Egypt

6 05 2019

Geography: Mostly desert. Only 3% is arable land. This is along the banks of the delta of the Nile River, and around the Western Desert oases.

Population: 98 million.

People: 92% Arab.

Produce: Agriculture, natural gas, oil, textiles, tourism, (& Suez Canal dues!).

Politics: Relative stability under President Mubarak. In 2006 the Muslim Brotherhood gained 20% of the elected parliament seats. They ran as independents, since religious parties were banned from running. …Many Egyptians are disillusioned with the political process.

Religion: “Islam is the State Religion; until recently the large Christian minority were left in relative peace. The last – 20 years (2020) – however, have seen higher levels of communal  violence. The rise of Islamism caused Islamist violence” (Operation World).

Christians 12.8% .     Muslim 86.67% .       Non religious 0.5%

History in Review: It is sobering to recall that for over 1,000 years Egypt was a majority-Christian country, even after the Arab Muslim conquest in AD640. Egypt gave to the world some of its greatest theologians and the monastic movement.

                         

Prayer Points:  

  1. For the recognition of the Church’s history in Egypt over the past 2000 years.
  2. That the Scriptures will be read, as so many have been strategically distributed by the Bible Society.
  3. For innovative us of the Media to proclaim the Gospel
  4. For the great prayer movement of recent years to expand and prove to be a huge blessing for the nation.
  5. For God’s blessing upon the Coptic Church, by far the largest body of Christians in the middle east, and a key for the proclamation of the gospel in this nation.
  6. For the steadfastness of the Christian community. In the last 20 years persecution of Christians has steadily increased. Operation World report that: “Harassment, discrimination on individual and communal levels and financial incentives for Christians to adopt Islam are all used to break the morale of Christians. Some areas, such as Upper Egypt, face more intense pressure than others. In most cases, the attacks that occur are carried out by vigilante Islamists groups – but often with the tacit acceptance of local security forces. Identity cards stating religion can be a huge challenge for believers from Muslim backgrounds, who tend to be on the receiving end of persecution more frequently than Copts. O Lord we pray for Christians who waver, that they may find new courage to hold fast to Christ; and we pray for the Egyptian government to respond to unfairness and attacks and violence, with genuine resolve for the wellbeing of all people – and for them to legislate and act with “an even hand. We give thanks for the many Muslim-background people who are being found by Christ Jesus – that they may work out how best to respond to Jesus, and to love their family, community and nation.
  7. May the people of Egypt come once again, into the great hope of forgiveness, joy and salvation, through knowing the Father, through his Son Jesus Christ, in the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit.




Djibouti

16 10 2017

Capital: Djibouti   … (imagine that!)

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Population: 1 million. About 61% are Somali people, also Afar (28%), Arab (8%).

Official Language: French and Arabic.

A hot dry enclave between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, with possibly the hottest average temperatures of any county on earth.

Religion: Muslim 97% (and the State religion). Religious freedom for foreigners.

Prayer:  Living Lord, ascended Jesus, who loves this nation of people, may your Word be preached here with power.  In this strange nation, so calm and stable, yet with huge problems of unemployment and famine, may the miracle of coming to know Jesus Christ as the Saviour and hope of the world, occur among significant people, that the joy of the true God’s plan and purpose, as Father and Redeemer may be revealed for many people. Come Holy Spirit and bring a quenching of human thirst, in a dry and weary land. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 





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 west coast 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 capital. Population. 4.1 million.

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.

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Ivory Coast.

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Language: French is used by 48% of the population. Also Jula is a native trade language in the north. There are 77 indigenous languages. Only half of these have Scriptures.

Politics: Independent from France in 1960. Lots of tension, and need for stability. Muslims is the north, and non-Muslim in the south. Missionary activity is very difficult.  Syncretism is big. So is Traditional religion.

Prayer: O Lord Jesus, Ascended and at work, we pray for new upcoming leaders who are free of corruption. We give thanks for the rise of Evangelical churches, and pray the blessing of hearing upon the Word; this is the true hope. For movement beyond nominalism in the Catholic churches. For bible teaching to expand, and missionary training to grow. For the many unevangelized people to be reached with the gospel.  For the young people to respind to the Word of hope. Lord hear our prayer.

 

 

 

 

 





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.

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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.

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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).

Capital: Bangui

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)

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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.

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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.





Bahrain

15 09 2012

So you’ve heard the name, but not sure of where it is actually located…or much else?

Bahrain is situated in the Arabian Gulf between the Qatar Peninsula and Saudi Arabia.

It is a group of one larger and 32 smaller barren islands, and is linked to the Saudi Arabia Peninsula by a causeway. The King Fahad Causeway was opened in November 1986, and has since been used by millions of passengers and vehicles.

Wow!

The make-up of the population is most interesting: Arab 50%, Iranian 15%, Bahraini Farsi 10%, South Asian 15% (Indian, Malayi, Tamil, Telugu, Pakastani), East Asian 7% (Chinese, Korean, Filipino), European 1.5%, Other 1.5%.

