Côte d’Ivoire

7 06 2016

 

Known until 1985 as ‘Ivory Coast’ (English), Côte d’Ivoire is an extremely beautiful place.

It is an African wet coat nation situated between Ghana and Liberia. It has rainforest to the south and savannah and highlands in the north.

Capital: Yamoussoukro (895,000 approx.) Abidjan is the economic, cultural captial.

Population:  24 million approx.

Operation World says: it is “One of the world’s largest producers of cocoa, coffee and palm oil” (p. 284).

They obtained independence from France in 1960.  But political coups, failed peace agreements, and political tensions have dogged the nation. As with many other African nation, there is a Muslim north and a non-Muslim (Christian and animist) south.

Religions: Muslim 41%, Christian 33%, Ethnoreligious 24%

Money: They use the West African Franc. As does Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

It is good to ponder the very existence, life, uniqueness and glory of every nation. For just as the nations enter the arena of the Olympic Games in a unique, noble, glorious manner, so too from Côte d’Ivoire, “people will bring into [the Holy City , the future community] the glory and honour of this nation” (Revelation 21:26).

Prayer Points:

  1. For political leaders who are visionary, non-partisan and free of corruption.
  2. For ways to handle million of immigrants from neighbouring countries.
  3. For the ongoing growth of the Evangelical churches, sharing God’s Word.
  4. For believers in Christ to resist the temptation to return to animist ways.
  5. For the demographic sectors of society needing the gospel.
  6. For the nearly 1 million people who have contracted AIDS in the country.
  7. For the ministries of many young people who have recently become Christians, to flourish.

iv-lgflag.gif





Comoros

15 07 2014

‘The Union of the Comoros’, Africa.

Three volcanic islands between Madagascar and Mozambique.

Comoros

Comoros

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Population: 700, 000

Capital: Moroni (49, 800)

Peoples: Comorian 97.6% (Mixed Arab, African and Malagsy ancestry, part of the Swahili-Bantu people cluster)

Literacy: 56%

Languages: Arabic, French, Comorian

Economy: Underdeveloped, poor, overpopulated. Major Exports: perfumes, spices (vanilla, cloves). Most work in agriculture, but the nation still depends on food aid and rice imports. Many Comorians work abroad and send money home.

Political instability from over 20 coups.

Religion: Muslim 98.84%, Christian 0.93% Hindu 0.9%

Almost completely unevangelised before 1973.

Prayer Points:

Operation World says: “Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise. However, most are involved in occult practices through witchcraft, curses and spirit possession. Many young people – disillusioned with life in this society that offers so little hope – attempt to find solace in drugs, sex or the opportunity to leave the islands. Pray that they might have opportunities to hear the gospel of life that offers hope to all. Evangelism is forbidden, and those who convert to Christianity can expect severe reprisals from the community and from their own family. Harassment and persecution have risen in frequency and intensity in recent years. Pray for courage for those choosing to follow Jesus, and wisdom for all who must work out their faith in this hostile atmosphere”.

Signs of Hope: The number of believers (6, 410) is gradually increasing. The quiet witness of medical and veterinary workers, who are believers, living there, has won credit and honour to the name of Jesus Christ.

O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Creator and Redeemer of the nations of the world, may your Word of Life and hope come in the Spirit’s power to many more living in Comoros. We pray for the experience of freedom – of mind and heart and conscience – and the joy it brings to a person, to inspire the courage needed to live against the tide of unbelief, superstition, and darkness. For the Christians there today, may the Spirit uplift their hopes, knowing that it is not an impossible situation for real change. In the name of Jesus, the most positive and realistic person who ever lived—and who lives as Lord now! Amen.

Comoros Flag

 





Chad

18 07 2013

11.7 million people

African: ‘desert in the north, dry grassland in the centre, thick bush in the south’.

Capital: N’djamena

People: Complex mixture of 150 or more ‘peoples’.

Official Languages: French (for the elite), Arabic, and 133 Other languages

Economy: 80% in subsistence farming. 80% below poverty line. Corruption is rife.

