Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spreading the Fire of Fireproof

Alyssa C. and I have not watched Fireproof and we know that we will not be able to watch it anywhere in the near future. So, why a promotion in our blog?

I read the review made by the Harris twins in The Rebelution and I trust their judgment. Having also watched the Kendrick brothers' Facing the Giants, we know that they are only up to making movies that are Christ-centered and uplifting to viewers.

So, if you happen to pass by this blog and you live where Fireproof is showing, go and watch it. If it's not showing anywhere near, request for it. We can't help Fireproof directly by buying tickets but you who are within reach of Fireproof, go and grab the opportunity to watch! This is a movie not to be missed. Or as they put it in The Rebelution, this is a Drop-Everything-and-Go-See-It-Film.

Day 30 - Ahmedabad, India

The Thirtieth Day (Tuesday, September 30)

Economically marginalized Muslims in Gujarat State

In the heart of Western India’s Gujarat State lies India’s seventh largest city, Ahmedabad, which has a population of over five million people. Once famous for being the birthplace of Gandhi and his commitment to pacifism and tolerance, Gujarat has now developed into a major centre for Hindu religious zeal known as Hindutva which is seeking to preserve and expand Hindu influence in all of India to the exclusion of Islam and Christianity.

Ahmedabad visibly reflects India’s widening divergence of cultures, just as the Sabarmati River splits Ahmedabad into two distinctly different worlds. On the western side of the river is an increasingly affluent, modern and predominantly Hindu city. India’s modern Hindu elite is present in the commercial district and shopping malls. To the east is an ancient, chaotic and predominantly Muslim walled city of narrow, winding alleys and confined neighbourhoods which reflects Ahmedabad’s Islamic past.

More than one million economically marginalised Muslims live in the city. Often jobless or underemployed and unable to return to their villages, many live on by sheer force of will. They survive in the ghettos and slums and even the progressive Muslim elite now feel the segregation and the economic disparities with the Hindus. This profound human suffering does not have easy solutions.

As believers in Jesus, we acknowledge that the greatest need of the Muslims is Christ. Yet an extremely small amount of evangelistic work in Gujarat focuses on the unreached Muslim peoples of Ahmedabad which include the: Shaikh, Bohra, Memon, Khoja, Pathan and the Sayyid. Most local followers of Jesus openly acknowledge they are afraid to reach out into the Muslim community. Imagine over one million people in Ahmedabad who have practically no Gospel witness. Pray for labourers to bring the Gospel of hope to the Muslims of Gujarat.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that Muslims will realise their inability to meet the demands of God’s perfect law.

* May the true fear of God come upon the Muslims (Proverbs 1:7).

* Ask God to increasingly establish faithful followers of Jesus among the Muslims of Gujarat so they might be examples of godliness and bearers of hope in difficult situations.

I was born in a wealthy Muslim family. Both my father and mother belonged to families with a rich religious heritage. Unfortunately tensions in my parent’s marriage, related to my father’s marriage with a second wife, soon caused my parents to divorce. My mother and I moved several times but eventually we settled in Mumbai.

When I was very young I had a remarkable dream. I heard God calling me and as I looked towards the heavens, I saw the skies lit up with a powerful light. Later I began to study the Qur’an in English. I was disturbed by the Hindu Muslim riots, and the hatred that Muslims had for the followers of Jesus and Jews. Eventually I stopped praying and practicing Islam. I still had a belief in God, but I was angry and I often contemplated suicide. One day when I was seriously considering killing myself I dozed off and had an amazing experience. I could see myself standing near a certain statue of Jesus at a place which I knew very well. I sensed a divine peaceful presence, but I still resisted God in my thoughts. About a year later when I visited that place much to my surprise I saw the words of Jesus written below the statue, “I am the Resurrection and the Life”.

Things went badly for me in business and in my relationships, so eventually I thought of killing various members of my family and joining the mafia or a jihad movement. But one night I woke from my sleep and I plainly saw the face of Jesus in my room. I heard His voice speaking, “From now onwards you don’t have to be sad anymore; all your pains and sufferings are mine; that is why I went on the cross for you.” Amazingly at that moment my anger, hatred, fear, sorrow and negativity left me. Joy and peace came into me and I awoke fresh and cheerful. Months of tension and pain left me. Soon I met others from a Muslim background who have had similar experiences to my own. I began to compose poems and songs for my Lord. Encountering Jesus has created a passion within me to worship God.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 29 - Caribbean Suriname

The Twenty-Ninth Day (Monday, September 29)

“No span” (”Keep cool; don’t worry”), a Creole expression.

