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.

Pray for Our World: Thailand

Thailand has been a kingdom since the 13th century, has the longest reigning monarchy, and never been ruled by a Western power.  Thailand is a Buddhist state but they do have freedom of religion.  Only one percent are Christian, but it is growing.  The Thai culture is tolerant and relaxed, and I found the people to be very polite on my visit there.  The young people like American things – music, clothes, shopping, but there are not many American women who visit there, and so my female co-workers and I quickly became a tourist attraction on our visit.  People were eager to ask us about American movies, especially Elvis and John Wayne, and they asked my co-worker, who is African-American, if she was Obama’s wife.  They thought we were rich, though they didn’t ask us for money.  It was an eye-opening experience to a different culture.

I loved the climate and the people, but for Christianity to take root in a Buddhist culture that has stood for centuries, Christians must understand and be sensitive to Buddhist worldviews.  Buddhists believe that you should not to try to change your fate in life, even if you live in poverty, because suffering in this life is essential to being reincarnated into a better next life. You have to pay your dues, so to speak. This thinking is counter-intuitive to the Christian view of helping the poor, charitable aid, and having a new life through Jesus Christ.  It becomes a struggle for them to understand the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Pray that they may know that Jesus Christ has already died for them and been resurrected, so that they can have a better life now and for eternity in heaven.

Pray for Our World: Syria

Syria is an ancient civilization, located on the Mediterranean coast between Turkey and Iraq.  Damascus is known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  Syria is written about throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.  Its people trace their origins back to Noah, as descendants of Shem, Noah’s son.  King David of Israel led a successful conquest against Syria and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites who occupied the land.  In New Testament times, Syria became a Roman province.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.  Matthew 4:23-25

The apostle Paul and members of the Early Church spent a lot of time in Syria.  Antioch was the center of one of the first Christian churches and they primarily preached to the Gentiles.  In 634-640 AD, Syria was conquered by the Muslim Arabs. The Orthodox and Catholic churches that had existed since before Islam still endure and have many members. The majority in the Church are Arab but there is also a large Armenian community. Christians do experience some discrimination in housing and employment, and must exercise caution and wisdom in relating to the state and Muslims.

Pray for this ancient country, once walked upon by Jesus and where Paul had his conversion. Pray that the historical sites will be preserved and not destroyed by the fighting, and that the people will once again be renewed in the faith of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, in one of the most ancient and historical countries on earth.

Pray for Our World: Sri Lanka

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a large island 80 km southwest of India. They gained their independence from Britain in 1948, and were engaged in civil war up until 2009. Buddhism is the national religion, and is protected and promoted. Christianity is perceived as foreign, and evangelism as an unethical way of conversion. Missionaries have all but ended due to restriction of visas. Christian literature is in great demand. Literacy is high but affordable quality literature that is culturally relevant is lacking. Christian radio and the Jesus film are available. Pray that the people will receive the literature and resources they need to learn about Jesus Christ for themselves.

Pray for Our World: South Africa

South Africa is at the southernmost point of the African continent. It is the richest and most industrialized country in Africa, with some of the largest deposits of gold, platinum and chrome. There is a vast gap between rich and poor, with high unemployment (almost 30%) and one-third of the population living below $2 US per day. South Africans have fought many sensitive issues including the injustices of apartheid, corruption, high crime and AIDS.  The final laws regarding apartheid and injustice to the non-white majority were repealed in 1994. Nelson Mandela’s government worked hard to initiate healing after this, but his successors have not been as successful.

There is freedom of religion, but the emphasis on pluralism and diversity to ethnic religions, humanism and interfaith movements have been at the expense of the Christian majority. Pray for continued healing, a reduction in poverty, inequality and crime, while ministering in the name of Christ to those who need it most.