Dear Intercessor,The second half of this month we are praying for nations that have been in the news and some we rarely hear anything about. I have put maps in each day’s prayer assignment so we can see where our prayers are being directed. Why don’t you take a moment each day and lay your hand on the map while you lift up the people and their spiritual needs. We know there is no distance in prayer and believe the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man or woman has great power in its effect. Let us believe for an outpouring of the gospel to those who have never heard its good news!
16-17 KENYA Praise God for the great freedom to preach the gospel since independence, for the receptivity of the people and for the exciting growth of the Church. Over four-fifths of the population claim to be Christian, and Christians are found in every level of society.
Pray that Christians may bring truth and moral uplift to the nation as it edges to the brink of political disaster with possible economic collapse and inter-ethnic conflict.
Pray also for peaceful change and a democratic government, responsive to the deep needs of the people.
Nairobi is a key hub for ministry in Africa and beyond. Many international Christian organizations have their continental offices based there. The Ecumenical AACC (All Africa Conference of Churches), the AEA (Association of Evangelicals of Africa) and PACLA are a few of these. AEA has played a key role in promoting evangelical unity and ministries in theology, training, literature and fellowship.
Pray for this work and its extension through Africa.
18 KIRIBATI This area is 849 sq.km. Three archipelagos – Gilbert, Rawaki (Phoenix) and Line, with 33 coral atolls scattered across 2,000,000 sq.km of the Pacific Ocean and 4,600 km from east to west.
The once strong Congregational Church (Kiribati Protestant) is losing members and pastors to other Protestant groups and also to Catholics, Baha’i and Mormons. The theological college in Tarawa is not evangelical.
Pray for a return to biblical preaching and for New Testament Christianity to counteract nominalism and the underlying power of the occult.
Evangelical Christians are steadily growing in numbers – largely through the witness of the Church of God with rapidly growing congregations, 33 pastors and a Bible School with 79 students in 1992. The Assemblies of God also has a growing presence.
Pray that every island may have a clear, resident gospel witness.
NORTH KOREA All religions have been harshly repressed. Many thousands of Christians have been murdered since the Korean War – in 1953 there were about 300,000 Christians, reduced to a few thousand today. The true number of Christians is of course unknown, so the figures given are estimates. The Church in North Korea was the birthplace of Korean revival – Pyongyang was known as the Jerusalem of the East. But most Christians fled to the south during the Korean War or were martyred, and churches were bulldozed. Little is known about today’s underground church; only that it has survived amidst great suffering. There are three propaganda “show” churches in the capital, but over 100,000 Christians are interned in labor camps.
Pray for physical and spiritual safety for North Korean believers, that they hang on to their Savior in what is possibly the most difficult country to be a Christian.
Over 100,000 North Koreans have fled to China in the last three years. There are about 200,000 ethnic Korean Christians living in Chinese provinces which share a border with Korea. Many try to shelter the escapees and share the gospel with them in hidden Bethlehem Centers but Chinese are punished severely if caught harboring escapees, and any Koreans who are sent back face almost certain death. Despite this, converted Korean escapees often return to be a witness to Jesus at extreme risk to their own lives.
Pray that the Lord might protect both the sheltering hosts and the escapees from harm, and use them to reap a great harvest among these disillusioned and desperate people.
19-20 KOREA, SOUTH Praise God for the unique Korean Church. It was founded on sound indigenous principles, blessed with a succession of revivals, refined by persecution and is now one of the foremost in the world for mission’s vision. Its presence is highly visible; every level of society has been impacted and growth has been remarkable. Korea could become the first majority Protestant/evangelical country in Asia. Korean missionary numbers have rapidly increased. The goal of 10,000 missionaries serving in other lands by 2000 was almost achieved. Korea has now 10,646 – the second-highest number of serving missionaries and only exceeded by the USA.
The Korean Church grew strong through early Morning Prayer meetings, Prayer Mountains for seeking God, church-based Bible study, evangelism programs, fellowship in home meetings and at Sunday meals.
Pray that this heritage may not be lost, and that revival might be rekindled.
