SHARING THE GOSPEL THROUGH “OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD”
Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse is now sending more than 10 million gift-filled shoeboxes at Christmastime to children in more than 100 countries. Packed with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items, these gifts bring joy and the eternal hope of the Gospel to children around the world. For many children, their shoebox is the first gift they have ever received. Along with their shoebox gifts, children also receive The Greatest Gift, a storybook that shares the message of salvation. As shoebox gifts are distributed, local pastors and churches present the Gospel in a fun way designed for kids while family and friends listen in.
Since 2009, almost 19 million children who received shoebox gifts also enrolled in Operation Christmas Child’s 12-lesson discipleship program, The Greatest Journey. Through this program, which includes Bible stories and Scripture memorization, the children learn how to follow Christ in their daily lives as they share Him with friends and family. After completing the program, children attend a graduation celebration and receive a certificate. Most importantly, they are given a Bible that includes the New Testament and selected Old Testament stories along with a dictionary of Bible terms and a map of Bible lands. Family and friends who attend the ceremony hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. – samaritanspurse.org
Thank the Lord for the many individuals, families and churches that have filled shoeboxes this year out of love and concern for children. Pray for the distribution of these shoeboxes this December and for the children and their families and friends who will be impacted by them. Pray that many will respond to God’s love and the Gospel message. Pray for the pastors and churches that will be distributing the shoeboxes as a means to reach out to the children and their families in their area. Pray also that many children will go on to participate in The Greatest Journey.
AUTHORITIES CLOSE CHURCHES IN ALGERIA
In mid-October authorities in Algeria forcibly closed three of the countries largest churches. The closures bring to 15 the number of worship buildings sealed since the government launched a campaign against Protestant churches and institutions in November 2017. The closure orders are based on a 2006 ordinance requiring non-Muslim worship buildings to be licensed, but all applications to do so have remained unattended.
Islam is the state religion in Algeria, where 99 percent of the population of 40 million are Muslim. However, since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number. Algeria ranks 22nd on the Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. – morningstarnews.org
Open Doors provides this additional insight regarding the difficulties facing Christians in Algeria: “…Christian converts have become more open about their faith, leading to a backlash by Muslim families and the intolerant society, including the converts’ immediate and extended families. The state also adds to this pressure. Restrictive laws regulating non-Muslim worship, banning conversion and prohibiting blasphemy put Christians at extreme risk. Algeria’s blasphemy laws make it difficult for Christians to share their faith out of fear their conversation may be considered blasphemous and used against them. In Algeria, it’s forbidden to ‘shake the faith’ of a Muslim or use ‘means of seduction’ to convert a Muslim to another religion.” – opendoorsusa.org
Thank the Lord for the Algerians who have put their faith in Christ during recent years. Pray that He will grant them wisdom, encouragement, boldness and strength as they face the persecution and pressures that come from the government, the society and from family and friends.
GOD’S WORD GOES FORTH IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan is a strictly Islamic country and is a hotbed for Islamic terrorism. By law, no other religions – including Christianity – are allowed to exist. If officials discover Afghan citizens exploring any faith besides Islam (such as through websites, phone calls or emails), the resulting penalty can be death. Despite the risk, Afghans are turning to Christ. Though they have to gather in secret, there are thousands of believers and the Afghan church is growing.
In light of the situation for believers there, the ministry of World Missionary Press was somewhat skeptical when they recently received an email from a man in Afghanistan asking for 1,000 Scripture booklets that he could share. The man shared, “It’s about 5 years that I’m following Jesus and learning Christianity. I just download some topics from the internet and translate in my own language, then spread [it] between the followers who need God’s Word.... I’m very careful and hidden doing this holy job for Christ because I know He loves me as I love Him.” A couple of months later he sent another email to let them know the booklets had been distributed in his community and were being read.
Praise God for enabling His Word to go forth in Afghanistan! Pray hearts and lives will change as people encounter His truth, and ask the Lord to continue opening doors of opportunity.
– mnnonline.org, Information by permission of Mission Network News.
PERSECUTION IN WEST AFRICA
More than five million people throughout West Africa need urgent help. Islamic terrorism and tribal conflict drive the region’s unrest.
Nigeria’s Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, has been growing in power and reach since 2009. Today, Nigeria faces threats on three fronts: Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and Fulani herdsmen. Mali’s situation has grown increasingly worse since 2015 – Open Doors places Mali as 24th on this year’s World Watch List. Nearly a half-million people have been internally displaced in Burkina Faso alone.
Believers in Burkina Faso suffered significant loss earlier this year when armed gunmen attacked four different churches within four weeks. Four Christians were killed in August simply for wearing crosses. Believers are also being systematically exterminated or expelled from their villages by Islamic militants. In recent incidents, Christians in two villages in northern Burkina Faso were ordered to convert to Islam or abandon their homes and flee. In one of the villages almost 2,000 people were forced to flee their homes, finding temporary shelter at a school in another village. Similar attacks are also happening in neighboring Mali, Niger and Nigeria, as militants seek control of large areas in West Africa.
There is, however, a silver lining in all of this according to a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs Canada. “We should be encouraged as Christians [because] many of these believers are refusing to become Muslim. They could convert and stay in their homes,” he says. “But, rather than deny Jesus or the Christian faith, they choose to leave the area.”
Lift up these displaced Christian villagers in your prayers, including their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Pray that they will be able to return to their homes in safety. Praise God for those of the local community who have compassionately rallied together to provide needed support for the refugees. Also, intercede for the leaders of these nations as they endeavor to restore peace and stop the ongoing violence.
– Arranged from mnnonline.org and vomcanada.com.
PRAY FOR ISRAEL
Below are 10 specific ways you can pray for Israel today:
1. Restoration and Reconciliation – Pray for Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world to be restored and reconciled to God through faith in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.
2. Watchmen – Pray for God to raise up “watchmen” in each nation of the world who are dedicated to praying for Israel and the Jewish people.
3. Peace and Protection – Pray for guidance and wisdom for Israeli and world leaders pursuing peace for Israel; for protection from the plans of Israel’s natural and spiritual enemies; for all involved to recognize that true peace will only come from God.
4. Fighting Terror, Radical Islam and Jihad – Pray for all terror plots to be exposed and stopped.
5. Fair and Honest Media Coverage – Pray for clarity for the media to report fully and accurately about Israel today and the Middle East conflict.
6. Fighting Anti-Semitism – Pray for exposure of anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it occurs and that it would no longer be tolerated.
7. Israel’s Leaders – Pray for wisdom and integrity for all of Israel’s leaders including the Prime Minister, members of the Knesset (ruling body) and Israeli Defense Forces; for God’s guidance on how to specifically address relations and situations arising with the Palestinians, neighboring Arab nations, Iran and other countries with radical Islamic ideology.
8. Israel’s Children and Youth – Pray for strengthening of families in Israel today to guard children against the world’s temptations; for young people in Israel – both male and female – to turn to God as they prepare for their mandatory military service, cope with terror incidents, and heal from loss.
9. The Vulnerable, Forgotten and Needy in Israel – Pray for care and healing for the broken, vulnerable or needy in Israel – including elderly Holocaust survivors, struggling immigrants and the homeless.
10. Strong Alliance between America and Israel – Pray for continuing support of U.S. leaders to courageously stand as allies with Israel and speak out to protect Israel’s rights.
– Drawn from “10 Ways To Pray For Israel” published by Jewish Voice Ministries (jewishvoice.org).