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: United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates is located on the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, and includes seven emirates, with Dubai being one of the most popular.  The massive presence of expatriate workers makes it hard to determine statistics of the Arab population.  Islam is the state religion but there are admirably high levels of religious freedom for an Arab state.  However proselytism is still illegal.  The majority are Muslim, then Hindu, and then about 8% are Christian.  Increasing numbers of people are coming to Christ from other backgrounds – Arabs, South Asians, East Asians and others.  Radical changes in the last generation have created a culture crisis, and the younger generation hangs in the balance.  Will they have a spiritual hunger for truth or just the trappings of a wealthier lifestyle?  There are many Christian ministries there through foreign workers and Christian hospitals and clinics.  Pray that the light of Christ will shine through to the people, so that they may know that Jesus is here for them.

Pray for Our World: Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is situated between Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and located on the Caspian Sea. It is mostly desert, and only 1% of the country is arable land. They are famous for their carpets, horses, camels and desert, but oil and gas are the major sources of wealth, and they are dependent on water from others. They have a nomadic tribal past and were united as a country under Russian Tsarist rule in 1881. There is freedom of religion in the constitution, but is limited in practice to Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodoxy. All other forms of Islam or other religions are subject to severe repression and harassment. Unregistered religious gatherings of any size or kind are strictly forbidden.

The country is experiencing positive change. Citizens can now travel abroad and within the country much more easily, and a few protestant churches have recently been allowed to officially register and meet publicly. Pray for continued openness for the people, so they may experience freedom and not fear of persecution.

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: Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is almost all desert, but contains 25% of the world’s known oil reserves. This enormous oil wealth produces 75-90% of government revenue and is the foundation of the economy and infrastructure, while also being used to export Islam globally. Ironically, unemployment among Saudis is high, between 20-40%, largely due to Saudis’ disdain for certain types of jobs.

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace and keeper of Islam. People of other faiths may live in Saudi Arabia, but they may not practice their religion openly or gather privately. Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights is one of the worst. Why would a religion supposedly of God be against human rights, freedom of thought and equality? There is no mention of the word “love” in the Quaran. This is in stark contrast to the Bible’s most famous verse of “God so loved the world…”.

Saudis who come to faith in Christ face the death penalty if discovered. At the very least, they are disowned and kicked out of their homes. Despite this, increasing numbers are secretly seeking and finding Jesus, and there are believers in every Saudi city. It’s as if Jesus was speaking directly to them when He said:

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Pray for these new believers to persevere, to multiply, and to find other believers they can safely be with in fellowship.