Today is Sunday, April 5th! It’s Palm Sunday! We are finally entering Holy Week!
And so, this is our final weekend of intercession for the peoples and nations of Eurasia. My name is Sandra, and I welcome you as we gather today to intercede for the Church in India and South Asia.
Theme: Our attitude should be like Christ’s
Scripture: Philippians 2:5-11
During our Lenten journey, each weekend we are interceding for a different field of the Eurasia Church of the Nazarene. A field is a cluster of several countries where we have churches, and there are seven fields within the Eurasia Region. You can find out more about our fields and regions at www.eurasiaregion.org.
Last weekend we interceded for Central Europe. The weekend before, we prayed for the Eastern Mediterranean Field. In the prior weeks we prayed for Northern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Western Mediterranean Field.
In South Asia, the Church of the Nazarene includes Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. There are also Nazarenes present in two other areas that we will not name for security reasons. You can learn more about the church in South Asia by visiting www.southasiafield.org.
Across India and South Asia, millions of people are day laborers or subsistence farmers. Millions have just enough money or food to meet their families’ needs for a day or two. In the time of corona virus, pray that God would meet the physical needs of His people. Pray that no one would go hungry, thirsty, or without necessary health care. Pray for peace amidst the prospect of severe deprivation. Ask God to build up His people’s faith and trust in Him to provide for all their needs.
A Nazarene leader in the field says, “In normal circumstances, our churches and compassionate ministry centers would be well positioned to help, but because of travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, it has made it quite difficult to support those in crisis.”
JESUS Film teams across the region are adapting to quarantine and social distancing measures. They continue follow-up and discipleship with new believers through text messages, e-mail, and video conferencing. Some are sending JESUS Film media resources to all those in their personal contact lists. Others are engaging in more JESUS Film training. Pray that God would continue to give JESUS Film teams and leaders creativity and innovation to continue ministry in spite of being unable to gather large groups or meet with people physically.
Nazarene youth are active across the nations, and have been growing in their skills and understanding of how to reach other unchurched youth through the NEXUS training program. Many youth lead and innovate compassionate outreach to their communities.
Also pray for several new missionary families who are settling into assignments and homes in South Asia. Pray for God’s blessings, grace, strength, and flexibility, and that they would forge strong relationships with national and local leaders.
Let’s hear more about the Body of Christ in each country.
The Church of the Nazarene first began in India in 1898. Today, more than 3,000 churches meet for worship in 12 districts. However, ordained and licensed pastors and other leaders number less than 1,000.
JESUS Film teams show the JESUS Film, conduct follow-up, disciple new believers, and help them form new church plants.
Numerous compassionate ministry projects are allowing local churches to serve the most vulnerable in their communities, especially children. Through providing education to children, they are able to bless their parents and reach whole families.
Recently, the church has identified several under-reached states with the gospel, and have been laying the groundwork to enter these areas with the gospel and to plant new churches.
Increasingly restrictive government legislation targets Christians, limiting their religious freedom, and especially making it harder to share their faith with others.
In response to the spread of corona virus:
- Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is reaching out to the pastors’ families and the families of children who attend Nazarene child development centers.
- Churches are distributing food or groceries to needy families.
- Some churches are conducting online services because people are not allowed to gather in person.
- Districts are raising funds for helping poor pastors during their time.
The Nazarene strategy coordinator for India asks for prayer in the following ways:
1. Pray for pastors and ministers to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit these days in their body, mind and soul. Pray that they are certain they belong to God and they are here to be His witnesses in every way possible, even during this time of lockdown, isolation, and anxiety! And may they be drawn closer to the Lord.
2. Pray for the pastors to be encouraged to reach out to their congregation by online services and through phone calls.
3. Pray for the laborers and industrial workers who were forced to go back to their home in the village because of virus quarantine.
4. Pray for the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who are working tirelessly during this time.
South Asia Field
Nepal—The Church of the Nazarene officially entered Nepal in 1998.
Through compassionate ministries and JESUS Film evangelism and discipleship, hundreds of churches have been planted, especially in rural areas. Child development centers led by local churches provide underprivileged children with education, instruction about hygiene practices, and sometimes nourishing meals. The centers also minister to their parents, offering workshops about practical topics like parenting and small business enterprises. Women in the villages are gathered into self-help groups, saving money together that they lend to each other to start up small businesses. These businesses not only improve life for their families, but begin to raise up whole communities out of poverty.