What about faith? Muslim 83% and 9.8% Christian, Hindu 6%. Proselytizing Muslims is illegal. Expatriate Christians are very free to worship together in churches; practitioners of other faiths are free to do the same. With limited compounds though, dozens of congregations mus share the same building.

“Bahrain enjoys greater freedom than almost all Gulf countries and therefore is spiritually strategic. With greater freedoms, the accompanying vices are becoming problems. Many Saudis and Kuwaitis visit here to enjoy the more relaxed environment. Pray for them to meet Christians and encounter the gospel. Pray for the king as he leads the nation forward”  (Operation World, p. 130).

Christian Ministry: For over a century the American Mission Hospital has been well known and highly regarded. Pray that this may continue and that there may be fruit from the tactful witness of believers.

Local Believers: Praise God fo them, and pray that their testimony to fellow Arabs will flourish.

Among the large expatriate community: pray for courage and wisdom to share their knowledge of the Risen Jesus, and his Lordship over death, hell sin and evil, for all humanity—the New Humanity in him! Education there opens many opportunities. Pray for the teachers, and their testimony to the Living Christ.

The labour force is 59% foreign, drawn from more than 50 nations. Wow! They are however, often treated poorly, and there are great expectations from their family at home in poor circumstances.  Pray that within these groups, many will be drawn into contact with Jesus Christ.

Media ministries: High speed internet gives access to Christians across the globe, through chat, and all kinds of Christian resources.  Christian literature is available in Manama. The Bible Society works to make Scripture available in Arabic, and other languages. Christian TV and radio is accessible via satellite broadcast; so inquiry about Jesus can be made anonymously. What a fascinating place.

May the Living, Risen, Ascended Jesus, Lord of all, Son of Man, Son of God, friend of sinners, and crucified Saviour of the World, speak and minister to many hearts in Bahrain, of the hope, grace, mercy, peace and joy, that lies in knowing him.  Come Spirit of God, the Holy One. Come, Spirit of Jesus the Son, Spirit of the Father, and speak to the spirits of those who live and work in Bahrain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM9bpL6VkxU





Azerbaijan

6 09 2012

Azerbaijan: 87% Muslim, 2.75% Christian. (Others include Non-religious, Jewish and Baha’i). Population: 9 million people. Unfortunately, Christianity retains an unhealthy association with Russian Imperialism, Armenian enmity and Western neo-colonialism.

Most Azerbaijani towns and villages have never been reached with the gospel at all.

They do not know of the resurrection of Jesus, of hope, and of the purpose of his sufferings and death. “And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim Christ?”…”Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word—the preaching—of Christ’. (Romans 10:14c, 17). That is, as we go, it is Christ Jesus who himself preaches to a person’s heart and mind and conscience.

The capital, Baku was ‘the world’s original oil-boom city overhj a century ago’. Even so, some 40% of the people live in poverty.

Situated to the west of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan has Russia and Georgia, to the north. It has Armenia to the west. It has Iran to the south.

A quick overview of the political background helps:

“A long history of subjugation by Arabs, Mongols, Persians, Turks and Russians. Independent in 1991 from the USSR. A difficult first decade was beset by internal coups and war with Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in West Azerbaijan. Nearly 1 million Azeris were displaced by this conflict. The President, re-elected in a shady election, is the son of the previous president. They have overseen a political shift away from Russia toward Turkey and the West.” (Operation World, p. 126)

The number of believers in Jesus Christ continues to grow, although most Christians are still foreign ethnicities. the majority of believers are in Baku … where there are many Azeril-led and Azeri-language congregations. However the church faces intensifying opposition even as it grows. Draconian registration laws are making it difficult for Christians, and for all faiths, including Muslims. The Caucasus peoples, and minority groups of peoples, like Talysh, Tat and Kurds, remain largely unreached.

Special Point from a news item: “Azerbaijan faces serious problems with gender mainstreaming and women’s rights protection”.

Christian literature, Bible translation and quiet expatriate ministries are taking place. However there is a need for more radio programmes in Azeri.

In this politically volatile nation, O Lord, grant your peace, so that less military expenditure will be needed. Amidst the nation, may the Word of Christ , the Living One, go forth with power, to tell the joyful news of Christ Jesus—and his gracious, genuine, joyful, secure kingdom over all.

http://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/13393/

Good news: Christian music, literature, poetry and other expressions of worship and culture are beginning to flourish.





Australia

19 08 2012

Australia!

It is most interesting, even strange, to see your own nation listed objectively, among the nations of the world in terms of both:

(1) Answers to prayer and (2) Challenges For Prayer.

I have already cited the details of Australians and their beliefs from the 2011 census:

Religious Affiliation
  • Christian   61%       (13.15 million)
  • Buddhist    2.5%    (  0.52  million)
  • Islam         2.2%     (  0.47  million)
  • Hinduism   1.3%     (  0.27  million)
  • Judaism    0.5%     (  0.09  million)
  • Other        0.8%     (  0.16  million)

See: https://nwcc.wordpress.com/australians/

The nation is in many ways, envied by so many nations of the world, in terms of space, living conditions, wealth, health and freedom for the gospel to be proclaimed and engaged in at a public level. This is not to say, however, that there is not a daily battle in influencing or wanting to enlarge, the minds and hearts of the Australian public towards the things of Christ. There is a battle.

