Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why respect and dignity matter

John Wyatt's mother had dementia.

"To begin with, the changes were subtle," he says. "Unexplained anxiety and tearfulness, episodes of uncharacteristic blankness, irritation and anger with medics and their pointless tests. As the dementing process continued, my mother tragically changed and aged before our eyes. Her confusion increased, she was frequently distressed by terrifying visual hallucinations. Her limbs became permanently flexed and distorted. Visiting her on the acute psychogeriatric ward, I remember being overwhelmed by grief at her obvious distress and fear. I wept in the consultant's office, powerless to do anything to alleviate my mother's anguish.

"Thankfully that dreadful period passed. Quetiapine had a remarkable effect in improving the psychotic symptoms, and compassionate and skilled nursing and medical care transformed my mother's condition. She became peaceful and relaxed. Although she could not communicate, she enjoyed holding hands with my father, listening to music, sometimes even singing along, especially to old hymns from her childhood in the Christian Brethren.

"My father was tireless in visiting her, spending hours every day at her bedside. It was very important to him that the staff knew about her past, knew the sort of person Grace used to be. He put photographs on the wall - this is what she used to be. Grace with her children, Grace at the nursery school she pioneered, Grace laughing delightedly with a little child. . . 

"It mattered that the staff treated her with respect and dignity, because of who she really was. She was so much more than this little aged, distorted, pathetic being appeared to be. . .

"But as our family spent time with my mother we were sometimes reminded that this was not the end of the story. As the family met at her bedside, in those occasional but special times of prayer and singing, although my mother could not speak and sometimes did not even recognise us, we knew that we shared in the Christian hope. This was not the end of the story."

In an article in Triple Helix, John says that caring for people with dignity, respect and love is always important. The worst of people can be transformed and enter into the new creation. With his mother, they had an assurance.

"By God's grace, those who were round her bedside will meet my mother again. And together we will walk and laugh and sing in the new heaven and new earth. The love poured out years ago has not been lost or forgotten."

You can read the full article here.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A 'positive experience' - or 'undisguised evil'?

Emily Letts is 25, and works as a counsellor at an abortion clinic. When she found herself pregnant, she decided to have an abortion. More than that, she decided to have the abortion filmed so that women didn't need to feel guilty and everyone could see what "a positive experience" it was. The video has now been watched 2,054,152 times.
In a masterly blog post about Emily Letts' video, Al Mohler calls it "one of the most disturbing video messages ever presented to public view."

"Over and over again," he says, " she suggests that she feels absolutely no guilt about terminating  the life within her.

"If Emily Letts truly believes that there is no guilt rightly associated with abortion, she would not have to insist, over and over again, that she feels no guilt. When she tells of women who feel 'guilty for not feeling guilty,' she testifies to the fact that they are moral creatures who cannot stop making moral judgments, especially about themselves, even when they insist there is no moral judgment to be made. And this must be especially true when a woman has sought to terminate the unborn life within her. . .

"Her most chilling words of all are those with which she ends her video. . . 'I knew that what I was going to do was right, 'cause it was right for me and no one else. . .'"

This, says Mohler, is "a concise statement of an absolutely godless worldview. She is creator of her own moral system of value and the judge of her own solitary moral universe - 'I knew what I was going to do was right, 'cause it was right for me and no one else.' No one else matters. . .

"Emily Letts has lifted the 'shroud of shame' a bit. And what she revealed is a reality about abortion that is undisguised evil. Those who strive and pray for the end of abortion should hope that this video is viewed and that her comments about it are read by millions. This video reveals the truth about abortion in a far more powerful way than its maker intended."

Read the whole blog post. You can see it here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Christian woman under death sentence for apostasy

South Sudan became Africa's newest nation when it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. It followed years of civil war, in which something like two million lost their lives and more than four million were displaced. Sudan is predominantly Muslim; many in South Sudan are Christians.

The young state fell into crisis in December, 2013 in a power struggle between the president and his former deputy. The conflict has killed thousands and caused more than 800,000 to flee.

Fighting has hindered agriculture and oil production; UN officials say four million will be faced with starvation by the end of the year. Almost two billion American dollars were needed in aid.

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Christian woman, has been sentenced to death in Sudan for apostasy. She was brought up a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother - but her father, who left when she was a child, was a Muslim, so the court considered her a Muslim too.

Mrs Ibrahim is married to a Christian, so the court sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery on the basis of her sexual relationship with her husband. It is understood sentence will not be carried out - she is eight months pregnant - until the child is born and weaned.

Before sentence was passed, Mrs Ibrahim was given three days to recant. She refused to do so. "I am a Christian, and I will remain a Christian," she said.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, a US citizen, is disabled and uses a wheelchair. He visited his wife in prison and found her shackled to the wall.

