I've been getting acquainted with the seventh edition of this "definitive prayer guide to every nation" which is now available as a book and a DVD. What a labour of love this is. And what a contribution to the task of global mission. It should be hanging out in the living rooms, burdening the coffee tables, and pitching its tent beside the TV of every mission-minded family!
976 pages - with the nations covered, one by one, from Afghanistan on p89 until Zimbabwe on p896. But it is on the other pages which I want to focus my comments: the opening 87 pages and the closing 78 pages.
[By the way here is a site on YouTube where you can get individualised prayers for the nations. Operation World - again. 2-3 minutes each. Ideal for church services. Spoken by people from the country. Start with the one on Pakistan].
Here are thirteen pages which made me WOW:
904: a list of the world's fifty largest cities
[10 from North Atlantic; 10 from South Asia; 10 from China/Japan ... with my old home 'town' of Delhi standing at #2 which surprised me].
976: a list of guidelines on how to pray for world leaders including a website that maintains an accurate listing of those leaders, while also chronicling any changes taking place on a daily basis. Remarkable!
xxiiif: a succinct description of what prayer actually is.
908f: the coolest maps where little blue dots signify where the followers of the world religions live - Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Non-religious, and Christianity. So striking to see both the uniquely global reach of Christianity, but also the overpowering needs of South and East Asia.
967f: a list of (mostly) web-based data bases for finding statistics on things like religion, economics, languages, peoples, denominations etc.
919: a list of the countries with the highest number of unreached peoples.
[... #3 - Pakistan; #4 - Bangladesh; #5 - Nepal ... #36 - Niger; #37 - United Kingdom; #38 - Senegal ...]
301: a list of thirteen quotes on prayer.
27: a few paragraphs on the various Great Commission passages in the New Testament. Made me want to preach a fresh sermon series.
902: a list of countries by population - but choosing to include individual states of India and provinces of China within the list as well. Fascinating!
[so ... Uttar Pradesh is in between Indonesia (#4) and Brazil (#5) ... Maharastra is in between Japan (#10) and Mexico (#11) ... Jiangsu is in between Germany (#16) and Turkey (#17) ... Karnataka is in between United Kingdom (#22) and Italy (#23)]
521: a list of thirteen quotes on mission.
914: a list of the countries with the highest percentage of evangelicals (NB - this word is carefully defined on 958-959).
[#1 - Kenya; #2 - Vanuatu ...]
951f: a list of websites for the thirteen crucial mission-related periodicals and journals.
4-23: a synopsis of the world today complete with 'answers to prayer', 'global hot spots', and 'global trends to watch' ... and then the same categories are opened up for each and every continent as well. Amazing!
However, I must confess that I am not convinced by everything. Particularly puzzling is the understanding of 'pentecostals' and 'charismatics' in relation to 'evangelicals'. They suggest that "All Pentecostals are, by definition, both charismatic and evangelical and therefore a subset of both ... Pentecostals are both evangelical and charismatic by definition (xxxi)". That is news to me. I have never understood those words in that sense. It is not a small issue in the book because the statistics keep coming back to these words. And so when I turn to New Zealand and discover "18.2% Evangelicals", I am dumbfounded. I know of no survey - until this book - that puts the figure anywhere near that high. Then it makes me wonder how many details in other countries leave their people dumb-founded!
Nevertheless, despite my dumb-founded-ness - this is a fantastic book. Please buy one - or the DVD - and make a habit of using it.