Zambians widely accept Christianity, even in public institutions and the media. Evangelicals grew from 3.8% in 1960 to 25.7% in 2010. Former president Chiluba declared Zambia a Christian nation in 1991, and Zambians practise freedom of all religions. Zambia enjoys a legacy as a stable and peaceful nation surrounded by countries troubled by war and unrest. But national transformation along biblical lines still has not come. Too few know the Word of God, or how to live a Christian life. Superstitions and occult practices open the door for the enemy to work evil in people’s lives. Pray for Christians to live pure and holy lives that depend on God alone for spiritual power and blessing. Pray that Zambia will truly be a nation that honours God.
Poverty and its many causes need to be tackled wisely but aggressively. Consider the following: up to 86% of the population are below the poverty line; agriculture and copper mining, which employ the large majority of the population, are dependent on erratic weather and markets. Between 33% and 50% of children are malnourished; 40% of the people do not have access to clean water or adequate sanitation. Illiteracy in rural areas is 90%. Current economic growth cannot offset the high birthrate or AIDS prevalence. All of these challenges are beginning to be met by a great host of agencies working in development, healthcare, education, vocational training, microfinance and other areas. Pray for wise policy-making, responsible borrowing by the state and for long-term sustainable investing and ministry that will uplift the nation to greater development. Pray for the right balance between external assistance and homegrown solutions.
The "brain drain" of many of Africa's brightest and best to richer nations impacts Zambia deeply. While Zambian doctors, lawyers, businessmen, professionals and pastors set up shop in South Africa, Europe and North America, their home nation cries out for precisely the skills and resources they have to offer. Pray for conviction to return to be blessings and the ideal missionaries to their country.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) is a network of over 200 denominations, churches, missions and parachurch organizations and an important focal point of fellowship and cooperative efforts. It has spearheaded efforts to address the challenges of AIDS, poverty and long-term food security, and works to imbue churches with holistic vision. Pray that the EFZ might be anointed and effective in this crucial work.
Zambia is a major destination and thoroughfare for people. Instability in nations surrounding Zambia has sent hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing into Zambia, especially from Zimbabwe of late. Also, Zambia is vulnerable to traffickers of both child labourers and sex workers. Thank God for a recently passed law specifically criminalizing human trafficking; pray for its effective implementation. Pray that Zambia might be the location where many uprooted people find succour and discover the Living God.
The AIDS crisis overwhelms the health services, the economy (as many trained professionals succumb to the disease), the pastoral work of churches (over 100,000 AIDS-related deaths per year) and family life. Pray specifically for:
- Those working to reduce AIDS. All major denominations have adopted pragmatic policies to combat the spread of the disease and to assist those infected. Many have specific ministries devoted solely to AIDS issues such as Jesus Cares Ministries, Advocates for Change and SU's Aid for AIDS programmes.
- Attitudes toward AIDS have changed. A lot of the stigma, superstition and bad information are now replaced with compassion in action. Infection rates have reduced from 20% to 15% in 10 years, with much greater reductions in specific segments of the population.
- The military, police and copper mine workers have some of the highest rates of infection. These groups tend to frequent sex workers through whom AIDS is passed and who most likely have the highest infection rate of all.
- Children. Zambia has 710,000 orphans, mostly due to AIDS; nearly 20% of all children are suffering the loss of their parents. Over 90,000 live on the streets. Almost 75% of Zambian households care for a relative orphaned by AIDS.
Leadership training is an urgent need, the natural outworking of sustained church growth. This is a massive priority in a land where nominalism and syncretism are common. The EFZ has sponsored the Theological College of Central Africa in Ndola - the first evangelical, degree-awarding theological institution in Central Africa. There are many more colleges and Bible schools, representing every major denominational expression. Pray for spiritually and educationally qualified leaders to be prepared through these institutions. TEE is widely used and increasing in scope, scale and effectiveness. In-service and modular trainings for both the ordained and laity are essential, especially since most church planting is actually done by lay workers.
Other faiths present a challenge to biblical Christianity. These include:
- Witchcraft and sorcery, based on animism, strongly affect the lives and worldview of many Christians. They rarely are expressed as a separate religion but often overlap with and pollute Christian belief. Widespread superstitions and occult practices hamper spiritual growth, compromise believers and leave the door open for the enemy to work ill in peoples' lives. Pray that Christians might cast off all ties to the spirits and live pure and holy lives that depend on God alone for spiritual empowerment and blessing.
- Islam is aggressively targeting Zambia, especially in the east, and is growing twice as fast as Christianity here. Muslims take advantage of the freedom of religion to propagate Islam, and they make liberal use of funds from oil rich Muslim nations to entice Christians. Mosque building, free education and material inducements are effective in this poor country. Pray for powerful outreach to Muslims. Few Zambian Christians are equipped for this.
- Jehovah's Witnesses are already numerous and very active in outreach, particularly in the east. Their literature floods the nation, while Christian ministries cannot afford to print and distribute the truth.
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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.