Pray for Our World – Region of Asia

I remember stepping off the plane in Bangkok a few years ago.  I had never been to this far-reaching and culturally different region of the world called Asia and did not know what to expect.  What I did know was that it was less than one percent Christian and held the majority of the world’s most ancient civilizations, a stark difference to my American Southeast culture.  But I’ll never forget the young Thai girl I met in one of the shops.  She had a framed picture of Jesus on one of her store shelves, and the store was noticeably lacking of any of the numerous Buddhist statues you would see in any other shop.  She had the most beautiful smile, and beamed with radiance when she proudly told me in broken English, “I am Christian.”  Later that night in my Sheraton hotel, where the locals treated us like celebrities because they thought we were rich, I found a Gideon’s Bible tucked away in the desk drawer of my hotel room.

God is everywhere, and God loves the people of Asia.  It is God’s plan for all the world to know Him, and to know about His Son Jesus that he sent to this region of the world 2000 years ago.  Asia spans a wide geographic area from the Middle East in Western Asia to China, India and Japan in central Asia, to Southeastern Asia of Philippines and Indonesia.  Asia is where the birth of the church started with Peter and Paul, and it is where the End Times is prophesied to take place.  The last 100 years have shown a remarkable resurgence of Christians in the area, increasing by over 150 million. Lands that were previously cut off from Christianity have been opening up, and there is an increase in Muslims responding to the Gospel.  There are many stories of Jesus appearing to Muslims in dreams and visions, which is the only way Muslims believe God can talk to you.  God is meeting them where they are.

It is in the individual acts of the missionaries that have gone before us, the Gideons, your prayer and donations to missions, Satellite tv, and internet Gospel, that has continued what Peter and Paul started in this area of the world.  It has given this one young Thai girl and many others the hope of a Savior and has shown them the Light of the World. 

Pray for Our World – Region of Africa

As we begin to pray for our world and each country, it’s good to get an overview of our world first. The satellite view can give us a new appreciation for just how amazing and complex our world is. The major regions of the world are Africa, The Americas, Asia, Europe and Pacific. We’ll start with an overview of Africa.

The region of Africa is composed of about 20% of the world’s surface area, with 2/3 of Africa’s population living in countries south of the Sahara, and 1/3 in North Africa. There are 57 countries, 2,500 ethnic groups, and about 61% literacy. Africa has a vast wealth of natural resources, but in the 50 years since the large wave of colonial independence, it has struggled economically. It now has the largest growth rate in the world, and is about to produce their largest population of working age. They struggle with demands on the land due to the large population growth, low investments in agriculture, foreign debt, lack of infrastructure, lack of education, corruption, disease and military conflict.

Religion is very important to Africans. Religious freedom has increased but there are still some restrictions in North Africa and Muslim countries. Christianity and Islam make up 90% of the religion, just about evenly divided. But underlying both of these religions is a value system deep in old ways of ancestor worship and idolatry. In addition, 13 of the world’s 20 least-evangelized countries by percentage are in Africa.

Pray that the powers of darkness that still consume a lot of Africa will be lifted with the light and hope of Jesus Christ.

Pray for Our World – a Year’s Journey

A friend’s post recently got me thinking. She mentioned something that was very personal and dear to her heart, and some people actually took the time to respond back with complaints and negative comments about her post! I was shocked. But on the other hand, I also see people throw out empty, superficially nice comments with no real thought or meaning behind them. And we begin to thrive on those artificial likes. Overall, we have become a world of detached carelessness.  We have lots of information at our fingertips but not so much wisdom or care. Those are things that can’t be googled or measured in the number of likes. One of my all-time favorite book quotes comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby”. It was true 100 years ago and is still true today.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Recently I won a book in a raffle, called “Operation World, The Definitive Prayer Guide To Every Nation.” I figured God gave it to me for a reason, and the most obvious reason being to help pray for our world. The book has statistics and facts on every country in our world with a prayer guide for the year. So I’m going to try it. I plan to earnestly pray and care for the people in every country of our world – people just like you and me.  We are all someone’s mother or husband, son or daughter or friend.  We all matter individually and we all matter to God.  Every one of us.

I hope you will follow along with me this year to learn a little about each country and something we can all do, which is to pray. Prayer is our direct communication with our Heavenly Father, and He hears us and listens to us, and in the process, it can change our hearts and others.

Here’s a few facts about our world to get started:

  • The population of our world is a little over 7 billion and is anticipated to be 8 billion by 2030.  For comparison, the population was only 2.5 billion in 1950 (which seems to contradict the argument from some that the world could not have been populated so quickly after Noah and the Flood).
  • There are 16,350 distinct people groups and 6,909 languages spoken in the world. A third of these languages do not have any Bible translation.
  • The largest religion is Christianity at 32%, then Muslim at 23% and then Hindu and Non-religious both at 14%. Jews are only .21%. (This is the remnant that God has always promised us, and they will be significant in leading the world during the End Times.)
  • The world’s religions are leveling out. While Christianity used to be the biggest religion, by as early as 2030, the trend shows it will be decreasing while other major religions are increasing and evenly spreading among the population. Still, one-third of the population is not measured by any major religion.
  • Catholicism is the largest Christian religion at 15% followed by Protestant at 7%. However, there has been recent dramatic growth in the post-denominational church, which has a variety of Christian beliefs and practices though it is still mainly evangelical. Evangelicals have been the driving force of the revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries and the expansion of non-Western Christianity.

God seems to be moving once again in the evangelical church, just in a different way. Perhaps we are coming back to the roots of the early churches and the original Apostle missionaries and early pastors of Peter, Paul, James, John and Timothy.  We can only pray, and spread the hope to our world. I hope you will join me.

Names of Jesus: Lamb of God

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” 
John 1:29

A lamb had special significance to the Jews. A lamb was sacrificed each year during Passover. God provided a lamb to Abraham for sacrifice instead of his son Isaac. But Jesus was much more. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb.

Religion had become a set of rules to follow. Jesus was not about rules, though we sometimes still like to pin rules and conditions to Jesus. Jesus was about repentance. Repentance not religion. Grace not rules. He is the perfect lamb to take away our sin, which is what we all need.

Names of Jesus: Unspeakable Gift

Paul describes Jesus as the unspeakable or indescribable gift in 2 Corinthians 9:15.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

It is indescribable because there is no other gift as perfect or as valuable as the sacrifice of God’s perfect son for our sins.  It is a gift from God and a gift of Grace.  It is not given by law or by deeds, it is purely Divine.

The gift is available to anyone and everyone who wants it.  A gift cannot be forced on the recipient, it must be accepted.  It is given with no strings attached.  It is simply… a gift.

The tradition of giving presents at Christmas time comes from this wonderful and indescribable gift given to us.  We show Christ’s likeness the most when we are giving, out of pure joy and love.