Praise God for political stability, economic growth, and lower corruption in Botswana. Religious freedom allows agencies to evangelize and plant churches. After the progress from Vision 2016, the government set new goals for health, economy, the environment and society (Vision 2036), which fit well with biblical principles. Vision 2036 seeks "prosperity for all" and includes a sustainable environment, human and social development, good governance and peace. Pray that it might be so! After all, only under Jesus' Lordship can such a vision be truly achieved.
AIDS has devastated the country. Botswana has the world's second-highest prevalence of AIDS after Eswatini. The disease, spread mostly by sexual promiscuity, has stolen 28 years from the nation's life expectancy and created a situation so dire that a recent president stated, "We are threatened with extinction." Over 100,000 AIDS orphans exist in the country, a staggering number for such a small population. Pray for the following:
- The government has fast-tracked a programme that makes anti-retroviral drugs available through the public sector, drugs that will keep many alive. Pray that the government might have wisdom to know and do what is right. Pray that people will make use of these services in a way that effectively prolongs their lives.
- The many ministries working with AIDS victims and orphans. There are countless opportunities to demonstrate Christian love in this context. Pray for compassionate ministry to those who suffer and for effective preventative work among those not yet infected, particularly youth abstinence programmes.
- Individual congregations. Not a single church exists whose membership is unaffected by AIDS. Pray for the ending of any stigma toward sufferers and for congregations to work together for mutual support and prevention.
Most mainline Protestant churches were established by Western missions in generations past, but now are generally in decline. Some suggest that the mainline churches' struggles today are a legacy from the early missionaries' failure to contextualize the gospel to local culture; this has resulted in pervasive nominalism. Both local congregations and denominational structures are affected. Pray for revival among these historic churches.
African Initiated Churches (Spiritual Churches or AIC) are the largest religious grouping in the country. They are made of several large and also hundreds of small denominations. There is a great deal of diversity among them, ranging from biblically orthodox groups to marginal fringe groups. Most of these Churches stress the healing power of God. Of all the churches, they are most clearly engaged in the struggles of culture and faith, which have led some into syncretistic practices. Since there are no paid pastors, many are led by those with little education or theological training. A few have taken college-level theological courses; some have studied at a more basic level. Several groups run basic theological courses specifically geared to help these leaders. Mennonite Ministries Botswana has worked for 30 years with AICs through Bible education. Pray for African Indigenous Churches to use their strengths to reach out to others with the gospel of Jesus.
Networking between churches and ministries is a strong point in Botswana. The Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana, the Botswana Council of Churches and the Organization of African Initiated Churches (OAIC) work together on a variety of joint projects. Joining Hands (a missions network) draws together many for initiatives such as MANI and the Micah Challenge to enable better networking. Pray that this cooperation and unity might yield greater fruitfulness in ministry.
The San have suffered the almost complete destruction of their desert-adapted way of life, due to the development of ranching, mining and tourism. There are no longer any purely nomadic San - all are resettled in poverty on the fringes of towns and villages. Response is slow, but several thousand San may now be Christian in about 20 congregations through the efforts of a dozen agencies (SIM, Reaching the Unreached, Calvary Ministries, Xanagas Mission, Word to Africa, Lutherans and others). Pray that these agencies may be able to help the San adapt to modernity, yet retain their cultural heritage and, above all, find their true identity in Christ.
Ministry to young people is particularly strategic, given the low life expectancy, high rates of teen pregnancy and the widespread impact of AIDS. The Open Baptists, SU, YFC and IFES are a few of the main groups focusing on spiritual ministry, life training, AIDS prevention and discipleship.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.