Politics: Independent from France in 1960. Since then, violence, insurgencies and coups. Conflict in neighbouring Darfur saw 400,000 refugees spill across the border. One tribe, the Zaghawa, dominates the government. Much spent on military hardware.

Religion: Muslim 52.84%   Christian 38.46%  Ethnoreligionist 7.7%  Other 1%

Freedom of religion. So far. This is unusual, but a truly secular approach functions.

Notes:  The number of Muslims seeking to know more of Christ continues to grow. Many unreached peoples are being reached for the first time with the gospel. Those disillusioned with Islam, especially from Darfur, are particularly open to news of the God of hope, in Jesus Christ. Many appreciate the loving, welcoming ministry of Christians.

Prayer Point: The need for a stable and just government is great – Lord have mercy. As Islam grows in ascendency, then the problem with viewing Christians as inferior, is a growing reality. We pray for Christians to have wise leadership, and a fair hearing from government. We pray that the old traditional religions with all their spiritual fears, may be overcome by the work of the Holy Spirit and good news of a Sovereign, true Lord. We pray that tribalism will not cripple congregations of faith, hope and love. We also pray for the training of leaders, to take place amidst such poverty that so many experience.

Also: “There are more unreached peoples in Chad than in any other African country” (Operation World, p. 208)

May the missionary work continue to bring blessing and growth in the gospel, particularly to young people. May the Chad missionaries have good success in their Bible translation work.

Image

flag of Chad





Central African Republic

15 07 2013

République Centrafricaine

‘A landlocked state in Africa’s geographical centre. Variation from tropical forest in the southwest to semi-desert in the northeast’ (Operation World, p. 201   NOTE: …much of this article is indeed taken direct from the Operation World book).

Population: 4.6 million

Peoples: About 80 ethnic groups – and complexity.

(1) Adamawa-Ubangi 78.7% with about 35 ethnic groupings. Largest Gbaya 27.8%, Banda 21.9%, Mandja 9.5%, Mboum 6.0%, Yakoma 5.5%, Bokoto 3.6%

(2) Sudanic 6.2% 12 groups on the northern border. Zande 3.0%, Banda-Dukpu 2.7%

(3) Bantu 3.0%, 10 groups in southwest.

(4) Fulbe 3.6% Bagirme Fulbe 2.4%, Mbororo 1.0%

(5) Sara-Bagirmi 4.9%, Kaba 2.0%, 10 other groups.

(6) Arab 2.8% Nomadic Shuwa Arabs 2.2%

(7) Pygmy 0.3% Five groups mainly in the southwest forests.

(8) Other 0.5% Caucasians and groups dispersed from neighbouring countries.

Literacy 48.6%  Official language French and Sango (trade language used by most of the population).

All Languages 82   Indigenous languages 71     Languages with Scriptures 5Bi 8NT 10por 9w.i.p.

Economy: Rich in natural and mineral resources, but underdeveloped infrastructure and landlocked status limit income. Diamonds account for 55% of exportsConflict in neighbouring countries and within Central Africa Republic (CAR) has undermined any potential to exploit the nation’s resources. Farmers account for most of the working population. Health facilities are limited. There is a massive economic gulf between the richer capital and the poorer hinterlands.

Public Debt 96% of GDP.  Income/person $459 per annum (1% of USA)

Politics: Independent in 1960, the nation has thus far not utilized her freedom.  Periods of democracy have been interspersed with military regimes and Bokassa’s “Empire”, 1976-1979. The current president came to power through a coup in 2003 and was then fairly elected in 2005.  Constant rebellions and military coups slow progress.  Already-poor infrastructure is further damaged by frequent conflict; rebel groups constantly appear and upheavals in surrounding countries make the rebuilding task a difficult one for a government already beset by the traditional challenges of tribalism, nepotism and corruption. The many rebel factions in the north are being monitored through the UN presence but the east is unstable due to the presence of the LRA which has spilled over from Uganda and Sudan.

Religion: Freedom.

