Posts Tagged ‘Operation World’

1 Missionaries, as such, are not welcome in China. Yet China’s desire to improve trading relations with the world makes it possible for many Chinese and foreign Christians to enter as:

a) Tourists — over 30m visited China in 1995 and spent $US9 billion. Many Christians were among them. Pray for their ministry of bringing literature, aid, comfort and, in some cases, teaching. Pray also for safety for them and their baggage, tact and wisdom in their contacts, and guidance for travel.

b) Students — usually for language or cultural studies in various universities. In 2000 there were over 10,000 from 120 countries. Living conditions are often spartan and uncensored friendships with Chinese hard to maintain. Pray for Christians among them to be used of God to share Christ with those who are genuinely seeking the Lord.

c) Foreign experts and businessmen. China aims to recruit about 30,000 experts annually to teach English, Japanese and German as well as other subjects, and also to build up China’s technology and industry. Pray that many may be radiant Christians able to impart their faith while on the job.

d) Chinese family members who visit their ancestral homes. These have flocked to China in their millions. Christians among them have sometimes seen astonishing results when staying with relatives.

2 Provision of Bibles is still inadequate, despite the large increase in the number of copies available. By 1999 it was reckoned that there were 36m Bibles in China. The famine of the Scriptures is most acute in provinces far from the 60 legal distribution points and for the house churches. Amity Foundation, founded in 1986 and sponsored by the TSPM and the UBS, set up a large printing operation in China, and over 22m Bibles and New Testaments had been printed by 1999 — nearly all going to TSPM congregations. House churches have now commenced their own Bible printing presses. A further 12m Bibles and NTs are estimated to have been brought in by visitors. Pray that this flow might increase and that Christians might have access to a copy of God’s Word. There is a great need for study and children’s Bibles. Importation of Bibles is not illegal but prevented for ideological reasons. The Bible League and OD are two of the largest suppliers of Bibles to the house churches.

3 Video and audio tapes. The increasing availability of play-back machines is making foreign-produced Scripture, song, evangelism and teaching tapes a useful means for disseminating the Truth. Pray for all involved in preparing and distributing these tapes.

a) The JESUS film is being widely seen on home video in 20 completed language versions (including eight Chinese dialects, Mongolian, Uygur and Zhuang). Many other language editions are in production or planned. Pray that the film may receive official recognition for public showing.

b) Teaching tapes that deal with the moral and ethical devastation left by Marxist thought and provide solid biblical teaching are a great need to help the many intellectuals who are coming to faith. Pray for the production of reading materials and tapes to fill this need.

c) GRN has produced gospel messages or tapes in 160 languages and dialects; much being done during 1999, but recordings are needed in many more.

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OPERATION WORLD: China – The Church

The unregistered or house church networks are the heart of the true Church in China. Intense persecution has indigenized and purified it. Prayer, revival, simple living and a christocentric theology characterize it. Twenty or more larger networks are known to exist, but their numbers are a matter of conjecture. Reasonable estimates range between 30 and 80 million, or 50% to 80% of the total Christian population. There are many challenges to pray over:


a)      Persecution is a present reality. Increasing pressure since 1989 is a measure of the fear of the Communists of such a large movement they do not control. Their aim is subjugation or elimination of this threat. Since 1996 the level of persecution has increased on house churches not willing to register with the TSPM. Arrests (hundreds in 1999), heavy fines, forcible closures and destruction of church buildings (200 in 1997) have increased in some key areas. Pray for the continued commitment of believers to preach Christ and Him crucified whatever the cost and without compromise.


b)      Ongoing evangelistic outreach. Witnessing Christians and itinerant preachers, though violently opposed by the authorities, have spread far and wide, but many provinces, districts and towns are still unreached. Pray that Christians may continue to be bold for Jesus and implement their missionary strategy for reaching China.


c)       Challenges to face:

i) Isolation and lack of teaching can lead to extremes in legalism, theological emphases and use of spiritual gifts.

ii) How to handle increased contacts and communications with evangelical Christians around the world — finance is a major component for good and bad. The new quarterly magazine Voice of China is compiled by leaders of house church networks for distribution worldwide.

iii) How to make what has long been a strong rural movement impact those who are urban and intellectuals. The lack of formal education of many leaders, many of which are women, hampers this. Pray that more men may be converted and that an impact for God might be made on the cities. The authorities are better able to control and restrict any Christian activity in cities, so house churches tend to be smaller and more secretive.


d)      The intellectual elite is largely urban. Only since 1989 have large numbers of students and professionals come to Christ, yet the proportion that believe is far lower than in the rural areas. Networks of small, often secret, groups have emerged. Pray for the multiplication of such, for this is of inestimable importance for the future of the gospel in China.


e)      Leadership for the churches. The widespread lack of Bibles, teaching materials and Bible-literate leaders has stimulated many innovative discipleship ministries in different house church networks during the 1990s. Pray for many godly men and women to be raised up.


f)       The multiplication of heretical sects and doctrinal extremist groups. The lack of Bible knowledge and of mature leadership has opened the way for many exotic messianic, syncretistic and divisive groups, some of which have spread over much of China. In some areas they now constitute 5% or more of the unregistered church population. Many have exotic names such as Lightning in the East, Lingling, Shouters, Established King, Cold Water, etc. Pray that this growth might be slowed by the loving proclamation of the truth of God’s Word through radio, literature and preaching.


g)      Spiritual unity has been furthered by recent persecution. Leaders of various house church networks are increasingly standing together in both affirming their common biblical faith and making public statements to the authorities. Pray for continued development of trust and fellowship between different house church networks and between Bible-believing leaders of the house churches and the TSPM.


h)      Missions vision. Some house church networks have long cherished and supported missions outreach to other provinces and to ethnic minorities. There is growing vision for foreign missions and some Mainland Chinese have become missionaries in other lands. Some predict China could become the greatest sending nation in the 21st Century!

