Pray for Our World: Afghanistan

I’m very excited about getting to the individual countries as I pray around the world.  I’ve looked at each region of the world and gained an appreciation for their culture, progress and issues.  Now I begin to look more individually, to appreciate each person and their culture for who they are and who God made them to be.

Starting in alphabetical order in my Operation World book, the first country is Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in Asia.  The majority of the people are Iranian.  There is an overall literacy rate of 28%, and only 15% for women.  The people have been shattered by decades of war and ongoing conflicts.  Yet they are a rich country in natural resources of gas and minerals.  Surprisingly though, one-third of their GDP is from opium production.  There is virtually no freedom of religion, even for other interpretations of Islam outside of the strict Wahhabist Islam.  In a population of over 29 million, there are less than 15,000 Christians, and most of them are foreign residents.

Afghanistan is one of the least reached countries in the world. There is not a single church building.  Drugs are their biggest crisis.  In Biblical times, the area of Afghanistan was part of Persia, and we know that they will also play a part in the End Times.  God is moving in this part of the world.  We now have the internet, Christian radio and satellite TV, and mobile phones in which to present the Bible and the Jesus film in their own language.  I happened to look at the country stats on my blog, and I have had one visitor from Afghanistan.  It all starts with one, and we can all be that one.  My goal is to flood the internet with as much good news as I can, in hopes that it will reach those who are seeking the truth and want to hear.  Please pray for these dear people that they will be freed from their bondage and will be able to enjoy many of the freedoms the rest of us are lucky enough to have, only because of where we were born.

Pray for Our World: Pacific

The Pacific region only consists of 6.3% of the world’s land surface, as compared to the other regions we have been praying for: Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.  Yet it has more ocean space than Africa, Asia and Europe combined.  It is comprised of Australia, New Zealand and Papau New Guinea, and 25,000 other small islands scattered about, including Christmas Island, Midway Island, Fiji, French Polynesian and many others.  Most of the Pacific Islanders are of European descent and the rest are mostly Asian.  Based on the strategic location, there are several military bases there.

The Pacific was one of the first areas to be evangelized in the modern missionary era, though missionary casualties were high to due disease, violent death and even cannibalism.  Today, the islanders face many of the same problems of the rest of the world – crime, unemployment, lack of opportunity and education, disparity of incomes, and a general decline in interest of traditional forms of Christianity.  The gap is being replaced with atheism, Mormonism, Islamism, and Baha’i-ism.

Just like the popular European phrase, “mind the gap”, we should be praying that in all of our world, people will find the truth and joy that Jesus spoke of to fill the gap in their lives.  We should be showing them what Christianity is – a place of hope, truth, real love and forgiveness.  When you get to know the real Jesus, you will see the same attractiveness that His followers first saw in Jesus.  It doesn’t need to be fancy or showy.  The truth is attractive enough.

Pray for Our World: Europe

Europe is by far the most secular and least religious continent in our world.  The United Kingdom and Sweden lead the way with less than 50% Christian.  Only Romania remains at almost 100% Christian, which is mostly Eastern Orthodox.  Europe once held the world’s dominant economy from the time of the Middle Ages until the two World Wars of the 20th century, and they are now beginning to see the long-term effects from the Enlightenment Period, Socialism, Marxism, Nazism, secularism, liberal church doctrine, and scandals in the Catholic church and Church of England.  The large and majestic ancient churches are empty and are being replaced by humanist philosophies, nationalism, and pluralism.  They have lost their religious identity.  Europe is now considered a post-Christian and post-modern civilization.

Despite all the challenges Europe has with immigration and overcoming two world wars, there is one very shocking reason that stands out in their religious decline.  They stopped teaching the Bible.  The people have lost confidence in the Scriptures, stopped reading them, and stopped teaching the Gospel.  The liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries left the Protestant churches there confused.  And while there are strong ancient Christian traditions in Orthodox and Catholic churches, there are very few evangelists in Europe.

Will this be the way of the rest of the world?  Some say the United States is about ten years behind Europe in this trend.  History has shown us this before.  In about 700 BC, there was a King of Judah named Josiah.  At that time, the temple was in disrepair and the Israelites worshiped many idols.  King Josiah asked his court secretary to go to the high priest in the temple to see about the money that had previously been collected for repairs on the fallen temple.  While doing so, the high priest found the Book of the Law that had been buried and forgotten.  He gave it to the court secretary to read, who then read it in front of the King.

When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then he commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Shaphan the court secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me, the people, and all Judah about the instruction in this book that has been found. For great is the Lord’s wrath that is kindled against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words of this book in order to do everything written about us.”  2 Kings 22:11-13

The priest went to inquire of the prophetess who lived in Jerusalem, and she told him: “Say this to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord: This is what the Lord God of Israel says: As for the words that you heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and because you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I Myself have heard you—this is the Lord’s declaration— therefore, I will indeed gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster that I am bringing on this place.’” 2 Kings 22:14-21

King Josiah obeyed the words of the Book.  He burned and tore down all of the idols and asherah poles, the alters, shrines and monuments that were against God, the houses of the male cult prostitutes living in the temple, and got rid of all the mediums, spiritualists and the idolatrous priests, and commanded all the people to keep the Passover as was written in the Book.  No Passover had been kept from the time of the judges through all the Kings of Israel.  And after King Josiah’s actions, never again would the Israelites worship idols.

