Burkina Faso

26 03 2013

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

Capital: Ouagadougou 1.9 million.

Water-carryingBurkina Faso

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

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

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

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

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

Churches:

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

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

Prayer Points:

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

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

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

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

5. The evangelical churches need leadership and unity.

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

7. Missionaries and a strong Mission Vision.

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

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

10. Bible Translation: help!

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





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.








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