’s Polonnaruwa district, the Barnabas Fund reported. The police ordered him to immediately report to the police station. When he arrived, they took him to an office packed with saffron-robed Buddhist monks. The monks showed Daniel they had acquired a list of people who attended his church and demanded he close his ministry. Threats weren’t new to Daniel, the Barnabas Fund said. He had received many of them in the last five years, but this time was different. He felt he had no other choice but to close his ministry. Radical Buddhist monks often lead Christian persecution in Sri Lanka, the Barnabas Fund’s international CEO, Storm Hendrik, told The Christian Post. “The majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhist. In recent years, we’ve seen a steady increase in mobs orchestrated by Buddhist extremists, often led by Buddhist monks against Christian communities. These mobs especially target Christian converts from Buddhism,” he said. Christians in Sri Lanka have little human help against persecution, Hendrik said. Instead, they pray and trust in God. Christians around the world can help Daniel by praying and spreading the news about his plight.

According to Mission Network News, The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is today, Sunday, November 1st. Mission India wants to help believers prepare their hearts with a four-day devotional on Christian persecution in India. Mission India’s Erik Morsehead says IDOP is a good time for Christians in the West to look beyond ourselves. “I think with everything going on in our world right now — as we all look to our own communities and with elections and things coming up — it’s always good to take a minute and pause to see how others like us are being treated as Christians around the world. Christians in India only comprise about two percent of the population, and persecution has gotten worse. Last year was the first time India made the top 10 worst countries to be a believer on the World Watch List. “Over 60 percent of Christians in India experience some sort of direct persecution,” Morsehead says. “So it happens on a frequent basis, unfortunately, and we really want people to understand the impact that has on Christians in India and how God is moving amidst that level of persecution.” Along with their devotional, Mission India is also showcasing a new video to help you pray for Christians in India. When you sign up for Mission India’s devotional, you’ll get first access to the video as well. “This devotional not only would be a time to grow the relationship that one can have with Jesus as you go through it, but also serve as a way to communicate really what Christians in India experience on a daily basis as it relates to persecution for believing and following Jesus Christ.”

According to Assist News Service, Hunger relief efforts led by two Texas-based organizations are helping thousands of families in Texas struggling with COVID-19 hardships. Humanitarian agency Gospel for Asia — a faith-based organization headquartered in Wills Point, 50 miles east of Dallas – has rushed to help starving people on the other side of the world as the pandemic spreads. But after the coronavirus hit hard in its own backyard, GFA World jumped into action to help its Texas neighbors, too. The organization — partnering with Texas-based ministry Body of Life — is helping to feed hundreds of Texas families every month by distributing “Farmers to Families” fresh produce boxes. Every month, more than a thousand Farmers to Families boxes — supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — are being handed out to Texans in need at GFA World’s Wills Point campus. The organization’s Texas hunger response has caught the attention of local leaders. Mayrani Velazquez, a member of Terrell City Council, described the COVID-19 food relief as a “blessing,” adding: “We’re all grateful for GFA World’s willingness to host these events.” Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope program and local church-run efforts in Asia continue to release thousands from the jaws of hunger — children like Samsundar, an orphan, and Sunita, whose mother hasn’t been able to work for months. Aid packages — including rice, cooking oil, salt, and other essentials — have been a lifeline for nearly 200,000 people, including children.

