“For God so loved……..that He gave……”
As we remember that this month I want to encourage you to continue giving a few moments each day in prayer so that these nations can experience the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and be counted as a part of the Kingdom harvest.
Recovery from the 1994 genocide that claimed up to one million lives is difficult, but it displays the people’s remarkable resilience and willingness to forgive and move forward despite great pain and loss.
a) Proper healing for those affected. Deep, deep wounds remain, which cannot be fixed by superficial measures. Pray for the continuation of long-term programmes for counseling, rehabilitation and reconciliation. The Church has played and must continue to play a key role in the healing process; there is a great need for more ministries that focus on this.
b) Rwanda’s post-ethnic identity. Banning ethnic identification (Hutu, Tutsi and others)
is regarded by many as a positive move. People are said to be Rwandans and only
Rwandans. This may help dissolve ethnic divisions, but it may also allow current inequity
in the balance of power to continue unopposed.
Pray that all such inequity based on ethnicity might end.
c) The process of justice. Only 27 have been convicted in the International Criminal Tribunal.The normal judicial system could not cope with the burden, so the government initiated gacaca, community-based courts, to try lesser offenders. When done properly, gacaca allowed justice to be done and to be seen to be done. But a number of cases were poorly handled.
Pray that the Lord might bring justice and heal the wounds of those who did not receive fair treatment.
d) The release of prisoners, since the prisons can neither hold such large numbers nor afford the cost. The eventual reintegration of the 125,000-plus people originally imprisoned – many guilty of terrible crimes – will be a true test of Rwanda’s progress. Over half are no longer incarcerated. Some have not been tried. Some tried were found not guilty, some granted amnesty, others found guilty and served their sentence. Most releases trigger at least some outrage by past victims.
Pray for true forgiveness as well as true repentance.
Samoans have been Christian for over a century, and every village has at least one church. But the traditional class structure and pre-Christian cultural standards were not necessarily transformed by the gospel. Much of the Church suffers from nominalism, and rivalry among denominations does not generate a good spiritual atmosphere. Pride and politics influence church life too much, and the financial demands on a poorer population are heavy. These, coupled with the modern challenges of domestic strife and imported moral vice, make for a society in need of prayer.
The growth of evangelicals is encouraging – through renewal movements in mainline
churches as well as through newer groups, especially Pentecostals/charismatic’s. This
growth parallels a major decline in traditional denominations. Pentecostals/charismatic’s and other evangelical agencies, such as Youth for Christ, are met with opposition, particularly from some mainline denominations.
Pray for harmony between the newer and the more traditional branches of the Church.
Samoan missionaries played a major role in evangelizing the Pacific in the last century.
Today, most Samoans who serve outside of Samoa are pastoring the many Samoan
migrant congregations abroad. An exception to this is the contingent of around 50 Samoan YWAMers serving around the world.
Pray for them, and pray for their ongoing influence on their home churches.
18. San Marino:
The Sammarinese are Catholic by tradition and culture, but most give only lip service to the Church and are very materialistic. Increasing numbers reject their religious heritage altogether, with smaller numbers of JWs, a small group of Baha’i, a few Waldensians and a scattering of people from other faith backgrounds.
Pray that they may have a life-changing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
18. São Tomé & Príncipe:
The majority of the population are Catholic, but practice is usually mixed with deep-seated African spiritist beliefs. Appeasing spirits and ancestors is often of greater importance than honoring God.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move through the Catholic Church, bringing renewal.
Pray for the sovereignty of Jesus to be clearly demonstrated amid syncretized Catholicism and the growth of Islam and marginal sects.
Less-reached sections of the population are the Príncipe islanders, the Angolares
(rural fisher folk) and the serviçais (contract laborers), with each group having its own
distinct Creole dialect.
Pray for outreach to and salvation for these groups.
19.-20. Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace and stronghold of Islam. From Mecca, Islam holds sway over billions and permeates many cultures. If a spiritual breakthrough glorifying Jesus Christ would happen here, it would transform Islam and those subject to it.
Pray that the Lord would shake this centre of spiritual influence and make His Lordship known.
All Muslims must pray toward Mecca five times daily. Yearly, over two million
make the Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, required of all Muslims once as one of the five
pillars of Islam. This is the culmination of many people’s religious life. Praise God that He is revealing Himself to increasing numbers of hajis through dreams and visions.
Pray that many, as they go seeking God, might encounter the living Christ.
Saudis who come to faith in Christ face the death penalty if discovered; executions
are definitely known to occur. Despite this, increasing numbers are secretly seeking and
finding Jesus, and there are believers in every Saudi city. Pray for believers to persevere and even to multiply.
Pray for a miracle – the legalization of Christianity for Saudis; pray that Saudi
believers may be able to meet together in safety and have access to God’s Word.
Also pray that believers might find believing spouses.
Life is difficult for expatriates. The benefits of money made from working here are
offset by stifling social restrictions, often cruel working environments, endemic racism
and a total lack of personal and religious freedom. Many of these foreigners have little access to the gospel, although there are sizeable numbers of Christians among them.
Pray for a witness to flourish among all foreign workers – and that many might come to Jesus while in the land of Mohammed.
Spiritually, Senegal is both open and closed. The nation enjoys religious freedom and is remarkably tolerant toward other faiths – a point of pride for Senegalese, perhaps because so few Muslims have ever come to Christ. Despite a longstanding Christian presence and outreach, a spiritual heaviness covers the land. Allegiance to religious leaders renewed in each generation prevents any significant people movement to Christ. Virtually all Wolof, Fulbe and Mande peoples remain Muslim.
Pray for the spiritual breakthrough for which so many wait.
The Casamance region in the south has been troubled for many years by groups who
are, at times, separatists, but often mere bandits. The Casamance is separated from most of Senegal by geography (separated by Gambia), ethnic composition (Jola-dominated as opposed to Wolof) and even religion (significantly more animist and Christian sentiment in the south).
Pray for long-term stability and peace as well as for sustained Christian ministry – these are often disrupted by sporadic violence.
Pray for strong churches to be planted among the:
a) Wolof and the Lebu sub-group, resolutely Muslim despite much and varied outreach from the AoG, WV, IMB, Brethren, WEC, SIM, Mennonites and others; results are meager. Though only around 100 believers and the beginnings of a few congregations exist, a change is occurring. A raft of Christian resources, including the NT in Wolof, audio Scripture, the JESUS film, Christian radio, Wolof worship music and more, along with increased workers – both expat and national – give more opportunities than ever for the Wolof to know Jesus.
Pray for the underlying Spiritism that binds many to be broken, and for the birth of an
indigenous Wolof Church.
b) Fulbe – including the Fulakunda, Tukulor and Fulba Jeeri – largely a pastoral people. Many are nomadic, which presents a great missiological challenge to those seeking to plant churches. Almost all are at least nominally Muslim, and the Tukulour consider themselves the progenitors and defenders of Islam in Senegal. The Lutherans work among the northern Fulbe. WEC works in the Casamance, where there are two small congregations. The Tukulor NT was published in 1998 and the Fulakunda NT in 2000. Partnerships to reach these peoples are emerging, and the number of believers, while still tiny, is increasing.
c) Jola, speaking 13 major dialects and languages – only five of them have any Scripture at all. Islam is more prevalent in the north of their area, but all are bound by fetishism. There are now more than 15 Jola-led congregations and fellowships (WEC, CAPRO, IMB and others). The Jola Kasa NT was published in 2009.
d) Maures. All are Muslim, with only a few known believers. The majority live in inaccessible Mauritania, though many can be reached in the Senegal River Valley. There are weekly broadcasts of Scripture readings on several radio programmes in the Hassaniya language.
e) Malinke peoples, mostly in the south, include the Mandinka, Maninka, Jahanka, Kassonke and Yalunka. Almost all are Muslim with folk practices; the marabouts are highly influential among these peoples. Several mission agencies work among them; the NT, the JESUS film and many audio and written gospel materials exist for the Malinke.
f) Other significant peoples who number among the largest and least evangelized include the Soninke (Pioneers, WEC, Korean Methodists), Serer-Safi, Manjaco (NTM) and Susu. NTM also works among many of the smaller tribes in the south, several of whom are animistic or nominally Muslim.
g) Illegal emigrants, while not strictly a people, are a group worthy of prayer. Every year, thousands attempt the dangerous sea voyage to the Canary Islands in hope of finding work and a new life in Europe. Some die at sea or are repatriated; those who make it often find a hard and lonely life. Numbers are dropping due to increased vigilance by Spanish and other naval forces.
Pray for compassionate ministry to those in Spain and that, in their new situation, they would be open to the gospel.
Serbia is a nation with a public relations problem. It sees itself as defender of Europe and the Christian faith against Muslim aggression, as misunderstood and betrayed by the rest of Christendom and as victim of a propaganda war. Conversely, much of the world perceives Serbia as a war-mongering, hyper-nationalist power guilty of ethnic cleansing and atrocities, and as a perpetrator of ethnoreligious hatred. Both views have some justification. A long history of victimization by other nations (Turks, Austrians, Germans, Croats and others) has left a legacy of bitterness.
