2010 NOVEMBER 8-16 PRAYER AGENDA FOR THE NATIONS
In the United States we have a holiday this month called Thanksgiving that was started around 1621 as a religious holiday in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is a time of gathering with family and friends and celebrating the harvest and God’s goodness throughout the year. Several other nations have a similar holiday that is a time of both reflection and thanksgiving.
As we pray for the nations this month let us thank God for the release of His mercies and grace to those who have yet to acknowledge Him as Lord of the whole earth.
We continue to pray for Haiti as they still fight to recover from the devastating earthquake in January, now complicated by an outbreak of cholera. We also pray for the nation of Indonesia that has experienced another earthquake, tsunami and eruptions of the volcano Mount Merapi. Let us not get weary in our prayers but to continue to trust the promises of God to cover the earth with His glory!
8. TURKMENISTAN: There is an international network of Christians concerned for the evangelization of this land.
Pray for Turkmenistan to open up for sharing the good news.
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.: 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 are mostly 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.
TUVALU: Tuvalu may be the first nation to disappear as a result of global warming and the rise in ocean levels. Pray that the uncertainty of the future may bring spiritual earnestness. Tuvalu was first evangelized by Cook Island missionaries. The Congregational Church is effectively the established church; nominalism and tradition are brakes on spiritual life and fervor. The work of AoG and Church of God of Prophecy are the only distinctly evangelical ministries on the islands.
Pray for spiritual life for all groups.
9-10. UGANDA: Pray for these major ministry challenges for the Ugandan Church:
a) The AIDS disaster. Though the infection rate is falling, the devastation for families and communities is great. Maybe 3 million are living with the disease. There are nearly 2 million orphans of AIDS and war. Much is being done by churches and agencies in AIDS support (CMS, YWAM), caring for orphans (Watoto Childcare Ministries caring for over 1,000 – PAoC/Pentecostal Assemblies) and preventive ministry in promoting Christian values – chastity outside marriage and faithfulness within it (SU – Aid for AIDS).
Pray for these:
b) Young people’s ministry. This is fundamental for rebuilding the country in the wake of the devastation of AIDS. Pray for the extensive ministry of SU in schools and for FOCUS (IFES) in Makarere University (where the Christian Union has a membership of 500 among the 9,000 students) and ministry on 64 other campuses. Life Ministry (CCCI) on the university campus, disciples faculty and students and challenges those with the maturity for involvement in world missions.
Pray also for effective youth programs in churches – not a priority in the past.
c) Children in crisis. The large number of orphans and the increased levels of poverty deprive many of care, finance for education and hope.
Pray especially for:
i) Abducted children. The Lord’s Resistance Army has abducted over 10,000 children as child-soldiers or sex-slaves; 70% of their ‘army’ is made up of drugged, brainwashed children. ii) Street children, who have multiplied in Kampala (AIM, others).
Pray for all seeking to rehabilitate those who are physically freed (WVI, others).
d) Refugees are housed in many camps – over 100,000 Sudanese in the north, many Congolese in the west and Rwandans in the south-west. There are also Ugandan refugees forced into camps in the LRA-affected areas in the north-west. This is an immense extra burden for the country. MAF‘s role in flying help to them is important.
Pray for all who seek to minister to them.
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, practiced by the state, and fully utilized 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 recognized 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 maximizing 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.
13. 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.
There are limited medical facilities in which expatriates are involved. These are dependent on good relationships with the authorities.
Pray for the provision of godly staff willing to serve in them.
Pray for the unreached in this land:
a) The indigenous Arab population. Both urban educated and rural illiterate have had little exposure to the gospel. There are some Gulf Arab believers. Their faith exposes them to persecution and possibly even death – pray for their encouragement and for steadfastness. Discipleship for these believers and opportunity for fellowship are great needs. Some are enrolled in Arabic language BCCs.
b) Many expatriate communities. The Iranian (Persian, Kurd, Baluch), Pakistani (Panjabi, Pushtun and Baluch), Somali and Sudanese communities here have no known groups of believers among them.
c) Women are less marginalized here than in some Arab countries, but they are nevertheless socially isolated from much potential contact with believers. Pray for fellowship and strength for those who secretly believe.
14-16. UNITED KINGDOM: 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.
There are signs of hope – water these tender plants with prayer:
a) Traumatic social change and the devastating consequences of violence, family breakdown and fear for the future have brought a new openness to consider spiritual solutions.
b) Renewal movements. Many pastors and congregations experienced charismatic renewal between the 1960s-‘80s. This also gave rise to a new family of churches. The house church movement, or Newer Churches, grew fast and have become a significant spiritual force in the nation, deeply affecting church structures and fellowship patterns, and have enlivened worship across the denominational spectrum. Their growth slowed in the 1990s. Nation-wide, these changes have been stimulated by major trans-denominational gatherings such as Greenbelt and Spring Harvest.
c) New younger generation movements are emerging with radically new approaches – Internet café gatherings, WEB prayer and culturally appropriate worship styles, such as Tribal Generation, flowing from the Church of England, and also others spontaneously springing up in different parts of the country.
d) The Alpha Course phenomenon has spread across the country to nearly every denomination and across the world as one of the most successful outreach programmes run by churches in the UK today. These user-friendly introductory courses explain Christianity in a relaxed and informal environment. About 6,400 congregations were using the Alpha courses in 1998 with over 650,000 individuals having completed one.
e) Christian leaders from across the denominational spectrum are meeting regularly for prayer together in many cities and towns. This is leading to cooperative efforts in ministry.
May you be encouraged to believe for great things from our God.
Lane M. Holland, M.Div.
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