* One of the figures I like to quote in terms of need for prayer and renewal, is the fact that there are about 10,000 Christian Pastors or Minister-leaders, or Priests/elders, across this nation of 22 million people.  There are another former 10,000 Christian Pastors or leaders, etc. who have been sidelined due to sheer weariness, difficulty, rejection, physical or mental illness, disaffection, loss of faith, boredom or in some case, even unbelief. These people are sort-of casualties of ‘church systems’, or of human church-institutional life generally. Lord of the Church, we pray for a renewal of ‘participation in ministry’, for many of these leaders.

Now we shall turn to the objective list of needs, as cited by Operation World.

1. Australia is undergoing many changes:

(a) Increasing pluralism and aggressive secularisation: (See for example: http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2012/05/07/it-is-wrong-to-judge/

(b) Sustained immigration has created a multi-cultural country, where fast growing religious and ethnic minorities cause considerable tensions in communities that have taken for granted, and now want to retain Christian and/or Anglo-Saxon heritage.

(c) Australia’s role as a regional peacekeeper and stable democracy is a blessing to many countries, such as Timor, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, and others. However attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers are strained because of the constant inflow of people.

(d) The precarious ecology is overexploited – in urdan settings as much as in rural ones. Water availability, land-usage, drought, the pressure from mining companies all add to the yearly stress of the nation. Native koalas, and Tasmanian devils, are examples of the local species under threat. Ferral animals abound in outback Australia, doing incredible damage. We pray for wisdom in conservation and stewardship. See also my article Big Concerns.

2. The Church in Australia faces a mighty challenge – “to remain relevant”. [Personally, I would not put it this way. Church will ever be relevant to the nation, as the guardian and voice of the gospel]. While some 61% identify as Christian, only 10% of the nation regularly attend church. Increasingly there are negative attitudes towards the churches. There is an individualised ideology, which works against Christian community! We pray for reformation and revival of the Christian community within society.

3. Evangelicals are a dynamic and diverse entity. The Sydney Anglican diocese is an example of conservative, biblical strength, as is a growing minority in the Melbourne diocese. The greatest growth has been in the Pentecostal/charismatic church groups. Put together, they would constitute about the Third Largest group behind (1) Roman Catholic and (2) Anglican. The other large church, The Uniting Church in Australia since 1977 [formerly Methodists, Presbyterian and Congregational], has been deeply affected by political power-wielding of many with ‘liberal’ theology.

(a) Mainline churches are in varying degrees of polarisation

(b) Christian Holistic ministry – to the homeless, drug addicts, poor and the disabled – is an area of great opportunity.

(c) The Ideological debate with secular materialists: many hot topics such as human origin, human sexuality and the existence of God, are under public scrutiny, attack and debate.

4. The Missions Vision Within Australian churches is mixed: a small minority of churches maintain a once large work as a missionary sending nation. We pray for a renewal of perspective in regard to going, sending and giving to other nations. 

5. Less Reached Peoples Are found in increasing numbers and diversityPray for outreach to continue to:

(a) People in working-class urban areas

(b) Muslims

(c) Chinese

(d) Vietnamese

(e) Diverse people from the Balkans and Eastern Europe

(f) Jews – number over 100,000

(g) Southern Europeans

6. The 550,000 Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

(a) Most Aborigines are Christian

(b) Pray for the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship

(c) Pray for the nearly 500 missionaries in 26 denominational agencies

(d) Bible Translation is in Progress

7. Student Ministry needs greater attention. 600,000 students in 40 universities are served by small student groups on each campus.

8. Young People and Children: A drastic drop in Sunday school attendances, and weekend sport on Sunday, has proven a challenge to Schools Ministry  Groups to reach the children and give them opportunity to hear the gospel. Government, secular opposition, the considerations of other religions, and an often unhelpful, even hostile mainstream media continue to make this aspect of ministry somewhat difficult.

9. Pray For the Christian Media

Radio, Literature, Visual Media, The Internet, (including Facebook) all provide good opportunities to the Word of Christ to go forth in a deeply beneficial way, to the nation.





Armenia 2 (Հայաստան)

13 08 2012

Հայաստանը փոքր, հողային, արգելափակված է, լեռնային երկիր է, որը բաղկացած է 3 միլիոն մարդ, որոնց մեծ մասը (94.43%), զարմանալիորեն քիչ են քրիստոնյաներ.

