“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry……” Psalm 10:17
As flowers bloom and life shows up in brilliant colors on the earth I encourage you to join us in praying for the life of the Lord to invade the countries we are praying for this month.
Let us pray to the God who hears and answers prayer:
16.-17. Eritrea. The Christian Church faces terrible ongoing persecution, both outside the recognized churches and, to some degree, within. Many leaders and lay members are in prison, and more are under house arrest; the government has seized many church assets. Christians are largely Orthodox, mostly from among the Tigrinya, with some from among the Kunama, Bilen or other peoples. Evangelicals are fewer, but are present to varying degrees within most denominations. Christians of all denominations have been refined and drawn together in fellowship through recent decades due to war, drought and government oppression. But the intense suffering of the Church in Eritrea is one of the untold stories of the past decade – a story of tragedy and ultimately, we pray, great spiritual harvest.
Pray that Christians may remain fervent for Jesus amid hardship and make a significant impact on their nation and beyond.
Evangelicals are growing despite severe persecution. Being officially banned, these
groups now operate in underground networks based in homes. Around 20 or more networks are known, but numbers are impossible to ascertain.
Pray for these issues:
a) Imprisonment and torture are reality. Key evangelical leaders were imprisoned following the ban on their churches. Since then, arrests have included pastors, prominent evangelicals in society and, more recently, those known to practice their faith. Prison conditions are harsh –beatings and agonizing torture techniques cripple many and even lead to death in some cases. Some estimate that over 3,000 Christians are currently in prison.
Pray for those in prison, that they may be strengthened and enabled to endure suffering while radiating grace.
Pray also for their families, who often find themselves bereft of not only loved ones but usually of the income earner as well.
b) Leadership for the churches. With so many pastors, leaders and evangelists now living outside the country or in prisons, the Church moves forward under new leadership, often young men or new believers, some who encountered Jesus in prison.
Pray for them to be full of God’s wisdom as they learn to lead and grow.
c) Ongoing evangelistic outreach. Amid such hardship, the Church has grown rapidly, often most among those fleeing the country, those living in camps in Ethiopia and elsewhere, those in prison and those living abroad. Witnessing Christians, though violently opposed by the authorities, have spread far and wide. Still, many villages and towns remain unimpacted by the gospel. Pray for continued commitment of believers to preach Christ whatever the cost and without compromise.
d) Harvest among the Eritrean Diaspora, both in the wider region in Africa and globally. Many suffer by proxy with their brethren back in Eritrea, but significant numbers of Eritreans outside the country are encountering the Lord Jesus in profound ways.
Pray for this to continue and to multiply.
18. Estonia Estonia is a former-Soviet success story, as the small nation transitions to a more Western economy and political structure. However, poverty is not vanquished, and
materialism’s influence grows. There is a crisis of values, recognized even by the media and the state, as secularism and pluralism tighten their grip.
Pray for righteousness and biblical values to be modeled by a wise and upright government.
Ministry to minorities. Specific outreach is needed for the large Russian population,
with whom reconciliation is still a point for prayer.
Pray also for the gospel to be shared with the Tatar Muslims, the Jews and the growing minority groups in Estonia.
Student ministry continues to grow. There is work in five universities with a view
to expand further.
Pray for outreach to the 50,000 university students; training Christians to ably share their faith is a need.
19.-20. Ethiopia. Massive growth in Protestant and Independent churches creates a great expectation for further harvest.
a) Revival and growth to be sustained and for divisions and carnality to be avoided.
b) Effective means for generating income to support Kingdom workers, to develop the needed structures and facilities and to fund social programs that are essential in the prevailing conditions of deep poverty. The Church must minister as the poor to the poor;
Pray for creative solutions to the challenges this brings.
c) Continued unity and cooperation among leaders, qualities forged through past suffering. Relationships among denominations seem stronger than the divisions that occur within denominations; pray against the dividing influences of the enemy and human pride.
