East Asia is a dynamic region with political systems from democracy to communism, economically developed countries and vibrantly developing countries, and a wide variety of histories, cultures and languages. Every country has large numbers of young people who are the driving force in the transformation of society. Christians in East Asia are struggling both to find their identity based on a personal relationship with God, and to be salt and light as God’s people in fast-changing societies.
There are some countries with IFES movements where it is not safe to be known as a Christian, so we are limited in what we can publish about them. In other countries there is not an official IFES movement, and we cannot talk openly about student ministry. In yet other countries we may have just one contact person, and are praying that someday there will be greater freedom so that we can encourage and equip students there.
Here are some ways that you can pray for students in these countries:
- Loneliness – where there are very few Christians, students can feel isolated, and with that comes discouragement. Pray that Christian students will find places where they can meet, and that those who are truly alone will know God’s presence.
- Difficulties in travelling are common. But conferences in other countries are wonderful opportunities to meet Christian brothers and sisters, share joys and challenges, and learn how to cope with difficult situations. Pray that students will be granted visas and be able to find the necessary funds to travel.
- Fear of persecution can stifle joy in the lord. Pray that God will protect Christians in these countries, and that students will not be driven by fear.
- Fear of rejection by non-Christian friends can leave students afraid to share their faith. Pray that Christians might lead such godly lives that others will ask them questions that will lead naturally to them sharing the good news of Jesus.
- Learning about other faiths is important in contexts where another religion is predominant. Pray that students will not be afraid to engage in conversations about different religions, and that opportunities to share what they believe will arise as they take time to learn about others.
- Sharing one’s faith is difficult in countries where it is forbidden to ‘convert’ someone. Pray for wisdom about how and when to talk about their faith.
- Living in the midst of turmoil and war puts special pressure on Christians. When others around them – even some who call themselves Christians – are retaliating with violence, pray that Christian students will be peacemakers and work for reconciliation.