Pray for Our World: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa.  25-50% of the population fled the country following the economic and social meltdown, and scourge of disease.  Independent from Britain since 1965, it was followed by intense guerrilla warfare and government fraud and corruption.  The church has grown amidst these trials as a refuge and to help meet the many desperate physical and social needs of the people.  Pray for the strength of these churches, for desperately needed resources, and the healing of their country.

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This is the last country (alphabetically) in a year of prayer around the world.  This is the final image too.  If nothing else, I hope you remember this picture.  It is a real part of the world we all live in, that we all participate in. 

Someday, God is going to ask each of us, “What did you do to help?”  Jesus’ direction to us was very clear: “Love God, love others, and tell others about Me.” For those of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior, we are completely covered in His grace and forgiveness, so we should act like it.  Go out and do things for God, and then you’ll worry less about all the “don’ts”.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Colossians 3:17

Pray for Our World: Yemen

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.

Pray for Our World: Venezuela

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.

Pray for Our World: Uruguay

Uruguay is located between Brazil and Argentina.  The economy has a high standard of living for Latin America, but with a costly and extensive welfare system and inflation.  It is also the most secular state in South America, and the godlessness has in turn led to some of the highest rates of depression, suicide, abortion and divorce in Latin America.

However, spirituality and evangelical growth have been increasing in recent years, as they are discovering that something has been missing from their secular lives.  Pray that missions and churches will be responsive to this discovery and will help fill the void with Christ’s love and forgiveness for all.

Pray for Our World: United States of America

USA is the world’s third-largest nation in area and population. It is the only industrialized nation with large projected population increases, largely due to immigration. There is an estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants and 1 million legally naturalized annually.  It is a nation of immigrants, a place of refuge and a place of freedom.  It has the greatest ethnic-origin diversity of any nation in history.  58% are caucasian, 15% latin-caribbean, 12% african-american, 6% eurasian, 1.8% jewish, 1.6% east asian, 1.4% arab, and less than 1% each are Filipino, South Asian and North American Indigenous.

USA holds 25% of the world’s GDP and 50% of the world’s military spending. It is the world’s most entrepreneurial economy and society.  Freedom of religion, which is written in the constitution, is principled on the separation of church and state, and intended to protect both. There is no doubt that a strong Christian history shaped the new country over 200 years ago. The country’s principals are the epitome of Christianity – freedom, charity, love, grace and equality.  Today, about 77% claim to be Christian and about 17% non-religious. Protestant and Catholic make up the majority of Christian denominations.

21st century America is changing, the world is changing, and the world’s perception of America is changing. History has shown us this before as we cycle through eras and empires. Yet I hope America has not missed its opportunity and greater purpose. We have an opportunity to show the world, many who cross our borders every day, of who Christ is. To show a world, many who have only known of hate and war, what is love and charity, the very reason people come here to begin with. Our freedoms are for all and should remain that way, but we should also be a nation for God.

History shows us this very well. The Israelites in the Old Testament stood out among all of their neighboring pagan nations. They were they only people who worshiped the one true God, and did not sacrifice their children to the gods and perform many other terrible pagan practices. They were set apart to be different, and to carry the story of God to the rest of the world. Foreigners were allowed to live among them, and were treated remarkably well, but they also had to respect the Israelite’s laws and rituals. They did not allow pagan religions within their nation, as it would diminish the meaning of God for future generations to come.  When the Israelites obeyed God’s commands, they were blessed beyond measure. No enemy could infiltrate them. King Solomon built a glorious temple of gold like none other. But when they strayed and started worshiping the other gods, the people were reduced to poverty and exiled from their land. The evidence and statistics of a nation that follows God is very strong. I pray that the United States does not repeat this history.

For the Lord gives wisdom,
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up success for the upright,
He is a shield for those who live with integrity
so that He may guard the paths of justice.
Proverbs 2:6-8