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.
The Hazara Aimaqs are a subtribe of the Hazara people. They are a small population numbering 9,000 in Tajikistan. Their language is the Aimaq dialect of Persian. Previously a nomadic people living in a drought-decimated land, they travelled seasonally to graze their herds. Now they are mostly semi-nomadic and live in yurts covered with felt. Others subsist as sedentary farmers and carpet weavers, some supplementing their income by selling their beautiful homemade rugs. Their diet consists of whole wheat bread, rice, chickpeas, and garden vegetables, with their protein coming in the form of chicken, eggs, and lamb. They drink dugh, a beverage made of yogurt, salt, pepper, and water. The women wear a dark head-to-toe covering when out in public and the men wear turbans or caps and rough cloaks. The most important life event, marriage, takes place when a girl is 13 or 14, usually to a blood relative. This milestone celebration is marked by dancing and drum music.
Most Hazaras are Shi’ite Muslims, but 100 percent of the Hazara Aimaqs practice Sunni Islam. They have no scriptures in their language.
Pray that soon they will have scripture portions in their tongue. Pray for a way for them to hear about Christ. Ask our heavenly father to give them a sense of longing and curiosity for something other than the only religion they have heard about.
Rom 6:14, NLT
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Pray for the Hazara Aimaqs to soon experience the joy and relief of giving up the bondage of the law for the freedom of living under God’s grace.
The 1,600 Sanglechi people love their culture, their distinct language, and tea. Most of them live in Ishkashim, a high-elevation city on Tajikistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan. Some have jobs in the city, but most are engaged in farming. They all claim to be Muslim, but their religion is mixed with traditional beliefs. There are no known believers in Christ among them.
It will be very difficult to approach them with the gospel. Tajikistan is a mountainous, landlocked Muslim country surrounded by nations hostile to the gospel. Some Sanglechi live across the border in Afghanistan, but they are equally inaccessible.
Yet there are possibilities. Since the country gained independence from Russia in 1991, Tajikistan has been slowly transitioning to policies that might open them to more contact with other nations. Some have gone to Russia to find work. These migrant workers have become by far the main source of income for millions of Tajikistan’s people. They may be easier to reach while away from home.
Global Recordings Network (GRN) has made audio gospel recordings, not only in their first language, Sanglechi, but also in Tajiki and Russian, which many speak as a second language. These can be downloaded from the web.
Pray that God will open a way for the Sanglechi people to hear the good news in their own language, or in the other languages they understand. Pray that hearts will be softened by the words of life, and they will respond by putting their faith in Christ.
Gal 3:22, NLT
But the scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
Pray that the Sanglechi people will soon put their faith in Jesus Christ, and thus find freedom from sin.
If you enter a Shughni house, you must reverence the spirits of his ancestors by greeting the main column holding up the roof, called the shastan; otherwise the master of the house will be offended. Despite these and similar animistic customs, all 119,000 Shughni claim to be followers of Islam. There are also no mosques in their small villages. Their ethnic identity is based on their religion. They send out missionaries to convert other Islamic groups to their brand of religion. At the same time, much of their doctrine is kept secret. They keep themselves separate from Tajiks who follow a different form of Islam.
The Shughni live in the rugged Pamir Mountains on each side of the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. They speak a language which is distinct from Tajiki, but in order to communicate with others, they also speak Tajiki and Russian. A small group also speaks a dialect of their language called Rushani.
Although they are isolated from Christian influences, Bible portions have been translated into Shughni. Global Recordings Network (GRN) has recorded evangelistic messages and Bible stories in their main language as well as in Rushani, in Tajiki, and in Russian. They are hard to reach with the gospel message. Their press outlets are restricted as are news and social-media websites.
Pray that despite the restrictions, the Lord will open a door for the Shughni people to hear the good news of the gospel that can set them free from spiritual bondage.
Rom 3:25, NIV
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished …
Pray that the Shughni people will soon realize that the blood of Christ is all they need to be freed from eternal punishment for sin.
