Advent

Advent

Advent

Advent is a period of spiritual preparation in which many Christians make themselves ready for the coming, or birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Celebrating Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting, and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope, and joy.

Many Christians celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ’s first coming to Earth as a baby, but also for his presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in preparation and anticipation of his final coming at the end of the age.

The Meaning of Advent

The word advent comes from the Latin term adventus meaning “arrival” or “coming,” particularly the coming of something having great importance. Advent season, then, is both a time of joy-filled, anticipatory celebration of the arrival of Jesus Christ and a preparatory period of repentance, meditation, and penance.

https://www.learnreligions.com/meaning-of-advent-700455

A Meaning-full Advent

The greatest gift we all have to offer during this season of advent, in equal measures, regardless of our wealth, health, position, or status, is PRAYER.  What a wonderful gift of love, solidarity, and compassion

In the same way that we so eagerly open our advent calendar every December with a gift, a sweet, or a word for the day, let’s make an advent prayer-calendar this season, praying for the marginalized, vulnerable and persecuted.

Every week will focus on one nation with a prayer request for every day.

A Prayer-full Advent

1 Corinthians 12:26 and 27 reminds us that we are all Christ’s body, and each one is a part of it.   It comes with a glorious promise that if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness BUT it also requires an uncompromising commitment:  “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it!

 The suggestion is therefore that you set your alarm for 12:26 every day (1 Corinthians 12:26) and simply “open your advent calendar” with the prayer request for the day.

  • Week 1 will be from 21 November to 27 November
  • Week 2 from 28 November to 4 December
  • Week 3 from 5 December to 11 December
  • Week 4 from 12 December to 18 December
  • And Week 5 from 19 December to 25 December, Christmas day – a perfect time to enjoy your Christmas meal and pray for the marginalised, persecuted, and vulnerable.

We will publish the nation-of -prayer and the prayer-requests every Monday and you are welcome to download, share and use as widely as possible.

 

Prayer Advent – WEEK 5

NORTH KOREA

STATISTICS:

POPULATION: 25,778,816

RELIGION: State atheism

1.5% Christians

FACTS:

North Korea is facing a mass humanitarian and food crisis. Part of this problem is the result of the communist dictatorship in the country.

All Christians in North Korea are extremely vulnerable to persecution. Even if Believers escape, secret agents in China are employed to find and abduct them. Most Believers cannot trust even those closest to them as they are taught to be informants from a young age. Believers and their families face terrible punishment if they are discovered. Those that are not killed straight away are imprisoned in horrific prison camps.

Despite all the challenges, Christians in North Korea hold firmly to their faith.  The Gospel is still being proclaimed in this country through various creative means, including shortwave radio and Believers who risk their lives to smuggle Bibles and discipleship material into North Korea.

PRAY

19 December

Pray for secret Believers in North Korea, that God will strengthen, protect and provide for their needs. Pray that they would shine brightly in this dark country.

 

20 December

Pray for imprisoned Believers (about 70 000) who are detained in horrific conditions. Pray that they would experience God’s peace and presence in a tangible way as He comforts and strengthens them. May those who are destined to be martyrs stand firm until the end.

 

21 December

Pray for God’s Word to be made available to secret Believers and that when they do get access to the Bible that they would be able to memorize Scripture quickly and supernaturally, before being detected or needing to get rid of their Bibles.

 

22 December

Pray for organizations outside the country who are working to assist Believers, that God would make a way for them to reach the Body of Christ.

 

23 December

Pray for opportunities for humanitarian organizations to get back into the country to assist with the major humanitarian needs.

 

24 December

Pray for those who proclaim the Gospel and smuggle Bibles and discipleship material  into the country, that God would protect them from being detected.

 

25 December

Pray for North Korean defectors who are training outside the country to be missionaries that they will be well equipped to go back into their harsh nation to share their faith.

 

 

Prayer Advent – WEEK 4

LIBYA

POPULATION: 6,8 million

RELIGION:      99.7% Islam

0.5% Christian

FACTS:

Libya has experienced years of anarchy and power struggles. Many migrants come into Libya who attempt to cross the dangerous deserts and seas with the aim of finding a better life in Europe. Their desperation enables human traffickers to exploit them.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion does not exist. Though there are a small amount of Believers in the country, most of them are foreigners. It is illegal to share your faith and violence against Christians has increased. Believers face rejection from their Muslim families and acquaintances.

Over the last few years, many missionaries and local believers have been killed. Evangelical work in Libya is strongly opposed.

https://www.persecution.com/globalprayerguide/libya/?_source_code=WHPB20C

https://www.opendoors.org.za/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/libya/

PRAY

12 December

Pray for Libya, as it is one of the hardest places in the world for the Gospel to penetrate.  Ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

 

13 December

Pray for radio and satellite television stations that provide two of the very few ways to evangelize Libyans. Ask Jesus to use these platforms powerfully to reach the unreached.