Հավակնել փառքի: Հայաստանը նաեւ առաջին քրիստոնյա ազգ աշխարհների եւ վայելում մեծ հոգեւոր ժառանգությունը, ավելի քան 1700 տարիների քրիստոնեության հետ (գործառնություն աշխարհի, էջ 114)
Պատմականորեն, երկիրը հանդես է եկել Ա.Ա. տեսակի բուֆերի միջեւ Թուրքիայի, Ռուսաստանի ու պարսկական կայսրությունների. Այն հազվադեպ է եղել, անկախ վերջին 2500 տարիների ընթացքում: Այն գտնվում է արեւմուտքում, Ադրբեջանի, Հյուսիսային Իրանի եւ արեւելյան Թուրքիայի եւ Հարավային Վրաստանի

Ժողովուրդը շատ լավ գիտեն, պատմություն է. 1915-1917 թթ, Թուրքիան չի ճանաչել Հայոց ցեղասպանությունը, որտեղ որոշ 1500000 մահեր տեղի ունեցավ. Հիշելով այս միջոցառումը, եւ մտածում պատմությունը չի կարեւոր է, բռնակալ Ադոլֆ Հիտլերը անգամ իր բանակի հրամանատարների, օգոստոսի 22 – ին, 1939:

«Այսպիսով ժամանակ էլ եմ ուղարկել դեպի Արեւելք, միայն իմ մասին գանգ ստորաբաժանումների հետ պատվերների սպանել առանց խղճահարության, կամ ողորմածության, բոլոր տղամարդիկ, կանայք եւ երեխաներ են լեհական ռասայի կամ լեզվի. Միայն այդ ճանապարհով մենք հաղթելու կենսական տարածք է, որ մենք կարիք. Ով է դեռ այսօր խոսում հայերի մասին »:

With փլուզումից կոմունիզմի, սակայն, գալիս էին կրոնական ազատություն. ‘An ինտիմ կապը կառավարության եւ Հայաստանյայց առաքելական եկեղեցու շարունակվում է, որոշ աննշան խտրականության դեմ կրոնական այլ արտահայտություններով. (Դուք հակված են ստանում, որոնք!)

Դա էլ մեծ գովասանքի եւ շնորհակալագրերով-դեպի Triune Աստծո մենք գիտենք, որ Քրիստոսի համար տոկունություն ու գոյատեւման Հայ Եկեղեցու ամբողջ դարերի միջով դառը ընդդիմություն. Հայերը տանը եւ դրսում են ավելի հետաքրքրված են տեսնում մեծ նորացման հավատքի է հողի

Հիսուսն ասել է. «Երանելի են նրանք, ովքեր հալածվում են արդարության է հանուն, հանուն իրենցն է երկնքի արքայությունը» (Մատթեոս 5:10).

Հավանաբար այնտեղ չէ, որ շատ Bible Reading արել է այս հողում: Աղոթեք, որ այն աճել:

Հարգելի Տեր, մենք սովորում ենք, որ լավ հարաբերությունները հարեւանների հետ, որոնք բանալին Հայաստանի ապագան: Ուստի, մենք աղոթում ենք շարունակական առաջընթաց: Այս առումով, եւ որպես վերսկսելու շարժման Հոգու բացման առեղծվածը ավետարանի դեպի մոտակա ազգերի, քանի որ նրանք խոսել, աշխատել, ապրել եւ խաղալ, միեւնույն է, միասին. Մենք աղոթում ենք, որ ներում է հարեւան հողերի է, որ հաղթելու ուրիշներին կյանքին շնորհը հայտնի է բարձրացված իշխանության հետ խաչված, տառապանք է, բոլոր սիրող Յիսուսի Քրիստոսի, որ Իսրայելի Մեսիայի-ի Աստծո ողորմած թագավորին, բոլոր ազգերին:

Բացի այդ, ձեռքն այս հետաքրքիր հղումը.
http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2012/08/14/Fatwa-Armenians/





Algeria

9 08 2012

Algeria has 80% Sahara desert land, parts of the Atlas Mountains—and then some beautiful agricultural land on the Mediterranean coast. For 132 years it was a French colony. In 1962 Independence was won, after a bitter war. Since then, political and economic failure, and continual battle with militant Islam.  With 97.29& of the population being Islamic, the little 0.28% of the people who are Christian (mind you, that is over 100,000 of them), certainly have the task ahead of them.

ImageImage

They are war-weary, tired of blood-shed and endless violence. Persecution is increasing. So is the push for shari’a law. Non-Muslim worship outside of pre-approved buildings is forbidden. There is a government ban on importing bibles. There is no ministry specifically geared for children.

However, there are some good things: the ‘Jesus Film’, radio, satellite TV and the internet discipling chat rooms are means that are proving effective n sharing the gospel. Bible translation work into a few Berber languages and Algerian Arabic is proceeding, too. All this, amidst a lot of poverty and slum-living.

Oh, and you may have heard of a most famous Algerian—St. Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus, 354–430). What a giant. He was greatly honoured, admired and quoted by Luther and Calvin, and Barth.

The Ascended Christ is the only Redeemer of humanity’s wreckage, sadness and ruin. He lives and reigns, over Algeria.

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for the battling pastors and church in Algeria, to be a rich blessing as they preach the Word of hope, among the 35 million people who live in life’s darkness, there in Algeria.

