“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry……” Psalm 10:17
As flowers bloom and life shows up in brilliant colors on the earth I encourage you to join us in praying for the life of the Lord to invade the countries we are praying for this month.
Let us pray to the God who hears and answers prayer:
1. Cook Islands (Tokelau) The strong Christian legacy of over 150 years – bordering on theocracy on some islands – is fading rapidly. Increasing numbers are nominal or even non-religious, and Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are the fastest growing groups.
Pray for reversal of these trends and for new life to come to the mainline Churches.
Many smaller islands have no known evangelical witness. There are evangelicals
in several Pentecostal and Independent churches and small groups within the older
churches. YWAM’s new base in Rarotonga could be instrumental in rejuvenating the churches of the Cook Islands and beyond.
Pray for an outpouring that would see older churches revived, new churches planted and every island with the presence of active believers.
1. Costa Rica Evangelical churches lose almost as many as they gather. Many unattached evangelicals and many more “ex-evangelicals” have returned to the Catholic Church, turned to sects or given up on religion altogether.
The following causes need to be addressed in prayer:
a) A failure to disciple converts. Most Costa Rican churches are good at reaching out and winning “converts”, but they fail in raising them in godly lifestyles and biblical knowledge. When times get difficult, spiritually stunted Christians either fall away or migrate to a different church.
b) Pastors are under-resourced, usually surviving on minimal incomes and without strong teams to help in their work. This generally leads to a failure to provide solid pastoral care for struggling believers, which in turn leads to members drifting away.
c) Rivalry and divisions among and within denominations and congregations disillusion many.
Pray for a spirit of unity and love to prevail.
d) Rigid legalism and failure to enculturate the gospel forced alien forms of faith and culture onto Costa Rican Christianity.
Pray for dynamic, relevant and culturally appropriate ministries and churches to spring forth.
2-3. Côte d’Ivoire. The country has been essentially divided between Muslim north and multi-faith but predominantly Christian south. Although peace is established and the nation is moving forward, the loss of life, of infrastructure and of confidence in Côte d’Ivoire’s fundamental unity will leave scars on the nation’s psyche.
Pray for political leaders who are visionary, non-partisan, free of corruption and able to boldly take the nation forward and past this unfortunate episode inCôte d’Ivoire’s history.
Pray also for a satisfactory solution to the remaining challenges – how to handle the millions of immigrants from neighboring countries, a problem at the core of the conflict of 2002-2007.
There are now several African mission agencies; some are denominational. They
work mainly in Côte d’Ivoire but increasingly beyond, targeting the remaining unreached
peoples of West Africa and the world.
Main areas for prayer:
a) Missionary training. CAPRO has a missions training institute in Abidjan to serve Francophone West Africa. It is the first such institute for this region. The great challenge is to prepare missionaries for Muslim outreach. A consortium of Methodists, the UEESO and the General Conference Baptists are developing a missionary training school.
Pray for these endeavors, and pray that such schools would produce excellent Ivoirian missionaries for the harvest field.
b) Sending. Congregations are usually supportive of indigenous missionaries, but leadership canat times feel threatened, and economic strain can limit financial support. Many missionaries live by faith on very little income.
Pray that God might supply all of their needs and that their churches might support them in every possible way.
Bible translation is one of the most pressing and demanding ministries for Christian
workers. A considerable number of national and expatriate workers are involved in 28
translation projects, many being among the superficially Christianized people of the south. SIL’scontribution is especially significant. Three OTs and six NTs were completed between 2000-2009, including the completion of the Jula Bible. Pray also for:
a) Distribution of Scripture.
Pray for a wider distribution of Bibles and NTs already translated. Relative poverty and a negative attitude toward reading, especially in one’s tribal language rather than in French, are challenges that must be addressed.
b) Literacy projects are vital to make full use of translated Scripture.
Pray for SIL, UBS, other missions and local churches endeavoring to bring the gift of reading to Ivoirians.
c) Audio Scriptures are even more important to the many peoples who are oral learners in this land. SIL is focusing on audio formats for Scripture, and GRN produces Scripture and Christian teaching in 65 of Côte d’Ivoire’s languages.
