‘A Time to Bow Our Knees’
The Apostle Paul found courage to pray even in times of difficulties. As we pray through November for the many nations that are in need of a move of God upon their soil and souls may we say like Paul:
“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!”1. Togo The Church in Togo stagnated between 1960 and 1990. The long established Evangelical Presbyterian Church became theologically liberal and nominal and remained confined to the Ewe, while the Methodists remained among the Mina. The Catholics likewise only grew slowly. During the 1980s newer evangelical groups began to grow – the AoG (once mainly in the north and now predominantly in the south), the Baptists and the Missouri Synod Lutherans among the Moba in the north have all seen encouraging results. Many new denominations from outside Togo commenced work in the ’90s and all denominations began to grow rapidly.
Pray for the establishment of strong, indigenous congregations and denominations with visionary leadership.
Leaders for the young churches are few, and training facilities in Togo limited.
Pray for appropriate vernacular and French Bible Schools and TEE programmes to be launched.
The Baptist School of Theology and AoG Advanced School of Theology in Lom serve Francophone countries all over West Africa. There are several recently-started Bible schools.
Pray for many more Spirit-filled Togolese leaders to be raised up for the multiplying churches.
The whole body of Christ in Togo is beginning to unite in common vision for reaching every part of their land – and beyond.
Pray for barriers of mistrust and denominationalism to be broken down and for a Great Commission movement to be firmly established.
A national survey of the unfinished task was under way by 2001 on behalf of many evangelical churches and agencies with the help of SIL.
Pray for its successful conclusion and results that lead to church planting among these peoples.
2. Tonga: The Tongan Church has had a glorious history of missionary outreach, but for decades the vision has languished. Over the last ten years there has been renewed interest with evangelical Christians forming a group to promote a missions vision. YWAM’s University of the Nations has a branch in Tonga with a specific burden to encourage this.
Pray that good intentions may become Kingdom-advancing action.
The 20 th Century has been one of spiritual decline. There has been a sad history of bitter schisms within Methodism. Politics and Church are intimately intertwined. Doctrinal extremes and personalities have played their part in dividing denominations.
Pray for humility and godliness to characterize leadership and pray for revival.
Tonga has the world’s highest national percentage of Mormons, but probably half of those baptized as Mormons would not consider themselves such (hence the large doubly affiliated figure). The country’s largest employers are Mormons.
Pray for the error of this sect to be exposed as such, and for many to find freedom in Christ.
3. Trinidad and Tobago: Inter-ethnic harmony has been hindered by political parties aligned according to race and the activities of several extremist minorities among Muslims, Hindus and some ‘Christians’.
Pray that the government may be impartial and fair to all ethnic groups.
The Christian Church is very fragmented – between traditional and newer denominations and a growing multiplicity of Indian and Black-led charismatic and Pentecostal ministries. There is little cohesion with common spiritual goals, outreach or missions involvement. There is a lack of national vision and purpose and many ‘Christian’ families are dysfunctional.
Pray for revival to enliven and empower the Church.
A cross-cultural vision is lacking in most churches. Only a handful of Trinidadians have gone overseas as missionaries – mostly with OM, YWAM and WBT.
Pray for a greater awareness of local and world needs, and for effective training to be given in cross-cultural outreach.
4. Tunisia: In earlier centuries the Christian Church was widespread, producing such leaders as Tertullian and Cyprian. Schism, heresy, a failure to put roots deep in the local culture or translate the Bible into local languages, foreign invasions and finally Islam, brought about its demise. There are about 200 committed indigenous believers today; but about half that number meet together regularly for worship.
Pray that a living, growing Church might become a reality again in this land.
Tunisia is the one of the most progressive and open societies in the Arab world. While the outward trappings of Islam are obvious, most people are more committed to secular dreams of wealth.
Pray that the emptiness of religious posturing, spiritual apathy, and materialism might be exposed and replaced with spiritual hunger for Jesus.
A century of missionary involvement produced little fruit, but signs of a change are evident. A concerted prayer movement for Tunisia in 1999 coincided with significant (for such a small church) numbers of people turning to Christ.
