Pray for Our World: Timor Leste

Cristo Rei overlooking Timor Leste

Timor Leste is in the eastern half of Timor island, west of Indonesia. It may be small but has a big story. It was ignored by the Portuguese during their rule from 1511 to 1974, then developed by the Indonesian military as a place for the elite, and recently destroyed in vengeance after the vote for independence in 1999, destroying 75% of the infrastructure and economy before the UN intervened. The new nation faces major rebuilding.  The majority have experienced invasion, suppression, famine, lack of health facilities and poverty.

It is only one of two Asian nations that has a Catholic majority. Catholic agencies helped serve at the forefront of the mercy ministries to the desperate during the time of invasion. Protestants are viewed more with suspicion since most come from Indonesia. Pray that the churches will unite and help spread a gospel of hope, aid and love to the people of Timor Leste.

Pray for Our World: Thailand

Thailand has been a kingdom since the 13th century, has the longest reigning monarchy, and never been ruled by a Western power.  Thailand is a Buddhist state but they do have freedom of religion.  Only one percent are Christian, but it is growing.  The Thai culture is tolerant and relaxed, and I found the people to be very polite on my visit there.  The young people like American things – music, clothes, shopping, but there are not many American women who visit there, and so my female co-workers and I quickly became a tourist attraction on our visit.  People were eager to ask us about American movies, especially Elvis and John Wayne, and they asked my co-worker, who is African-American, if she was Obama’s wife.  They thought we were rich, though they didn’t ask us for money.  It was an eye-opening experience to a different culture.

I loved the climate and the people, but for Christianity to take root in a Buddhist culture that has stood for centuries, Christians must understand and be sensitive to Buddhist worldviews.  Buddhists believe that you should not to try to change your fate in life, even if you live in poverty, because suffering in this life is essential to being reincarnated into a better next life. You have to pay your dues, so to speak. This thinking is counter-intuitive to the Christian view of helping the poor, charitable aid, and having a new life through Jesus Christ.  It becomes a struggle for them to understand the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Pray that they may know that Jesus Christ has already died for them and been resurrected, so that they can have a better life now and for eternity in heaven.

Pray for Our World: Tanzania

Tanzania lies between Kenya and Mozambique on the eastern coast of Africa. There are 150 indigenous ethnic groups, with the Bantu peoples being the majority. Tanzania is an “island of peace” among many surrounding troubled nations. They have maintained stability over the last 50 years after becoming independent from Britain. They have complete freedom of religion, and religious harmony among both active Christians and Muslims is remarkably high. Christians are mostly Protestant, with a large number of evangelicals and pentecostals. There is widespread poverty, and most of the churches lack resources, discipleship and Bible knowledge. Pray for more missionaries and aid, Christian literature, and Bible translations, so that the people can grown and learn more about their faith.

Pray for Our World: Tajikistan

Tajikistan borders on Afghanistan and China. It is very mountainous covering 93% of the area. The Soviet collapse and civil war damaged the economy and infrastructure, ranking it one of the poorest of the former-USSR states. The majority of the Christian population was greatly reduced afterwards from emigration. Though they have freedom of religion, the fear of radical Islam in the 94% Muslim majority prompts the government to attempt to control all religious expression. There is a recent birth of a new church, the Tajik Church, that is now growing.  Pray for the new church, and for the importing of Bibles and Christian literature for the people, which is extremely difficult.

Pray for Our World: Syria

Syria is an ancient civilization, located on the Mediterranean coast between Turkey and Iraq.  Damascus is known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  Syria is written about throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.  Its people trace their origins back to Noah, as descendants of Shem, Noah’s son.  King David of Israel led a successful conquest against Syria and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites who occupied the land.  In New Testament times, Syria became a Roman province.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.  Matthew 4:23-25

The apostle Paul and members of the Early Church spent a lot of time in Syria.  Antioch was the center of one of the first Christian churches and they primarily preached to the Gentiles.  In 634-640 AD, Syria was conquered by the Muslim Arabs. The Orthodox and Catholic churches that had existed since before Islam still endure and have many members. The majority in the Church are Arab but there is also a large Armenian community. Christians do experience some discrimination in housing and employment, and must exercise caution and wisdom in relating to the state and Muslims.

Pray for this ancient country, once walked upon by Jesus and where Paul had his conversion. Pray that the historical sites will be preserved and not destroyed by the fighting, and that the people will once again be renewed in the faith of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, in one of the most ancient and historical countries on earth.