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About 7% of Chinas population is Christian today, but their distribution is not even. In this section are given some of the nationally significant but less evangelized sections of the population.

1 The nearly 60 million Communist Party members are, by definition, atheists, but ideology is a facade to cover self-seeking opportunism. Disillusionment and defection to Christianity has led to many resignations. Pray that the Holy Spirit may convict many more of their sin and need. Among them are also many secret believers.


2 The armed forces, who are the protectors of the Marxist state, and who jealously guard their privileged position and network of industries. There are 2.8m in uniform, but very few Christians among them.


3 The ‘lost generation’, the young people mobilized as the Cultural Revolution Red Guards. The millions involved were morally warped and exploited, losing their youth, education prospects and hopes of betterment in the madness of those years. Pray that they may find hope in Christ.


4 Those still bound by the idolatrous superstitions of Daoism, Buddhism and the legalism of Confucianism. These customs and philosophies are being revived, but young people are not so attracted to them. A new religion, Falun Gong, gained world publicity and shocked the authorities in 1999 with a quiet protest in Beijing — they claim 70m followers in China. Pray for the millions still bound and needing the freedom only the gospel can give.


5 Children and young people under 18 number over 500m. It is illegal to teach them religious ‘superstitions’. The TSPM churches are not allowed to run Sunday Schools or youth groups — most have forgotten how or are afraid to minister to children and young people, but some are quietly doing more to disciple them. One of the great needs of China today is for teaching materials and the know-how of Christian ministry to this group.


6 University students (3m) are the key for the future. The shock of the events of 1989 have brought many to Christ, but most students are still unreached. Pray for:

a) Christians among them to be built up in their faith and to be fervent witnesses.

b) The establishment of Bible study groups on every one of the 1,054 campuses.

c) Those who study abroad. About 100,000 go overseas annually for study, but only about 25% return. Most go to Japan, USA, Europe and Australia. Their numbers in 1996 globally were 600,000. Among them is an unprecedented openness and a good proportion have come to the Lord.


7 Muslims number 25m, and are almost entirely linked to specific ethnic groups — the indigenous Uygur, Kazak, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Tatar of Xinjiang, the Salar of Qinghai, Dongxiang of Gansu and the Chinese Hui of Ningxia and scattered all over China. (See under the provinces below.) Islam is a sensitive issue in China because of a past history of Hui revolts and unrest in Xinjiang. Few ministries are targeting the Muslim peoples, and few Chinese believers feel adequately prepared for such outreach. Pray for the evangelization of these peoples and for the calling of committed workers to them.


8 Ethnic Minorities comprise 8.7% of the population, 100m people in 464 distinct non-Han ethno-linguistic groups.

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2 Leadership training is woefully deficient, and a crisis need. It is reckoned that there is but one ordained pastor for every 7,000 TSPM members. By 1999 there were 18 official seminaries with 1,200 residential and 3,000 distance-learning students. Pray for:


a)  Faculty — often selected for their political correctness rather than for their walk with God. Pray for those teaching who are Evangelical despite the prevailing liberal theology and textbooks. Pray that biblical teaching and holiness of life might be central in their lives. In 2000 the anti-Evangelical stance was strengthened.


b)  Students. Many apply, but few are selected; nevertheless most are Evangelical but face a constant battle against the erosion of their faith. The number of students and ordinations has been deliberately restricted, but during 1999 a considerable expansion in facilities and enrolment was reported. Only 800 pastors were ordained 1992-95, and most of these were over 45 years of age.


c)   Protection from interference. During 1999 a severe purge of evangelical faculty, textbooks and students was carried out at the national seminary in Nanjing. Support from congregations for Nanjing, the five regional and 12 provincial seminaries is very low because of the political manipulation. Libraries are usually poorly stocked.


3 The Catholics were divided when the Marxists set up the Catholic Patriotic Association in 1957 with its own structure and hierarchy independent of the Vatican. The majority of Catholics demurred and went ‘underground’, with their own bishops and illegal seminaries. The loyalist Catholics have suffered severe persecution because of their commitment to a foreign leader. More recently there has been a growing rapprochement between the two. There are over 12m Catholics in the two bodies, and over 60,000 are converted annually. Many Catholics are charismatic and ardent in their faith.

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1 The Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) was instituted by ‘patriotic’ and often theologically liberal Christians with the strong encouragement of the Communist Party as the interface between the government and Church. After 13 years of oblivion it was reconstituted in 1979 to wrest the initiative from the burgeoning house church movement, and enable the government to control and manipulate the Church. The China Christian Council is the governing body for all official church-related activities. Pray for:

a) The neutralization of all measures to impose unbiblical doctrines on the churches, limit evangelism, and force conformity to the dictates of the atheist government. Pray also for an end to the enforced compromises in the state-controlled TSPM-related churches.

b) Leaders who have compromised the faith and bowed to government pressure. The restrictions laid down are: no childrens’ or youth work, avoid preaching on the Lord’s return and on creation, a ban on healing or exorcism, and limited evangelism. Praise God for many who quietly ignore the rules of men.

c) The continued growth of the registered churches. Many godly leaders quietly continue to serve the Lord in TSPM churches. The growth in congregations and members is downplayed by the authorities but is dramatic. There were 1,000 open church buildings in 1983; 7,000 churches and 20,000 official meeting points in 1988, becoming 13,000 and 35,000, respectively, by 1997. Six churches a day are being registered. There are estimated to be 500,000 baptisms in the TSPM churches every year, and adult membership in 1997 was estimated at 17 million.

