Bulgaria

20 03 2013

A Balkan state adjoining Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania.

Bulgaria: 7.5 million people. Capital: Sofia  1.2 million people.

Features: Corruption!!! Organised Crime Syndicates. Poverty. Divorce rampant. Abortion: more than live births.

History and Politics:  Operation World says: “A nation since the 5th Century, but rarely independent; Ruled by the Ottoman Empire 1396-1878; severe Communist rule 1947-1989. multiparty democracy instituted in 1990. Entry into the EU — finalised in 2007 — drove the liberalisation of the nation’s politics and economy”.

Economy: Rapid industrialisation under communist rule; minerals and manufacturing are important. Essential economic reforms begun in 1997 stabilised the economy. Mass privatisation and foreign investment in real estate, tourism, IT and communication changed the Bulgarian economy and labour market. High unemployment in rural areas led to over 200,000 emigrating to seek jobs. Reforms in education, healthcare and regional development are the greatest challenges. Poor public administration, corruption and strong organised crime networks obstruct progress. (O.W. Prayer Guide)

Prayer Points: 

We give thanks for the transformation from a harsh spiritual repressiveness, in the 1980’s to a relatively open country, even to some extent, for evangelical Christians, today. In the 1990’s the number of evangelical and charismatic believers grew significantly. And so we pray:

1. For gospel transformation to bring forgiveness for a troubled past, and new possibilities – even to overcome crime and corruption. May light shine amidst the darkness and expel it.

2.  For the Orthodox Church to experience genuine waves of renewal, and reconciliation of rifts, due to political alliances with the Communist regime, that caused deep fragmentation.

3. For the Evangelical Alliance (BEA) to assist in encouraging and developing a common voice, crucial for wider growth.

4. For a real impact to be made by The Bulgarian body of Christ wherever racial tensions abound.

5. For Sofia, the only large city to have more new churches planted and established.  And for the 2,500 villages without any evangelical churches, to be the objects of the Spirit’s work in prayer and work.

6. For the consolidation of church growth: Leadership, discernment of error (there are many cults and heretical groups), for support for new indigenous agencies, for country-wide vision among leaders and planners.

7. For Cross-cultural missions to Turkey, India, and Zimbabwe to be fruitful learning experiences for the local church in Bulgaria.

8. For Bulgaria’s 900,000 Muslims. Islam’s legacy is significant, with many teachers and propagation continuing.

9. For Ethnic minorities, who have suffered severely at times: Trouble has been generated for centuries among Balkan, Slavic and Turkish peoples.

Pray for (a) the Rumelian Turks in the east who deeply resented Communist attempts to Bulgarize them in the 1980s, (b) the Millet, a gypsy minority, (c) the Romani – despised as those at the bottom of the social order – very illiterate, many involved in the occult, crime and gambling. More than 20,000 have turned to the Lord, mainly through the Pentecostals, Baptists and Church of God, (d) Bulgarian-speaking Muslims in the south, rejected by both Bulgarians (religion) and Turks (language) – only a handful of congregations exist among them.

10. For Foreign Missionaries , who often find it a “tricky place”, but are still needed in the field, finances needed too.

11. For Ministry to Young People.

12. Christian Media Ministries.

13. For lasting fruit, from LiteratureBible Translation, Christian Radio and TV, and Other media.

 

 





Austria

5 09 2012

Austria: 82% Christian, but quite a bit of very nominal Catholicism. A good sprinkling of Lutherans as we might expect, among this nation, where 91% of the 8.3 million, are Germanic people. Austria is a landlocked country, with The Alps in the south and west, and the flat plains of the River Danube to the east. Famous for ‘The Sound of Music’, a popular American musical picture, winning 5 Academy Awards… ‘Do-Re-Mi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIjobdArtiA

A mixed prosperous economy, of agriculture, commerce and tourism—with culture, music, art and beautiful scenery in abundance. All this serves as a thin glaze, over a deeper human despair. Rates of suicide are high, as is abortion and alcoholism. The evangelical and charismatic churches, though quite small numerically, are working, praying and seeking to be a fresh influence in the life of Austrian people. Pastors are in great need, as are more full-time workers in missionary work. ‘Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers into the field’ (Matthew 9:38).

In particular there are many unreached pockets of people, such as six ethnic groups from the Balkans, as well as Muslim Turks, Afghans, Kurds and Pakistanis.

Witness among the student population is a fruitful area of work. Vienna the capital (1.7million) host thousands of international students. All 7 universities have active ministries among them. There are growing prayer ministries among teenagers, and SU and CEF are focussing on school age children. Lots to do, but hopeful signs. May the Living Lord Jesus, bless the people of Austria with a good hearing of the Word of Life!

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Big Concerns—in Australia

9 07 2012

We have a great country here in Australia.  However we also have some big concerns. Here are just a few:

  • Mining. Community Life in Country Australia needs genuine support from Federal and State Government Regulation. One prime reason is that Mining Companies—in the race to get rich—are abusive of the people in small towns and rural areas, Aboriginal communities in distant regions, farmers, their roads and town infra-structure, community life and resources. It is not for nothing that biblical wisdom calls upon people to suppress greed, and curb foolish desires.
  • Ferral Animals in Outback and regional Australia. Camels, Pigs, Goats, Zebras, Foxes, Cats, Dogs, Cane Toads, and more are not being targeted and kept in check to a sufficient degree. This is decimating many parts of the landscape. We need to invest public money to control these creatures.  Political parties like the Greens are silent about this stuff, (while they almost dismantle an Indonesian Beef industry). We need more political will and wisdom to effect action, and encourage shooters to take this in hand, for the benefit of all Australians.
  • Marriage is Foundational to Community and to Life. It is mere popularism to jettison centuries of wisdom, by changing the marriage act to include homosexual relationships. There is enough confusion about life as it is, without this change being foisted upon everyone to satisfy the desires a so few!
  • Foreign Investment in Farming Land. We urgently need to severely restrict land ownership to Australian people—if we want a secure future for our food production, and wellbeing of our nation, overall. Government lack strength of will to address this. It is urgent. Learn from New Zealand. Learn from China. Learn Quickly please.
  • The River Murray. As a South Australian it is easy to see how the power of the Eastern States and their desire for more and more water, is to the detriment of efficient farmers at the bottom end of the River. The situation is being addressed, and I hope it succeeds. It just makes sense to have a healthy river all the way to the sea.
  • Prime Agricultural Land in Tasmania. The Forestry Industry in Tasmania has abused local communities, and abused good farming land. The buying up of the best land for the planting of small timber to be used for wood-chipping is wrong, and harmful to local communities and their life-blood. Again big and powerful seems to triumph over local, people-matters. Ask farmers around Deloraine. Forestry has surrounded small farms, buying out other landholders, giving the farmer unwanted shade and wallabies, stealing underground water supplies, stopping rivers and ruining community life. Sheer money madness. Meanwhile some faceless investor in Sydney with too much money profits from growing trees, and gets tax-breaks at the expense of Tasmanian community.
  • Suburban Housing Plans. In such a vast nation, it is unfortunate to see the lack of planning for space for people to enjoy. In Adelaide large house blocks where children can play and people can retain their sanity, are just being carved up to cram in more houses. This is folly. When there is a chance to retain land for parks and gardens, the government is just carving up the land for real estate. Sheer madness. Human beings need space.
  • Fishing. The recent decisions to grab so much of the ocean for national parks, and the ongoing restrictions on fishing by recreational people is madness. Meanwhile large Pirate trawlers are not being checked or stopped in far off areas of our Oceans. This is the clearly the wrong approach. But green consciences seem easily salved by poor solutions.
  • Coles and Woolworths Supermarkets are a greedy Duopoly. It is a great shame that this has been allowed to develop. These large companies ruin primary industries with their capacity to dominate prices, and exert their powerful will at the expense of local growers. People such as the dairy industry, the beef and wine, and fruit and vegetable industries matter. We are allowing them to be treated with contempt and disdain, by this dominating retail outlet. It is wrong. PRoduct labelling is deceptive and there seems to be a lack of bite in the ACCC. Home brands dominate. Sadly, people just ignore the plain wisdom of Dick Smith. Wake up.
