There was a popular chorus that included the phrase “…we won’t stop until the whole world knows…”. And what the world would know is the love of a living Lord and Savior. Some of the countries we will be praying for over the next two weeks have people groups who have never heard the gospel. There are some countries that have restrictions that make sharing the way of Christ illegal, with imprisonment and even death as the penalty for breaking the law. The prophet Joel declared a time when we should ‘put in the sickle and reap’ because of the harvest and multitudes that are in the valley of decision (Joel 3:13-14). As we pray for these nations I ask that you spend time thanking God for Jesus and how your life has been impacted by the gospel. Then pray with faith that the wind of the Holy Spirit will blow across the nations of the earth bringing revival and a move of God to birth freedom so they can hear and know that Jesus is Lord!
1. Madagascar: There is now religious freedom, but the power of the old Malagasy folk religion remains pervasive. The four mainline churches have great influence and through the National Council of Churches pressure the government to restrict visas for missionaries associated with evangelism. The Protestant Church has had a glorious history of faith despite persecution from heathen rulers and harassment from the French Catholic colonial authorities. It grew from 5,000 in 1861 to one million in 1900. There have been significant revival movements within the larger churches in 1895, 1941, 1948, and during the 1980s. Springing from the revival movements have been the indigenous lay movements of ‘shepherds’, which operate within the mainline Protestant Federation Churches from 50 centers across the island. Their emphasis on healing and exorcism has led to conversions and full churches in some areas.
Pray that this movement continue to grow and be rooted in Scripture.
Spiritual deadness rather than revival characterizes many congregations. Compromise with the old beliefs, veneration of ancestral spirits, and witchcraft are widespread and even increasing among those who claim to be Christians. The forms of worship remain, but many have little understanding of the biblical message of salvation. The Christian community is 80% Christianized, but not really evangelized.
Pray that the power of Jesus might be manifested, and that many may trust Him completely.
2. Malawi: Malawi has remained relatively peaceful since independence in a region of devastating wars and turmoil. Yet these wars have exacted a terrible economic toll in under-development. Raised expectations of democratic government have not been realized.
Pray that the nation may be led by leaders of integrity and that the new democracy may lead to the improved well-being of the people.
The growth of Islam is a major challenge. Over 90% of the Yao are Muslim and constitute the bulk of Muslims in Malawi. The majority of the Asians are also Muslim, as is the President himself. The Qur’an has been translated into Chewa. Islam has become more visible and confident and Muslim aid projects have increased. Malawi is now the Southern African base for the Africa Muslim Agency. Expansion of Islam to other peoples is not extensive yet but is taking place.
Pray for good relations between Christians and Muslims and for an effective ministry to bring Muslims to a personal relationship with Christ.
3-5 Malaysia: Muslims have been politically and socially divided because of the vociferous Islamist minority which has pressed for radical Islamic reforms and imposition of shari’a law. Severe penalties for infringements by Muslims or for their apostasy have been instituted in 4 of the 13 states. Muslims, and thereby almost all Malays, have been denied the privilege of receiving the gospel.
Pray both for:
a) The Malays, now socially and legally isolated from the Truth. It is illegal to witness to a Muslim.
b) The rejection of proposed national legislation to impose an apostasy law so that everyone, including Malays, may have opportunity to hear the gospel.
6. Maldives: Islam is the only recognized religion. The open practice of all other religions is forbidden. Islam is strongly promoted for national unity and preservation of the government’s power.
The Maldivians are still among the least evangelized on earth. No Christian mission work has ever been permitted nor Christian literature allowed. Yet by various means some Maldivians came to faith in Christ during the 1990s. A severe crack-down by the authorities in 1998 resulted in the imprisonment and torture of 50 Maldivians suspected of being Christian and the expulsion of 19 Christian expatriates from several nations. International prayer and protest levered the release of the Maldivians from prison later in the year.
Pray that they may not become discouraged but live for Jesus despite the spiritual pressures under which they live.
Global warming threatens the survival of the Islands through rising sea levels that could flood and destroy them. Coral mining and a recent rise in sea temperature resulting from el Nino has killed much of the coral that is the foundation of these islands.
Pray that this doomsday challenge may cause many to seek the caring God who sent Jesus.
7. Mali: A secular state with freedom of religion despite the large Muslim majority. Islam is strong in the north and centre and slowly growing in the south where traditional religions are stronger. These are strongest among the Dogon, Bobo, and Senufo/Minianka.
The ecological crisis of the Sahel has brought much help from Christian missions and aid organizations which is reducing prejudice to the gospel.
Pray for the many agencies actively involved in relief; local development to conserve soil, vegetation and water; digging wells; and medical outreach.
Even so, there are only 903 medical dispensaries of any kind in Mali in contrast to 1,001 Qur’anic schools.
Pray that these ministries might bear much fruit in the form of a mature, witnessing church.
