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: Ukraine

Ukraine has very few natural boundaries, as it is most surrounded by Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, and Romania, with very little coastline along the Black Sea.  The country has struggled to gain economic independence since communism, and is deeply divided between those wanting to reestablish with Russia and those looking westward for the future.  The Church was severely persecuted under communism, and some prejudice still remains.  At one time, prior to Communism, Ukraine was considered the “Bible Belt” of the Soviet sphere, with a rich Christian heritage.  With faithful perseverance, there is now evidence of a regrowth.

Ukraine is a key nation, a bridge between East and West, between Orthodox and Catholic.  Slavic Christianity was born in Kyiv over 1000 years ago.  Pray that their faith will remain strong and it will sustain them in helping to rebuild their country into a strong Christian nation again.

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: Switzerland

The Swiss Alps in Switzerland are one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. Switzerland is a very wealthy industrial state with an educated and skilled workforce. Tourism and banking are important foreign exchangers.

The great reformers of the past, Calvin and Zwingli, who expounded the truths of Scriptures, are all but forgotten in Switzerland. Not too long ago, almost every person would have been either Catholic or Protestant, but today, many consider themselves non-religious. The churches are reaching crisis proportions with a lack of clergy and the spreading of liberal theology in the congregations. Yet, there is modest growth in the Free churches, which is an active movement for the renewal of Reformed churches. Catholics are also returning to a more conservative and traditional faith. Pray that these trends to return to their faith will continue in Switzerland.

Pray for Our World: Sweden

Sweden is a land of mountains and forests, with only 10% cultivated.  It has a highly developed economy focused on exports and information technology.  There is an extensive social welfare system that requires high taxation, but provides one of the best standards of living in the world.  Nearly 200 years of neutrality has also moulded the Swedish society. They are part of the EU but declined membership in NATO.

While the standard of living is good, it is a secular, postmodern and post-truth worldview that dominates the society. It is difficult to express a biblical faith in public or in the academic sphere without opposition. Only 23% of people believe in a personal God. Nearly every religious group has declined dramatically, and has been replaced with materialism, hedonism and individualism.

Sweden has a rich Christian history. The Church of Sweden (Lutheran) was the State Church until 2000. Pray for Christian speakers and thinkers who can re-establish the legitimacy and truth of a biblical worldview in Sweden.