d) Relationships between the TSPM churches and house churches. Most house churches regard with distaste government manipulation and control and see separation as fundamental to the survival of a spiritual Church. Some house church leaders reject all contact, others have succumbed to the increased pressures and outright persecution since 1989 to register. In 1995, an estimated 30% of Protestant Christians were linked with TSPM churches. This has probably risen to 40% in 2000. Increasingly there is overlap with many attending and ministering in both. There is also a steady drift away to house churches by new converts disillusioned with the level of compromise.

e) The future of the TSPM. Growth, despite its major flaws and weaknesses, has been astonishing. This is likely to slow as the TSPM leadership becomes entrenched in bureaucratic, corrupt ways and fails to address either the spiritual needs of ordinary Christians or the serious social problems of China. The result is likely to be fragmentation, regionalization, renewed denominationalism and massive defections to house church networks. Pray for revival and renewal to purify the TSPM and its associated churches.

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1 The Christian Church has become marginalized in Canadian society. Many major historic denominations have suffered disastrous declines in membership. The loss of biblical roots, lack of vision for evangelism, and compromise on ethical issues have all contributed to this tragic situation. The church has allowed pluralism and secularization to undermine its foundations. Canada needs revival.

2 Evangelical witness has generally declined through the 20th Century.

a) Evangelicals represented 25% of the population in 1900, but less than 8% in 1989; this had risen, however, to 10.8% by 2000. While evangelical and charismatic denominations were the fastest growing religious groups in Canada in the 1980s and ‘90s, the decline of the historic denominations more than offset this growth.

b) Canadian Evangelicals are working together more effectively than in earlier years but are still too fragmented. Pray for effective cooperation for the Kingdom.

c) There are positive signs. The newer evangelical groups are growing, using new structures and styles. The controversial ‘Toronto Blessing’ nevertheless stimulated much-needed renewal for many. Pray that evangelical Christians would further unite and make a decisive impact on this spiritually needy land.

3 Vision Canada, nurtured under the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, was launched by 40 denominations and agencies. The purpose: to serve the Body of Christ in evangelism so that every person in Canada will have the opportunity to see, hear and respond to the gospel by the year 2000. A formal goal of planting 10,000 new churches by 2015 was affirmed by leaders of 39 denominations in 1997. Since 1998 there has been a marked improvement in church planting activity in a wide array of denominational groups. Pray that this advance may be achieved.

4 The large number of Bible institutes, colleges and theological seminaries committed to a Biblical view of Scripture are fulfilling a major role in strengthening evangelical witness. They are mostly concentrated in the western Prairie provinces, and many are experiencing renewal and growth. Pray for the students and their teachers, that missions may be a central issue in their education.

5 French Canadians are 85% Catholic in culture, but a decreasing number of them (25%) ever attend mass. Pray for spiritual life and renewal in Catholic institutions and congregations, as Quebec has experienced four consecutive decades of secularization. Evangelicals are less than 1% of the Francophone population of the province, but have grown well from 1970-88 but more slowly to 2000. Pray for:

a) Increased receptivity amidst growing social and political change and instability. Evangelism is yielding less fruit than in the period 1975-85. For Vision Canada to be achieved, 2,300 Francophone congregations would need to be started in Quebec.

b) Quebec separatism, which is a potent political movement with unknown implications for Canada’s future. Pray that the uncertainty of this may stimulate maturity and growth in the churches.

c) The small, but growing, French-speaking Protestant missionary force.

d) The growing prayer movement in Quebec that is bringing together believers from many denominations.

e) Continued growth in fruitful fellowship between denominations — there has been marked improvement since 1997.

6 Canadian indigenous peoples are largely Christian in name, but active evangelistic churches among them are desperately few. There are 2,400 reservations without an ongoing evangelical witness. (Dongsan has a team going to them – KH)

a) Pray for a moving of God’s Spirit to overcome the shameful treatment of these people by whites in the past. The government has finally admitted the dismal failure of its policies towards indigenous peoples in the last 150 years. The church is assuming an increasing role in this reconciliation, but court cases against churches are rising over involvement in residential schools earlier in the 20th Century. Only the grace of God can enable the indigenous people to receive Christ despite serious economic and social problems, and strident anti-white, anti-Christian propaganda that draws many back into old animistic customs.

b) Pray for the growth of strong, well-led churches that are culturally appropriate. Especially pray for the development of indigenous leadership. There are many encouraging signs of growth and renewal in the native evangelical community, where a contextualized church is beginning to flourish.

c) Pray for missions seeking to evangelize and plant churches — often in the inhospitable northern parts of the country. Both denominational (Native Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, CMA, PAOC) and mission agencies, united as Inter-Mission Cooperative Outreach, are dedicated to this. Indigenous missions movements to evangelize their own are also developing.

d) Bible translation or revision is still needed. Revisions or translations are required in several of the 25 actively used languages. Five new translations of the New Testament or Bible have been completed in the last few years, leaving 12 works currently in progress. Pray for the translators with SIL and other groups. There are also an increasing number of Christian radio and TV programmes aimed at aboriginals.

e) The hundreds of thousands of native Canadian Indians living outside reservations are neglected and spiritually needy, especially in the cities, where poverty and substance abuse continues to afflict them.

7 The Inuit (Eskimo) in the Arctic are mostly Anglican in name, but the impact of the worst of Western civilization has greatly altered and harmed the Eskimo way of life. The suicide rate is four times the national average. The recent establishing of a new Inuit Territory, Nunavut, has given autonomy and hope to the local people. Likewise, since 1982, there has been evidence that the Holy Spirit is stirring, by waves of conversions and awakenings from nominalism. Helpful is the fact that the church is still often the centre of the community in these isolated northern towns. Pray that the new-found autonomy of the Inuit people would be made complete by finding freedom in Christ.