Of the 34 ethnic groups, only four are more than 1% evangelical. All peoples are in desperate need of the good news. There are 11 groups with no known evangelical believers. Among them are the Jula, Maure, and Tukulor.
Pray also for the smaller (therefore often neglected) groups with 25,000 people or less and with no known believers (Duun, Mossi, Wolof, Banka, Jotoni, Pana, Samoa).
Ask God to reveal the right approach so that these people might be reached with the gospel.
8. Malta: Three small but strategic islands in the central Mediterranean. Dry limestone hills with no rivers. Malta was the first nation in Europe to embrace Christianity – after the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck on the island. It has been staunchly Catholic for many centuries with high church attendance. Despite continuing devotion to religion, few Maltese have been confronted with the need for a personal faith in the living Lord Jesus.
Pray for a removal of the barriers of spiritual blindness and fear that hold many from commitment to Him.
Catholic charismatic groups have grown and spread all over the islands. They have considerable evangelistic zeal.
Pray that leaders of the groups may centre their ministry on the Bible and resist pressures to compromise basic scriptural truth.
9. Martinique: Martinique has periodically suffered from major volcanic eruptions and earthquakes – in 1902 Mt. Pele erupted killing 30,000.
Pray that the population of this beautiful isle may see their basic instability and be shaken out of their carelessness to the things of God.
There are 300,000 Guadeloupans and Martiniquans living in France, where they are known as Antilleans. They comprise a large minority in many Parisian evangelical churches.
Pray for the witness of these believers. WT has established three churches amongst Antilleans in the Paris area.
Mauritania: Officially an Islamic Republic, with Shari’ a law, but the latter is intermittently applied. There is no freedom for conversion to another religion and the sentence for apostasy is death – although this sentence has not been carried out in recent years. Proselytism is illegal, but there is some freedom of religion and conscience within Islamic expression.
Mauritania is one of the world’s poorest countries. One third of children are malnourished, and when there is enough food, it is often too expensive for the poor to afford. While the government’s obedience to World Bank economic liberalization has brought financial growth, it has also plunged many of the working poor into even greater poverty.
Pray for wisdom and discernment on the part of the government, and that the hungry and poor may have the gospel proclaimed to them. All Mauritanian peoples are unreached, in that there are no peoples with an indigenous church under indigenous leadership. There are a handful of believers worldwide, but individuals showing interest in Christianity in the past have been imprisoned or tortured.
Pray for freedom of religion in Mauritania. Pray also for seekers and believers, that the Lord might minister to them despite the lack of opportunities to hear and grow in the gospel.
10. Mauritius: Freedom of religion compromised by strong tendency for Indianization and, by implication, Hinduism at the expense of Muslims and Christians. All religious and missionary activity directed to evangelizing Hindus or Muslims is regarded with disfavor. Evangelism is a challenge in this complex, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
Pray for much wisdom and discernment.
The Hindu-ization of government and culture, as well as strong ancestral and ethnic ties make it difficult for Indians to become believers. Nevertheless, large numbers of Hindus are coming to Jesus through the bold witness of evangelical/Pentecostal churches. Most older churches are in gradual decline, and are traditional and nominal. Many Catholics are affected by the infiltration of Hindu beliefs and practices into the Church. The charismatic movement has made a big impact on Catholics, with many coming to personal faith in Christ. Many of those impacted have now formed their own independent groups. However, the Catholic Church is experiencing a move back to Bible reading, and they run several active ministries on the island.
Pray for a continued move of the Holy Spirit in this region.
11-12 Mexico: This dynamic, growing nation is searching for an identity in its Hispanic and Indian roots. This has led to a fierce nationalism and demonstrations of independence from its large northern neighbor, the USA, along with its commitment to close economic ties in NAFTA. This is often expressed in anti-Protestant populist propaganda.
Pray that Mexicans may find their true identity in a personal faith in Christ.
For 300 years the Catholic Church dominated Mexico. Between 1850 and 1910 revolutionary movements stripped it of much of its privilege and power, while retaining its cultural influence. During the 1990s the Church regained some of its denied privileges. The Church is in crisis – on one hand, a growing minority are regularly reading the Bible and this is seen as a threat to the traditional authority of the Catholic hierarchy, and on the other hand, nominalism and the rejection of Catholicism by young people is on the increase. Most Mexicans are culturally Catholic but still bound by sin, narrow traditionalism and syncretistic religious practices, and only 10% are regular churchgoers.
Pray that the power of the ancient gods and spirit-world may be broken in the Spanish-speaking majority and, more especially, in the Christo-pagan Amerindian groups.
Mexico City is a major challenge! Its growth rate has slowed because of its air pollution and inadequate infrastructure. The Metropolitan Area is still one of the world’s largest urban agglomerations. Only about 1.9% of the population is actively involved in one of the 2,300 or so evangelical congregations.
a) The 1,000 or so neighborhoods without an evangelical congregation – especially needy are the upper-class areas.
b) The slum-dwellers. Of the 18 million poor, over 7 million live in squalid housing as squatters in desperate economic conditions. Christian ministry to them is fraught with difficulty and challenge. Few are prepared to commit themselves to it.
c) The million Indians representing nearly every language of Mexico. Very little is being done to cater for their spiritual needs.