When booking your flight to Suriname, don’t be surprised if your travel agent doesn’t know where it is. It’s pretty remote. Although it is the smallest independent country in South America, it is four times larger than the Netherlands who ruled it for a while. Some 80% of the country is tropical rain forest - think gateway to the Amazon - which is one reason not many people wander in from neighboring Brazil.

Suriname (formerly Dutch Guyana) is a small Republic on the northeast coast of South America. It is not unusual to see monkeys traversing the trees and boa constrictors crossing well travelled roads. The interior region remains unspoiled and sparsely inhabited. Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. After the abolition of slavery in 1863, agricultural workers arrived from India and the Indonesian island of Java. Suriname’s independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975.

Diversity of peoples:
When you do arrive in Suriname (also spelled Surinam or Sranang) one of the first things you will notice is the amazing mix of peoples and languages. East Indians make up 37% of the population, Creole (mixed white and black) 31%, Javanese 15%, “Maroons” (former African slaves who escaped into the interior) 10%, Amerindian 2%, Chinese 2%, white and other 3%. Eleven different languages are spoken in Surinam. Dutch is the official language but Sranang Tongo (Surinaams) is spoken by mostly everyone but “no span”, many speak English as well.

You will probably want to head for the capital, Paramaribo first. Most of the 439 thousand people live here in the “city of flowers”. It was settled by the British in the mid-1600s. A treaty with the Brit’s in 1667 allowed the Dutch to take control but they had to give up New York for the pleasure. Here you will find the mosque, Hindu temple, church, cathedral and synagogue within walking distance of each other.

The trans-Atlantic slave trade brought millions of Muslims into the Caribbean, including Suriname. Unlike wealthier Muslims in Trinidad and Guyana, Surinamese Muslims belong mostly to the low- and middle-income groups and are predominantly agricultural workers. There are several mosques spread all over the country.

In other countries, Muslims are called to prayer from the top of the minaret, or tower, of the mosque. In Suriname, however, where the majority of Muslims are Javanese, they follow the custom of their homeland and await the sound of a drum. Javanese life centers around the home, which a Muslim leader blesses before the family moves in.

Christian ministry to the poor is especially important since about half the population is estimated to live below the poverty line.

Prayer Starters
* There are several Christian denominations active in the country but the Gospel has been slow to take root among both Javanese and Hindustani Muslims, who are mostly Sunni Muslims. Pray that the Jesus film, Genesis project and others can reach the Muslim population. The “Jesus Film” has been extensively used in film showings and on television in 4 major languages.

* The Jesus Students Suriname Movement (JSSM) has been working in Suriname for over a decade. They ask prayer for more small groups, especially at the University of Suriname.

* Pray that Suriname’s people will read their Sranan Tongo New Testaments, allowing the light of God’s Word to shine in the darkness.

* Roughly a third of the population left for the Netherlands after independence. Therefore we also need to pray for the Surinamese in Holland to be touched by the Gospel where many are Muslim and who built the first Jama Masjid mosque in Amsterdam.

Interesting Facts about Suriname:
Although Islam was introduced into Suriname by the Africans, most were “Christianized”. Today about 15 percent of the Hindustani are Muslims.

Suriname made a vital contribution towards Allied victory in the Second World War because it supplied the bauxite from which aluminum was made to construct aircraft.

The Galibi Nature Reserve was established in 1969 to protect the nesting beaches of sea turtles.

The first Jama Masjid in Netherlands was built in 1981 by Muslims of Suriname who settled in Holland. The new mosque was built in 2005 and includes an Islamic Cultural Center.

Most homes do not have a knocker or a bell - you just go in (yes they are a friendly people).

A casual conversation is initiated by a handshake, and good friends are greeted with a brasa (hug).

History of Suriname (World Factbook)
First explored by the Spaniards in the 16th century and then settled by the English in the mid-17th century, Suriname became a Dutch colony in 1667. With the abolition of slavery in 1863, workers were brought in from India and Java. Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic. It continued to exert control through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1990, the military overthrew the civilian leadership, but a democratically elected government - a four-party New Front coalition - returned to power in 1991 and has ruled since, expanding to eight parties in 2005.

Economy of Suriname
The economy is dominated by the mining industry, which accounts for more than a third of GDP and subjects government revenues to mineral price volatility. The short-term economic outlook depends on the government’s ability to control inflation and on the development of projects in the bauxite and gold mining sectors. Suriname’s economic prospects for the medium term will depend on continued commitment to responsible monetary and fiscal policies and to the introduction of structural reforms to liberalize markets and promote competition.

