Pray for Our World: Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is situated between Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and located on the Caspian Sea. It is mostly desert, and only 1% of the country is arable land. They are famous for their carpets, horses, camels and desert, but oil and gas are the major sources of wealth, and they are dependent on water from others. They have a nomadic tribal past and were united as a country under Russian Tsarist rule in 1881. There is freedom of religion in the constitution, but is limited in practice to Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodoxy. All other forms of Islam or other religions are subject to severe repression and harassment. Unregistered religious gatherings of any size or kind are strictly forbidden.

The country is experiencing positive change. Citizens can now travel abroad and within the country much more easily, and a few protestant churches have recently been allowed to officially register and meet publicly. Pray for continued openness for the people, so they may experience freedom and not fear of persecution.

Pray for Our World: Turkey

Turkey is in two continents, with 3% in Europe and 97% in Asia.  Its strategic position of being located on the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea has made it of prime importance throughout history.  The Turkish Ottoman Empire once stretched across North Africa, Western Asia and Southeast Europe, but WW I led to its demise and fragmentation and also the birth of modern Turkey. Turkish society is split – it is secular yet Muslim.

For over one thousand years, Turkey was a bastion of Christendom.  Mt. Ararat, the place where Noah’s ark landed, is located in Turkey, but is closed off from most of the world.  Much of the activity of the New Testament apostles was located in Turkey.  The ancient city of Antioch, now called Antakya, is where Paul and Barnabas preached, and it is there that the disciples were first called “Christians”.  Much of Paul’s missionary journeys were in Turkey, and he wrote his letters to the assemblies in Turkey: Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians.  The book of Acts records a lot of this history.

Turkey later became a strong propagator of Islam.  Christians have since declined from 22% in 1900 to .21% today.  Few Muslims today have ever heard the gospel or the teachings of Paul.  The ancient churches have nearly been wiped out by massacres, persecution and emigration over the years.  Pray for the remnant that survives, and for a re-kindling of the Christian faith among this ancient and special place.

Pray for Our World: Tunisia

Tunisia, located in northern Africa, is a mountainous region to the north and part of the Sahara desert to the south. It is the site of several notable ancient civilizations, and more recently, the movie site for the Star Wars desert scenes.

The Carthaginian Empire, the first of the notable ancient civilizations in this area, was a Phoenician state from the 7th to 3rd centuries BC that expanded into northwest Africa. Berber Christians, of the Early African Church, next came to the area during the Roman era. Saint Augustine was one of the most famous Berber Christians. Later, the Arabs invaded the area after the 7th century and Christianity began to disappear. Today the country is 99.37% Muslim. Islam is the state religion, and all other religions are not favorable. Most Christians remaining in the area are expats. Pray that the message of the Early African Church ancestors will once again be revived to this area.

Pray for Our World: Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago are two islands off the coast of Venezuela. Oil and gas provide half the export earnings, and low inflation and a growing tourist sector make it the strongest Caribbean economy. However, as the nation becomes a major transshipping site, there is a rising concern over drugs.

The islands have religious freedom for all, with the majority being Christian, followed by Hindu. Yet there is little cohesion between churches and denominations. The South Asian community, largely originating from North India, is the largest Christian group in the Caribbean, and many Hindus and some Muslims have converted to Christianity. Pray for unity among the churches and Christian groups so that they may spread the message of hope and light to their communities, and keep out the darkness that the drug trade brings to these islands.

Pray for Our World: Togo

Togo is only 56 km long on the Atlantic African coast but the land stretches 650 km northward between Ghana and Benin.  Coffee and cocoa are the main cash crops. Democratic progress has been made in recent years, since independence from France in 1960 and subsequent military coups. There was a period of intense anti-Christian rhetoric in the 1970’s. Several religious groups were banned, with only Muslims, Catholics and five Protestant churches legally permitted to function. By 1990 nearly all restrictions have been lifted, and Christianity has expanded, particularly evangelical and pentecostal movements from West African pastors. There are still many voodoo and animistic societies that intensely oppose the gospel. Pray that the light of Christ and the Gospel will break through the darkness that still holds much of the land.