الرب يسوع المسيح، ونحن نصلي من أجل رعاة الكنيسة، وتقاتل في الجزائر، إلى أن تكون نعمة غنية لأنها تبشير بكلمة من الأمل، من بين 35 مليون شخص الذين يعيشون في ظلام الحياة، هناك في الجزائر.

Seigneur Jésus-Christ, nous prions pour les pasteurs qui luttent contre l’église et en Algérie, pour être une bénédiction riches que prêcher la Parole de l’espoir, parmi les 35 millions de personnes qui vivent dans les ténèbres de la vie, il en Algérie.

Image

https://nwcc.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/operation-world-a-prayer-guide-to-every-nation/





Afghanistan

4 08 2012

In Afghanistan, the population consists of:

  • 29,074,395                Muslims, [29 million]
  • 20,000                        non-religious,
  • less than 15,000     Christians
  • less than 3,000       Hindu

…this is not counting the foreign military.

There are 48,000 mosques, but not a single Christian church building.

Problems include:

(1) Threat of violence from the Taliban,

(2) Health risks—infant mortality rate (diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, pneumonia), lack of clean water for 78% people.

(3) Refusal to allow women to receive medical care from men. (Sigh!!)

(4) The disabled—1million—often from landmines… have little provision for their care.

(5) Poverty and living standards

(6) Drugs—”are a scourge on the nation, and indeed the world”.  90% of the world’s opium grown here. Heroin and opium addicts abound.

They are receiving billions of dollars in foreign aid; hopeful signs: people under 20 have known nothing but war, and long for education, employment and freedom.

WOMEN: The status of women especially warrants prayer. Very few have heard of Christ’s love. Life expectancy for them is only 44 years. They are treated harshly and only 5% go to secondary school, and over half are brides at under 16 years of age. Many commit suicide.

They need Scripture, literature, audio resources, radio is a useful way to share the gospel. The Jesus film was a great help to many. Mobile phones are being used to share Scripture on audio-text files.

Prayer:

عزیز خدا پدر ما، که در عیسی مسیح به ما می آیند، کمک به مردم افغانستان برای شنیدن و آموختن از عشق، امید خود را، قدرت خود را به تغییر ملت ها، و قدرت قیام خود را در محل کار در جهان امروز است.تشکر از شما که شما در حال فرستادن مردم برای به اشتراک گذاشتن عشق خود را در این کشور، در میان تمام ظروف سرباز یا مسافر و دچار مشکل و تدمير.با تشکر از شما برای رسیدن به رحمت خود.ما به خصوص برای زنان و دختران جوان دعا می کنم به مهربانی شما را می شنوید، عزیز خدا زندگی واقعی.در نام عیسی مسیح. آمین.

Dear God our Father, who has come to us in Jesus Christ, please help the people of Afghanistan to hear and learn of your love, your hope, your power to change nations, and of your resurrection power at work in the world today. Thank you that you are sending people to share your love in this country, amidst all the mess and trouble and destruction. Thank you for the reach of your mercy. We especially pray for the women and young girls to hear of your kindness, by revelation – dear true Living God. In Jesus name. Amen.

Tahmina Kohistani





Global Hot Spots

4 08 2012

Operation World, edited by Jason Mandryk, lists the following as Global Hot Spots:

1. The future of Jerusalem

2. The Korean Peninsula

3. Somalia

4. Central Africa

5. Afghanistan and Pakistan

6. China’s growing self-confidence and assertiveness

7. Sudan’s deep divide

8. Iran

9. The Himalayan region

10. The Mexico—US drug corridor

11. The West African fault line between Islam and Christianity …esp. Nigeria

12. A Southeast Asian corridor—from Myanmar through Thailand to Malaysia & Indonesia

13. The Caucasus

14. Immigration into Europe—’an unstoppable tide of humanity’





Operation World—A Prayer Guide to Every Nation

4 08 2012

I have been genuinely amazed at the content of a book called, ‘Operation World’. It gives an extraordinary insight into the health or otherwise of Christian churches with the nations of the world.  It tells very informative facts, accurate details, problems, and needs of the countries of the world.

Great reading. Inspiring.

It is often a great experience for people to visit other countries and cultures. I like doing this. It is an even more wonderful thing to share the gospel with other people—especially people who are so different in language and culture and background and circumstances. But to find that the same Risen Ascended Jesus—once of Nazareth, and now Living evermore—is speaking and ministering to another person’s heart and life and community, is a thing of strange delight and joy.

It is the mystery of the profound work of the Holy Spirit, in the depths of another person, that we are enabled, in some small, but significant way, to share in, as those who’s own lives, bear witness to Jesus the conqueror of death and sin, and hell, for the human race.

It would be good to reflect upon other countries, for a while, and to pray for the Christians living there, who are seeking to bring hope to the people of their country. Why not sample and then buy, this excellent book:

http://www.operationworld.org/

God has come to the world, in Jesus Christ, and his hope is designed to reach every tribe and nation.





