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: Taiwan (China)

Taiwan, a mountainous island east of mainland China is also part of the Republic of China and one of the world’s most densely populated countries.  They are known for exporting high-tech goods.  It was under Japanese rule from 1895-1945, then granted to the Nationalist Government of China.  After the fall of mainland China to the Communists in 1949, Taiwan became a refuge.  The religion is mostly a Chinese blend of Buddhism, Daoism and Taiwanese folk religion, with very few Christians (5%).  The church has been growing recently due to increase in migrant workers, among them Filipinos, Thais, Indonesians, Vietnamese and others.  However, the decline in number of missionaries has been more significant than any other country in Asia.

On February 6, 2018, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan, with a maximum felt intensity of “severe” on the Mercalli intensity scale.  At least 17 deaths were reported and 285 injured.  It occurred on the second anniversary of the 2016 earthquake which killed 117.  After the 2018 earthquake, Taiwan politely declined assistance from China.

Pray for the recovery effort and the people affected, the missionaries, churches and Christians who are there, and that more missionaries will come.

 

Pray for Our World: Macau (China)

Macau has a very unique claim to fame, though not everyone has heard of the small island peninsula west of Hong Kong in the Province of China.  It was the starting point of Protestant missions to China in the 1600’s, where the first Chinese convert was baptised and the first Chinese Bible translated.  It is also the first Christian territory in Asia to become non-Christian by the 21st century, going from 95% Catholic in 1600 to 3% in 2010.

Macau’s reputation today is a “City of Sin” that surpasses Las Vegas.  It was one of the richest cities in the world during the 1600’s, now it is dominated by gambling, prostitution, substance abuse, and tourism.  There is still religious freedom but it is very difficult for outsiders to live and work there.  Churches have very little outreach and the people are isolated.  Pray that this small little country will return to their Christian roots which brought them blessings and prosperity in the 1600’s.

Pray for Our World: Hong Kong (China)

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.  It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and one of the richest due to rapid growth of free markets, having one of the busiest container ports, and low taxes and non-interference from the government.

The British obtained Hong Kong from China in the Opium Wars of 1840-58.  China resumed control again in 1997, and their constitution guarantees Hong Kong can keep their existing legal, political and economic structures for 50 years, including religious freedom.  China is still responsible for their defense and foreign policies under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.  What remains to happen when this expires in 2047 is unknown.  Hong Kong is currently one of the most open and free societies in Asia.

Hong Kong’s religious makeup is 60% Chinese, 22% non-religious and 12% Christian.  Christians in Hong Kong have a unique opportunity to minister to much of the rest of China and Asia.  Pray that these Christians will be able to provide hope and light, love and truth, to the people of Asia, and that their future will continue to have the freedoms they currently have today.

Pray for Our World: China

“By 2030, China will almost certainly have more Christians than any other country”, according to Fenggang Yang, director of the center on religion and Chinese society at Purdue University.  While we do not know the exact number of Christians in China and many keep silent about it, I think we would be surprised to know just how much God is working behind the scenes in China.  Christianity did not appear in China until the 7th century during the Tang dynasty.  Because they were so closed off from the rest of the world, they did not hear about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus until 700 years later.

China is an ancient and complex nation.  It is the third largest state in the world with over 1 billion people, 500 indigenous ethnic groups and 55 nationalities (not including Hong Kong and Taiwan which will be listed separately).  There is strict government control of religious groups, five of which are officially recognized: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestant, and Catholic.  There has been some easing of persecution in recent years.  The state recently recognized that there are over 300 million religious believers and over 50 million Christians in unregistered church networks.  The traditional beliefs of the Chinese are a blend of folk religion, Daoism and Buddhism. About 50% of Chinese are considered non-religious, and the official status of China is atheist.

God has protected and grown the church in China on a scale unforeseen in recent times.  Persecution designed to destroy the church has instead inspired fervent prayer and evangelism.  Since the 1980’s there have been vast networks and communities of believers meeting in house churches.  God has a big plan for China.  In God’s timing, the life and purpose of Jesus’ life will be made known to all in China.  When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking and praying for those in China, ones who were not even known to much of the rest of the world at that time.