 

14 December

Pray for Libyan Believers who have been arrested for their faith. Pray for their protection in prison and ask Jesus to provide for their release.

 

15 December

Pray for new Believers, that they would find a way to fellowship with other Believers so that they can grow in their faith. Pray that those who face pressure from their families to renounce their new faith would stand strong.

16 December

Pray for people involved in translating and distributing the Bible, that God would give them wisdom, favour and opportunities to make His Word available to people in Libya.

 

17 December

Pray for peace and restoration in this country that has been so negatively affected by constant strife and destruction.

 

18 December

Pray that Believers will rise up and create opportunities to bring hope to the hopeless. Ask Jesus to provide resources and bless the work of their hands as they find creative means to assist those around them.

 

Prayer Advent – WEEK 3

SOMALIA

POPULATION:  16, 105 000

RELIGION: Sunni Islam  99.9%

                   Christianity 0.01%                     

Over the last 30 years, conflict and instability have plagued Somalia resulting in several problems e.g. high illiteracy rate. The terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, has carried on with an insurgency in Somalia for 15 years. The war and drought have resulted in more Somalis living outside the country than in Somalia.

The goal of Al-Shabaab is to enforce their version of Islamic law on the country. As Believers are hunted down by Islamic militants, they have to keep their faith a secret and church life is non-existent. Muslim Background Believers are especially at risk.

The dispersion of Somali people has also created unique opportunities to reach them with the Gospel. Somalis are more reachable and open than ever before, and many have chosen to follow Christ, including some who are willing to reach out to other Somalis at any cost.

16 of the 22 people groups in Somalia have never heard the Gospel.

https://www.opendoors.org.za/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/somalia/

https://www.persecution.com/globalprayerguide/somalia/?_source_code=WHPB20C

PERFECT STORM BREWING

A joint statement by the Government of Somalia and the humanitarian community warned this past month of a rapidly worsening drought in the country, which is on the verge of a fourth consecutive failed rainy season. Nearly 100,000 people have already abandoned their homes, mainly in central and southern areas, in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock. The movements risk exposing families to conflict over dwindling resources. The number of people in need of assistance is expected to rise by 30 per cent to about 7.7 million by 2022. “A perfect storm is brewing in Somalia,” said the UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula. He called for action to prevent a slide towards the famine conditions experienced in previous years. Somalia is on the frontline of climate change, with the frequency and severity of floods and droughts increasing in frequency and severity.

www.unhcr.org

PRAY

5 December

Pray for protection and effective ministry for aid workers, many of whom are Christian.

 

6 December

Pray for God’s comfort, healing and restoration of families who’ve lost loved ones because of their faith.

 

7 December

Pray for the growth of the Body of Christ even under these very trying circumstances. Pray for those who are willing to go back to their country to share their faith.

 

8 December

Pray for those who are responsible for killing Believers, that the Holy Spirit would bring conviction upon them.

 

9 December

Pray for women and girls who still face the dreadful practice of female circumcision. Pray especially that Believers would make changes in these practices.

 

10 December

Pray for access to Bibles as these are illegal. Pray that Believers will have access to digital versions on their phones or other digital devices.

 

11 December

Pray for secret Believers who are unable to have fellowship with other Believers. Pray that God would provide supernatural opportunities.

 

Prayer Advent – WEEK 2

PAKISTAN

POPULATION:  225,2 Million

RELIGION:          

  • 47% Islam (official)
  • 14% Hinduism
  • 27% Christianity
  • 9% Ahmadiyya
  • 02% Others

CHRISTIANITY

Christians in Pakistan face extreme persecution in every area of their lives. Believers who have converted from Islam face the greatest levels of persecution, but all Christians are considered second-class citizens in this strongly Islamic country. They are given jobs perceived as low, dirty and dishonourable, and can be victims of bonded labour. There are some Christians among the middle classes, but they are still considered inferior to their Muslim counterparts and often face severe workplace discrimination.

Christian girls are at risk of abduction and rape, and are often forced to marry their attackers and coerced into converting to Islam.

Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, and Islamic extremist groups vehemently “defend” these laws, including attacking or killing those believed to have contravened them.

Christian churches do exist, but those that are active in outreach face severe persecution from society.

https://www.opendoors.org.za/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/pakistan/

Pakistan is home to more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, many of whom entered the country some 40 years ago, after the Soviet invasion in 1979. https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2021/afghanistan-refugees-karachi/index.html

PRAY

 

28 November

Pray for courage for Christians in Pakistan to speak about their faith, despite their fears that their words may be used against them. Pray for wisdom for them, and that God will give them the right words to say.      

 

29 November

Pray for protection over Pakistan’s churches, especially around holidays such as Christmas and Easter, when terrorist attacks have happened in the past.   