13. Micronesia: The traumatic history of occupation, exploitation, war and the impact of US nuclear bomb testing has had a devastating effect on the Marshallese. Traditional society and culture has broken down, with attendant problems of sexual promiscuity, drugs, drunkenness, suicides and a very high birth rate. The people are confused, uprooted and insecure and many suffer the effects of nuclear radiation with genetic disorders and high rates of cancer.
Pray for wise, visionary leadership for the nation that will break the spirit of dependency, and make the country economically viable.
The need for godly leadership in the churches is great. The United Church has a small theological college and the Assembly of God Church runs the Calvary Bible Institute.
Pray for the spiritual depth and vitality of these institutions.
14. Moldova: The Orthodox Church has regained strong political influence and is not afraid to wield it against those it sees as a threat. Although religious freedom exists, the Bess Arabian Church remains subordinated to the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchy and is not recognized. A current law forbids ‘abusive proselytism’. A more restrictive law is being debated in parliament.
The influence of the Orthodox Church makes evangelical work difficult. Preaching and planting churches in traditionally Orthodox villages is especially opposed, frequently with violence. Ask God for special favor upon those who minister at the risk of their own safety. It is also difficult to obtain permission to purchase buildings or land for church purposes.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would deepen the spiritual life of many from the Orthodox faith.
The less reached for prayer:
a) 1,000 or more villages have no evangelical witness. Many in villages are deeply involved in the occult.
b) The Gypsy population is large and virtually unreached.
c) The Muslim minorities. Gagauz believers have a vision to reach Muslims both in Moldova and in Eurasia. Pray for them as they mobilize for missions.
d) The youth of Moldova are victims the Soviet infrastructure’s collapse and the freedoms and bondages that followed. Committed ministry to young people is needed – pray for more workers. There is some work already among university students and SGA helps run youth camps. IFES has had a team in Moldova since 1986.
Monaco: The expatriate community is 84% of the population. There are three officially recognized congregations which serve the expatriate community – Anglican, French Reformed and the strongly evangelical English-speaking Monaco Christian Fellowship.
Pray that committed believers in all three might impact the whole of society.
Christian radio. Trans World Radio’s ministry from Monaco is widely respected. Powerful medium- and short-wave transmitters broadcast in 17 European and 3 North African languages.
a) Spiritual impact on the materialistic and indifferent cultures of Europe and the resistant and polarized Islamic North Africa.
b) Effective use of modern technology – satellite broadcasting, more powerful transmitters, and the means of funding. TWR broadcasts 3 hours weekly in French by Astral Satellite to Monaco itself.
c) The network of studios producing programs for transmission from Monaco to the Muslim world (e.g. GMU and AWM for North Africa) and Europe (German TWR, etc.). The staff needs prayer, as do the listeners.
d) The difficult but key follow-up ministries, which are often the only follow-up links that new believers can enjoy.
15. Mongolia: The Constitution honors Buddhism, Shamanism and Islam as Mongolia’s main religions but grants certain religious freedoms to all people. Restrictions apply to ‘foreign’ religions in cases where they are perceived as a possible threat to national security.
The daunting economic situation is a major challenge for the government and deeply affects every aspect of life – much unemployment, poverty, 200,000 malnourished children, etc. Corruption with great wealth for some and failure to develop the economy to benefit all led to the rejection of the previous government.
Pray that the leaders of Mongolia might rule with fairness and wisdom.
The multiplication of other religions and sects is a concern. Groups such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baha’i are very active and are forming groups in the capital and in other parts of the country.
Pray that evangelical groups may do more strategic networking in order to reach the whole country more effectively.
The less evangelized for prayer:
a) Nomads and some of the sparsely inhabited provinces.
b) The Kazakh are a majority in the far-western province of Bayan-Olgiy. Almost all are Muslims. There are now a few Christians and several Christian workers among them.
c) Ethnic minorities. There is one church among the Chinese. The Russians are nominally Orthodox with a few attending one of the three Orthodox congregations. There is no known witness among the Uriankhai or Evenki.
d) Students. Various student ministries such as CCCI, IFES, UBF and others are working to reach college students through camps, seminars and student discipleship groups.
Montserrat: The massive devastation of the volcanic eruption to the island, its economy and social life has deeply affected the people. Many are nominal Christians.
Pray for the shock of these events to cause many to find a living faith in Christ.
Church life was seriously disrupted.
Pray for the long task of rebuilding congregations, community life, property and outreach.
Again , we say with confidence that “we won’t stop praying until the whole world knows” about the love of God for creation. May your personal prayers find an answer this month before the throne of God. Thank you for your commitment to pray without ceasing.
Lane M. Holland, M.Div.
Mission Info Bank. Used by permission.
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