The world population officially hit 8 billion this month, and over the next few weeks an estimated 5 billion of those people will be watching the World Cup, televised and livestreamed from the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar.
That’s a lot of eyes on a nation about the size of Connecticut.
The massive tournament has already drawn worldwide attention over accusations of corruption and reports of alarming conditions for thousands of migrant workers who have spent nearly a decade building the infrastructure necessary to host over a million visitors.
Other realities about Qatar have drawn less attention, including difficult conditions for Christians in the majority-Muslim nation of 3 million people.
As you watch the World Cup (or hear about it in the news) over the next month, here’s a guide to praying for Christians and others who probably won’t make it into the spotlight, but who need believers to remember them:
Pray for Christians in Qatar
Most of the Christians living in Qatar aren’t Qataris— they’re migrants who have come from other nations looking for work. (In fact, most of the overall population of Qatar are migrants from other countries.)
The government says foreign Christians may practice their religion (with restrictions attached to their gatherings), but that they may not share their faith with others. For the tiny population of Qataris who do convert to Christianity—an action considered illegal— conditions are even more difficult in a country governed by Sharia law.
Open Doors USA reports: “Christians in Qatar, especially converts from Islam to Christianity, remain under extremely high pressure from the government and society – risking discrimination, harassment, police monitoring and intimidation. Even one’s family can be dangerous in a culture that sees conversion as a betrayal.”
Pray for those who are Christians in Qatar – both Qataris and migrants – to experience religious freedom. Christian, pray for the Lord to strengthen them in their persecution and to remember the good news of the gospel. Pray that Christians in Qatar would truly count it joy to suffer for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41).
Pray for Migrants Who are Disadvantaged
Reports about conditions for migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and other countries haven’t been good over the last several years. One human rights organization reported Qatari companies have even used forced labor. They also reported many migrants were living in squalid conditions.
During the World Cup, pray for migrant workers who face vast socioeconomic disadvantages in the enormously wealthy Gulf State.
During the World Cup, pray for migrant workers who face vast socioeconomic disadvantages in the enormously wealthy Gulf State. Pray that they would be treated fairly and with equity.
Join us in using social media to speak out about the oppression that these immigrants in Qatar face. Pray that these men and women made in the image of God would hear and embrace the gospel of Christ, and find their God-given dignity in Him.
Pray for Women in Qatar
Migrants aren’t the only ones who have a hard time. Qatari women face life under a strict form of state Islam that serves as a main source for laws in the country. That means women often can’t marry, travel, pursue higher education, or even drive without a male guardian’s permission. One woman told a human rights group that girls often live in a constant quarantine.
As you watch the World Cup, pray for the women in Qatar to be treated with dignity and respect. Pray that they would be given freedom to make decisions for themselves. Join us in praying that they would come to trust in Jesus Christ, who gave himself for them (Ephesians 5:2).
Pray that they would look to Christ to comfort them in their oppression and that the outside world would be willing to speak up about their condition.
Pray for True Joy to the World
A recent commercial for the World Cup ended with the slogan: “Joy to the World.” The ad was talking about soccer, but it ironically pointed to a greater truth. Despite all the difficult conditions and opposition to the gospel, Christ does come to make his blessings flow as far as the curse is found.
Pray that Qataris, migrants, and outside visitors would come to know the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.