Blue Flower

AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER

International News will not be published for the next two weeks, due to the Editorial Staff being in Armenia on an overseas ministry trip to assist the church in that country to establish a National Prayer Network, similar to our own here in Australia.  The next edition of the International News will be published on 5th October.

THIS WOMAN THOUGHT SHE'D SHOCK HER PASTOR BUT GOD HAD OTHER PLANS

"God has begun restoring me in every way. I had not played the piano for over 25 years and that has been restored to the point where I am on the praise and worship team at church. I am more joyous and free than I have ever been. I have a church full of people that I love and that love me. I am eternity-minded rather than focused on what society says is important and valuable. I am now walking in God's will. I am no longer afraid to live and no longer afraid to die. I am free at last and I owe it all to the Lord Almighty!" It wasn't always like this. I didn't always enjoy a life full of quality friends, days spent productively, and a real understanding of why I am on this earth. Just a few short years ago I stayed mostly in the house and isolated myself. I was afraid to live and afraid to die. Allow me to back up and fill you in as to what led to this amazing transformation in my life. 

I grew up with three brothers in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood. I was a high achiever and an active kid. However, my mother was an anxious woman and, in turn, I was an anxious child. I took solace in athletics and playing the piano, but an injury took athletics away from me when I was 14 and my piano playing fell away a few years later. In 1980, a month before I turned eighteen, my older brother was killed in a car accident. This event changed everything for me. I went from a stable person with goals and dreams to an angry, directionless, hopeless person. My family started growing apart immediately after the accident as we each dealt with the loss separately. This began many years of victim mentality thinking, which hindered me in a big way as it coloured all of my decisions going forward. 

It had become increasingly difficult for me to spend time at home because my mother was taking out all of her unhappiness and hurt on me. I had become her target for all that was lost in our family. I began to spend much of my time in bars. I drank to excess and I quickly became an alcoholic. I also met a woman who introduced me to lesbianism. I chose this lifestyle for 30 years or so until I became a Christian in 2014. Even though I was sober, I was aware that there was still a huge void in my life. I started living a more solitary existence and was full of fear. I had very little self-worth and was settling for crumbs from people in my life when I should have been expecting more but I thought this was the only path I could take. Being around homosexuals for so long, the idea was reinforced in me that I was only attracted to women and that same-sex attraction was a positive thing. 

It wasn't until I started attending church in early 2014, that I saw a different way of living and thinking. This was where my plan and God's plan collided. As I began attending week after week, I started to understand the Word of God, but I had it in my mind that lesbianism was going to be the deal breaker. I thought that if the church wasn't going to condone it that I would leave. I also thought that once everyone found out about me I would be asked to leave or I would feel unwelcome. Thankfully, I was wrong about all of this. I requested a meeting with the pastor where I told her everything and I was met with love and respect. I was also shown exactly what the Bible says about homosexuality and it was made clear to me that it was unacceptable and wrong. 

I came away from that meeting still feeling welcome and accepted in the church, but understanding that homosexuality is a sin like any other sin. I understood that the Word of God is more important than anything else, and He is the answer to all of my problems. It did not take very long before I was completely delivered from the homosexual lifestyle and I totally renounced it. God did for me what I had been unwilling or unable to do for myself. The rewards have been many. Today, I walk in God's light and endeavour to be Christ-like in all that I do. By not living for myself and living for God, a beautiful thing has happened. I can live courageously and fearlessly, keeping my eyes on Him and not on me.

Source: Charisma News

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ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND POPE FRANCIS SPEAK OUT ON REFUGEE CRISIS

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been reduced to tears by the refugee crisis unfolding across Europe. Most Revd Justin Welby had "tears running down his face” whilst listening to the plight of thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe. He said he has a "sense of deep frustration" and wondered "what more can we do?". "Our track record on the ground in the Middle East in the refugee camps has been extraordinary, second only to the United States," he said. "In the end though, it comes down to finding ways of getting people who would otherwise be dying into places of safety and security with a hope of a future." Archbishop Justin said he was "very pleased" and welcomed the news that Britain will take "thousands more" refugees from camps on the borders of Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron said he would set out details of the plans next week and that Britain had a "moral responsibility" to help refugees. 

