Pray for Our World: Malta

St. Paul’s Bay at the island of Malta

Malta is an island in the center of the Mediterranean Sea.  The Apostle Paul shipwrecked on the island during his missionary journeys, and it became one of the first nations in Europe to embrace Christianity.  Can you imagine seeing Paul swimming to the shore or climbing out of his shipwrecked boat onto the island, and then beginning to tell the islanders about Jesus Christ?  Even to this day, the bay is named after him – St. Paul’s Bay.

The Phoenicians in 1000 BC occupied the island, and it has since had many seizures from Romans, Arabs, Normans, Ottomans, French and British, yet it has maintained its Christian heritage ever since Paul came.  Today, most are Catholic.  Pray that they will remember their heritage and continue to stand in their Christian identity.

Pray for Our World: Macedonia

Macedonia is a landlocked state surrounded by Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania.  It is one of the poorest of the former Yugoslavia state.  There is high unemployment and low standard of living, which has spurred an exodus of young people.  The ethnic composition is made up of Albanians, Romani and Turkish communities.

In New Testament times, Paul visited Macedonia several times on his missionary journeys.  The first European convert was from Macedonia after Paul had a vision about a man from Macedonia.  Today, the evangelical population is small and has a stigma of being a cult, but they are growing.  The people of Macedonia are responsive to the gospel, and their needs are great.  Pray for the people of Macedonia, that they will embrace the good news that Paul brought to them many years ago.  While our circumstances may have changed since then, the truth and message of the Good News of Jesus Christ has not changed over time.   

Pray for Our World: Greece

Greece was the first European country to be evangelized.  The Apostle Paul went to Lystra (Turkey) where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek.  The brothers at Lystra spoke highly of him.  They traveled through the towns, and the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily.  Then one night Paul had a vision.  A Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia (Greece) and help us!”  After he had seen the vision, they immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them. (Acts 16)

In Acts 17, we have a record of Paul’s famous sermon at the Aereopagus in Athens given to the philosophers of the day.  It is still worth reading today and seeing Paul’s boldness in a foreign world that did not yet understand. Truth stands the test of time.  If it was true 2000 years ago when Paul spoke, it is still true today.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that the city was full of idols. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him.  Some said, “What is this pseudo-intellectual trying to say?” Others replied, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities”—because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the Resurrection.  They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you’re speaking of?  For what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these ideas mean.”  Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.

The Areopagus Address

Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect.  For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed:  TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands.  Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things.  From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.  He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Being God’s offspring then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.  Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”

When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him. But others said, “We’d like to hear from you again about this.” Then Paul left their presence.  However, some men joined him and believed.

Current day Greece has many challenges – financial, immigration, social, and spiritual.  Pray that Greece will recognize their wonderful Biblical history and choose to follow the truth that Paul once spoke to them.  The Macedonian vision is just as true today as well: “God, come help us!”

Pray for Our World: Cyprus

Cyprus has a long history. It is first mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts as the native place of the apostle Barnabas, and it was also the scene of Apostle Paul’s first missionary journey.  The Orthodox Church, the major church in Cyprus, was founded by Paul.  It is different from the Roman Catholic Church in that it has no central doctrinal or governance authority similar to the pope.  In early Christianity, the Great Schism divided the (eastern) Orthodox and (western) Catholic churches.  The Orthodox Church is the only original church that was not derived from the Catholic church.  All other denominations came from the line of (western) Catholic churches.  Lutheran, Calvinists, and Baptists split early from the Catholic Church.  Episcopal, Methodists, and Pentecostal split later.  More of the Catholic rituals are evident in those that split later.

The island of Cyprus is divided between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north and the Republic of Cyprus in the south.  The Christians are almost all in the south and Muslims in the north.  Cyprus is very religious for a European country, but it is mostly the older generation that attend the Orthodox Church.  Very few Greeks in the area are evangelicals.  The area is considered a haven for Christians in the middle east.

Pray that this land that Paul first visited and the home of one of the original disciples, will continue to be a haven and light for the Christ they followed and knew personally.