Surrounded by India to the west, China to the north, Papua New Guinea to the east, and Australia to the south, Southeast Asia is an economically, culturally, and religiously diverse region that is home to approximately 10% of the global population. Economically, Singapore is one of the world’s richest nations per capita, while countries like Cambodia and Laos rank near the bottom. Inhabitants speak nearly a thousand languages, with over 700 in Indonesia alone.
Large numbers of Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus live in Southeast Asia. Animism, folk religions, ancestor worship, and state-sponsored atheism are also prevalent. Roughly 40% of Southeast Asians follow Islam, and Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Although Christians mostly live as minorities, they represent the majority in the Philippines and East Timor.
Political upheaval, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters are among some of the challenges faced by nations in the region. Since the 2021 military coup in Myanmar, government forces have killed two thousand people and detained over 11 thousand more.
Despite these challenges, the Church has grown at a remarkable rate. According to Operation World, the greatest relative growth has occurred in Cambodia and Vietnam. Pray for the training of pastors and leaders in these countries. In Vietnam, only two Protestant Bible schools belong to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, the sole Protestant group sanctioned by the government. In 2004, the Institute of Bible and Theology reopened its doors in Ho Chi Minh City after almost 30 years. In 2013, a second school opened in Hanoi in the northern part of the country. Dr. Peter, who earned his PhD at Fuller, with support from ScholarLeaders, now serves on its leadership team.
Local Christian leaders have greatly contributed to Church growth in Southeast Asia. Churches increasingly embody Asian structures, styles, and leadership. Asian scholars have helped to identify and develop Christian responses to unique cultural and societal issues. One example is Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground Up by Simon Chan, who teaches theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. ScholarLeaders supported Simon during his PhD studies at the University of Cambridge. In the Philippines, Athena Goropse, who received the 2017 ScholarLeader of the Year Award, combines biblical scholarship with activism on behalf of the marginalized. In Malaysia, Siew Pik Lim serves as President of Alpha Omega International College.
Pray for Asian theologians who are helping the Church develop authentically Asian understandings of the unchanging truth in God’s Word.
Pray for the Church in nations where Christians face persecution. Political opposition and the struggles of living as a small minority take a toll on believers. Pray for perseverance and strength. Pray also for continued growth and discipleship among believers. Pray for local pastors to receive the training they need in order to guide the Church in Southeast Asia.
Photo: Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) by Mg Cthu (Unsplash)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is the second biggest (by area) in Africa and potentially a very rich country, has gone through many troubles since its independence from Belgian colonial powers on 30 June 1960. Analysts have shown that the number one cause of the country’s troubles is its natural resources, which attract the attention of nations vying for a share in the wealth, thus keeping the Congolese people in extreme poverty and ongoing conflict.read more
When I started the journey in 2014, Burundi’s prospects were very good. Researching on reconciliation promised a huge contribution to the healing of the nation. In 2015, however, another violent political crisis erupted that seriously affected not the nature or orientation of my research, but the way I was going to collect data. Fear, suspicion, mistrust, etc. replaced the openness, and freedom of speech and movement people had been enjoying for the previous ten years. The accusations, counter-accusations, and the policing of speech and movement put my research on hold for a significant amount of time.read more
The primary ongoing challenge faced by the Lutheran Church of Madagascar is the fight against syncretism within the Church. Although Christians come to church on Sundays, there are some who continue to visit witchdoctors, seeking help from ancestors on the other days. This is exactly why pastors need to be equipped with skills and tools in the field of Intercultural Studies to help them identify the problem, study the situation, and provide discipleship and teaching according to people’s needs.read more
The Benin government has approved my arts and culture ministry for peacebuilding: Africa Sings. This phase comes after the registration of the organization and it is a crucial step. I am also delighted to inform you that Africa Sings was recently featured in the official journal of the Benin government.read more
In Côte d’Ivoire, there are more than 60 ethnic groups, divided into four linguistic groups. From 1999 to 2011, Côte d’Ivoire has experienced deep sociopolitical crises as a result of ethnic tensions, sectarianism, and nationalistic and sometimes xenophobic behavior. Unfortunately, Christians in general and Evangelical Protestants in particular have contributed to these growing tensions.read more
Pray for peace in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and Eastern Democratic Republic). This region has been the territory of unending conflicts. Pray that people in East Africa will be able to move freely and that refugees will be able to return home.read more
We ask for your intercession on behalf of Beni. Our town has been brutally attacked twice in six days. The armed group that has been killing civilians in the Beni territory since 2014 has made incursions into the town of Beni and into our neighboring town of Oicha, killing over 75 of the most vulnerable inhabitants over the last three weeks. On November 24, one of the members of our contractor’s construction crew, the son of one of our campus guards, was killed in his neighborhood near our main campus.read more
The DR Congo has been affected for several years by social, political, and economic crises. In the last month the area around Bunia has experienced renewed conflict and the displacement of about 300,000 people. Many have again fled into Bunia.read more
Continue to pray for peace and healing of the DR Congo at the spiritual, economic, political, health (Ebola), and security levels. The needs are still great at those levels.read more
Cameroon is a Central African country with ten regions. There is an English-speaking Cameroon and a French-speaking Cameroon. In the past few years, there have been social and political crises in the Northwest and Southwest between the Ambazonian separatists and the government, and in the Far North because of the Islamist Boko Haram. These crises seriously affect peace in our country and the Church has suffered seriously. Churches are closed and pastors have run away. People live in very bad conditions.read more