Global Troubles, Cabinet Bible Study, Charlie Gard Aftermath, and Flanders Fields

SIGNS AND WONDERS

Global Situation Deteriorating. North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile last Friday that has the potential to reach the continental United States. It’s the latest in a series of tests that have indicated North Korea’s capabilities are far greater than previously known—at least to the general public. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expelling U.S. diplomats in response to legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia for its interference in U.S. elections. Venezuela is another trouble spot. Riots there are protesting the “sham” election to replace its opposition-led legislature with one favorable to President Nicolas Maduro. Delta Airlines has suspended flights to the country.

Yemen Update. Back in June, I reported here that Yemen, in the midst of a civil war, has seen a cholera outbreak. “According to numbers from the United Nations, 859 people have died of cholera in Yemen since the end of April,” I wrote then. Since then, the situation has worsened, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The latest WHO figures indicate nearly 400,000 suspected cases of cholera, and 1,817 deaths.

Cabinet Bible Study. According to Religion News Service, several cabinet members meet weekly for Bible study. RNS reports, “Among those who regularly attend: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.” The Bible study is led by Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries, who said, “It’s the best Bible study that I’ve ever taught in my life. They are so teachable; they’re so noble; they’re so learned.”

Charlie Gard Aftermath. According to The Mirror, “Charlie Gard supporters are rallying round the family of a seriously ill little boy as his parents face a battle with medics to keep him alive.” Alfie Evans is being treated in Liverpool for a mysterious illness. The little boy’s father, Tom Evans, said the death of Charlie Gard was a “devastating blow.” The Mirror reported the young father “burst into tears after he heard the news.” Tom Evans said, “I’m worried because I think Charlie might have had more of a chance than my son, who doesn’t even have a diagnosis—I’m worried about Alder Hey [the hospital currently caring for Alfie] doing the same.” The Mirror reports: “More than 22,000 people have now joined the ‘Alfie’s Army’ page on Facebook, with thousands of pounds also donated to a fundraising page.”

Flanders Fields. With all the troubles in the world now, consider that 100 years ago this week World War I was in full roar. In fact, August and September of 1917 were perhaps the bloodiest months of that bloody war. Those three months cost German and Allied forces 500,000 lives during the fight for the Flanders village of Passchendaele. The result: The Allies gained only a few miles of territory.  British dignitaries, as well as those from other countries on both sides of that conflict, gathered in Passchendaele this week to remember that battle, and to honor those who fought there. This terrible battle was not, in fact, the inspiration for the famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” That battle took place in 1915 and came to be known as the Second Battle of Ypres. The poem was written by a Canadian physician, Lt. Col. John McCrae, whose friend died in that battle. It became one of the most famous poems of the 20th century, and is often read at the funerals of soldiers, and on Memorial Day. You can find the text of the poem, as it first appeared in 1919, here.

Image courtesy of Erik_V at iStock by Getty Images. Illustration designed by Heidi Allums.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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August 2, 2017

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