Colombia

13 03 2014

Colombia is a Spanish speaking republic in Latin America, situated in the northwestern corner of South America. It is rich in resources, such as oil and coal, and its main employer is Agriculture. It produces 90% of the US’s cocaine. And so the armies of drug lords swarm the nation. It became independent of Spain in 1819, and a separate state in 1891. It is good to learn that the murder and kidnapping and crime rates are decreasing of late, and that progress is being made by government crackdowns.

Capital: Santa Fé de Bogotá (8.5 million)       Total Population: 47 million

Spanish Speaking.

The nation identifies as largely Christian, and the population has largely been Roman Catholic. In recent years (since 1991) the other denominations have been given greater freedom to proclaim the Word and to serve the community. Evangelicals now constitute about  7.5% of the population, and Charismatics some 18%. So the church seems to be on the move, in the face of threats and opposition from drug cartels.

The story of the transformation of the worst Prison – BellaVista Prison – where there were 2 murders per day, is a huge encouragement to the nation.  Hardened criminals have come to know Christ Jesus as Lord, and this has changed them amazingly – and the story never grows old.

http://www.pfi.org/media-and-news/films/pf-colombia

Prayer Points (from Operation World, p. 264):

1. Colombia remains violent and dangerous. Pray the government will continue to remain strong.

2. Three million people have been displaced due to poverty and danger. Pray for hope for orphans and widows.

3. The lawlessness is Satanic. Pray that it will be broken.

4. Pray for renewal amongst the nominal Roman Catholics of the nation.

5. Pray for the protection of evangelical Christian workers, subject to violence, and needing bold leadership.

6. Missionaries are targets for the enemies of the gospel, pray for courage and faithfulness, ‘unto death’.

7. Pray for the Vision of hope to grow, and for unreached people groups to be ministered to – especially street ‘urchins’.

8. Pray for the student and youth work to grow, amid the marxist ideology that persists. Also for Muslims to hear of Jesus, truly.

9. Pray for the Amerindians, often poor and victims of discrimination, to be uplifted by the gospel.

10. Pray for Christian literature, Christian radio broadcasts and audio and video resources to be more and more available.

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Cameroon

18 04 2013

Capital: Yaounde 1.8 million.  Total Population in Cameroon 20 million.

Geography: On the continental ‘hinge’ between West and Central Africa. Semi-arid in the north, grasslands in the centre, rainforest in the south.

Cameroon

286 “Peoples” – 52% Bantu: “One of Africa’s most ethnically and linguistically complex countries” (Operation World, p. 189)

Economy: Agriculture, oil exports. Lots of rain and minerals. High unemployment, high debt level, high corruption. Even so, they have a high literacy rate for an African country.

Politics: A German colony from 1884—1919, then divided between Britain and France. Independence 1960.

Religion: Secular state that guarantees religious freedom. Islam is strong in the north, especially among the Fulbe, and interfaith tensions have increased over recent decades, especially with the increased profile of more radical Islam.

Christian 53.8%     Muslim 26%     Ethnoreligionist  19%

Prayer Points:

1. ANSWERS – give thanks for

(i) the growth of evangelicals since 2000 despite the decrease in high-profile campaigns [or because of that decrease, perhaps?   …just sayin’];

(ii) many significant leaders – professional, military, police and political – have been converted to Christ, giving hope for changing a society infamous for corruption – even regular prayer meetings are taking place when parliament is in session.

(iii) Media use for evangelism has increased, building upon the legalisation in 2000 of Christian private radio and TV broadcasting (according to OW, p. 190)

2. That Cameroon internal forces may be overcome: (i) Corruption is deeply entrenched and widespread; (ii) has deep division of language, politics and faith [religion] – a recipe for trouble, but something the gospel and its message of The Reconciler, is perfectly “designed” to overcome; (iii) integrity in leadership – pray for examples, a few more and a few more people to speak up and act truly in righteousness, rather than perpetuating the ‘status quo’.

3. The Spiritual Poverty of the Churches is a great tragedy. Nominal Christianity is a bigger problem in Cameroon than in most of Africa.  

Dear Lord Jesus, may your Presence stir afresh an awareness of the power of your Lordship to bring lasting light and helping hope and practical peace wherever your love is made known, and lived in, and prayed for – to spread.

