PICTURE Edition 18: The Church in India: Watch Out World The Spiritual Giant is Waking!

(A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an I-pad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts under the heading P.I.C.T.U.R.E)

This week we look at India, which does not have a Muslim majority, but never-the-less has nearly 200 million Muslim citizens, or one in seven on the whole planet! I lived in New Delhi for a year in 1981 and call India my second home. It is an extraordinary place and something spiritually explosive is happening there that will soon change the world, and Islam!

History
India has an ancient, complex and often historically impenetrable past. It was home to the Bronze Age Harapan civilization, was then invaded by the Iranian Aryans who subjugated the Dravidian race and pushed them to the south. It was also invaded by Alexander the Great, the Muslim Empire and the British. It birthed two of the world’s largest religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. Both Buddhism and Islam tried and failed to conquer the might and heart of the ancient Hindu religion. Instead, India eventually exported its Hinduism, and then its new Buddhism across South East Asian and up into China and Afghanistan. In some places it stayed, in others Islam destroyed the exports. Today it exports the New Age movement to the West. In amongst all this religious confetti there appeared a spearhead of Christianity in the 1st Century with the arrival of the Apostle Thomas on a Roman Trading ship!

Today
India is an enigma to most Westerners: It is vast and old with mind-boggling statistics. It has 456 distinct languages. It is home to 2,500 distinct people groups, 500 cities with over 100,000 people and the world’s fastest growing major economy. It oozes confidence via a highly educated, rapidly expanding middle class sitting alongside a soul-destroying system of religiously sanctioned racial discrimination of castes. It squeezes 1.3 billion people in an area one third the size of China and is consequently suffering massive environmental degradation and a large outflow of people. Unlike many emerging economies it has the rule of law and a functioning democracy thanks to the British. India could very well be THE superpower before the end of this century with its 1.7 billion people against China’s ever shrinking 1 billion.

Evangelical Highlights
In a nutshell, Christianity came with Thomas, thrived and then settled down in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Then came the British with the likes of William Carey and a small army of missionaries. In the Twentieth Century the South Indian Christians started evangelising the Hindu heartland in the north, and I joined them in that task. Now in the 21st Century a fourth wave of New Testament style house churches is taking the north by storm while mega-churches are springing up like mushrooms in the south.

There is an amazing spiritual transformation taking place in India that I believe is unparalleled in the history of Christianity. I saw it firsthand in 2009 when I attended the Inaugural World House Church Conference. Only at the end were we introduced to who our servants for the conference really were. These 12 or so young men were the leaders of movements numbering from 50,000 to 300,000. We have kept in touch with one of these men and his movement has grown from 80,000 to nearly 1 million since then. These movements have deliberately reproduced the New Testament model of church which is being led by the Holy Spirit instead of man. The results are astounding. You can read about them here, here, here and here, and listen to one leader explain his transformation here.

The knock on effect on the Muslims of India is going to be huge in the decades ahead. One network that sent me a report after the conference was seeing 25% growth in Muslims coming to Jesus and being discipled every year for the first decade of this century. One network leader told me several years ago when visiting Australia that he was heading back to baptise the head Imam of Chandigah after seeing him won to Jesus. These new believers will be the bridgehead into the vast Muslim community in North India and the Middle East. Prayer is changing the future of this most important of nations and those changes will ripple out into the countries that surround India.

Below is an example of one house church get together belonging to the network led by Anaroop Swamy, a leader whom we met personally at the conference mentioned above. This extract highlights succinctly what is now happening in India:

