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: 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: 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: 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.

Pray for Our World: Sudan

Sudan is Africa’s largest country, in the middle of the continent, straddling the Nile Rivers. There are over 597 ethnic groups and subgroups, making it one of Africa’s most diverse populations. About 60% are Arab. Since its independence, aggressive Arabization and Islamization have provoked violent resistance from many areas, which caused greater discrimination, war and genocide by the government and military against its own people. Accused of harboring international terrorists, Sudan endures hostile relations with most, if not all, of its surrounding neighbors.

The people of Sudan have only known war in their modern history. Slavery and persecution still exist. Yet, there has been a massive growth in Christianity, from 1.6 million in 1980 to 11 million today, mainly in the southern area which is less of a Muslim majority. The crisis in Darfur brought much Christian aid to the area. African missionaries have been increasing as well, from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and other nations. Still, much work is to be done. Only 10 of the 114 languages have a full Bible translation, and Christian literature is in short supply. The Jesus film has been used extensively in 21 languages with a large population having seen it with great response. Pray for the missionaries and churches, for more Bible translations and literature, and the safety of the people – things we all take for granted in our daily lives.