21 KUWAIT Since the Iraqi occupation, Kuwait has returned to stability and affluence. Materialism is rampant and public morals declining, but restrictions on Christianity still remain. Pray that the Kuwaiti leaders and people might become open to the Christian faith and not merely to godless Western values. Only a few hundred Kuwaitis are known to be believers. Expatriate Christians gained recognition for their prayer and relief aid during and after the Iraqi occupation. There are eight sites where churches publicly meet in Kuwait, two of which are Catholic. The National Evangelical Church has become an umbrella for 35 Christian communities, which meet on a former hospital compound. The majority of these are Indian, with some Arab. Main services are held in English, Arabic, Urdu and Malayali.
Pray that believers may be granted full freedom of worship and witness and that their lives might commend the Lord Jesus as Savior.
Many Kuwaitis travel to other lands as tourists, businessmen, and students. A number have come to know Christ. Fear of reprisal often prevents them from returning home.
Pray for wisdom and boldness for the converts and a burden to reach their own people.
KYRGYZSTAN The Kyrgyz have an unprecedented opportunity to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. a) History. For centuries foreigners have ruled the Kyrgyz and imposed their religions – Turkic armies in the 17th Century brought Islam, and the Russians in the 19th brought Orthodoxy, then in the 20th imposed Communism. b) Restored Islam. The Kyrgyz are culturally Muslim, but practice and understanding of Islam is low. The Kyrgyz of the north are more influenced by Russian culture, but those in the south are more traditional. The 33 mosques in the country under Communism have multiplied to 120 buildings and 2,000+ prayer houses. Pakistani, Turkish and Saudi Arabian missionaries seek to strengthen Islamic institutions and commitment. A Kyrgyz becoming a Christian is seen as betrayal of ethnic identity and family cohesion. c) Spiritism – the actual religion of the Kyrgyz. The ubiquitous shrines are more visible than mosques. Fear of the ‘evil eye’, use of amulets, the occult, shaman priests and demonization are widespread.
Pray that the present harvest may continue.
Pray down the barriers to faith.
Expatriate Christians number several hundred from Asia, the Americas and Europe. Most are tentmakers and need to keep a tactful profile.
Pray for their safety and spiritual effectiveness in an area where the enemy of souls has not been challenged for 1,400 years. Pray for wisdom for those workers as they partner in ministry with nationals.
23 LAOS Communist persecution of Christians was especially harsh between 1975 and 1978. Restrictions eased after that time, though the churches are still seen as potentially subversive, and are watched. Buddhism is regaining some of its old influence, but is heavily syncretized with animism. In the late 1990s persecution significantly increased and the government is intent on the complete elimination of any Christian presence in the country. The church has grown despite restrictions and persecution. After the Communist takeover, two-thirds of believers fled the country, but there have been reports of people movements and whole villages turning to Christ. Many unreached people groups are being evangelized. Much of this is due to the initiative of indigenous believers. Amongst the Khmu tribe there has been a considerable turning to Christ!
The local linguistic situation is highly complex. A number of organizations are seeking to address this need. There are 21 languages for which there is a definite need for translation teams and possibly a further 17 languages will need them.
Pray for the effective use of all available tools in speeding up the process of making God’s Word available.
24 LATVIA Christian beginnings go back to the 13th Century. Latvians were early supporters of Luther, and much of the population converted to Lutheranism. The churches were harshly persecuted under both the Nazis and the Communists. Religious freedom since 1988 has caused many to return to the Church, but has also opened the door to sects The post-independence religious bubble has burst. The spiritual urgency of the early 1990’s has largely lapsed into general spiritual apathy. While religious freedom exists, only about 2% of the population regularly attends church. Although the smaller evangelical denominations continue to grow, the Lutheran and Catholic churches still struggle with nominalism and a lack of teaching and pastors.
Pray for healthy growth in the churches and harmony between believers of different ethnicities.
A new Latvian translation of the Bible has been sponsored by the King of Sweden. The Bible Society has been very active, using their ecumenical platform to cooperate with many denominations. Some Christian books are now being translated into Latvian and a few are also being written by Latvian Christian authors.