Statistics on Suriname
Population: 475,996 (July 2008 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 73.48 years

Ethnic groups: Hindustani (also known locally as “East Indians”; their ancestors emigrated from northern India in the latter part of the 19th century) 37%, Creole (mixed white and black) 31%, Javanese 15%, “Maroons” (their African ancestors were brought to the country in the 17th and 18th centuries as slaves and escaped to the interior) 10%, Amerindian 2%, Chinese 2%, white 1%, other 2%

Religions: Hindu 27.4%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, indigenous beliefs 5%

Languages: Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese

Literacy: 89.6%

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Day 28 - Outreach Forbidden in Africa’s Comoros - 98% Muslim

The Twenty-Eighth Day (Sunday, September 28)

The islands struggle between coups and unemployment leads to adoption of Islamic law.

Many years ago the Comoros Islands were known for their exports of perfume essences, as well as vanilla and cloves. Also famous is the prehistoric deep sea fish known as the coelacanthe, thought to be long extinct, which was discovered off the coast earlier this century. Today, however, the Comoros have become the “Forgotten Islands.”

The Union of the Comoros (formerly Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoro Islands) consists of volcanic islands off the coast of Africa, 300 kilometers (200 miles) east of Mozambique. The Comoro are one of Islam’s southern most strongholds, adhering to a strict branch of the Sunni faith introduced by the “Shirazi” Arab migrants in the early 1500s.

The Comoro are an underdeveloped and poor nation with high unemployment. Most people are subsistence farmers. They are an artistic people: the women engage in needlework, the men in woodwork. They are proud of their religion and do not easily accept other religions. There are approximately 1,400 mosques throughout the three islands (the forth is French).

All open witness is forbidden, preaching the Gospel is illegal and Comoran Christians are not allowed to gather for public worship. The Bible is available in French and Arabic, and portions of the scripture are available in Comoran, however, with a literacy rate of just 56.5% (2003 estimate), recordings of the Gospel are much more effective. One African linguistic programme has translated the Gospel into three Comoran dialects and a recent report said that some Comoran have already given their lives to Christ.

The Coup
Following a 1999 military coup, the May 2000 constitution did not allow for freedom of religion. The December 2001 constitution does provide for this freedom, however, it also makes Islam the state religion. There are two Roman Catholic churches and one Protestant church. Even before the 1999 coup the government had restricted the use of these churches to non-citizens only. Harassment and social discrimination of Christians is widespread.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that the Gospel would be made available (written or otherwise) to all the wonderful people of Comoros and pray especially the children can hear it (Genesis 12:1-3). Pray for the translation work being done.

* A radio specialist came to the islands this year and determined that most people listen to small local stations, not shortwave overseas stations. Pray that Christian music and storying tapes can infiltrate the radio stations and touch the lives of people for Jesus.

* One cassette tape of Bible stories in the local language is now in use. Others are in the planning stages for the coming year. Pray that this project will be successful and bring people to Christ.

* Pray against fear, witchcraft, curses, and conversations with jinn (evil spirits). Comorian people are bound by the spirit of fear to these practices. Only the stronger power of Jesus Christ can release this stronghold on peoples’ lives. (1 Peter 5:8, Matthew 10:28-30)

Background on Comoros (World Factbook)
Comoros has endured 19 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975, some attributed to France but difficult to prove. Its political infighting has lead to each island in the archipelago elected its own president and a new union president took office in May 2002. Although a tiny land area, it played a strategic role on the busy shipping lanes of the Mozambique Channel but the opening of the Suez Canal reduced the importance of the islands, hence, the “forgotten islands”. South Africa, Mozambique, France and some Arab nations still have a keen political interest in this small nation.

They are a friendly and hospitable people. In the more remote hill areas the people are largely descended from African ex-slaves living in traditional houses made of banana and coconut leaves or lava cemented with chalk and sand. Those in the cities are descendants of Arab nobility and live in more modern houses.

Economy of Comoros
One of the world’s poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports.

Statistics on Comoros
Population: 731,775 (July 2008 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 63.1 years

Ethnic groups: Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava

Religions: Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 0.5%, Other 1.5%

Languages: Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)

Literacy: 56.5%

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Day 27 - Sat-7 Kids

The Twenty-Seventh Day (Saturday, September 27)

A new TV-channel for the children of the Arab World

One hundred million children under the age of 15 live in the Arab world and at least half of them have access to satellite television. These children and youth represent the future of the region. Children living amid strife, lack of hope and difficulties often turn to TV as a place of safety where they can escape. Arab children now have the opportunity to watch Christian programming at all times of the day. In December 2007, the SAT-7 network launched SAT-7 KIDS a 24-hour Arabic satellite television channel for children.

