Thursday, October 27, 2011

Centered on Praying

Today's passage:  I Corinthians 15:1-11
     For the past two years, our pastor has challenged our church to pray for the countries of the world.  At the front of the church, during missions conference week, flags of every country are displayed.  This year he asked us to close our eyes and pick one.  That flag is a reminder to pray every day for the souls of that nation.  Even our young children have gotten involved, and listening to them pray for the people of other countries is stirring.  My prayer is that this exercise will burden their hearts about missions and maybe they will feel a calling to do a work in one of the countries for which they grew up praying.
     I have prayed for the countries of Bahrain and Qatar.  This year I am praying for the Central African Republic, a country I didn't know.  Sure, I knew what continent it was on, since the name of the country kind of helped me with that.  I looked up some information on it.  It is located almost directly in the center of Africa (thus the appropriate name).  The landlocked country is located between Cameroon to the west, Chad to the north, the Congos to the South and the Sudans to the northeast/southeast.

African continent with Central African Republic highlighted in green.
      What most troubled me was that the average life expectancy is 50 years old.  With over fifty percent of the population between the age bracket of 15-65, that means about half of the population has reached old age.  With only 25% considering themselves Protestant (and that is a mixed kettle) and a 48% literacy rate, that's three quarters of a country who are unfamiliar with the gospel, and half of a country that would not be able to read a Bible if given one. Those statistics are given by the CIA World Factbook.  Operation World listed the top religion for this country as being Christian, with 32% out of 76% considering themselves evangelical.  With Muslim nations surrounding them, if this is true, that is encouraging news.  Still the need for growth, and a lot of that comes from being able to read the Bible, would be considerable.
      They rank 7 among countries for infant mortality rate, with almost 100 infant deaths out of 1000.  AIDS is still a serious problem here.  As in most African countries, sanitation conditions and disease are prevalent.  It is also considered a Tier 3 country for human trafficking, which means that it has not complied with UN standards for eliminating it and may suffer sanctions as a result.
     Paul says at the beginning of this chapter, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;"  It is my desire that every person in the Central African Republic will receive Christ, and stand on the truth they have been given.  Maybe in Heaven, I will find out there were some souls saved because of my prayers.  Maybe I will meet Christian brothers and sisters from Bahrain and Qatar as well.  Wouldn't it be something if God let me have some small part in a country thousands of miles away?  God will let you do the same.  Pick a country, any country, and make it your goal to pray for it for an entire year.  We pray for our countries at every meal time, and then again during devotion time.  That is four times a day (most days) that prayers are being offered up for a country of the world.  If you decide to participate, would you comment below, and tell me for which country you will be praying?  I'd love to hear how God has burdened your heart. 

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