Christian 76.37%  Muslim  13.8%  Ethnoreligionist 8.6%  Non-religious 0.92%  Baha’i  0.31%

Points of Thanksgiving:

1. Solid Foundations are laid for developing a national-level strategy for mission and evangelism that spans denominational and organizational lines. The potential for massive church growth and consolidation exists; there is a growing interest among the churches for evangelism to unreached people groups.

2. Praise God that the national Church is emerging as a vehicle for witness and service.  National missionaries and agencies are on the increase, and indigenous-led ministries are springing up.  Bible translation work in mother tongues and literacy in the churches are progressing as well.

Prayer Points:

1. The physical human needs are immense. Pray for

(i) peace and stability, (ii) the economy to grow due to wise use of resources, (iii) unemployed people who desperately need work, ask the Lord, for opportunities to emerge through business people who can help transform the nation,  (iv) health improvement in relation to HIV/AIDS, diseases from malnourishment, clean water availability, hygiene and poverty.

2. Widespread Evangelism was not followed up with discipleship, and this lead to nominalism and syncretism,  and denominational rifts, and wrong priorities, such as lack of honestly and and moral integrity.

3. The unity of the church. Need to incorporate the new and independent churches into the acceptable category.

4. Leadership Development: 15 Bible Schools need staff and students and funds. Womens’ Ministry need further encouragement.

5. Young People and Children: Almost half the population are under 15, but too few churches are discipling the next generations.

6. Bible Translation. Only two indigenous languages have a fully translated Bible: Sango and Zande.

7. The Less reached: pray for people in the dangerous northern lobe, for Muslims, for people in the forest areas.

8. Mission Agencies: Pray for greater partnerships, joint vision, and new church planting movement initiatives.

9. Christian media and help ministries: Pray for proper coordination of radio, literature, the Jesus film, recordings and the work of the Haggai Institute, Operatiion Africa, and others reaching out to the business community and academic elite.

C.A.R. (Africa)

C.A.R. (Africa)

images Central African Republic





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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Brunei

4 03 2013

State of Brunei Darussalam, Asia.

Two small enclaves on the island of Borneo, separated by the East Malaysian state of Sarawak [details from Operation World].

Tropical. 70% Forest, with heavy rainfall.

People: Malay – 69.6%  Chinese – 15.6%  Other – 14.8%

Economy: One of the richest states in Asia, with free education and health care, no income tax for most and heavily subsidised housing, fuel and staple food.  Hydrocarbons account for 90% of exports, but proven deposits could be exhausted as early as 2020. Recent disasters in investment and a need for economic diversification have spurred eco-tourism and a push for self-sufficiency in rice growing.

Politics: Refused to join the Malaysian Federation in 1963. A Protectorate of Britain until full independence in 1983.

The Sultan of Brunei: Hassanal Bolkiah is the current Sultan, and he rules as an Absolute Monarch, maintaining the tradition of a Muslim monarchy that dates back to the 15th century. A legislative council is appointed by the Sultan.  Wikipedia says:

“The Sultan has one of the world’s largest and most expensive car collections, numbering in the thousands. Some brands, including Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, make new cars exclusively for the Sultan that are not sold or advertised to the public. The Sultan’s involvement in the sports includes playing Pologolfbadminton. He also enjoys race car driving, piloting helicopters and aircraft. He is also very fond of gold as he has a Rolls-Royce coated with 24k gold.”

Religion: Islam is the State Religion. Constitutional guarantees for the free practice of other religions are not always adhered to.

