The 26th of March marks six years since Yemen’s Civil War began, a war which plunged the already impoverished nation of 30 million people into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Yet, Yemen endures much more than the deprivations due to the war.
For centuries, the people of Yemen have been suffering from severe spiritual warfare and the oppression of the dominion of darkness. Despite the tireless and sacrificial efforts of churches and believers, it is estimated that less than 0.0001% of the population may be followers of Christ. The persecution and oppression against the Yemeni church—or any witness of Christ—is extreme.
As a result, the Yemeni church is asking the world to pray at this time.
Only the power of God can pierce the darkness and flood their dry and weary land with the living water of Christ. The people of God must pray and fast in faith! As many from around the world join together this week to pray for Yemen, we believe that God will hear and answer according to His goodness and power.
HOW TO USE THIS PRAYER GUIDE
This prayer guide is intended for both personal and corporate use. Please use this prayer guide as a resource during this week of focused prayer and fasting for the people and nation of Yemen.
Each day includes Scripture to direct your spirit, current and relevant information about Yemen, and specific prayer points. Please also consider incorporating fasting into your daily prayer times and inviting others to join together with you in corporate prayer as the Holy Spirit leads.
May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and the people of Yemen receive a blessing from our labors in prayer!
And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” Revelation 5:9 ESV
Yes, God! This vision fuels our prayers and supplications to You about the tribes and peoples and languages of Yemen. You are worthy, Lord Jesus, to receive worship from all the Yemeni people, from every tribe and tongue. Your blood is more than sufficient to ransom them from the darkness and oppression in which they live. Holy Spirit, move in power and blow through the rocky clefts, the dusty deserts, the mountains and the green fields of Yemen, bringing the salvation of our God to these tribes through the glorious gospel of Christ. Please, do more than we can ask or imagine in and through our prayers. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
A Qabile (tribesman) in Yemen
Jesus – You ransomed people for God from every tribe. What does tribal living in Yemen mean? Imagine your life, your identity, your religion, your job, your political views, your future, the very core of your identity being determined by people and circumstances existing long before you were ever born. For a qabili (Yemeni tribesman), this is life. You are born into a bayt (household) of your God-given parents and their other sons and daughters. As you grow into a man, you are expected to behave, live and work in a way consistent with your inherited tribal values, which are shared by all your blood relatives living nearby (habl). Groups of these extended families all support the qarya (village) where you live together, and then your neighboring villages group together to support one another in the uzla (territory) where you all live. Your qabila (tribe) is a larger grouping of multiple village groups and can be comprised of hundreds of thousands of people all sharing the same cultural identity.
Imagine the security and strength that arises for you and your family from this tribal identity and culture. You know who you are. You know who your family is and what is expected of you. You know where you belong. This ever-expanding circle of mutual support provides comfort and stability, especially in recent years as Yemen’s war has devastated state institutions and infrastructure.
As a member of a tribe, you are not isolated from the transformations in the economy and the migration from the countryside into the cities. You know that the traditional tribal social structure has started to weaken in parts of Yemen, particularly in the south where tribal people living in the cities are adapting to urban social structures. Yet even in the city, you and your family continue to take pride in your tribal heritage. If you are from the rural northern highlands of Yemen, your family’s reliance on tribal social structures is still strong. You continue to adhere to tribal laws and traditions and also respect the authority of your village aqil (elder) and the shaykh (leader of your tribe). You have the same fierce tribal loyalty and brotherhood, rooted in centuries of tradition and pride. It is beautiful. It is complex. It is who you are.
Here is a list of some of the larger qabila (tribes) in Yemen: Khawlan Zaraniq Subayhi Hashid Sanhan Rani Matar Bakil Khawlan al-Tiyal Murad Yafi Fadhli Awadh Abida Sayar Awlaqi Wahidi Humum Mahra (or Mehri)
Would you take time to select at least one of these tribes and pray for them to know the Lord Jesus, to learn of His ways and to enjoy the freedom He brings? Pray for tribes to be at peace with each other during these very difficult times in Yemen.
That strong tribal identity would not stop Yemeni people from accepting Christ as Lord and Savior.
For Yemeni believers to embrace their new identities in Christ and know that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17 ESV)
That those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior would be protected from isolation, ostracism and even death at the hands of tribal authorities.
For the Yemeni believers to be bold in their witness for Christ.
