Pray for Our World: Pakistan

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, located between Afghanistan and India, has a complex arrangement of ethnicity, language and caste, far more than in most nations.  Public data on their economy and population is not available.  Officially their literacy rate is 56% but a more realistic estimate is 25-45%.  There is high inflation and widespread corruption.  It is common to have shortages of electricity and gas disruption in normal life.  About 20% live below the poverty line.  The fight against radical Islamist groups continues to be a huge drain on the economy, which serves the Islamist groups even further.  There is limited land and water and a crumbling infrastructure, along with decades of conflict and war.  Previous governments have pursued Islamization of the legal system, taxation and public life, as well as discrimination against all religious minorities.  Shari’a law is increasingly applied, even to Christians and Hindus, and this continues to oppress the people.  Non-Muslims and non-Sunnis must practice their faith cautiously.

I write all of this with a personal heavy heart, because I have met co-workers from Pakistan and keep in touch with them through email and social medial.  I sense the cautiousness in their responses, and they always give praise to Allah in anything they write.  They are smart and educated and independent for women, definitely a minority in Pakistan.  On the surface, their talk of Allah seems very much like the Christian God.  But once you get a little further into it, the differences become more subtly apparent, and then it becomes very different.  The Pakistani government also spreads a lot of false-teaching about Christianity and anti-Christian propaganda.  We must be secure in our beliefs as Christians so we do not become deceived.  Be a light, so that people may see the true Christ through you.  It may be the only light they get to see.

Pray for Our World: Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a large area of land between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, connecting North and South America.  It is one of the poorest countries in the Americas due to nearly two centuries of dictatorships and civil wars.  Young people have grown up in a country ravaged by war, where stable families are rare, and churches are not equipped to handle all their needs.  Despite the challenges, evangelical growth is on the increase from only 2% in 1960 to 30% in 2010.  Pray that Nicaraguans will continue to see the source of their help comes from God and a belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Pray for Our World: New Zealand

New Zealand is composed of two mountainous main islands 1600 km southeast of Australia.  There is a high percentage of the people living overseas for work.  The majority come from British roots.  There is freedom of religion but no established church.  Their biggest religious threat to Christianity is not from other religions but from unbelief.  In 1951, only 1 percent of the population was non-religious.  In 2010, it has increased to 41 percent.

Why?  Have Christians become so legalistic that it is no longer a better way?  Is the church too divided among themselves?  Are we not embracing the message of the gospel which is forgiveness, love, hope and joy?  Are we too burdened by things that do not matter?  Prayer is the Christian’s strongest defense.  In prayer, we have direct access to God, and we are inviting the presence of God into our lives.  May we continue to pray – for others, for our world, and for our own actions.

Pray for Our World: Madagascar

Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique.  Much of the population lives in poverty after their land was destroyed through over-use of farming and forestry.  Though there is freedom of religion, the old Malagasy folk religion remains pervasive.  The four mainline churches have great influence but the government and traditional churches are suspicious of the emergence of younger, more charismatic groups.

The Protestant Churches of the past have had a great history of faith despite persecution and harassment by the French colonial authorities.  The church grew from 5,000 in 1861 to one million in 1900 – in just 40 years!  There have been several other significant revivals in 1895, 1941, 1948 and during the 1980’s.  Pray that this movement will continue, that there will be unity among the Christian churches, and that more Christian resources will be made available for the youth.

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.