Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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The Global Prayer Digest is a daily devotional encouraging prayer for Unreached Peoples. A ministry of Frontier Ventures (formerly the US Center for World Mission), this devotional is available as a daily subscription from the GPD website (see link above).
Keith Carey, the editor-in-chief of the Global Prayer Digest, has graciously given me permission to post their daily devotions here in order to encourage more prayer for the Unreached Peoples. Please join in the prayer for the gospel to go to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14). If you find these devotions helpful, you can subscribe to their daily e-mail or to the printed publication - or just check them out here on Pray.Network! Past monthly issues of the GPD are also available on their site.
(This story illustrates aspects of the lives of this people group.)
Inside the Gypsy tent Amoun massaged her feet after a night of dancing to entertain men. She felt terribly unlucky to be born a Domari Gypsy. She overheard someone say, “They are the most despised people in the Middle East.” This reputation follows the Domari Gypsies wherever they migrate. They are viewed as intruders, outsiders who are blamed and mistrusted. Because of their transient lifestyle, they are not counted in official statistics. That means they are denied education and healthcare. Amoun’s people often die of simple diseases.
However, Amoun felt fairly lucky to live in Iran. Domari Gypsies who live in nearby Syria and Iraq are trying to flee ISIS. Because they are Domari Gypsies, they receive even worse treatment than they do in Iran. Domari Gypsies in Iran number nearly 1.34 million.
The term “gypsies” often refers to a lifestyle, but in fact, they are comprised of diverse ethnic groups. The Domari Gypsies call themselves Rom, which in their language means “men.” Rom is derived from the Indian word Dom, meaning “a man of low caste who gains his livelihood by singing and dancing.” Years ago Indian leaders sent the Gypsies to Persia to be entertainers, and they still continue this vocation. Having originated in India, they hold to the Hindu caste system. On that rating system, they are at rock bottom. Following the religion of the Iranians, they hold to Shi’ite Islam.
Pray that Iranian believers will overcome enmity they may feel toward the Gypsies and share the promise of new life with them.
Daniel 5:30-31, NIV
That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.
Pray that just as God deposed Belshazzar and raised up Darius, He will do the same in today’s world with those who oppose His will.
(This story illustrates attitudes of this people group.)
The Romani Gypsy boy spent a lot of time wishing. He wished that when he grew up he could play string instruments as beautifully as his father. It was their clan trade. Even more so, he wished that he could be one of the normal Iranians who summoned families like his to play at weddings and baptisms. His mother, a fortune teller by trade, had informed him that he was to be a successful metal worker one day, but for today he was to help his family by stealing, also a clan trade. He wished that store owners wouldn’t call the police when Gypsies entered their premises; but stealthy pickpocketing is what Gypsies do well, and people know it.
There are 34,000 Balkan Romani Gypsies in Iran. The history of the Balkan Gypsies is different from that of the Middle Eastern Domari Gypsies. Centuries ago, the Balkan Gypsies migrated from India and first settled in Europe’s Balkan Mountains. Under Hitler’s Nazi regime, they were treated with suspicion, discrimination, and even put to death. Then some of them moved on to Iran. Now they live a more settled lifestyle than many other Gypsies; but they are much poorer than the Iranians. Like the people of Iran, they embrace Shi’ite Islam. Nearly 200 follow Jesus.
Pray that Romani Gypsy house churches will thrive in Iran. Pray that God will give them His vision for how to live under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Daniel 6:3-4, NIV
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.
Pray for believers today to distinguish themselves in such a way that God will be glorified, and no one can find any hint of dishonesty.
Descendants of the ancient Medes, the Gurani Kurds have occupied the same area from as early as 2400 B.C. Though the Medes’ Empire flourished between 900 and 500 B.C., Arabs conquered most of the Kurdish area in the seventh century. This led to a mass conversion to Islam. These people live in Kurdistan, the land where Kurds are the majority that straddles four countries. The Gurani Kurds are farmers renowned for their military prowess.
Kurdistan has been the site of many wars in recent history. In the 1980s Kurdistan was the battlefield for the Iran-Iraq war. Not long after that, the Persian Gulf War created another crisis. Recently Kurdistan has become a battle-zone for ISIS as they seek to dominate the land on the way to Iraq. The Kurds have fought hard, suffering many losses along the way.
