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

Pray for Our World: United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a union of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  It was the world’s first industrialized economy, but declined after WWII.  It has been a Christian nation for centuries, though this seems to be decreasing and there is a hostility toward overt religiosity in the public and media.  The Church of England (Anglican) is recognized as the established church in England, and the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) is the same for Scotland.  Disestablishment of the Church is being increasingly advocated.  60% are Christian, with the rest mostly non-religious.

The UK’s contribution to global Christianity has been significant for centuries, including Wycliffe and Tyndale, and many evangelical writers, theologians and worship leaders.  Lately, the sense that “all is not well” pervades the country.  Whether it is from the recent EU or immigration, or a lacking of core identity and purpose, or terrorist threats, there is much unrest.  Christianity is increasingly marginalized, and the “mother” Church of England is fragmented over theological issues, and evangelical Christianity is no longer growing.  Young people are particularly of concern.  Despite their freedoms, depression, suicide, self-harm and mental health problems have reached alarming levels in the UK.  They lead Europe in sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, abortion, binge drinking, drug abuse, and violent crime.  Yet, there is hope the UK will return to their Christian roots which made them strong.  Younger generation movements are emerging with new approaches to worship styles, prayer movements and outreach efforts.  Having personally worked with many people from the UK over the years, I have often sensed an emptiness and lack of hope in their lives, despite their cultural advantage.  I pray for the country and the people to return to a sense of peace and love for Christ.

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: Ukraine

Ukraine has very few natural boundaries, as it is most surrounded by Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, and Romania, with very little coastline along the Black Sea.  The country has struggled to gain economic independence since communism, and is deeply divided between those wanting to reestablish with Russia and those looking westward for the future.  The Church was severely persecuted under communism, and some prejudice still remains.  At one time, prior to Communism, Ukraine was considered the “Bible Belt” of the Soviet sphere, with a rich Christian heritage.  With faithful perseverance, there is now evidence of a regrowth.

Ukraine is a key nation, a bridge between East and West, between Orthodox and Catholic.  Slavic Christianity was born in Kyiv over 1000 years ago.  Pray that their faith will remain strong and it will sustain them in helping to rebuild their country into a strong Christian nation again.