Nazarene youth in Nepal are highly active and take initiative to improve their communities. Youth have worked with villages to install wells and pumps so that people don’t have to go far outside their village for clean water. Youth have also developed a film ministry and are filming testimonies of believers and compassionate ministries as a tool for evangelism and encouragement.
Pray that God will continue to breathe the Holy Spirit into His people across Nepal, that they would be blessed with boldness to preach the gospel, as well as creativity and resources to minister to people in various kinds of need. Pray for loosened government restrictions so that believers can more freely tell people about Jesus. Pray for adequate and robust discipleship for believers, so that all would deepen in their maturity and understanding of God’s word. Pray for the expansion of quality theological education.
Due to lack of infrastructure, many churches are unable to utilize technology like Internet, video conference or cell phone connections to meet, worship, pray, and share information together during the nationwide lockdown. Pray that the families and congregations who are unable to fellowship, pray, study the word, and worship together will invest in their relationships with God and take the opportunity to share their faith with family and neighbors.
Compassionate ministry leaders are meeting with government officials to obtain permission to participate in relief efforts. Pray for God to open doors for churches to help.
Sri Lanka—Our denomination officially entered Sri Lanka in 2000 and there are several hundred churches reported. Nazarenes are primarily residents of rural areas, meeting for worship in small villages and towns. Many are laborers in tea plantations. Following the civil war, many churches formed in the north and east of the country. Some of the churches gather diverse groups, with services translated into one or two languages.
A local Nazarene leader says, “In spite of the lockdown and quarantine related to COVID-19, the district superintendent and a few other church leaders received special permission from the police to visit families in rural areas to distribute basic food and supplies. Over the last few days, they have been busy going into remote areas to ensure that isolated families have what they need for the next few days.”
Pray for God’s people in Sri Lanka to find bridges and open doors to share their faith with people who are hungry to know the one true God.
Pray for the strengthening and maturing of churches, and for the continuing efforts to plant new churches. Pray for the expansion of quality theological education.
Pray for the Church to receive favor and trust from community leaders and government authorities, as well as people from other religions. Pray that the nation would see the Church as a critical agent of love, compassion and service in the society.
Pakistan—The Church of the Nazarene officially entered Pakistan in 1996, and today there are several hundred churches meeting for worship.
Nazarenes are actively sharing their faith with others, including through the JESUS Film. Many are day laborers or subsistence workers. So, the churches struggle to raise the funds needed to buy land and construct their own buildings.
Pray for youth as they develop into future evangelistic leaders. Pray that Nazarene ministries of discipleship and missions will continue to develop and grow across the country. Pray that those who face hostility, discrimination, persecution and threats would receive a special anointing of the Spirit for boldness, wisdom and discernment. Pray for God’s protecting hand on His people. Pray for growth and stability in theological education and compassionate ministries. Pray for resources to continue building worship halls for the new churches.
Bangladesh—The Church of the Nazarene officially entered Bangladesh in 1992. Today, thousands of churches, organized as five districts, worship and minister to their communities across the country. However, the training and theological education of pastors sharply lags behind the increasing number of churches being planted.
Local churches implement and lead compassionate ministries projects. They establish child development centers, ministering to whole families and communities through their children. They provide clean water wells, and organize women into self-help groups, teaching them entrepreneurship. The women grow in their confidence, and respect from their husbands and peers, as they loan each other money. The loans enable them to start small businesses. Their success helps their families and communities flourish.
JESUS Film ministry is an effective tool for introducing people to Jesus and teaching them what it means to follow Him. Many new churches are planted, and people are discipled as a result of the ministry.
Bangladesh Nazarene Ministry is experienced and skilled at disaster relief and long-term development projects, due to the country’s many natural disasters. By meeting people’s emergency and longer term needs, Nazarenes live out God’s unconditional love and concern for the welfare of all people, regardless of their religious faith. The Church is also ministering to Rohingya refugees who escaped genocidal violence in neighboring Malaysia.