Not free in Iraq, but free in Australia

3 07 2012

I heard on ABC radio today, with Ian Henschke, an interview he had with Nadia, who was formerly living in Iraq.  She was granted her application to come and live in Australia as a refugee, a resident. Back in Iraq, every time a family member goes to work, we hug, in case we do not see each other again. It is very fearful for her and her family there. They thought it may be different after Saddam Hussain was deposed, but not so. Still the political and religious killing continues—if to a lesser degree. It will need a miracle to change, she says.

She said something close to this: ‘In Iraq, we are not free, for we would be killed because we are different. In Australia we are free to hold different political, religious and cultural views, and we can still all live together in peace’.

She said she was Algerian, formerly of Iraq. And that none of the Arab countries would accept her living in their country. We know that Islam is predominate there. But often dare not mention this fact.

Anyone who says that ‘all religions are the same’, and who think Islam is on a par with Christian faith, is living in a mist and a haze.

In Australian society, we should not ignore the profound influence of Christian faith upon society, and upon nations.

To dismiss this point, is to live in make-believe-land: ‘make-believe-all-religions-are-the-same’.





The Meta-Narrative AD

14 05 2012
The Word Became Flesh
  • 4 BC John the Baptiser (The Greatest of all the Prophets)

Magi from the East...

  • Incarnation: Birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Life, Ministry
  • 30 AD Death of Jesus
  • 30 AD Resurrection of Jesus
  • 30 AD Ascension of Jesus and Current Reign
  • Pentecostal Spirit
  • Acts of the Apostles: Peter, James, John, Paul, Others
  • ‘The Spreading Flame’: Christian Faith and Community
  • Growing Opposition: Nero, Rome
Turning Points: “2000 Years of Christ’s Power”  (M. Noll, N. Needham)
  • 70 AD   The Destruction of Temple (Jerusalem)
  • 100, 200, 300: Expansion, Persecution, Emperors, Theologians
  • 325    Nicene Creed
  • 481    Chalcedon and Heresies
  • 530    Benedict and Monasteries

Luther, the Augustinian Monk - History Maker

  • 600    Gospel in China (Nestorians and Others)
  • 630    Muhammad Conquers Mecca with (sword not Word)
  • 800   Charlemagne Crowned on Christmas Day, …“by the Pope”
  • 1054  East and West Divide
  • 1095 The Crusades begin
  • 1382 John Wycliffe’s English Bible completed
  • 1521  Reformation: Luther (& later …Calvin)
  • 1534  England – Henry VIII
  • 1540 Counter-Reform, Loyola
  • 1738 Revivals: Wesley, Whitfield, Edwards
  • 1789 French Revolution
  • 1793 William Carey to India
  • 1807 Robert Morrison to China
  • 1854 David Livingstone to Africa
  • 1904 Revival in Wales
  • 1906 Azusa Street, LA, Pentecostals
  • 1907 Pyongyang, (North) Korea, Revival began
  • 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference
  • 1914-18 World War One  (P.T. Forsyth – “think in centuries”)
  • 1922 Karl Barth on Romans; and 1934 Barmen Declaration
  • 1929 Totoyohiko Kagawa, Indigenous Missionary in Japan
  • 1939 World War Two: Suffering and Nations
  • 1945 New Beginning, Service in Love (G. C. Bingham)
  • 1962 Second Vatican Council
  • 1966 Pray for China (cf. Mao’s Cultural Revolution
  • 1979 Aboriginal Australia Revival From Elcho Island
  • 1989 Fall of Berlin Wall: ‘The Twilight of Atheism’ (A. McGrath)
  • 2001 New York Twin Towers: Faith, NOT Religion
  • 2004 Tsunami Indian Ocean and Theodicy
  • 2012 Attempt to redefine Marriage (US Obama)
  • … New things
  • … More new things
  • … The Eschaton
  • Date Not Known: ‘Behold I make all things new’ [the ‘old things’ transformed into the ‘new’]
  • The Age to Come – Eternity – Glorification of All Things




Europe’s Past Is Today’s Hope

6 10 2009

Europe continues to be a difficult place for the gospel to take fresh root, and to make real headway. Only today, I received a request for support for a missionary couple, as they endeavour to take the Word of truth into … Italy. Ha – just think… the Apostle Paul wrote his great letter of truth, concerning the world, and life, and the future, to … the church in Rome. We should read Paul’s Letter to the Romans often!

What a strange thing human history can seem to be. One of the most unusual days, and perhaps disappointing in terms of unwise use of power, was when Charlemagne, was crowned by the Pope, as leader of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’, on Christmas Day, 800 AD. In a short Church History lesson (2009), I wrote the following:

Charlemagne crowned by Leo III

On Christmas Day, 800 AD, in Rome, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as emperor. This signified a shift in power structure, for the church in Rome, in relation to the all of the Kings of Europe.  In theory, church and state were now in harmonious interplay. How did a Pope ever come to crown a world ruler? Can you have a Holy Roman Empire?

Fast forward. Another Gregory, Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085), instituted reforms, which ultimately led to the papacy emerging in the 12th and 13th centuries, as the most powerful office in Europe.