For about 2 1/2 hours (the time flew by), with no leader directing the action, person after person shared a testimony, a song, a prayer, a scripture, a teaching or encouragement; one lady even shared a remarkable parable. No one asked for testimonies or anything else; people just spontaneously shared. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that when the church gathers each one has something to contribute. (1 Cor 14:26) This is what I saw. Each of these people (about 45 of them) were constantly winning others to the Lord through taking the time to be building new relationships and in this context of care, introducing them to Jesus. Many testified of meeting the Lord through the kindness of a stranger who became a brother or sister. I heard many testimonies of remarkable healings and deliverance. Two women shared about raising the dead. One lady raised a man from the dead simply by preaching the Gospel over his body until he opened his eyes and sat up! Another lady shared excitedly about the 22 people she baptized in a day. Another shared that she had asked the Lord for 300 disciples (new believers who make other disciples). She announced that since she had now done that, she was asking for 3,000 more disciples. All over the room they spoke out how many disciples they were asking the Lord for in the next month. The smallest number I heard was 5; the highest was 40––for one month. The time finished with communion and taking a meal together.

There is no surer sign of the accuracy of the above assessment than the increasingly frequent reports of rising persecution of Christians. Satan is worried.

Prayer Points
Pray for India’s missionaries, who are now numerically the largest missionary force in the world
Pray for the rapidly multiplying house churches to spread into the Arab countries
Pray for many more Muslims to come to Jesus in the house churches
Pray for the continuation of the supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this nation
Pray for Existing churches to be free of the worst of Western influences such as the hyper-prosperity doctrines and end-times negativism
Pray for a breakthrough among the elite Brahmin caste people group
Pray for the greatest harvest of souls in the history of the world to spill out to all corners of the earth.
Pray for the states of Bihar, and Haryana which are officially still only 0.1% Christian
Rejoice with the angels at what is already happening!!!!!

Kevin Davis

Muawiyah: A Christian Caliph?

Islamic literary history (which is their only source of historical record) says all Arab leaders after Muhammad were Muslims who ruled in the name of Islam as a Caliph.

However there is mounting evidence that this was not so and in this blog I will give you one such piece of evidence. It comes in the form of a building inscription dated to 662-663 AD, some 30 years after the traditional Islamic date for the death of Muahmmad. The Arab leader at that time was Muawiyah I (602-680) who was the founder and first caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate. This piece of archaeological evidence was unearthed smack-bang in the middle of Muawiyah’s rule and just a stones throw from where he ruled.

The evidence below suggests strongly that Muawiyah was not a Muslim but actually a Syrian Monarchian Christian. Monarchianism was a very popular theology of that era and location that said God was one, not three and that Jesus was just a messenger/prophet of God. This became the core theology of Islam at a later date, but was actually the official teaching of the Syriac Church, which was at theological loggerheads with the Trinitarian Catholic Byzantines.

Let’s now look at the actual evidence. It is an inscription found on the baths of Gadara, in northern Jordan. In English It reads thus:

In the days of Maauia (Mauwiya) the servant of God, the leader of the protectors, the hot baths were preserved and renovated by the emir Abdallah, son of Abuasemos, on the fifth of December, on the second day of the week, in the sixth year of the indication, in the year 726 from the founding of the city, in the year 42 following the Arabs, for the healing of the sick, under the supervision of Johannes, the magistrate of Gadara.

Please note the following points:

First, as you can see if you click on the web link above, the entire inscription begins with the sign of the Christian cross! Lower Jordan was still a Christian part of the world, not the Islamic world. If it was Islamic there would have been reference to Muhammad, not Christ via the cross on this inscription.

Second, the inscription is in Greek, not Arabic. Arabic was not considered important enough at this point in history (year 42 of the Arab era, or 662-663 AD) that others had to learn it.

Third, Muawiya is not described as the Caliph, but simply as a servant of God and protector. This is a Christian title and common to the early Arab leadership.

Fourth, the year of the city is noted first, then the Byzantine year, then finally the era of Arab rule. This shows the relative insignificance of the beginning of the new era to the people and leadership of that time period. It was not the cataclysmic Islamic event as we are taught today.

Fifth, the new era was simply called the era of the Arabs which began in 622 AD when Arab leaders first gained their independence after the destruction of the Persian army. There is no Islamic reference at all on the inscription. I repeat: THERE IS NOT A SINGLE REFERENCE TO ISLAM ANYWHERE ON THIS ENTIRE INSCRIPTION!