"I don't know what to do," he said. "I'm just praying."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Israel: The real peace process

So the Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations have come to an end, which is no surprise.

Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organisation, with whom Israel was negotiating, made an agreement with Hamas, the terrorist organisation which rules in Gaza. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wasn't going to negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by a terrorist organisation sworn to Israel's destruction. (Hamas is recognised as a terrorist organisation by both the United States and the European Union.)

The Palestinians said their agreement had nothing to do with peace negotiations and blamed Israel for ending the talks.

The Americans seemed surprised that the Palestinians refused to accept Israel as a Jewish state. To do so would have given Israel some legitimacy, and the Palestinians will not compromise. They will now return their energies to their current strategy of seeking international standing in the hope of delegitimising Israel and forcing them, if nothing else, to make further concessions for nothing in return.

Attitudes appear to have hardened. Palestinian rockets continue to fall on southern Israel. Palestinian children are still being taught to shoot Jews.

But good things are happening. In Israel, Arab Christians and Jewish believers in Jesus are coming together to demonstrate the unity created by the Jewish Messiah. Typical was this month's At the Crossroads conference, held at Christ Church, Jerusalem, just inside the walls of the Old City.

Arab Christians came from all over the Middle East. One delegate said the worship - in Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Hebrew and English - was a foretaste of heaven. This, said an archbishop, is the true peace process.

One of the speakers at this year's At the Crossroads conference (not to be confused with the Christ at the Checkpoint conference, which is largely a vehicle for Palestinian propaganda) was Canon Andrew White, Vicar of Baghdad, who has worked for years for reconciliation and has a congregation of several thousand in the war-torn city. Some 1,200 of his congregation have died as victims of violence.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to create a market for abortion

Carol Everett ran a chain of four abortion clinics. She had a goal - to become a millionaire.

In order to reach her goal, she had to create a market for abortions. So she did just that. She knew her strategy was more than a success when a young woman visited one of her clinics for her ninth abortion.

Carol was later converted to Christ and left the abortion industry. Now she tells just how the strategy worked, and exactly what parents need to do to ensure that their children are not taken in.

You can read the details here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

'I saw Jesus. I saw His face. . .'

About 40 years ago, there were approximately 200 Christians from a Muslim background living in Iran. Today, there are an estimated 370,000. 

Former hardline Islamic mullahs and former drug dealers worship Jesus together. There is a hunger for the truth, particularly among young people. They are forbidden to evangelise, and the Bible is a forbidden book, but Iranian believers are willing to share their faith. Many people have satellite television, and many watch Christian programmes broadcast from abroad.

The greater the number of believers, the greater the persecution. The government sees house churches as a threat to the state. Arrests are common. Christian leaders are kept in prison, where they suffer brutal treatment and medical help is withheld.

There are many stories of Muslims coming to faith in Christ as a result of dreams. Open Doors tells one such story.

Taher was a committed Muslim who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. When his daughter accepted Christ, he was angry. When his wife became a believer in Christ, he was angrier still. When his son accepted Christ, he quoted the Koran, forbade them to go to church, beat them, threatened to tell the secret police, and threatened to kill them with his bare hands. They left him, and fled the country.

In his loneliness, he begged Allah to show himself to him, without response. In moments of doubt, he didn't know what to believe. "I will believe in the God who reveals Himself to me," he said.

He had a dream. A man he had never seen before hugged him and said "I will clean you from all your sins. I will give you rest. Believe in Me." Another man asked him in his dream if he knew who the man was. "He is Jesus Christ. He cleans your sins."

Twice he fell asleep again and twice more he dreamed the same dream. After the third time, he was convinced that Jesus is God.

He went to the church he had forbidden his family to attend and told a church leader "I want to pray, go to church and give my life to Christ, but I don't know how. I saw Jesus in a dream. I saw His face." He is now reunited with his family.

Prayer is requested for believers in prison.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How Moses didn't live in Bolton

I imagine Bolton to be a place which is tremendously proud of its heritage and a place where Southerners imagine they're still having trouble up at t'mill.

To get to the point. There's a district of Bolton - not far from here - called Moses Gate. I often wondered how it got its name. I asked Boltonians. They didn't know. I asked people who lived in Moses Gate. They didn't know either. So I made a few enquiries.

The first word was originally "moss" or "mosses," a moss being a patch of marshy or peaty land. "Gate" is an old word for road, as in Churchgate (the road to the church) or Deansgate (the road to Deane). A map dated in the early 1800s names the place as "Moss Gate."

Pity it hasn't anything to do with Moses. It would have made a good blog post.

Friday, May 09, 2014

MPs demand police inquiry into abortion practice

That David Cameron's Government has overseen the largest liberalisation of abortion practice since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967 has been widely reported.

