Ross and Christine Paterson's Blog

Reflections from Our Journey

Month: January 2020

Month: January 2020

Drones And Prayers

The BBC recently carried a report from a Chinese newspaper headline that read: “China rewards fishers who netted foreign spy devices.” The story spoke of these fishing people hauling in an unusual catch. And more than one fisherman - the article spoke of 11 of them. What was the catch? It was underwater drones - seven devices in total. And this was not for the first time. Fishermen from Jiangsu had found “spy drones” in 2018, when some 18 fishermen were rewarded for finding 9 devices. The reward for each drone was up to $500,000 yuan (US$72,000) - around 17 times the average disposable income in China.

Why Jiangsu? It faces Japan and South Korea. An expert commented that they probably came from “the US Navy, the Japan Self-Defence Forces, or potentially Taiwan”. Other sources say that underwater drones can be used for tracking submarines from other navies, looking for and dealing with underwater bombs; deploying surveillance equipment and monitoring “undersea infrastructure”, such as communication cables. As such the underwater drones can be deployed for “months” and are “cheap enough to be considered expendable”. China itself had one of its own underwater drones caught by Indonesian fishermen a few months ago.

Such reports speak of military activities of which we, as ordinary citizens, know nothing. They are secret, known only to military and presumably political leaders. They are hidden activities.

Yet the praying Christian also has a hidden device of huge power - prayer. Derek Prince described intercession as an intercontinental ballistic missile - designed not to bring death, but to bring life; not destruction, but to build the kingdom of God. Prayer may be hidden, in the secret place, but its results are not.

History proves the power of intercession. During the second World War, God raised up in the UK an intercessor names Rees Howells. As news of Hitler’s advance came over the radio and in the newspapers each day, Rees and his company of intercessors would press into prayer for God’s purposes to prevail. “UK Royal Air Force pilots were outnumbered four to one at the beginning of the Battle of Britain. On all accounts, it should have been a losing battle. However, when the Nazi advance was mysteriously turned away when all hope seemed lost, Winston Churchill famously said of the small group of pilots who had maintained air supremacy: ‘Never has so much been owed by so many to so few’.” Actually the full debt was owed to the intercessors and the Lord who heard their prayers.

Rees Howells summed it up as follows: “I want to know that the Holy Spirit is stronger than the devil in the Nazi system. This is the battle of the ages, and victory here means victory for millions of people.”

With the crises in our world today mounting, (not the least with the coronavirus, trade tariffs, dangerous international relationships and much more) surely this is a time for Christians not to go fishing for hidden underwater drones but to flock to the place of power, the place of intercession. Please use this prayer letter as fuel for your prayers.

Pray that the Lord would raise up many labourers in the field of intercession.

Pray that the Lord would show you for what He wants you specifically to intercede.

Pray that leaders of the nations would be impacted by prayer in the choices they make.

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Journalism, East and West

According to CNN on December 17th, 2019, China has issued an updated code of ethics for its journalists. The code calls on reporters to uphold the authority of the Communist Party and to be guided by the ideology of President Xi Jinping. CNN commented that though Chinese reporters working inside the country are used to operating “within a heavily-censored environment that is tightly controlled by Communist authorities”, yet this new code with “explicit reference to Xi is likely to sound alarm among freedom of speech advocates.”

The code “was last updated in 2009, three years before Xi came to power… In the decade since, media restrictions in China have tightened significantly amid ongoing efforts by Xi to consolidate his position as the country's most powerful leader since founder Mao Zedong.”

The Committee To Protect Journalists assesses that “at least 48 journalists have been imprisoned in China for a range of offences in the past 12 months” (in 2019), more than in 2018. The new code threatens a further increase in arrests for reporters in China, as it restrictively defines what their political mindset should be. “According to the code, journalists must ‘serve the people wholeheartedly’ and be loyal to ‘the Party, the motherland, and the people.’” To do this they must "persist in arming the mind with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” They must "firmly uphold the authority and centralised, unified leadership of the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core” and "vividly interpret China's path, theory, system and culture when telling stories of China, (the) Communist Party of China, socialism with Chinese characteristics and Chinese people in order to let the world better understand China.” Chinese reporters' use of the internet is also included; they must "be good at using new technologies and new applications on the internet, and continuously improve the level of positive propaganda and guiding the public opinions on the internet.”

As Christians we need to be praying for reporters world-wide. The gulf now between East and West is extraordinary, yet in both cases the real or full facts may not be reported. In the USA and Europe there seems to be a code for some reporters to attack their current political leadership, attacks that often come from their own predefined political position, thus driving their own political agendas. This is done by reporting or interpreting only certain facts, not the objective truth. At the other end of the scale in China, it now seems to be illegal to criticise the administration or reveal the real facts if they are in any way negative. Both extremes do not serve the cause of genuine reporting, whose end is “to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.” For that to be so, there needs to be honest and truthful reporting, in East and West, of the facts as they really are.

Pray for journalists in China, especially those who have been arrested for revealing facts that are considered to be unacceptable to the leadership, even if they are true.

Pray for the Lord to raise up more men and women of integrity in East and West to bring us the facts as they really are, facts that are not either concealed or reinterpreted by journalists before we read them.

Pray for more Christian journalists who have a Biblical perspective and interpretation of events, and for those Christians who are already working as journalists, that they might have both wisdom and courage.

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