8 Immigrant communities have multiplied. Toronto claims to be the world’s most racially diverse city. Vancouver is the world’s second-largest Sikh city. Especially significant are:

a) Asian Indians (numbering 715,000) — 220,000 Sikhs (less than 0.1% Christian), 250,000 Hindus and 190,000 Muslims form the biggest bloc of unreached peoples in the country. OM and IT have teams ministering to them in Vancouver and Toronto.

b) Arabic-speaking peoples, mostly Muslim or Orthodox Christian; very little specific outreach to them has been undertaken. Most of the few believers are Lebanese or Palestinian.

c) The Southern and Eastern European communities with few evangelical churches.

d) The Chinese (930,000) who will soon number a million people with the steady influx of immigrants. There are over 100 growing churches among them in several cities. While growth is not a problem, assimilation and second-generation withdrawal from the church is. Pray also that Chinese churches would integrate well into the larger body of Christ in Canada.

9 Missionary vision has been great in the past, but the number of missionaries declined by 15% between 1992 and 1999. Giving to national missionaries and relief and development programmes, however, has increased in recent years. Pray for increased involvement by churches and individuals in the evangelization of the unreached in Canada and around the world. Pray for increased missionary concern in the many growing evangelical churches among the ethnic minorities; such a vision is vital for Canada, and could be strategic for the evangelization of their lands of origin. Pray also for the unifying and strategic work of the Task Force for Global Mission of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

10 Specialized ministries for prayer:

a) Christian media. There are a number of widely appreciated religious programmes on secular radio and TV networks, particularly Crossroads and It’s a New Day. US Christian programmes continue to be larger in number, but the Canadian government has now allowed Vision TV, an interfaith network, to carry more programming.

b) Student ministries in the 272 colleges and universities. These give wide exposure to sections of the campus community. There are three movements linked with IVCF(IFES — English), GBU (French) and Ambassadors for Christ (Chinese). There are also extensive ministries linked with Navigators and CCCI. YFC and OAC have good ministries in high schools. Pray that these and other ministries may make a deep and lasting impact on nearly 1 million tertiary students.

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1 The terrible genocide of 1975-79 in which nearly 2 million were killed has left deep physical and emotional scars. There are over 30,000 who have lost limbs to landmines, and almost the entire population needs deep healing from the trauma of their losses and suffering. Pray for:

a) Justice to be seen to be done regarding those who perpetrated the crimes. The Khmer Rouge have so far shown little remorse.

b) Those seeking to remove mines and restore the country to a decent living standard. Many Christian NGOs are involved.

c) Those caring for the maimed, the orphans, widows, and now AIDS victims.

d) A government that seeks the good of all, and is worthy of the trust of the people. Violence, manipulation, graft and selfishness hitherto have been the rule.

2 The spiritual darkness of Cambodia must be lifted by prayer. That darkness is shown by the ubiquitous spirit shrines, the strong opposition of Buddhism to any ideological rival and the moral collapse. The sex industry thrives, but a third of all prostitutes (an estimated 50,000) are children. Cambodia has the highest rate of child abandonment in SE Asia. HIV is spreading rapidly with 180,000 known to be infected in 1999 and 3,500 children born with HIV each year. Pray for the light of the gospel to so shine that the structures of society as well as individuals may be decisively changed.

3 The Cambodian Church has survived against all odds. Beginning in 1923, CMA missionaries laboured for 47 years before the breakthrough began. There were only 700 believers in evangelical churches in 1970, but by 1975 this had grown to 9-12,000. Only 2,000 survived the slaughter — many fled to Thai refugee camps where a great harvest was reaped for the Kingdom. During the 1990s churches spread to all 19 provinces. Pray for:

a) Freedom from government manipulation and interference, and wisdom in how to relate to the authorities.

b) Freedom and deep deliverance from past sin, hatred, suffering and abuse through faith in the precious blood of Jesus.

c) Children and young people to be effectively discipled in the churches. Few are equipped for this, yet over half the population is under 21.

d) Many Christian families to be raised up who can live for Christ as examples of his power to save and change.

e) A vision for the lost and to take the gospel to every person.

4 Mature leadership for the churches is the greatest challenge. The loss of so many educated people in the Khmer Rouge slaughter, and the dysfunctional society pushed many new Christians quickly into leadership before they were ready. Pray for:

a) The Bible schools — The Phnom Penh Bible School and the Cambodia For Christ (CFC) Ministry Training College are two key institutions.

b) Existing pastors — in 1999 there were 755 registered as such with the government, 200 with CFC. Pray for purity, power in the Spirit, and discernment in their ministry, and for their dependence in God rather than on foreign aid.

c) Unity. Only four bodies are recognized by the government with which all denominations must register — Cambodian Christian Evangelical Alliance, Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia, Cambodian Christian Federation and the Cambodian Baptist Convention. These are increasingly working together. Pray for this to be effective and a positive impact on the country. The Cambodian Church has had many problems with divisiveness.

5 Christian ministry to physical needs is a major concern.

a) Refugees poured out of Cambodia between 1975 and 1985. About 700,000 fled to Thailand, where many came to Christ in refugee camps. Many agencies have had a remarkable ministry there (SAO, YWAM, WVI, SBC, Christian Outreach, OMF, CMA and others). Some 350,000 moved on to the USA, France, Canada and other lands, where there are now dozens of Cambodian Christian fellowships. The remaining 350,000 had returned home by 1993 to rebuild their lives. They need much help.

b) The social needs are enormous. The murder of most of those with skills or an education makes expatriate input essential. Rehabilitation, orphanages, reconstruction, health care, projects for agriculture, fisheries, water management and education are all ministries where Christians have significant input. Pray for:

i) The 30 or more Christian NGOs (World Concern, Christian Outreach, World Relief, Food for the Hungry, Harvest International Services (HIS), SAO, OMF, CMA, WVI, AoG, YWAM, Mennonites and Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor).

ii) Effective cooperation among the Christian agencies.

iii) More long-term expatriate workers who learn the language and identify with the culture. Humanitarian ministries can fail in this and encourage only short-term involvement. Missionary visas are now being granted to such agencies as OMF, AoG, WVI and CMA.

iv) Spiritual and physical health of new workers and fruitfulness in ministry.

v) This land to open fully and remain open for all needed expatriate workers — especially pioneers, church planters and Bible teachers.