Pray especially for the Evangelical Churches Fellowship (ECFE), which represents the majority of evangelicals in the country.
d) Missions vision was birthed out of suffering during the Marxist regime and the withdrawal of Western agencies during that time. Through ECFE, a long-term strategy for evangelizing Ethiopia has emerged, one that includes intercession, focus on unevangelized peoples and church mobilization – only 3% of evangelical churches are regarded as being “mission mobilized”. The vision entails planting, cross-culturally, thousands more churches in all regions of Ethiopia and even sending to the Horn of Africa and South Asia.
Poverty defines the lasting images of Ethiopia, from the famines of the 1980s until
now. Marxist mismanagement and droughts made Ethiopia dependent on hundreds of
thousands of tons of food aid every year. This dependency continues, unbalancing the
domestic economy and undermining local agriculture, and yet tens of thousands die annually of malnutrition. The careless application of aid can do more harm than good.
Pray for better harvests, wise economic governance and outside assistance rightly applied.
21. Faeroe Islands. The Faeroese need revival. From the Lutheran Church (with many nominal as well as a solid evangelical contingent) to the Pentecostals and charismatics, local Christian leaders all agree that these islands are starting to see a fresh move of the Holy Spirit. The Lutheran Church has declined, but its recent independence from Danish Lutheranism sees an emerging evangelicalism, such as the growing Pietist Home Mission with 35 prayer houses and up to 5,000 affiliates.
Pray for the Spirit to make the Faeroes truly Christian – and not just in name only.
Christian resources are plentiful for this small population – two Bible translations (and
one modern paraphrased NT being prepared), Christian Radio (Radio Lindin), Iktus
Christian TV, online Bible in Faeroese, a Christian magazine and two bookstores.
Pray that these may together have a strong impact on discipling the islands.
21. Falkland Islands. The British forces based on these windswept but spectacular islands enjoy the support of the local populace, but are far from home.
Pray for the work of chaplains ministering to them as well as the Oasis coffee shop, an outreach ministry on the military base itself.
Pray for believers in the forces as they witness to their comrades.
There are only three significant denominations among the Islanders (Anglican,
Roman Catholic and Tabernacle United Free Church). Most of the population is very
nominal in what faith they may have.
Pray for a renewal of faith in all three of these groups.
Pray for believers in their witness to fellow Islanders and to fishermen, oilmen and tourists of different nationalities who stop off in the islands.
22. Fiji. Fiji’s social and political problems are many. Alcoholism and broken homes are major social ills that need to be addressed nationwide. But greater still is a political issue –there have been four coups in the last two decades; every time the country seems about to turn the corner, another coup disrupts and destabilizes progress.
Pray that righteousness and justice might be established and the rule of law and democratically elected governments observed.
The Methodist Church has been the de facto state church in Fiji for 150 years as
well as the faith of the majority of ethnic Fijians. It has also been tightly aligned with the
nation’s political structures – to the detriment of the gospel. Methodism’s past failure to adequately condemn the endemic racism and racially motivated coups has prompted splits within the Church. A lack of spiritual vitality has spurred a large-scale exodus to newer denominations. But there has also been change in recent years as issues of renewal and reconciliation have come to the fore.
Pray for new life and right priorities for this highly influential denomination.
New churches with spiritual dynamism and evangelistic vision have surged in
growth in the last decade; Pentecostal groups are the most notable among these. Also within the Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches are strong evangelical/charismatic movements. There are many claims of great revival in Fiji, and there is undeniable fruit of God at work in remarkable ways, as individuals, communities and even the environment see transformation.
Some specific areas that warrant prayer:
a) Unity. The Association of Christian Churches of Fiji was formed after the 2000 coup to establish unity and reconciliation. It is composed of mostly evangelical Protestant churches and has a great impact. The more ecumenical Fiji Council of Churches also works toward the same goal. The Evangelical Fellowship of Fiji exists to unite evangelicals.
b) Leadership training for the many churches. There is a wealth of options as the Methodists, AoG, Baptists, Nazarenes, Catholics and others offer training programmes and degrees. In addition, the interdenominational Pacific Theological College offers degrees up to doctoral level. World Harvest Institute (Christian Mission Fellowship), South Pacific Missionary Training Centre and Fiji College of Theology and Evangelism focus on training for mission and evangelism.
c) Mission vision. Fiji was once a hotbed of mission-sending throughout the Pacific. This legacy is being revived as YWAM, WEC and CMF have been prominent in channeling Fijians to mission fields around the world. The Deep Sea Canoe Mission seeks to foster a mission’s vision.
