Thursday, October 7, 2010
OK, this week, it's Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. So I could have picked an easier week to mention this. But I came to realize a new way to connect with these countries I'm praying for. Recently I was "friended" on Facebook by someone from Sudan. It's a long story involving Sam Cooke's fan page, but it got me thinking that a better way to do this would be to try to find Facebook friends in every country as I pray for them. We'll see how long THAT lasts.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Another week in Eastern Europe, with four countries that were once a part of the Soviet Union. I'm traveling this week so I could use help identifying prayer requests for these countries. I know one thing I will pray for is the continued work of missionaries in these formerly Communist lands. My parents have good friends who emigrated to the US from the Ukraine, and they used to travel back with suitcases filled with Bibles. The WCC site is right that there is certainly a long tradition of Christianity in these countries, but the effect of official atheism is still profound.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This is a hodgepodge of former Yugoslavia, and there's a lot of variation. Slovenia, for instance, has a fairly comparable economy to Western Europe and avoided ethnic cleansing; Bosnia, wasn't so lucky, and Albania has a per capita income that is closer to the Third World than the First.
But if it was hard last week to think of anybody but John Paul II, it's hard this week to think of anyone other than the world's most famous Albanian, Mother Teresa. As with most of Catholica, I am not nearly well-versed enough in all that she did and all that she means to the church. I am told that one of the best biographies about her is Kathryn Spink's Mother Teresa. I am reading Rev. James Martin's My Life with the Saints (which I recommend highly). Here is an abridged version of his chapter on Mother Teresa, which helped me learn a great deal about her.
Monday, August 30, 2010
We seem to be working our way through the Eastern bloc this month. This week, the two countries that used to make up Czechoslovakia and Poland. It's hard as someone who really only identifies as an American to fully grasp what it must be like to be from a country like one of these, which for so long was dominated by more powerful nations, whether Soviet or Nazi (or Austro-Hungary or Prussian). The Czech Republic is considered one of the most secular nations in Europe, while Poland seems to have a pretty sturdy strand of faith.
When I was a kid, it was still considered acceptable to tell Polish jokes. Of course, at that time and place, we didn't know much about Poland or anyone who was from there (at least, nobody who admitted it after hearing all those corny jokes). Now, things are a little different. Pope John Paul II, as the first Polish pope, whether you're Catholic or not, has reframed what it means to be Polish in far more positive ways.
This is a small thing, but my church has a Polish mission. That is, there is a Polish priest and a little church that meets in our buildings comprised of Polish-speakers, and they have mass in their language. So that's an easy pray-for for me this week.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
OK, a little research on the three countries this week.
Lithuania, it turns out, has a sizable Catholic population, where as Latvia has some Catholics and Estonia only a handful. But whatever the Christian denomination, all are on the way up after suffering under Soviet rule.
I connect Lithuania with tie-dye; this isn't due to anything more than the fact that Donn Nelson coached their national basketball team and was a big Dead-head. I know this because Wake Forest had a Lithuanian player from the national team, Darius Songaglia, who is still floating around the NBA.
But I digress.
Here's a much more meaningful story. Remember that church in Alabama that was struck by a tornado on Palm Sunday, killing 20, including one of the pastor's children? Well the pastor, her husband, and their two daughters went on to be missionaries in Lithuania.
Here's a profile of some Latvian missionaries on the Eastern European Missionaries Network.
But this is the best story of the bunch, a profile of Sisters of Charity working in Estonia. It is really worth the read.
Monday, August 23, 2010
This month we pray for three countries that show me my age. I remember them not existing - they were part of the Soviet Union. And yet they aren't new. I look forward to learning more about them this week.
Does it feel any different to hear about 33 miners trapped in Chile after praying for that nation a few weeks ago? I know I am much slower to pass that story by, knowing just the very little bit I learned that week. Please pray for them, their families, and their country.