Muslim      65.31%

Christian   11.39%

Buddhist    8.9%

Ethnoreligionist 6.6%

Chinese      5.3%

Non religious  1.5%

Hindu        0.73%

Baha’i        0.24%

Other          0.03%

Prayer Points:

1. “Islam dominates life in Brunei, with a brand that is conservative, but not radical.  Islamization by financial and career inducements as well as by general pressure to convert or conform has yielded a slow but steady trickle of converts from among the tribal and Chinese minorities.  Despite constitutional guaranteed religious freedom, it is illegal to proselytize and illegal for a Muslim to convert to another religion. Other religions are often infiltrated by government agents for monitoring purposes. Pray for an atmosphere of religious freedom and spiritual openness and for the observance of the constitutional right for other religions to be practiced. ”

2. The Sultan is alleged to be the world’s second wealthiest royal. The Sultan is reluctant to diversify the economy and liberalise the government structures, believing that the external influences might destabilise the country. Yet, he has established a world class university and is working toward a smooth handover to the crown prince.  Pray for conversions to Christ in the large royal family; the Sultan has shown evidence of becoming increasingly spiritual. Pray also that in following him, the Sultan’s subjects might seek after spiritual truth and in doing so find Jesus.

3. The Christian Church exists under very difficult conditions. Evangelism is illegal, and although the number of Christians grows, no new registrations for churches are forthcoming. No foreign Christian workers are permitted – visiting ministers must arrive unannounced and in secret.  Importing Bibles and Christian literature is illegal for ministry purposes, but not for personal purposes.  Religious instruction in all schools, including the six Christian schools, is on Islam alone.

Pray for (a) Perseverance, boldness and unity among local Christians, (b) Christian leadership: all are ‘lay’ leaders, most with little training, (c)  Numerical growth to continue, despite restrictions.

4. Mission groups are praying for an opening for the work of the Kingdom of God. Pray for creative ‘means’ to be given.

5. The unreached: The Malay majority, the Chinese, Tribal peoples, and the expatriate workforce who ‘will inevitably grow’. Pray that this potential inroad may prove fruitful and the Word of Christ Jesus, and his freedom, may come to the people of Brunei.

Brunei 1 Brunei 2

 

Royals - The Sultan Spectacular Buiding





Bangladesh

15 09 2012

Several weeks ago, I met two doctors in Australia, from Bangladesh. They have moved here for their safety, their future, and for the sake of their young son. While they wait to upgrade their qualifications, they have applied for and accepted very menial tasks in a factory here. In a most enlightening conversation, I learned that they are Hindu people. I also learned that they had been subjected to severe pressure, and aggressive behaviour from members of the Muslim community in Bangladesh. Since they are now in the minority, they find themselves bullied for money and favours. They said, that life would be far worse for them, if they were not a general and a specialist doctor (medical practitioners)respectively. Being doctors, they were privileged to live well, in the upper echelon of society. However, for Hindu people in lesser jobs and place in society, life is most difficult amidst the now strongly Muslim nation. Although they come from a family of medical doctors, they feared for the future of their son in Bangladesh. Unless he too, qualified as a doctor, life ahead looked to be very difficult indeed for him. It was unsafe. People were aggressively dishonest. Law and order was breaking down badly. A car left on the road would simply be stolen. Unlike in Australia, where cars are left there unattended overnight all the time. Few, by comparison, are ever stolen. This shift to Australia, was very difficult—away from the people, and the land they loved. But alas, pressure, pressure, pressure. By contrast, they said that the only pressure in Australia, was for money to live and pay expenses. The couple said that they did not know any Christians back in Bangladesh—perhaps one they thought, on recollection.

Of the 165 million people, 14.6 million live in the capital, Dhaka.

89% are Muslim, 9% Hindu, and Christiansen: a mere 0.66% off the population. Even less were Buddhist or other faiths.

Prominent in our minds in Australia, are the bodies of the weak, starving masses shown on our TV’s some years ago, during times of great hunger and war. We give thanks to the Lord, that there has been some progress in recent years in the fight against poverty. May it continue.

Micro-credit has helped many people to begin to re-establish a fruitful, useful life once again.

Religion: “Bangladesh was a secular state from 1971-1988. However, in 1988 Islam became the official state religion. Officially there is religious freedom, but this is being steadily eroded by Islamist pressure and a legal system lacking safeguards for ethnic or religious minorities. Islamists are a strong and growing minority.”