Pray for the healing and redemptive transformation of Serbian identity; a mighty work of God is necessary for this to happen.
The Romani people are very responsive to the gospel. Their total population is
unknown but may number as many as 200,000. Romani denominations, such as the
Protestant Evangelical Church, have the fastest growing churches in Serbia and enjoy a cultural expression that resonates strongly with the Romani people. Their spiritual growth is matched only by their material needs – they are uniformly the poorest ethnic group.
Pray for lasting fruit in these churches and for evangelization of the entire Romani people.
The vast majority of Seychellois claim to be Christian, but evidence of true spiritual transformation seems outweighed by superstition and nominalism. Gris-gris, a voodoo-like African spiritism based on black magic and herbalism, permeates the lives of Christians. Despite the disapproval of religious leaders, most Seychellois remain happy to mix religion into this dangerous cocktail.
Pray that the Holy Spirit may bring new life evidenced by repentance and sustained fruit.
Evangelical vision is growing. Despite being small in number (only 2,000 regularly
attend an evangelical church), evangelicals in Seychelles have a large vision. All evangelical groups share the goal of saturation church planting throughout the country.
Pray for this vision to have a powerful and positive impact on the spiritual life of the nation.
24. Sierra Leone:
Sierra Leone remains a land of suffering. The people are still mired in desperate poverty, most surviving on less than a dollar a day. It has With the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world and widespread disease (malaria, HIV, others), life expectancy is age 47 and not rising. Much work remains to ease the suffering of these who have already endured so much.
Pray for more attention from the worldwide community – especially from Christians – to address these needs.
Sierra Leone was the first West African country to be evangelized. The first
Protestant Church started in Freetown, among freed slaves, in 1785. Yet after over 200 years of effort, only 13% of the country claim to be Christian. Very few historic denominations have grown significantly in the last 40 years or made a lasting impact on the country. The newer, more dynamic groups tend to be spiritually shallow and overly focused on prosperity teaching and miracles.
Pray for churches that balance the Word and the Spirit, for hearts of unity and prayer
and for a deep desire to reach out in loving witness to the non-Christian majority.
The fallout from the conflict remains – the human suffering of survivors.
Pray for the following groups:
a) Those with emotional and psychological trauma from their experiences. This could include the majority of the population, but especially those who suffered rape. Proper trauma counseling and Christian love can see these wounds healed, but much remains to be done in ministry and especially in training people to minister to these needs.
b) Victims of mutilation and maiming. Sierra Leone’s conflict was particularly noted for
amputation of hands, arms and feet – for no reason other than pure cruelty and evil. Those who survived such treatment need loving acceptance and integration into normal society as well as vocational training for future employment.
c) Former child soldiers. Over 10,000 fought in the conflict, enduring as well as inflicting much suffering. The stigma associated with this role makes their reintegration very difficult. As they grow into men, they remain troubled and troublesome, knowing no life other than one of crime and violence.
Pray for ministries that will reach out to these and provide opportunities for them to live whole and wholesome lives.
Singaporean society is built on dedicated labor, discipline and self-reliance. These engender stability, good governance and a corruption-resistant culture, but also an emphasis on performance and wealth. Materialism has noticeably increased. Much of Singapore’s affluence is now dependent on imported labor from poorer countries; entire sectors of the nation’s economy would collapse without it. Pray for justice and fair treatment for all those from abroad; despite good legal safeguards, exploitation does exist.
Pray that churches might become more active in assisting those at risk. Pray also that the admirable strengths of Singapore might not in themselves become idols.
The increase of the Church’s size and impact brings challenges.
Pray for the following concerns:
a) Coping with affluence. There is the threat that believers mistake riches for spirituality and trade discipleship for wealth management. Many young Christians become inactive once they marry and become enmeshed in the materialistic “rat race” for the “five Cs”: career, cash, car, club and condo.
b) Spiritual pride is a constant temptation for such an influential, affluent Church. The same traits of sophistication and success that draw much of cosmopolitan Singapore to Christianity could be the very things that cripple and undermine it. The poor and working classes (heart Landers) are significantly under-reached and marginalized.
Pray for urgent correction to this imbalance.
Pray for transformed lives inside and out – for humility, continued brokenness and greater dependence on God.
c) Fear of control and intimidation in a closely governed and multi-religious society. Legislation against overt proselytism exists, but the only force preventing effective outreach is the Church’s own unfounded fears.
Pray that Christians would know how to maintain inter-religious harmony without compromising on evangelism.