Pray for existing missions and for a greater future of Fijian missionary investment.
23. Finland. Humanism, secularism and materialism have strangleholds on most Finns. While the majority (90%) looks favorably upon the Church’s social work, only 8% of Finns attend any kind of religious service monthly or more, and only 3% of Lutherans attend weekly. Spirituality has more or less become privatized. Christians may number 84% of the population, but society is effectively a secular one. The last revival occurred during the 1960s. Interest in spiritual things offers some hope, but Islam and fringe religious movements are currently the fastest growing.
Pray for a spiritual breakthrough that will cause people to seek the Lord.
The Free Churches, both Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal, are relatively small but
spiritually vigorous; charismatic renewal has had a marked impact. These churches are not growing, but they are holding their own in a wide context of decline. These groups are enjoying a greater unity than in years past.
Pray for this to continue, for cooperation in evangelism and missions among these various bodies, and between the Free Churches and Lutherans.
A new paradigm for the Church is required if it is to grow in Finland. An ultramodern
country such as Finland probably needs some structural reformation in the Church
and some new expressions of faith. This is particularly true for the next generation, who are less traditional and more pragmatic about Christian spirituality. Specific issues:
a) The many rootless believers who “church-hop” and lack commitment to one fellowship. And many disillusioned believers with genuine faith don’t engage in any fellowship at all.
Pray that the Spirit would convict them to integrate more fully into His body.
b) The widespread growth of house groups. Some of these groups are planted by Lutheran revival movements, some by other denominations and some are independent of churches altogether.
Pray for ways for these groups to integrate themselves into the larger faith scene and to have a profound spiritual impact on the un-churched.
24.-25. France. The accelerating decline of religious faith since the 18th Century has seen France’s Catholic and mainline Protestant legacies plummet in recent years, even as atheism has grown. Hostility toward organized religion as well as the privatization of spirituality means that regular attendance in any church is below 8%. Some surveys show that over 30% of French people are non-religious. Most French have a profound ignorance of, or indifference to, the gospel, many having never meaningfully encountered it. Yet, the relativism of post modernity has generated acute emptiness and existential angst; as many have noted, this in turn has created a spiritual hunger that has grown rapidly in recent years.
Pray that such hunger might overcome the suspicion toward religion.
Pray that Christians would be prepared to patiently and relationally share Jesus with those who seek.
Protestants were accepted at the Reformation, and at one stage some estimate that up
to 25% of the French population had embraced the new teaching. But persecution (from
the mid-16th Century until the late 18th Century), humanism and nominalism (in the last 200years) have reduced this to 1.9% in 2010. Protestantism – though widely respected – is spiritually compromised by liberal theology, universalism and the acceptance of contradictory doctrinal and ethical views. Protestants are more numerous in Alsace and the south, but nominalism and decline are common. Yet there are staunch evangelical believers in most Reformed and Lutheran congregations.
Pray for restoration to the faith and commitment shown by their martyr forebears.
Islam is now the second religion of France.
Growth is largely through immigration and a higher birth rate, but there are an estimated 150,000 French converts to Islam, mostly via marriage.
Pray for the following issues:
a) There are deep divisions within French Islam, primarily between fundamentalists and
secularists. Over 70% of Muslims in France are of Maghrebian origin, but many mosques are financed by hard-line groups from other countries.
b) Assimilation of Muslims into French society is a huge concern for a republic founded on secularism and integration. A large percentage of Muslims live in poor urban contexts, forming an increasingly dissatisfied underclass that is conflicted about its own identity. Rates of crime, unemployment and under-education are all higher in French Muslim communities.
c) Christian ministry to Muslims. Fear and ignorance prevent Christians from reaching out; there are only around 100 full-time Christian workers doing so. Despite this, reports suggest that up to 15,000 Muslims are converts to Christianity, one-third of those becoming Protestant.
