“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.” (Isaiah 52:7-8)
The World— January 1-11: Listed here are some of the critical international hot spots most likely to cause turmoil, conflict, and suffering or even war in the coming years. These need to be covered in prayer:
1 The future of Jerusalem. The world’s holiest city is probably also its most volatile flashpoint. Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has resisted major international efforts to resolve it. The fundamental and seemingly irreconcilable differences between most Israelis and Arabs mean that any outbreak of serious conflict can easily embroil neighboring countries – especially Lebanon and Syria. Many feel that such a war is almost inevitable. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
2 The Korean Peninsula is shared between an untenable, failing dictatorship and an
affluent but nervous democracy. If or when reunification comes, the main questions are
whether it will happen peacefully and at what cost rebuilding the North will occur. War would
be disastrous for both sides.
3 Somalia is a textbook example of a failed state; it is a broken land populated by warlords,
pirates, an uprooted and exiled shambles of a government and a number of aggressive
Islamist groups. The upheaval has spilled into the Horn of Africa and significantly affected
marine traffic in the busy shipping lanes along its coast.
4 Central Africa, while not the cauldron of anarchy it was in the 1990s, retains much of
the upheaval and unrest of those dark times. Eastern DRC and northwest Uganda in
particular still suffer from the predations of lawless militias.
5 Afghanistan and Pakistan remain vulnerable to religious extremism. While the former
has been stabilized significantly by heavy foreign military presence, religious terrorism and
violence have gripped Pakistan in the past decade. The porous mountain borders between the
two countries offer the ideal location for the Taliban to persist with their radical Islamist agenda.
Both remain among the world’s most unstable and dangerous nations.
6 China’s growing self-confidence and assertiveness seem less of a threat externally
as it seeks to engage the world as a financial, rather than a military, power. However, its
increasing global strength is not without its opponents – and victims. There are also increasing
tensions with the Uyghur and Tibetan minorities, the looming demographic and economic
fallout of a rapidly aging population resulting from the One Child Policy and the massive
gender gap with a shortfall of millions of females. All have serious consequences.
7 Iran is a regional power unto itself and the Shi’ite half of the West Asia/Middle East region. Its
unbending stance on developing nuclear power and its notable influence in Iraq may put it on
a collision course with other nations, particularly in the West. It also has its own internal stability issues.
8 The Mexico-US drug corridor is an area where the hedonistic excesses of American
appetites effectively fund brutal wars between various drug cartels and government forces.
Tensions from immigration issues further fuel the fire.
9 Immigration into Europe is an unstoppable tide of humanity from Africa, the Middle
East, Asia and Eastern Europe. The plunging birthrates in EU countries and the affluence,
stability and generous social services in Europe are factors that pull in immigrants, many of
whom are coming from countries where conflict rages. While immigration is utterly necessary
for the demographic and economic survival of Europe, the potential for resentment and violent
backlash on the part of the native peoples of the EU is also strong. Postmodern secularism, Islam
and Christianity must learn to co-exist or face a very turbulent future.
10 The Himalayan region simmers with tension and division. The competing claims over
Kashmir, the volatile nature of Nepal, the oppression of Tibet, the upheaval in Bangladesh
and Northeast India and the opposition of India and Pakistan on many issues make this a
potentially dangerous area – especially since the three main players are all nuclear powers.
11 The West African fault line between Islam and Christianity has seen clashes, mob
violence and civil war, especially in Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire. Religious differences are
exacerbated and fuelled by ethnic divisions.
Africa—January 12 – 18: Africa has 13 of the world’s 20 least-evangelized countries by percentage. There are many clusters of unreached peoples in Africa. The vast majority are Muslim of varying degrees of commitment and orthodoxy. Reaching them will be a great challenge in terms of spiritual opposition, cultural learning and effective mission strategies.Pray for the light of the Gospel to begin to penetrate these people groups:
12 The Arabs of North Africa. Arriving from the Arabian peninsula in the early years of
Islam, the Arabs conquered the Maghreb and imposed Islam upon the population. There
has been little by way of outreach to them until recent years – and even less by way of response.
They number nearly 210 million from Mauritania across to Egypt.
13 The Imazighen, or Berber. North Africa’s original inhabitants; they were conquered by
Rome, many becoming Christian, then conquered by Arab Muslims in the 8th Century
and assimilated into Islam. There are 18 million Imazighen in 76 distinct sub-groups living in 17
countries. Major groups include the Kabyle (3.3m), Riff (2.6m), Shilha (8.7m) and Shawiya
(1.9m). Only among the Kabyle has there been a significant turning to Christ. Less than 0.4%
might be considered Christian. Several partnerships of agencies concerned for them exist.