Pray that the ministry of literature may be fruitful in every segment of the population.
25 LEBANON The only Arab state that is not officially Muslim. The distribution of power according to the size of each community was frozen at 1932 levels. The rapid increase in size of the Muslim population, and especially of the under-represented Shi’a, is one of the basic reasons for recent conflicts. The Shi’a are 36% of the population and Sunni 23%. There are 18 recognized religious communities: four Muslim, Druze, Jewish and 12 Christian. All figures used here are estimates. (The last religious census was in 1932, when Christians were 53.7% of the population.) Lebanon is still the only land in the Middle East where anyone is legally free to change their religious affiliation. Believers from most other Arab countries can more freely come to Lebanon for training.
Pray that religious freedom might be maintained.
The decline in the number of residential missionaries, emigration of national leaders, and lack of workers have left many congregations in the region without effective pastoral care. Praise God, this is being reversed. Lebanon has a number of residential evangelical Bible schools – the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (60 students), Mediterranean Bible College (Church of God), Christian Alliance Institute of Theology (CMA – 12 students) and the Near East School of Theology (20 students).
Pray for staff, supply of needs and students in these times of renewed possibilities.
Pray that increasing cooperation between these colleges would result in significant advances for the Kingdom.
26 LESOTHO The people of Lesotho are prisoners of their geographical position, the divisions and powerlessness of their politicians and lack of resources. The 1998 South African invasion has left the population angry and frustrated.
Pray that God-fearing, honest leaders may be raised up for the good of all.
The Sephiri, a secret society to which many churchgoers from most denominations belong. Witchcraft and ancestor worship are taught and practiced along with Christian ritual.
Pray for both the exposure of this demonic delusion and for its followers to come to a living faith.
The Sotho have been largely Christian for generations but traditionalism and nominalism are widespread in both the Catholic Church and the Lesotho Evangelical Church. The latter is the fruit of the great pioneering work of French missionaries of the Paris Missionary Society. The rapid increase in the number of newer churches with evangelistic zeal has challenged the mainline Churches to become more spiritually vital and relevant.
Pray for a humble harmony between the different denominations in place of considerable antagonism.
Pray also for this land to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
27 LIBERIA Liberia was founded as a Christian state. There continues to be freedom of religion in theory, but in practice there is pressure on Christians to conform to occult secret societies. Religious and denominational figures are mostly estimates due to massive numbers fleeing the civil war.
The agony of the nation has driven Christians to new prayer and earnestness for the gospel. Christians have had miraculous deliverances, soldiers have repented of horrible crimes, new leaders with vision have been raised up and there have been localized revivals in the midst of sorrow. Since the war ended over 150 churches have been started. The Association of Evangelicals has regrouped and begun to lay plans for future reconstruction and evangelization.
Pray that out of the fires may come a purified Church that can bring reconciliation between ethnic groups, a blessing to the many needing spiritual help and can resume the incomplete evangelization of the country.
Trained spiritual leaders are few in number. Many have had to flee or been killed; most Bible training was brought to a halt or struggles to survive with limited resources and personnel. Some refugees studied theology in the West or elsewhere in Africa and are returning with wider vision. Others have planted thriving churches among the Liberian diaspora. Bible schools and seminaries are slowly opening and rebuilding – the Baptist Seminary, Africa Bible College and ACFI Bible School among them.
Pray for the raising up of a new generation of leaders who preach the whole gospel without compromise, competitiveness or jealousies.
28 LIBYA No open evangelism is possible. The last missionary outpost was closed in 1960. The entire indigenous population is unreached. Despite the increasing freedom for expatriates granted by the state, Libyans are off limits for evangelism. Approaches to them are potentially dangerous to both parties. A number of expatriate workers are seeking to reach Libyans, but are hindered by the elaborate secret police networks. There is a shared sense of despair and hopelessness.
Pray for the calling of more Arab Christians and tentmakers to specifically reach Libyans in a sensitive and effective manner.
Pray for this tightly-shut land to open to the gospel.
