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Prayer campaign to lift up beloved, beleaguered Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (BP)–Plague, war, famine and drought threaten the future — perhaps even the very existence — of Africa’s 771 million people. So a group of people who love Africans with all their hearts — Southern Baptist missionaries — are launching an ambitious campaign to bathe the entire continent in prayer.
One of Africa’s most serious concerns is AIDS, the leading cause of death on the continent. According to a recent United Nations report, 5,500 Africans die of AIDS every day. By the year 2010, at least 22 million Africans are expected to die of the disease.
The statistics are overwhelming. Every family in eastern and southern Africa has at least one member affected by the HIV virus, by some estimates. The next 25 years are critical, says Clyde Berkley, associate director of the International Mission Board’s work in the region.
“If Africa is not reached with the gospel in the next 25 years, there might not be any Africans left,” Berkley said. “We don’t really know what is going to happen, but as one pastor put it, ‘The only hope is Jesus Christ.'”
A special day of prayer for the entire continent — called 2001 – PRAY (Pray ‘Round Africa – Yes) — is planned for Aug. 3, 2001. Great Commission Christians throughout the world are being encouraged to spend some time praying for the spread of gospel across Africa. Volunteers are being recruited to prayer walk in different African countries.
Prayer coordinator Anita Hunt said 2001 – PRAY is a unique project because it covers an entire continent.
“This prayer emphasis is also unique in that it is not just for Southern Baptists or Americans,” Hunt said. “We invite all Great Commission Christians around the world to join us. Prayer will make a difference for Africa.”
The goal is to have thousands of believers praying. An Internet site — www.2001pray.org — has been established to let prayer warriors know concerns and specific ways they can help.
The site not only lists prayer concerns but also gives information and stories on the different countries and people living in Africa. The prayer list will be updated with new concerns biweekly.
People need to begin praying now for not only 2001 – Pray ‘Round Africa, Yes, but for Africa as a whole, Hunt said. AIDS is not the only concern encompassing the continent. War ravages many African countries, and drought and famine threaten populations in still more.
Despite the atrocities and catastrophes, God’s kingdom has thrived in Africa. One hundred years ago, Africa had almost no Christians. Now 46 percent of the entire population claims Christianity.
“God commands us to let his way be known and to proclaim his salvation among all the nations,” Hunt said. “Now is the time of harvest in Africa. The question is, will you be a part of it?”