Archbishop Justin said: "It's not just about money or numbers, it's about the reality of human beings. It is essential there is a European response, every nation in Europe has to bear the burden proportionally as much as they are able. We can't do what we can't do, but we must do what we can." Mr Cameron said: "We have already accepted around 5,000 Syrians, and we've introduced a specific resettlement scheme alongside those we already have to help those Syrian refugees particularly at risk. "As I said earlier this week, we will accept thousands more under these existing schemes, and we keep them under review. Given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of people I can announce that we will do more, providing resettlement for thousands more Syrian refugees.

"We will continue to take them from the refugee camps. This provides them with a more direct and safe route to the United Kingdom, rather than risking the hazardous journey which has tragically cost so many lives." The United Nations refugee agency has suggested the U.K. will take 4,000 more refugees from Syria - though there was no confirmation of this from Downing Street. "We obviously welcome the move to increase resettlement spaces for Syrians in the U.K. Those spaces are going to be critical to the lives and future of 4,000 people," said UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, adding that there was "momentum" for other countries to follow Britain's example. United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said "If the European Union wants to help genuine refugees, they need to establish offshore centres and process people correctly, rather than inviting what has now turned into a headlong rush."

Meanwhile the Pope has called for every European parish and religious community to take in one refugee family each, in a gesture of solidarity. Francis also announced two parishes in the Vatican will offer a home to a family of refugees in the coming days. The Pontiff's announcement was met with applause from the crowd gathered to hear his Sunday address at St. Peter's Square. It comes after many thousands of refugees and migrants arrived in Germany with many more expected to follow. Several Church of England bishops have already said they will offer refuge to asylum seekers arriving in Britain from Syria and Iraq. The Bishops in the Diocese of Chelmsford and the Church of England in Essex & East London are planning to offer accommodation to people fleeing conflict. The offer comes as more than 40 councils across Britain have also agreed to offer shelter to Syrian refugees.

Source: Premier News Service

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STUDENTS STAGE WALKOUT TO PROTEST TRANS CLASSMATE USING GIRL'S BATHROOM

A dispute over a transgender student's access to school restroom and locker facilities boiled over this week as hundreds of students walked out to protest her special treatment. Lila Perry, a boy who wants to be a girl, told her teachers and administrators at Hillsboro High School that she's no longer content using a unisex faculty bathroom for her senior year, and wants officials to grant her access to girl's restrooms and locker rooms. Concerned parents and taxpayers packed a school board meeting to voice their opposition to Perry's requests, with most citing the privacy rights of school's sexually normal female students. "The girls have rights, and they shouldn't have to share a bathroom with a boy," parent Tammy Sorden told the news site. Like many other Hillsboro parents, she doesn't believe Perry's gender identity should grant her special privileges "while the girls just have to suck it up."

So many students wanted to protest Perry's restroom request that school officials made special accommodations for excused absences through two school periods before asking students to return to class after about two hours. In total, about 150 students walked out in opposition, while about 30 to 40 did the same in support of Perry, who has reportedly identified as a female since age 13. Perry has since dropped out of her physical education class over the ordeal, but continues to use the girl's bathroom at the school. "I wasn't hurting anyone and I didn't want to feel segregated out. I didn't want to be in the general neutral bathroom. I am a girl, I shouldn't be pushed off to another bathroom," Perry said. "There's a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they're uncomfortable," she said of her female classmates. "I don't believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry."

Student Sophie Beel says she's uncomfortable with the situation, and doesn't consider Perry truly transgender. "I find it offensive because Lila has not gone through any procedure to become female, putting on a dress and putting on a wig is not transgender to me," she said. Parents and other relatives of girls attending Hillsboro have also protested against Perry's use of female school facilities, carrying signs that read "Girl's Rights Matter." "Boys need to have their own locker room. Girls need to have their own locker room and if somebody has mixed feelings where they are, they need to have their own too," adult protester Jeff Childs said. "I'm not comfortable with it," Britney Heimos, a 2008 Hillsboro graduate who was at the school to pick up her brother, said. "There is nothing wrong with being different. But when you are different, there are sacrifices."  