The act says that abortions would be permitted if two doctors were of the opinion, formed in good faith, that certain conditions applied - for instance, that continuance of the pregnancy would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the mother or her family than if the pregnancy were terminated.

Former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he would consult on new guidelines. He secretly issued interim guidelines to independent abortion providers suggesting it was not necessary for the two doctors to see the women - 17 months before the consultation began. He did not inform Parliament.

The  Department of Health later said they considered it good practice that one of the certifying doctors saw the woman, although this was not a legal requirement.

The Telegraph secretly filmed two doctors agreeing to abortions on the ground of the unborn baby's sex, which is illegal. The Crown Prosecution Service admitted there was enough evidence to take the doctors to court, but said it was not in the public interest to prosecute. They said there was no need to mount a prosecution because the General Medical Council could deal with the case. Campaigners complained that doctors were being put above the law.

The Care Quality Commission, whose job it is to inspect abortion clinics, discovered that 67 doctors had been breaking the law by pre-signing blank abortion forms without any knowledge of the women concerned. One doctor had pre-signed so many blank forms that they were still being used by the abortion clinic four years after he left.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said the prosecution service had looked into two pre-signing cases and concluded it was not in the public interest to pursue the doctors concerned. The GMC had decided not to bring fitness to practise hearings, pointing out that what had been done was common practice.

He refused to name the doctors or give any details of their positions. He said the doctors had given assurances not to pre-sign forms in the future.

Which goes to prove what everyone knew, that we have had abortion on demand, irrespective of the law.

Eleven MPs have written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner demanding a criminal investigation into evidence that doctors had pre-signed abortion forms. "It is impossible to come to a medical judgment without knowing any of the details of a patient's case," their letter says.

The Metropolitan Police said the letter was being studied.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

When mourning turns to joy. . .

Monday and Tuesday this week were unusual days in Israel.

Monday was Jewish Memorial Day. Shops, restaurants and places of entertainment were closed. At 11am sirens sounded throughout the land for two minutes' silence to remember the 23,169 soldiers and security personnel who died protecting the Jewish state. There was a major service at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and there were memorial events throughout the nation.

Writes Naomi Rogen:

The Jewish people have a blessing to bring to the world, especially to our Semitic cousins. If only they would stop shouting and crying and threatening long enough to listen, how different their lives would be! And we would give it to them freely, generously, this, our hard-earned knowledge, the knowledge of the Jews. And it is simply this: that death has no glory. And that a life can never be replaced. There is no honour, no joy, no holiness in bombs and guns and knives and mortars, in wounded flesh, and blood-soaked streets. In dead children, and broken-hearted mothers. . . 

If only the BBC, and CNN, and Sky news would stop interviewing the mothers and uncles of suicide bombers, who speak of holy martyrdom, and sacred deaths, and holy wars: if only their confused reporters would simply sit and listen to Israel's keening on Memorial Day, and broadcast that to the world instead, what blessing that would bring mankind. . .

Tuesday was Israel Independence Day, when mourning turned to joy. There were firework displays, singers, dancers, picnics and barbecues on the beach, with celebrations going on into the night.

The Jews have a destiny to fulfil. They will fulfil it finally when they all return to faith in their Maker:

For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
  And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger then he.

Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
  Streaming to the goodness of the Lord -
For wheat and new wine and oil,
  For the young of the flock and the herd;
Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
  And they shall sorrow no more at all.

"Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
  And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning to joy,
  Will comfort them,
And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.

I will satiate the souls of the priests  with abundance,
And my people shall be satisfied with my goodness," says the Lord.  Jer 31:11 -14.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Kidnapped girls still missing

Nigeria is in turmoil. Its population is roughly half Christian and half Muslim. Islamist radicals are shooting Christians wholesale and seeking to turn Nigeria into a Muslim state subject to sharia law. Some 1,500 people are said to have died in the first three months of this year.

Recently a bomb exploded near Nigeria's capital city, killing at least 71 people, injuring 124 more, and destroying some 30 vehicles. There was no concrete evidence of who was behind the attack, but Nigeria's Christian president Goodluck Jonathan suspects terrorist group Boko Haram. Boko Haram - its name means "Western education is sinful" - has links with al Qaeda and has been described as the biggest threat to peace and security in West Africa.

Islamic militants killed a large number in an attack on a village in northern Nigeria. One man who escaped the attack said he counted 60 bodies lying around after the militants left.

 More than 200 girls about 16 years old were kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school dormitory before the school was set on fire and surrounding houses looted and torched. For more than two weeks the Nigerian military claimed to be unable to find them. Some 40 girls escaped, but it is believed at least some of the others have been forcibly "married" to their captors and taken to Chad and Cameroon.

How long can this go on?