Pray for Our World: Yemen

Yemen lies south of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea and Arabian Sea.  97% are Arab, and there are over 1700 clans and tribes.  It is the poorest country in the Arab world.  Oil-poor, dwindling water supplies, high unemployment and rapid population growth plague the country.  75% make their living through agriculture, especially from the drug qat. Once part of the Ottoman Empire, they have a turbulent history of wars and conquests.  Islam is the official religion and the legal system is based on sharia’a law.  Islam is very conservative in Yemen, and there is very little religious freedom.  Only .08% are Christian, and the rest are Muslim.

According to tradition, Shem, the son of Noah founded the city of Sanaa, the largest city in Yemen. The Queen of Sheba also reigned in Yemen and sought wisdom from King Solomon almost 3000 years ago. The prophet Isaiah recorded these words of prophecy mentioning Sheba in Isaiah 6:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Herds of camels will cover your land,
    young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
    bearing gold and incense
    and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”

Despite the difficult circumstances in modern day Yemen, increasing numbers are finding life in Christ through radio, Bible distribution, and the Lord’s use of dreams and visions. God is still working today just as He did in the Bible! Believers meet in secret and in small groups, but they are also learning how to honor their culture and family while still being faithful to Christ. God has not forgotten them! Pray for the people of modern day Yemen, that they too will seek wisdom from God.

Pray for Our World: Virgin Islands of the USA

Located between Puerto Rico and British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands includes about 352 square km spread across three larger and 50 smaller islands. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy, with over 2 million visitors to the tiny islands every year. They also have one of the largest oil refineries in the world. The former Danish colony was purchased by the USA in 1917. It is a self-governing unincorporated US territory. They have the same freedom of religion as in the USA.

In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed the U.S. Virgin Islands as Category 5 storms destroying many buildings and the power grid. After that, many people moved to the US mainland to seek job opportunities and a better life. Pray for all of those affected by the hurricanes, who have lost family and their livelihoods.

Pray for Our World: Vietnam

Vietnam is a long narrow country occupying the entire eastern and southern coastline of Indochina, including China, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. Decades of war followed by Marxist economics and then the loss of Soviet financial backing, has left the economy in complete shambles. They are the world’s second largest rice exporter, and seafood exports are also very crucial. Vietnam gained independence from France in 1954, followed by 30 years of war, and then reunified North and South under the Communist Party in 1975. Churches must be registered but most are denied by the Bureau of Religious Affairs and Religion Police. Over half the population is Buddhist, about one-fourth are non-religious, and 9% Christian.

The church is growing in Vietnam. Much of this is attributed to Vietnamese diaspora. These converts bring the gospel back to Vietnam from other places. There is a great need for Bibles in the languages of the Vietnamese people. An increasing number of Bibles are being printed and released with permission from the government, but there is still a shortage. Pray that they will receive the much-needed Bibles in their own languages so they may know the story of God for themselves.

Pray for Our World: Venezuela

Venezuela is the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil, with massive reserves and great economic potential. However the leadership aligns themselves with Cuba, Iran and other states opposed to freedom. Despite massive fuel exports, the nation ironically struggles with energy shortages. It is also the second most dangerous country in the world.

The Catholic Church has regained official recognition but its influence is under threat due to criticism by the president, and growth among evangelicals. There is an increasing size and influence of evangelicals, and they have become key players in social and political scenes. They have established a goal to plant 25,000 churches to help with some of the country’s most critical problems: poverty, corruption, and trafficking of drugs and people. Pray that the churches will be able to increase in numbers and influence to help care for the desperate needs and safety of the people and to give them a lasting hope in Jesus Christ.

Pray for Our World: Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a group of small islands southeast of the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific.  Somewhat isolated, they are vulnerable to weather and climate changes. There are about 140 languages spoken among the 260,000 people that occupy the islands. For a small country, they have an infamous history. Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides in 1774, which stayed as their name until their independence in 1980. They are also known historically for their cannibalism, but they are not the only remote island to have had that practice.

After WW II, they were known for the “John Frum” cargo cults that emerged on the islands. John Frum was a figure – some say a spirit or a tribal god, others say an American serviceman, who promised wealth and prosperity to the people if they followed him. His followers had to give up all their money and contact with Christianity. During WW II, American troops were stationed there and brought lots of supplies or cargo. After the war when the troops departed, followers of John Frum built landing strips to encourage American airplanes to land and bring them cargo. Hence, “John from” America.

Recent work by Presbyterians and the Jesus film have led thousands to Christ coming out of the “John Frum” cults. Vanuatu was rededicated to the Lord on May 14, 2006 at the 400th anniversary of naming the South Pacific Islands the “Great Southlands of the Holy Spirit”. Thousands participated in acts of repentance, celebration, communion and prayer, including the President, First Lady and other government figures. Christianity plays a major role in the independence and leadership of the country. Pray for the leadership that they may continue to build a strong, spiritual country.