14 The peoples of the West Africa coastal nations, including the Wolof, Malinke, Jula
and Susu clusters. Totalling 17.2 million people, they include 114 peoples speaking 75
languages and dialects. The largest peoples are the Wolof of Senegal (4.6m), Maninke of Guinea
(2.4m), Maninka of Côte d’Ivoire (1.9m), Mandinka of Senegal and Gambia (1.4m) and Susu
of Guinea (1.1m). They remain largely unevangelized, even though there are a number of
Christian workers and African churches among neighbouring peoples.
15 The Fulbe (Pulaar, Fulani) number 31.9 million in 50 or so distinct ethnic groups
speaking related dialects. They have spread from Senegal to become a major component
of nearly every country of the Sahel as far east as Sudan. They are the largest nomadic-culture
people in the world. More than half now live settled lifestyles and are more strongly Muslim
than their nomadic or semi-nomadic brethren. Planting churches among them has been hard
and slow with small breakthroughs in Benin, Nigeria and Chad. The Fulbe represent one of the
major challenges for missions in Africa today. There are dozens of agencies with some outreach
or ministry to the Fulbe, and several partnerships have been formed specifically to synergize
ministry among them.
16 The interior peoples of West Africa. These consist of the Kanuri, Bambara, Songhai,
Soninke people clusters, adding up to 78 peoples with 31 languages and 22.3 million
people. Largest among them are the Yerwa Kanuri of Nigeria (5.5m), the Zarma of Niger (4.5m),
the Bambara of Mali and Côte d’Ivoire (3.1m, 1.0m), the Songhai-Koryaboro of Mali and Niger
(1.6m) and the Soninke of Mali (1.0m). Of these, only the Bambara (5.0%) and Koryaboro (0.4%) have a notable Christian population. Many smaller peoples have no known believers.
17 The Hausa are dominant in Niger and northern Nigeria, but live in 20 countries in
total and number 32.4 million. Hausa has become the major language for much of
Nigeria, Niger and beyond. Many resources exist in Hausa – the Bible, the JESUS film, radio
broadcasting – and much ministry is done in Hausa, but few have turned to Christ from Islam.
Response is greatest among the Maguzawa section of the Hausa. Evangelization of the Hausa
remains a major challenge to the Church.
18 The Horn of Africa-Cushitic peoples. There are 101 million in 160 ethnic groups
living mainly in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. They are represented in six people
clusters – Afar, Beja, Ethiopian (often referred to as “Semitic”), Omotic, Oromo and Somali. A
number of peoples are Christian. The great challenge remains to reach the Somali (15.7m), Beja
(3.2m) and Afar (2.3m). Many Christian agencies are burdened to bring the gospel to them and
see a harvest; there have been many attempts, but the risk and the cost are great. It is effectively
impossible for outsiders to do mission work among the Somali and Afar clusters in their home
countries, but there is a sizeable Somali diaspora in Africa and beyond.
The Americas: Despite the large Christian presence and much evangelical activity, major challenges remain for prayer:
19 Upper and upper-middle classes. These tend to be less evangelical, often wearing their liberal Protestant or Catholic sensibilities quite lightly. In many cases, even these are intellectually atheist or Marxist but make a show of religion as a social networking mechanism. Specific strategies are needed to reach these influential classes.
20 The urban poor. In North America, they usually live in the decaying hearts of major
cities; in Latin America, they live in huge slums that ring or even permeate the major cities.
Churches have a great role to play and are well positioned to do so. Pray for the light of Jesus
to shine through Christian ministry, effecting urban renewal with a reduction in crime, violence
and substance abuse and a growth in education, employment and, most importantly, the
winning of lives into the Kingdom.
21 Whole regions of some countries are far less evangelized than the rest of the country,
such as Quebec Province in Canada, the northeastern states and Amazonia in Brazil, some
of Mexico’s states as well as entire nations such as French Guyana.
22 Students in the universities. In North America, this means an opportunity to reach
out to students from nearly every nation on earth, many from unevangelized backgrounds.
Throughout the Americas, it is a chance to reach nationals for Jesus and to disciple young
believers into Christian leaders. CCCI and Navigators have extensive ministries to campuses,
and IFES has well-established work in the majority of countries, with younger movements in
others. Pray for all agencies concentrating on this strategic sector of the community. A clear,
radiant, evangelical student witness in every university is a key target for prayer.
