PRAYER ASSIGNMENTS FOR AUGUST 16-31, 2012
In the closing days of summer and vacations we here at Word Ministries take time to say thank you for being willing to spend a few moments each day alone or with your prayer group covering the nations in prayer. We believe part of our mission and vision is to see the whole earth filled with the Glory of the Lord.
We pray that the Lord of the Harvest will continue to send forth laborers into the darkest parts of our world and that the light of Jesus Christ will penetrate the hearts of men, women and children.
Liechtenstein has changed from a feudal backwater in the 1930s to a sophisticated and affluent modern state. The last remaining vestige of the Holy Roman Empire; the prince’s family has always been Catholic and the vast majority of native citizens are likewise, albeit most only nominally. Expatriates represent several Christian confessions, but non-religion and Islam are growing rapidly. Few in this country have ever been confronted with the necessity of a personal faith in Christ.
Pray that, as the immigrant population increases, encounters with the gospel might likewise multiply.
The first and only evangelical fellowship of believers was started in 1985 after an
evangelistic campaign launched by British, Norwegian and Swiss believers. The evangelical population, mostly expatriates, is now slowly increasing. Campus for Christ had a part-time presence hosting evangelistic breakfasts. Some members of the extended royal family profess personal faith in Christ, with links to the Catholic charismatic renewal movement.
Pray for continued growth and discipleship among them.
Freedom has brought progress. Doors for the gospel remain open, and evangelical
positions can have a hearing in society. However, with freedom came many dangers –
increased materialism, hedonism and nihilism. Substance abuse, suicide and, most sinister, trafficking women for prostitution in the West all disintegrate the nation’s foundations. Often, the most gifted leave Lithuania for more lucrative positions elsewhere. Economic growth must be paired with real social and spiritual transformation.
Pray that God would bring massive societal change through His people.
Catholicism retains a crucial role in Lithuanian society, but has not fully emerged
from old ways of thinking to embrace its potential for godly influence in society. Pray that the Catholic Church uses its significant influence to draw people to Christ. Only one-sixth of Catholics attend church weekly. Fellowship with and acceptance of other Christian groups must be improved. Several Franciscan, charismatic and evangelical-style networks in the Church bring young leadership, new thinking and fresh spirituality;
Pray for their further growth.
Luxembourg’s strong Catholic heritage remains, but is slowly dwindling. Sea changes
in Catholicism have had little impact here, and while the majority profess Catholicism, only a small percent regularly attend mass or practice their faith. A melange of secularism, materialism and a fuzzy personalized spirituality all weigh in heavily in shaping the prevalent worldview of this highly affluent Grand Duchy. Veneration of Mary plays a great role in cultural tradition and ritual. It is tradition more than conviction that keeps Luxembourg Catholic.
Pray that people discover the power of the living Christ.
The growth of other faiths presents a challenge to traditional faith. Islam, Orthodoxy,
Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Eastern mysticism and the multiplication of Protestant and
Independent groups have transformed this small nation into a melting pot of religious
Pray that believers in the Lord Jesus might seek and make use of chances to share the gospel, and help shape the nation according to biblical principles.
Macedonia’s ethnic composition dominates its political and social existence, where segregation is more prevalent than harmony. The large (and growing) Albanian minority feel more connected with their own kind in Albania and Kosovo than with the other ethnicities of Macedonia. Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia also have agendas for Macedonia. Economic difficulties cause significant emigration and urban pull; many of the 2,000 villages are dwindling or disappearing altogether.
Pray for wisdom for the government, and pray that the divided communities might find ways to build their nation together.
The Macedonian Orthodox Church claims to represent almost two-thirds of the
population, but more than 1,000 churches remain largely empty, and most Macedonians
are secular and unreligious in practice. The Macedonian government effectively endorsed this Church’s hegemony by imprisoning the local bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church, from which the Macedonian Orthodox illegitimately split. The Orthodox Church sometimes opposes new religious expressions such as evangelicalism, but dialogue is increasing.