Bangladesh was part of Pakistan for 24 years. Independence came in 1971 after a bitter civil war; there has been political instability thereafter, with assassinations, 18 military coups and a nine-year military dictatorship which ended in 1991. One of the Islamic world’s only democracies is rendered ineffective by unrest and personal animosity between two women, who have led the two main political parties. Military and Islamist groups remain influential and ready to pick up the pieces should the state fail. Often rated among the world’s most corrupt nations. Many have been the floods and cyclones.

Among the world’s poorest nations… Nearly half the population lives on less that $1 per day.

A solid social foundation for progress is lacking. Education levels are low. There is very little in the way of infrastructure. There are very few natural resources. Most people work in agriculture or textiles for “scandalously low wages”. Overpopulation creates many problems. There is a frightening vulnerability to changes in climate and economy. Floods, swollen rivers, rising food prices, monsoons, and so much money needing to be spent on food, makes improvement and security issues, seem a long way off.

Prayer points. Please pray:

  • For the preaching of the gospel to bring many to know Jesus Christ.
  • For honesty (corruption is endemic and deeply rooted). in government.
  • For more than political lip service to democracy, showing Christ to those caught up in favour of Sharia Law.
  • For a deep change so that Islamists will not merely dominate people’s lives.
  • For the churches, that have been “growing faster than the population rate“. Wow.
  • For the people-movement tribal churches among the Santal, Munda, Khasi, Garo, Maramei, Ralte, Mizo, Poi.
  • For the churches among the lower caste Hindu section of the community, who love the good news of Jesus!
  • For the Outreach to new people continue to succeed.
  • For means by which believers and churches may be self-sustaining.
  • For leadership for the churches.
  • For the Key Interdenominational residential schools (College of Christian Theology Bangladesh, and the Christian Discipleship Centre).
  • For the Denominational Bible Schools and Seminaries—AoG, GFA, ABWE, Free Baptist, Anglican, Adventist, Lutheran and Church of Bangladesh.
  • For Indigenous Bible Schools offering training in local community outreach, tailored to the needs of culturally Muslim followers of Jesus.
  • For the NGO’s – over 20,000 registered which almost seem like a “second government”.
  • For the Bengali people—by far the largest unreached people in the world, numbering around 240 million globally. Of these, 140 million are in Bangladesh alone, and are often bound to ‘folk Islam’ a blend of Sufi and Hindu.
  • For Hindu Bengali people, where there are 228 Hindu people groups/ or castes of which 204 are classified as least-reached/unreached. “Only among 14 groups has there been any significant response. The upper castes have remained resistant to the gospel.”
  • For the tribal peoples who’s very existence is threatened as the population explodes and pushes further into their lands.
  • For the Bihari Muslims (Urdu speaking) who are unwanted by Pakistan and stigmatized as traitors in Bangladesh for their role in the 1971 war. Most still live in dozens of former refugee camps.
  • For the Rohingya Muslims. As many as 250,000 of them have fled persecution from the Buddhist Myanmar government, and are huddled in refugee camps facing starvation—they have never been given the gospel.
  • For more evangelism and church planting.
  • For at risk people—the poor children. So many hundreds of thousands pushed into being child labourers, and millions of them forced into being sex workers—a living hell.
  • For Christian business investors seeking to show mercy—they are welcomed by this country.
  • For Scripture to reach those who want it. It is in huge demand. Pray for those working on the production of literature, and in media outreach.
  • For those millions who are illiterate to hear the Word through others, who tell the stories of Jesus, and the work of His Cross, for the nations of the World in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Risen, reigning Lord Jesus, we pray for the people of Bangladesh to hear of your presence now, and your resurrection victory over poverty, death, evil, cruelty, and godlessness, and may they receive with joy your Holy Spirit, and be assured of salvation amidst the terribly difficult problems they endure. O Holy God, Father of orphans, humble friend to the oppressed, may your grace flow out upon this nation, that they may grow and live to your glory, your future, your plan and your joy—even now. O Lord, we groan as we ponder such a large mess amidst such a mass of humanity, where every person matters to you. O Father! Amen.








%d bloggers like this: