70 millennial evangelical pastors traveled to Israel this past weekend to take part in the Global Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, an evangelical rally held on the first Sunday in October.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Freidman and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion were in attendance for the 90-minute event held at the Tayelet Haas Promenade and hosted by the New York-based evangelical nonprofit Eagles’ Wings.
According to the organization, around 500-600 people attended the annual event in person while 500,000 churches worldwide watched a livestream broadcast.
“I am so blessed to celebrate with such incredible people, such inspirational and distinguished religious leaders like all of you, to celebrate the State of Israel, to celebrate this holy city of Jerusalem and of course to celebrate the unbreakable relationship between the United States and Israel,” Friedman said during his keynote speech.
Eagles’ Wings considers itself a global movement that promotes peace in Jerusalem and the Middle East. It is led by Executive Director Bishop Robert Stearns, who has allegedly brought more than 10,000 evangelical Christians to Israel over the course of his career.
The organization holds that the Christian Church “owes a debt of gratitude to Israel and the Jewish people” on grounds that Christianity exists because the Jewish people kept themselves faithful to God’s covenant.
“We are here today declaring that there is a new breed of Christianity alive in today’s world — a Christianity which understands that spiritually, we were born in Zion,” Stearns, the visionary behind the day of prayer, said.
“We stand in prayer and action believing in a peace plan not hatched in the halls of the [United Nations] coming from hearts who learn and experience the God of love. God can change hearts and changed hearts can change history.”
Stearns is also president of the Los Angeles-based organization Israel Christian Nexus.
Stearns hosted the 70 evangelical pastors and leaders from the U.S. and Brazil for 10 days in Israel before they departed on Monday. The trip was meant to educate the millennial leaders on the “truth concerning Israel and the Jewish state.”
“We will continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we do today, but it will be for peace based upon the truth, the undeniable and now the scientifically corroborated truth, about how the roots of the Jewish people and the roots of Christianity are both centered in this Holy City, a city small in size but so immeasurably large in purpose and in meaning,” Friedman said.
The day of prayer event concluded a three-day worship and prayer gathering called Awake Jerusalem. The event brought together hundreds of Christians from more than 10 different nations.
Sunday’s day of prayer event comes less than two years after President Donald Trump moved to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the U.S. State Department moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools
An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.
In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.
‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’
The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.
While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.
The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.
He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.
Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.
But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.
John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.
‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.
They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.
They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.
This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.
He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.
The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’
He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.
China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service
The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.
An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.
The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”
“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”
While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.
The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.
In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.
Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.
In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.
The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.
“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”
“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”
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