Pray for Our World: Italy

Italy is a mountainous peninsula that dominates the Mediterranean Sea and includes two large islands, Sardinia and Sicily.  Italy has contributed much to the world – legal systems of Roman law, Latin language, Renaissance culture of art and music, and many fashion innovations.  Christianity flourished here but soon became a formalized state religion of cultural Catholicism.  They were virtually untouched by the Protestant Reformation and have never had Biblical revival.  The Roman Catholic Church is now in crisis.  Though the church is active in Italian identity, very few people faithfully practice Catholicism, even as low as 3%.

Organized crime is high and infiltrates every level of society, with influence in local and federal governments.  The income from organized crime is largely from drugs and extortion.  Young people are very susceptible to the secularism and drugs that is prevalent in the country.  Italy is a beautiful and historical country and has a lot to offer the world.  Pray that the churches will turn to the Bible for truth and return to their faith as a way of life for their country.

Pray for Our World: Israel

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but it is not recognized internationally.  The land is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as their Holy Land.  Israel became a nation again in 1948 after almost 2000 years.  The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC and the southern kingdom (Judah, capitol Jerusalem) by Babylon in 586 BC.  After 70 years of Babylonian exile, they returned to their land in Jerusalem and rebuilt King Solomon’s temple.  After Christ and the subsequent fall of Rome in 70 AD, the Jewish temple was destroyed, the nation dispersed and Jews scattered around the world, all fulfilling the prophecy from the book of Daniel.  The bringing together of a nation again after almost 2000 years fulfills another major prophecy before the second coming of Christ.  The temple must also be rebuilt a third time before the remaining prophecy can be fulfilled.  The original temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was built by Solomon, King David’s son.  The second rebuilding of the temple in the same place was instructed by God after the Israelites returned from exile, and the third rebuilding has yet to be done.  There are currently preparations in Israel for all the materials needed for the temple so that the Jews can be ready when the time comes.

Israel today is modern, sophisticated, and well developed in high-tech, bio-tech, chemical and agricultural sectors, and the only democracy in the Middle East.  This is evidence from their history, as a people who were chosen to be separate from other pagan religions, and as a people chosen to carry the story of God to the world.  God patiently waits for them to return, and in the end times, they will once again lead the way, this time with Christ.  God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.  Like any parent with wayward children, we would want them to be cared for until they return.  The population of Messianic Jews has increased over recent years, and I have had the opportunity to listen to many of their stories.  Messianic Jews are rich in family history, and they take claim to their Jewish Jesus with pride!  Pray for the salvation of Israel.

If we believe the Christmas story, and if we believe the prophecy that told of Jesus’ coming the first time just like the Wise Men did, why wouldn’t we believe the prophecy of Jesus coming a second time?

Pray for Our World: Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran (formerly Persia from the Bible) is a desert region that strategically surrounds the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Iraq, Caspian Sea, and Persian Gulf.  A wealthy country in oil and natural gas, 80% is export earnings and only 20% is private sector.  28% of the young people are unemployed.  The theocratic Islamic Republic was declared in 1979 after the Shah was deposed in the Shi’ite Muslim Revolution.  It is a religious dictatorship.  The courts can impose a death sentence to male apostates, and life in prison for female apostates.

The most amazing thing that has come out of the dictator revolution is that the forced Muslim regime has left many Iranians disillusioned about the religion and more open to the Gospel than ever before.  Massive numbers of Muslims have recently been coming to Jesus.  Never since the 7th century has the Church in Persia grown so fast as post-1979, and even more amazing for a country that imposes the death sentence for doing this.  There have been numerous stories of dreams and visions, signs and wonders, happening in the underground church.  I have heard some of them myself directly from Iranians who have escaped to the U.S.  These people risk everything in search of hope and meaning in life.  One man I spoke with had literally been chased from his home with only the clothes on his back, to escape to Turkey where he could be baptized.  “I never knew that God could be my Father!  My Father!”, he exclaimed with tears of joy and relief in his eyes as he told his story.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to move in this country, to shed a light to the darkness.  Pray for the underground churches and the new Christians.  May the people know the true joy and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.  It would be a shame to keep such knowledge from them, when we know and have the truth with us every day.  Do not take it for granted!  Do not keep it hidden.

Pray for Our World: Indonesia

Indonesia has over 6,000 inhabited islands, vast coral reefs, and is the world’s fourth most populous nation.  The service industry is their largest employer, and they make about 5% of the USA’s income per person.  They were under colonial rule by the Portuguese in the 1500’s, then Dutch, British, and finally Japanese from 1942-1945.  They gained their independence after WWII.  Indonesia has many challenges still to overcome – previous political threats, militant Islamist groups, poor human rights record, overpopulation, and several natural disasters of earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding which have killed over 200,000 people since 2001.

There is also a spiritual war in Indonesia that seeks to eliminate Christianity from the country.  Ancient and strong occult powers oppose the influence of the gospel, and modern Muslims have an Islamist vision of an Indonesia without Christians, which results in pressure and persecution of Christians, violence and destruction, and elimination of religious freedom.  Pray that the Good News of Jesus Christ will reach the people through the means of Bible translations, Christian literature, missionaries, the Jesus film, and Christian radio.

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.