6 The less reached. There is a window of opportunity for the land that must be prayerfully kept open. Pray for:

a) The Buddhist majority. Though reviving, Buddhism has lost some of its monopolistic grip on the people.

b) The Cham are almost entirely Muslim. Probably 60% are deeply involved in spirit worship. They have increased rapidly in numbers. Few are Christians and there are no churches among them.

c) The tribal peoples. Only among the Mnong have significant numbers come to Christ. There are small, but growing churches among the Tampuan, Krung, Kravet and Jarai. Pray for an adequate survey of the need, and the calling of pioneers to reach them.

7 Christian media ministries. Pray specifically for:

a) Literature. CMA missionaries have translated a range of materials, and continue to do so. There is a real need for teaching materials, for false teachings abound. The largest church, the New Apostolic Church, is sectarian. The UBS and others are providing Khmer Bibles and New Testaments. A new Khmer Bible was completed in 1998. SGM Scripture portions are widely appreciated.

b) The JESUS film is being used in Khmer, Chinese and Vietnamese. Its greatest impact was through national television.

c) Christian radio. FEBC and CCCI have been allowed to broadcast 6 hours a week on local radio — a first! Lutheran Hour has also been given a similar opportunity. FEBC also broadcast from Manila in Khmer (12 hrs/wk) as well as in Jarai and Stieng. TWR have recently begun weekly broadcasts.

d) MAF has a plane servicing Christian work.

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1 Religious freedom is still not fully achieved. In the past, persecution was severe with many Christians imprisoned or killed and by manipulation through informers, infiltrators and imposters in the churches. The subversion of the Orthodox hierarchy was particularly widespread. Some leaders courageously suffered, others compromised—a fact that still breeds division, mistrust and lack of cooperation in Orthodox, Protestant and Pentecostal churches alike. Pray for repentance, reconciliation, healing and spiritual unity.

2 Some Orthodox leaders have orchestrated a virulent media campaign against non-Orthodox, and particularly Evangelicals. Accusations of cannibalism, extremism, links with crime and destruction of culture were levelled with no rebuttals allowed. This has led to violence by neo-Nazi gangs and governmental restriction or obstruction against non-Orthodox religious groups. Over 240 organizations have thus, in effect, been banned. This has slowed open evangelism, but it has also drawn evangelicals together. Pray for bridges of trust to be built between the major Christian bodies and an end to ongoing discrimination.

3 The Orthodox church needs renewal and new life. It has split into 3 denominations over leadership and political power and is trapped in a cycle of schism, corruption and compromise. This has created increased openness to consider a personal faith in Christ. There have been very few educated Bulgarians converted through evangelical Christian witness. Pray for a deep work of the Holy Spirit in the Bulgarian people.

4 The growth and maturation of evangelical denominations has been accelerated by the pressures of the 1990s. Pray for:

a) The Evangelical Alliance, formed in 1993 but only officially recognized in 1998, that it may be a united and prophetic voice for God in a divided and discouraged nation.

b) The Alliance for Saturation Church Planting, which seeks to coordinate evangelism and multiplication of congregations across the country.

c) The body of Christ. It is poised to play a significant part in the reconstruction of the country where 50% live below the poverty line, abortions far exceed the number of live births, and where hope for the future is rare.

5 Maturing the Church is a major challenge. Pray for:

a) Training of church leadership which was banned until 1990. Residential, TEE and informal training courses have multiplied, and a growing number of leaders released into ministry. Pray especially for the interdenominational Theological Evangelical Institute (formerly BBAL) which operates in both Sofia and Stara Zagora, also the various evangelical and Pentecostal theological schools, their staff and students, provision of finances, libraries and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

b) The right structures to enhance growth. The tendency is for autocratic, central leadership. Pray for a clearer vision for multiplying churches and plurality of leadership, thus avoiding personality clashes and denominational divisions. Networking and loving communication between leaders is a great need.

c) The discernment of doctrinal error. Every modern heresy and cult seems to have targeted the country — Mormons, Children of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, extreme “prosperity” teachings, as well as eastern cults. Christians are being swayed by every wind of doctrine.

d) Complete religious freedom for Evangelicals. Their ministry is hampered by constant obstructions in obtaining building sites, hiring meeting venues, negative press reports and harassment of any youth or children’s ministry.

e) The multiplicity of new indigenous agencies that have sprung up for reaching children, prisoners, and ethnic minorities, and for providing literature, Bibles, and Christian teaching in schools and camps. There are also international agencies setting up local branches — CEF, EHC, and the Gideons among others. The need for wise coordination and adequate funding mechanisms is urgent.

6 Cross-cultural missions vision is slowly growing. There are now six couples serving in Turkey. Pray for a greater awareness among Christians for the ethnic minorities in Bulgaria and sensitivity to their cultures. The Pentecostal denominations have an effective church planting ministry among the Gypsies, Millet and Pomaks.