4. Croatia. The profound impact of historic and recent hatred among Croat, Serb and Bosnian could continue to hamper the affected nations for generations to come. The iron bond shackling ethnicity to religion also hampers progress and stifles spiritual breakthrough. Many suffer continued psychological and emotional trauma as a result of the upheavals, and little has been done to address this. It is an area where churches might have a great impact.
Pray for true reconciliation and for the religious and ethnic bondages to be broken – these can only happen through the power of Christ.
Believing churches are spreading. Though still relatively small in size and number,
new fellowships are popping up around the country,
But several areas require urgent prayer:
a) Continued growth. Planting churches is high on the priority list of almost all groups
working among the unreached. Baptist, Pentecostal and Independent groups partner with
foreign groups (Baptists, ECM, GEM, SEND, Pioneers, UWM, AoG, others) to establish vibrant new faith communities across the nation.
Pray for creative and strong local expressions of the body of Christ.
b) Unity. Cooperation and partnership across denominational lines are essential in this land with a history of division. Evangelicals recognize the power of unity and the testimony it gives, but the enemy is in opposition.
Pray for God’s people to win through as they draw together.
5. Cuba. faces a difficult future.
Pray for the following needs:
a) Political. This last bastion of Communism in the West defies fundamental change through the continued influence of Fidel Castro, his President brother, Raúl Castro, and “old guard” Party leadership.
Pray for their salvation and for wise leadership that governs in the best interests of its people.
b) Economic. The current model is simply unsustainable in the long term, despite substantive assistance from Venezuela, China and Bolivia. While the Castro family sits on a personal fortune, endemic poverty has led to a thriving black market where crime, drugs and prostitution (including sex tourism) are widespread. Black and mulatto Cubans suffer greater deprivation with fewer opportunities than whites. Only Haiti and the Dominican Republic are poorer in the Caribbean region.
Pray for sensible reforms and economic freedom and that structural sin might be overcome by good.
c) Demographic. Cuba has a top-heavy population, with large and increasing numbers of aged dependent on too few in the younger generation for support. This demographic time bomb will place further stress on an already fragile economy.
d) Ideological. The wounds inflicted by Marxism need healing. More than 500,000 have been imprisoned for ideological reasons and over one million have become ideological or
economic refugees, many in Florida, USA. Both the USA and Cuba have used refugees as a weapon of war.
Pray that forgiveness might abound.
6. Cyprus The Orthodox Church is a crucial focal point for Greek Cypriot culture and identity. The challenge lies in encountering the gospel amid the ethnic-cultural-political traditions. Cyprus is very religious for an EU country, but church attendance is largely practiced by rural folk and the older generation. Pray for the Holy Spirit to draw religious Cypriots into a living relationship with Christ and for renewal within the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church has taken to distributing NTs in the public schools;
Pray that this might bear much fruit among the students.
The Logos bookstore (CLC) is a vital centre for books, tracts and BCCs. Logos is also
the core of a range of Christian education ministries that are a boost to the evangelical
Pray for its effectiveness and that of The Bridge Christian bookshop.
7. Czech Republic. Freedom for Czechs has too often translated into a “free-for-all”. A generally successful shift to a market economy is positive for the country, but it places economic stress on too many of the most vulnerable. The moral vacuum that has emerged sees hedonistic materialism assume primacy; crime, sexual immorality, substance abuse as well as depression and suicide are more prevalent today than in Communist times. Atheism rose from 40% in 1991 to60% in 2001 (and 71% non-religious in 2010), but apparently this does not preclude widespread use of horoscopes and a fuzzy mishmash of spiritual ideas.
Pray for this existential and spiritual heaviness over the Czech Republic; pray that serious soul-searching may take place and that a shift in the spiritual atmosphere might occur.
Czech Protestants must both reclaim their heritage and demonstrate new life.
Since the defeat of the Bohemians by Catholic forces in 1620, Protestants have suffered in one way or another. There is now freedom but also spiritual decline; the remarkable legacy of both John Hus and then the Moravians is under threat (and has been so for some time).
Pray for evangelicals – the traditional but shrinking Protestant denominations and the smaller, younger groups such as Baptists, Pentecostals and others. Determined, deliberate and loving outreach and evangelism are necessities, as is the prayer that must precede them.
