We produced a 2017 calendar complete with the proverbs of Solomon and island proverbs – in both the local language and English. We will be giving these out over the next few weeks in many different locations. Pray that God’s word would surprise and provoke further interest, pray for good conversations as we distribute them.
Pray for the Islanders hailing from the islands of the Indian Ocean, with sizeable communities also found in France and Madagascar. Nearly all Islanders are Muslims. Those who have chosen to follow Jesus tend to live isolated lives and many experience pressure and persecution from their families, villages and government. 2 Thess 3:1 “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you.” Pray that God would move in power and reveal Himself to Islanders- young and old, male and female. Pray that He would draw families and communities to Himself that they might support each other on the journey. Pray that believers would be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and that they would be strong and courageous.
Our island is hosting a 2 week translation workshop, which started Monday. It is going well- the content and learning are excellent, but there are signs of fatigue and some sickness. Pray for the logistics of the workshop. Pray for the health, strength and capacity of the translation team. Pray for the translators’ families who have been deeply affected by their interactions with the Word. There will be a lot of hard work in the coming months but big returns as we hope to produce accurate Bible stories in the native island story-telling style. Pray for the Word of God to come to the islands with power!
There is a lot of testing and translation of the Word happening at the moment – with both believers and non believers alike. Pray that as islanders read and listen to God’s word it would be as sweet as honey to them drawing them back for more and more. Pray that it would be like blows of a hammer shattering pride and other strongholds in their hearts. Pray that it would pierce their hearts like a double edged sword. Pray that no islander would walk away from an encounter with God’s word unchanged!
Many islanders enter into marriage with low expectations- they don’t expect faithfulness, longevity or love. Husbands and wives first loyalty and connection usually remans tied to their families rather than creating a united bond with their spouse.
Pray for all those who are hurting and in pain from betrayal, for all those who live in loveless cold marriages, for all those who long for something more but don’t know how to go about building a marriage that will last. Pray for those who bear the shame of being unmarried or cast off for not producing children. Pray that men and women would meet One who sees their hearts and their burdens, pray that they would cry out to Him for comfort, pray that God would transform the culture of marriage here and it would become the gift he intended it to be.
Pray for those who have expressed a desire to know more but then the busyness of life gets in the way. Ask that God would reignite a desire to know and learn, and that they would pursue Jesus just as he is pursuing them!
Praise God that he did just this in the life of a new believer on Vanilla Island. Life had become very busy for her and she had stopped meeting with workers to study and pray together. The other day however she appeared in a bit of a flurry and said they must start meeting again – when asked why she explained that Jesus had spoken to her in a dream and asked her why she had stopped!
Pray for the local translators on Clove Island. Both are believers married to unbelievers, and both of their spouses not only know what they’re doing but also add in their own ideas! Recently E’s husband said “If people actually believed all of this then the world would be totally different!” Pray that these translators would be living examples of God’s word, and that God would remove the stumbling blocks that are keeping their spouses from running to their Father.
Pray also for a local translator on Vanilla Island who has expressed a desire to find out things for herself – despite discouragement from family and a religious leader. She is recently married and her husband hasn’t discouraged her from working on translation. Her father also seems disillusioned with the majority faith and is talking to workers about what they believe. Pray that God would lead this whole family into his kingdom.
Praise God for a recent women’s retreat where nine local women gathered to worship and pray together. Some of these women came to faith through locals rather than workers and now some of these newer believers are sharing with others! Pray for strong third and fourth generation believers and that these women would continue to meet together and build one another up in unity.
Pray for one woman who has had many dreams from God – she has seen both her prophet and Jesus in the dreams. She said ‘Mohamed was nothing like Jesus, he was all dressed in black and wizened, but Jesus was all in white and shining’. Pray that she would be freshly amazed that God is speaking to her! Pray that she would begin to pursue him wholeheartedly.
Pray for many opportunities to share the story of Abraham’s sacrifice this month. This story is remembered and celebrated during the Eid festival happening this week. Pray that the story would prompt questions about the character of God, and their own relationship with him. Pray for the desire to hear more stories.
Baba S has been our go-to person to help write Bible stories and gospel presentations. He loves to record and memorise them, and he recently asked us if he could play them to his whole family! Pray that as they listen they will be transformed by them. Mama Bey is elderly and house-bound. She always asks to hear stories about Jesus, and recently told us that she now follows Him! Angel is a young mum who is married to a strong believer, they are both illegal immigrants. She has been soaking up the Word and recently decided to follow Jesus and be baptised!
I was chatting with a couple women in a shop and when I mentioned Jesus, they immediately said: ‘We don’t know much about Jesus, will you tell us about him?’. And so I shared the big story of the Bible, building up for them a picture of why Jesus came. Her friend was in and out of the conversation, customers came and went but Karla was engaged and asking questions. Today I popped by her shop again and without any prompting she told me that I really needed to teach them more, and how her friend had said that they needed to gather others together and really learn about these things! Praise God for curious hearts! Pray that they would put their idea in action, and we would be able to meet together to study God’s word. Pray that as they discover more of who God is, their hearts will be captivated with a love for him.
A local brother who lives in a distant village was going to visit an old, poor, sick relative. He planned to bring him the hope of the gospel and had in his bag a copy of the NT. But somehow some men in the town got wind of his visit and came in the house looking to make trouble. They pulled his NT from his bag and took a close look at it. Miraculously, after a careful look one man said, “Why this is a just a copy of our book.” He handed the NT to another man who agreed with him and said that this was “their book”. Then they apologized for the intrusion and left. Praise for our Father blinding the eyes of those who would make trouble as he opens the eyes of those who are searching for Him.
Praise God for a new female believer in Vanilla Island. After watching a video that took her through God’s story from creation to the second coming she said “I’m not even in His family and yet he carried my sins and they are really heavy! He loves me so much!’” Pray that she would daily grow in her faith and that she would develop a deep intimacy with J. Pray that God would place an urgency and a passion for sharing him with others. Pray that her husband would see her being changed by God’s love and recognise he needs what she has discovered!
An island sister was recently preparing wedding food with a large group of women when some of the women started talking about the way God was responsible for all the evil in the world as well as the good. They brought our sister into the conversation and she was able to tell them that she didn’t agree. She then had the entire audience of women captivated as she told them the story of creation all the way to Cain and Abel. Afterwards women were asking her how she knew these things and if she could tell them more! Praise God for this sister’s boldness and ask that she would be encouraged to step out more and more in faith to share the good news. Pray that God would bless these women with a strong hunger to hear more, and that they would seek her out for more stories.
Pray for one young woman who has had three dreams from God. However, since sharing this with a worker she has been reluctant to talk in more detail. Pray that God would keep bringing those dreams back to her mind. Pray that she would have courage to be found by the God who is pursuing her! Pray also for a young believer who dreamed about an island woman searching for truth, in his dream this woman had a dream (!) that he was the one who would give her the answers. Pray that there would be women who are dissatisfied and searching for more, pray also for this young believer and others like him, that they would recognise with joy that they do have the answer to what others are searching for.
Praise God for all those who have heard the good news over the past few weeks of fasting. On vanilla island two workers have had multiple times each day to share with friends and neighbours, and also with those they don’t normally interact with and rarely engage with in conversation. In the past when they’ve begun to share Truth people have either turned away from the conversation, interrupted with an objection, fallen asleep, or changed the subject! But in these last few weeks, people have stopped what they are doing to listen, they’ve pondered their statements, and asked inquiring questions. Pray that people would continue to think on what they’ve heard and that these seeds would send down deep roots into their hearts. Pray that many would be discovering a hunger in their hearts for something more than what Islam can offer them.
Pray for protection from a local Christian cult. They follow the teachings of a man called William Branham and among other things don’t believe in the Trinity. They first appeared on the scene about ten years ago and at that time some of the older believers choose to follow them. Now it seems that there is some mixing going on between that group and the local church. There is much to attract them – a charismatic leader, a place to meet for fellowship, and it’s possible that financial incentives may also play a part. Pray for discernment for local believers, that they would recognise the teachings of this cult for what they are. Pray also against the seductive hold money has on the hearts of some believers, pray that God would bring them to true dependence on him.
Pray for islanders as they fast – some fast because they are seriously seeking to please God, some fast because they always have and always will and have never really thought about it, some fast just because everyone else does, some fast and take pride in their achievement, a very few fast and wonder whether it’s enough.
For two weeks we talked about the divinity of Jesus, which is a huge stumbling block for Muslims. So it was pretty amazing to go through different passages of the Bible with him looking at how through His words and actions Jesus showed himself to be God. At one point Papa B said, ‘when you say these things, you dishonour God and you dishonour Jesus. Jesus was a great prophet, He healed people, He raised people from the dead – from the dead! And He suffered, He really suffered! How can you say God suffered, that God was defeated, how can you say God died? You dishonour God with these words.’ It’s not often that I get to talk to people who have really understood what we believe and are grappling with the ramifications, but each time I do I marvel at how amazing it will be for them when God reveals that yes He did suffer, yes He did die and He did it for them. Like most here the fact of the incarnation is incomprehensible to Papa B; that God would come down to live in an unclean human body, that He would go through the physical indiginity of being born, and then to go on to die a shameful and painful death. And yet because of this how much more glorious will it be when God opens his eyes? How could it do anything other than draw out the most extravagant devotion and worship?
Pray for believers who are under A LOT of extra pressure this month of Ramadan. This month all men pray five times a day at the mosque – your absence is noted and questions are asked. Some religious teachers teach that if one person in the village doesn’t fast the whole village’s fast is ruined, other families will state that family members who didn’t pray won’t get fed. They also naturally feel a greater sense of isolation and lack of community than normal. I don’t think any of us really has any idea how hard this month must be for believers.