  • Insurance Fear. We need to address the amount that small people, and local community can be sued. Much of our fun activity is curbed by insurance fears. This needs to be addressed at a legal level, so that community can regain their freedom to hold events.  How often do we hear that something has been changed for fear of insurance claims. Take a large slippery-dip for example, or a circular whizzie wheel in a children’s park, even climbing on an old train!  Recover freedom!
  • Youth And Children: Our young people need more areas to play. This is linked to the insurance and space issues. People in the cities need a small fortune for their young people to lear to ride a motorcycle and have fun in spaces.
  • Overseas Aid: The Budget decision to forestall the contribution of Government to Overseas Aid, in the face of global economic concerns was an example of sheer ALP selfishness and ALP self-interest. It is an example of not keeping our Word—another from the ALP. It is an example of not genuinely feeling that we are part of a global life, where we need to care for others less fortunate. Bad leadership, very bad.
  • Drugs, Crime, Bikie Gangs: Our society is being badly affected by home invasions, suburban killings, drive-by murders, gang warfare, addiction to drugs, an illegal and destructive methamphetamine industry, prostitution, pornography, robbery,intimidation, threats to murder and criminal activity. Police need better powers within the legal system to attack this horrendously growing and alarming trend. It is linked to International Crime, and is not an easy issue to solve. Penalties must be far tougher, and the ability to get a conviction made simpler. Do it!
  • Abortion: The attitude of our Australian society towards the abortion of babies is horrifying. We have succumbed to a deceptive view of when life begins, and have failed to speak of the rights of a child in the womb, to be cared for, and have a right to begin life in this world. Careful thinking even from a non-faith perspective will soon show that this is a person in their early stages, within the Womb. We must listen and give voice to the stories of those who have seen the horror, seen the baby-child move away from the knife, as they were slaughtered, without a voice, without a right to love.
  • Pay Rises for Politicians: It is shameful that our politicians can all conspire and agree to greedy $40,000 to $100,000 per year type pay-rises (not base pay… pay rises of this magnitude) in 2012, while pensioners and self-funded retirees who have contributed greatly to building the nation, are left to turn off heaters in winter, to survive economically. Poor form, real poor.
  • Payment for Elite Sport: The Payments given to AFL footballers is out of control. $500,000 to $800,000 a year for catching and kicking a piece of leather. It is madness. And it is sending the wrong message to youth, to small communities, and ordinary people concerning the place of sport in our lives. It affects young people their willingness to enjoy sport, to volunteer, and serve generously. The elite players get big heads. Ugly pride is rewarded! They are not worth it. Why should local people who like sport be paying through sponsorships for this?
  • Sharia Law: the creeping concessions being made to the demands of Islam will deeply affect our future. One only needs to look at England, France or the Netherlands to see the unhelpful changes to community life which this had afforded. Rights for women—married and for young girls and their future freedoms, approach to married life, restriction to dress-codes, butchering of meat, refusal to integrate, formation of ghettos, community anger, separation from others. The policy of closing a swimming pool for males in country Victoria, is a classic example, as is the banning of ham-sandwiches at local council luncheon.  We need courage and a clear and broad, well thought-out understanding of the true nature of freedom and the need for regulation within society, to enhance freedom.
  • Government speechmaking:  Any society which puts ‘the economy’ ahead of ‘community life’ is heading for trouble. Our speech-writers need to change their rhetoric to put people and their communities first. Only then, will we be in a genuine position to be a rich blessing to others—including other nations, refugees, and the world generally.
My views are held by many others, I know. My personal thinking is deeply affected by the need to care for people first, families, youth, the elderly, communities; and also for the environment with which we have been entrusted to enjoy, and to receive its benefits gladly. I am glad and sure, that to follow Jesus in the power of his Spirit is the way for people, communities and families to be a blessing to the creation, into which we have been placed. Renewal and reform of faith, and action is alway possible. Lets do some!

(OK, so the next blog can include some good stories of good things that are happening)








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