Slovakia is a nation in the midst of significant change. Economic reforms and EU membership both created as well as solved problems. Increasing wealth (for some) is accompanied by the new influences of materialism and moral relativism. Depression and suicide rates are among the highest in Europe.
Pray that many might seek for hope and truth, and find these in Christ.
Slovakia enjoys a strong Christian heritage, but Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed
churches, while many, suffer from widespread nominalism and low attendance. However,
renewal movements are growing in these churches, especially among Lutherans as they focus on young people and small groups (Family Fellowships).
Pray that these movements would expand and increase.
Pray that the strong foundation of Christianity in Slovakia would be brought to vibrant life by a new move of the Holy Spirit.
Vision for the future must be recaptured. Previous church planting initiatives have
waned, but there are new ideas via the Slovak Evangelical Alliance, Natural Church
Development and others. Discipleship, evangelism and church multiplication – on the grassroots level – are essential for the gospel to reach the entire nation. Many desire to see churches in every city and town, but to achieve this, thousands of new congregations must be planted.
Pray for this ambitious desire to be achieved.
A long history of Catholic tradition is under threat. The three main Christian groups (Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran) are lacking in spiritual vitality. They are rapidly declining into irrelevance while agnosticism, New Age and different forms of Eastern religious beliefs are increasing, as is general spiritual apathy, even among those who notionally believe in God.
Pray for an awakening in the mainline churches that draws the many nominal Christians
into personal faith in Christ.
Evangelicals are few, underfunded and divided. There is an evangelical presence in
only 28 out of 210 municipalities, so church planting teams are clearly needed. The tiny
evangelical population often reflects the divisive culture of the South Slavs – pray for unity and the formation of an Evangelical Alliance. Of the few dozen fellowships, almost none are self funding; most pastors rely on secular employment or external financial support, and there is little teaching in churches on stewardship and giving.
Pray for Slovene believers to rise to the challenge of personal evangelism, to support their own pastors and even to send missionaries.
28. Solomon Islands:
Ethnic diversity and fragmentation as well as geography render the Solomons a patchwork of tribes and political groups rather than a unified nation. This hinders not just national identity but also Christian ministry. Myriad languages and cultures necessitate a specific approach for each small tribal group, with resources and translation required. Neo-tribalism is expressed through denominationalism.
Pray that Christianity might take root in each group in a relevant way, one that can help overcome division.
Pray that God might knit these many islands and tribes together in the gospel.
Training of pastors and leaders is a strategic need for church growth both in numbers
and in maturity. TEE programmes (especially ones developed in Fiji) and preaching seminars (run by the Langham Partnership) show great growth and impact. Hundreds are being trained and are in turn training and discipling whole congregations, with valuable input from Papua New Guinea, where such programmes have had similar impact. The South Sea Evangelical Church, in particular, is experiencing a burst of vitality as a result.
Pray for the several Bible schools and denominational seminaries of traditional churches, evangelical groups and newer charismatic churches
Africa’s most failed state continues to struggle for stability. More than 20 years after
the start of war, violence and anarchy still reign. Several attempts to restore law and order
failed – the “transitional” federal government (TFG) still does not control most of the country or even most of Mogadishu. Strong clan structures have thus far undermined rather than strengthened attempts at governing the south. Al Shabaab and other fundamentalist factions control significant amounts of territory, even driving the TFG from its former stronghold.
Pray that all Somalis would support the government and that its authority would be established throughout the country.
Pray that future rulers might learn from the past, govern the nation for the good of the people, respect human rights and grant true religious freedom.
The economic, social and physical health of the nation is terrible, the result of years
of war and neglect. More than 750,000 people are internally displaced, and 500,000 died
as a result of the fighting. Warfare/upheaval and a particularly strict form of Islam make outside assistance very difficult to give.
a) Order and stability. Chaos has created a haven for smugglers, bandits, pirates and terrorists, only fueling the problems. Such danger and an oppressive interpretation of Islam also prevent aid and workers from assisting anyone.
b) Structures of sin allow great wrongs to persist. Most women suffer female genital mutilation. Many women have been raped, many divorced and left by their husbands and many children have been smuggled out of Somalia and into exploitation or abandonment.
c) Medical need. Somalia has the lowest health budget of any nation, and the highest infant mortality rate – nearly 12% of all children die as infants. Droughts and warfare-induced famines render huge numbers dependent on food aid.
d) Wise administration of aid. Access is difficult and opportunities limited; violent reactions to perceived “Christian” aid occur.
Pray for protection and effective ministry for aid workers, many of whom are Christians.
I believe that every time we pray the Lord hears, for it is His desire that all nations receive the news of His extravagant love for us. Thank you for praying.
Until next month.
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