Pray for God to provide resources and leadership to rapidly expand theological education so pastoral training increases quickly. Pray that God would provide churches with mature and biblically rooted Christian leadership.
Pray for God to bless and resource the compassionate ministries underway across the country. Ask God to open many hearts to Him as people understand God is using the church to demonstrate His love for them.
Pray for the million Rohingya people who languish in crowded and under-resourced refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar. Pray that God would use Nazarenes to serve and love them and lead them to Jesus.
Pray that the district leaders and pastors would be anointed with the presence of the Spirit, with wisdom and discernment for how to continue leading the national church forward in growth, pioneering, church planting, discipleship and serving others.
Creative access area—A new work is already flourishing in a previously unreached area. Pray for God’s blessing and resources on local church planters. Pray for wisdom, safety and guidance to recognize those whose hearts are hungry for Christ’s living water. Pray that God would give new believers boldness to gather with other believers for worship, in spite of the possibility of persecution or rejection from society and family.
Let us pray.
Our Father in Heaven,
We bring to you your people across India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Lord, the Church in this part of the world is overshadowed by the masses of people who practice other religions and worship other gods. Your people number millions here, but those who have never even heard of you are far more than 1 billion. The mission is overwhelming. And yet, your people are faithful to gather weekly to pray, study your word and worship you. They sacrificially give to people in need in their communities. They take great risks to their bodies, to their families, their businesses, and their property to share who You are and what You have done for them.
Father God, please miraculously amplify their influence, their boldness, their divine love, and their resources for effective ministry, worship and service to others.
Amid their rich diversity of language, ethnicity, economic background, education and opportunity, unite your people as the one Body of Christ. Teach them how to love one another as you love us. Where there is conflict or misunderstanding, please lead them in forgiveness, reconciliation and effective partnership. Shine brightly to their societies through the way your people love one another.
In the midst of lockdowns because of corona virus, many are suffering from lack of food, clean water and money to meet their families’ needs. Father, please enable your church to find new ways and new resources to help people coming to the churches for help and for loans. Please help churches to find partners with nonprofits and also government agencies that will allow them feed the hungry while sharing their hope in You. Lord Jesus, please uphold the physical health and the spiritual peace of your Church in uncertain times.
Please help JESUS Film teams to find new ways to continue their ministry while they are not allowed to gather people for JESUS Film showings or for discipleship and prayer. Grant JESUS Film and compassionate ministry teams your Spirit of creativity and innovation to find ways around new obstacles, and to identify new opportunities and open doors created by responses to the spread of corona virus.
Lord, please raise up new pastors and leaders for your church. Please help us to find ways to quickly expand the access and the opportunity for people to engage in theological study. Many cannot afford to pay for higher education. Many cannot afford to take time off work to attend class or complete their studies. Some may have to travel too far to go to school. Father, please make ways for them to wrestle with your word and to push their roots deeper into your Truth. Please shape people as more mature and loving believers as they dwell on biblical truths and listen to your Holy Spirit.
Let a spirit of mentorship and discipleship permeate the churches so that older generations include youth in ministry and leadership, teaching and giving them opportunities to learn through doing. Help the youth to seek out the wisdom of people with more experience as they grow in God’s calling on their lives.
Dear Holy Spirit, many of your churches are cut off from contact with one another due to lack of internet or technology during quarantine. Please be especially close to them during a time of isolation, as they may grieve the encouragement and growth they receive from meeting together for prayer, discipleship and worship. Use this time of separation to draw them especially close in dependence upon Your Spirit.
Where your people are overwhelmed, discouraged or exhausted by the challenges and the needs around them, or by failures and conflict, please breathe into them your Spirit. Please encourage them, and fill them with new fire and purpose and power to continue Your work as You lead them.
Father, we also ask for your blessing and strength for new missionary families who are embracing a new home, a new culture, a new language and a new people as their own. Please provide them everything they need to answer and live out your calling to serve the people of South Asia.
Our Almighty and powerful God, we know that You can do all the things that we cannot do or even dream of doing. All the resources of heaven and earth belong to you. Even more, your love for each person in South Asia drives you to call them back to you. We pray that you will not let one person be lost to you forever. And we pray for your hand on your people.
In your beautiful Son Jesus, we ask all this. Amen.
Further reading for today is found in: