Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
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 fictional account is meant to portray the challenges facing this people group.)
Khaled was certain something was wrong with his friend Yasser. Yasser was usually happy and loud, especially right after their prayer time at the mosque. He asked, “What’s the matter, Yasser?”
“I met someone today,” Yasser answered. “Oh...! A girl!” “No. Not a girl.” “Then who?”
Yasser paused, face to the ground as they continued their walk home. Finally, he said, “Do you really believe that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet?”
“What?! Of course! I’m an Arab!” “I met someone today who told me something different. And it is troubling me.” “What did they tell you?” “You have to promise not to speak a word of this to anyone.” “Promise.” “He told me about the prophet Isa...”
Choosing to trust in Isa (Jesus) in Yemen is very dangerous. The few Gulf Arabs who are following Jesus must do so in secret, and they can potentially face death if others find out.
Pray for the Lord to use the internet and digital technology to reach the Gulf Arabs of Yemen with His message of love and salvation. Ask the Lord to give Yemeni believers boldness and opportunities to share their faith with their Muslim friends and families. Pray for disciples to make other disciples until the Holy Spirit transforms Gulf Arab communities in Yemen and beyond.
James 3:18, NLV
And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Make this your prayer for the Gulf Arabs in Yemen.
Could the key to evangelizing the Omani Arabs of Yemen involve reaching a member of a terrorist group? Scripture tells us that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” He seems to delight in confounding human wisdom.
The Apostle Paul is a great example. Known for zealously persecuting Christ’s followers, Paul had a radical encounter with God and became a powerful tool in the hand of the Almighty. God used him to write much of the New Testament and to jumpstart the spread of faith in Jesus Christ. Human wisdom would have said that Paul was a terrible choice to be God’s ambassador. But God had other plans.
Human wisdom might also say members of extremist groups would be terrible choices to preach the gospel. Yet imagine an Islamic terrorist having a radical encounter with God and then zealously sharing his faith with Omani Arabs! Perhaps that’s what it will take to introduce this people group to their Savior.
Pray for God to use whatever means necessary—no matter how unlikely or unorthodox—to get the gospel to the Omani Arabs in Yemen. Pray for the safety of those who carry this message and for the successful birth and growth of God’s church among them. Ask for many Omani Arabs to put their faith in Christ and disciple others.
Acts 9:3-6, NLT
As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Pray for many zealous Muslims who think violence will increase spirituality to encounter the Prince of Peace who transforms hearts.
(This story illustrates things that can happen to this people group.)
Little Ammar ran home, proud of his gift. He burst through the tent to find his mother lying motionless. “Momma!” he shouted, “I found bread for you!” He thrust the local Yemeni bread at her parched lips. The Iraqi refugee weakly opened her eyes. Her starving mind was so cloudy she thought she was preparing a return to her homeland, instead of the impending flight from Yemen to yet another country.
The Iraqi refugee crisis is the largest in Western Asia in 60 years. Iraqis fled everywhere, even to crisis countries like Yemen. In Yemen there is little clean water, not enough food or medicine, and no stability. In 2016, humanitarian aid agencies estimated that 21.1 million people in Yemen—80 per cent of the population—required some form of humanitarian assistance. Overwhelmed UN agencies do not screen Iraqis for refugee status nor process them for resettlement. Last year, nearly 50 percent of the total civilian casualties reported worldwide come from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. And so, the Iraqi refugees’ flight continues.
While the majority of Iraqi Christians fled to friendly countries like Jordan, still nearly 39,000 Iraqi Muslim refugees fled to Yemen.
Pray for the Lord to move on behalf of suffering Iraqis. Ask the Lord to call Iraqi believers to take His gospel to Muslims in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
Gen 45:20, NLT
Don’t worry about your personal belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.
As we approach Christmas, let’s remember to pray for abundant blessings for suffering people like today’s Iraqi refugees, so that they will not lack food or shelter this winter.
