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: Venezuela

Venezuela is the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil, with massive reserves and great economic potential. However the leadership aligns themselves with Cuba, Iran and other states opposed to freedom. Despite massive fuel exports, the nation ironically struggles with energy shortages. It is also the second most dangerous country in the world.

The Catholic Church has regained official recognition but its influence is under threat due to criticism by the president, and growth among evangelicals. There is an increasing size and influence of evangelicals, and they have become key players in social and political scenes. They have established a goal to plant 25,000 churches to help with some of the country’s most critical problems: poverty, corruption, and trafficking of drugs and people. Pray that the churches will be able to increase in numbers and influence to help care for the desperate needs and safety of the people and to give them a lasting hope in Jesus Christ.

Pray for Our World: United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a union of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  It was the world’s first industrialized economy, but declined after WWII.  It has been a Christian nation for centuries, though this seems to be decreasing and there is a hostility toward overt religiosity in the public and media.  The Church of England (Anglican) is recognized as the established church in England, and the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) is the same for Scotland.  Disestablishment of the Church is being increasingly advocated.  60% are Christian, with the rest mostly non-religious.

The UK’s contribution to global Christianity has been significant for centuries, including Wycliffe and Tyndale, and many evangelical writers, theologians and worship leaders.  Lately, the sense that “all is not well” pervades the country.  Whether it is from the recent EU or immigration, or a lacking of core identity and purpose, or terrorist threats, there is much unrest.  Christianity is increasingly marginalized, and the “mother” Church of England is fragmented over theological issues, and evangelical Christianity is no longer growing.  Young people are particularly of concern.  Despite their freedoms, depression, suicide, self-harm and mental health problems have reached alarming levels in the UK.  They lead Europe in sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, abortion, binge drinking, drug abuse, and violent crime.  Yet, there is hope the UK will return to their Christian roots which made them strong.  Younger generation movements are emerging with new approaches to worship styles, prayer movements and outreach efforts.  Having personally worked with many people from the UK over the years, I have often sensed an emptiness and lack of hope in their lives, despite their cultural advantage.  I pray for the country and the people to return to a sense of peace and love for Christ.

Pray for Our World: Uganda

Uganda is known as the “Pearl of Africa”.  It is a fertile and well watered land with a temperament climate.  Agriculture accounts for 80% of the work force.  The population has been reduced over the years by the many wars, tribal killings, AIDS and diseases.  Previous regimes also imposed restrictions and intense persecution of Christians.

But they now have freedom of religion.  Since 1986, there has been widespread revival and prayer movements in the churches there.  This makes Uganda one of the most truly Christian nations in the world, with church attendance high, and public prayer common even in government buildings.  There are mega churches and house and storefront churches.  Crime rates have fallen and it is estimated that half the population attend evangelically oriented services.  This is very encouraging, and a testament to the power of Christianity!

There are still many needs and obstacles they have to overcome.  Continue to pray for the people of Uganda, for their well-being, for Christian training and leadership, for youth ministry, and the ability to reach out to the increasing Muslim communities.

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.