That entire households would come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to provide mutual support for one another.
For those in authority in the Yemeni tribes to come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
For those in authority in the Yemeni tribes to look with favor upon those in their tribe who come to faith in Jesus Christ and not permit persecution of Yemeni believers under their authority.
For those who come to faith to find true citizenship, family and identity in the body of Christ.
For whole cities and villages to come to know Jesus, Matthew 11:20-24.
For all the major tribes to have a witness of Jesus Christ, a witness that brings each tribe into His Kingdom.
For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." Romans 14:11 ESV
The country of Yemen has been inhabited for thousands of years with beautifully unique people as distinct as the landscape and culture they enjoy. A myriad of tribes with distinct cultures are separated from other tribes by their geographic location, their particular sect of Islam, their language and dialect, their traditions and history.
Many dialects of Arabic are spoken in different areas of Yemen, but among the tribes of Yemen there are a few that speak their own language, which is distinct from Arabic and cannot be understood by Arabic speakers. In the Sarawat Mountains of northwest Yemen, approximately 400,000 Khawlan people speak their own Semitic language of Khawlaniya that pre-dates the introduction of Arabic to the region. In the far northwestern corner of Yemen, approximately 67,000 people of the small Razihi tribe live in the vicinity of Mount Razih and speak the Razihi language, which is probably one of the last two surviving Old South Arabic languages. In isolated areas in eastern Yemen, the Mehri (or Mahra) people speak Mehri, a South Semitic language. There are approximately 50,000 Mehri people living in eastern Yemen and another 50,000 Mehri people in neighboring Oman. The exotic island of Socotra is home to the famous Dragon tree but also to the endangered South Semitic language of Soqotri, which is spoken by less than 50,000 people.
Please select one of these tribes and spend longer time in prayer for them. They probably do not have a Bible in their language. There probably is very little Christian witness to them. Ask the Lord to send laborers. Pray they would bring a unique worship to God from their people and language. Pray for the Lord’s church to grow in their tribe.
The Razihi people • The Khawlan people • The Mehri people • The Soqotri people
For the Khawlan people to receive and understand the Word of God and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
For the Razihi people to receive and understand the Word of God and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
For the Mehri people to receive and understand the Word of God and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
For the Soqotri speakers of Socotra Island to receive and understand the Word of God and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Psalm 22:19 ESV
The ongoing cholera epidemic in Yemen, which began in September 2016, is considered one of the worst cholera epidemics in recent history. According to the World Health Organization, there has been more than 1 million reported cholera cases since 2018. Overall, the epidemic has affected 22 of the 23 governorates of Yemen, and the governorates reporting the highest number of suspected cholera cases as of 2020 include Al Hudaydah, Sana’a, Taziz, Ibib, Al Bayda, Amanat Al Asimah, Hajjha, and Dhamar. Moreover, the population most affected by cholera are children under five.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made efforts to control the cholera outbreak more difficult for an already war-torn country. In fact, it is likely many cases of cholera are undetected and untreated because many are not seeking medical treatment in hospitals out of fear that they would be exposed to Covid-19 in the hospitals. This has raised concerns, as Yemen is on course for a horrific situation where both cholera and Covid-19 are peaking. The already strained efforts to control the cholera epidemic in this war-torn country have been further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yemen’s healthcare system is under great constraint, especially with the ongoing civil war destroying many health facilities. Many healthcare professionals have not been paid in years, leading many to leave the system. Furthermore, the government’s ineffective response to the health crisis and misuse of funds have limited international aid and caused more strain to the system. Those who have stayed are now being asked to treat patients, including Covid-19 patients, without personal protective equipment.
Yemeni people desperately need an end to the fighting, as the war has destroyed health facilities and left communities more vulnerable to both cholera and Covid-19.
Against the evils of war that have caused widespread famine and the world’s worst cholera outbreak in Yemen. Pray that those who are sick would receive treatment. Pray for healthcare workers to continue to serve, to be paid and to be protected. Pray for the children.
For God to protect the Yemeni people and be their comfort and peace in the midst of suffering and the collapse in most of their infrastructure.
For disease to not spread, and that medicine, food, and clean water will become available to the Yemeni people.
For those suffering from cholera and/or Covid-19 to get well and those not seeking medical treatment for cholera out of fear of Covid-19 to overcome their fears and receive the needed treatment.
