From 30 to 31 January 2021, districts and churches across 40 nations of the Eurasia Region participated in the region’s first-ever 24 Hours of Prayer initiative in creative and diverse ways.
Some involved “witnesses” from other nations via Zoom to share how God is working, followed by short prayer times for their ministries. Others formed online prayer rooms where participants met virtually for prayer in dozens of languages. Still others organized in-person prayer meetings for one or all of the 24 hours.
Inviting God to cover the nations
The 24 Hours of Prayer initiative was born from a meeting between Regional Prayer Coordinator Sandra Tibi and new Regional Director Jim Ritchie, who wanted to begin a new chapter of ministry in Eurasia with concerted prayer and fasting.
“As prayer coordinator for the region, I have been dreaming to see one day a kind of prayer chain being created, one time zone after another, going from east to west, following the movement of the sun,” Tibi said.
That desire resonated with Ritchie.
“Sandra said that, in many ways, ‘the sun never sets on the Eurasia Region,’” Ritchie recalled. “This connected with my spirit and led me to think of Psalm 113:3, ‘From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets the name of the Lord is to be praised.’ From this moment, the vision for ‘From the Rising of the Sun’ took shape.”
The initiative was designed to deepen interconnectedness among Nazarene churches across the region while consecrating the region to God, inviting Him to cover the nations and His people with His presence.
“From the rising of the sun…”
With about 22 hours of daylight across the region, prayer was set to begin an hour before sunrise in Eastern Russia and end an hour after the sun set in the Azores Islands, spanning the entire, vast Eurasia Region.
The plan was only loosely outlined, inviting individual Nazarenes, local churches, districts and fields to develop creative prayer strategies tailored to each culture and context.
Tibi gathered prayer requests from each of the Eurasia Region’s seven fields. Then, translators prepared them for distribution across the region, so that Nazarenes could pray more specifically for each other.
Nazarenes participated in diverse ways:
- The British Isles North District NMI swiftly repurposed an already planned district Zoom meeting as a “Concert of Prayer,” inviting testimonies from Nazarenes in Italy, Scandinavia, Hungary, Poland and India, and praying over the works there.
- Local churches across the Portugal District participated individually, concluding with focused prayer for the region during regular Sunday morning worship.
- Eurasia Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI) opened a Zoom room for 24 hours, in which regional youth prayed together.
- The five districts of Bangladesh prayed across the entire 24-hour period, both in local church buildings and virtually through the Internet.
- The eight districts of the South Asia Field cooperated, taking turns hosting a one-hour session of prayer.
- The France District used a variety of channels to include its members in prayer, from individuals praying at home to local church prayer meetings, to online gatherings through Zoom or WhatsApp.
“Like a regional conference”
More than 500 Nazarenes visited the NYI Zoom room over the course of 24 hours, praying in 29 different languages. Youth took turns leading the prayer, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Kathmandu, Nepal, to Delhi, India, to Moscow, Russia. A number of youth in London, England, hosted the prayer time from 10 p.m to 4 a.m. GMT, then passed it over to youth in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
“It was like a regional conference,” said Diego Lopez, regional youth coordinator. “We saw people we have not seen in a long time and got to meet new friends. There was beauty in diversity all united by the power of the Holy Spirt.”
Nazarenes in Bangladesh were affected by joining with the region for prayer.
“It was a joy to effectively engage with the 24-hour long prayer cycle for the Eurasia Region,” said *Lawrence S., NYI Discipleship Coordinator for South Asia. “As time progressed, leaders found this is an important way to engage spiritually with its church members and other believers across the field and region. People prayed, greeted, and shared their life testimonies, all into this platform. ‘This was simply outstanding,’ many leaders said.”
Nazarenes in the India Field were so enthusiastic that the initial plan to host prayer sessions in seven major languages expanded to include four more languages, for a total of 11, according to Vijay Bhalerao, India Field NYI Coordinator, who organized the event in India. Representatives for each language led prayer for about an hour.
The East India District superintendent invited all his pastors to meet in a Zoom virtual conference room; up to 100, including lay people, prayed together in Bengali.
“Upon completion of the day of prayer, there was a wave of inspiration, energy, and the power of the work of the Lord was experienced by the people,” Bhalerao said. “Many people expressed their thanks for such an opportunity to be a part of the online prayer time like this. With this unique experience, India is planning another day of prayer to unite the whole Nazarene church across India during the Lent days.”
The concerted prayer challenged Walter Azevedo, district superintendent of Portugal.
“In times like these, we needed to pause our ‘regular’ activities and pray for one another, the church, and the region and its mission to transform the world for Jesus Christ,” Azevedo said. “The 24 Hours of Prayer for the Eurasia Region was and continues to be a reminder that God is the Lord of the harvest. We have been challenged to ‘Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always,’ (1 Chronicles 16:11).”
Brian Ketchum, missionary to France, described the experience there: “Recognizing that we didn’t have to look back very far to find reasons and experiences to praise God helps us look ahead, although limited in scope, with great confidence in the faithfulness of our Lord.”
“Inspirational and exhilarating”
Ritchie and Tibi were thrilled at the region-wide expression of humble prayer and fasting.
“It encouraged me as it gave me a bigger perspective of the Body of Christ and to realize that its potential and power lies in prayer,” Tibi said. “I was seeing the overarching spiritual reality of God as I engaged in prayer with my wider family of Christ – a reality that I realized, once again, overshadows the reality of our current human history.”
“It was an inspirational and exhilarating time, and we have had numerous reports of hope rising, faith strengthened, healing and salvation,” Ritchie concluded. “Almost daily I am being asked, ‘When can we do this again?’ And many churches and districts have since initiated regular prayer times because of the encouragement they received from intentionally praying together.
“I believe this time showed us once more that as we seek the Lord in humility, faith and hunger, He responds with a depth of blessing which cannot be found anywhere else but in this place of prayer.”
*Full name omitted for security