For about 12 years the SAT-7 network has been encouraging and strengthening believers as it makes available Christ’s message of hope to every home in the Middle East and North Africa. On SAT-7 KIDS, children can see programs with messages of love, forgiveness and turning the other cheek. The channel is broadcasting cartoons, dramas, Bible stories, game shows and many kinds of programs about how to walk with the Lord. From the beginning, programs for children have been among the most popular of the wide variety of shows available on SAT-7. Here are a few comments from viewers:

“I thank the Lord for your programs which spread the Word of God in the Arab world. I regularly watch your children’s program, although I am 27 years old and am a Sunday school teacher! (Young man in Syria)

“I am 9 years old. I have a question: How can I love the bad people who are mean to me? (Girl in Egypt)

“I want to tell you that I love your show very much. It helps me to understand and know things about God. (Egyptian girl living in Saudi Arabia)

Prayer Starters
* Pray for the children of the Arab world, that they may be blessed through watching SAT-7 KIDS.

* Pray for inspiration and creativity for those actively working to make SAT-7 KIDS an attractive and helpful channel for followers of Jesus and Muslims alike.

* Pray for additional funding for SAT-7.

Muslim ideas of Christians
Very often Muslims unfortunately associate Christianity completely with Western culture. Muslims often believe that Christians are deceived and that they have an obligation to lead them to the truth of Islam. For many Muslims, the word ‘Christian’ signifies materialism, a lack of spirituality and moral failure. Because of this they reject many things that come from Western society and which they consider perverted. For Muslims, alcohol consumption, pornography, a liberal lifestyle and a lack of religious practice are sure signs of the failure of Western countries (They often see and hear these type of things on Western television, films, books and music).

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 26 - Pakistan's Hindko Speakers

The Twenty-Sixth Day (Friday, September 26)

One language, many tribes

Possibly five million people in northern Pakistan are Hindko speakers. This is more than the population of Norway and about the same as Turkmenistan. Made up of several ethnic groups, mostly Pathans and Moghuls, the Hindko are more of a language group than a people group.

Hindko speakers make their living as farmers or merchants in the foothills of the Himalayas. Corn and wheat are the most important crops. These grains are ground into flour and used to make a flat bread that accompanies every meal. The people lead very simple lives, but often go to great lengths to secure an education and a better future for their children. Only about 25% of Hindko speakers can read in any language.

Compared to their Pashto-speaking relatives, Hindko speakers are know for being gentle and peace-loving. They even tend to be more open-minded than their neighbours. Still, only a handful of Hindko speakers are followers of Jesus. At the same time, economic disparities and political disenfranchisement have led many of these gentle people to seek change through Islamic fundamentalism. The local school system has been largely taken over by fundamentalists which has sometimes even led young men from poor families into terrorist organisations.

Looking for Answers
The devastating earthquake of October 2003 caused deaths in nearly every Hindko-speaking family. Even today, many are still looking for a new livelihood, permanent housing, and answers to their deeper questions. Interest in reading the New Testament remains high, but the Word of God in Hindko is not yet available in print. Most have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that Hindko believers would overcome their fear of persecution .

* Pray for additional believers willing to lovingly serve Hindko speakers through practical means.

* Pray that God would reveal Himself through various means including dreams and visions among Hindko speakers.

* Pray that Hindko speakers would have access to God’s Word in their own language through print, audio recordings, radio and the internet.

Troubled Pakistan
The entire world has become aware of the suffering of Pakistan. The Kashmir Earthquake, terrorist bombing and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto kept Pakistan in the headlines in recent years. It is possible there will be other events before this booklet is published. Remember to pray for this country.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 25 - Modern Tanzania

The Twenty-Fifth Day (Thursday, September 25)

Changing times among the Rangi people

Population: 350,000

Since the early 1900s in the city of Kondoa and the surrounding areas, more and more Rangi have turned to Islam. When the British took control of Tanzania in 1920, the Kondoa region was already 90% Muslim. Only the Rangi in the Haubi Valley refused Islam. After some debate among the local chieftains, in 1937 the Rangi in Haubi became Catholic and built an imposing cathedral. Since then the 90% Muslim, almost 10% Catholic ratio has basically not changed. Although there have been evangelical congregations for several decades in the area, there are few Rangi evangelicals.

The majority of the Rangi population live in villages and their identity is often wrapped up in village life. For a long time few non-Rangi Tanzanians wanted to live in Kondoa and the 150 surrounding Rangi villages. The Rangi were often unloved and mistrusted by many because of their reputation of being active with evil spirits and witchcraft. Even today some Rangi are brought to trial for ritual murders associated with black magic. However, in the last ten years larger numbers of Tanzanians have started to live in Kondoa with a noticeable rise in the number of cars and televisions. Mobile phones abound, business is booming, and hospitals and schools are being built.