7 Ethnic minorities have suffered severely at times at the hands of the Bulgarian majority. There continues to be considerable discrimination and both Turks and Gypsies have formed political parties to fight for their rights. Specifically pray for:

a) The Rumelian Turks who deeply resented the attempts of the Communist regime to forcibly Bulgarianize them in the 1980s. Their language, religion and culture are now fully recognized. Muslim missionaries have been working hard to make them better Muslims. Barely 150 evangelical believers are known among them, and only in 1999 did specific long-term church planting ministry commence (WEC and others). Pray for a significant breakthrough.

b) The Millet — an oppressed Turkish-speaking mix of Turk and Gypsy, yet among them during the 1990s occurred an astonishing people movement to Christ of about 10,000 all over the country. Up to 80% of these are women and children, most coming to faith by way of dreams, visions and healings. Pray for the conversion of men — largely unemployed and bound by alcohol. Pray for the freeing of many from the occultism that underlies their nominal Muslim faith. Pray too for Christians with knowledge of Turkish as they seek to disciple the many Christian groups (WEC, Ichthus Fellowship and Bulgarian national groups).

c) The Roma (Gypsies) who are generally despised and at the bottom of the social order with widespread illiteracy. About 60% are Orthodox and 40% Muslim, but most are still deeply involved in the occult, crime and gambling. Between 10,000 and 20,000 have turned to the Lord, mainly through the outreach of the Pentecostals and Baptists in the Bulgarian language. Others are linked to the indigenous Turkish-speaking movement. Pray for specific outreach to them. A third of all Roma use Romani as their first language. There is now a Romani New Testament.

d) The Pomaks (250,000), Bulgarian-speaking Muslims. A specific ministry is needed to reach them. They have an identity crisis — rejected both by Bulgarians (religion) and Turks (language). Several young congregations have been planted in the south.

e) The Jews. They were not persecuted during World War II, but many have migrated to Israel. There are only 8 believers known amongst them.

8 Foreign missions have found it hard to retain long-term workers because of visa and other problems. There is need for long-term missionaries and tentmakers who will learn the culture and language, stay long enough for mature ministry and earn the confidence of the people through effective role-modelling. The need is less for pioneer evangelism and more for providing teaching skills and support to an evangelistically-minded church. Pray for:

a) The calling of workers to serve in this day of opportunity. Visas are difficult to obtain.

b) Wisdom in the use of short-term visits and ministry. Too much has been done (and even undone) by enthusiastic, but ill-prepared, visitors on foray ministries. All needs to be integrated into a wider, coordinated strategy that has been developed indigenously.

c) Sensitive use of foreign funds. The chronic lack of finance and poverty of those in Christian work makes every infusion of funds a potentially damaging or distorting influence to the spiritual life of churches and individuals. Employment by foreign agencies can easily take away key workers from the ministries most needed by the church. Yet how vital such financial help is!

9 Ministry to young people is under-developed. Few churches know how to meet their needs which are so different from their Communist-era parents. Pray for freedom to evangelize and disciple young people in schools. CCCI has an active campus ministry. IFES has established student groups in 13 cities but have a great need for Bulgarian staff to coordinate and support student outreach.

10 Christian help ministries. Pray for lasting fruit from:

a) Literature. New Man became the first Bulgarian Christian publisher with a vision for producing solid evangelical books, Scripture aids and teaching/evangelistic materials. There are four Christian bookstores (CLC, Berean Publishers). Pray for viability in the prevailing poverty. EHC has plans for a nation-wide literature distribution campaign. Effective cooperation between foreign and national literature agencies is needed.

b) Bible translation and distribution. Praise God for the registration of the Bulgarian Bible Society in 1993. The Bible Society has at last gained inter-confessional agreement for a new translation of the archaic Bulgarian Bible. Work has begun; pray for its rapid completion. Pray also for the continued impact of the Cyrillic Turkish NT and the Children’s Bible. Illiteracy among the Turk and Gypsy populations is a hindrance.

c) Christian radio and TV. TWR has a studio producing programmes in Bulgarian and Romani (the latter being a World by 2000 project). Studio 865 prepares TV programmes for local stations.

d) The JESUS film is available in Bulgarian, Romani, Romanian and Turkish; viewers are 25% of the population.

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Brazil (2)

5 Spiritism is a dynamic force for evil in Brazil. Not only is Brazil the largest Catholic country, but also the largest spiritist country in the world. It appeals to the emotions and offers physical healing; both traits make it an attractive alternative to traditional Christianity. In 1975 there were at least 14,000 spiritist centres guided by 420,000 mediums. There are seven million Brazilians practising Kardecism (‘high’ spiritism) and millions more practising Umbanda and Macumba (‘low’ spiritism with African roots). A majority of Brazilians are involved — most still claiming to be Christian. Pray both for Christians willing and spiritually equipped to minister to those bound by Satan, and for the deliverance of many.

6 The challenge of the less evangelized peoples. Pray for effective outreach and church planting in:

a) The squalid favelas. These slums are a highly visible blight in every major city — home to nearly 20 million poverty-stricken and needy people, and 20-25% of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo’s population. These lawless areas are rarely entered by the police and are hotbeds of crime, drugs, violence, prostitution and disease. AIDS is a major problem.

b) The northeast, which is poor and underdeveloped and also has Brazil’s lowest percentage of Evangelicals. About 15 million people live in the poor Sertão but only 3% are Evangelicals. There is a great exodus of poor to the Amazon and the cities of the southeast. Pray for wise Christian relief and development through an effective Brazilian and expatriate missionary presence.

c)  The Amazon basin, which is larger than the whole of non-Russian Europe, and is of global importance because of its oxygen-generating forests and huge biodiversity. It is also spiritually needy. The challenges for outreach are the pioneer settlements springing up along new roads through the forests and the 36,000 yet unchurched river communities accessible only by boat. UFM, AoG, Baptists, YWAM and others are involved with MAF support in some areas. Church planting is made difficult by the relative poverty, loss of key members to cities, and geographical isolation.