Can you imagine trying to live in a land so harsh, dry, and cold that trees do not grow? Would you be willing to drink fermented yak milk? The Wakhi people live in the high valleys and passes of the Pamir and Himalaya Mountains, mostly in Tajikistan. They must use animal dung and brush for their fires because wood is scarce in the high altitudes. Other Wakhis live in in the mountains of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. The vast majority of the Wakhis live in poverty and without electricity or modern plumbing. They practice subsistence farming and raise livestock.
The men work on farming and the women tend to the animals. Unlike many Muslim cultures the men and women can work side by side. They weave their own clothing. Weaving cloth is a source of extra income. This harsh life has led some of the Wakhi to the habit of smoking opium.
They speak a distant dialect of Persian. As far as we know, all the Wakhis are Shi’ite Muslims. They also practice folk religion.
Pray that the Wahkis would turn to the Lord for comfort. Pray the Lord would lead Christian medical, educational, and business workers to live among and befriend the Wakhis. Pray the portions of Scripture that have been translated into the Wakhi language would make it into the hands of the people. Pray for a spiritual breakthrough among the Wakhis.
Jn 16:8-11, NTE
When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong on three counts: sin, justice, and judgment. In relation to sin – because they don’t believe in me. In relation to justice – because I’m going to the father, and you won’t see me any more. In relation to judgment – because the ruler of this world is judged.
Pray the Spirit leads the Wakhis to a true knowledge of God.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist? If you met an Azerbaijani, you might be able to tell which they are by how they look at their own nation. An optimist would focus on the fact they have fertile farmland that produces excellent grains, fruits, and vegetables. They also have an abundance of oil, which, if used correctly, could make them a wealthy nation.
A pessimistic Azerbaijani might focus on how they have failed in their dealings with other nations. The Russian Empire engulfed them, and the Soviet communists managed to push the Azerbaijanis into low level jobs in the oil industry while the Russians dictated what would be done with their oil. And they also lost their war with Armenia in that ended in 1994, leaving them dissatisfied with having their country geographically divided.
Yet when seen from God’s perspective, the Azerbaijanis have reason to be hopeful for the future. Despite the opposition of the Shi’ite Muslim majority, those in the know estimate that the Azerbaijanis went from no believers in 1991 to 10,000 today. A year ago, GPD readers prayed for minority groups in Iran, which borders Azerbaijan, and there is a strong Azerbaijani minority in that Muslim country where hundreds of thousands are embracing the savior.
Pray that believers from Iran will help spread the gospel among Azerbaijanis. Pray for a strong church with an effective witness to the Shi’ite Muslim population.
Rom 8:21, NLT
… the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
Pray that soon the Shi’ite Muslim Azerbaijanis will join God’s children in freedom from the law and certain spiritual death.
Can an entire people group go from one religion to another? Yes, absolutely. It has happened many time in history, especially in places like Indonesia. However, it is also true for the people group we are praying for today, the Tsakhurs, who were Christian until the 1100s, and were solidly Muslim by the 1300s. They have been Muslim ever since. At the present moment, there are no known Tsakhurs who are infused with the grace of Jesus and his life-transforming Spirit.
The Tsakhur are a proud people, living in 13 villages in the high mountains of southern Dagestan in Russia and in 23 villages across the border in Azerbaijan—at least 50,000 total population. Prior to 1850, for centuries the Tsakhur were ruled by their own sultanate. They are famous for their proverbs and love of wisdom. Tsakhur history is a rich tapestry of rugged beauty and communal identity, but one also beset with tragedy and a lack of grace.
Pray for bridges of respect and friendship from bearers of the gospel of Jesus to expand into Tsakhur communities, both in Russia and in Azerbaijan. Pray for wide listening of an oral recording of the Gospel of Luke in Tsakhur finished in 2008, and for effective distribution of a brilliant audio version (2013) of the Book of Proverbs in Tsakhur. Pray for their hearts to become eager for the grace, mercy, and love of the savior.
Is 49:9, NLT
I will say to the prisoners, “Come out in freedom,” and to those in darkness, “Come into the light.” They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.
Pray for the Tsakhur people to come out in freedom, and bask in the light of the Lord!
When Jesus walked the earth, he met the needs of people. We too need to meet the needs of people and show that we care about them before they will be interested in our savior.
That is exactly what one family is doing among Central Asian Muslims who are noted for their fine rugs. The area they are working in has historically been renowned for intricate woven wool rugs. However, it is a dying art; cheap factory carpets have replaced them, and Central Asian families have lost much of their income.
There is a project that has revived this dying art. It was founded by a family of believers that we will call the Joneses. They have placed looms in homes of women who are painstakingly reviving the art and producing beautiful rugs that are eagerly sought by buyers who appreciate their value. All proceeds from their sales remain in the village.
With their material needs met, these families have welcomed this Christian family into their homes and have an increased interest in hearing Bible stories that focus on Jesus. The Joneses consider themselves “imperfect messengers with a wonderful message, wanting to work where the father is working.”
Pray for the Joneses to have the wisdom to know how to proceed with these precious friends. Pray that these women will see their good deeds, and understand that Jesus has much to offer everyone who will listen to him.
Matt 5:15-16, NET
People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your father in heaven.
Pray that the good deeds of the Jones family will lead these Muslim women to give God the glory. Pray that they will allow the stories of Jesus Christ to penetrate their hearts.
Turkey is increasingly a land of mosques, prisons, and the uneducated. This is the result of the Islamization of the country. Turkey has one mosque for every 866 people, more than any other predominantly Muslim nation. The government also has plans to build 174 new prisons to alleviate the overcrowding now experienced. New schools are also being built, but they are often religious schools, called “imam schools” that rigidly teach rote memorization of the Qur’an. Even with the increase of schools, testing shows that Turkey’s graduates are woefully deficient in not only basic skills, but also do not have adequate skills in their own language. Turkish believers have endured increased scrutiny by the government, increased persecution, and increased pressure to accept as inevitable the Islamization of Turkey. In spite of all of the above, Turkey has gone from 10 believers in 1960 to 5,000 believers today!
Democracy and freedom of religion are in peril in Turkey today. Turks are facing a crossroad. Will the country and its people slide back into ways of the Ottoman Empire before its demise at the end of World War I, or will it be a democracy with freedom of religion?
Pray for the growing church to not only survive, but to rapidly increase as it faces persecution similar to those faced by first century believers in the same land.
Gal 4:5, NLT
God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.
Pray that the Turks, who are trying to become more enslaved to the Law of Islam and paying for it with increased lawlessness, will find freedom in Christ.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14, NIV). These are Jesus’ words. Believers who take them seriously realize that all the world and its remotest parts and people need to hear the gospel before Jesus returns.
SAT-7 TURK is just one of many ministries attempting to reach the world with the good news. It is reaching Turkish-speaking people wherever they might be. It reaches far beyond the country of Turkey. Bulgaria has a large Turkish-speaking population that has discovered the channel on television connected to one of the two satellites on which it broadcasts.
A Turkish-speaking pastor from Bulgaria, Pastor Dahil says, “People like it, and that’s important because it’s for their salvation.” He is particularly encouraged by the programs with sermons and worship songs. Turkish people have migrated to many parts of Europe, especially Germany. Pastor Dahil tells everyone he knows or meets about this program that they can access via satellite.
Pray for SAT-7 TURK to reach every Turkish-speaking community with the gospel message not only in Turkey, but throughout Europe and other countries with Turkish populations. Pray that these broadcasts will be used for teaching and discipleship. Pray for open hearts that will receive faith and peace when they hear about the risen Christ.
Jn 1:12-13, NET
But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children—children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.
Pray for SAT-7 TURK to result in thousands hearing the word, and finding faith that they too can become children of the living God.
Some of the largest landmasses in the world are found in Central Asia. Over 95 million people live in “the Stans” of Central Asia. The area is so vast that it is difficult to traverse it in vehicles, but today’s technology allows news, entertainment, and God’s word to traverse it instantly through video and satellite transmissions.
Global Heart Ministries is doing just that. It is working towards the day when every citizen in Central Asia and Iran has access to the gospel through media and Bible-based teaching. Global Heart Ministries is focused on reaching men, women, children, and pastors with varied gospel-based programs.
The videos use local people to engage their viewing audience. Their goal is to reach the lost with the gospel through media by distributing the preached word and heart worship music by satellite television, the Internet, smart phones, CDs, and DVDs. Women’s programs offer engaging, conversational programs discussing ways to overcome their oppressed lives through the hope of Jesus Christ. Men’s programs include compelling testimonies of Central Asian men. Children’s programs include exciting Bible and animal stories. For many indigenous pastors, these videos offer the only biblical training they receive. Highly trained professionals are dedicated to producing quality first-class videos that can compete with any other programming.
Pray that the reputation of this programming draws men, women, and children to commit their lives to Jesus Christ. Pray that this ministry will be used for discipling Muslims in the ways of Jesus.
Jn 1:14, NET
Now the word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the father.
Pray that Global Heart Ministries will be used of God to help thousands of Central Asian Muslims to experience the glory of the risen Christ.
Sowing and Reaping Anger and Revenge in Libya
The recent history of Libya is very turbulent. In 2011, simmering discontent exploded on February 17 in a “Day of Rage” that set off Libya’s part in the Arab Spring which was reverberating throughout the Middle East and North Africa. 2011 was Muammar Gaddafi’s 42nd year in control of Libya after his own coup as a colonel in 1969. He was an enigmatic ruler during that time he was in power, claiming the title of “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution.” While he claimed to be merely a figurehead, he functioned as an absolute ruler. During most of these years, Libya was largely cut-off from the world. Information inside the country was tightly controlled. Any dissent was ruthlessly crushed. Some have said that as many as one in six Libyans (or close to one million citizens) functioned in some way as informants for Gaddafi’s regime.
Many Libyans now look back on those years with immense regret. They feel that the capital city of Tripoli could have become more prosperous like Dubai, and that their country should have been a leader in the region. They themselves could have been much better off, and the country as a whole could have been more affluent.
Gaddafi was accused of investing very little of the wealth generated from the country’s oil back into the country. Much went to revolutionary causes around the world such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and many Palestinian groups. Sometimes Gaddafi would even switch the sides that he supported part way through a conflict. But many Libyans feel that he ignored the critical needs at home, leading to outdated systems: electrical, transport, and Internet. The country fell behind much of the rest of the world and continues to be a challenge up to the present time.
Ironically, this neglect of the home front in favor of spending on revolutions elsewhere played a significant part in the revolution at home. As Gaddafi sowed anger and rage, he reaped much dissatisfaction. The revolution lasted from February 2011 until he was killed on October 20 of that year. His extrajudicial and deadly beating and killing in the street essentially continued his heritage of doing the same thing to his opponents.
No Stability or Unity After Gaddafi
In the aftermath of the revolution many Libyans were thrilled at the opportunity to plot a new course for their country. Libyans of many stripes had united against Gaddafi, but with many different motivations. Some wanted secular democracy, others were seeking an opportunity to live in a truly Islamic state. After fighting as part of various militias that came together in common cause against Gaddafi, many started realizing that their problems were not solved by his ouster from power.
During the revolution, a National Transitional Council was set-up which was supposed to give way to an elected General National Congress (GNC) that would prepare the constitution and then give way to new elections. Unfortunately, the GNC did not complete a constitution, nor did they give way to the newly elected House of Representatives (HoR). They did go through a number of official leaders who resigned or were kicked out for various reasons. Both groups consider the other to no longer be legitimate, which has led to off and on fighting as the GNC stayed in Tripoli and the HoR set themselves up in the eastern part of Libya. Ongoing talks eventually led to a third “Government of National Accord” (GNA) which neither side decided to ratify. This led to three governments all trying to operate in various ways and in various locations. As can be imagined, this has led to significant chaos which continues today. Currently, there are an estimated 1,500 militias in Libya, each supposedly under one of the governments, but really operating autonomously.
This chaos has also predictably resulted in other challenges: very few employment opportunities, currency fluctuation and devaluation of money, radical groups such as Islamic State (ISIS) trying to take advantage, and a distinct sense of desperation and disillusionment. Neighboring countries as well as world powers have attempted different solutions. But nothing has lasted with much effectiveness.
