Southeast Asia

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 the region. 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. In the Philippines, protracted pandemic lockdowns have enabled armed rule and worsened President Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drug users. Following a military coup in Myanmar this February, government forces have killed at least 138 people and detained over 2,100 more.

In the face of 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 (last name withheld), who earned his PhD at Fuller, with support from ScholarLeaders, now serves on its leadership team.

Furthermore, the growth has largely occurred through the efforts of local leaders. 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. 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: Kuala Lumpur at Sunset by Esmonde Yong on Unsplash.

Kuala Lumpur at Sunset
Prayer Community

Gelu Paul Faina in Romania

Like most churches in Romania and beyond, our church has been holding Sunday church services on Zoom and YouTube, but we are slowly attempting to get out of Internet mode. We are trying to move out of a state of emergency into a transitional state of alertness.

read more
Prayer Community

Denys Kondyuk in Ukraine

Pray for the situation in Ukraine, for war to end, and for all the political processes to bring peace to our country, enable some financial stability, and preserve freedom of faith and ministry for our churches.

read more
Prayer Community

Andrey Kravtsev in Russia

It has become a common thing to say the world is not going to be the same after the pandemic. Let us pray that the Church will come out of the crisis with fresh vision and strength to fulfill its mission in whatever circumstance we may find ourselves tomorrow.

read more
Prayer Community

Pray for Racial Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation in the US and Beyond

This past week, thousands of protesters in hundreds of cities across the United States and worldwide have joined in anti-racism solidarity demonstrations, following widespread circulation of graphic video footage showing George Floyd’s death. In the Body of Christ, when “one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor. 12:26). We are grateful for every message we have received from members of the ScholarLeaders fellowship around the world, asking how to pray for those of us in the United States during this painful time.

read more
Prayer Community

Alexander Belyaev in Russia

Today, life in Russia, and all around the world, has been influenced by COVID-19. Herzen University was closed for more than a month. The pre-defense of my thesis took place without my participation and now I need to make adjustments to the text, because I could not personally answer the Committee’s questions.

read more
Prayer Community

Vital SustainAbility: Brazil Cohort

The challenge has been how to care for and support everyone. We need to get in touch with those who are not participating in online learning, to understand the reasons, and to give the support they need. Some have infected relatives or acquaintances, and we have been praying for them. We created a “Virtual Chapel,” so students can receive messages and share prayer requests.

read more
Prayer Community

Vital SustainAbility: Ethiopia Cohort

All faculty members are now working from home, and the government has ordered that teachers continue teaching from home. We are in a very desperate situation, since the vast majority of our faculty members do not have laptops. This is a very critical and acute need. We are also in need of teleconferencing equipment, so we can continue offering lectures.

read more
Prayer Community

Vital SustainAbility: India Cohort

We have been working on contingencies for all our ministries in light of COVID-19. In India, we are currently under a nationwide lockdown, one of the most stringent in the world. This has caused difficulties for us in arranging food supplies for our campus, but the Lord has provided ways for us to get by. We have 70 students on our campus who were unable to leave before the shutdown. Daily wage workers, however, are facing a serious threat of starvation. We are currently working to supply 500 families with food for the next four weeks.

read more
Prayer Community

Stavan John in India

Before the pandemic and lockdown, I experienced an epiphany that I would like to share. It was during my recent study trip to the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS). I was asked to speak in the chapel, so I chose a passage dear to my heart: Mark 9:14-29. This passage focuses on the desperation of a father whose child is demon-possessed. Jesus heals the child, but not before addressing the father’s doubt, through both rebuke and empathy. As someone who has struggled with doubt myself, this was a good reminder.

read more
Prayer Community

Atul Aghamkar in India

The sudden shutdown of India, due to COVID-19, has taken all of us by surprise! This has led to massive confusion, as people do not know how to respond. Factories, shops, industries, offices, schools, and colleges have been shut down. Public and private transportation have completely ceased to function. People are prevented from going out of their homes, and those who venture out are beaten by the police. Heavy restrictions limit people’s movements. The shutdown has drastically affected people’s lives. While life at every level has been disturbed, the poorest of the poor are the ones most deeply affected by this shutdown.

read more
Prayer Community

Kesolenuo Suokhrie from Nagaland, India

My doctoral research focuses on social justice, particularly for immigrants. This interest comes from my own experiences working with Karen refugees, displaced by communal violence, at the Thai-Myanmar border and in Australia. In my own context, the influx of Muslim Bangladeshis into Nagaland has led to serious issues. To the natives, immigrants are outsiders who are invading our land, exhausting our resources, and threatening the identities of our indigenous peoples.

read more
News Prayer Community

Coronavirus Impact

Like almost everyone, ScholarLeaders has felt COVID-19’s impact. This week, please join us in prayer for a situation that has reached over 180 countries. First, we pray for those infected by the virus and those who have lost loved ones. We pray that the most vulnerable among us would be protected. We pray too for those facing quarantines, travel and employment restrictions, financial pressures in shrinking economies, new caregiving and homeschooling responsibilities, and limited supplies.

read more