A Rangi language Bible translation project began in 1996 and the translation is progressing well. Other work to help poor families is also under way. In September 2006 some local believers opened a new school in the city. It is hoped that there will be good communication between all the groups, that old historical prejudices will be overcome, and that social as well as spiritual development will continue.

Prayer Starters
* Pray for the unity among the Christians that Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-26 to become reality in the area. Muslims have sometimes pointed out that the believers have often been divided.

* Pray for courage, creativity and wisdom for the Rangi Christians as they proclaim the Messiah to their Muslim neighbours.

* Pray for positive economical development, and that the Rangi will not forget God as they seek better economic conditions.

Jesus in the Qur’an
The Qur’an affirms certain beliefs about Jesus that are actually true biblically: He was born of a virgin, he performed miracles of healing the blind, lepers, and raising the dead, he had disciples and experienced rejection from his people. Jesus is also given many great titles in the Qur’an including “Servant of God”, “Prophet and Apostle of God”, “Lord of God”, “Spirit from God and “One of the Righteous” . He is called “The Messiah eleven times in the Qur’an but there is no explanation of what this means. He is most commonly called “Isa, son of Mary” in the Qur’an, emphasising his virgin birth, but it is clearly stated that this is not “God in the flesh” (He is no more than a prophet), not “Son of God” and he did not die on the cross. Even if he had died on the cross the Qur’an denies the possibility of an atoning death, declaring three times that on Judgment Day, noone can bear the sins of another! So although there are some similarities to the Jesus we know from the Bible, the Qur’an also presents some strong theological barriers for Muslims to come to know him as the Messianic King sent to bring forgiveness of sin and deliverance from the power of death, Satan and injustice.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 24 - Life in Somalia

The Twenty-Fourth Day (Wednesday, September 24)

“To be Somali is to be Muslim”

Among Somalis it is a commonly held idea that, “All Somalis are Muslim and if there are any Somalis who say otherwise they are only being paid to do so.” Even Somalis who are not particularly devout in their practice of religion will claim allegiance to Islam. Although there is a growing number of Somali young people being trained in Islamic theology, the main barrier to believing the Good News among the Somalis is not so much a theological barrier as it is the societal view that, “To be a Somali is to be a Muslim”. Many people in Muslim majority countries have similar ideas and attitudes.

On the other hand, all of the infighting and killing going on across clan lines among the Somalis in recent years has led to some questioning Islam. Some ask, “Why has Islam not kept us from killing each other?”. Other Somalis who have lived in Muslim societies, such as Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States, have experienced a certain amount of discrimination causing them to become more open to the Gospel. At the same time Somalis who were fairly nominal in their practice of Islam in Somalia (where they were “all Muslim”) often take more seriously their Islamic identity and practice when they come to the West. They do this as a means of coping with the feared loss of identity and contamination by the evil aspects of Western society.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that Somalis could see the true value of the kingdom (Mt.13:44-46). God’s forgiveness and abundant life in the Messiah are present realities of that kingdom.

* Pray that the Somalis who come to faith in the Messiah would not only be seen as rebels by their families. May they have opportunities to demonstrate that they can be culturally Somali and followers of Jesus at the same time.

Testimony from Somalia
Libaan spent years outside of Somalia in several different countries. Eventually, he received a portion from the Injil (Gospel). He was impressed by what he read. The text was beautiful with a deep message. After two more years he fully believed the message and entrusted his life to Isa Al Masih (Jesus the Messiah). Afterwards he experienced deep joy and peace about his future. God’s forgiveness filled him with hope! Libaan’s relatives heard that Libaan had become a Gal (Somali word for a pagan). Most Somalis can’t imagine that Christians may also be people who fear God, because they assume that Christians live a very worldly lifestyle (including drunkenness and immorality). Returning to see his family Libaan insisted that he not be called a Gal. In his view he was submitted to God, the Almighty. While his family received him well at first, later they rejected him. This experience broke his heart. Somali believers are few in number. They experience loneliness and rejection even from their most beloved family members. Only encouragement and comfort from God helps them to overcome.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 23 - Men in Somalia

The Twenty-Third Day (Tuesday, September 23)

Hard realities for Muslim men and families

Total Somali population: 9,119,000 (July 2007 est.)

Somalia has suffered from a complicated civil war for over 20 years. Traditionally, Somali men were the providers of their families basic needs. However, when the war erupted there were several hundred thousand deaths. Thousands more were maimed or exiled. Over the past decade, more than half a million people fled the war - many of them men. This has devastated the family structure and left many families fatherless. The involvement in fighting, the trauma and the life in refugee camps have destroyed the vitality, vision and hope of Somali men.

