Pray for Our World: India

With a population of about 1.3 billion, India dominates South Asia and the Indian Ocean.  The capital Delhi has 22 million, second largest Mumbai (Bombay) has 20 million, and there are 45 other cities over 1 million.  30% of the population is under 15, and life expectancy is 63 years.

India is ancient and complex, with a history of racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity.  It is the most ethnically diverse nation on earth with over 2500 distinct people groups.  Community and identity are still mostly based on caste.  There are around 4700 castes and 25,000 subcastes, and the system affects both social and occupational situations.  India has emerged as a leader in IT, which provides a lot of opportunity both economically and geographically.  Being in the IT field myself, I have worked with many Indians over the years.  I have enjoyed their cooking, their festivals, and their weddings.  The previous barrier of language and social differences has been replaced with a common computer language of work and thought.  I have found we are much more alike than different!

The majority of Indians are Hindu, with Muslim being the second largest.  Only about 5% are Christian, and India has the largest and least-reached people groups in the world.  We have a great opportunity now to introduce Indians to Christianity, but it is very difficult.  Cultures are different and Bible translations are difficult.  India faces many problems too – poverty, health concerns, and women and children are still in crisis.  An Indian colleague of mine once told me he had to choose between taking an IT job offer with a major beer corporation here in the U.S. or face being sent back to India where he could not provide as much money for his family.  It was a difficult decision for him, not only because he was a Christian, but because he felt he could not work for an alcohol company when he saw so many families back in India destroyed by alcohol.  Many men were alcoholics and often prostituted their wives and daughters for money.  He did not take the job.

I have many more stories about those I have met from India over the years.  At the end of the day, we all want to provide the best we can for our families, and we all want love and respect.  We also can no longer look the other way to the poverty and conditions of a country that contains about 1/5 of the world’s population, and is destined to become the most populated country on earth.

 

Pray for Our World: Iceland

Iceland is a unique, volcanic island in the North Atlantic.  It is largely inhabited by Icelandic peoples (over 90%) but the immigrant and travel population is starting to increase, which brings a change to their traditionally guarded society.  Iceland’s rather new finance sector was deeply affected by the financial and banking collapse in 2008-2009.  They struggle between their traditional fishing, which previously brought a high standard of living to their fragile environment, and the new environmental controversies of energy plants and aluminum factories.

The Lutheran Church is recognized as the state church and the majority are protestant Christian, however much of this is in name only.  Biblical Christianity and a lifestyle of following Jesus Christ are alien concepts to most.  The Bible Society recently launched a new Bible translation in Iceland which was well received and has resulted in many acquiring Bibles.

Pray that the people of Iceland will turn to the Bible to learn about the Christianity that they profess.  God promises us wisdom if we ask, and God can guide the people of Iceland through His Word, to navigate during this changing period in their beautiful country.

Pray for Our World: Hungary

Hungary has adjusted well from a socialist economy to a market economy, though the older generation struggles a little more to go from a system that cared for their needs to one which they mostly look after themselves.  Hungary is a country rich in history and Christian history as well.  In the year 2000, they celebrated 1000 years since their conversion to Christianity.  Originally Hungary was a Roman province in 8 AD, and there were Christian communities there as early as the 3rd century.  The first Hungarian translation of the Bible was prepared in the 1430’s by Hussite preachers.  Roman Catholicism came to Hungary and they helped administered schools and hospitals.  Later came Reformed (Calvinist), Evangelical (Lutheran), Orthodox, and Unitarian (first created in the 1850’s in Transylvania).

Around the year 1000, Vajik became the first King of Hungary after defeating his pagan opponent, and was baptised (pictured in the famous painting above) and assumed the name Stephen after his baptism.  Around this time, missionaries also came from several different areas to Hungary.  One of King Stephen’s first laws was that everyone should go to church.  His second law was that every ten villages together should build a church.

Hungary has contributed significantly to the arts, sciences, and literature over the ages, from middle ages, reformation, papal history, enlightenment, and the Austro-Hungarian empire.  In 1949, Hungary became communist, modeled after Stalin in the Soviet Union.  Religious instruction was abolished, monasteries were dissolved and almost 4,000 monks and nuns were deported, imprisoned or tortured.  Fifty years later, communism disappeared, and the government passed the Law of Freedom of Conscience and Religion which established the freedom of religion as a basic human right and that church activities were useful to society.

May Hungary continue to acknowledge their Christian importance in the world and keep their freedom of religion.

Pray for Our World: Honduras

Honduras is a mountainous land with rain forests and fertile coastal plains on both the Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean.  It is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, and was under military rule for most of the 20th century.  Evangelism grew significantly in the 1960’s and went from 1% of the population to 23% of the population by the 1990’s, and continues to grow.

The biggest concern are the children at risk.  More than half of Honduras’ population are children, with the majority living in poverty.  Thousands of children attempt to cross to the USA to find family members working there, but most end up incarcerated in Guatemala or Mexico, in terrible conditions.  The Pepenadores, or garbage dump children, are more prevalent in Honduras than in any other nation in the Americas.  Street children, which number in the thousands, are often exterminated as a nuisance by ruthless groups in the name of social cleansing.  And many get swept up in organized crime as gang members or sex workers.

God weeps over His children.  Please pray for these children and help support them.  They need help where they live, so they do not get swept up in the false hope that leads to crime, sex trade, or prisons.  We will all be accountable for our lives someday, and it won’t necessarily be the things we did that will be of most concern, but the things we did not do.  Don’t miss that chance to make a difference, to help others have a little better life, to ease their pain or give them something to eat.

Pray for Our World: Haiti

Haiti is one of the most densely populated and poorest countries in the Americas.  Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have fled or emigrated, not including the loss of life from the 2010 earthquake.  It will take billions of dollars and many years of stability and sustained redevelopment to see any long-term progress.  Major sources of income come from aid and relief organizations.  Literacy is 51% and functional literacy may be as low as 20%.  Early slavery from the French, dictatorships, and earthquakes have all but left the people with little hope.  Most identify themselves as Christians, but 75% practice voodoo.

However, since the earthquake in 2010, there has been a spiritual outpouring of faith that shook not only the nation but moved the entire world.  The president called for three days of prayer and fasting in place of Mardi Gras in February 2010, and over one million people showed up.  Churches were filled and overflowing.  Pray that this spirit will continue, as there is still a lot of work to be done and it will take time.  God works miracles, changes hearts and people, and if the people will continue to look to God, there can be much hope and change in their future.