8. Denmark. Denmark retains a core of Christian tradition and values. They are deeply ingrained in Danish social laws and values. Over 80% of the population remains members of the Lutheran Church (despite the fact that over 50% are reported to be agnostic or atheist).
Pray that more Danes will rediscover the faith that has shaped so much of the nation’s history and society.
Much of the Lutheran Church is experienced by ordinary Danes as ritualistic and dead,
and the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit must blow through this institution. Church
attendance is around 2%. There are a number of organizations promoting renewal or revival in the state Church – Indre Mission, Luthersk Mission, Evangelisk Luthersk Mission, Oase and Nyt Liv.Free churches, Lutheran and otherwise, contribute greatly to the spiritual life of the nation.
Pray for wisdom for all who seek to transform the Church and make it relevant to secular Danes.
Islamic relations. The infamous “cartoon riots” of 2006 revealed a nation dealing with crucial issues of free speech, religious fault lines and intercommunity relations. At the time, Muslims numbered only 4% of the population, but they receive 40% of the social welfare. Their integration into society and the workforce is a major challenge. This in turn has shifted the nation from having one of Europe’s most liberal immigration policies to having one of its toughest.
Pray for Danes and others to display uncompromising Christian love to Muslims in Denmark.
9. Djibouti. Djibouti, Africa’s third-smallest state, is a haven of calm in a stormy region. Western military presence, due to the strategic location, helps foster a climate of relative peace, safety and freedom.
Pray that these present freedoms may not be eroded by the politics of the Horn of Africa nor by the Islamist voice that seeks to shape Djibouti according to its own set of values.
Mission work is a challenge in this hot, dry, but often humid land, and working
conditions are extreme. Physical and spiritual oppression, economic disparity, ethnic
tensions and a paucity of believers lead easily to discouragement and worker attrition.
Pray for the present ministries in education, public health, literature, Bible translation, literacy and youth work – opportunities to witness abound in these. Pray that contacts lead to disciples for Jesus.
Pray for God to send long-term workers, especially from nearby countries and people groups.
Pray for unprecedented spiritual breakthroughs, long-awaited but as yet unseen. There is notable interest in Christianity from a small but increasing number of locals.
10. Dominican Republic. Columbus’ declared affection for this island and subsequent European colonization have yielded 500 years of turmoil. Foreign disease and the Spanish destroyed the one million indigenous Arawak Taino people. Sugar cane crops soon became massive plantations, which then required the importation of slaves. Both European colonial powers and Dominican governments have ruthlessly exploited the land and the people – this can be seen in the massive gap between a small wealthy elite and the poor majority.
Pray for justice – economic and political something missing from most of the Dominican Republic’s history.
The major challenges confronting Christians that require prayer are:
a) Religious liberty. Outright persecution is rare, but those outside the religious majority are often faced with bureaucratic antipathy and low-level hostility. Pray for complete freedom in ministry and of public religious life.
b) Retention of those converted. There has been growth in many denominations, especially Pentecostal/charismatic groups, but only a small proportion of those who respond through evangelism become participating members of a local congregation.
c) Development of biblical ethics for Christian involvement in a society where corruption, violent crime and promiscuity are alarmingly widespread.
d) Cultivation of a missions vision. There are increasing numbers of Dominican missionaries. The Assemblies of God in DR is becoming a missionary-sending force. A few ministries are trying to develop a Dominican mission’s movement.
11. Ecuador. Bible translation and distribution. Ecuador was one of the first countries entered by WBT. They were involved in 12 NT translation projects before they were obliged to withdraw.
Pray for completion of translation programs in progress.
Pray for the effective use of the Bibles and NTs now available; some Ecuadorians still copy the Bible by hand; verse-by verse. The Bible Society has a pivotal role in promoting and distributing the Scriptures in this nation.
Pray for the less evangelized:
a)The slum-dwellers of Quito and Guayaquil:
Over 60% of the latter’s population are extremely poor, and many live in slums built on a polluted marsh. Few Christian workers have a vision for these deprived people.
b) The upper and middle classes are relatively unresponsive (CMA, OMS and others).
c) University and school students.
