Bomb Hits Church in Cairo
On Sunday a suicide bombing took place in a chapel attached to St. Mark’s Cathedral, a Coptic Christian church in Cairo, during a morning mass. At least 25 people were killed, and several more were wounded—including many women and children. No one has yet claimed responsibility, and fears have been raised that it was intended to destabilize Egypt. This is the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in years. Hundreds of Muslim and Coptic Christian protesters gathered at the cathedral to chant in solidarity against the attack.
This prayer comes from one of our CRWM missionaries in the Middle East:
Jesus, your humility, meekness, and self-sacrifice transformed the world. We pray that it will now enfold and fill our Christian brothers and sisters, especially those lowest socioeconomically and those who are least educated and most rural and marginalized—all of these are the ones who will be most inclined to retaliate to the recent event. We pray for the Holy Spirit and a heavenly wisdom to fill and direct the government, to convict the enemies of the cross, to bring justice, and to do sabotage against the plans of the evil one, that peace and hope may prevail.
Many Trapped in Aleppo as Ceasefire Unravels
Iran-backed militias are preventing civilians and opposition fighters from leaving besieged districts of eastern Aleppo, Syria, as Russia struggles to convince the Assad government and allied militants to abide by a ceasefire agreement. Bombing of the districts resumed this morning despite the agreement brokered by Turkish intelligence and the Russian military on Tuesday, which would have offered a respite to tens of thousands of trapped civilians. It is said that evacuation plans are back on today, but it is unclear whether the deal will hold.
God, we lift our prayers again for relief in the desperate situation in Aleppo. We lament all the lives that have been lost, and we feel powerless to do anything but watch in horror. Empower us, Lord, to know how to help: to give generously to groups bringing aid, to speak boldly to those in power who can intervene, to extend welcome to those who have escaped.
Imprisoned American Pastor Charged in Turkey
Rev. Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina missionary to Turkey through the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, has been charged with membership in an armed terrorist organization and sent to prison in Turkey. Rev. Brunson has lived in Turkey since 1993, serving as a pastor of two Protestant congregations and working with refugees. When he was initially detained in October this year, his activities were considered to be “against national security” by the Turkish government. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is defending Rev. Brunson, believes that he is being held simply because of his Christian beliefs.
God, protect and defend Rev. Brunson, we pray. Give him strength and courage, give peace to his family, and move in the hearts of officials in Turkey so that he will be treated with justice and freed from captivity. We pray for all who are persecuted for their faith around the world.
Political Action and a Study on Abortion
This week both Oklahoma and Ohio saw changes in state abortion laws. On Tuesday, Ohio's governor signed a bill that calls for greater restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks, and Oklahoma's Supreme Court issued an opinion that strikes down a state law limiting access to abortion. As states are seeking to address the issue of abortion, President Obama issued a rule on Wednesday that prevents states from withholding federal funds from Planned Parenthood centers. Additionally, the journal JAMA Psychiatry published a study on Tuesday that asserts that the mental health of women is not adversely affected by having an abortion.
God of life, we confess that we live in a throwaway culture where consumerism demands more of our time than the worship of you, a culture where people's value is determined by their wantedness or usefulness rather than the fact that they are your imagebearers. Lord, cleanse us of our selfish motives. Remove from us our vain conceit. Empower us to love others, to seek their well-being, and to protect their lives whether they are born or unborn, that your name will receive praise.