The majority of Gurani are Muslim, with adherents to both the Sunni and Shi’ite branches of Islam. There are no Christian resources in the Gurani language, and there are few known believers. There are great physical and spiritual needs amongst the Gurani Kurds.
Pray that food and medicine will become available to them. Pray for safety and security for Kurds as the war with ISIS continues. Pray for open doors for ministry, and that Gurani Kurds would receive a clear presentation of the gospel. Pray that they would encounter the love and power of Christ.
Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed ... just as he had done before.
Pray that the Father will give His messengers wisdom to discern when the conflict is real and unavoidable. Pray that they will have boldness to act with courage and conviction.
Do you like walnuts? Today we are going to pray for a people who work in what the United Nations calls the world’s biggest walnut orchard; it has 700 trees! In the north of Iran on the southern slopes of the Alborz Mountains, sits the quaint town of Shamirzad. Walnuts are the chief export of Shamirzad. All Shahmirzad residents are given proprietary rights in the orchard, determined by how much land they own. In 2006, the census recorded the town’s permanent population at 7,273 people, though that number can skyrocket to 40,000 during the summer months, as tourists visit to experience Shamirzad’s beautiful gardens and lovely climate.
Many people of diverse ethnic backgrounds have called Shamirzad home. A large group of these have seasonally settled in the towns of nearby Mazandaran Province. During the last decade, many Muslim, Baha’i, and Shahmirzadi Jews migrated to the larger cities of Iran and of the world at large, even coming to the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Shahmirzadi are without a doubt an unreached people group. There is no information available on evangelistic progress, nor on Christian resources in the Shahmirzadi language.
Pray for a spiritual awakening amongst the Shahmirzadi that rocks the nation of Iran. Pray that the Shahmirzadi people will learn of the goodness of God and of his kingdom. Pray for missionaries to be burdened for this people group, small as it is. Pray for relationships to be built and in-roads to be laid, as workers go forth.
Daniel 6:21-22, NIVDaniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
Pray for God’s supernatural deliverance for those standing up for the ways of Christ in Iran.
The majority of Iran’s 300,000 Shahsevan people live in small villages or towns in various parts of northwest Iran near the city of Arbabil. Some have migrated to central Iran settling near Saveh, a city that is about 50 miles south of Tehran. They no longer follow their tribal rules and methods due to suppression by the Iranian government. Only about 50,000 still live as pastoral nomads. These Shahsevans speak Azerbaijani Turkish. Like their ancestors they primarily raise flocks of sheep and goats and sell products made from the milk of these animals.
Shahsevan women are known for their outstanding colorful and intricate flat-woven rugs, storage bags, and blankets. Their distinctive carpets are identified by the number of “Turkish Knots” placed on the back of the rugs. The Shahsevan carpets from Saveh, Iran have the finest quality pattern among carpets made by nomadic people. These rugs are in high demand and are very expensive. The rugs have sustained their families, as the men who live in the cities often work at low-paying odd jobs.
Shahsevans are Shi’ite Muslims, and there are no known followers of Christ among them. It will be very difficult to reach them for Christ without someone to tell them the good news of the gospel. How will they hear unless someone is sent?
Pray that through business contacts related to selling their carpets, the Shahsevans will hear God’s word and find new life in knowing and living by the commandments of Jesus and accepting His gift of salvation.
So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Pray for the Lord to raise up elderly disciples with the wisdom of Daniel to help Iran to step away from the destructive path they are now taking.
Curiosity got the better of an Israeli woman who was chatting with an elderly Jewish man at a bus stop in Old Jerusalem, and she asked an impolite question. “You have an unusual accent. Where are you from? I have never heard Hebrew spoken like this.”
The bus was not due to arrive for 20 minutes, so the old man had time to tell her how he left Iran to go to Israel. “My language is Hulaulá, and my people were forced out of Iranian Kurdistan in 1954. Like other Hulaula Jews I was active in the Zionist Movement. Now there are 200,000 of us here in Israel. We are good farmers, and we have started 30 farming villages in this country.”
“And that’s not all. There are still about 300 Hulaula Jews living in Iranian Kurdistan, and most of them are farmers, too. Several of my friends are still in Iran. And their Kurdish neighbors like them more than they like the Iranians! But now that most of us live in Israel, we have turned our backs on Orthodox beliefs; we no longer follow God’s Torah and His laws.” The bus came, and the conversation was ended.