Pray for new life to touch this Church and all those who belong to it.
Madagascar is locked in a battle with poverty, even though it is often called the “8th continent” and is rich in ecology, ethnicity and history. The majority live on an average of less than $1US/day and survive by subsistence agriculture. The common slash-and-burn technique is destroying the rainforest cover as well as many unique plant and animal species. About 80% of the original rainforest cover has already been lost. Repeatedly, cyclones further hamper development and destroy property.
Pray for appropriate and sustainable development that lifts people out of poverty, and for a long-term approach to this complex challenge.
The Protestant Churches have a glorious history of faith despite their persecution by
heathen rulers and harassment by the French Catholic colonial authorities. It grew from
5,000 in 1861 to one million in 1900. There have been significant revival movements within the larger churches in 1895, 1941, 1948, and during the 1980s. Springing from the revivals, movements of indigenous lay “shepherds” are operating within the mainline churches. Their emphasis on healing and exorcism – which relate strongly to the spiritist mentality – has led to conversions and full churches in some areas.
Pray that this movement might continue to grow and be rooted in Scripture.
The northern and southern extremities of the island host the least evangelized of the Malagasy peoples. Animism prevails with strong Muslim influence in the north and northwest, and 80% of the south is still non-Christian. Inaccessibility is the greatest challenge, and missionaries have thus far failed to penetrate these regions effectively. Malagasy evangelists travel for days to reach such villages.
Pray for health, bicycles, finances and faith for them.
Malawi faces serious challenges in the future, such as the combination of poverty, high population growth and increasing pressure on agricultural land. High levels of national debt, AIDS and unemployment, when added to the aforementioned economic factors, produce challenges that will require wisdom, long-term planning and proactive policies by the government. The grip of poverty hampers development not only in the financial sense but also in terms of education, AIDS prevention, family life and even effective ministry and discipleship.
Pray for leaders in Malawi, most of whom are church members, to act with wisdom, humility and long-term planning on biblical principles.
Pray that both Malawian and expatriate workers may effectively share the love of Christ with the following least evangelized groups:
a) The Yawo, mostly Muslim, remain the biggest missional challenge in Malawi. Currently,outreach attempts are made by a partnership of evangelical missions – SIM, Brethren in Christ, AoG, Frontiers, Australian and South African Baptists, FEBA, CAPRO, Deeper Life and others – but few have come to Christ. Bible translation, audio resources and radio broadcasts are all being developed, and a Yawo church is coming to life!
b) The various tribes that still practice traditional ethnic religion. All of these have some
Christians among them, but usually a smaller minority. They include the Southern Nyanja
(11.6% of the population), the Kokola (1.7%), Nyungwe (0.1%) and a few smaller groups.
c) The Asian peoples, including Gujaratis, Kachis and Tamils. Only sporadic attempts are made to evangelize these predominantly Hindu and Muslim peoples.
The Christian community faces many challenges beyond the external issues of religious freedom and evangelizing Muslims.
a) Unity among Christians. They face social ills, injustices and growing discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities. The Christian Federation of Malaysia represent evangelicals, Catholics and mainline denominations before the government. The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) consists of evangelical churches and organizations focused on building unity, prayer, ministry and mission. The NECF assists evangelicals in transforming the nation by promoting economic sufficiency, justice/advocacy and national righteousness.
b) Godly leadership within the Christian community.
Pray for godly leaders who are prepared, at considerable cost, to lead their churches by nurturing and empowering members to live godly lives – in the discipline of prayer and the task of evangelism – as they manifest witness to the concerns and needs of every sphere of society.
c) Lack of Christian workers. Many smaller churches have no trained pastor, even with a
healthy number of Bible colleges, seminaries and church-training programmes. Too few
respond to God’s call to service because of family expectations, materialism, a lack of role models and the perception that years of theological training are required.
d) Marginalization creates anxiety, a ghetto mentality and the desire to withdraw from being the witnesses Christians should be. Emigration rates of professionals and Bible school graduates are high.
Since Malay became the official national language, Christians have been confronted
with a series of challenges.
Pray for improvements in:
a) The need for Christian literature in the Malay language. Writers are few and the market is still small, yet the younger generation is educated in this medium. There are numerous Christian bookstores, including online ones, and an active Bible Society.
b) Restrictions on the use of the Malay language Bible and other Christian books. These were banned when the government deemed their contents to be detrimental to public peace. One main issue is the use of the word Allah for God in such material. After forcing Malaysians to use Malay as a common language, the government now fears that such use in Christian literature and services will induce Malays to become Christian.
Pray for Christian publishers and ministries to be strong and shrewd in defending their legal rights over this issue.
c) The language used in church services. Many churches, especially Catholic and the SIB, have congregations that use Bahasa Malaysia. Implementing an official and national language could be a positive development; pray that freedom to use the language in its entirety, by all faith communities, would reflect the multi-faith and multi-cultural make-up of the nation.
21-22. Peninsular Malaysia:
The Church is small, but growing. Only 3% of Peninsular Malaysia (PM) is Christian. PM has 80% of Malaysia’s population but only 25% of its Christians. Christianity, however, is growing among all non-Muslim ethnic groups; about 10% of the Orang Asli, 10% of Chinese and 8% of Indians are Christian. Still, the continual external pressures from Islam at every level and from non-Christian families undermine progress.
Pray for continued church growth, but also for a deep work of the Holy Spirit in preserving, building up and emboldening believers to thrive amid the pressure.
The relentless pressure from Islamist circles has manifested in court decisions related
to religion, apostasy and conversion. Decisions reflect fear by the judiciary and weakening of the civil courts’ constitutional power.
Pray that the government might uphold the religious rights of all citizens.
Pray also for the thwarting of radical Islamist elements seeking to oppress all other expressions of religion.
Church practices must adapt to changing realities. Cell groups are thriving,
especially among the Bumiputeras (both Malay and non-Malay). Using Bahasa Malaysia
in church services can also introduce complications because of certain laws. The lure of
materialism and worldly lifestyles tempts many young urban Christians of all ethnic groups; meanwhile, traditional congregations are increasingly aged. Effective discipleship and community must be developed.
Pray for wisdom for church leaders and for renewal that sees churches full and relevant.
Behind the facade of island paradise lies a darker reality. Freedom of expression and belief is strongly curtailed by powerful societal and regulatory forces. One of the highest divorce rates in the world, rising crime and gang activity, abuse of children and endemic drug use among teens (possibly up to 70%) indicate that all is not well. Beyond
Islamic beliefs lies a widespread adherence to pre-Islamic occult practices called fanditha.
Pray for the light of the gospel to shine into the lives of Maldivians.
Pray against strongholds of pride, fear, duplicity and sensuality.
The desire to honour human rights and increase freedoms has been expressed by
the current government, but freedom of religion is highly unpopular and violent opposition to it has been promised. Grassroots religion has shifted in a decidedly Islamist and Arabized direction, losing its indigenous Maldivian roots.
Pray for the future of the people of the Maldives, torn between oppressive religion and empty freedoms.
The Maldivians are still among the least evangelized on earth. Neither mission
work nor Christian literature has ever been allowed. Paradoxically, the government denies the existence of Christianity among Maldivians while arresting those who do believe. The perception of Christianity is so bad (largely due to Western media and tourist immorality) that political opponents use the term “Christian” to slander one another.
Pray for the true name and nature of Jesus to be made known in this nation.
Pray that the state’s contradictions and heavy handedness toward Christianity would generate great curiosity.
Mali’s socio-economic quandary is sobering. It is one of the poorest nations on earth,
with people making on average $1.5US/day. Cotton growing employs one-third of the
population but is highly vulnerable to world market fluctuations and competing growers
elsewhere. Functional literacy is low and secondary school enrolment is under 20%. About one fifth of children will not survive to the age of five, and of those who do, one-third will be malnourished. Two-thirds of the land area is desert or semi-desert, and the threat of desertification is ever present.