Over eight agencies are involved in campus ministries among the 250,000 students (on more than 300 campuses), including CCCI, CECE (IFES), YFC, LAM and four denominational groups. There is still much room for growth.
d) The Afro-Ecuadorian people
Only 0.03% evangelical. Although there are many Catholics among them, Spiritism is the true spiritual power at work in their midst.
Pray for a breakthrough among this unique group.
12.-13. Egypt. Egypt is arguably the intellectual center of Sunni Islam, and Islamist groups such as The Brotherhood have grown greatly as they push for a more Islamic state. Their slogan (now “illegal”), “Islam is the solution”, will never actually be tested unless they attain power. The stridency and harshness of some of their teachings and actions cause many to question this, yet they are also generous providers of social welfare.
Pray that their leaders, their members and those disillusioned with conflict might discover the Light of the World.
The Coptic Church is by far the largest body of Christians in the Middle East and is a strategic key for the evangelization of the region.
a) Church leaders, especially the Coptic Pope. Wisdom, grace and confidence are needed in handling the Muslim authorities, Islamist persecution and the questioning world. A close walk with God is essential to be both a bridge between communities and an example to their flock.
b) A spiritual awakening Church-wide in the midst of mounting pressures and communal tensions. Many Copts are very nominal. The responses to Muslim agitation need to be humble and loving but strong, and only those walking in faith are capable of this.
c) The biblically based renewal movemen in the Coptic Church, which has steadily gained momentum since 1930. It strongly emphasizes Bible study and personal faith, and many are fervent witnesses for the Lord. Monasticism sees rejuvenation as well.
Pray for the growth and effectiveness of this movement of the Spirit.
d) Christians are numerous in business, the professions and health services, but overall the Coptic influence within Egypt is much less than their large numbers warrant.
Pray that Copts might have a positive and transforming effect in the nation, just as Joseph did millennia ago.
14. El Salvador. Recovery from the social and psychological wounds of centuries of oppression and12 years of civil war is a priority. The web of violence, hate, suspicion, atrocities and murder will take time to unravel. At the height of the war, 20% of the population fled the country, and theUSA poured in $6 billion to shore up the government. Overall, more than 75,000 were killed.
Pray for repentance, reconciliation and a fair society based on respect for human rights.
The growth of Evangelicals in the midst of travail has been a modern-day miracle, but now the need is for consolidation of the work. There is a growing number of ex-evangelicals that underscores this need. The 1990s saw bold goals set for church
planting; although those goals were not met, as many as 9,000 churches were planted. This fervor has subsided of late, even though more evangelical congregations are needed in the country.
Pray for effective discipling and motivation of believers for service, witness and missions.
Pray also for increased unity and vision for outreach so that this nation might belong to Jesus — El Salvador is Spanish for ‘the Savior’.
15. Equatorial Guinea. Missionaries have increased in number, including growing numbers from West and Central Africa, but they need wisdom in the convoluted socio-political situation. Several delicate and difficult situations in relating to indigenous leadership have occurred in recent years.
Pray for grace and humility on the part of both expats and nationals. The main agencies are: EqGuiMsn, YWAM, AoG, WEC.
The vast majority are Roman Catholic, the highest percentage of any African nation.
But beneath the surface of the imposed colonial religion lies the reality that animistic beliefs and practices were never abandoned. The unusual politico-economic situation of Equatorial Guinea betrays a massive gap between the haves and have-nots.
Pray that the 85% who claim Christianity – without having been born again – might hear and respond to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pray for the following issues:
a) Economic justice. Millions of dollars of oil money enrich a minority, as Western oil companies happily collude with a regime possessing a less-than-stellar human rights record in order to obtain their own profits. Spending on infrastructure (especially in the capital) is increasing, but very little trickles down to the masses. A battle with corruption and an historic governmental unfamiliarity with how to steward such wealth mean prayer for wisdom is needed.
b) The oil boom brings in foreigners, most drawn by wealth, and includes an influx of evangelical Christians and Muslims.
Pray that foreign companies might do business in a way that benefits the local people.
Pray that expat believers might be moved to engage with the spiritual and physical needs of the nation.
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.
Germaine Copeland & The Word Ministries Staff
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