For corruption and greed to end, so that medical supplies and food supplies will be delivered to those who need It.
Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. John 4:35 ESV
Salam Alaikum. Greetings. My name is Mohammed*. Can I tell you about what the Lord is doing in my country of Yemen? The Lord has a harvest in Yemen. He is bringing glory to Himself by calling Yemeni people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. After centuries in which there were few if any Yemeni believers, His Church in Yemen is growing! By God’s grace hundreds of Yemenis from a Muslim background are coming to faith in Christ each year. They are coming by the Holy Spirit calling them through television, radio and the internet. They are coming as the Lord leads them to encounter Himself in through His Word. They are coming as missionaries proclaim the Word of God. They are coming through the testimonies of their believing relatives and neighbors. They are coming as the Lord gives individuals dreams and visions that lead to faith in Jesus.
Brother Abdulla* is an example of those whom the Lord is calling. A church leader reports, “Brother Abdulla was looking for the true God. He searched a lot and his journey brought him to a settling place when He found the Lord Jesus. He put his faith in Christ and gave his life to Him and accepted the Lord Jesus, to Him be the glory, as the Savior of his life. We baptized him on Thursday.”
While many individual Yemenis are believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are seeing entire families and extended families coming to faith as well. A church leader describes the story of Sultan* and his family, “Sultan is 51 and he has given his life to Christ. He has two sons, Ahmed* and Saif*, who are both married, and they also gave their lives to Christ and we baptized all of them. About one week after the baptism, they informed us that Ahmed’s wife and Saif’s wife had just accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior also.”
The Lord’s great harvest work in Yemen includes miraculous dreams and visions and divine appointments that lead people to Himself. Listen to Nabeel’s testimony and praise God for His miraculous saving power: [in English] https://youtu.be/3i4QT39TfKU?t=10
The Lord’s harvest in Yemen is coming after years of faithful witnessing by both Yemeni believers and their international partners, some of whom paid with their lives for sharing Christ in the country. God has blessed these sacrifices with the growth of His church today. And today the sacrifices continue. Yemen is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, ravished by war and disease. Believers struggle to survive. Any international aid that arrives is often distributed through Islamic relief agencies who discriminate against those who are not seen as devout Muslims. Evangelism is illegal in Yemen. Apostacy from Islam is a capital crime. Leaving Islam to follow Christ often results in being ostracized from families and communities—and death. In spite of these dangers and challenges, local churches of Yemeni believers have been formed and are growing. Local communities of believers run risks to meet together. But they do honor the Lord as they support one another through sacrificial giving, serving and praying together. Yemeni believers continue to work in their communities to witness to the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV.
God is glorifying Himself through the sacrifices that His people have endured through the years and the sacrifices that continue today.
* Not real names, but the accounts are based on true stories.
For the glory that He is bringing to Himself through the harvest of new believers in Yemen.
Yemeni believers are forming house churches and becoming communities of His followers and lights in the darkness.
For the spiritual and physical support God is providing for the Yemeni believers.
For the prayer being raised up for God’s Glory in His Church in Yemen.
For multiplication of the harvest He is bringing – a 30, 60, 100-fold increase in the number of new believers.
For isolated new believers to connect with other Yemeni believers.
For Yemeni believers to be steadfast in their faith and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1 ESV
What is happening in the Yemeni Church? It is growing and we praise God. My name is Abdu*. I am a follower of Jesus in Yemen. And I want to tell you some of what I see among myself and my brothers here. I love my brothers, and praise God that I am one among many who know and love the name of Jesus. Please pray for us.
Please do not romanticize the Yemeni church. I understand that sometimes reports and stories come out of persecuted churches that may lead some to the conclusion that the church is superior or has greater faith or greater maturity than the rest. Do some of us endure persecution, imprisonment or torture and yet not deny our Savior? Praise God, yes. We rejoice in those who show us the power and hope of Jesus, but we grieve because these truths and stories also cause fear, and because these things happen to our brothers. Not one of us wants to suffer. Not one of us wants to experience betrayal.
Our circumstances seem overwhelming at times. I have heard of some who refuse to ever meet with any other brother from our country for fear their faith will be discovered, and they will be killed by their family. And I understand this.