Sixth, the person responsible for the construction is called Abdallah, a common name for Christians then, and today, in that part of the world.

Muawiyah was therefore definitely not your typical Muslim Caliph as portrayed in traditional Islamic literature. In addition to the inscription above, nowhere on his coins, on any other stone inscription, or on any surviving documents during his reign is there any mention of a prophet called Muhammad, or a religion called Islam. Nor are there any Qur’ans, or fragments of any Qur’ans datable to this time period.

Muawiya’s wife Maysum was a Jacobite Christian from the Kalb tribe and he even restored Edessa’s cathedral after it had been toppled by an earthquake.

In fact, Muawiyah is known to have traveled from his capital in Damascus down to Jerusalem and followed the footsteps of Christ around the city, finally praying at Golgotha. This was supposedly many years after Muhammad had declared in the Qur’an that the crucifixion was a fraud. In addition, Muawiya made it his spiritual duty to protect the Church and tomb of John the Baptist in Damascus. Protecting holy places gave great status to rulers of this era, not to mention money from a steady flow of pilgrims.

These are not legacy of a Muslim ruler and strongly suggest there was a transition period between an Monarchian Christian Arab empire based around the powerful Syriac Church, to an eventual Islamic faith some time later that completely rescinded its links to Christianity.

Kevin Davis

PICTURE Edition 17: The Church in Guinea Bissau: Mature, Healthy And Growing

(A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an Ipad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts)

1. History

Guinea Bissau is a tiny, struggling country on the west coast of Africa. It was slowly carved out of the existing kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire, by the Portugese from the 16th Century and this is the prime reason for its separate existence from what was French Guinea. For hundreds of years it was part of what was called The Slave Coast. The Portugese were prevented from exploring the interior of their colony until the 19th Century as the Gabu controlled the inland and profited greatly as middlemen in the slave trade.

In the 1950’s an armed guerrilla movement erupted and fought the Portugese with help from Cuba and Russia. Independence was declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974. A one-party Marxist government ruled for the next 20 years. Unstable leadership has continued ever since.

2. Today

Guinea Bissau is one of the poorest countries on earth, with an income of just 0.5% of the USA. Life expectancy is about 50 years, literacy is abysmal and nearly half the population is under 15 years. Sadly, Guinea Bissau is now a prime trans-shipment station for cocaine on its way from South America to Europe. This is corrupting many people and potentially its institutions.

Around half the population is Muslim, but they are strongly influenced by traditional Animist religious practices. The next largest religion is African Animism. Interestingly, according to the Pew Research Centre and World Atlas, the influence of Islam is now falling below 50%. If so this is a rare event in a Muslim majority country.

3. Evangelical Highlights

Some 20% of the country is nominally inside the Christian religion, with half of these being Catholic. Evangelism was banned before independence but with the many political and humanitarian crises that followed, evangelicals soon gained the respect of all successive governments. They now number around 2% of the population but are growing healthily at over 6% a year.

Christian programs are now broadcast on national radio in Portugese Creole and there is now a dedicated Christian radio station for this largely illiterate country. An increasing number of missionaries are arriving from other countries to help the local church which is solid, mature and indigenous. Brazil has recently taken over from westerners as the main sending country and there is a solid program of training for new leaders. It is estimated that by 2050 the nation will be 30% Christian, and most of that figure will be evangelical.