“May they have courage!” Struggling to stand from her prayer mat, the faithful intercessor wipes tears from her eyes. The Lord had given her an important mission—to intercede for the Palestinian Arabs in Yemen. She knows there are very few Christ-followers among them; these Arabs resist the gospel due to societal restrictions and antagonism. She understands that intercession is the key to reaching them.
Meanwhile in Yemen, Abdel wakes in a sweat, wiping the tears from his eyes. He’s had another dream about Jesus! He is convinced by his dreams that Jesus is the savior, but he knows there are serious consequences for following Jesus in his Muslim culture. Social life is extremely important to him, and he knows he could be ostracized if not killed. He needs courage!
Abdel represents the 30,000 Palestinian Arabs living in Yemen. They were displaced in the 1948 Palestine war, and dispersed from the West Bank to Yemen. Those in Yemen have settled in villages but are still tribal in their mindset. Ruled by sheiks (experts in Islam and foreign relations), their fortress-like villages keep out unwanted people. Even their houses are built facing the outside to strictly control visitors. They maintain strict customs and social rules.
Pray that the sheiks will soften their stance on followers of Christ and the message they bring. Pray that courage fills both those who have professed Christ, and those whom the Lord is calling.
Deut 31:6, NLT
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Pray that Palestinian Muslims who consider following Christ will understand that God will be with them in their difficult journey.
A group of Somalis got into a boat and set off from the shores of Yemen into the Red Sea. They were headed for Djibouti. In the distance they heard gunfire. The fighting in Yemen raged on, and they needed to get away. The boat slowly moved away from shore and day eventually became night. Then they could hear the putt-putt of a helicopter, and everyone in the boat cringed. The choppers fired machine guns and people aboard the boat died.
The above tragedy is often repeated in both Yemen and nearby Somalia. Many Somalis have been trying to flee from Yemen ever since the chaos began, but their own country is also in turmoil, as you will see when we pray for Somalia next month.
Almost all Somalis are Sunni Muslims, who look to the prophecies of Mohammed to bring them peace in a land of war. Almost none of them have heard that Jesus Christ can give them inner peace and life to the full.
Ask God to open the spiritual eyes of the Somalis in Yemen to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Ask God to break the hold that Islam has on this people group and replace it with a desire to do whatever it takes to find inner peace and the joy that comes from spiritual truth. Pray that someone will disciple the Somalis so that they can obey Christ.
Ps 147:14, NLT
He sends peace across your nation and satisfies your hunger with the finest wheat.
Pray this Christmas day that the Somalis will be blessed with both physical and spiritual sustenance.
(This story illustrates things that could happen among this people group.)
The Iranian family hid in the apartment building in Yemen, trying to stay away from the windows. Day became night and the gunfire died down. “I'm going out to get food,” said the father to his wife and children. He dashed out the door, into the debris ridden street. The man reached the dimly lit store and found the shelves empty. There would be no food for his family today.
Two factions fight for control of Yemen, one backed by Shi’ite Muslim Iran and the other backed by Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia. In recent years the world community has imposed a blockade on Yemen to stop the flow of arms into that country. Unfortunately, that blockade has also stopped the flow of food into Yemen. The Iranian community in Yemen has been especially hard hit by the food shortage, and starvation is now a real danger.
Pray for the restoration of food shipments to Yemen. Ask God to raise up faithful workers to take food and the message of salvation to the Iranians in Yemen. Pray that they will be discipled by those who love them and want them to experience the peace that transcends all understanding.
1 Pet 2:23, NLT
He did not retaliate when He was insulted, nor threaten revenge when He suffered. He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
Pray that Yemen will be the land where many Iranians and other Shi’ite Muslims learn forgiveness and reconciliation from Jesus Christ.
(This story illustrates things that could happen to this people group.)
Amir, a young Indian man, ran to the door of the Indian Embassy in Yemen. All of the windows had been shattered and there was broken glass everywhere. A sign on the door told Amir that the last boat had left Yemen for Djibouti days ago. He wept, knowing that he’d lost his last chance to escape the civil war in Yemen. That fighting has killed thousands of people, some of them South Asians from India. During April of 2015 India launched Operation Raabat, a boat evacuation of South Asians from Yemen to Djibouti, located just across the Red Sea from Yemen. India evacuated 4600 people during that operation, just before they closed their embassy in Yemen. But some South Asians were left behind, many of whom were married to Yemeni women. Others have taken their chances by taking high paying jobs in this war-torn country. Most of these Indian nationals are Sunni Muslims who do not look to Jesus for answers in this life and the life to come.
May the South Asians of Yemen find safety for their bodies and salvation for their souls. Pray that they will understand that only Jesus can pay for their sins, and that they owe Him their everything. Pray that they will learn His ways and take them back to India when they leave Yemen.
Eph 4:17-18, NLT
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him.
Pray for South Asians in Yemen to “learn and do” holy living as they hear of the Holy Lord.
(This story illustrates things that could happen to members of this people group.)
The Malay man stared at the ruins of his large house in Yemen. He hadn’t been home when the artillery shell hit the house. He didn't know which faction had destroyed his house and he didn't care. Perhaps he should return to Malaysia, the land of his ancestors. Then he shook that thought out of his head. He'd been born in Yemen and knew no one in Malaysia. The sound of gunfire caused the man to flee into the rubble that had once been his home. The piles of concrete would at least shield him from the soon coming bullets.
There have been Malay merchants in Yemen since the 1800s when both Malaysia and Yemen were British colonies. Most Yemeni Malays alive today have never been to Malaysia. They’d been born in Yemen and would feel very out of place in Malaysia or Singapore. Going to Malaysia is not an option for them.
Malays are Sunni Muslims who consider Jesus Christ to be a prophet, but not the only way to the Father.
Pray that a mission agency would send believers to the Malays in Yemen. Such people can provide spiritual and physical refuge for those who have lost their homes. Pray that the Malay people in Yemen would come to see Jesus Christ as the true source of salvation.
Eph 4:21-24, NLT
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Pray that Malay Muslims will “throw off” sinful behavior and allow their thoughts and attitudes to be renewed by a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Reaching Muslims for Christ can be difficult and even dangerous—not only for the missionaries, but also for Muslim background believers. There are harsh penalties, even death for those who stray from what the local community considers to be proper Islam. Even in the relatively liberal port cities, Christ cannot be proclaimed publicly without serious consequences, so workers must be discreet about what they share.
There is a team working in an Arabic-speaking port city that aims to see a church-planting movement established. Their method is to sow broadly, invest deeply, and seek people they can disciple to become church-planting leaders. This can potentially take off, and morph into a church planting movement, that will produce more and more disciples and fellowships. An ambitious but worthy goal!
Ask God to give team members breakthroughs in speaking a difficult language, insight into learning a different culture, and favor with local people. Pray for entire families to come to Christ together, since individual decisions are viewed as rebellion by decision makers. Pray that as the team shares the gospel, God will confirm their message to many Muslims with dreams and visions, and open people’s minds to the truth of who Jesus is. Pray that soon entire families and clans will decide together to follow Jesus Christ.
Hos 2:19, NLV
I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.
Pray that this effort by Christ’s ambassadors will result in many understanding that they can have God’s undying and perfect love just for the asking. Pray that many will!
In much of the Arab World, there is Arabic, the trade language, and also a heart language which they grew up with. In one country there is a team of workers who are developing an effective media tool to broadcast the gospel in a local dialect to millions who have never heard. They wish to use this tool to find people and families of peace who can introduce team members to spiritually hungry Muslims. This team ran several video ad campaigns sharing the good news. Almost 200 Muslims responded, wishing to meet personally with someone who follows Christ!
Many new believers are isolated. They don’t know any others who follow the Lord and they don’t know who is trying to trap them and force them to recant their new faith. As a result, many churches in the country don't have a place to meet.
Pray for entire families to follow Jesus and open their homes to the church without fear. Praise God that new believers are becoming bolder and are openly sharing their stories and their faces on social media. Pray that new believers and team members will be able to use and distribute these new tools to spread the blessings of Jesus. Pray for their protection as they are sometimes being harassed by the police. Pray that team members and Muslim background believers will be protected from sickness, injuries, and spiritual attacks.
Rev 14:6-7, NLT
And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal good news to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to Him. For the time has come when He will sit as judge. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”
Pray that these media tools will result in many from the Arab World deciding to follow the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
What would you dedicate 28 years of your life for? Do you think it’s worth 28 years of effort to translate the Scriptures for a language group of 3.5 million like the Kurdish Sorani speakers? Not all of these 28 years were spent doing translation, however. Most Sorani speaking Kurds live in Iraq where war has interrupted their daily lives off and on for years. Other Sorani speakers live in Iran, a more peaceful country where the gospel is forbidden by the Islamic government.
Hans Combrink of an International Bible society called Biblica describes the new Sorani translation as being both contemporary and accurate. It is a complete translation, including everything from Genesis to Revelation.
What happens next? Though Sorani speakers are Muslims like almost all Kurds, there are Christ-worshipping fellowships among them that need the Scriptures in their heart language. Since the Kurds live in a land that straddles the Arab, Iranian and Turkish world, they have the potential to be salt and light to all three of these major Muslim blocs.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to thrust out hundreds of Kurdish believers to be salt and light to Arabs, Iranians, and Turks. Thank Him for providing the Scripture to this Muslim people group. Pray that it will help Sorani speakers to understand the One True God. Pray for Sorani speakers to disciple others until there is an unstoppable Disciple-Making Movement among Kurds.
Heb 12:24, NLT
You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.
Pray for the Kurds, who have been wronged by so many, and often crave revenge on their enemies. Pray that the word of God will give them the power to forsake revenge and forgive as Christ forgave them.
January, 2019 Introduction
Somalia: Land of Piracy, Pollution, and No Principles
—by Keith Carey, editor-in-chief, GPD
“Decades of civil hostilities have virtually destroyed Somalia’s economy and infrastructure. It has split the country into areas under the rule of various entities. When Somalia’s tenuous transitional administration handed power to a new government in 2012, the newly declared Federal Republic of Somalia had only limited control over the country.”—Encyclopedia Britannica
Today’s (2019) Somalia is divided into at least two different countries (Somaliland and Puntland); but it can really be divided into a series of state-lets, much like Yemen, the country we prayed for last month. This is surprising considering that Somalia is mainly one ethnic group much like Japan or Korea. We will still pray for the smaller ethnic groups in Somalia this month, but we will make sure we remember the Somali people.
Somalia is divided more by clan than by ethnicity. One report by RefWorld describes the clan as the “upper limit of political action,” which involves some territorial properties, but not centralized administration or government. (http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/4b29f5e82.pdf) In other words, the assumption for a Somali is that their loyalty is to their clan, not to a nation. They will shower benefits on their own clan often to the harm of other people groups and think nothing of it. The article also suggests that revenge killings go on for generations, making peace short-lived. When one clan gets the upper hand, they continue to take what they can at the expense of others until another clan becomes strong enough to take their place. Somali pastoral people steal one another’s livestock, which leaves a family or clan without a livelihood. This situation worsens the sad results of uncertain water sources that sustain grasslands and the cattle who depend on it.
Even within the Somali clan, there is much distrust. Trust is essential for re-building any nation! How can there be business deals, or any economic or social interaction without trust? When the exchange of money and goods comes to a standstill, economies deteriorate. For decades, this has been the situation in Somalia.