Pray that Mali’s leaders have wisdom and insight in knowing how to provide health, education, gainful employment and long-term stability to their people.
The number of Christians has not increased by enough to even keep pace with
Mali’s rapid population growth – evangelicals fell from 0.91% of the population in 1990
to 0.69% in 2010. Most growth is biological, and many who make decisions for Christ return to their former religion. This could be addressed with better follow-up through evangelism activities, discipleship programmes, pastoral training and Bible schools, but lack of funds to train for and support such ventures is a real problem. There are nearly 700 evangelical congregations, but most of them are not actively engaged in evangelism and outreach, despite many in Mali being spiritually open.
Pray for boldness, passion and a burden for the unsaved to awaken in the churches and for a new wave of evangelism such as happened in the 1980s.
There are a few strategic people groups among whom pioneer work has been established,but for which prayer is requested:
Pray for the Following People Groups:
a) The Bambara are a key people for the evangelization of the country. Many agencies work among them, and most denominations include some Bambara speakers. There are small victories in evangelism but no major breakthroughs.
Pray for the spiritual and numerical growth of the church among this strategic people.
b) The Fulbe (mostly Fulbe Maasina), who are often semi-nomadic, reside throughout the country but are concentrated in central Mali. Several groups of believers are discipled by workers from nine different agencies, including the Norwegian Lutherans, CRWM, Pioneers and the Eglise Protestante. Some solid foundations are laid for a more significant spiritual breakthrough among these peoples.
c) The Northern peoples are more strongly Muslim, yet hard pioneering work has resulted in some congregations and believers among the Tamacheq/Tuareg and Songhai.
i Work among the desert-dwelling, semi-nomadic Tamacheq is often disrupted by frequent insurrections, but upheaval, desertification and urbanization create opportunities for the gospel. The Idaksahak, a distinct Muslim people living among the Tamacheq, appear responsive. There are now congregations of Tamacheq believers and a NT.
ii The Songhai, once rulers of an empire, practice folk Islam with strong elements of sorcery. There is Baptist work among them, and the JESUS film and portions of Scripture
especially in audio format – are proving effective.
d) The Dogon, including 15 sub-groups, are known for their traditional religion with rich
mythology, songs and masks. But many looking for alternatives now turn to Islam. The
Dogon are more evangelized than most groups in Mali through the CMA, and they have a relative wealth of Christian resources (NT, the JESUS film, audio resources, holistic ministry projects); this unprecedented opportunity for the gospel must not be missed.
e) The Soninke group, including the four Bozo fishermen peoples, has very few Christians but are engaged by teams from many different missions. The Soninke presence across much of West Africa makes them strategic. A spiritual breakthrough amid all the ministry in Mali could easily spill into several other countries.
Malta was the first nation in Europe to embrace Christianity, after the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck on the island. From the Phoenicians in 1000 BC onward, many power seized the islands (including the Romans, Arabs, Normans, Ottomans, French and British), but the Maltese have retained their identity throughout. This identity has long been staunchly Christian.
Pray that Malta’s enduring Christian identity might be truly appreciated and lived out by its people.
The most religious nation in Europe, Malta has deeply Catholic sensibilities. The
majority regularly attend mass and over 80% feel that their religion is important to them.
However, not many Maltese enjoy a personal walk with the living Lord Jesus.
Pray that their strong religious tradition may serve as a door into and not a barrier against greater commitment to the Kingdom.
Protestant evangelical witness did not exist until after independence in 1964 – British
rulers did not permit it. Praise God for steady, albeit slow, growth since then. There are
around 500 evangelicals in the 10-14 Protestant congregations and house churches in Malta.
a) The Baptist and Pentecostal groups and their increasing outreach to the Maltese and to
tourists. Official opposition to Protestant activities is a thing of the past, but social pressures
on seekers and new converts can be intense. For most, to be Maltese is to be Catholic.