Fast Forward: By 1409, there was one Italian Pope, Urban, in Rome, another French one, Clement from Avignon,. But neither stood down, as of necessity, a third Pope, Alexander V, was elected. Three Popes. And one was preaching a crusade against another and selling indulgences to pay for it.

In World History, many Christian leaders, (if not all to some extent) have really failed in their specific calling to continue to announce the good news of the gospel to the world. Some have become too theologically clever, and too politically careful, or manipulative, to be able to really bear witness to Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world, through his death and resurrection. Nevertheless, Jesus ever remains Lord of all current affairs, of life itself, of death, and of creation, with its future in his hands! This is an amazing claim.

I was heartened, therefore to read this article in Christianity Today, concerning the current Pope, and his recent words. It is good to be a person, who, in spite of many obstacles, and when often being misunderstood, does not give up in one’s calling to proclaim the good news for the human race. check out this article:

Europe’s Past Is Today’s Hope | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

I hope you are not giving up, on your calling, or compromising it, wherever that may be!





All Things Must Pass

12 09 2009

All Things Must Pass’, by George Harrison is a collection of music, a 1970 record album, which, as the title suggests, announces the impermanence of all things – life, love and mop top pop bands.  It is ironic that this album stands as one of his greatest legacies!  It was produced at a significant time: The Beatles had broken up as a band, only 6 months beforehand, George’s wife Patty was falling for his best friend Eric Clapton. And George’s mother had just died—things were quickly very different. Looking back over the years of the Beatles huge stardom, this album was ‘his hand full of earth upon the coffin’ of the band (M. Cheney).  Interestingly enough, a song emerging at this same time was Harrison’s search to know God: ‘My Sweet Lord’, (“I really want to know ya yea”…. in, I think, Eastern religion terms). It was a popular song!

All Things Must Pass, is a saying which echoes (sort-of) that of Jesus’ own statement:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away

(Matt. 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33).

Not quite all things must pass, then! The words of Jesus have an eternal quality, because they are spoken by the eternal one: How about that?

Saul (or Paul), like many others, fiercely opposed that idea. Maybe you doubt it? But he did come to know it. So can you. It all hinges on the present activity of this Risen Man, this Son of God, and the work of his Spirit in you and me, now.

In the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and seeing that the new eternal kingdom has arrived in him, and will coming fully at his next coming-appearing, the Apostle Paul put it like this:

For the present form of this world is passing away (1Corinthians 7:31).

We don’t like it when our world changes rapidly. But there is a good aspect to it… Do you think much on the good aspects of this statement?

It was on this insight, that Paul charted his course through life. He had rich insight, and certain faith, in what Christ was doing, and had done. In him there is a new creation. The old things are not only passing away, but, indeed, in a human being who is ‘Christed’ – forgiven, and made new, then those ‘old thing’ are made new.

Many things in our old world—that we liked—are passing away. This we find hard. These are some of mine, or my parents… experiences, think on your own:

(1) The good old slower life, when people had no cars and computer, but they did have time to chat by the roadside, with the horse and dray creating little road noise.

(2)  The good ol’ days when England, Australia, and the noble Westminster system of government, worked well, and people could speak at length, and gain a hearing, and reflect – and not be manipulated by a smart 20 second sound-bite.

(3) The days in Europe, recovering from WW2, as growth and peace came in various places, industry grew, the new possibilities opened up, and the whole future was not threatened by the growth of legalistic Islam, and ghettos and terrorist bomber violence.

(4) The days when a monogamous mum and faithful dad and numerous children, and grandparents, and uncles and aunts, were accepted as the normal basis of family life, and the push, push, push, for the a new anthropology, and view of marriage was not ‘in your face’.

(5) Ice cream and chips were reserved at Christmas or a birthday, not in the weekly supermarket trolley; childhood obesity was not hear of; you could play in the trees, miles from home, without a ‘keep out’ sign, or a sanctimonious ‘safe plastic sterile playground’ [to ward of the insurance claims], or a greenie initiative preventing your joy, you could run home without fear of being molested, stolen, beaten up, or of finding no one at home; these were great days!

(6) There are squillions of thoughts, multiplying, however…

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, who, although Christians, had become bogged in a few deficient ideas: He gave them some health-giving instructions concerning married life, unmarried life, normal creational human passion, and working in the things of the gospel, in the light of this fact:

For the present form of this world is passing away (1Corinthians 7:31).

Here is the full text.  Try and read it with prayer, not just a critical eye! 🙂

7:1 ¶ Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” 2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, not of command.

7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. 9 But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

10To the married I give this command–not I but the Lord–that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say–I and not the Lord–that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.

16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

17 ¶ However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches.

18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.

20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. 22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.

24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

25Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

26 I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.

29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided.

And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband.

35 I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

36 ¶ If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37 But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancee, he will do well.

