Pray for Our World: Kenya

Kenya has only been independent from Britain since 1963.  Like many countries who have gained their independence in the last 50 years, they struggle with corruption, political instability, and crime.  The population is majority Christian Protestant, and it remains a regional hub for Christian missions and education.  The crisis is with their youth.  The majority of the population are children with over 100,000 street children living in slums, while around 500 adults still pass away every day due to AIDS.

There are many support ministries and resources there.  Pray the churches and missionaries can continue to minister to the people, while keeping away evil outside influences that are trying to infiltrate the region.

Pray for Our World: Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country and dominates central Asia between Russia and China, and is a large trade route between the east and west.  They were under communist rule and suppression of all religion until the collapse of the USSR in 1991.  Today only traditionally recognized religious groups can operate freely, but there are still strong laws that suppress Christians.

The Kazakh church has continued to grow from virtually no believers in 1990 to about 15,000 in 2010.  There is a great demand for Bibles both among the Kazakhs and the Russians.  However more translations and access are needed.  Pray for the translation and distribution of Bibles to a people that are hungry for it yet do not have it.  I wish we would all have such a hunger for the Bible, especially for those of us who could walk into almost any store and pick up one for just a few dollars.

Jesus promises to all who are searching, “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Pray for Our World: Jordan

Jordan is a desert region that borders the Dead Sea, and home to the famous archaeological site Petra, which dates to around 300 BC and home to many temples and tombs.  Jordan is a moderate Arab Islam state but there is free exercise of religious belief, and the Christian church does have a public presence there.

After the two Gulf Wars, around one million Iraqis fled to Jordan, and nearly half have stayed.  There has been a good response to the Christian missionaries helping them there.  Pray that the churches will continue to be able to help the refugees and other marginalized people.  Many Christian resources have been translated into Arabic and the Christian bookstores in Jordan are a central place where much of this material is sent to Iraq and other Arab nations.

Pray for Our World: Japan

Japan has one of the world’s most powerful export economies, but was heavily affected by the 2008-2009 worldwide recession.  Low birth rates and an aging population are major societal and economic concerns for the future.  Though there is freedom of religion, over 70% of Japanese claim no personal religion, and most follow the rituals of ancestor-venerating Buddhism and polytheistic Shintoism.  There are very few Christians.  Christianity is still considered an outside, western religion rather than a universal faith, despite 500 years of Christian presence in Japan.  It is the largest unevangelized nation, even though they are completely open to missionaries.  It is very difficult for missionaries to be effective across socio-cultural and linguistic barriers.  To reach the Japanese, there needs to be a new way of doing church that does not rely on western traditions or forms of worship, but speaks to 21st century Japan.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to escort a young Japanese co-worker around our office for a few days.  He had never been to the U.S. before.  I gave him my best southern hospitality, but quickly realized the cultural differences were too much of a shock for him.  Though we both spoke English and worked for the same company, we could not communicate well at all.  He did not understand our ways, he was terribly scared of guns which he saw in the first store he visited, and he eventually retreated to his hotel room until it was time to leave.  I have met co-workers from many countries all over the world, but the Japanese have the hardest communication barrier.

Japan is changing, with social and economic changes that are challenging the status quo. There is also uncertainty about their future.  With all of this, it has prompted more spiritual searching among the youth.  Pray that the Japanese will see that Jesus Christ came for all, died for all, and He crosses all cultural and social barriers.

Pray for Our World: Jamaica

Jamaica is a large mountainous island in the Caribbean.  Jamaica has a wonderful Christian heritage, and one of the highest number of churches per square mile with several Bible schools and seminaries.  However, gangs and drug cartels have also brought high crime, violence and drugs to the country.

The Rastafarians is a common religion in Jamaica, characterized by the colors green, gold, red and black that you see in Jamaican hats, symbols and clothing.  It is a mix of Christian beliefs, black consciousness ideas, and social movement.  Dreadlocks, reggae music (popularized by Bob Marley), the use of marijuana, and their peace and love philosophy are all part of Rasta.  Though it all may sound good, they do not follow the Christian God.  Bob Marley sang a song called The Redemption Song, which hints of a spiritual longing and searching.  It is said that Bob Marley wanted to convert to Christianity but the people around him convinced him otherwise, as it would not be good for his popularity or their wallet. The story goes that Bob Marley later converted to Christianity and was baptized before he died.  I hope he is singing that true Redemption song in heaven today.  Our earthly rewards will be quickly gone and forgotten, but our eternal decisions will live on forever.

Pray that the Jamaicans will be able to reclaim their country from the crime and violence and drugs that is taking away our youth and true freedoms.