According to Mission Network News, Christian Pakistani girls face serious danger. Not only are they a persecuted religious minority, but they are often targeted as forced child brides. JoAnn Doyle with 8thirty8, a Facebook group of Uncharted Ministries dedicated to prayer, shares one such case was recently brought to the attention of 8thirty8 by a local Christian in Pakistan. Thirteen-year-old Mehak endured kidnapping, forced conversion, and repeated rape by a man in his 40s or 50s. Soon she was pregnant. Yet miraculously, her family was able to rescue her and flee from Mehak’s new “husband”. The malnourished girl was facing a difficult pregnancy. Even with the help of her family and Christians in the area, she was struggling. However, when 8thirty8 received her prayer request, they were able to act. This was the first time 8thirty8 had acted on a prayer request financially. Doyle says, “God has answered our prayers so powerfully and so specifically. But we also felt like he was calling us to come alive and come alongside her family and help them financially.” 8thirty8 was able to help with medical bills and other needs. Now Mehak has a new baby girl. Despite the clear trauma Mehak has faced, Doyle sees God at work in her miraculous recovery by her family and even in her child being a girl. “Having a boy would have caused that man to want to take that child and raise that child as his own because boys are so valued in Islam and girls are not,” Doyle says. “But having a girl he’s going to be more willing to let that go and not want to be a part of her life. So again, seeing God’s grace over Mehak.” God provided in miraculous ways to rescue Mehak and deliver her baby safely. Still, Doyle asks for prayer. Mehak and her family need to find a new place to live where they can be safe and also live out their Christian faith. Mehak is still also in pain from the birth. It was especially difficult on her body since she was so young and small. Pray that she would heal quickly.

According to Mission Network News, Backed by a sizable matching grant, World Missionary Press is ramping up a new program to send Gospel materials to Brazil. Helen Williams with World Missionary Press says that recently a donor approached them and offered a matching grant of up to $110,000. After careful thought they decided to use the funds for all one project and send materials to Brazil. She says, “We will be launching a project called Blessings for Brazil, later in October, and then carrying it on for three months to raise matching funds to get three containers of material (primarily in Portuguese, and some in Spanish), for our major distributors to use throughout Brazil.” Four World Missionary Press distributors throughout Brazil will split three 40-foot containers filled with materials. These distributors reach people in every region of the country. The distributors are thrilled about the opportunity. Williams said one partner shared that the timing was perfect. “He was so excited. He said now is just the time; he said they’ve got a new government that is a little bit more conservative, that defends religion, and is not as difficult to work with as before, in the last 15 years. People have been encouraged to evangelize even more. He said there’s an even greater openness to the Gospel – more opportunities.”

According to the Christian Post, Pastors in China report that they’ve been forced to integrate President Xi Jinping’s words into the biblical account of Jesus feeding the five thousand as the Chinese Communist Party increasingly pressures church leaders to infuse their sermons with political ideology. According to the Italian-based magazine Bitter Winter, the CCP has continued to use the novel coronavirus pandemic to further control and politicize religions. In September, the Two Chinese Christian Councils of Quanzhou, a prefecture-level city in Fujian’s southeastern province, demanded all Three-Self churches integrate President Xi’s ideas on curbing food waste into their sermons, so that “the policy reaches everyone in society.” To implement the order, some pastors integrated the leader’s words into the biblical story about Jesus feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. In the spring, officials also ordered the pastor of a church in Shengzhou, a county-level city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, to preach to the congregation that Americans brought COVID-19 to China. A pastor from another Three-Self church in Shengzhou revealed that government officials increasingly supervise pastors’ sermons. This makes clergy members increasingly anxious, he said, as the CCP has threatened to close religious venues that refuse to comply with their demands.

According to Assist News Service, As the UK continues to be hit hard by the global Covid-19 pandemic Leading The Way and Neighbourhood Prayer Network joined forces for a national week of prayer October 11-17 calling for a return to Biblical Truth in the nation. The centrepiece was a video message to the UK church, specifically recorded by Dr Michael Youssef, President of Leading The Way. Speaking from Daniel Chapter 9, his timely and relevant message helped to guide people’s prayers. More than half a million people were reached in the week through social media and YouTube, which included special ‘in conversation’ programmes, speaking to different areas of society. Reflecting on the week Leading The Way UK Director Dr Alan Kerbey said: “Our partnership with Neighbourhood Prayer Network was a real meeting of hearts, minds and kingdom values. Carl Brettle concluded: “I’m grateful to everyone who contributed to the programme – including those who joined us for our daily zoom prayer meeting. We already have a date for Prayer Week in 2021. It is my prayer that the firm foundations of this Prayer Week will continue to bear much fruit and I look forward to working with Leading the Way UK in 2021.”

You can read these stories and more at Whytehousereport.com

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.

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