d) The cities. Though they have numerous churches, cities also contain ethnic minorities and the nation’s elite which are far less reached. Pray that the Church may find effective means to break through into these groups.

e) The Japanese. Over 60% are Roman Catholic but only 3% Protestant. In 1992 there were 80 evangelical churches with 7,000 adult Japanese believers, with little increase since then. Pray for the witness of the Japan Holiness Church (OMSI), Japan Evangelical Mission and UFM. Many Brazilian Japanese have gone to Japan as low-paid labourers — the Holiness Church has sent missionaries to work amongst them.

f) The 180,000 Chinese who live largely in São Paulo, where there are 12 small evangelical congregations, but the percentage of Christians (1.7%) is low. By contrast, there are more than 42 churches for the 60,000 Koreans.

7 The under-18s are over 50% of the population. There is a widespread gap in ministry to children and young people both inside and beyond the churches. Pray specifically for:

a) Children in crisis. Remember before the Lord:

i) The 10 million children who make their living from the streets. Pray for the many churches and agencies which have orphanages, homes of refuge, rehabilitation and training ministries (YWAM, UFM, WH, WEC, AM, etc.).

ii) The hundreds of thousands of street kids who have no home and are subject to drug abuse, prostitution, misuse by criminal gangs and even murder by police death squads (over 1,500 murders every year).

iii) The 7 million child labourers.

iv) The 500,000 involved in prostitution.

v) The 540,000 already infected with the AIDS virus in 1999.

Pray also for Christians to be active in social action to address the spiritual and economic causes.

b) Young people who face many pressures — especially in university. There are about 1,700,000 students in 851 universities. Pray for more workers to minister to them. The CCCI and Navigators are active, and the ABU(IFES) is having a significant impact with groups in most universities. They help students come to the Lord, build them up in the Word and encourage missionary vision. The ABU has a ministry to Christian graduates.

c) Appropriate ministry for children and young people in the churches. There is a huge gap in this area in the majority of congregations. Without this the next generation will be, at best, poorly discipled or nominal in their faith and, at worst, reject their parents’ faith.

8 The indigenous Amerindians, as elsewhere in the Americas, have had a long history of prejudice, oppression, massacres and exploitation that continues to this day. There are now protective laws for the remaining small tribal groups but they are rarely applied. The continued survival of these peoples is threatened by encroaching woodcutters, gold prospectors and ranchers. Their cultures are disintegrating through despair, disease, alcohol abuse and suicide. The six million indigenous peoples of 1500AD now number 240,000 with many reduced to small bands in inaccessible areas of the Amazon basin. Pray for:

a) A change in attitude on the part of Brazilians, and wise balance on the part of government agencies, in protecting existing cultures and their integration into national life. Tragically it is often those appointed to ‘protect’ them who become the chief oppressors and exploiters.

b) A reversal of restrictions on mission work among them. In 1978 the ministry of SIL in 41 tribes, NTM in 20 and UFM in 5 was severely curtailed. This was triggered by anti-Christian anthropologists, land-grabbers, gold-diggers and corrupt officials. Pray that this unholy alliance may be thwarted in their hindering of evangelism, church planting and Bible translation. There has been some easing of restrictions over the past decade.

c) Christian agencies ministering to them. There are nearly 1,000 national and expatriate workers in ministry among Amerindians. Pray for an increased commitment to this ministry by Brazilians — they face fewer hassles. Pray for the work of NTM with 251 missionaries in 17 tribes (targeting a further 22), SIL in 45, UFM in 7, SAM in 4, YWAM in 2 and various Brazilian agencies. Pray also for sensitivity in applying the gospel message in ways that are biblical yet give pride in their language and culture.

d) Bible translationSIL, the Brazilian ALEM and NTM have made a large investment of effort, time and personnel into this ministry. Over 55 translation projects are in hand and a further 56 languages need surveys to clarify their need for translators. Over 19 languages are on the verge of extinction.

e)  The unreached. About 40 small tribal groups totalling around 5,000 people have yet to be contacted with the gospel. A total of 131 are listed as still without viable congregations of evangelical believers. Pray for their complete evangelization and the preservation of the integrity of their societies.

f) The Yanomami with some 15,000 people straddle the Brazil-Venezuela border. Their land has been invaded, despoiled and poisoned by illegal gold-diggers. Over 2,000 have been killed in clashes with settlers. Many powerful bodies seek the expulsion of missionaries working among them.

g) The Guarani on the Paraguay border number 30,000 but have been deprived of their lands so frequently that they are rapidly dying out through a wave of suicides, tuberculosis and malnutrition. There are only about 300 known believers.


9  The role of missionaries has changed over the years. The most important ministries for missionaries today are in leadership training, preparing Brazilian missionaries and in pioneer work in the Amazon region. Missions with the largest number of workers: YWAM (1,068, 93% Brazilian), NTM (451, 58% Brazilian), IMB-SBC (267), SIL/WBT (177), Baptist Mid-Mission (177), ABWE (135), UFM (121), AoG (115, 20% Brazilian), LL (58), Chs of Christ/Christian Chs (57), MAF (53), Brethren (52), WEC (52, 54% Brazilian), BMS-UK (48), CBI (39), GMU (35). Pray for the wise and strategic deployment of the missionary force to the best advantage of the Brazilian Church.