I hope that we too will learn from history and follow the truth that King Josiah found, and that we too return to reading the Bible – which are the only recorded words of God that we have.  Eight hundred years after King Josiah, Paul also tells us: “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7.  Pray that the gospel of good news will reach the continent of Europe once again, and that it will become an opportunity to reach the influx of immigrants now at their doorsteps, who are seeking refuge and hope.

Pray for Our World – Region of Asia

I remember stepping off the plane in Bangkok a few years ago.  I had never been to this far-reaching and culturally different region of the world called Asia and did not know what to expect.  What I did know was that it was less than one percent Christian and held the majority of the world’s most ancient civilizations, a stark difference to my American Southeast culture.  But I’ll never forget the young Thai girl I met in one of the shops.  She had a framed picture of Jesus on one of her store shelves, and the store was noticeably lacking of any of the numerous Buddhist statues you would see in any other shop.  She had the most beautiful smile, and beamed with radiance when she proudly told me in broken English, “I am Christian.”  Later that night in my Sheraton hotel, where the locals treated us like celebrities because they thought we were rich, I found a Gideon’s Bible tucked away in the desk drawer of my hotel room.

God is everywhere, and God loves the people of Asia.  It is God’s plan for all the world to know Him, and to know about His Son Jesus that he sent to this region of the world 2000 years ago.  Asia spans a wide geographic area from the Middle East in Western Asia to China, India and Japan in central Asia, to Southeastern Asia of Philippines and Indonesia.  Asia is where the birth of the church started with Peter and Paul, and it is where the End Times is prophesied to take place.  The last 100 years have shown a remarkable resurgence of Christians in the area, increasing by over 150 million. Lands that were previously cut off from Christianity have been opening up, and there is an increase in Muslims responding to the Gospel.  There are many stories of Jesus appearing to Muslims in dreams and visions, which is the only way Muslims believe God can talk to you.  God is meeting them where they are.

It is in the individual acts of the missionaries that have gone before us, the Gideons, your prayer and donations to missions, Satellite tv, and internet Gospel, that has continued what Peter and Paul started in this area of the world.  It has given this one young Thai girl and many others the hope of a Savior and has shown them the Light of the World. 

Pray for Our World – The Americas

As I continue around the globe in prayer, starting with the African continent, I now come to the Americas. These are two continents made up of three main areas of North America, Caribbean, and Latin America. They have a lot in common between the 53 countries that make up this region, but there is also great diversity – from the indigenous Intuit people of the Arctic to the Fuegians of South America. There are blessings and challenges to this region, which is sometimes referred to as the New World.

The United States has the majority of the population, and then Canada. North America is the wealthiest continent with 99% literacy rate, 77% Christian and 18% non-religious. The past has been plagued with ill-treatment of indigenous peoples and slavery. The present is plagued with drug-trafficking primarily coming from the south. The balance of world power is changing in the United States, as the world perceptions and roles are changing.

The Caribbean is largely Hispanic and African-Caribbean, with 82% literacy and 83% Christian. Their main economy is tourism. Latin America is largely Hispanic and Brazilian, with 90% literacy and 92% Christian, which is mostly Catholic. Their main economy is export of natural resources.

Overall these statistics look pretty good, and many answered prayers have been a part of it. In the Caribbean and Latin America, there has been a shift toward more democracy and away from military regimes, and a new vitality in the Catholic Church based on new reading of the scriptures and evangelical teaching. There have been many great evangelists, missionaries, writers, speakers, pastors, and trainers that have come out of North America, and North Americans are most generous with missions and good causes. In the area where I live (Southeast United States), I am fortunate to see this played out every day in my church, friends and co-workers.

But there are also a few large areas of prayer needed for this region of the world. Drugs, poverty and crime are certainly on the list, but the one that really stuck out to me when studying this region is the Church. The past brought many solid leaders and teachers from the church but today’s American church is changing.

  • There is a decline in influence. Pray for moral purity and spiritual development of our churches.
  • Consumeristic attitudes have led to shallow thinking and teaching.
  • There is a lack of Biblical understanding as many churches move away from teaching the Word of God to more self-help sermons.
  • False teachings are on the rise, with pluralism (more than one truth), secularism, new age trends, and spiritism (such as voodoo).

Pray for our youth and university students, those who face these obstacles constantly. Just the statistics alone on our youth are staggering. Pray for the immigrant communities, who come from every major world culture to this area of the world – seeking hope. And pray for our poor and oppressed – sex trafficking, drugs, and those who go without in an area of plenty and over-abundance. And don’t just pray – God wants us to help, to get involved! As an American, I pray, “May God have mercy on us and help us return to God, so that we don’t waste what God has blessed and purposed us with.”