38 So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

Yes folks, what a piece of writing!
Yes, it needs some clarification. A commentary will help.
The hope is, that in Christ, you will ‘do well’!
The point is there is a noble, creational way of living, in the present age, in the light of the impending crisis, yes, the coming of the kingdom. This is it. It is a gracious kingdom, with room to move, under the gracious care of the Lord, for each of us. Are you keeping uppermost in mind what matters most?

The world of sin and death, is passing away, and the world of holiness and life, is breaking in upon us. Amidst all the uncomfortable changes, faith sees Jesus.

Jesus Christ, and his kingdom. Thy Kingdom Come.





Freedom: Secret Christians in Australia?

19 12 2008

Living in Australia, one is generally grateful for the laws of the land, and the way in which they are implemented. Generally speaking. It is a land many people love to come to, and to live in, and to settle in, and to find a peaceful, relaxed lifestyle for themselves and their family. It is a beautiful country.  By contrast, many who come to Australia, do so from horrific situations. War. Violence. Mayhem. Murder. These have been the lot of so many new arrivals in Australia. 

Many of us have watched, with growing concern, the rise of Militant Islam is overseas nations, and know of the harshness of much Islamic law, even today. We also learn of the changing face of Europe. We hear of the way many no longer recognize parts of London and England. In certain places, Islam has made huge inroads into what has been centrally, a Christian nation – England. As to how and why this has happened, many answers could be given. Even so, what is to be done by governments?  Many fear the same may happen to Australia.  Many more, hope that it does not.

One solution (I write as a thoroughly convinced Christian), is to rediscover, and proclaim the sweet, gracious, wonderful gospel of the reign and Presence of Christ Jesus, and to seek to live under that rule, and to amend our lives, to do so.  This may give a new impetus to how we order the rules, policies, and culture-aspects of our nation.  At the same time, one needs, as always, to openly accept the lives and beliefs of others. Even if one may disagree, firmly, it can still be cheerfully. 

The atheist, the agnostic, the Buddhist and the Moslem, are, can and should all be able to find a welcome space, and place to live in Australia. We are currently free to exchange in conversation of our ideas, understandings and values. What a great place! 

However, there is a need for Nations to take seriously the growing dangers coming from the desire for harsh Sharia law to be established. Australia is a nation. We must not bury our heads in the sand. We need to be alert.

Globally, I would say, that few Christian leaders understand the dangers and causes of a harsh Islam, as well as Patrick Sookhdeo. The writer of the article which follows, contains some of his pertinent comments. I would like to commend this letter, in its entirety, from the Barnabas Fund

The article, is to be found on their Website. (See the Links, on the side of this page). 

19th December 2008 – 

Why should they be secret?

Barnabas Fund launches campaign for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law

Islam is a one-way street. You can convert to Islam but you are not allowed to convert from Islam. All schools of Islamic law, shari‘a, agree on this rule and specify the death sentence for an adult male Muslim who chooses to leave his Islamic faith. Most also impose the death penalty on women apostates. The rule was established many centuries ago by Islamic scholars, but even today most Islamic religious leaders and many ordinary Muslim people agree with it.

The death penalty is rarely put into practice, but the existence of this “apostasy law” is so well known amongst Muslims that it generates strong hostility towards apostates, whether from family or community, from religious or secular leaders, from police or judiciary. So it is normal for converts from Islam to face persecution and violence. They may be arrested, either for apostasy or on a pretext. They may be attacked, beaten or even murdered by their own relatives. And those who commit the violence will probably not be punished for it.

A further range of penalties for apostasy is laid down in shari‘a, including losing one’s spouse and children and forfeiting one’s property and inheritance. These are imposed in many Muslim contexts today.

It is not surprising that many converts from Islam to Christianity keep their new faith secret, but why should they have to do so? Islam actively encourages non-Muslims to convert to Islam, but it is the only world faith with a death sentence for those who leave it.

The Islamic apostasy law also stands in stark contrast to Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published sixty years ago this month, which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief…”

Things can change

There are brave Muslim voices calling for the apostasy law to be abolished. Some scholars point out that the Qu’ran has no clear statement about the need to punish apostasy in this life. Others doubt that the traditions about Muhammad’s response to apostates are genuine. Still others say that apostates who were killed in the early days of Islam were condemned not for changing their faith, but for rebelling against the Islamic state.

In support of these voices, Barnabas Fund is launching a new campaign that seeks to bring an end to the Islamic apostasy law. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director, says, “Although only Muslim leaders can make this happen, we as Christians can help the process, by speaking up for freedom of religion and belief and by encouraging others to do the same. We ask you to join us in our efforts and prayers to bring about change for those who choose to leave their Islamic faith, so that they are no longer subject to any penalty but are free to follow their new convictions without fear.”

What to do now

If you would like to sign our petition, please go to sign online petition. The sign-up sheet can be downloaded and printed out here, so that you can both encourage your friends to sign and take the petition to your church. 

Above all, please pray: that the apostasy law will lose its hold on Muslim people worldwide; that it will be rejected as a wrong interpretation of the Islamic sources; and that Muslims may be free to convert without any danger of reprisals.”

That is the end of the article.








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