AO Prayer Network: July 2011 Prayer Requests for Asia
July 25, 2011
Praying for Asia! July 2011
This is what the Lord says: Maintain justice and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will
soon be revealed. Isaiah 56:1
Welcome to the AO Prayer network. We appreciate your heart, passion and willingness to join us in prayer for God's Kingdom. In this quarter, our prayer focus is on the region of Southeast Asia. This month we will be looking at an overview of the region.
Week 1: Regional overview
The countries of Southeast Asia that we are covering this quarter are: Mainland Southeast Asia, including Myanmar (or Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam; and Maritime Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines and East Timor. This is a densely populated, culturally rich and closely inter-linked region, with a population approaching 600 million.
The common historical and major current influences across the region are India and China. The indigenous peoples of maritime Southeast Asia are thought to have migrated southwards from southern China sometime between 2500 and 1500 BC. They continued to have contacts with the Chinese civilization, but the influence of India gradually became predominant among them, and among the peoples of the Southeast Asian mainland.
Today the large multicultural populations of Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines are exemplary of the dynamic regional trade and cross-pollination over the ages, with indigenous people groups and significant numbers of Chinese and Indians all coexisting. Inter-country migration is still a marker of the region, with significant populations of many Southeast Asian people groups to be found in all of the countries.
Let us bring before the Lord this wonderfully vibrant and diverse region, thanking Him for the great work He is already doing there. Pray with us the words from Isaiah 56:1, that His salvation is close at hand and righteousness soon to be revealed for the peoples of Southeast Asia.
Week 2: Early indigenous history
The history of the Malay-speaking world begins with the advent of Indian influence, which dates back to at least the 3rd century BC. Indian traders came to the archipelago both for its abundant forest and maritime products and to trade with merchants from China, who also discovered the Malay world at an early date.
Cambodia was first influenced by Hinduism during the beginning of the Funan kingdom in the 1st century AD. The Khmer empire was powerful from the 9th-13th century AD, covering most of the Mekong area at its height.
The Majapahit Empire was an Indianized kingdom based in eastern Java from 1293 to around 1500. The empire reached its peak when it dominated other kingdoms in the southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and Bali and further afield, making it the largest empire to ever exist in Southeast Asian history.
In the 13th century, the ancient Thai kingdom of Nan Chao in Yunnan, southern China, was crushed. The result was a mass movement of Thai peoples southwards. At first divided into principalities, vassals of the Khmer king, they founded in 1238 the kingdom of Sukothai in west central Thailand. King Ramkamhaeng adopted the Khmer alphabet and gave the Thais a written language, and he introduced Buddhism into his kingdom.
In 1350 Prince Ramatibodi founded a rival Thai kingdom in the south and eventually took over the entire Thai territory. Ramatibodi, generally regarded as the first King of Siam, brought in a new core of law and his armies drove intruding Khmer back into Cambodia. His legacy survived for over 400 years, for much of which Siam was engaged in war with the Khmer in the east and with Burma in the west.
Southeast Asia is a region that has the seen the rise and fall of many great empires. Pray with us for the Kingdom of God to be established more and more, and for the values of the Kingdom to prevail over earthly values.
Week 3: Colonial history
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the arrival of European powers in Southeast Asia set the stage for the political and economic realities of today, leaving an indelible mark on the region. In many countries, the colonial heritage can still be seen in the social structures, architecture and town planning, and urban culture. Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation never to have been colonized by a western power, and they celebrate this fact with much pride.
- · In 1521, explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain. Spanish rule contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the archipelago.
- · East Timor was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, until 1975, when Timor-Leste declared its independence, to be invaded later that year by Indonesia. Only following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination did Indonesia relinquish control of the territory and East Timor become a sovereign state in 2002.
- · In 1602, the Dutch established a trading presence in Indonesia. In 1800, the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalized colony. Indonesia declared independence after the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, but this was not formally agreed to by the Dutch until 1949.
- · Malaysia has had a complicated colonial history, with the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British having influence. The British held several Malay states as a protectorate, appointing advisors to the Malay rulers in other states as well, beginning with Penang in 1786 up until the Japanese occupation during World War II. Independence was a messy process over the next eight years, culminating in the federation of all current Malaysian states in 1963.
- · Singapore was developed from obscurity as a sea port under British sovereignty in 1824, by a treaty with the Sultanate of Johor, Malaysia. 1965 marked the year that Singapore became a sovereign state in its own right, after a failed endeavour joining the Federation of Malaysia two years earlier.
- · Cambodia became a protectorate of France from 1863 through to 1953, when they achieved independence under King Sihanouk.
- · In 1886, Burma was incorporated into the British Raj, after decades of territorial struggle. Burma did not regain independence until 1948.
- · Vietnam was forcefully overtaken by the French in the 19th century and remained French Indochina from 1887-1954, except for the period of World War II when it was under Japanese occupation. Laos was similarly taken over by the French from 1893-1954, but was mostly important only as a buffer state between Thailand.
- · Brunei became a British protectorate in 1888, after a number of forced territorial cedings to the British. Brunei regained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1984.
Let us pray and agree together that the ill-effects of colonization, including introduced foreign species and substances, harmful western ideologies, practices and wars that caused deep emotional, physical and spiritual wounds, both collective and individual, will be overcome. In particular, focus on the younger generation in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Burma.
Week 4: Spiritual history
Many of the original inhabitants of Southeast Asia were thought to be animist, until the arrival of Hinduism and Buddhism in the 2nd century BC, although little is known of the cultural and religious influences before this time. It is likely that the arrival of Islam in maritime Southeast Asia has been the most important event influencing the current spiritual climate of the region.
In Indonesia, the islands had been in contact with Islam through Arab traders for many centuries; but their traditional cultural dependence on India prevented Islam from being acceptable to them until Islam was firmly established under Moslem rulers in the north of India itself, at about the end of the 12th century. Then, in the 13th century, Indian merchants from north-western India converted to Islam some of the ports of northern Sumatra. From there Islam spread to the Malay peninsula, Java, and the Philippines.
In Malaya the rise of Islam was bound up with the foundation and subsequent importance of the settlement of Malacca on the west coast. It was founded at the beginning of the 15th century by a Sumatran prince, who converted to Islam, which under him and subsequent rulers spread throughout the peninsula. Malacca, situated at a strategic point on the trade routes linking India, Southeast Asia and China, became the main trading port of the East.
Today, the island of Bali in Indonesia is the remaining Hindu outpost in the maritime nations, with the states of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia all officially Islamic. The Philippines and East Timor are both predominantly Roman Catholic, with sizable Islamic and some Protestant populations. Singapore is a secular state, but large percentages of the population practice Buddhism and Protestant Christianity.
In Mainland Southeast Asia, Burma, Cambodia and Thailand retained the Theravada form of Buddhism, brought to them from Sri Lanka. This type of Buddhism was fused with the Hindu-influenced Khmer culture. Vietnam and Cambodia both endured periods of enforced atheistic political rule in recent history and are only today recovering parts of their religious heritage.
Today religion is both a supremely important personal practice and a highly political issue for much of Southeast Asia, and particularly in the Islamic states. Pray with us for the church to be focused on being the hands and feet of Christ to the many in physical and spiritual need, and to not be overly distracted by politics.
Please also continue to pray for Central Asia, our previous quarter's prayer focus, as well. We would love to hear from you if you have received any prayer insights for South, Central or Southeast Asia. Please take a few minutes to email us and tell us what God has been saying to you, at email@example.com. Thank you for joining us in prayer this quarter!
Sources: A Short History of Southeast Asia, G.O.M. Jameson, Stanford University