Some men have found a way to escape from the harsh realities of Somali life. Khat (Catha Edulis) is an evergreen shrub that grows in the highlands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen. Chewing the leaves of khat has a stimulating, narcotic effect, and like most drugs, khat is addictive and must be consumed daily. The majority of Somali men are addicted to khat, which has a huge influence on their life in Somali society. Men buy their khat at the market and then in the afternoon and evening, they meet with friends, drink tea and chew khat. Kept awake by the drug, men often come home late. Many children grow up seeing little of their fathers. The women are left responsible for the household chores, raising the children and providing for the family. Khat chewers suffer from various health problems, yet those who really suffer the most are their families. Men often spend most of their money on khat, yet their families go hungry.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that the bondage of khat would be broken. Social pressure encouraging men to chew is huge. Strength, wisdom and courage are needed to break this national addiction.

* Pray for wives and children to know how to cope with the absence of men.

* Pray that Somali society will experience God’s healing of families and come to know true fatherhood and the Father in Heaven.

About Khat
Somali: Jaad, also known as qat, qaat, quat, gat, chat, chad, chaad and miraa, is a flowering plant native to tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Khat contains the alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which causes excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria. In 1980 the World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence, and the plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations. It is a controlled / illegal substance in many countries, while being allowed or tolerated in others.

Both of khat’s major active ingredients — cathine and cathinone — are phenylalkylamines, meaning they are in the same class of chemicals as amphetamines. In fact, cathinone and cathine have a very similar molecular structure to amphetamine.

Researchers estimate that families spend an average of 17% of their income on khat, the real figure probably much more. The larger economic problems come from the time and resources used to both produce khat and consume it.

Life in Somalia
Traditionally 90% of the Somali population lived a nomadic pastoralist life (this has fallen to about 60% at present). Groups of men travelled through the desert with their camels and livestock. While traveling, they had to endure the hot sun, walk for months across vast distances and protect their animals from wild beasts. Somali men often possess great courage and boldness. Being a warrior has traditionally been one of their greatest ideals. It is in this setting that the Somali oral culture developed. Somali men are known for being poets and storytellers and they love to debate. These cultural aspects continue to be highly valued even in the growing urban centers.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Amazing Grace, the William Wilberforce Story

Messiah College began its missions week yesterday with a film viewing of Amazing Grace, the William Wilberforce story. Alyssa C. invited me knowing how much and how long I have been wanting to see the movie ever since it was out in the U.S. Most people have no idea who William Wilberforce is. I barely had any idea of him until a review of the movie was posted in The Rebelution early last year.

After reading the review and the comments I made a quick research about this man. Who is he that people had to make a movie about him? At that moment William Wilberforce, once a man unknown earned my highest respect. He is a man of genuine faith and action that I could look up to. He is a wealthy yet humble man who allowed himself to be used by God to proclaim His glory.

Watching Amazing Grace just blew me away of how amazing His grace is. In this movie, you’ll surely learn how to sing Amazing Grace with deeper conviction. John Newton, the man who penned the most famous hymn of all time is a friend of Wilberforce. You’ll see what inspired him to write Amazing Grace. To sum it all up, the movie is all about how God displayed his transforming power in the life of William Wliberforce, Christian slavery abolitionist.


Man is born broken

He lives by mending

The grace of God is glue

-Eugene O’Neill


For those who have not watched Amazing Grace, has never heard of Amazing Grace and needs a push to watch Amazing Grace, here’s the trailer. May it encourage you to watch the film that everyone must see.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 22 - Nagpur, India

The Twenty-Second Day (Monday, September 22)

The City of Snakes

The central Indian city of Nagpur (whose name means ‘City of Snakes’) has a population of over three million people. Nagpur lies on major north-south and east-west transportation routes. The city is at the geographic centre of India. While the majority of its inhabitants are Hindu, there is a sizeable Muslim minority of approximately 7.1% (215,000). Nominal followers of Jesus number around 5%, although practicing believers are much less numerous. In the region outside Nagpur city there are even less believers among the many Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and others. The governing political party in the area has a clear agenda to keep India as a Hindu nation and reject “foreign and Western” influences making life hard for the local followers of Jesus.

It is a commonly held misconception in the region that followers of Jesus bribe downtrodden Muslims and Hindus to accept Christ in return for material benefit or social advantage. Therefore actions by local believers motivated by love for Jesus Christ and one’s fellowman are often misunderstood, presenting barriers for the Good News and discipleship. Often, those who do come to Christ are pressured into returning to Islam by various social, economic, emotional and even physical pressures. Yet even in this hostile environment, Jesus is calling Muslims from Nagpur to Himself.

