Pray for Our World: Palestine

Wall between Israel and West Bank

The Palestine Authority comprises two separate parts in the middle of Israel – the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  They claim Jerusalem as their capital and control most of the major towns, but Israel controls the access points.  They lost most of their land in 1948 and the conquest of the remainder by Israel in 1967.  This event dominates the lives of most of the Palestinians living there. There are over 10 million Palestinian Arabs globally.  Between 2 and 3 million live in Jordan, over 1 million in Israel, and the rest spread elsewhere in the Middle East and the West.  Between Israeli occupation and Islamist persecution, there is not much of a Christian minority here.  88% are Muslim, 9% Jewish, and less than 2% Christian.  The Greek Orthodox and Catholic Church are the largest Christian churches.  Palestinian Christians find themselves attacked by both sides – Jews and Muslims.  Arab evangelicals, numbering in the thousands, feel rejected and isolated by Jews, Arabs and traditional Christians.

The origin of Palestine comes from the Philistines in the Old Testament Bible, who occupied part of the land of Canaan before it became the Promised Land that God gave to the Israelites as part of His covenant with Abraham and His people.  The land was flowing with milk and honey.  Moses described it as “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt not eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass”.  Even today, this same land has a good variety of climate, plants and animal life.  So you can see it is a complex identity that dates back to the time of Moses.  But, if you dig further in the history of the Old Testament Bible, the Philistines were a brutal people who worshiped pagan gods and sacrificed their own children, and treated the Israelites horribly.  This is the reason they were driven out of Canaan by God and the reason God set apart a people who would be an example of how God wanted us to live and to carry His Word forward to future generations.  Yet even the foreigner in the Promised Land was treated as one of God’s own as long as they chose to worship the true God.  No matter who we are, we must humble ourselves, realize our need for God, repent, and then His ways will be our ways.  It was true then and still true today.

Pray for Our World: Oman

The Sultanate of Oman is on the southeast coast of Arabia and the strategic tip of the peninsula that dominates the entrance to the Arabian/Persian Gulf.  The majority are Arabs but approximately 25% are expatriates.  Oil production is the primary source of revenue.  There is a high degree of personal freedom and political stability for the region.  The majority of Christians in the country come from expatriate workers, and it is illegal to try to evangelize the Muslim community.  The internet and mobile phones are the best tools to help reach the people about Christ.  There are Christian radio broadcasts in the area, as well as many people who study abroad in other countries who may hear about Christ.  Pray that you can be a witness to Christ wherever you go and whoever you may meet.  You never know how that message may travel.

Pray for Our World: Lebanon

Lebanon rests between Israel and Syria, and is the site of ancient Phoenicia, which is related to the ancient Canaanites.  Back to at least 1000 BC, they were considered very religious people in their practice of temple prostitution and child sacrifice.

Even with their tumultuous history, they have religious freedom and are the only Arab state that is not officially Muslim.  They are the only land in the Middle East where it is legal to change your religious affiliation, and Christians are more freely able to come to Lebanon for Christian training and education.  About 59% are Muslim and 32% Christian.

Through their many wars and history, they need to know of God’s forgiveness and love.  Pray that their religious freedom will continue, and to be a place where others may come to seek.

Pray for Our World: Kuwait

Kuwait is an oil-rich wedge of desert between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  They became independent in 1961 and are a key ally to the West.  Sunni Islam is the state religion with a large Shi’a minority.  Religious tolerance is higher here than in most of the region.

The underground Kuwaiti Church has been growing.  Satellite television is probably the most powerful tool in reaching not only Kuwait but the entire Gulf region.  There are several Arabic-language Christian channels available.  My church supports several of them as do many other missions.

Kuwaiti Arabs have been increasingly exposed to Christians through travel, business connections and students studying abroad.  Expat Christians have also had a good reputation thanks to a hundred years of medical mission history.  You never know how your own actions as a Christian can effect others, even sending a ripple effect which expands over many generations and geographical areas.

Pray for Our World: Jordan

Jordan is a desert region that borders the Dead Sea, and home to the famous archaeological site Petra, which dates to around 300 BC and home to many temples and tombs.  Jordan is a moderate Arab Islam state but there is free exercise of religious belief, and the Christian church does have a public presence there.

After the two Gulf Wars, around one million Iraqis fled to Jordan, and nearly half have stayed.  There has been a good response to the Christian missionaries helping them there.  Pray that the churches will continue to be able to help the refugees and other marginalized people.  Many Christian resources have been translated into Arabic and the Christian bookstores in Jordan are a central place where much of this material is sent to Iraq and other Arab nations.