The sin and temptation within us are just as dangerous and crippling as the circumstances and people against us. What sins? Division, fear, greed, immorality, laziness and selfish ambition, just to name a few. We struggle against the same sins from before we knew Jesus. Many of us do not even know what is sin and what is holy because we have not been taught yet. We still think like we did before and like our family tells us and expects us to think. We need to know the true thoughts of God, the ways of Jesus and His Kingdom. We need leaders to grow in these things so they can show us. And the leaders we do have need patience and understanding to help us.
We are grateful for our leaders and for the many who sacrifice to serve and to help us live and love like a church should. Divisions, trials and sins have arisen in recent days. Yet, we have seen grace and wisdom from them to help us hold fast to our faith and our love for one another.
We have joys and celebrations, too. My brother has even been able to marry another follower of Jesus and will be starting his family in the name of Jesus. They are looking to our leaders and their wives to teach them what that means, and to our church to encourage them and, God willing, their children one day.
So, if you are praying for us, thank you. We are a church in great need. Praise God for the Church in Yemen, and for Yemeni churches outside of Yemen.
*Abdu is NOT a real person, but his account is based on true stories.
For the Yemeni church to walk and live worthy of the calling they have received in the Gospel.
For unity among leaders and the body of Christ in Yemen.
Against divisions, disagreements, misunderstandings and bitterness.
For unity among the Church, both among local gatherings of believers but also among regional networks of churches.
For those whom Christ has gifted as leaders to rise and walk in the authority and calling God has given them, whether as evangelists, prophets, teachers or pastors.
That those within the church would begin to discern their own Spirit-given gifts, purposes and opportunities for ministry.
For the protection, encouragement and a rising up of the leaders, elders and people in the Yemeni church. Pray for strength for those facing persecution.
That the Yemeni church would hunger and thirst for righteousness and for more of the fruit and work of the Holy Spirit. Pray they would love one another deeply.
That the church would focus on the hope that is theirs in Jesus so that they would continue to endure.
That as the church walks worthy of their calling, that the Lord would add day-by-day to their number those who are being saved.
For isolated believers: for those isolated because of fear to be set free; for those isolated because of distance to find fellowship.
For protection of all His children in Yemen from any persecution intended against them by Satan through family authorities, religious authorities, or government authorities.
For protection from any spiritual oppression intended against His children by Satan.
For more spiritual and physical support to reach His children in Yemen.
For the growing Church of Yemeni believers to be a source of the Gospel spreading throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. Psalm 46:9 ESV
Although Yemen was once called “fortunate Arabia,” boasting exceptional landscape and being known for its long history of trade in frankincense, myrrh, gold, and premium coffee, Yemen is now one of the poorest countries in the world and is experiencing a dire humanitarian crisis.
Six years ago today, Saudi Arabia entered into this devastating war in Yemen. Since March 26, 2015, the ongoing conflict between the Houthis, backed by Iran, and the Sunnis, backed by a coalition made up of Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, and France, has plunged Yemen into a devastating war. This ongoing violence has led to a collapse of infrastructure and famine, leading to further health and hunger issues. Moreover, militants from al-Qaeda, local affiliates of the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups have taken advantage of the chaos by seizing territory in the south and carrying out deadly attacks, further adding to the turmoil and violence plaguing Yemen.
It is estimated that over 12,000 civilians have been killed in direct attacks, and many thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease, and poor health. Women and children have been especially affected by the war, with humanitarian organizations such as Save the Children estimating that 85,000 children with severe acute malnutrition might have died between April 2015 and October 2018. In fact, the United Nations reported in 2019 that Yemen is the country with the most people in need of humanitarian aid, with 24.1 million people in need. About 60% of Yemen’s population are living without reliable access to sufficient food, and over half lack access to safe drinking water and basic health services. Many hospitals and schools have been destroyed or lack the supplies necessary to function. In addition, many families have been torn apart. Women and children who lose their male head of household, in addition to mourning their losses, are singled out for oppression. The map below shows the warring factions and conflict zones.
Yemen is in a dire situation with much suffering and needs true hope and peace.
For the war in Yemen to stop, bringing an end to the terrorism and violence that have plagued this land. Pray for a peaceful conclusion to this ongoing war.
For all outside powers to stop supplying the warring factions with weapons and supplies.
For the Lord to send a spirit of forgiveness to Yemen among the warring tribes to bring about true and lasting peace.
For believers in Yemen to build a new future and not lose hope in the midst of suffering.
For the women and children to be cared for in the middle of the violence.