Pray for Our World: Spain

Spain includes the major part of the Iberian peninsula and Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, and the Canary Islands off northwest Africa, and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast. An estimated 5.6 million immigrants live in Span including 3 million non-registered people, mainly from North Africa and Latin America.

Spain’s tumultuous past shapes its present. The Muslim Moorish occupation lasted 700 years until 1492. The next three centuries of the worldwide Spanish empire was some of the mightiest economic power, followed by instability, civil wars and dictatorships of the 19th and 20th centuries. Spain is one of the world’s heaviest users of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, with most being young people. Gambling addiction is also high, with an estimated 15% of household income spent on betting.

Catholicism was the state religion for a long time, and non-Catholics were subject to discrimination and persecution. Today, Spain is moving from a traditional Catholic society to a secular-dominated and multi-religious society. The Catholic church is in crisis, and the country has never experienced a national revival. There is still discrimination against evangelicals in radio, tv and distribution. But evangelicals are growing and there is a considerable increase in missionaries in the last 30 years. Pray that spiritual revival will come, and the necessary resources will be made available to the people of Spain.

Pray for Our World: Slovenia

Slovenia, which borders on Italy, has a long history starting in 5th century BC. The Roman Empire ruled for almost 1000 years, then under Habsburg rule for hundreds of years, and finally as part of Yugoslavia until the recent breakdown of Communism, in which the country has now been independent since 1991. There is a strong Christian heritage that goes alone with much of that history, but today, its churches suffer from spiritual apathy.

Christian resources are in short supply, underfunded, and the Christians remain divided. Pray for unity and resources to help staff the churches and revitalize their Christian heritage.

Pray for Our World: Slovakia

Romani house church

Slovakia is surrounded by Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. They have gained significant growth and improvements since post-Communism. Slovakia has a strong Christian heritage, but most churches are suffering from low attendance, like many other places in the world.

The Romani, or gypsies, are some of the least-reached and misunderstood people in Slovakia. They have low education and high poverty, yet they are the most responsive people to the gospel in all of Central and Eastern Europe. There have been persistent efforts to reach them, and to overcome the stereotypes and barriers, and it has been encouraging. Jesus came for people just like them – the poor, the marginalized, and all of those in need. Pray that they will continue to be receptive to the message of Jesus Christ, who died for them and all who seek.

Pray for Our World: Serbia

Serbia is a landlocked Balkan state. It has two autonomous provinces, Kosovo in the south and Vojvodina in the north. It has a long history. Since its defeat to the Turks in 1389, Serbia has rarely been in an independent nation. It was ruled by the Ottomons and then Austria-Hungry, its ethnic nationalism helped trigger WWI and provoke genocidal civil war during WWII, then 45 years of communism, and the Balkan wars of the 1990’s. There has been religious and ethnic hatred on all sides.

Pray that there will be unity among the churches – the ancient Serbian Orthodox Church and the protestants and evangelicals, that they may reach out in love and forgiveness to the people of Serbia to show them true religious freedom.

Pray for Our World: Russia

Russia is the world’s largest country, extending across 9 time zones. It has vast natural resources in gas, oil, timber and minerals, as well as huge amounts of arable land. However, most of the economy is in the hands of a few men while millions of Russians remain poor an unemployed. The country has known little but autocracy or tyranny since it began in the 8th century. Freedom of press and media is limited, and all television stations are government controlled and censored. The Church in Russia has suffered some of the most severe persecution of any nation in recent history. Deaths in the Gulag prison camps between 1920 and 1990 are estimated at 20 million, many who were Christian. Of the 100,000 church-owned buildings in 1920, almost none remained by 1940.

Today, the people still face many challenges. For the younger generation, modern life offers little real hope. Health care is inefficient and costly, making it inaccessible to many. Alcoholism is one of the world’s highest.  Drug addiction is prevalent among young people, with 8% of teens using drugs daily.

The religious climate is unique and challenging. The Russian Orthodox Church, over 1,000 years old, is the main church and a major symbol of Russian identity. Russian Orthodox claims to be the one true apostolic Church handed down from Rome and Byzantium. The original undivided church of the apostles split between the East (Orthodox) and the West (Catholic) during the Great Schism of 1054. Other denominations later derived from the Catholic church, but the Orthodox Church remains as the original church from that initial split. They have remained true in their ancient confessions of God, and the mystery of Christ and His resurrection, and we could learn some from their Orthodox theology. Yet at the same time, it has caused them to be closed off and intolerant of other Christian denominations. Pray for this ancient church, for their unity with other Christians, and for them to be able to reach a new generation of young people in the same way as Peter and Paul did with the original church.

*If you would like to know more about the forming of the original church during the first thousand years after Peter and Paul, and the theological differences that caused the church to split, I recommend this great book to read: The First Thousand Years, by Robert Louis Wilken.