23 The Romani (Gypsies) – present, but usually unrecognized and often undetected in
most Latin American countries, and numbering over one million. They often remain
deliberately incognito in order to avoid marginalization in society, but they have notable needs
in terms of education and health, and especially need to be reached with the gospel.
24 Immigrant communities from all over the world. Nearly every significant culture has
a migrant community in the Americas. For special mention:
a) Chinese – over four million all over the Americas. The one million in Latin America are less
reached. Their numbers are being augmented by immigrants, especially from Mainland
China. The latter need specialized ministry in order to reach them.
b) Japanese – around three million with communities in Brazil (1.4m), USA (1.2m) and Peru.
c) Muslims – mainly Arabs in Latin America, but increasing in numbers throughout the
Americas via immigration from the Middle East. There are also South Asian Muslims in the
Anglophone countries and Javanese Muslims in Suriname. Brazil is especially seeing Muslim
growth. Events of the 21st Century have brought focus on these peoples and increased
outreach to them. Many Arabs in Latin America are Christian and could be instrumental in
reaching Muslims or enabling Latin Americans to do so.
Asia—January 25-30: Listed below is a selection of the flash points in Asia that could have an effect – regionally and globally – on the political, economic, demographic and military spheres. They could also have profound influence on the efforts to evangelize the regions in question – the challenge lies before both local and national political leaders as well as the Church. Let us lift these issues in prayer:
25 The unresolved conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. All international efforts to broker a viable peace deal have ultimately failed. There are deep differences
between the claimants – on the land and on Jerusalem itself – with hawkish elements in both groups. While Israel continues to settle its people on occupied land and while Muslim nations
refuse to recognize Israel’s rights of existence and sovereignty, a peaceful resolution is highly unlikely. Factoring in antagonistic external players, without heavenly intervention, future war seems almost inevitable – the nations involved are all preparing for this possibility. Desperation, hatred and the fearsome arsenals of weapons would generate a terrifying toll on the region. Pray for all parties involved in the confrontation and for world leaders attempting to defuse the situation.
26 China’s re-emergence as a global superpower is possibly the major global political
and economic factor in the first decades of the 21st Century. China is growing more
assertive in international diplomacy and political engagement. The pragmatic marriage of
centralized state control with an increasingly capitalist economy has achieved stupendous
financial growth. But such growth, fuelled by massive consumption of resources, cannot be
sustained indefinitely; what happens when the bubble bursts will have a global impact. The major
demographic shift to an aged population (as a result of the one-child policy) will place great
burdens on those of working age. The huge gender gap – in many areas, a shortfall of 20-30%
from equal gender balance – has further serious implications for long-term societal stability. The
quasi-colonization by ethnic Han of China’s hinterlands (Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai,
Tibet, Yunnan) and accelerating immigration to under-populated and under-developed Russian
Siberia are all potentially calamitous to the indigenous populations.
27 The Himalayas region simmers with tension. The conflict over Kashmir is the most
intractable of problems, with Pakistan and India (and China) holding conflicting claims
over territory. The Kashmir dispute has profoundly shaped Pakistan’s domestic and foreign
policies, has provoked an arms race between Pakistan and India and has already resulted in four
wars. China and India are in dispute over territorial claims not just in Kashmir but also in
Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Strife also exists over India’s hosting of the Tibetan governmentin-exile and in Tibet itself. Add to this the Nepal Civil War of 1996-2006 (and continuing tensions), and you have a region filled with potential flashpoints.
28 Afghanistan’s troubles are not yet over. It still sits under foreign military presence
and a flawed and fledgling political system. The Taliban violently oppose both the former
and the latter, and their influence is still significant in several regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.Afghanistan has known only war for so many decades, yet stability is being established – and the good news is carefully, subtly being shared and demonstrated.
29 The Golden Triangle (parts of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Yunnan), already
notorious for insurgency, lawlessness, drug production and trafficking, has now added
human trafficking to its list of evils.
30 Yemen is a tinderbox of trouble. Rapid population growth (the population doubles
every 21 years!), endemic poverty, a turbulent and clannish society, growing Islamist
extremism and violence against foreign powers all point to a looming ignition point.
Thank you for the time you give in daily intercession for the nations of the earth. We continue to believe that they will have a visitation from the presence of the Lord. As you have prayed for others may the Lord answer the prayers of your heart. <
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