Pray for Our World: Iceland

Iceland is a unique, volcanic island in the North Atlantic.  It is largely inhabited by Icelandic peoples (over 90%) but the immigrant and travel population is starting to increase, which brings a change to their traditionally guarded society.  Iceland’s rather new finance sector was deeply affected by the financial and banking collapse in 2008-2009.  They struggle between their traditional fishing, which previously brought a high standard of living to their fragile environment, and the new environmental controversies of energy plants and aluminum factories.

The Lutheran Church is recognized as the state church and the majority are protestant Christian, however much of this is in name only.  Biblical Christianity and a lifestyle of following Jesus Christ are alien concepts to most.  The Bible Society recently launched a new Bible translation in Iceland which was well received and has resulted in many acquiring Bibles.

Pray that the people of Iceland will turn to the Bible to learn about the Christianity that they profess.  God promises us wisdom if we ask, and God can guide the people of Iceland through His Word, to navigate during this changing period in their beautiful country.

Pray for Our World: Hungary

Hungary has adjusted well from a socialist economy to a market economy, though the older generation struggles a little more to go from a system that cared for their needs to one which they mostly look after themselves.  Hungary is a country rich in history and Christian history as well.  In the year 2000, they celebrated 1000 years since their conversion to Christianity.  Originally Hungary was a Roman province in 8 AD, and there were Christian communities there as early as the 3rd century.  The first Hungarian translation of the Bible was prepared in the 1430’s by Hussite preachers.  Roman Catholicism came to Hungary and they helped administered schools and hospitals.  Later came Reformed (Calvinist), Evangelical (Lutheran), Orthodox, and Unitarian (first created in the 1850’s in Transylvania).

Around the year 1000, Vajik became the first King of Hungary after defeating his pagan opponent, and was baptised (pictured in the famous painting above) and assumed the name Stephen after his baptism.  Around this time, missionaries also came from several different areas to Hungary.  One of King Stephen’s first laws was that everyone should go to church.  His second law was that every ten villages together should build a church.

Hungary has contributed significantly to the arts, sciences, and literature over the ages, from middle ages, reformation, papal history, enlightenment, and the Austro-Hungarian empire.  In 1949, Hungary became communist, modeled after Stalin in the Soviet Union.  Religious instruction was abolished, monasteries were dissolved and almost 4,000 monks and nuns were deported, imprisoned or tortured.  Fifty years later, communism disappeared, and the government passed the Law of Freedom of Conscience and Religion which established the freedom of religion as a basic human right and that church activities were useful to society.

May Hungary continue to acknowledge their Christian importance in the world and keep their freedom of religion.

Pray for Our World: Greenland

Greenland is 85% glacial ice cap, the world’s largest island, and the lowest population density.  Total population is about 57,000.  The economy is primarily fishing and supported by the Danish government.  The culture of Greenland has been so ingrained with the inhospitable environment for so long, that it has been devastated by the change to more modern ways.  There is widespread immorality, sexual abuse, alcoholism, mental illness and suicide.  Thankfully there are some indigenous believers and missionaries that are helping with counseling, healing and deliverance through the work of the Holy Spirit.

In 1984, there were only about 20 born-again believers in the entire country.  Since then it has been growing.  Pray for more contemporary Bible versions to be available, training, resources, and counselors for the people.  Jesus offers hope to all, and it is the only lasting and true hope for all our problems.  Not religion, but knowing the living Jesus and having Him be a part of your life.

There is a restlessness within us that can only be satisfied when we rest in the presence of God. – AW Tozier

Pray for Our World: Greece

Greece was the first European country to be evangelized.  The Apostle Paul went to Lystra (Turkey) where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek.  The brothers at Lystra spoke highly of him.  They traveled through the towns, and the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily.  Then one night Paul had a vision.  A Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia (Greece) and help us!”  After he had seen the vision, they immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them. (Acts 16)

In Acts 17, we have a record of Paul’s famous sermon at the Aereopagus in Athens given to the philosophers of the day.  It is still worth reading today and seeing Paul’s boldness in a foreign world that did not yet understand. Truth stands the test of time.  If it was true 2000 years ago when Paul spoke, it is still true today.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that the city was full of idols. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him.  Some said, “What is this pseudo-intellectual trying to say?” Others replied, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities”—because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the Resurrection.  They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you’re speaking of?  For what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these ideas mean.”  Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.

The Areopagus Address

Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect.  For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed:  TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands.  Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.  From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.  He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Being God’s offspring then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.  Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”

When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him. But others said, “We’d like to hear from you again about this.” Then Paul left their presence.  However, some men joined him and believed.

Current day Greece has many challenges – financial, immigration, social, and spiritual.  Pray that Greece will recognize their wonderful Biblical history and choose to follow the truth that Paul once spoke to them.  The Macedonian vision is just as true today as well: “God, come help us!”

Pray for Our World: Germany

Germany is strategically placed in the center of Europe.  The post WWII recovery has become one of the world’s strongest economies.  With the inclusion of East Germany in the 1990’s, it led to high social security costs and a dip in the economy, but they are starting to recover.  Unemployment of over 3 million is still a concern, mostly in the east.

As a new post-war generation is taking over the leadership, Germany is starting to become more active in an international role.  Post 9/11 has also brought a greater interest in the Christian way as an alternative and counterbalance to Islam, and evangelicals are much more prominent now than before in media and politics.

Germany has many opportunities and challenges.  Strategically their location, wealth and influence are important in the EU and Europe.  Yet, the 1989 unification of the east and west remains a burden, especially spiritually and psychologically.  Mental illness is occurring in record numbers, including clinical depression.  Suicide is the second-largest killer of 15-29 year olds.

But there is much hope for the once-darkened Germany.  Pray that the hope and light of Jesus Christ will reach the people of Germany.  Jesus is the only true and lasting cure to our world’s problems.  He died for all.  He is available to all who seek Him.  This is why Jesus tells us He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), for anyone who comes to Him will be saved (John 6:37).  No other religion or person promises that.