4. Pray For more co-operation between the many African and Western Evangelicals and Pentecostal Groups.

5. For Quality Leadership and Discipleship Training among the shallowness of many churches.

6. Pray For a Growing Sense of the Church’s Mission

7. Young People are frustrated by the unchanging political status quo, high unemployment, cheating and bribery and favouritism. We pray that in this climate the young people will have the strength and vision of Christ and REFUSE to turn to crime, prostitution and violence as their way ahead. We pray for the Student Ministry movements to be effective and for schools and universities to lay a foundation thereby, for a fruitful future.

8. Pray for Less Reached People Groups: Muslims are a majority in 59 people groups. Also the many peoples among the Mandara Mountains need to hear the Word, as some breakthroughs are occurring. The Baka/Pygmies in the southeastern forests – are being reached at last, pray for a hearing amidst their animist ways. The northern plans people are being pressured by Islam – pray for inroads of freedom in the gospel to be a truly appealing contrast.

9. A missionary growth of interest and of contributors to the great task of Bible Translation and mobilisation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Cambodia

9 04 2013

A fertile forest-covered Asian nation of 16 million people, on the Mekong River – and bordered by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

Sadly, whenever Cambodia is mentioned, many immediately recall images of the brutal leader, Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge and ‘The Killing Fields’.

However, this – like all nations – is an amazing place, with a history of survival from deep suffering, poverty, corruption and difficulty.

Cambodia

Cambodia

  Capital: Phnom Penh – 2 million people

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Cambodia 2

Operation World says: “One of the world’s poorest countries and heavily dependent on foreign aid. Years of war and genocide followed by venal and corrupt governments have hindered development and kept most of the population poor; 38% live below the poverty line. Significant progress is being made in economic development, but the rural poor are being left behind. Agriculture, garments and tourism are the biggest earners, with offshore oil/gas deposits promising future income. Illegal logging and the sex trade enriches a small number of wickd men, but causes suffering to many.”   [* Public debt is 63% of GDP]

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Religion:

Buddhist 83.34%   (12.5 million)

Ethnoreligionist 4.8%

Christian 3.13%   (471, 162)

Chinese 2.85%

Muslim 2.3%

Other 0.26%

Hindu 0.22%

“Buddhism has been the national religion since the 15th Century.  The Khmer Rouge sought to eradicate all religions; 90% of Buddhist monks and most Christians perished. Since 1979 there have been periods of more tolerance, and since 1990 Christians have been allowed to worship openly, but a few limitations on mission activity have been legislated as well” (OM. p. 185)

Christian Churches: (interesting the great strength of the Pentecostal/Charismatic brands)

Foursquare Gospel Church (“the biggest!” at 62,000 and 135,000 affiliates – wow);

Others, include Catholic Church, River of Life, Assemblies of God, Methodist, Baptist, Khmer Evangelical church,Seventh Day Adventist, Harvest-time Ministries, New Life Fellowship, Cambodia for Christ.

Prayer Points:

1. Give thanks for the unprecedented – and unexpected – church growth over the last 20 years.

2. Pray for healing of hearts and lives:

“the scars of the terrible genocide of 1975-1979 remain evident.  Nearly two million were killed over 60,000 lost life or limb to landmines and most of the population over age 30 need deep healing from the trauma of their losses and suffering”.

Pray for Justice to be seen to be done; International tribunals are having difficulty in bringing government and judiciary on board with the justice process, and the culture of corruption and impunity holds sway. The Khmer Rouge trials should assist greatly.

3. Spiritual Darkness persists – ubiquitous ‘spirit-shrines, Buddhist opposition to any ideological rival, moral collapse, structural-sin, pray for light. Jesus said: “I am the Light of the World”.

4. Pray for a break in structural-sin seen in bad patterns of (i) Land Grabbing, (ii) Child labour, sex trade victims (100,000) – 20% of tourists exploit this trade, homeless children and orphans, HIV, (iii) drug trafficking and drug abuse has increased greatly – not good for any future in any nation, but especially here.

