Evangelical churches grew from 0.1% in 1900 to over 25% today! Puerto Ricans traditionally follow Catholicism. A large charismatic movement grew inside the Catholic Church, but most new growth is among independent groups. Puerto Rican mission vision also grew. Pray for effective training and support of new mission ventures. Media ministries use TV, local radio, and Internet sites to offer practical answers to life and faith questions. IFES (International Federation of Evangelical Students) and indigenous student movements reach most campus students. Pray for ministries to continue shaping future leaders, and for discipleship movements to transform the lives of believers.
Societal problems cry out for Christian involvement. The incidence of substance abuse, disease, corruption, crime and poverty are some of the highest in the Americas. This being so in a land that is 97% Christian and 25% evangelical is an affront to the gospel. Specific prayer needs are:
- Poverty. Over 45% of the population live below the poverty line. It is significantly poorer than the poorest US state of Mississippi. In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands. Inexcusably poor recovery efforts and rebuilding - especially given the wealth and capacity of the USA - made the already difficult situation far worse. It will take years for Puerto Rico to recover even back to its former (and still impoverished) state. Pray for God’s mercy amidst continued (and probably unnecessary) poverty.
- Education. Only 11% have a college degree, while 62% fail to complete secondary school - the highest dropout rate in the USA. These low education levels are profoundly linked to unemployment, poverty and crime issues.
- Home life. An astonishing 61% poverty rate for households headed by females. Given the widespread family breakdown on the island, this accounts for a large portion of the population; many youths grow up deprived of material security as well as a father figure and male role model.
- Health and substance abuse. Puerto Rico endures some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS, drug addiction and alcoholism of any US state or territory.
Puerto Ricans number nearly as many in the mainland USA as in their own land. Urbanization and unemployment in Puerto Rico crowd the cities and fuel emigration but leave rural areas fairly empty. But the traditional stereotype of a US Puerto Rican - that of a ghetto-dweller in New York City - paints an incomplete picture. There are now pockets in Florida, New England, Chicago and elsewhere, and they span the entire economic spectrum. Pray for those ministering to Puerto Ricans living in the USA.
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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.