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)

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