"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
What do you think is the biggest problem that countries have to address? For some, it could be a corrupt government and political instability. For others, its economic downturn and rising inequality, or even war and unrest. But, the Bible reminds us that our greatest problem is sin, and salvation comes not by our works but only through faith in Jesus Christ.
Pray for Brazil
In 2017, Singapore and Brazil celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations. In 1967, Brazil was the first Latin American nation to recognise the newly independent Singapore. Out of all the ASEAN nations, Singapore was the main destination for exports from Brazil in 2017. Brazil actually supplies a lot of the meat that we consume, be it beef chicken or pork! Remember this and be extra thankful the next time you say grace and bite into that fried chicken!
Brazil seems to be undergoing a sort of modern day Reformation. The translation of good Christian literature into Portuguese as well as the availability of good resources via the internet have provided believers (many of whom are young adults) greater clarity and understanding of the Bible. As Singapore enjoys a good trade partnership with Brazil, pray that our churches will also be able to support the growth of healthy churches in Brazil. Pray for the expatriates living, working and studying in Singapore that they will be able to encounter Christians that can share the gospel and disciple them, so that they can bring the gospel back to their nation.
Pray for Mexico
Singapore and Mexico enjoy good bilateral and trade relations but in recent years, both nations were keen to increase cooperation. In 2016, there were about 40 Singapore companies operating in Mexico, including Hyflux (water-treatment company), Banyan Tree (tourism) and Sunningdale (plastic-parts manufacturer). The recent uncertain trade policies as a result of Trump's presidency -- attempts to review NAFTA, US pulling out of the TPP -- has led to Mexico being more keen to work on a bilateral trade agreement with Singapore.
In Singapore, we enjoy stable governance, and have leaders that strive to be honest and transparent. Yet in Mexico, the people have been disillusioned by the rampant corruption in their nation. Pray for Mexico as they have just elected a new president, Mr López Obrador. Pray for a smooth transition and change of government. Pray that the leaders will act justly to ensure that corruption and crimes are punished and not allowed to perpetuate.
Pray for Belgium
Singapore and Belgium celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations in 2016, but the links between both countries did not just being with modern Singapore. Jacobus van de Koutere, who was born in Bruges, travelled to Southeast Asia in the early 17th century and reportedly advised the King of Spain to build a city in Singapore in order to facilitate trade with China. This advice was not taken, but years later, Stamford Raffles chanced up this island and the rest is what we know in history. Today, many Belgian companies have offices here in Singapore.
The next time you nurse your Hoegaarden or Leffe (well-known Belgian beers), stop and also pray for this nation. Belgium is a developed nation like Singapore, and the idols of comfort as well as prevailing secular ideas are what Christians and non-Christians struggle with. Pray for the people to find deeper, lasting satisfaction in Christ alone, and not just technological development and economic success. Pray for those that are working in Singapore, that they will be able to meet Christians who will help them see that Christianity doesn't just inform a culture, and instead understand what a personal relationship with Jesus is all about.
Pray for Japan
Singaporeans are no strangers to Japanese culture. We love our Japanese food and many brands and shops have opened in Singapore. Japan is also a top holiday destination for many Singaporeans. This is rather heartening considering our past relationship during the Japanese Occupation. In 2016, it was reported that about 37 000 Japanese live in Singapore .
There are actually a few Japanese ministries, churches and services here in Singapore! Some of them include the International Japanese Church of Singapore and the Singapore Japanese Christian Fellowship. Pray for the ministries of these churches as they try to reach out to the Japanese who are living away from home! Pray that living in Singapore might cause their hearts to be more open to the gospel and also cause them to seek out truth and God. For those of us that study with and work with Japanese, pray that we'll also take hold of opportunities to talk to them about God and what Christians believe.