"And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again." (John 10:16-17)
Jesus was sent by the Father and He willingly obeyed the Father to complete the task for which He was sent. Praise God for His grace and steadfast love that extends to all the nations. As we consider these countries today, let's also remember that within these countries are also those that will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Pray for Brazil
Despite there being a giant statue of Jesus overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro from Corcovado mountain, the presences of Christ is less obvious in the average street. Economically Brazil faces problems that are due to income inequality, where the poorest 10% of Brazil hold less than 1% of Brazil's wealth while the richest 10% hold more than half. About a quarter of the city's population live in slum-like housing. Although most of the country as identifying as Catholic (74%) with a small proportion identifying as Christians (16%), Brazil struggles with nominalism and spiritism. Nevertheless, such problems have not been able to prevent God from causing the number of evangelical believers there to grow continuously. Brazil has also become missionary-sending nation.
Praise God for remembering the righteous in Brazil and blessing them with growth in spite of the country's problems. Pray that they may continue to rely on his provision. Pray also for the Gospel to continue to be spread throughout the nation, so that lives may be changed and hearts may be stirred to compassionate acts of meeting practical needs, such as medical needs and providing for the poor. May God convict the rich who are greedy of their foolishness and bless the poor with his provision from the choicest of stores.
Pray for Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a predominantly Catholic nation, with over 70% of Costa Ricans identifying themselves as Catholic. While about 13.7% of Costa Ricans identify themselves as evangelical Christians, most churches there blend philosophies with different denominations to form mostly individual churches with little in common with each other. In terms of economic development, Costa Rica has been thriving in recent years, but 16% of its population fall below the poverty line.
Pray that God may use the local churches there to effect real, tangible change in the hearts of his people and of their way of life. Pray for the youth in Costa Rica to be reached with he gospel as the youth form two-thirds of the nation's population. Pray also for the indigenous groups to come to embrace the Gospel and abandon their practices of animism.
Pray for Nigeria
Nigeria has been wrecked plagued with decades of violence comprising of tribal rivalries and Islamic extremism carried out by Boko Haram. Moreover, corruption is rampant on all levels, holding the country back economically. In spite of Nigeria being the world's largest oil producers, half the population lives in poverty, with 30% lacking clean water. HIV/AIDS has also devastated many families and communities.
Pray for God to reveal and destroy all networks of widespread corruption in the country, particularly in government circles and the church. Pray for the gospel to be firmly rooted in the few churches in Nigeria, and that the faithful may be guarded from syncretistic and prosperity-based teachings, instead being used by God to grow the church in truth. Pray for the Christians in the north who have been facing growing persecution under Islamic shari'a law, that persecution may be lifted and that a supernatural kind of love and forgiveness would dominate the hearts of God's people there.
Pray for Iceland
Iceland is home to many of creation's most beautiful places, where numerous fjords jut into the volcanic-shaped landscape. Praise God for having greatly preserved Icelandic culture in spite of globalisation, as well as for the beauty his creation. Iceland has been blessed as a missionary-sending nation. Its Christian radio Lindin also continues to spread the gospel message across the country.
However, like much of Europe, the church in Iceland is facing a spiritual downslide. Though 90% of Icelanders claim to be Christian, about half of that number are unfamiliar with the idea of an intimate and surrendered relationship with Jesus. Pray for the Spirit to work powerfully amongst the churches there, convicting Icelanders of their lukewarm faith and stirring them to faithful ministry.
Pray for Serbia
Few countries have known war and conflict like Serbia. After a long history of being under communist rule and influence, followed by much ethno-religious violence, Serbia is struggling with a desperate economy and is still reeling from a past that is defined with ethno-religious hatred and cleansing. Primarily Orthodox, 80% of the populace claim to be Christians, but the strong ties between ethnicity and religion have greatly hindered any real spiritual growth.
Nevertheless, there is much to give thanks for as a small but growing body of evangelical believers is putting in effort to overcome racial divisions by worshipping together in unity. Pray that God may sustain them and bless their efforts to seek him as one body in Christ, while stirring others to come to Jesus for healing and forgiveness. Pray also for the healing of the nation from centuries-long ethnic and religious hate, and for humanitarian groups to be used powerfully by God to provide for the needy there.
Pray for Switzerland
If you have always wondered what it is like to worship God through his creation (and if you happen to have a lot of money and time on your hands), a visit to Switzerland would do you much good. The amazing splendour of the Alps, historic medieval cities and pastoral farming communities come together to give the country its world-renowned natural beauty. Switzerland's rich Christian heritage is represented by great reformers such as Ulrich Zwingli, the father of the Swiss Reformation, and John Calvin who served as a pastor in Geneva. However, material prosperity and an attitude of vague religiosity are becoming increasingly big challenges to the church there.
Regardless, there is much to give thanks for as vibrant youth ministries and evangelical churches are working hard to adapt to a changing culture and better reach the spiritually apathetic. Pray that God may bless their efforts with his provision of wisdom and strength, and that the Holy Spirit may convict hearts of idolatry and point the spiritually lethargic back to the cross. Pray for Switzerland to become spiritually rich and a blessing to the world.