Zambia is a landlocked central southern African country. Debt, corruption and AIDS have driven the economy spiraling downward, so that 86% live below the poverty threshold. Independent from Britain in 1964, then under socialism until 1991 when Chiluba, an active Christian, was elected and declared Zambia a Christian country but with full religious freedom for all faiths. It was written into their constitution in 1996.
There is still much to be done to help the country economically and socially. Health services are overwhelmed with AIDS, leadership training is urgently needed, and Islam has been aggressively targeting Zambia. Pray that the country and people will turn to God as their source of strength and help.
Yemen lies south of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. 97% are Arab, and there are over 1700 clans and tribes. It is the poorest country in the Arab world. Oil-poor, dwindling water supplies, high unemployment and rapid population growth plague the country. 75% make their living through agriculture, especially from the drug qat. Once part of the Ottoman Empire, they have a turbulent history of wars and conquests. Islam is the official religion and the legal system is based on sharia’a law. Islam is very conservative in Yemen, and there is very little religious freedom. Only .08% are Christian, and the rest are Muslim.
According to tradition, Shem, the son of Noah founded the city of Sanaa, the largest city in Yemen. The Queen of Sheba also reigned in Yemen and sought wisdom from King Solomon almost 3000 years ago. The prophet Isaiah recorded these words of prophecy mentioning Sheba in Isaiah 6:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”
Despite the difficult circumstances in modern day Yemen, increasing numbers are finding life in Christ through radio, Bible distribution, and the Lord’s use of dreams and visions. God is still working today just as He did in the Bible! Believers meet in secret and in small groups, but they are also learning how to honor their culture and family while still being faithful to Christ. God has not forgotten them! Pray for the people of modern day Yemen, that they too will seek wisdom from God.
Located between Puerto Rico and British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands includes about 352 square km spread across three larger and 50 smaller islands. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy, with over 2 million visitors to the tiny islands every year. They also have one of the largest oil refineries in the world. The former Danish colony was purchased by the USA in 1917. It is a self-governing unincorporated US territory. They have the same freedom of religion as in the USA.
In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed the U.S. Virgin Islands as Category 5 storms destroying many buildings and the power grid. After that, many people moved to the US mainland to seek job opportunities and a better life. Pray for all of those affected by the hurricanes, who have lost family and their livelihoods.
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.
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.