Kelli Hopkins, spokeswoman for the Missouri School Boards' Association, said the federal government requires schools to tolerate transgendered students, and to allow them to use whatever facilities they choose. Restricting their access in any way could result in a loss of federal funding, she said. "The Office of Civil Rights has issued an opinion that says, if you do this, you have engaged in gender discrimination," Hopkins said. "At the same time, there is no case law or statute in Missouri that says this is against the law." The complicated situation is one Hopkins said she's had to explain to an increasing number of school administrators in recent years as more students identify as transgender. "I got no calls on this five years ago," Hopkins said. "I've gotten at least half a dozen recently."

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch

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CHRISTIAN CLERK JAILED IN AMERICA. FOR REFUSING TO GIVE MARRIAGE LICENCES

A Christian Clerk in the United States (U.S.), has been jailed after refusing to issue marriage licences to couples of the same gender. Following the Supreme Court decision in June allowing same-sex marriage across the U.S., Kim Davis has been refusing to issues the licenses, saying it was under "God's authority". The 49-year-old Christian was found in contempt by Judge David L. Bunning. She has argued that she should not be made to carry out duties that go against her religious beliefs. The judge told her that the court "cannot condone the wilful disobedience of its lawfully issued order."  He said: "If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems." Kim Davis, who has been divorced three times before becoming a Christian, was elected to her position so effectively cannot be fired, she will therefore remain in jail until she agrees to issue licences to same-sex couples. 

Speaking in court she said she believed that "marriage is between one man and one woman." She added that she "didn't have to think about" her decision, saying "there was no choice there." Judge Bunning called her excuse "insufficient", stressing she was not unable to issue the licences, she was just choosing not to. Following the verdict, Josh Earnest, the White House Press Secretary, said: "Every public official is subject to the rule of law. No one is above the law. That applies to the president of the United States and it applies to the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky." But Rand Paul, a potential nominee for the Republican presidential candidacy, told CNN it was "absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberties." 

Christian author Michael Brown said “There is a healthy debate taking place among both believers and non-believers concerning the rightness of Kim Davis's actions. Should she simply have resigned if, in good conscience, she could not issue those certificates? Does she have any legal, moral, or constitutional ground on which to stand? That is a legitimate debate, and it is one that is sure to continue. But what cannot be debated is that the national outrage against Kim Davis has nothing to do with her refusing to obey the law and everything to do with her Christian beliefs. Davis is standing for marriage as God intended it and, more fundamentally, is refusing to violate her conscience as a Christian – and that, not the breaking the law, is the issue at hand. Make no mistake about it. Following Jesus in America today will be increasing costly until God's people awaken and stand. The arrest of Kim Davis has made that clear.

Source: Premier News Service

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TOO MANY MUSLIMS COMING TO ERUROPE SAYS FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY GEORGE CAREY

The former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey says there's "too much Muslim mass immigration" to Europe. Lord Carey has said oil-rich Gulf States should be "doing more" to help stem the flow of refugees and migrants from the Middle East. The former Archbishop has also called for British military involvement against Islamic State in Syria, as David Cameron hopes to persuade Labour MPs to back airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria in a Commons vote. Prime Minister David Cameron has said the U.K. will take "thousands" more refugees who have fled fighting in Syria and are in U.N. camps in neighbouring countries. Mr Cameron has been under pressure in recent days to provide sanctuary for those escaping the long-running Syrian civil war.

"In recent years, there has been too much Muslim mass immigration to Europe. This has resulted in ghettos of Muslim communities living parallel lives to mainstream society, following their own customs and even their own laws, said Lord Carey. "It is high-time the oil-rich Gulf States opened their doors to the many Muslims who are fleeing conflict? If they are concerned for fellow Muslims they have a moral responsibility to intervene," added Carey. Lord Carey also suggested Britain should prioritise persecuted Christians fleeing conflict in the Middle East. "They are the most vulnerable and repeatedly targeted victims of this conflict. Indeed, a hundred years after the Armenian and Assyrian genocide, in which over a million Christians are estimated to have been killed by Ottoman Muslims, the same is happening today in the form of an ethnic cleansing of Christians in the region. 