Pray that the centuries-old barriers to the gospel might be demolished through continued intercession, and that these first fruits might become a great harvest of souls.
There are a number of new believers and new church groups that have come into being over the past few years.
Pray for their continued growth and discipleship.
However, the Church is still a tiny proportion of the total population. Some are isolated, fearful, with very limited opportunities for fellowship and discipling. To some, emigration is an easy option.
Pray that God may give them a vision of the Church He wants to build through them.
Few Tunisian believers have stood in the faith for more than 10 years among the increasing numbers of new believers.
Pray for lasting commitment to Jesus. Pray for safety, encouragement, integration into the Body and boldness – many have a vision for evangelism.
5.-7. Turkey: Turkey remains the largest unreached nation in the world. For over 1,000 years it was a bastion of Christianity, but it became a strong propagator of Islam. The Christian population has declined from 22% to 0.32% since 1900 – most of these Christians being non-Turkish. Few of the 66 million Muslims have ever heard the gospel. Turkey is a nation torn in opposite directions. It straddles Europe and Asia; some strive to bring the country into the EU, others to strengthen ties with Muslim states to the south and east. The constitution, judiciary and army are secular and uphold religious freedom, but many politicians, the police and the growing Islamist movement are hostile to anything Christian.
Pray that all attempts to restrict religious freedom may be frustrated, and that ambiguities in the law may be clarified – it is the latter that open the way for mistreatment of Christians.
The barriers of prejudice and hatred of the gospel can appear insurmountable.
Pray for the following to be broken down:
a) Historical. Turkey’s long association with Islam and more than a millennium of bitter wars with ‘Christian’ Europe make conversion appear almost an act of treachery.
b) Cultural. To be a Turk is to be a Muslim, even if only nominally so. Family pressure, police intimidation and threats from Muslim extremists keep many from coming to Christ, and force others to remain secret believers.
c) Fixed attitudes. A deep-seated resistance in the general public to anything Christian makes any form of witnessing difficult. A radical change in public attitudes and press coverage of Christians must be prayed for.
d) Biased understandings. Evangelical Christians are lumped together with Armenian terrorists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sensational articles in the Press and biased television programmes spread untruths about Christians, further inflaming public opinion. Muslim misconceptions about Christian doctrine present another major barrier.
e) The legacy of violent past suppression of Christian minorities. The turbulence and political instability before and after World War I brought about widespread violence and forced deportation for many Armenians. Armenian nationalists, urged on by Russian agents, fought for a separate homeland. The horrific Turkish response resulted in the virtual elimination of Armenians through expulsions or massacres. Some estimate 1.5 million died. Pray that the cloud of prejudice and darkness might be lifted and many might find joy and peace in the forgiveness offered by the Lord Jesus.
The ancient churches survived until the beginning of the 20th Century, but since then have been decimated by massacres (Armenians), severe persecution (Assyrians) and emigration (Greeks, etc.).
Pray for the remnant that survives – for re-kindling of faith and for a work of the Holy Spirit. Their numbers have been reduced to an estimated 138,000 in 12 different traditions.
8. Turkmenistan: Ethnic Turkmen Christians are few but have increased in 10 years from one or two to possibly 500-600. Most Christians are Russians, Ukrainians and Armenians; and among them are a few hundred evangelical believers. They have been brought to a greater unity and stronger faith through persecution and the Church continues to grow despite the threat to their lives, homes and jobs.
Pray for these believers to stand firm in their faith, and to win others to Christ.
Hostility against any evangelical Christian activity or even presence has increased since 1997. Nearly all foreign Christians have been expelled. Several national pastors have been exiled, beaten up, heavily fined and imprisoned. Congregations have been intimidated and forbidden to meet.
Pray for a softening of the attitude of the authorities, for courage for Christians in the country to stand firm and for Christians outside to pray and speak up against these actions.
8. Turks & Caicos Is, Tuvalu: Christian values in society are being challenged by offshore finance dealing with its frequent money laundering, tourism with its increasing licentiousness and by illegal drug trafficking.
