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: Vietnam

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.

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: Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a group of small islands southeast of the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific.  Somewhat isolated, they are vulnerable to weather and climate changes. There are about 140 languages spoken among the 260,000 people that occupy the islands. For a small country, they have an infamous history. Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides in 1774, which stayed as their name until their independence in 1980. They are also known historically for their cannibalism, but they are not the only remote island to have had that practice.

After WW II, they were known for the “John Frum” cargo cults that emerged on the islands. John Frum was a figure – some say a spirit or a tribal god, others say an American serviceman, who promised wealth and prosperity to the people if they followed him. His followers had to give up all their money and contact with Christianity. During WW II, American troops were stationed there and brought lots of supplies or cargo. After the war when the troops departed, followers of John Frum built landing strips to encourage American airplanes to land and bring them cargo. Hence, “John from” America.

Recent work by Presbyterians and the Jesus film have led thousands to Christ coming out of the “John Frum” cults. Vanuatu was rededicated to the Lord on May 14, 2006 at the 400th anniversary of naming the South Pacific Islands the “Great Southlands of the Holy Spirit”. Thousands participated in acts of repentance, celebration, communion and prayer, including the President, First Lady and other government figures. Christianity plays a major role in the independence and leadership of the country. Pray for the leadership that they may continue to build a strong, spiritual country.

Pray for Our World: Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is an old country in the middle of the central Asian countries.  They have close economic ties to Russia and many leave to work in Russia. It is also the main transshipment nation for the drug trade from Afghanistan to Russia and on to Europe.  It is a secular state promoting a moderate and tightly controlled form of Islam.  Christians receive harsh treatment and proselytizing of Muslims is illegal. While the number of believers is increasing there, the majority of Muslims are unreached and have never heard the gospel. Each Muslim group in the country has less than .1% Christian among them.  Pray that they will be able to hear the gospel through means of internet, radio, and the Jesus film.

How can they believe if they have not heard, and how can they hear without someone telling them? (Romans 10:14)