Over the last 3 years our month of prayer has had a continental theme, highlighting different nations on each continent as the focus for each day.
This year we sensed that there are many global challenges and issues which cut across nations and continents which the church should uplift in prayer. We have also taken our Mobilisation strategy a step further by first raising awareness through the daily prayer articles. Then having prayed our hope and desire is that some of you would be moved to take the next step of active involvement. We have thus presented options of how to get involved.
Let us therefore draw near to the throne of God and pray in faith, trusting that our Father in heaven hears our prayers and will answer them according to His will!
*Peter was only 3 years old when both his parents succumbed to the ravages of HIV and AIDS. Also living with the virus, he went to stay with a distant aunt. But the aunt did not see sufficient cause to feed “a person who is going to die soon.” Peter was often abused, neglected and never felt loved; before long he left home to live on the streets.
“I used to sleep under a drain. We used cardboard or sacks to cover ourselves when we slept on shop verandas or in the street. At night the police came and chased us away,” recalls Peter. “My worst experience was when I ate rotten meat from a bin. I think it was a rat which had been poisoned. I was sick for many days and wished, ‘If only I could die.’ I never believed in God but that time, I prayed that I should die,” he narrated his ordeal.
At 15 years, Peter was rescued by a city church that reaches out to street children. He had already spent 5 years living on the streets but is now looking forward to the future with hope. “I want to be a pastor when I grow up. I want show love to other children on the streets like the church did for me.”
Often victims of all kinds of abuse, it is estimated that 120 million children live on the streets in the world. Street children are minors who live and survive on the streets. They often grow up in public dumps, under drains, under bridges and in train and bus stations of major cities. Mostly viewed as a nuisance, petty criminals and filthy beggars with a risk to spread disease, street children are normal children who end up living in the streets.
The reasons children go to the streets are unique and varied but often poverty, neglect, the breakdown of the family, loss of one or both parents, verbal, physical and sexual abuse are the main causes cited.
On the streets, children suffer all kinds of challenges and abuse, but the biggest is being ignored by society, including Christians and the church who see their state as “normal”.
Street children are hungry not only for bread but for understanding and love. Famous Catholic missionary Mother Theresa, while commenting on street children said, “They’re naked not only of clothing but of human dignity that has been stolen from them.” Will you and your church do something to reach the street children as it was written, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” Mark 10:14?
That the church will find creative ways to obey God’s command to care for the poor.
Pray for freedom, restoration and healing for children who have been victims of abuse on the streets and back home.
Give thanks for the many organisations who seek to reach out to street children, providing for their basic needs and seeking to give them a fresh start.
“House/Home Church” is a label used to describe a group of Christians who regularly gather for worship in private homes. The gathering may be part of a larger Christian group or already established church, but some are independent groups that see the house church as the primary (and likely, the only) form of Christian fellowship.
In the early 19th century, Haiti became the world’s first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in a series of wars. A mostly mountainous country with a tropical climate, Haiti’s location, history and culture - epitomised by voodoo - once made it a potential tourist hot spot, but instability and violence, especially since the 1980s, have severely dented that prospect.
With the exception of Guyana on the South American coast, the Caribbean consists of several hundreds of islands comprising 27 sovereign states, overseas departments and dependencies. They cover over 460,000 sq. km and have a total population of 43 million people from 73 people groups. These include Hispanic, Francophone African-Caribbean, African Caribbean and South Asian.
“Then Jesus said to his host, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind”, Luke 14:13.
Zimbabwe is so wondrously adorned with beauty by our Creator - with tranquil rivers flowing lazily but freely around hills and mountains; white sheets of water plummeting down the Victoria Falls gorge; the genius displayed in the crafting of the Great Zimbabwe stone buildings; the beautiful sunsets over Lake Kariba, viewed while canoeing around hippos and crocodiles; and the red/orange/rust/gold colours of the Msasa trees. These are some of the compelling images evoked when one thinks of Zimbabwe.
1 Corinthians 12:26, “We are one body. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it”
Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. Stories of beheadings, torture, rape, kidnappings, mass killings, forced starvation, imprisonment and even crucifixions show that the persecution of Christians did not end at the foot of the cross or the closed gates of the Roman Coliseum but is a present day reality.
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God”, Leviticus 19:34
Greece has been dominating the news recently with an economy tumbling into financial failure and causing an outbreak of protests and riots.
Bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, Eritrea occupies a strategic area in the Horn of Africa but remains one of the most secretive states in the world. By virtue of its location in the Sahel, Eritrea suffers periodic droughts and chronic food shortages hampering development efforts.