Pray that Christ’s followers in Iranian Kurdistan and Israel will be able to reach the hearts of the Hulaula Jewish people so that they will know the glory of God, His Word, and the saving grace of Jesus.
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Pray for the believers in Iran to remember that no matter what happens now, they are on the winning side. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give them joy and hope in the midst of the trials they now face.
— Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent to ASSIST News Service
Al-Rashid was the commander of a fanatical Islamic group that sought to convert everyone to Islam and make nations fall under Islamic rule. He was angered by reports of Muslims converting to Christianity and spreading the gospel. So he formed a special task force to track down the Christian leaders who were responsible, and convert or kill them.
Rashid heard about Pastor Paul, a former Muslim and the leader of a group of ministries boldly evangelizing Muslims in Asia and the Middle East. Pastor Paul and his team were distributing Bibles in many languages and forming underground house churches in restricted countries.
Al-Rashid developed a plan to kill Pastor Paul’s family first, then capture the Christian leader, force him to convert back to Islam, and use him as a propagandist against Christianity. They made many attempts. “We attacked them several times,” Rashid recounted, “and miraculously they escaped.” Once they initiated a plan to kill the family at night, but saw what appeared to be soldiers or gunmen stationed around their house, so they backed off.
Rashid discovered the family lacked adequate food and their children were hungry and weak. So he sent a woman to deliver poisoned food to them. But on the way to their house a dog bit the woman, seriously injuring her, and she never arrived. They sent a second woman with poisonous chocolate to give Pastor Paul’s children. The pastor’s daughter got very sick.
Pray for God to deliver those being oppressed for their faith in such a way that violent men will see the hand of God at work.
1 Timothy 4:1-2, NKJV
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,…
Pray for the Lord to protect true believers from those who will try to deceive and derail them from faith in the One Lord and Savior.
Something happened that amazed Rashid. “I saw a ball of light come down from the sky and stand over the room where his daughter was lying unconscious,” he says.
To his utter disbelief he watched a hand come from the ball of light, touch the pastor’s daughter, and she immediately regained consciousness and stood up. He was astonished to see a hole in the middle of the hand and that blood was flowing down.
After this unusual incident Rashid found it difficult to sleep. When he attempted to drift off, a vision of the hand entered his mind. The following night a shadow of a human face appeared with the hand and asked him why he was “nailing him.” “I lost my peace,” Rashid recalls.
Surprisingly, Rashid had a Bible in his room that he was using to find verses to criticize Christianity. He opened the Bible and his eyes fell on this verse: “That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” (John 1:9-10 KJV) “I understood it was about Jesus,” he says. He realized the ball of light that came from above was actually Jesus, who suffered when he was nailed to the cross.
Pray for the Light of the World to penetrate the hearts of violent terrorists throughout the Middle East and North Africa.— Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent to ASSIST News Service
2 Timothy 4:14, NKJV
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.
Pray for missionaries to not hold back on calling evil what it is and warning others to beware of those who stand against the gospel. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give them divine forgiveness for their persecutors.
His heart softened, Rashid went to see Pastor Paul and shared everything with him. He was surprised when Pastor Paul embraced him, with tears running down his face. “I was once an enemy of Jesus Christ, but He loved me,” Pastor Paul said. “He was crucified — gave His life for me—then He rose from the dead. Because of His love I can love you. I believe Jesus Christ Himself brought you here to share this love and to find salvation. Jesus is the prince of peace, and He will give you peace. Accept Him as your Savior,” he exhorted.
Rashid surrendered his heart to Jesus Christ and was born again. “I accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior, was baptized and received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and I’m evangelizing people through “Bibles for Mideast,” he says. He has become one of their key leaders.
“Thousands of Muslims are secretly believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior. They don’t have Bibles, and the rulers do not allow them to get Bibles. The Bible is totally prohibited in certain countries. But people are so thirsty for the Word of God.” Many have taken refuge in Christ, are doing evangelism, and pastoring house churches.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of tens of thousands of Muslims this coming year.
— Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent to ASSIST News Service
1 Timothy 1:13-14, NKJV
… although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus.