Muslims usually speak Urdu and Marathi while Hindus and other speak Hindi and Marathi. Between 2004 - 2006, several newer translations utilising some “Muslim-style” terminology have been published. These have helped Muslims to understand, accept and obey God’s word. Nevertheless Bibles are not widely distributed nor are they easily accessible to the Muslim community. The “Jesus” film also exists but there are distribution problems. As far as we know, there is no group of believers that regularly reaches out to the Muslims in this city with the Gospel in an organised way.

Prayer Starters
* Pray for local believers to enter into their role as those who are part of God’s plan to bless all nations, tribes and tongues (Gen. 22:18 and Galatians 3:16,29).

* Pray for the effective distribution of these new translations of the Bible.

* Pray for the local believers who face real persecution due to the prejudices and misunderstandings.

* Pray for believers to be trained in how to proclaim the Messiah with wisdom and understanding in the Muslim community.

Muslims do not believe …
Muslims do not believe that it is possible to know God as in John 17:3. (They only believe that they can know about Him.) Small numbers of Muslims called Sufis believe in a mystical union with God. However, this group is often seen as heretical by many Muslims.

There are possibly 145 million Muslims in India. God loves them all. India has more Muslims than all the following countries combined: Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Egypt.

“The vast Ganges plains of North India contain the greatest concentration of unevangelized people in the world. North India will probably be the touchstone of our success or failure in completing world evangelization in our generation.” - Patrick Johnstone

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 21 - Islam in Dearborn, Michigan

The Twenty-First Day (Sunday, September 21)

Ford, Muslims and mosques in Dearborn, Michigan

Dearborn is the hometown of Henry Ford and the world headquarters of the Ford Motor Company. Many years ago Muslim immigrants to the United States (US) were drawn to the relatively high-paying jobs associated with the auto industry in the area.

Dearborn, Michigan now has the largest single concentration of Arab Muslims in North America. There are 32,000 Arab Muslims from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq living in East Dearborn, making up almost 1/3 of the population. In some districts it is common to see store signs and billboards written in Arabic. The Islamic Centre of America in Dearborn, a Shi’a mosque frequented mostly by Lebanese Muslims, is the largest mosque in the US. The Centre’s attractive website has several good photos:

Mosques and Islamic Centres play an important role in the life of American Muslims. They are places of refuge and of rest; places where a Muslim can experience the Islamic community and learn about Islam. Many Muslims feel safer and more relaxed within the centres which are somewhat isolated from outside influences. Dearborn is one of the few places in the US where one can actually hear the call to prayer publicly over a loudspeaker.

There have been a number of efforts to make Christ better known to Muslims in Dearborn. However, many believers say that in general, it can sometimes be even harder to discuss believing in Jesus with Muslims in Dearborn than elsewhere. Muslims in Michigan have a fortress mentality manifested in community pressure to conform to Muslim ideals.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that the Muslims in Dearborn will respond to the Gospel message they have heard (Acts 28:26-28).

* Pray for the Arabic speaking Muslim background believers who live in the area. May they have God’s grace in the Yemeni, Iraqi and Lebanese neighborhoods to start new communities of believers.

* Pray for the new adult male believers in the Messiah to openly profess their faith in the context of their families, as well as in the larger Muslim communities. Their influence and authority in the home and society will pave the way for the Gospel to be heard and obeyed by others.

From Thief to Giver
Ali (not his real name) was a man with a very hard heart. In the past he would ride trains and befriend people. When they fell asleep, he would steal their belongings, jump off the train and sell the things. He tried Islam but it did not change him. When his sister-in-law became a Christian he persecuted her. Later, however, he acknowledged Jesus as Lord and he is now one of the main leaders of the church! The transformation in his life has been nothing less than incredible! He is one of the most humble and loving men we know. This is especially seen in how he cares for his wife and daughters!

Thoughts that disturb …
* Muslims often believe that the Bible has been altered and corrupted. They will deny its authority because they see it as not being authentic.

* Muslims believe the Holy Trinity implies a belief in three gods. Many Muslims believe that the Christian Trinity is made up of the Father, Mary (the virgin) and the Son (Jesus).

* They believe it is blasphemy to affirm the divinity of Jesus and to give Him the title “Son of God”. Many believe this implies that God had sexual relations with Mary and that a son was born physically through the union. (This idea is also unacceptable for Christians.)