The Sad Results: Depleted Fisheries, Severe Water Pollution and Piracy
Somalia has an enviable 2,000 miles of coast lands, which provides them with opportunities for tourism, a strong fishing industry, and other lucrative possibilities. Without a coast guard to protect their coast, Somalia is left to the mercy of whomever is willing to fish with modern equipment and dump both nuclear and non-nuclear pollutants into their waters. At one time, Somalis, both fishermen and others, took to the sea with small arms and portable rockets. This morphed into a highly-organized and heavily armed pirate industry. They found that they can make huge profits by capturing ship cargoes and their crews for ransom. For example, one brand new Saudi-owned oil tanker was built at a cost of $150 million and was carrying $100 million worth of crude oil. In a case like this it would be far cheaper to pay the ransom rather than lose the cargo and the ship (https://www.historyguy.com/somali_pirate_attacks.htm). Since the Somali coast offers a bottleneck for ships, it is relatively easy to capture unprotected merchant vessels. As the loot was brought to Somali towns, the cost of basic needs, which were already hard for poor people to afford, rose far more. Ironically, in 2011, one Somali pirate leader told a reporter for the Guardian that he is not a pirate, but a leader of the “coast guard.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/may/24/a-pioneer-of-somali-p...) That indicates that according to his point of view, the seas are to be protected much like a gang member protects their “turf.” Pirate attacks were at their peak from 2008-2013, but then foreign navies began to protect their merchant ships. Last year there was only one or two successful pirate attacks near the Somali coast.
Human Trafficking and Islamic Militias
If a government cannot or will not protect their citizens, then many are vulnerable to being sold into slavery. Poor women and children are the most vulnerable. A 2017 report by the US Department of State tells us that Somali human traffickers often use deception to get people, even those from their own clans and families, to enter into a life of servitude. When people are desperate, they will accept any offer of a job, especially when the person who tells them makes it sound good. (https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2017/271280.htm)
Members of the fragile Somali government accept bribes from human trafficking rings. Often these government employees are not paid regularly, which gives even the best of them a willingness to accept bribes at the expense of someone else’s freedom and dignity. Somalia’s government is mainly concerned with protecting the capital city of Mogadishu, and they do not have the resources to protect people in rural parts of the country, especially in the south-central region where there is an abundance of vulnerable poor people who can be sold into prostitution or slavery.
Weak governments allow for Islamic militias to fill the power void. Al-Shabaab, a brutal terrorist group, has control over certain parts of Somalia. They regularly use children as soldiers in their ongoing effort to take over Somalia.
What is the Answer?
The United Nations has said that a strong central government is what Somalia needs. That sounds good, but what if the people in the government are as evil as those involved in human trafficking or piracy? For millennia what is now Somalia has been impossible to rule. Even a socialist dictator in the 1970s named Siad Barre was not able to unify the country for very long, despite his attempts to produce massive infrastructure improvements that would have benefited all of Somalia. By 1991, the country once again dissolved into clan warfare and chaos. Apparently, nationalism, socialism, and self-interest were not strong enough motivations for Somalis to rise above their lot. What does Somalia really need to get out of their seemingly endless rut?
Perhaps the books of Ezra and Nehemiah hold the answers. These books tell of two Israeli leaders who understood that their nation needed a purpose to be re-built. They had survived exploitation by foreign powers, and they knew they were under God’s judgment. At last, a Persian king named Cyrus, who feared God, gave them the opportunity to return to Israel and re-build their Temple and their nation. Ezra and Nehemiah understood that they needed something far greater than nationalism to make this work. They needed to become a nation dedicated to Almighty God, ruled with justice and mercy. This is what Somalia needs!
This is a humanly impossible goal that only God can fulfill, especially given Somalia’s current record of persecuting God’s people and clinging to a cruel form of Islam. Yet Christ is the only one who has the answers for the failed state we call Somalia, and we must call out to Him.
1—Pray for a firm foundation of faith in the living Christ that can turn Somalia around.
2—Pray for God to raise up Ezras and Nehemiahs for Somalia.
3—Pray that Somalis will swallow their pride and work together for the common good.