Personal freedom is restricted. Political and economic sanctions of the past, as well as policies pursued by the government, continue to have long-term effects. Intercede for greater freedom for the people of Libya, and for greater openness in Libya to Christian workers from other lands.
Pray that Christians might see past the Western media’s caricature of Libyans as fanatical Islamists and recognize the Libyans’ need for the Savior.
Pray for many to be called to serve in Libya.
29 LIECHTENSTEIN Liechtenstein has changed from a feudal backwater in the 1930s to a leading banking and industrial center today. Almost the entire indigenous population is Catholic. The majority of expatriates are nominal Christians and a growing minority are Muslims. Few in this country have ever been confronted with the necessity of a personal faith in Christ. Church attendance is only a small proportion of those who claim to be Protestant.
Pray that through increased contact with outsiders, many might encounter the risen Christ.
The first and only evangelical fellowship of believers was started in 1985 after an evangelistic campaign launched by British, Norwegian and Swiss believers.
Pray for the health and growth of this work.
LITHUANIA The Catholic Church plays a key role in Lithuanian society, but it has not yet recovered from years of isolation and persecution, and is unprepared for the challenges of the 21st century. Vatican II reforms and renewal movements are sometimes opposed. Only 14% of Catholics attend church weekly. Younger leadership is pushing for change. There are strong Franciscan, charismatic and evangelical-style networks which are experiencing growth, especially among young people.
There is a lack of trained leaders due to the rapid growth of the newer churches and the difficulties of the established denominations. Religious freedom has facilitated the entry of cults and theological error. Solid biblical foundations need to be laid locally. Those leaders who train abroad often do not return, and several who do find themselves out of touch with their home situations. The Catholics have 3 seminaries and 5 faculties in universities; the Lutherans have one. The Pentecostals founded a pastoral, mission-oriented training institute, Vilnius College. Word of Faith and other charismatic groups operate training centers. Another encouraging development is Lithuania Christian College, an inter-denominational Christian liberal arts college.
Pray that these institutions may be used to train godly, well-educated and visionary leaders for the nation.
There are about 25 missionaries ministering long-term in the country, plus 30-60 Western faculty and staff of the Lithuania Christian College. YWAM has a ministry to families through Bible studies, clubs and camps and launched their first Discipleship Training School (DTS) in 2000.
Pray for more missionaries to be called to serve in this land, and to serve with commitment and sensitivity.
30 LUXEMBOURG The land is Catholic by tradition and culture – revolutionary changes in the Church elsewhere have largely passed it by, and few have clearly heard the gospel in their own language. While the vast majority professes Catholicism, only a shrinking fraction actively practices their faith. Many Catholics dabble in Buddhism and the New Age. A confusing mixture of religions and secularism are serious challenges to the gospel. Most Luxembourgers are hesitant to leave their religious practices even if they no longer believe in them.
Pray that they might encounter the living Christ who transforms all who meet Him.
Protestants are a small minority, and a high proportion of them are foreigners. Jehovah’s Witnesses have had more success among the nationals than Evangelicals, and other cults are making their presence felt. There are several small evangelical congregations from different traditions, but there is still a great need for more Bible-teaching, Christ-centered churches, and for workers to labor in these churches.
Pray that the Lord of the harvest may send out more workers to this field, and sustain those already there.
31 MACEDONIA The Macedonian Orthodox Church claims to be shepherd to the majority of the population, but their 1,100 churches remain largely empty. There are only 150 priests. Spiritually weak and steeped in tradition, the Orthodox Church often actively opposes any evangelical or evangelistic ministry.
Pray for new life to touch this Church and all those who belong to it.
The evangelical witness is small, but growing. The Methodist, Baptist, Congregational and Evangelical Churches are growing, and vigorous new Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are springing up around the country.
Pray for unity among believers and active vision for outreach. The opportunities are there, as the Kosovo crisis has made people more open to Jesus – largely through the aid and relief work of Christian groups.
Once again I want to thank you for joining us as we cover the earth with our prayers. May you know the peace and joy of the Lord as you continue to serve Him through your intercession.
Lane M. Holland, M.Div.
© Operation World 2001
With thanks to Dawn Ministries and Operation World
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