5. Give thanks for the triumph of Christ and His Church in Cambodia. It has ‘survived against all odds’. As Jesus said, ‘I will build  my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it’. CMA missionary workers laboured for 47 years, from 1923 until they saw a breakthrough. Then the Church was nearly extinguished through the slaughter of the 1970’s. During the 1990’s however, churches spread well to all 19 provinces. And so we pray for continued freedom of religion, freedom from the past’s terrible sin and hatred, for children and young people to be discipled to follow Jesus and know the power of his love to heal and re-establish a nation, for a great vision to be realised where the 11,000 villages without a church may have one established.

6. For Mature Leadership for the churches – this is the greatest challenge. For Bible schools, existing Pastors, Unity among churches, foreign Christian workers t come and help.

7. Christian ministry to physical needs is a major concern. Murder of the educated and those with skills, makes expatriate input essential. ‘Rehabilitation, orphanages, reconstruction, health care, projects for agriculture, fisheries, water management, education are all areas that can benefit. But not merely making ‘rice Christians’ with handouts! This is resented by the Buddhists. 

8. Prayer for the less-reached peoples, among the Buddhist majority, the Cham – almost entirely Muslim, Fojihed Muslims – with magic and superstition, the tribal peoples – 18 major southeast Asian people groups remain ignorant of hearing the gospel, ask for new witnesses to go.

9. Literature, the JESUS film, Audio, Video and radio resources all are appreciated – pray for their success in reaching Cambodians, with the living Word of the Living Christ Jesus. Praise the Lord for what we see happening in this nation, and pray for a greater awakening.





Burkina Faso

26 03 2013

A land-locked African country of 17 million people. One of the world’s poorest countries.

Capital: Ouagadougou 1.9 million.

Water-carryingBurkina Faso

Cotton is the main cash crop. About 90% of the population rely on subsistence agriculture, which is vulnerable to drought. Can you imagine?

Gold and other mineral resources are in the land, and signal possibilities of increased wealth.

High national debt and low levels of education make progress difficult.

Political History, Briefly: Independent of France in 1960, but with 6 coups since 1966, with ‘the military’ in power often; multiparty democracy has been introduced.

Religion: Muslim 52.2%;  Ethnoreligious 26.44%;  Christian 20.69%;  Non-religious 0.65%;  Baha’i 0.02%

Churches:

  • Roman Catholic                                1.08 million;
  • Assemblies Of God                           611,732
  • CMA                                                      28,200
  • Evangelical Church Association  25,926
  • Reformed                                              10,825
  • Apostolic Church                               12,500
  • Baptist … and others…. less

The increase of Christianity, particularly evangelicals over recent decades has been very promising.  The AoG have a strong missionary vision, and many have been converts from Muslim backgrounds.

Prayer Points:

1. Poverty: pray for Aid, development and micro-finance and micro-enterprise that will actually life the people out of poverty rather than create further dependence. Pray against corruption in the government and the aid industry that siphons resources away from the people most in need of it; pray for creative solutions to this longstanding problem.

2. The many Burkinabe’ – (information from OW) “…who emerge for work. An estimated three million Burkinabe’ worked in Cote d’Ivoire before violence broke out there in 2002. Large numbers fled back to Burkina Faso, but are now returning to Cote d’Ivoire. As many as 70% of these emigre’s convert to Islam while away from home. Burkina churches are taking up the challenge by sending pastors and missionaries to reach these Burkinabe abroad, especially AoG, CMA and WEC, but more are needed.

3. Rapid Urbanisation continues as subsistence agriculture and traditional rural life proves inadequate to support families or to keep young people occupied.

4. The spirit world is very real in Burkina Faso, where as the saying goes: ‘the population is 50% Muslim, 20% Christian and 100% animist’. The power of the occult needs to be decisively challenged and broken, to see that Jesus Christ is Lord. “Few countries in West Africa are more dominated by idolatry, fetishism and secret societies. Even in churches, occult power is wielded, hampering and polluting the message of Christ” (OM).

5. The evangelical churches need leadership and unity.

6. The unreached include 27 people groups (nations). 17 of these are Muslim. The challenges are huge … (see page 179 Operation World). 

7. Missionaries and a strong Mission Vision.

8. Christian Aid and Relief – adds credibility to the message of Christ, in significant ways here.

9. Young People: Street kids are increasingly common. Student ministry, and educational ministry, is crucial to reach many too.

10. Bible Translation: help!

11. Media Ministries. Pray for the fruitfulness of the Radio broadcasting of the gospel into remote areas.





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.

 

 








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