Christians have been crucified, beheaded, raped, and subjected to forced conversion. The so-called Islamic State and other radical groups are openly glorifying the slaughter of Christians. He said: "Britain should make Syrian Christians a priority because they are a particularly vulnerable group. We are a Christian nation with an established Church so Syrian Christians will find it easy to integrate. The church is already prepared and eager to offer support and accommodation to those escaping the conflict. The former Archbishop went on "It's not enough to send aid to refugee camps in the Middle East. There must be renewed military and diplomatic efforts to crush the twin menaces of Islamic State and al-Qaeda once and for all. Make no mistake: this may mean air strikes and other British military assistance to create secure and safe enclaves in Syria," said Lord Carey.

Source: Premier News Service

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IRAQI AUTHORITIES DOCUMENT CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION FOR THE FIRST TIME

Christian persecution in Iraq is being officially documented for the first time under orders of the country's government. Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi has authorized the establishment of a committee that will work to end the ongoing abuses against Christians that have escalated since the rise of Islamic State. The heads of the committee have already met with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I to collect data, and will carry out a census of the homes and properties illegally seized from Christians. NGO Baghdad Beituna (Baghdad Our Home) estimates that there have been more than 7,000 violations against properties belonging to Iraqi Christians in the city since 2003. In July, the leaders of the Chaldean Patriarchate denounced the worsening security situation in a statement sent to Asia News. 

"This outrageous behaviour causes anguish and destroys the national mosaic of Iraqi society, weakening the prestige and authority of the state," the statement said. The new security committee will also focus on the rising number of Christians who have been kidnapped. Four Iraqi Christians were abducted in Baghdad between late June and early July. Two of whom were later found dead by police, despite ransoms having been paid by their families. A Christian member of Iraq's parliament, Imad Youkhana, issued a statement on July 9 calling for greater protections for the country's Christian population. He branded the kidnappings part of an intimidation campaign bent on forcing Iraqi Christians out of the country, and warned that it was threatening Iraq's unity. In 2003, there were around 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. There are now believed to be less than 200,000.

Source: Assist News Service

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U.K. LEADERS JOIN ARCHBISHOP WELBY IN OPPOSING ASSISTED DYING BILL

The heads of British faith groups have written a joint letter to all MPs asking them to oppose plans to allow assisted dying. The Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders want politicians to reject proposals to permit doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally-ill patients. Currently, assisted suicide is illegal and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Archbishop Welby said he and other faith leaders had spoken out because they believe changing the law would have "detrimental effects" on society and would cross a fundamental legal and ethical Rubicon," he said. "This respect for the lives of others goes to the heart of both our criminal and human rights laws and ought not to be abandoned. While it is not a crime in the U.K. for someone to take his or her own life, we recognise that it is a tragedy and we, rightly, do all that we can to prevent suicide.

The assisted dying bill requires us to turn this stance on its head, not merely legitimising suicide, but actively supporting it." Mr Welby said asking doctors to take part in a person's bid to end their own life would be "a change of monumental proportions both in the law and in the role of doctors". He added: "Once a law permitting assisted suicide is in place there can be no effective safeguard against insidious pressure that could come from a very small minority of unsupportive relatives who wish not to be burdened." Among the faith leaders to sign the joint letter are the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and the director of the Network of Sikh Organisations U.K. At least 35 Britons went to Switzerland last year to end their lives.

Source: Premier News Service

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ISLAMIC STATE TAX IMPOSED ON CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA

Islamic State (IS) has reportedly imposed a tax on the Christians and non-Muslims in the central Syrian town of Qaryatayn, weeks after destroying an historic monastery in the area. According to the Observatory of Human Rights, IS has imposed 13 conditions on the town’s believers, including bans on the possession of weapons and the establishment of churches and monasteries. The extremist group posted photos on social media showing bulldozers destroying the town's fifth-century Saint Eliane Monastery last month. The tax has echoes of similar warnings issued by Islamic State which were posted in mosques and broadcast over loudspeakers after it captured the Iraqi city of Mosul last year. "We offer Christians three choices:  conversion to Islam; the dhimmitude payments, or the sword" the announcement stated.

Source: Premier News Service

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