2019: Prayer Focus

ConflictHungerPeacebuildingFood SecurityChildren at riskInjustice

Nigel Harris, Tearfund’s CEO, encourages us to keep praying as the new year begins.

As we start 2019, we are as passionate as ever about following Jesus where the need is greatest. We see a world that is deeply fragmented, and one in which we long for the restoration of relationships.

Please join us in praying to see lives transformed in these five locations and across the world.

Nigeria

Photo: Ovinuchi Ejiohuo/Unsplash

At a glance:

  • Boko Haram fighters still active
  • National elections due in February and March
  • Conflict and unrest across the country

The growing humanitarian crisis in Nigeria – particularly in the north east, central and some parts of the north west – has forced many people from their homes as conflict between herders and farmers shows little sign of ending.

An estimated 7.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. In seven years of conflict, more than 20,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram-related incidents. Nigeria is now ranked third in a global list of countries facing terrorist attacks.

On Saturday 16 February the nation goes to the polls to elect a new president. Campaigning is set to intensify in the coming weeks, with security being a key issue being debated. On 2 March further national elections take place for the Governorship and State Assemblies.

Tearfund’s Nigeria Country Representative, Paul Mershak, says: ‘Despite Nigeria having one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, it is a nation with the largest number of people living in poverty in the world. For 2019, Tearfund will continue to work towards changing this paradox.’

How you can pray for Nigeria:

  • For fair and peaceful national elections in February and March.
  • For those people in need of humanitarian assistance, that our staff and partners will be able to reach them with support.
  • For peace between herders and farmers, bringing the violent clashes to an end.

Yemen


At a glance:

  • Famine likely
  • Cholera returning
  • Peace much-needed

Ongoing conflict means Yemenis continue to face dangers on several fronts – from potential famine and cholera, to the impact of transport systems and health facilities destroyed by conflict.

In September 2018 the head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) declared that it remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. And this will continue, unless a peaceful resolution to the conflict is found.

Across the nation, 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian aid, and 8.4 million are at risk of starvation. It’s a number that’s expected to rise to 18 million if conditions don’t improve.

Kieren Barnes, Middle East Response Director, says: ‘Tearfund will continue working through our partners to respond to the potential famine that is coming, but also to the needs that exist right now. We’re also potentially seeing another large spike in the cholera situation for 2019, so our partners inside Yemen are scaling up again to respond.

‘This is an ever-growing crisis. There is no end in sight. We have to pray because this cannot continue.’

How you can pray for Yemen:

  • For peace to come to Yemen, so that its people can restore their lives and livelihoods.
  • For those suffering from severe food shortages, that it will be possible to get emergency supplies to those most in need.
  • For an end to the cholera outbreaks, which deepen the crisis for many Yemenis.

East Africa

Photo: Will Swanson/Tearfund

At a glance:

  • More food shortages expected
  • Hopes for peace agreement to hold in South Sudan
  • Conflict restricting humanitarian access in some areas

The need for additional food and nutritional support for vulnerable people will continue to be vital in East Africa in 2019. There continues to be a real and pressing danger of extreme levels of hunger in many areas.

In September 2018 a peace agreement was signed between two of South Sudan’s rival leaders. However, there have since been violent clashes and attacks in some parts of the country. Violence typically reduces humanitarian access, which can lead to significant food shortages. A lasting peace deal is needed to end the risk of famine.

Meanwhile, farmers in Kenya and Somalia are likely to continue to struggle due to the effects of a changing climate. Crop production is anticipated to fall 30-40 per cent below average, while livestock production is also anticipated to fall.

‘While much has been achieved following Tearfund’s appeal for the region in 2017, the fragile security situation, climate change and extreme poverty are still big threats to lives and livelihoods. Tearfund will continue to provide immediate relief as well as helping people with longer term farming training and support,’ says Douwe Dijkstra, Tearfund’s Lead for East and Central Africa.

How you can pray for East Africa:

  • For peace in areas of conflict, particularly in South Sudan.
  • For people who are suffering from a lack of food, that harvests will be better than expected and rains will fall when needed.
  • That Tearfund’s staff and partners will to be able to reach those who are most vulnerable.

Venezuela


At a glance:

  • Political and economic instability ongoing
  • Many fleeing to nearby Colombia
  • Children most vulnerable

Thousands of people are fleeing Venezuela every month due to economic and political instability. We and our partners are helping those who’ve fled to neighbouring Colombia, as well as supporting a schools project encouraging vulnerable children, despite the turmoil in Venezuela.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 10 million per cent this year, causing fears that ‘one of the worst hyperinflationary crises in modern history will further deepen’ (Reuters). This means essentials such as food, medicine and other basic goods will be increasingly hard to come by.

A project supported by Tearfund called ‘The Venezuela we dream’ is helping children draw their dreams, visions and desires for Venezuela.

‘Children in Venezuela dream of living in a safe, peaceful place,’ says Loida Carriel, Tearfund’s Advocacy Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean. ‘They hope for a life where their family is together, and they do not have to travel far to get food, medicine or jobs. They need a country where all can prosper and build the nation no matter who they are.’

How you can pray for Venezuela:

  • For the children who dream of a better future, pray there will be economic and political stability to allow this to happen.
  • For those who have had to flee the country, that they will stay safe from harm and be able to return home.
  • For the political leaders in Venezuela, that they will have wisdom in their decision making.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Photo: Tom Heath/Tearfund

At a glance:

  • Violent clashes persisting
  • Ebola outbreak continuing
  • Aid efforts hampered by conflict

The spread of Ebola in the DRC remains a major concern at the start of 2019. Currently most cases are in rural areas, but there are fears it could spread to larger cities and across the border into neighbouring countries such as Rwanda and Uganda.

Efforts by doctors and aid workers to contain the virus are being hampered by the ongoing conflict in the country. The UN has called for an end to hostilities to allow medical teams to tackle the outbreak.

The DRC has suffered from decades of civil war. Instability in the region has led to widespread poverty, accompanied by violence which has divided communities and displaced families. It is a country that has been devastated by war for over 60 years, with a population who have never known peace.

‘Tearfund’s work in the DRC will focus on the glimpse of hope that we are seeing through our programmes. We want to continue seeing churches and communities reconciled and standing on their own two feet; women seen not as victims but having a valued role in their communities; children laughing because they have clean water to drink; and those displaced having a future and a hope.’ David McAllister, Tearfund’s Country Director, DRC.

How you can pray for the DRC:

  • For peace as tribal violence continues to claim many lives.
  • For the many orphans left alone because of the unceasing conflicts and the Ebola virus. Pray for food and shelter, and for protection so that they do not fall prey of adults looking for new recruits for their mines and brothels.
  • For the president elected over Christmas, and for a new and true government who will lead the people of DRC in a new era of peace and justice.

Banner image: Colin Cosier/Tearfund

Nigel Harris
Nigel became Tearfund’s chief executive in November 2015. He is married to Teresa, they have two children, both students and is an active member of St Michael's Church, Southfields, London.