Pray for multitudes to come to living faith in Christ.
b) The older, English-speaking mainline denominations, which have long catered to the
needs of the expatriate community. There is much nominalism and little effective outreach to the indigenous population.
Martinique can be a dangerous place to live. It periodically suffers major volcaniceruptions and earthquakes – in 1902, Mt. Pelée erupted, killing 30,000. Tropical storms and misuse of pesticides are more recent blights upon the population. But spiritual apathy is the most dangerous element that grips much of the population.
Pray that they may see their basic instability and be shaken out of their carelessness about the things of God.
There is an evangelical presence through the Assemblies of God, Mission Chrétienne Evangélique, Eglise de Dieu, Baptists, Nazarenes and among some Adventists. Many Christians come from dysfunctional or single-parent families and from a background of immorality and drug abuse.
Pray for churches to be grounded in the Word, and for young people to be called into full-time service.
Pray for: Unreached minorities:
a) The Haratine or Black Moors, who are Moors by culture and language as well as the former slave class of Moorish society.
b) The African peoples of the Senegal River Valley, including the Pulaar (Tukulor and
Fulakunda), Soninke, Bambara and Wolof. Some of these peoples have suffered much
persecution, yet many previously exiled are now returning to their homeland. Their persecution and dispersion, as well as assistance from Christian agencies, have opened them for the gospel.
c) The nomads of the desert, descended from Berber and Arab Bedouin tribes, are even less accessible for evangelization due to their nomadic ways.
All Mauritanian peoples remain essentially unreached, and the vast majority have
yet to hear the good news of God’s grace through faith in Jesus. There are only a small
number of Mauritanian believers worldwide, although the exact number is unknown. Believersin Mauritania have at times been imprisoned, beaten for their faith, or have endured ostracism by family or tribe. Pray for godly indigenous leadership to develop.
Pray for increasing freedom of religion, both socially and legally.
Pray for seekers to encounter Jesus, and that any who follow Him might be courageous in the faith. Also pray that God might minister to believers despite the lack of fellowship.
Mauritania is one of the world’s neediest countries. One-third of children face
chronic malnourishment, and many families struggle to afford basic necessities. Widespread divorce also causes social difficulties. Desertification threatens the remaining arable land, which amounts to perhaps only 1% of the total land area. The discovery of oil and new mineral reserves could either bring wealth to the country or increase corruption and the divide between rich and poor.
Pray for political stability and wisdom for the government to enable revenues from
Mauritania’s natural resources to benefit the poor.
This complex multi-ethnic and multi-religious society makes evangelism a Challenge. The Hinduization of government and culture, as well as strong ancestral and ethnic ties, make it difficult for Indians to become believers. However, large numbers of Hindus are coming to Jesus through the bold witness of evangelical/Pentecostal churches.
Pray for great wisdom and discernment among Christians.
Most older churches face slow decline and are nominal in faith. Roman Catholics
are seeing Hindu beliefs and practices make their way into churches in some places. But
the charismatic movement is making a big impact on Catholics, with many coming to personalfaith in Christ. Many of those impacted formed their own independent groups. The Roman Catholic Church is experiencing a move back to Bible reading, and now runs several active ministries on the island.
Pray for a greater spread of this spiritual vitality among traditional churches in Mauritius.
Training leaders is of prime importance. The AoG School of Ministry offers multilevel
programmes ranging from correspondence to degree-level courses. TEE is utilized by
most denominations and there are several correspondence schools, one being the Emmaus BCC. To train clergy and laity, the Anglican Church opened the Training Centre for Ministries and Community Development in Curepipe. The most exciting development is the rebirth of the Mauritian Bible Training Institute, an evangelical Bible school started with input from SIM, which now enjoys a partnership with Vose Seminary in Australia. Praise the Lord for the development of Bible training.
Pray that Mauritius might receive more teachers of the Word who are well-trained models of godliness.
