HIV/AIDS devastated the population of this country; the working age population was particularly impacted. Recent reports say 27% of adults are HIV positive - the highest rate inthe world. Life expectancy was greatly reduced as a result. Many times the eldest sibling leads a household of orphans. Talk about ministry and evangelism in Eswatini is not helpful if ministering to those HIV/AIDS and assisting in prevention are not also addressed. Pray for treatment of the sick. Genuine Christian love, demonstrated in practical and gracious ways, could win many to the Lord. All churches must address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of AIDS sufferers.
The Church faces many challenges:
- Nominalism is widespread. Far too many Christians live no differently from their unbelieving compatriots. Pray for God's Spirit to bring revival. Many churches, even traditional evangelical groups, are stagnating and losing their young people.
- Traditional practices adopted uncritically lead to syncretism, but outright rejection of them leads to legalism and irrelevance. Pray for the wisdom and grace to practise a culturally relevant but biblical Christianity. Men especially need to be drawn into the Church - the large majority of the faithful are female.
- The African Independent Churches claim more than half the population. Their beliefs range from an evangelical theological position to a high degree of compromise with polygamy, witchcraft, ancestor veneration and appeasement sacrifices. The large "Zionist" movement strongly emphasizes both pentecostal gifts and traditional African spiritual customs. Pray that these groups might be shaped by Scripture and directed by the Holy Spirit. Pray also for increased interaction between Zion and evangelical churches; this will teach and benefit both groups.
- Quality Christian leadership is in short supply and sporadic in quality. Most pastors are unpaid and limited in the time they can contribute to the ministry. Few congregations are trained to share the gospel confidently with either traditionalists or intellectuals, and so have little impact on the unchurched. There are seven Bible schools or seminaries in Eswatini, and TEE is available through most of the major denominations. Pray for Swazi pastors and lay Christians to make use of the training resources in the country.
- Youth ministry. The young people of Eswatini have little opportunity to be young due to poverty, unemployment and the AIDS devastation. Pray for churches to minister meaningfully to young people, both evangelizing and discipling effectively. Pray also for godly models and mentors for them.
Christian media ministries to pray for:
- The Bible in Swati. It is available in a recent translation, and Christian bookstores exist, such as ones run by CLC and the Nazarenes.
- National Christian radio. The SCC Media Centre produces 18 hours of Christian programming weekly for broadcasting on national radio.
- International Christian radio. TWR has three shortwave and one medium wave as well as one FM transmitter, reaching a potential 700 million people in 58 languages in Africa and southwest Asia. Pray for provision of programming in each language - especially in languages with few believers - and in areas of unrest.
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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.