The small nation of Liechtenstein, situated between Switzerland and Austria, is governed by Hans-Adam, the Sovereign Prince. While the country is technically a constitutional monarchy, the prince holds enormous power given to him by the people as recently as 2003. In 2012 a referendum was called to question the removal of some of his power, however, it was denied. Prince Hans-Adam has veto power and the right to weigh in on any political decisions. During both the 2003 and 2012 votes, the prince stated that should his power be reduced, he would leave the country. Prince Hans-Adam owns the LGT bank, making him one of Europe’s richest monarchs and one of the wealthiest heads of state in the world.
Liechtenstein does not have an army, however, it does possess a national police force. Should trouble arise, help would be asked of its neighboring countries, Switzerland and Austria. Liechtenstein has one of the world’s lowest crime rates, with the last homicide taking place in 2014. With a population of just over 38,000, nearly 80% claim to be Roman Catholic but do not practice that faith. Just 0.5% of Liechtensteiners are professing evangelical Christians and 4% are completely unevangelized. Please pray for laborers to reach this small nation with the Gospel and for a growing, thriving Christian community to be established.
Across the world, the winter of 2022 has been feared because of the massive increase in energy prices. Many people are experiencing a negative gap between their income and cost of living, and it has many worried about the future. In Bulgaria, thousands of people have taken part in demonstrations demanding an increase in salary to compensate for the inflation. The country’s two largest unions organized a protest outside of Parliament, during which time they gave the government a joint declaration to speed up the adoption of next year’s budget. This is in hopes that the government will promote an increase in the minimum wage instead of it being frozen at the current amount. In less than two years, Bulgaria has had four general elections, leaving the country with a caretaker cabinet and a split parliament. This fragmented system has resulted in a political stalemate, which will need to be fixed in order to submit and pass a budget.
Bulgaria, the poorest European Union country, is plagued by poverty, a declining population, and racial tension. Christianity is the largest religion, however, only 1% are evangelicals. Please pray for the Christians there to properly show the love of Christ to unbelievers, and for others to join them in spreading the Gospel. Although hope in a government is futile, Bulgarians can have everlasting hope in Jesus Christ.
In recent weeks, climate activists have organized numerous protests throughout European cities to draw attention to their cause. Although based in different countries, the groups are affiliated with one another and have coordinated similar demonstrations. In the UK, protestors dumped soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers; at the Louvre, cake was smeared on the Mona Lisa; in The Hague, an attack was also made on Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. In Potsdam, Germany, the activists threw mashed potatoes on Monet’s Haystack painting. In addition to the artwork, the Natural History Museum in Berlin saw an attack on a dinosaur skeleton. Many environmentalists do not agree with the attacks as the artwork does not increase or promote the climate crisis. Museums across Europe are currently increasing security and putting measures in place to protect the art and prevent further demonstrations.
The climate activists have most recently been accused of causing a traffic jam in Berlin that resulted in a cyclist being declared brain dead. Protestors blockaded a road, which prohibited emergency services from reaching the scene of the cyclist’s accident in time to offer valuable assistance. Two of the activists have been charged with a criminal offense due to obstructing emergency services. This tragic accident has turned more members of the public against the actions of environmental protestors.
Germany is in desperate need of Christians who are as bold and assertive in their message as the climate activists are in theirs. While it is a very diverse nation due to the rapid influx of immigrants beginning in 1989, some Germans resent the presence of so many foreigners and harbor bitterness toward immigrants. This bitterness and occasional violence directed towards immigrants are more pronounced in the eastern part of the country. Of the nearly 84 million people in Germany, 2% claim to be evangelical Christians. This nation has a rich and colorful culture, as well as a dark and troubled recent past, and is in need of missionaries and church planters to take the Gospel to the millions unreached.
As some people near retirement age, they begin considering if they would like to move abroad during those years. In the United Kingdom, the popular internet search “best country to retire to” has increased 94% in the past year. Many retirees are searching for locations with good weather, healthcare, and exchange rate for the British pound. An estimated 12% of UK residents over the age of 50 are planning to retire outside of the country. Research and polls have been conducted to determine the most popular countries for retirement, with three interesting contenders.
Croatia was voted the best, with a population of 21% over the age of 65. The warmer climate and lower cost of living are major draws for those seeking a new environment. Spain has long been a favourite tourist spot and has a warm, sunny climate similar to Croatia’s. This coupled with the highly-rated healthcare in Spain makes it the second most popular retirement destination. With a climate completely unlike the previous countries, Ireland comes in at the third spot. It is said to be one of the happiest and safest places to retire, and the visa process for those from the UK is simpler and cheaper than other places.
Many of these expats move countries to have a better quality of life during retirement, but how much better it would be if they could hear the Gospel, repent of their sins, and have a personal relationship with God! The influx of foreigners to these countries gives missionaries there an opportunity to reach other nations while staying in one place. The statistics show that none of these countries have an evangelical population above 2%; Croatia = 0.4%, Ireland = 1.5%, Spain = 1%. Please be praying for missionaries in these countries and for others to join them in the work of the Gospel.
A border dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which has been an issue for decades, has recently escalated. The area in question geographically belongs to Azerbaijan, however, it is populated primarily by ethnic Armenians. In September, Azerbaijan attacked several Armenian positions along the border.
These attacks led another nation into the dispute. In order to present a show of power to Azerbaijan, Iran held military drills at the Azerbaijan border. Supply chain disruptions have been a cause of concern for many countries over the past two years, and the recent conflict between Ukraine and Russia has only exacerbated the issue. Exports from Iran travel through Armenia in transit to Europe, and Armenia is in the process of improving the routes to enable more efficient passage. The Iranian government is concerned that should Azerbaijan attack the border of Armenia, the north-south trade route would be eliminated.
Azerbaijan has a tiny evangelical Christian population of 0.2%. There is a huge need for missionaries, church planters, and firm believers who will share the Gospel and be an example. Sacrificial, Christ-like love is the only hope for the 13 million people represented by both countries, and it is the only way past long-standing ethnic tensions between people groups.