Pray for the Muslim majority. The indigenous people of Mayotte are 99.9% Muslim.Although there is religious freedom and direct, open-air evangelism is permitted (and practiced by the AoG), response has been very slow and most converts have returned to Islam. Maore folk Islam is heavily shaped by magic and cults practicing spirit possession. Despite this, a spirit of complacency rests upon the people, exacerbated greatly by the increased economic assistance from France and the EU.
Pray for a spiritual breakthrough.
The name Mayotte means “place of death”.
Pray that it may become a place of spiritual life in Christ.
The three evangelical churches in Mayotte need a greater degree of unity and
cooperation, although there are signs of improvement in these areas.
Pray for an approach to evangelism that is culturally appropriate yet effective, and pray for a great emphasis on discipling converts.
Long-term ministry is needed, especially Francophone Africans. Those already here do a great job in a difficult field.
Pray for encouragement and unity and for an increase in their number and their fruitfulness.
A mission team is in place, working among the Shimaore, and one is being prepared to work among Shibushi speakers.
Pray for more laborers to be called to Mayotte.
Mexico is a growing nation that is still discovering its own identity. Meso-American origins, Hispanic history and a dynamic but turbulent relationship with its neighbors all shape Mexico profoundly. This search often manifests itself through religious identity (bothanimist and Catholic) and the inevitable accompanying anti-Protestant sentiment.
Pray that Mexicans, both indigenous and mestizo, might find their ultimate identity and destiny in the love of Christ and the purposes of God.
Many socio-economic challenges face Mexico. The state recognizes the difficulty of
traditional solutions and increasingly invites Christians and churches to show initiative and partnership in meeting the many human needs.
a) The poor, both the impoverished rural poor and the exploited slum-dwellers. While the
president’s top-priority goal is to reduce poverty, the gap between rich and poor in Mexico is the widest of all OECD nations. Fully 60% of Mexico’s population struggle with poverty.
b) The marginalized native Amerindians. They officially number 9.4% of the population, but many more are partly or mostly Amerindian without such official status. They tend to face greater poverty, lack education and live in areas with the most upheaval. Radical political expression has also contributed to unrest. There is significant response to as well as opposition to evangelical ministry in those regions.
c) Corruption in politics and the police. The advent of multiparty politics unseated the
increasingly corrupt PRI, but the problem remains in all levels of government. Corruption
in government has seen millions embezzled, and corruption in the police forces allows for
greater growth in organized crime.
d) The massive drug trade and gang violence that accompanies it. Drug trafficking is big
business in Mexico – thanks to both the USA’s insatiable habit and Mexico’s own growing troubles. Sadly, this structure of sin brings huge amounts of money into Mexico’s economy, so the desire to halt it is less than the cost and effort to do so.
i The 500,000-plus addicts, whose number has grown rapidly due to increasing availability of cheap drugs. Mexico is poorly positioned to cope with the number of addicts in terms of prevention, treatment and ministry to those afflicted.
ii The wealthy, powerful cartels that control it are ruthless. Most of their violence is directed toward each other, but police, armed forces, journalists and helpless citizens also die at their hands.
Pray for a way to reach out to the cartel leaders and members.
iii The government and police face great difficulties in combating the drug trade and those who run it. Informers and corruption undermine the effort, and fear of the heavily armed gangs prevents decisive action.
Pray for courage and wisdom in dealing with these great challenges.
Persecution of evangelicals occurs in certain parts of Mexico. In general,
acceptance of Protestants is higher in recent years as their profile increases. But in
the southern states, particularly Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, believers face prejudice,
harassment, evictions and church and property damage. This mostly occurs due to
believers’ refusal to participate in community religious events that involve traditional
Pray that the believers may demonstrate the meekness and love of their Savior when maltreated.
Pray also for full implementation of religious freedom at both national and local levels.
May you know the joy of seeing the Lord answer your personal prayers as you sacrificially spend time in prayer for the nations of the earth. May your life be blessed this month!
Germaine Copeland and the Staff of Word Ministries
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