The lack of opportunity has led to a lot of boredom among many youths. Some have said this is the biggest problem in Libya, when thousands of bored youth feed upon the chaos. ISIS has been ejected from the cities that they had taken. But they and groups related to them are still a threat to security. There is no unified strategy to defeat them, even though nearly all Libyans consider them as the enemy and even anti-Islamic. One military commander in the east, Khalifa Hafter, has managed to unite some of these militias in an attempt to bring security to the region, but many Libyans believe he is now aiming to take Gaddafi’s place. It is difficult to say what anyone’s motivations really are.
On a More Positive Note
However, chaos and frustration are not the only themes in Libya’s story. There is a rugged spirit in much of the country. People who have lived in a harsh region for centuries continue to uphold many positive traditional values in the culture such as honor and hospitality. Much of Libya is covered by the Sahara Desert. In other areas there are rugged mountains where the inhabitants have carved out their homes from the mountain or down into the earth. These isolating forces help to shape a strong loyalty to one’s tribe and one’s family that still defines so much that happens.
There are still many hints of the gospel in the ruins of ancient times in Libya. Rome controlled much of northern Libya for centuries and some of the best preserved Roman ruins are present in places like Leptis Magna and Sabratha in the west, or Shahat (Cyrene) in the east. Yes, Cyrene is the hometown of Simon, who carried Jesus’ cross. Early disciples from Cyrene and Cyprus first announced the gospel to Greeks in Antioch (Acts 11:20). They even had a hand in the first sending of Paul, Barnabas, and Lucius of Cyrene in the small group of prophets praying, fasting, and evangelizing (Acts 13:1). This is a wonderful spiritual heritage! North Africa was one of the leading regions in the early church, and signs of this are still present in the Roman ruins. There are remains of baptismal fonts, church buildings, etc. Most of these are no longer recognized or understood by Libyans living nearby. Yet they point to the work of God in this country many centuries ago.
This heritage has now been mostly forgotten. Many Libyans now assume that to be Libyan is to be Muslim. For centuries, this has been true. Libya has been nearly untouched by Christian workers since the Islamic takeover in the mid-600s. Under Italian control in the early 1900s, there were many Catholics in the country. But sharing Jesus with Libyans was discouraged. Although the Italian influence is clear in Libya, even showing up in Libya’s unique Arabic dialect, the spiritual side seems to have been largely skipped. Even now, the likelihood of a Libyan meeting a follower of Jesus who can explain the way of salvation is very limited.
The tragic current situation, however, seems to be changing the prevailing attitude. Libyans are becoming more open and asking more questions. Although the number of known believers is still very small, the church is gradually growing in numbers and maturity. Efforts through social media, radio, and television are receiving responses. Many Libyans have had to leave the country, and some of those are having the opportunity to hear the gospel. As you pray through this guide, ask with hope and expectancy. God has great intentions for Libya!
Would you expect a boy born out of wedlock in 1940 and shuffled from one foster home to another to become a key missionary statesman? Not many people would bet that Greg Livingstone would amount to anything, given his unfortunate beginnings. But God is in this kind of business!
Greg Livingstone was born from an affair between a nightclub dancer and a Jewish Harvard graduate. When she became pregnant, it was clear that no one wanted the baby, and abortions were hard to get at that time. But there was one who wanted this baby, the one who declared, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5, NIV).
Greg lived with several different foster families and relatives first in Boston, then in San Diego, and Aspen, Colorado.
At 16, he asked Judy Ringle to go to a movie with him, but she only agreed to go to the theater with him Sunday morning instead—where the Baptist church was gathered. Judy’s parents invited him to dinner, gave him a Gospel of John challenging him to ask God to show him if it was true. Greg discovered Jesus was still alive and had taken up residence within him.
Pray for the Lord to take those scorned by the world and use them for his purposes.
Luke 9:1-2, 16-17 RSV
And he called the 12 together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal. … And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were satisfied.
Jesus gave his authority to His disciples to cast out the demons and cure the diseases; so they did! Jesus gave five loaves and two fish to his disciples to feed 5,000 hungry men plus women and children; so they did!
Pray for Libya’s harvesters and their senders and intercessors to complete the harvest under his authority accompanied by these same miracles!