26. French Guiana. A new image of French Guiana is emerging, one that moves past the penal colony image to embrace rich multiculturalism and economic and touristic development, but also French secularism and many moral challenges.
Several socio-economic challenges are particularly notable for prayer:
a) The relationship to France, as with the other overseas departments, is troubled. The standard of living is significantly less than in France itself, but higher than in most neighboring countries. Unemployment is high, especially among young people, which leads, in turn, to disillusionment and unrest. The availability of French satellite TV has brought widespread exposure to graphic pornography and placed further strain on the already delicate moral fabric of French Guiana.
b) Environmental degradation combines with illegal immigration and people trafficking
through gold mining and the workers needed for that industry. Brazilians in particular are
caught up in this clandestine, often illegal but impossible to police, industry.
c) Family issues, observed in high rates of illegitimate births and of single-parent families, combine with eroding moral standards to increase pressure on society.
26. French Polynesia The LMS-planted Ma’ohi Church has declined. Once the Church of the majority of Islanders, liberal theology is now predominant and evangelicals are few. Splits and defections have reduced its percentage and influence, and some well-publicized cases involving misuse of funds damaged the Church’s reputation further. Pray for a moving of the Spirit of God to bring this Church back to its first love, as in the early 19th Century. There are some signs of life with the greater inclusion of young people and women.
Those with a vital personal faith are now rare. As a result, there is a reversion to the
bondage of pagan occultism and a multiplication of syncretistic and foreign sects, especially two forms of Mormonism.
Pray for a spiritual revolution to take place among the many nominal Catholic and Protestant Christians.
27. Gabon Despite Gabon being wealthy in resources, many Gabonese continue to dwell in poverty. This is largely due to decades of neglecting the nation’s infrastructure and to prevalent corruption that prevents the country’s wealth from trickling down to all. Women and children are vulnerable to poverty through lack of education and social mores; exploitation and trafficking of children are particularly evil situations.
Pray for righteousness to prevail over those seeking to gain profit at the expense of others.
The Catholic Church wielded great influence in the colonial era but has seen its power
steadily wane since then. The majority of the population were baptized Catholic, but a
large number still follow the old animist ways. The Catholic Church’s growth peaked decades ago, with steady losses in recent years to Islam, other churches and sects.
Pray that the many nominal Christians may see and embrace the pure gospel. Some charismatic prayer cells are multiplying and growing.
Pray for these Less-reached peoples:
a) The east region was long closed to evangelicals, and the northeast was the least evangelized and least developed. Born-again Christians are very few among the many pockets of peoples – notably Yongho, Wandji, Sanghu, Tsogo, Duma, Ngom, Kaningi, Bubi and Minduumo. But hese areas, now open, are seeing churches planted and people reached, although much work remains.
b) The Fang are the dominant people (41% of the population) and largely Protestant or
Catholic. They are a profoundly religious people, but most of their fervency is dissipated in syncretistic ancestral worship.
c) The Baka/Babinga, often called Pygmies, live in the virgin forest. They have been
exploited and mistreated by other peoples, despite their unique culture and gentle nature.
The CMA and Deeper Life work among them and see much responsiveness and many
conversions. There are at least 10 Baka congregations, with a number of other Baka joining churches of other ethnic groups.
28. The Gambia Islam is dominant, but the traditional Gambian expression is a gentler version rather than the more strident edition from Libya and Saudi Arabia seeking to exert influence over the education and economic systems and the political process. Most Christian work and presence have been near the coast, with few involved in reaching out to the Muslim majority, especially those living upriver.
Pray for continued ability to minister to all peoples and for Christians to take advantage of the religious freedom to share and demonstrate the gospel to all parts and all peoples of the Gambia.