Prayer Points

Pray for more and more church planters to be raised up

Pray for increasing evangelism in the Muslim Fulbe and Malinke strongholds

Pray for Christian Radio to penetrate thousands of hearts

Pray for missions to the young

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders following

Pray that new foreign missionaries will be sensitive to local leadership and culture

Pray for the Brazilian missionaries teaching leadership courses such as the Kairos courses

Pray for continued successful evangelism to the Animist people

Pray that demonic control via witchcraft can be broken

Next week: India (because it is the second largest Muslim country in the world by numbers)

PICTURE Edition 16: The Church in Guinea: Small And Introspective

A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an Ipad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts

1. History

Guinea (an ancient Arab term for black people) is a smallish Muslim-majority country on the south west coast of Africa. Climatically it ranges from savannah in the north to deep tropical rain forest in the south. It is one of the wettest countries in the world and spawns four major rivers. It was part of the Arab trade routes for centuries and fell in an out with the prevailing empires of that region including the Ghana, Songhai, and Mali kingdoms. By 1235 its rulers were making a Hajj to Mecca. Along with most countries on the west coast, it was a source of slaves for the new world. The French took the area in 1890 and gave it its independence in 1958.

2. Today 

In recent times Guinea has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. After independence it was subject to coups, strong-arm leaders and a terrible two decade experiment with Marxism which saw the infrastructure collapse and the people impoverished. In 1970 some 50,000 people were executed after yet another attempted coup. Then in 2104 Guinea was the epicentre of an Ebola outbreak that grabbed world headlines. Literacy is a mere 45%, almost half the population is under 15, there is virtually no infrastructure and the average income is just 1% of the USA. However, under the current president democracy and economic growth has finally taken off in a big way with Chinese investment.

Guinea’s relationship with Islam is mixed. The three dominant people groups are all strongly Muslim. However, for many people the animistic spirit world is the daily priority with witchcraft very common. On the other hand almost all women suffer genital mutilation. Religious tolerance was common practice until a recent push for more Islamisation. The country hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring war-torn countries and many of these are former rebels stirring up trouble in the predominately forested, Christian south east

3. Evangelism Highlights

The picture doesn’t look good. Only 3% of the country profess any type of Christianity and the Catholic Church is the dominant expression. The true church of Jesus has not yet reached 1% of the total population but it has quadrupled in the last 50 years. After growing strongly in the hard years, there was some falling away after 2000 as nominal Christians departed. The church is currently growing more slowly than the population and is yet to significantly penetrate the Muslim majority in the culturally dominate Fulbe and Mandinka people groups. Scripture translation is an urgent need. Of the 34 languages there is only one full Bible translation and 10 New Testaments. Translations are underway in 10 more.

4. Prayer Points

This is a lost country and God passionately loves every one of them so…

Pray for missions to the youth: IFES, YWAM, CMA and the likes

Pray for more Bible translators

Pray for the breaking of demonic strongholds. As they break people will be set free

Pray for the Holy Spirit to embolden the local church

Pray for more missionaries from surrounding countries, especially from Nigeria where there over 50 million followers of Jesus (yes you read that correctly!!!)

Pray for key Muslim leaders to meet Jesus

Pray that the church can break out of its ethnic limits and reach the Fulbe and Mandinka people groups.

Pray for miracles, signs, wonders, healing and deliverance (Luke 9:2)

Pray for more harvest workers

Next Week: Guinea Bissau

Kevin

PICTURE Edition 15: The Church in Gambia: Tiny But Growing Very Fast

A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an Ipad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts.

1. History
The Gambia is a tiny elongated country of 2 million people that straddles the first 300 km of the Gambia River on the Western coast of Africa. The country is completely surrounded by Senegal. It was the source country of many of today’s Black American citizens, and the first African country ever to host an American President in 1943.

The Gambia first appears on Muslim trade records a thousand years ago and was soon dominated by the powerful Mali Empire from 1200-1400. In the 16th Century the first Europeans arrived and this eventually led to a protracted dispute between France and England for control of the area. The eventual success of the of the British is the reason the North American slave trade being based here and why it speaks English in a part of the world that speaks French.

Gambian citizens fought for the British in both the First and Second World Wars. The push for emancipation gathered steam in the 1920’s and eventually led to independence in 1965.