 

30 November

Pray for protection for young Christian women and girls. Pray for those who have already been abducted and forced to convert and marry, that God will comfort them and give them strength. Pray that they will know His love, even in their terrible circumstances.

 

1 December

Pray for evangelists who face harassment when preaching the gospel.  Pray for the strongholds of Islamist extremism and terrorism to be demolished and rendered powerless.

 

2 December

Pray for Bible-translation work focused on minority people groups with little access to Scripture.  Pray for the Church to multiply in the power of the Spirit as persecution intensifies.

 

3 December

Pray for outreach efforts to minority groups like Hindus and Shiite Muslims. Pray for the spiritually oppressed in remote areas to encounter the Gospel.

 

4 December

Pray for urgent humanitarian assistance – food security, nutrition programme for adults and children, health and social services, water, sanitation, hygiene and education while planning for resettlement for millions of refugees.

 

 

Prayer Advent – WEEK 1

AFGHANISTAN

POPULATION: 39 million

RELIGION                                                       

  • Muslim:    97%             (Sunni 85-90%, Shia 10-15%)
  • Christian: <0.03%

CHRISTIANITY

Christians have historically comprised a small community in Afghanistan. The total number of Christians in Afghanistan is currently estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 according to International Christian Concern, and almost all of them are converts from Islam. 

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan does not recognize any Afghan citizen as being a Christian.   Afghan citizens are not legally permitted to convert to Christianity; although there are no explicit laws which forbid evangelizing by non-Muslims, many authorities and most members of Afghan society view its toleration as contrary to the practice of Islam.  There is only one legally recognized Christian church building in Afghanistan, the Catholic chapel at the Italian Embassy which has been operational since the 1930s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Afghanistan

Afghanistan remains the second-highest country on the World Watch List of Christian persecution, and persecution is only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea. All Christians in Afghanistan are extremely vulnerable to persecution.

ISIS and the Taliban continue to have a strong, violent presence in Afghanistan, with the Taliban now in control of the nation.  There is no safe way to express any form of Christian faith in the country.  It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they have to flee the country or they will be killed.

https://www.opendoors.org.za/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/afghanistan/

THE CRISIS

Warnings of humanitarian crisis engulfing Afghanistan. The World Food Programme warned this week that 23 million Afghans, in a country of 39 million, are now facing acute hunger. Of those, 8.7 million are in a state of emergency and more than 3 million children are malnourished.

Speaking to the BBC’s John Simpson, the WFP’s executive director David Beasley said the situation was about to become “the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth”. Around US$10 billion of Afghan foreign reserves have remained frozen since the Taliban took power while foreign subsidies that funded almost 70 % of the government budget in the past have ended. Along with shortages of food and essential supplies, the healthcare system is under acute strain, with malnutrition adding to the caseload for hard-pressed staff.

This week, the UN development agency, UNDP, and the Global Fund paid nearly $8 million in salaries to 23,500 health workers across the country. Another $7 million went to buying basic medical equipment, essential drugs and supplies.

https://www.unhcr.org/afr/afghanistan-emergency.html

PRAY

21 November

Lord almighty, our Shepherd and our keeper, we pray that You will protect your small flock of Afghani believers. We pray that those who put their faith in you will find refuge in your presence and solace in your purposes.

 

22 November

Lord Almighty, our rock and our fortress, we pray that your Spirit will transform fear into boldness and anxiety into peace.  May your Church be strengthened and encouraged in their faith and may they have the courage to serve as witnesses in the presence of death.

 

23 November

Lord almighty, Father of compassion and Lord of comfort, we pray that those who are despised and broken will discover You in their times of need.  Be their comfort we pray.  May you be enough, when all else fades away

 

24 November

Lord almighty, Abba Father, we pray for the countless children who are seeking love in a nation of hatred.  We pray for those who have to face a future without hope and a presence without a future.  Be their Father we pray, and restore what was lost in the past.

 

25 November

Lord almighty, lover of souls, we pray for those who have been stripped of dignity and robbed of respect.  We pray that they will find your reaching hands and that they will come to know the fulness of your love and be restored by the beauty of your grace

 

26 November

Lord almighty, forgiver of iniquities and precious redeemer, we pray for the extremists – the Taliban and ISIS – that they would come to know the One who saves and restores.  We pray for the “Sauls” in Afghanistan who need a Damascus touch to become modern-day Pauls.

 

27 November

Lord almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, we pray for all who live and dwell in a nation torn apart by violence, suspicion, and hatred.  We pray for nature, that there will be fruitful harvests and that people will be physically satisfied again.  We pray for the animals, that they will prosper under the hands of those who care and that communities will be emotionally satisfied again.  And we pray for the people, that they will return to the One who loved them so much that He sent His only begotten Son.  May they be spiritually satisfied.

 

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