Pray that the churches might address this through holy living and genuine faith.
The inflow of immigrants. Most are illegal and from Haiti. They are poised to outnumber natives, or Belongers.
Pray that believers might meet these newcomers with biblical love and share with them the gospel.
9.-10. Uganda: The devastation of the Amin and Obote years with unrestrained terror, murder, tribal warfare and corruption destroyed much of the economic and social fabric of the nation and hastened the spread of AIDS. Recovery will take many years.
Pray for peace – in the international Central African War and internal fighting by terror groups and robber gangs.
Pray for the government that it may exercise its authority with even-handed honesty.
The Church though in part being revived and growing needs prayer for:
a) Loving unity in Christ. Reconciliation is needed between tribes, between Protestant and Catholic, revived and non-revived, charismatic and non-charismatic.
b) Continued renewal. While most of the population claims to be Christian, widespread polygamy, a culture of promiscuity and paying mere lip-service to God, belies this.
c) Training of a new generation of leaders. Uganda Christian University (formerly Bishop Tucker Theological College) once strongly evangelical, has some liberal teachers on the faculty. There are several Pentecostal Bible schools and a Baptist Seminary. YWAM provides short-term training in their Discipleship Training School. Pray for the preparation of spiritual, godly leaders.
11.-12. Ukraine: The aftermaths of both independence and the Chernobyl disaster still have tragic impact on Ukrainians. Poverty, rather than riches, has been the outcome of freedom for many. Strict reform measures combined with rampant corruption is only likely to intensify the problem. The vacuum left by Communism’s demise has often been filled with violent crime, breakdown in family structures and sexual immorality. In addition, radiation pollution from Chernobyl still affects huge swathes of the country. The consequent weakening of immune systems, combined with a rapidly spreading AIDS virus could do incalculable damage to an already shrinking population.
Pray that amidst the darkness, many would seek the Light.
Ukraine has a strong Christian heritage, but suffering under Communism was severe. Evangelical Christians have emerged stronger and more numerous from 130 years of unrelenting persecution in which millions of Christians were killed. Pray that full freedom of religion for all groups may be enshrined in the constitution, practised by the state, and fully utilised by believers.
Pray that the church might adjust to a new context, and meet its challenges boldly. Among these are:
a) The need for full restoration and reconciliation. The era of Communist persecution is over but the scars of intimidation, manipulation and betrayal are not entirely healed. Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches all face this. Pray for firmness, fairness and forgiveness in handling all who compromised. Pray that those who did not bend might now demonstrate flexibility in church structure, and in enabling congregations to be outward looking rather than insular.
b) Lack of unity. Communist subterfuge brought division and chaos between registered and unregistered congregations of nearly all denominations. Since 1990, disputes have come into the open. These issues have been recognised by Ukrainian Christians and are being addressed. Pray for removal of prejudice, mistrust, personality clashes, and structures that prevent fellowship and promote competition – especially in tapping Western funds and aid.
c) The lack of resources for maximising the present harvest. Most evangelical denominations are growing rapidly, hampered only by an inability to erect buildings and train leaders. Due to the economic situation church buildings, discipleship materials, disciplers and basic equipment are in short supply. Pray that the kingdom of God’s growth would not be stunted by simple financial needs.
d) Religious freedom is somewhat threatened by the entrenched religious hierarchy and by government actions taken to limit the expansion of cults and sects. Registering churches or missions can be a very difficult and delicate process. Pray for wisdom and the right combination of discretion and boldness on the part of Christian workers.
12. United Arab Emirates: Radical changes of the last generation have made UAE citizens more cosmopolitan and open to new ideas, yet the rise of extreme Islamism has led to increased restrictions. Many are in daily contact with Christians, but few believers have opportunity to openly share their faith because of the possible results – arrests are not unusual.
Pray for courage, wisdom and an atmosphere in which the gospel can be shared freely.