2. Today
After The Gambia received its independence it’s politics slowly disintegrated into several military coups. Multiparty elections in 2018 eventually resulted in a return to democracy, but only after UN intervention. The country is resource poor so relies on subsistence agriculture which employs 75% of the population. It has an income of just 1% of the USA and over half the population lives in or around the capital of Banjul on the coast. There is a small tourism industry here catering to European sun lovers and birdwatchers.

The country has a high level of religious tolerance even though it is 90% Muslim. Gambian Islam is lived out far more gently than in other Islamic areas because so many ethnicities share the country. However, with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, there are dangers for missionaries serving in the country, with a British chaplain serving the local army being arrested for sedition in 2008.

3. Evangelical Highlights
The traditional church comprises about 5% of the population with the Catholics being by far the largest group. Historically the Christians have been fairly complacent in regards to evangelism due to respect for the status quo. However, since the 1980’s, a time of political and social unrest, there has been strong growth in evangelicals who have multiplied 10 fold, now number about 15,000, and are growing at 9% a year. This growth rate will eventually peter out as they begin to evangelise the Muslim majority instead of the religiously traditional Christians.

Believers committed to evangelism and local missions work are few, education is low, resources are lacking and most Christian workers, who are already overstretched, do not want to leave the coast to evangelise the hinterland where they have to learn new languages. Congregations of Muslim Background Believers are growing and there are now two YWAM training bases in the country.

4. Prayer Points
Pray that the church can be set free from fear and complacency
Pray for the many African missionaries who are coming to Gambia to bolster the local church
Pray for the Christian radio station as it broadcasts the Bible orally in local languages
Pray for Bible translation to be completed in the minor languages
Pray for more evangelists who move into isolated areas to plant churches
Pray for Christian TV programs that air nationally to good response
Pray for the evangelising of the rapidly westernising youth who flock to the capital

Next Week: Guinea

Kevin

What I Learnt Today

Ah, Sunday mornings. No church till 10.00, Yes!

I was sleeping in this morning, and sometimes when you do that your spirit is awake while you are half there. That was me four hours ago.

And I had been struggling with a constant niggling problem of mine. I’ve had it for years. Its called religious obligation. I’ve always had it in some form. I was raised in a small farming town and a traditional Methodist/Uniting church. Then I went to boarding school and forgot all about it. In Year 10 high school Jesus found me and it was personal. I was discipled in a Pentecostal church. It was the 1970’s and the height of pietism.

Back then much emphasis was placed on a “quiet time” and Bible study, which was all good, but there was little emphasis on the freedom we are supposed to have in Christ. Jesus said his truth would set us free. He said his burden was lite. But I wasn’t taught to hear his voice and walk daily with him. Then again I am a bit of an intellectual type and its very hard for us to rationalise such subjective data as a whispering into our spirit.

Today, once again, Jesus cut through my thought train and dropped into my heart a truth that instantly set me free from the curse of religious obligation. I was asking questions and sensing an obligation to jump through hoops during the day…pray in tongues, prayer walk, spend time with him. The list was piling up. Yuk. Then he cut through my mental crap and simply said:

“Its easy, not hard”

What!

In an instant I knew exactly what the entire message was. I was released into a peace that is pure, deep and lovely.

Thinking that the Christian walk is hard and an obligation is never where God wants me or you to be. Having fun and enjoying relationship with the creator of the universe is the essence of my eternal life. Freedom and an easy yoke is the essence of our faith, otherwise its just another religion.

So now I am feeling free again and the voice of the Lord has been active in my spirit all morning. I’ve been busy copying these randoms message drops into a note book. Its been fun. I’ve been given ideas on how to diet, how to see creation and how to view people. I’ve even been given an idea to share with a mining company I am invested in!!!

I’m loving it.

As this journey unfolds I will keep you informed.

Kevin

Introducing You To Randeep Matthews

Ten years ago I attended the inaugural World House Church Conference in New Delhi India. It was an amazing four days as I understood for the first time the power and sheer scale of church multiplication going on around the world, especially in India. Cleverly, those serving us during the four days were introduced at the end as leaders of mass movements numbering from 40,000 to 300,000. One of them was Randeep Matthews.

Randeep sat with us up the back for most of the main sessions and we got to know him as a really cool guy. He is the Indian head of the Christian Outreach Centre (COC), an Australian Pentecostal church. At the conference his house church movement was then numbering 80,000.

It all started when, as a dormant Christian, he was visiting his mum up in Hamichal Pradesh at the foothills of the Himalayas.Two Hindu priests were trying to cast out a demon in the market place by sacrificing chickens. Randeep noncholantly told someone that only Jesus could deliver that woman. Someone else head him and challenged him to do so. After said demon was cast out Randeep slipped through the crowd and went to see his mum.

When he told her what had happened she laughed loudly and thanked the Lord that her son was back on track. A few hours later a crowd appeared and there was a knock on the door. Randeep fearfully answered and someone promptly asked if Jesus lived there as the crowd was looking for more of what had happened at the market place. For the next three hours Randeep could do nothing but pray for the sick and destitute, with miracles and healings flowing freely.

Hetold us he never got to go home for seven whole years as he was too busy overseeing an ever-growing house church movement in his home state.

As I said, when we met him there were some 80,000 in the house church movement under his leadership. His stated goal for his movement, and one that every believer in the network understood, was that they would usher in the first truly Christian state in North India. Hamichal Pradesh is home to 6 million people, so their specific goal was 51% of the state for Jesus. Several years later we caught up with Randeep in Australia and the movement had doubled again to 160,000. He told us then that he had been witnessing to the head Imam of the Chandigah Mosque and the Imam Had just told him via text that he was ready for baptism and to renounce Islam.

Last night, while researching for my next PICTURE newsletter, I came across a 2017  article by an American who works with Randeep. The movement was at that stage up to 750,000 and growing faster than ever.

However, what is truly amazing is that Randeep is only one of dozens of Indian leaders with similar movements all growing exponentially. The Indian church has tapped into the heart of God and the keys of church multiplication. Something very special is happening there that will eclipse anything the world has ever seen in terms of church growth and will eventually spill out to all countries where Indians work.

Here is the the link to the article on Randeep so you can read it for yourself.

Kevin Davis

 

P.I.C.T.U.R.E Edition 14: Eritrea

(you can sign up for this weekly prayer newsletter by filling in the form on the right of the home screen (laptops and Ipads) or by scrolling to the bottom of the blogs (smart phone)

THE CHURCH IN ERITREA: HUNTED LIKE ANIMALS BUT STILL GROWING!

History

The name Eritrea is derived from the ancient Greek name for the Red Sea. It encompasses both the Red Sea lowlands and the northern end of the Ethiopian Highlands. The country’s history is deep, with much influence, and often control, from neighbouring Ethiopia. It adopted Christianity very early and that was followed by Islam which slowly won over large sections of the population. The Turks, then the Italians and then the British took control over the centuries, leading up to independence again in 1993.

Today

Eritrea is a statistical and social nightmare. It ranks last in the world for electricity consumption, tourism, internet use, television ownership and teacher student ratios. It is the world’s fifth poorest country and looks likely to stay that way for a long time. Since independence in 1993 it has been ruled by Isaias Afwerki, a paranoid, brutal warlord who is both a Marxist and a Muslim. To stay in power he has the world’s second highest ratio of soldiers to citizens, crushing all and any who get in his path especially evangelical Christians whom he sees as the greatest threat to his control. Meanwhile the rest of the country lives just above starvation on foreign aid. Satan has this country in his hand.

Evangelism Highlights

First the good news: Most the 48% percent of the population that is Christian are from the ancient Eritrean Orthodox denomination and there is a huge spiritual awakening happening among them. Severe persecution is bringing tens of thousands of new believers into the Kingdom of God from this ancient dormant faith. The number of evangelicals is now well over 100,000, up from just a few thousand in 1960, and now growing very strongly at 5% a year. Towns in the mountains closer to Ethiopia have many believers as that is the natural base of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

Now the bad news: At any time one in thirty believers is in a filthy prison being tortured for their faith. Many will die or come out crippled from this torture. One young woman was kept in a shipping container for two years. Eritrea is up there with North Korea for atrocities committed against Christians. In fact it is called the North Korea of Africa. Yet new leaders keep taking the place of those detained, especially among young men who see the truth and become fearless. A viral house church network is booming throughout the country. Yet sadly most of the Muslims are yet to hear the Gospel as they live down on the coastal regions. Pray for the Beja and Nara peoples on the north coast, some of the hardest to reach for Jesus on the planet

Prayer Points

Pray for the towns near Ethiopia that they can be a refuge for the persecuted

Pray for the untouched Muslim half of the population.

Pray for those being tortured. Imagine if we were in their shoes

Pray for the destruction of powerful demonic strongholds

Pray for those that flee to Ethiopia, that they would hear the Good News

Pray for a change of government

Pray for all those leaders who face terrible persecution

Pray for a breakthrough, only the power of the Holy Spirit can set this country free

 

 

P.I.C.T.U.R.E. Edition 13: Egypt

THE CHURCH IN EGYPT IS THRIVING AND FEARLESS

1. History

Egypt’s history goes back to just a generation or two after the Tower of Babel, and it features heavily in the Old Testament. It was a great rival to many other empires including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Persians, and the Greeks. Then in 30BC it fell to the Roman Empire. The Romans and then the Byzantine Romans ruled until 641AD when it was conquered by the rapidly growing Arab Empire.

The coming of the Arabs changed Egypt’s future forever. Its vast Coptic Christian population was slowly subjected to ever tightening controls and the majority of Egyptians converted to Islam over the centuries. Arabic became the nation’s language, as did a strict from of Sunni Islam. Egypt was the lynch-pin of the Muslim control of all trade from Asia to Europe until Portugal’s  Vasco de Gama found a sea passage and broke the monopoly, birthing the global era of European colonialism and the impoverishment of the Middle East until the discovery of oil. The French took control of Egypt in 1798 and then the British took it off them in 1882. Egypt finally regained its independence in 1953.

2. Today.

Egypt is home to about 95 million people who live off just a fraction of its land; the Nile floodplains and its delta. Sixty percent are still poor farmers and the average Egyptian income is just 5% of the USA. Politically it has leaned toward secular military governments even in the face of rising radicalism. The last 10 years has seen many acts of violence perpetrated by radicals and this has galvanised the government to crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Most violence has been directed toward the large Coptic Orthodox Christian minority who number around 10 million.

3. Evangelism Highlights

Good news: Egyptian Christianity is thriving again! There is a widespread revival happening among the Coptic believers from the very top down. Sadly, this is the only Orthodox denomination in the world where any renewal is happening.  Prayer and renewal movements have burst onto the scene with all churches seeing a rise in spirituality and numbers. There are no less than seven Christian satellite TV stations beaming all over the Middle East, there are also Christian radio stations and many web-based evangelistic ministries.

Evangelicals now number some 3.5 million and numbers are growing over 5% a year. This is in the face of church bombings, abduction of young Christian women, widespread discrimination and institutionalised abuse. Egypt ranks No. 21 on Open Door’s World Watch List of the 50 nations where Christians face the most persecution. The Egyptian church has rediscovered its roots and is thriving. Christians are active and respected in politics, business and the health professions.

Muslim leaders also pitch in by complaining about the number of Muslims becoming Christians. Some say the number is close to one million but this figure is likely exaggerated for propaganda effect. Muslim background believers face much persecution from family and the government but are encouraged by some high profile former Muslim clerics who have become Christians.

4. Prayer Points

Pray for Egypt to once again become a Christian nation

Pray for continued boldness in the face of continued persecution

Pray for an even higher level of dreams, visions and miracles to impact Muslims who are searching

Pray for the safety of young Christian women

Pray for Muslim Background believers to multiply

Pray for Christian media to penetrate deep into Egyptian society

Pray that radicalisation will destroy the faith of millions of good people who are Muslim.

Pray for the continued ministry of Father Zakaria, Number One enemy of the world’s radical Muslims

Kevin Davis

THE CHURCH IN DJIBOUTI: TINY BUT GROWING SLOWLY

1. History

Djibouti (pronounced Ja-booti) is a small desert country strategically located across the entrance to the Red Sea from Yemen. It is surrounded by the politically unstable countries of Eritrea, and Somalia, with a stable Ethiopia to the west. People have lived here since the dawn of time and had domesticated cattle by the time of Abraham. Djibouti is considered the most likely location of the fabled land known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt.

Strangely, Djibouti did not become a majority Christian area in the first few centuries of the faith as Eritrea and Ethiopia did just up the coast and inland. This meant that Islam spread rapidly when it first arrived in the early years of that faith. Then nothing much happened in this small part of the world for 1,100 years, until the French saw the strategic value in Djibouti’s location and took it for themselves in 1884. A railway to Ethiopia was completed in 1917, was recently upgraded for $4bn, and guarantees the future growth of Djibouti City.

2. Today

Today the nation of Djibouti is virtually a city-state, with some 88% of its almost 1 million people living in Djibouti City. Two thirds of the population is under age 30 and the average life expectancy is about 65 years. Climatically, it is not a nice place to live! The government was completely reliant on foreign aid, trade exports via the Ethiopian railway and French, Japanese, Chinese and American air bases…everyone needs this spot to stay peaceful! The country is finally growing well as the government gets its act together, GDP has doubled in the last 10 years.

The French took no notice of ethnic boundaries when claiming the country and forced two warring groups, the Afar and the Somalis together. This led to much political instability after independence in 1977, but it has settled down lately. Nearby civil wars have brought in many refugees and these have had to be forcibly removed recently. A staunchly undemocratic and paranoid government seeks to control every aspect of society by stifling the basic freedoms of association, religion and expression. However, this also means the horrific civil wars to its north and south have been avoided in Djibouti.

The constitution declares Freedom of religion but Islam is the state religion, and all laws and policies are influenced by Sharia law. Both Shia and Sunni radicals are using the country as a stop-over on their way to both Yemen’s civil war and the failed state of Somalia.

Recurring droughts beginning in the second half of the 2000s devastated the subsistence pastoralism on which many of Djibouti’s people had depended, leading to chronic malnutrition in nearly a third of the population and chronic overcrowding in the capital.

3. Evangelical Highlights

The evangelical church in Djibouti does exist but only numbers some 1,300 believers. It is, however, growing slightly faster than the population at some around 3.5%. Some evangelical fellowships have also recently sprung up from among the sub-Saharan African immigrants.

Sadly, all our spiritual brothers and sister in Djibouti face difficulties. The few Christians from Muslim backgrounds experience terrible persecution at the hands of local communities and family members. Djibouti’s communal lifestyle makes hiding one’s faith incredibly difficult. If someone is even rumoured to have converted to Christianity, they lose their inheritance rights and often custody of their children. They are also closely monitored by their families, members of the local mosque and the rest of the community. Local authorities always fail to protect Christians from attack, leading to impunity for persecutors. Djibouti needs a breakthrough!

4. Prayer Points

Pray for the destruction of the demonic strongholds over these people.

Pray for safety among all believers.

Pray for “God opportunities” for believers to pray for the needs of others.

Pray for revival to come to the 14,000 Catholic and Orthodox faithful.

Pray for Believers from the Afar and Somali people groups.

Pray for divine visitations, dreams and visions to confront Islamic truth seekers.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, judgement and righteousness.

Pray for workers to be raised up for the coming harvest.

Pray for the 18 million evangelical believers next door in Ethiopia to get a vision to reach Djibouti!