||3.-5. Philippines: Philippines’ great economic and political potential is not yet realized despite a wealth of natural resources, deeply democratic sentiment and a well-educated population. Failures by successive governments to deal with serious economic and social issues hold back development, accelerate unsustainable urbanization and keep half the population in poverty. Pray specifically for: a) A government that actively pursues justice and righteousness. Increasingly, committed Christians take major posts of leadership; Pray that they may decisively influence the nation for good. Pray for the Fellowship of Christians in Government, which promotes biblical standards in state structures and among Christian public servants. b) The end of corruption and graft, which has robbed the country of $48 billion in the last 20 years. A flawed political system helps maintain endemic greed and cronyism and keeps the country’s elite in power and wealth. The fact that the Philippines is Asia’s most Christianized nation – yet is the fourth most corrupt – is scandalous. c) Recovery from the tropical storms of 2009. A series of storms battered the country, displacing millions of people, killing over 1,000 and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The aftermath revealed the need for change in a number of areas: government that mishandles disaster relief and assigned relief funds, deforestation that leads to flooding and landslides, and poverty that leads to illegal shantytowns forming in high-risk areas. There are no easy solutions, but many pressing problems. d) Much needed reform to land ownership issues. Most farmers are landless. Changes would hugely improve the lot of the tens of millions of poor. Reform laws passed in 1988 are not implemented; continued injustices produce frustration and violence and perpetuate poverty for millions of farmers. Long-term investment into health, education and other basic infrastructures is also greatly needed, but requires commitment, huge sums and long-term vision by the government. e) Peace in Mindanao among the marginalized, resentful Muslim (Moro) population, the government and the local “Christian” majority. Islamist factions, such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, will not compromise. They claim four provinces, two with Muslim minorities, for an Islamic state. Pray for a fair, workable solution that ends the cycle of military presence, violence, kidnappings and suffering. Pray also that centuries of perceived “Christian” oppression might end with freedom and respect for the gospel.
6. Poland: The materialist dream of wealth post-independence proves elusive and hollow for most. Violence, immorality and the loss of a moral compass haunt the younger generation in particular, and much of the rural population remains mired in unemployment and poverty. Praise God for the stability, progress and freedom that allow the good news to be preached. Pray that the Polish quest for material advancement might be subordinated to their search for God. Bible training for church leaders, a much-needed ministry, developed quickly but has recently fallen off the pace. There are about 25 Protestant institutions ranging from seminary level to part-time or correspondence Bible schools. The current shortfall in students could spell trouble for several of these schools as well as intensify the current lack of evangelical leadership. Well-trained, experienced pastors are in short supply, and many who complete their studies leave Poland for other lands. Pray for a new surge of students and for biblical faithfulness, spiritual power and missions vision to be hallmarks of graduates’ ministry.
7. Portugal: Religious and political freedoms gained in 1975 have transformed the nation, but high religious affiliation and freedom does not translate into genuine faith. This is reflected in the challenges of materialism, individualism and increasing substance abuse. The religious freedom gained is taken advantage of by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and New Age philosophies. Pray for the truth about Jesus to be made known by wise Christian leaders of all confessions. The Roman Catholic Church is strongly traditional and retains much influence, but it is in need of renewal. The north is more loyal to Catholicism, but in the centre and south, religion is becoming irrelevant to the secularized majority. In some southern areas, less than 3% attend mass, despite efforts of several congregations to reach young people and young families. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work so that many are freed from traditionalism and encounter the Scriptures and the Savior in a meaningful way. Many congregations lack full-time workers with adequate theological depth and spiritual maturity; church growth exacerbates this problem. These institutions are therefore highly strategic: Assemblies of God, Portuguese Bible Institute (GEM, ECM), Presbyterian, Baptist and Brazilian-founded Bethel Bible Institutes. TEE programmes and Núcleo, a widely used Bible correspondence course, are also strategic. Pray that these may contribute to meeting the ministry needs of the churches.
8. Puerto Rico: The issue of Puerto Rico’s political identity divided the nation in the past. Independence, US statehood or the current arrangement of commonwealth are all options, but most people now seem content with the status quo. Many are concerned with the increasing Americanization of government. The biggest problem may be, however, the high levels of corruption that plague local government. Pray for wise governance that works for the best interests of the islands’ inhabitants. Puerto Ricans number nearly as many in the mainland USA as in their own land. Urbanization and unemployment in Puerto Rico crowd the cities and fuel emigration but leave rural areas fairly empty. But the traditional stereotype of a US Puerto Rican – that of a ghetto-dweller in New York City – paints an incomplete picture. There are now pockets in Florida, New England, Chicago and elsewhere, and they span the entire economic spectrum. Pray for those ministering to Puerto Ricans living in the USA.
9. Qatar: Qatari believers number but a few. From Arab, Persian and Bantu (former slaves) extraction, Qataris are almost without exception Muslim. Pray that a Qatari church would be birthed and that Qataris at home and abroad would hear about Jesus. The Christian impact on society needs our prayers: Pray that the many groups of believers among Filipinos, Westerners, Lebanese, Indians, Pakistanis and others may bear fruitful witness to their own communities. Pray also that there might be opportunities to share with non-Christians of all people groups in the country. Expatriates are drawn from many nations by the high earnings in Qatar, but Christians are limited by strict anti-proselytism laws. Pray for the employment opportunities (from manual labour up to executive positions) to be filled by Christians who would be an intentional Kingdom presence in Qatar.
9. Réunion: The dark legacy of slavery, abolished in 1848, still overshadows the present. The Creole population are descendants of those slaves. Poverty (over half the population), unemployment (25-33%), alcoholism, dysfunctional families and high illegitimacy marginalize this large underclass. A deep work of healing and laying to rest the legacy of the past is far from complete. Pray for the entire population to come to terms with the past, possible only through faith in Christ. Young people need prayer: a) Christians in the churches. Pray that they have high standards of holy living and that spiritual leaders for the future might be raised up. b) The disadvantaged. The gap is widening between the disadvantaged and the sophisticated, educated youth (also clearly along racial lines), hence the protests/riots in 2009. There are many challenges to reaching them effectively. c) YWAM has a good ministry in motivating youth for evangelism and missions. CEF has a significant ministry to children through camps and Good News Clubs.
10.-11. Romania: A legacy of brokenness endures from the days of Ceausescu’s regime, a moral vacuum being filled with every kind of social evil. Substance abuse, prostitution, pornography, human trafficking and challenges to child welfare are widespread. Romania has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, with three or more abortions for every child born. Poverty is still common, with widespread unemployment and economic instability, caused to a large degree by rampant and entrenched corruption. Divisions in government reduce its effectiveness; major strides forward are needed in its legal, education and health care systems as well as police and local administrations. Pray for leadership that has the wisdom to chart the right path and the integrity to implement the right policies. Romania is one of the world’s most Christian nations by percentage, yet this is hard to perceive in society. A worldview shaped by atheistic Communism persists. Nominalism, legalism, hypocrisy and slander of other denominations are problems in all confessions, and such antagonism does not glorify Christ nor edify the Church. Folk religious practices and the occult permeate beyond rural superstitions even into the practice of some clergy. Very little practical ministry is being done to address community needs; the Church neglects many poor people. Pray for a breakthrough of love, holiness, discipleship and prayer in all denominations. The Orthodox Church dominates society with 87% of the population affiliated. Cultural pressure to remain Orthodox, however nominal, persists. For many, this affiliation is inherited rather than reflective of a deeply held personal faith. Some Orthodox priests frequently oppose, sometimes violently, evangelical outreach. Yet within this ancient confession there is life and potential for great good. Pray for renewal from within and for the Holy Spirit to awaken those whose faith lies dead or dormant.
12.-16. Russia: The government faces many daunting tasks, present and future. Lift up to the Lord the many threats facing Russia. a) Russia is prone to authoritarian rule and admits that in the current climate good governance is more important than democracy and personal freedoms. Current and forecasted troubles would further erode freedoms and entrench a centralized power. Pray for political wisdom. Pray for the balancing of strong government with democratic accountability and respect of basic freedoms. b) Economic stability is threatened by hopelessly inadequate infrastructures – both physical and legal/financial – including disappearing investment, a huge budget deficit and dwindling cash reserves. The struggles of millions with poverty and general hopelessness raises to alarming heights crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, family breakdown and suicide. Yet, vast natural resources and potential for greater output hold much promise. Pray for wise fiscal policies and for the long-term vision and strength to follow through on them. c) Corruption must be rooted out. The power of oligarchs is being reined in, but criminal networks remain highly influential at home and abroad. They cripple honest business initiative and subvert the bureaucracy. There is no chance of change for the better without confronting these dark forces, a war that will require immense resolve and courage. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) survived Communism and remains the one major symbol of Russian identity. It regards itself as the preserver of Christian civilization handed down from Rome and Byzantium. Its liturgy and teachings continue to mould Russian culture. The number of openly professing Orthodox increased from 30 million in 1985 to 87 million in 2010 (up to 100 million in some sources). The Church is using every possible means to regain its exclusive spiritual dominance lost nearly a century ago. Pray for: a) An emphasis on the many positive elements of this ancient confession – foremost among them are the beauty and greatness of God, the mystery of Christ and His resurrection. Protestants can learn much from Orthodox theology. b) An end to the ROC’s intolerance, which is instead increasing thus far in the 21st Century. The ROC’s claims – as the one true apostolic Church and that all other Christian expressions are invalid or sectarian – stimulates repression and bigotry. Inflexibility and heavy-handedness often characterize the ROC’s relationship with other groups and even with its own constituents. The ROC is complicit in the laws passed and implemented that discriminate against other Christian groups. c) True spiritual life. The ROC claims to speak for all Russians, and the majority of ethnic Russians confess some sort of affiliation, but only 6-10% are actively involved. Factors contributing to this lack of involvement include Church leaders cozying up to and collaborating with the state, poor education of church leaders, lack of unity (both within the ROC and without) and sincerity, and neglect of the younger generation’s unique spiritual needs. Pray for leadership that will address all these issues in a biblical manner. d) Renewal movements within the ROC. Traditionalists are the more powerful but are increasingly out of touch, clinging to a Slavonic Church liturgy which few understand, and grasping for political power. The reformers are often marginalized but are more Bible focused, open for change and tolerant. Pray that future leaders may come from this more spiritual movement.
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.
Blessings, Germaine Copeland and the Word Ministries Staff
Sources: Mission Info Bank. Used by permission. Copyright © 2012 Global Mapping International. All Rights Reserved Use and reproduction subject to User Agreement. © Operation World 2001 With thanks to Dawn Ministries and Operation World Hosted by 24-7Prayer.com, Edited by Eloise Armstrong This information is only about 20% of what is available in the ‘Operation World’ book and CD-ROM. To find out more click here, to buy the book click here.