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Day 20 - Murshidabad, India

The Twentieth Day (Saturday, September 20)

The land of the Nawabs

Murshidabad District is a district of West Bengal in eastern India. When India became independent on the 15th of August 1947, Murshidabad, on the basis of the fact that Muslims were a majority, was part of (East) Pakistan for two days. Thereafter it became part of India on the basis of the final award of the Radcliffe Commission.

Spread across both sides of the Bhagirathi (Hooghly) River, a main tributary of the Ganges, Murshidabad district was the seat of Muslim power in the Bengal region after 1704. The greatness of Muslim rule is still visible in the museum of Hazar Duari (the Palace of a Thousand Doors), the Imambara, the Katra Mosque and a number of other monuments. This land was once famous for its Nawab dynasties (Muslim Moghol provencial governors). However, it has largely been forgotten in recent times. With its rich history of artisans and strong agricultural crops this district provides skilled workers to a number of trades across India. Murshidabad’ industries include ivory-carving, as well as silver and gold embroidery, silk-weaving and fine crafts.

Unfortunately the region is also now known for its numerous problems, including cases of human trafficking, child labour, severe poverty and local political assassinations. It has largely missed out on the foreign influence and development that have been present in other parts of West Bengal.

There are approximately six million people in Murshidabad district with almost 90% of these people living in rural villages. While the majority of the population of West Bengal is Hindu, Murshidabad is 64% Muslim (3.8 million people). The number of Muslims in Murshidabad district rival that of the entire populations of nations like Albania and Lebanon. There is less than one full time minister for every million Muslims in this district.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that God will reveal Himself to the young and old Bengali Muslims in Murshidabad (Acts 2:16-21).

*Pray that Muslim background believers will be called, equipped and motivated to witness and teach the Way of Christ in unity with other believers (Matthew 28:20).

* May the Messiah’s glory be revealed in the land of the Nawab dynasties.

God is active in Murshidabad
Although there are only a handful of believers, their witness has already brought many Muslims to life changing faith. Many believers are now experiencing severe persecution in the transparency of village life, where nothing is hidden. On a recent trip one believer visited a Bengali Muslim family known to him through a common acquaintance. This family expressed interest in the Gospel and made a joint decision to follow the Messiah. There are many families like this one among the Bengali Muslims residing in the area, but many never have had an opportunity to hear the Gospel in their own language.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 19 - Indonesia’s Minangkabau Peoples

The Nineteenth Day (Friday, September 19)

Lina’s fear of evil

Lina is a young Minangkabau woman from a large family, all of whom are proud of their culture and religion. They do everything that Islam requires of them, but they are also involved in other traditional practices. Instead of going to a doctor when someone is sick, they will often visit a dukun (a traditional healer). Lina especially believes that evil spirits are everywhere and she is very interested in all things supernatural.

Because of these beliefs, she is often tense and is afraid of almost everything. Even sudden loud noises make her jump, and she sleeps with a light on at night. Muslim’s say, “Bismillah i-rahman-ir-rahim (in the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful)” before they eat; Lina says it before practically every bite of food she takes.

This life of fear even affects Lina’s attitude toward her religion: she sees God as a faraway figure and she tries to do all her religious duties not out of a desire to be faithful and obedient, but because she is afraid of going to hell when she dies. She seems resigned to the idea that she will never be in paradise, because her good deeds never seem to be enough to outweigh her sins.

Even though Lina has had many conversations with some followers of Jesus about the forgiveness of sins through Isa Almasih (Jesus the Messiah), she is still too afraid to even consider the possibility that it is actually truth. Unfortunately she only believes that Jesus is simply a prophet, and that He cannot protect her from evil spirits. Millions of other Minangkabau have never had the opportunity to learn about Jesus.

The Minangkabau, numbering about 8,659,000, are the fourth largest ethnic group in Indonesia and exercise significant influence in the country. While some Minangkabau are scattered across the country on various islands, they originate from the province of West Sumatra.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts of the Minangkabau to the truth that only Jesus can bring salvation, and that He can free them from a life of fear.

* Pray that Minangkabau people, including Lina and her family, will no longer look to the dukuns to solve their problems but rather they will look to Jesus for help and healing.

* Pray that whole families of the Minangkabau will come to a trusting reliance on Jesus.

Folk islam
In many countries popular “Folk Islamic” practices are often even more important than orthodox Islam in the daily life of millions of Muslims. Orthodox Islam does not usually have a real expectancy that Allah will actually intervene in difficult situations. He is basically inaccessible. Therefore many people search out Muslim holy men for help. In some countries the tombs of various Muslim holy men are reputed to be places of blessing where people can also seek help. Various things including talismans and the “Hand of Fatima” are often used against the “Evil Eye” and evil spirits.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus