How to Reach a Nation in Need
by Patrick Johnstone
I look back over these 50 years since the first edition of Operation World was written with awe and astonishment at all God has done through the prayers of His people. When I went out to Africa in 1962, evangelical Christians were a marginalized minority in the worldwide Church. There had been 50 years of sowing the gospel seed in times of war and difficulty, but the global harvest had not really begun to be reaped. Then followed a further 50 years of astonishing growth. It began first in Africa during the 1960s, then in Latin America in the 1970s, East Asia in the 1990s, and in recent years came the first significant people movements to Christ in parts of the Muslim world. Few realize that this was a global awakening of staggering size and extent because it was also a time of stagnation and decline especially in Europe and also in the wider Western world. I believe the massive increase in intercession for the world from Africa, Asia and Latin America is a major factor in this Awakening. Evangelical Christianity has moved to centre stage in the world of the 21st century.
Yet how needed such a book as this is today! There is still much to be done if we are to see the fulfilment of the words of the Lord Jesus that this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world to all nations so that He may return with the global Church complete with people from every race, tribe, people, and tongue who will worship Him. We will never reach every part of humankind unless there is passionate, urgent, Satan-binding prayer to raise up, sustain, and enable harvesters to have the right strategies and close walk with Jesus to bring in the lost. This book gives a picture of every country of the world and the state of the Church and the lost. May it stimulate much-informed prayer that receives answers!
In the early Church, the apostle Paul and his small team shared the news and needs of the churches as they travelled from place to place. Believers could rejoice and thank God together for answers to prayer, and also share in the burdens and challenges faced by their brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the region. This continues today as the global body of believers rejoices together, and shares their burdens in prayer. Just as in the early Church, this prayer leads to action and practical help.
Millions of Christians, particularly from the Churches of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, gather regularly at the local level to pray. Today we can also connect through the Internet to prayer gatherings around the world. And we can pray with greater unity, as technology allows us to connect and share information in ways we did not imagine even 10 or 20 years ago! Tens of thousands of people now follow the Operation World (OW) prayer calendar, which means that each day a wave of focused and unified prayer is lifted—from around the globe—for a specific nation.
Prayer gatherings often bring together followers of Christ from diverse denominations within a city or nation. Where divisions once existed, Christians often find God builds unity and trust among them as they pray, whether for the suffering believers of the persecuted Church around the world, for a nation in a time of need, or for God to reveal Christ’s love and care for people.
We must not underestimate the unifying and even reconciling work of prayer gatherings!
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