Praise God that T (a local translator), his son and wife made it to Kenya and are being well looked after. We’re also so thankful that his son doesn’t have hydrocephalus; in fact, he is severely malnourished. It was thought that his weakness and lack of appetite were because of a sickness, but turns out they were the sickness. They have a follow-up appointment in a month and lots of time to help little H eat. Ask that this time is like a breath of fresh air to their souls. Ask for fruitful interactions with local Kenyan believers and that as a family they would discover true and full health in Jesus.
An islander recently asked a worker “do you ever hear Satan walking around your house?” This man has just moved to a new house in the village and has been awakened at night by loud stomping sounds & then what sounds like something very large eating something. He has asked his neighbors about it and they’ve told him that it is Satan, and that they must say special prayers to make sure he stays outside. The worker was able to share with him how Jesus has defeated the kingdom of darkness. Pray that fear would drive this man to the Father and that we would see the kingdom of light advance in his life!
Praise God for the persistence and hard work of the local translators. Please lift up one translator T and his family – none of whom follow Jesus. His baby son is very weak and sick and they hope to travel abroad for treatment in May. So much good could come of this trip, but there are also many pitfalls and much potential for misunderstanding. T and his wife have fears about their son, about travel, and about staying in a mostly Christian country. Ask that the enemy wouldn’t get his hands in this situation and that Jesus would be lifted up through it. Ask for Terry, his wife and all the community watching, to see Jesus’ love and power.
Pray for M a local believer who was recently kicked out of his family. He was summoned to a family meeting where he was told that everyone was talking about him being a follower of Jesus and that he was bringing shame on the family. His mum told him that he was no longer her son and to get his stuff and get out. Pray that local brothers would provide support and comfort to him and that this rejection and suffering would only drive him deeper into the arms of the father. Pray for provision for practical needs and that his suffering would open up opportunities for the good news to spread.
Pray for all the necessary preparation to be done for the production of audio recordings of Genesis in 2 languages in June. Pray for good recordings and for eager listeners!
Easter weekend is just a normal weekend as far as the islands are concerned. However through expat workers and Christian satellite channels many will have the chance to hear the Easter story this month. Most islanders believe that Jesus was replaced by Judas on the cross and that Jesus was taken up to heaven unharmed. Pray that the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection would capture the hearts of islanders and that the truth would overcome these lies and that many would begin to walk towards the light
Continue to pray for T, who recently shared that she has a evil spirit. Ask that she will not be satisfied with the ‘medicine’ she is planning to take, and would give her life to the One who can bring her into complete freedom. Continue asking for wisdom, protection and sensitivity for the worker to share truth that will penetrate the darkness.
Recently a teacher offered her students the chance to ask her any question. They asked, “Can you explain your religion to us?” So for the rest of class she did! The students were so engaged, asked lots of questions, and didn’t want to stop at the end of class. Pray they would ponder what they heard, continue to seek, and have courage to ask God to show them the truth.
A new believer is planning to be dunked this month. Pray for the logistics and for wisdom for those involved in organising. Pray for him to be filled with the spirit, for his fiancée to respond in faith as well, and for many others to be drawn to Him.
Pray for a musician who has recently been engaging in serious belief discussions.
The translation project continues on and always needs your prayers! This month pray that Bible stories would be shared far and wide, that those who hear stories would retell them and that believers would find themselves excited to share stories in the different situations they find themselves in.
Pray for the conference we will be holding for local English teachers this month. We expect over 100 teachers to come from all over the island, some of whom we will have known for years and some we will be meeting for the first time. Pray that we would not only bless them as teachers but that significant conversations would take place during breaks and we would find many who are spiritually hungry.
Praise God for the gathering of believers to learn new worship songs in the island language. Praise God for those that have written songs and those that came, sang and danced! Pray that God would be stirring their hearts to worship him in deeper ways and that new worship songs and dances would be pouring forth.
Continue to pray for Mart and Light – the new believers you prayed for last month – as they have hit a rocky patch. On the day they were planning on getting baptised, Mart went off to his home island without telling anyone. The enemy is definitely working to stop the growth that has started. Pray that he would come back quickly, that God would help them to work out their marriage issues, and that they would continue to grow in their young faith.
Pray for believers to persevere despite opposition and persecution. They need courage and wisdom. Pray they would be filled with the Spirit and share with family and friends what great things the Lord has done.
Pray the Lord would rebuke the political and religious leaders who are opposing His work. May they repent and turn to Christ.
Praise God for ‘Mart’ and ‘Light’, who recently, joyfully, came to Christ! They are meeting twice weekly to pray, sing, and study a discipleship course. Pray for continued growth, and that they will share their faith with others. Pray that their mother, siblings, and friends will join the group!
Religious leaders are opposing our work. There have been sermons against us and the believers. Pray for the governor to resist pressure from the religious leaders and allow us to continue our translation work. Pray the opposition will only increase curiosity and many will read the scriptures in their own language.
Pray for all the Christmas parties and other opportunities to talk with friends about the Christmas story. Ask Father to open many hearts. May the story catch their imaginations and would they long to hear more!
Pray for the island children who attend the homework club. Pray this week they will listen well to the Christmas story. Pray their parents will come to the special holiday event and listen with tender hearts. Pray the Lord will draw many to Himself.