Pray for Our World: China

“By 2030, China will almost certainly have more Christians than any other country”, according to Fenggang Yang, director of the center on religion and Chinese society at Purdue University.  While we do not know the exact number of Christians in China and many keep silent about it, I think we would be surprised to know just how much God is working behind the scenes in China.  Christianity did not appear in China until the 7th century during the Tang dynasty.  Because they were so closed off from the rest of the world, they did not hear about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus until 700 years later.

China is an ancient and complex nation.  It is the third largest state in the world with over 1 billion people, 500 indigenous ethnic groups and 55 nationalities (not including Hong Kong and Taiwan which will be listed separately).  There is strict government control of religious groups, five of which are officially recognized: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestant, and Catholic.  There has been some easing of persecution in recent years.  The state recently recognized that there are over 300 million religious believers and over 50 million Christians in unregistered church networks.  The traditional beliefs of the Chinese are a blend of folk religion, Daoism and Buddhism. About 50% of Chinese are considered non-religious, and the official status of China is atheist.

God has protected and grown the church in China on a scale unforeseen in recent times.  Persecution designed to destroy the church has instead inspired fervent prayer and evangelism.  Since the 1980’s there have been vast networks and communities of believers meeting in house churches.  God has a big plan for China.  In God’s timing, the life and purpose of Jesus’ life will be made known to all in China.  When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking and praying for those in China, ones who were not even known to much of the rest of the world at that time.

Pray for Our World: Chile

Chile is wedged between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean, with an average of only about 150 km in width.  Mining and mineral exports are the most important economic activities, especially with copper.  Chile is still trying to progress from its previous dictatorship to a democracy.

There has been a growth of evangelicals in the last 40 years, and spurred by a previous Methodist church indigenous Pentecostal revival in 1909.  The Catholic church was disestablished from the constitution in 1925, and they have suffered decline due to their ties to former regimes, as well as the explosive growth of Pentecostalism and an equal increase in non-religious sentiments.

Chile also includes the territory of Easter Island, a remote volcanic island in Polynesia. It is famous for its archaeological sites, including nearly 900 large carved statues called moai, created by inhabitants during the 13th–16th centuries. The moai are carved human figures with oversize heads.

Pray for Our World: Chad

Chad is also in central Africa, and is made up of desert, dry grassland and thick bush.  It has a complex mix of over 150 people groups.  Many previously unreached people are being reached for the first time.  The tragic upheaval in nearby Darfur have brought many people into contact with the gospel that otherwise may never have heard.  The persecution by other Muslims have disillusioned many with Islam and have made some open to the loving witness of Christians.  The Chadian Arabic Christian radio and the Jesus film, which is widely used in Arabic, is also well received.

Pray that the people of Chad will continue to have access to the truth of Jesus Christ which will truly set them free and give them a hope and a future.

Pray for Our World: Central African Republic

Located directly in central Africa, the country is composed of 80 different ethnic groups. The official languages are French and Sango, which is a trade language used by most of the population.  They have 48% literacy.  Rich in natural resources and minerals, diamonds account for 55% of the exports, though most of the working population are farmers.

76% are Christian and 14% Muslim, with tribal ethnoreligion making up the rest.  The national church seems to be emerging as a witness and service to the people.  National missionaries and agencies are on the increase, indigenous-led ministries are springing up, and Bible translation in mother tongues and literacy in the churches are also progressing.  Half of the population is under the age of 15, so ministry to young people and to women are vital.  Women are just now making inroads into ministry through Christian Women’s Union and Women’s Aglow.  Even Muslim converts to Jesus are considered very influential within their communities.

Pray that the mission efforts and the churches will continue to be a strong beacon of hope for the people of Central Africa, and that they will have a positive impact in the communities.  God is moving in this remote, central part of Africa.

Pray for Our World: Burundi

Burundi is in central Africa between Rwanda and Tanzania.  It is one of the poorest nations with 70-80% living below the poverty line.  The country is highly in debt, and gained its independence from Belgium in 1962.  Christian workers were expelled by the volatile regime between 1970 and 1985, and few have returned.  However, there is a new development of Christian universities in the country, with the most notable being the Hope Africa University (Free Methodists) and University of Light (Anglican).

Many of the children have lost parents, are undernourished, and suffer from malaria and AIDS.  Violence against children is common.  Only half of the children attend school.  Pray for these children, and for more Christian education and resources to help the people.