The Gambian evangelical Church is small, and committed believers are few. Active
Christians are usually overstretched in their ministries; the need is great for discipleship
and leadership training. Many pastors work in the Greater Banjul area, but few feel called to go into the hinterland, where there is less development and few amenities; financial support is difficult to maintain for those who are willing.
Pray for Gambians to have a vision to reach their own people; pray for wisdom in knowing how to support those who do move into more isolated areas.
Pray that the indigenous Church might be set free by the Holy Spirit from the restraints of fear and lack of confidence.
Pray that Christians might minister powerfully and effectively to their fellow Gambians.
29. Georgia Georgia’s independence, gained with such hope, is soured by a series of inter-ethnic wars aided and abetted by Russian efforts to undermine and control the country. Following the Rose Revolution, economic and political progress started in 2004 and helped lift the country out of some of its woes. Much of this progress was reversed in the August War of 2008, when Russian troops briefly occupied much of the country.
Pray for an end to Russian belligerence, for peace to be established and for the economic situation to once again stabilize and make progress.
The Georgian Orthodox Church’s history stretches back to AD 150; it can be regarded
as the world’s second-oldest Christian nation. Communist repression, infiltration and
subversion brought both martyrdom and compromise. Since Communism’s collapse and
Georgian independence, many have returned to the Church of their ancestors. Some minority groups converted as well. For most Georgians, this is mostly an expression of nationalism and cultural identity, not a living spiritual faith.
Pray for access to the Word of God, and that through it many may find the Truth of the gospel.
Pray also for renewal among Orthodox clergy; some small beginnings of this are occurring.
Pray for the spiritual need of ethnic minorities.
Georgian believers are best placed to reach ethnic minorities, but they need a greater desire to train, send and support workers to do this. There is a little outreach to Muslims; some Baptists are receiving training to reach out to them.
Pray for these believers to gain a burden for ethnic peoples, including the following:
a) Abkhazians – mostly Orthodox and with a sizeable Muslim minority, they tend to reflect a worldview and practice that is more ethno religionist and pagan in its outlook. They live in their own breakaway region in the northwest; effective outreach would require cultural insight as well as spiritual breakthrough.
b) Jews. There is no known witness to them. They face a rising tide of anti-Semitism in a
country that has historically been for them a haven.
c) The Kish live mostly in and near the Pankisi Gorge and are closely related to Chechens. Many live in poverty. They are mostly Sunni Muslim, but with some Christian and pagan influences among them
30.-June 1 Germany. Germany’s wealth, influence and strategic location in the EU and Europe could be of inestimable value for the Kingdom of God. For this, a strong, courageous leadership based on Christian values is needed – a fact recognized by many in the nation. Sadly, the past decade witnessed significant erosion of the ethical platform on which such leaders need to stand.
Pray for God to raise up leaders who will hold fast to righteousness and strong moral values despite opposition and temptation to compromise.
The 1989 unification of the country remains a burden, although now more spiritually and psychologically than economically. The eastern part of the country remains a poor sibling, characterized by high unemployment, economic malaise, continued emigration, social and spiritual emptiness and growing racism directed toward immigrant minorities moving in. This is due to the historic lack of knowledge of the good news and despite the government’s very costly regeneration efforts.
Pray for new life – economic, social and spiritual – to come to this depressed region.
Unity is a great challenge facing believers. Besides the Protestant-Catholic and
Liberal-conservative divides, there is also long-standing suspicion between conservative
evangelical and Pentecostal/charismatic groups. The increasing marginalization of Christians has helped weaken denominational boundaries. But both sides cooperating on the international level – such as in the Lausanne Movement and the WEA – has influenced Germany, and nationwide evangelistic campaigns such as ProChrist/JesusHouse have brought them together in action.
Pray for genuine unity within diversity rather than insistence on uniformity.
Pray that recent progress in cooperation may continue and expand.
I believe that every time we pray the Lord hears, for it is His desire that all nations receive the news of His extravagant love for us. Thank you for praying.
Until next month.
Germaine Copeland & The Word Ministries Staff
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