As the nations gather for the World Cup, we should notice that the spotlight doesn’t just fall on our favourite players. We might see men in neon, brightly-coloured tees appearing at the peripheries of the broadcasting camera. They occasionally come on screen to blow a whistle. They are tasked with making difficult decisions in the spirit of enforcing the rules of the game.
Obedience to the rules ensure that the game is played fairly and disobedience results in consequences. Some of us may think of God to be like a referee, always there to catch our mistakes and to punish us. But He is more than that. He has designed us and the world to flourish by His rule and to go against that is against our good. He is the perfect lawgiver and judge (Jas 4:12) who will one day judge the living and the dead (2 Tim 4:1). All will give an account (1 Pet 4:5) of our lives to Him. Christ Jesus, Son of Man will separate the righteous from the wicked as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matt 25:32).
Let us pray for the nations whilst being rooted and grounded in the love of Christ (Eph 3:18-19), with the reality of judgement in our minds.
Pray for Belgium
Belgian culture has always been intertwined with Catholicism. The influence of Christianity, however, has been waning. This is true not only statistically in the number of believers, but also in terms of the decisions made by lawmakers and policy makers. Four major Christian holidays have been re-named with secular names.
Let us pray for our follow believers, who remain a majority in their country. Pray that they may live out their faith in Christ amidst cultural opposition and continue to sow seeds for His truth.
Pray for Tunisia
Tunisia is 99 percent Muslim – one can imagine how difficult it might be to spread the gospel here. There has, however, been remarkable progress. The Christian Post wrote an article in late 2017 to celebrate the growing number of conversions. Thank God for believers in the 1970s who found the strength to share their convictions in Christ. Let us continue to pray for these brothers and sisters as they live their lives set apart from their neighbours, they will be good testimonies for the redeeming love of Christ.
Pray for South Korea
According to the Pew Research Centre, the growth of Christianity in South Korea has been remarkable over the past century – from 1% in 1900 to roughly 30% of South Koreans in 2010. Thank God for political conditions and the kind of peace that is favourable for His gospel. Let us pray for biblical clarity and rootedness in His word and truth as the country grows in faith.
Pray for Mexico
Mexico, like Belgium was known as a Christian nation where the Catholic church had been very dominant. However, several conservative American sources have pointed out that Christians in Mexico today are persecuted for their beliefs. In parts of Mexico, going to church may even be dangerous. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Associations ranks Mexico as the 41st out of the 50 most Christian-hostile nations. Let us pray for ministers, elders, pastors and believers in the nation who are persistent in their drive to spread the gospel amidst the risk of personal danger. Pray that God may sustain them and give them wit to circumvent opposition.
Pray for Germany
Christianity might be seen as waning in Germany. There are many nominal Christians. Germany’s federal police also recorded almost 100 attacks on Christians and Christian-affiliated instuitutions in 2017.
Pray that God may stir the committed believers in Christ to act within their communities, and for God to protect His people from senseless attacks. We remember from Saul’s Road to Damascus that God sees acts of persecution towards His people as direct attacks on Him. We pray that Christians in Germany are strengthened by this truth.
Pray for Sweden
The Church of Sweden has been plagued by some theological controversy in recent times. In 2017, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is ceasing to refer to God as ‘He’ or ‘Lord’ by claiming that “God is beyond gender discrimination”. The Swedes, in general, have also been called the least ‘religious’ nation in the world. These are conditions unfavourable for His truth.
Let us pray that fellow ministers of God from around the world may encourage and remind the leaders in the Swedish Church of their errors. Pray for the Christians in Sweden, that they may succeed over apathy to speak truth and love into hardened hearts.