Expatriate Christians have relative freedom for discreet witness and worship as the nation becomes more open and international. Several parcels of land have been granted recently for the development of Christian compounds. Pray for the many English, Arabic, Urdu, Filipino and Indian language worship groups and congregations. Many believers have a vision for evangelizing their own ethnic group and beyond, but they need training. There are several TEE programmes active in UAE for training leaders.
Pray for this vital work.
Pray also for the strategic partnerships which labor and intercede specifically for the Gulf States.
14.-16. United Kingdom: Britain needs to regain a sense of purpose and direction for the 21st Century. The nation is torn between its European geography and its Atlanticist culture. Membership of the EU and differing views on the degree of federalism desirable and its impact on national life is a matter for intense public concern and debate.
Pray that political leadership may have the moral integrity and courage to give the correct lead.
A sense that all is not well pervades the country. The ‘freedoms’ of the 1960s led to social disaster and hastened spiritual decline. Many are discouraged about the future and cynical about the seeming impotence of politicians to deal with the malaise. The gay rights movement, though representing a small minority, has seized the initiative in many areas of public life and in government legislation. Spiritual need is highlighted by increasing violence in the cities, the high divorce, suicide and illegitimacy rates, and drug abuse. Paralleling this is the growing number of younger people who have no contact with or knowledge of Christianity. Without a radical change, disaster looms.
Pray for national repentance and restoration to the spiritual vigor that once made Britain’s Christians a blessing to the world.
A national awakening is needed. There has been one every century in the last 800 years – the last was in 1859-69. The Judeo-Christian heritage has been so eroded by post-modernist worldviews that public opinion is no longer Christian. Christians have been marginalized in the media, public life, government legislation and school curricula. Religious pluralization has sapped the confidence of many Christians to testify boldly and even believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father. The steep decline in numbers of the Methodists, Anglicans, United Reformed, Brethren and other denominations continues and the Baptists and newer (house) churches have plateaued.
Pray that Christians might become passionate for God’s honor, burdened to pray for revival and be freed from a deadening negativism and materialism that pervades the life of the churches.
Tolerance is the ‘in’ word. The influx of non-Christian religions has affected the worldview of the population. The spokesmen for Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., push for legislation that will favor their religions, and demand freedoms they would never grant Christians in their lands of origin. Astrology, the occult, reincarnation, old world paganism (Druid/Wicca) and even Satanism have become popular, with a massive increase in literature promoting their ends. The mission field has come to the UK – and many non-Western Christians perceive the UK itself as a mission field.
Pray that UK Christians may recover a confidence in the ‘intolerant’ gospel and a passion for sharing it with the majority who have little concept of its content.
The future of the Church of England is crucial for the country and is the ‘mother’ Church for the world’s 80 million Anglicans. This composite body is an umbrella under which Anglo-Catholics, liberals and Evangelicals co-exist and where, tragically, equivocation on homosexuality and the basic tenets of the Christian faith are condoned. Fragmentation of the Church over such issues as ordination of women, ecumenism and dis-establishment is possible. Yet Evangelicalism is a growing force and gaining centre stage: 27% of bishops, 53% of clergy, 60% of ordinands and 40% of church-goers espouse its cause. The 1998 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion was a resounding setback for liberalism as the non-Western majority strongly affirmed biblical values. The charismatic movement has also contributed to an extensive renewal movement in the Church.
Pray that Church leadership might regain a prophetic role and speak with clear biblical authority to a nation that is morally and spiritually adrift.
We know that the Lord is faithful to hear the cries of the intercessor for the nations. Let us continue to believe for a move of God across the nations of the earth in the coming months. Jesus Christ is Lord!
Lane M. Holland, M.Div.
Mission Info Bank. Used by permission.
Copyright © 2008 Global Mapping International. All Rights Reserved
Use and reproduction subject to User Agreement.
© Operation World 2001
With thanks to Dawn Ministries and Operation World
Hosted by 24-7Prayer.com, Edited by Eloise Armstrong
This information is only about 20% of what is available in the ‘Operation World’ book and CD-ROM.
To find out more click here, to buy the book click here.