10 Praise God for the rapid growth and maturing of the Brazilian missions movement. Brazil has become a major missionary-sending nation. Pray for:

a) The AMTB — an association of cross-cultural missionary agencies that links many of the 2,000 cross-cultural Brazilian missionaries serving in 92 agencies and 85 nations.

b) Brazilian missionaries — their recruitment, effective training and preparation for the field and their long-term survival and fruitfulness in cross-cultural situations.

c) Christian congregations to increase their long-term commitment to pray for, send and support missionaries. The danger is that initial enthusiasm can quickly fade, and inflation erode promised financial support. General attitudes to cross-cultural missions have changed little during the 1990s.

d) The Associação de Conselhos Missionários de Igrejas (ACMI), founded in 1990, which aims to help local churches set up viable missions structures, programmes and channelling mechanisms.

11 Christian literature. Brazil’s most widely sold books are about magic and the occult. The evangelical community, as a whole, reads one book per person per year, though the rate of Bible reading is high — 84% of Evangelicals read it every day. Pray for change through:

a) Christian publishers such as the two large AoG publishing houses, JUERP (Baptist Conv), EVN (New Life, CBI), Betânia (Bethany Fellowship), Mundo Cristão (EUSA) and ABEB (IFES). Most of these operate under the umbrella of the Evangelical Literature Committee of Brazil.

b) Bible distribution which increased markedly in the ‘90s. The Bible Society has massive sales of Bibles and portions of Scripture, distributing over one million Bibles and 142 million portions or leaflets annually. The Gideons distributed 10 million NTs and a further 17.2 million copies of the leaflet ‘New Life for the ‘90s’.

12 Christian media — for prayer:

a) The JESUS film has been widely used and over half the Brazilian population has seen it. The video version has been successful among professionals. The film is in preparation in two indigenous Amerindian languages. Pray for those who respond and for their integration into Bible study groups and churches.

b) Radio. Brazilian Evangelicals operate numerous TV stations and local and national radio stations. The wide use of these media can lead to abuse. Internationally, TWR Bonaire, KYFR USA, and HCJB Ecuador beam in 226 hours of broadcasts per week. Projeto Luz (700 Club) gains huge audiences across the country. Pray for lasting impact.

c) Cassettes. GRN have prepared tapes in 90 indigenous languages.

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Brazil (1)

1 The government continues to dodge the painful restructuring and righting the wrongs of the past. It is said Brazil is a paradise for some, purgatory for most and hell for 20%. Pray that the endemic corruption, cronyism, injustices of society and discrimination — against the poor, underprivileged children and indigenous tribal peoples — may be ended.

2 The Catholic Church is in crisis. Brazil is the world’s largest Catholic country with nearly 10% of all Catholics. Annual losses of 600,000 to Evangelicals and to spiritism continue. Only 13% of Catholics are active in their commitment; nominalism and spiritism are rife among those who profess. Change must come, but the ‘Base Community’ movement, once two million-strong, has lost much of its cutting edge. Widespread espousal of liberation theology in the 1970s and 1980s faded with increased prosperity and democracy. Positive changes are these:

a) Vocations to the priesthood among Brazilians have increased and now only 23% of the 15,300 priests are foreign.

b) The growth of the charismatic movement continues apace with over 15 million active participants.

c) The successes of evangelical denominations have stimulated a more people-friendly, contemporary worship and ministry, and a greater growth of Evangelical Catholics as well as traditional mass attendance.

Pray that the Bible and its truths may mould the lives of Catholics.

3 Challenges facing Brazilian Evangelicals. Intercede for the following:

a) Relevance and a prophetic voice in Brazilian society. Evangelistic vision is rarely extended to a vision to bring a message of righteousness to a society ravaged by inequality, injustice, selfishness, crime, immorality and AIDS. Evangelicals have increased their political leverage, but there have been many evidences of carnality as well as moral and ethical failure among those with a high public profile. Pray that they may use their growing influence wisely and in biblical holiness and humility.

b) Spiritual depth. Success rather than holiness has spawned many unhealthy trends: an overemphasis on healing and prosperity, a ‘worshipping’ of large numbers with much exaggeration, a great zeal for evangelism but less concern for retaining or discipling in depth those who seek help. The result is over-evangelized but underfed converts, many petty legalisms, a growing Pentecostal nominalism, and an enormous rate of backsliding with millions of ex-Evangelicals now disillusioned with Christianity.

c) Godly servant leadership accountable to those to whom they minister. Some leaders have sought political and ecclesiastical power, fame and selfish gain. There have been too many widely-publicized scandals and moral failures.

d) Effective modelling and training for those called to Christian ministry. Only a minority of the 75,000 evangelical congregations are led by those with basic theological training. In 1992 there were 321 seminaries and institutes where over 12,000 were being trained for ministry and also 275 AoG Bible schools with over 12,000 students. This has greatly increased — over 7,000 were being trained in Baptist seminaries by 1999, but all forms of theological training need to be increased to provide the Church with pastoral care and biblical leadership. Too few are willing to serve where the need is greatest.

e) Unity. There are anywhere between 400 and 4,000 denominations among Evangelicals. Unresolved inter-personal relationships, jealousies and hatreds have weakened their voice. Pray for the Evangelical Association of Brazil, founded in 1991, that it may be a means of fostering lasting unity, fellowship and prayerful cooperation.

4 Goals for the new Millennium. A visionary conference sponsored by Projeto Brasil 2010 and associated with DAWN was a catalyst for an unprecedented unity and cooperative commitment to national goals for prayer and action:

a) Thousands of new churches to be planted as a multi-denominational national initiative. In order that there be a church for every 1,000 urban dwellers and a church for every rural and river community, there must be 250,000 congregations by 2010.

b) Adoption of, and church planting among, the 139 Amerindian tribal groups still unreached.

c) A focus on the hundreds of Brazilian towns and municipalities with less than 1% Evangelicals. Nearly all of these are in the north-east.

d) Adoption of 173 unreached peoples in other lands

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