“God is dead! Jesus is irrelevant. Faith is a crutch. Christianity is something our grandparents relied on to get them through times of war, but we’re past that now. We’ve moved on, become enlightened, and evolved. I am my own god. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”, William Ernest Henley.
The waging of armed conflict with perceived enemies has brought untold suffering to the human population. In a world where natural disasters and impoverished circumstances already make daily life an unbearable activity for millions of people across the world, the church will have to add her voice to influence peace and take care of those caught up in the fighting.
“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them”, Isaiah 41:17.
Around the world, poverty can be most easily seen in the desperation of vulnerable people who cannot feed themselves. Hunger still claims enormous numbers of victims among those who, like Lazarus, are not permitted to take their place at the rich man’s table.
The Internet is just one more tool that many ministries are using to reach the world for Christ. When Jesus gave the commandment, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,” the disciples were on foot. There was no television, no radio, no airplanes, and certainly no internet. What a difference 2,000 years can make! Or for that matter, 10 years. Today, more and more people are coming to faith in Christ by logging onto the World Wide Web.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”, “Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple”, - Psalm 119:11, 130
The Bible is an extraordinary book. It tells the story of how God can change people’s lives from death to life and darkness to light. But it does not stop there. As people read the story of the Bible, they are drawn into the story and find their lives being completely transformed. Yet many people still do not have the Bible in a language they understand?
The Pashtun are a race of warriors who live mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They consist of about sixty tribes, each with its own territory. Although their origin is unclear, their legends say that they are the descendants of Afghana, grandson of King Saul. However, most believe they probably arose from ancient Aryans intermingling with subsequent invaders.
Nearly one-third of the world – 2.1 billion people – identify themselves as Christians. Worship rises from every nation, expressed in beautifully diverse languages, cultures, and styles. This is the church of the Living God, the pillar and support of the truth. It is the Body of Christ; His bride that He loves. It is through her that God has chosen to manifest and saturate the world with His love, glory, and presence.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble”, Psalm 9:9
The defining story of the year 2015 is arguably that of refugees trekking, having drowned or stranded somewhere. Their images filled the news reports; huddled into dangerously overcrowded boats, eking out an existence in refugee camps, desperately queuing at border posts, or travelling across dusty plains, carrying the fragments of their lives in plastic bags. And darker, even more shocking images: toddlers lying lifeless on Turkish beaches; desperate Christian captives, kneeling at the feet of their black-clad executioners.
During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, all religions were repressed. Churches, temples and mosques were destroyed, and many people were killed and tortured to turn away from religion according to Marxist principles. However, in the countryside, Christianity suddenly started to grow very quickly as Christians went around preaching from village to village. In some villages and small towns, most of the people professed Christianity. The repression didn’t stop the growth, though it was usual for churches to be destroyed and Christian leaders to be imprisoned.
Famous for its high peaks and wind-whipped prayer flags, Hindu-majority Nepal used to be a nation unreached with the Gospel. Now, however, according to the World Christian Database which tracks global trends in Christianity, the country has one of the fastest-growing Christian populations in the world.
The focus of the Great Commission is the preaching of the Gospel to all nations with a special focus on the unreached people groups. However, living upon the doorstep of the church in so called “Christian countries” are millions upon millions who have heard about Christ and know a lot about the Bible but won’t take part in Christian education, fellowship, service or worship.
When a modern man hears the word “slave/slavery”, what often comes to his mind is the transatlantic slave trade where Africans, displaced from their homeland, were shipped to work on farms and plantations in the United States and the Caribbean. Slavery is not simply a thing of the past but it still exists in various forms today. While there were about 4 million slaves in the US at the time it was abolished, it is estimated that there are about 20 to 30 million people who are in different forms of slavery around the world today.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you”, John 15:18.
The Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, has mounted a campaign of terror for more than a decade. In that time thousands of people have been killed and around two million more have been forced to flee their homes.
Purdah, meaning “curtain”, is an Islamic practice requiring women to be secluded from public observation by covering their bodies from head to toe. Women have to completely cover their bodies when in public; only close male family members and other women are allowed to see them out of purdah, or “burka”, as it is also known. Even when using the purdah, women are not allowed to walk in public without a close male relative accompanying them.
Anusha was 15 years old when her parents killed her. “There was a boy who came by on a motorcycle”, her father said. “She turned to look at him twice. I told her before not to do that; it’s wrong. People talk about us.” The mother added: “She said ‘I didn’t do it on purpose. I won’t look again.’ By then her mother had already thrown the acid. “It was her destiny to die this way”, she concluded.
Since the beginnings of the Church, the Great Commission has remained unchanged. Yet the environment in which the Church functions today is considerably more complex than in the days of the apostles. Not least is the fact that an enormous challenge is faced by the expanding world population.