Pray for the Lord to raise up thousands of blasphemers and persecutors to take His Name to the unreached nations of the Muslim World.
In a land of contrasts--light and darkness, hope and desolation--once again God is shining His light into hearts resulting in eternal life and transformation! Recently Elam Ministries reported that in one region of Iran, there have been two large baptisms with over 240 Iranians committing their lives to Jesus Christ. Though technically closed to evangelism, God has blessed Iran with people who have open hearts for the gospel of His kingdom. Today Iranians are perceived as the most spiritually open Muslim people group in the world.
Elam Ministries trains believing leaders for fruitful ministry in Iran. It equips the Iranian church with Bibles and resources for evangelism and discipleship. Elam sends trained evangelists, church planters, and media personnel for the Kingdom’s growth and extension.
Getting a New Testament in Iran is difficult. It is illegal, and the religious police are watching. “But the church has its ways,” Christian News and Insight from Elam Ministries reports. When someone requests a Bible, it gets well used in Iran. Typically when someone reads the Bible, God changes him, and his family becomes interested in why that person is changing for the better. Soon they are reading the Bible together, and a house church begins.
Thank the Lord for this interest in the Bible in Iran! Pray that God’s Word, including the children’s Action Bible, reaches the hands and hearts of Iranians, and results in lives transformed by the love of Christ.
—Diane Tolsma, Guest writer
1 Timothy 2:3-4, NKJV
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Pray that those who are training others to take the gospel to the unreached will make it clear that God wants all to be saved and to experience His truth and love.
Fabian led the visitor into the basement of the house in Iran. “This is where we meet for church,” said Fabian. The visitor saw a group of men and women sitting in chairs. “Have you people really seen Jesus?” asked the visitor. A woman named Aishia spoke. “I had a dream. I heard a voice speaking out of a glowing light. A man was calling me to come.” Aishia thought for a moment and then continued. “I later realized that was Jesus.” Then a woman named Behi spoke. “When I began reading the Bible, I had trouble understanding it. Then I saw Jesus in a dream and he told me to read the Gospels, because those books would be easier to understand.” The visitor heard many such stories that day. All of these people had once been Shi’ite Muslims.
The above hypothetical story is typical of what’s happening all over Iran. God is using dreams to reveal Himself to people searching for spiritual truth and righteousness. There are many people in Iran who have seen Jesus in their dreams. Many such people have become followers of Jesus Christ.
Pray that God would continue to use dreams to reveal Himself to those with spiritual hunger in Iran. Ask God to break the hold that Islam has on the people groups of Iran. Pray that persecution will only spur new believers on to share Christ’s spiritual answers with others.
Matthew 1:20, NET
When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Pray that the Lord will reveal His will to Iranian Muslims in such a way that they will look to the Scriptures and find their Savior.
Where’s the fastest growing church in the world? Answer: Iran. According to Open Doors, USA, thousands of people are accepting Christ each year in Iran. According to Mohabat News, there may be as many as one million people involved in the underground house church movement in Iran. Most are young, and 70 percent are female.
Why are people leaving Islam in an Islamic theocracy? People in Iran see the hypocrisy of the government-run form of religion. Shi’ite Islam was founded by Hussein, who was martyred. Ironically his ways are held high by a government that oppresses its own people. In another bit of irony, Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, is sometimes called “the greatest Christian missionary” to have served in Iran since he drove so many to Christ!
When Iranians decide to follow Christ, they cannot meet in church buildings. These are easy for the government to monitor. Instead, they go to house churches. No government can keep an eye on every home.
In house churches, people are discipled in the ways of Jesus. Everyone is expected to share how God is moving in their lives right now. Believers are also expected to witness to others, and having seen the false spirituality of their government, Iranian Muslims are often looking for other spiritual answers.
Pray for the house churches to have all the biblical materials they need to disciple believers. Pray for the house church planting movement to grow and remain true to Jesus.
Acts 20:9-10, NET
A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, was sinking into a deep sleep while Paul continued to speak for a long time. Fast asleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. But Paul went down, threw himself on the young man, put his arms around him, and said, “Do not be distressed, for he is still alive!”
Pray for the Lord to work in marvelous ways in Iran’s house churches. Pray for thousands of Muslims to join house churches this coming year.