PRAYER ALERT: In the past week, Venezuela has accused the US military of killing its populist president Hugo Chavez by injecting him with cancer, and fomenting armed revolt. Afghanistan has accused the US of conspiring with the rebel Taliban to prolong its civil war so US troops can stay longer. And a North Korean ambassador said, “The U.S. is to blame for the situation on the Korean peninsula which is inching close to an unpredictable phase now.” Last week North Korea threatened South Korea with “final destruction” during a UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.
All this is happening only weeks after Chuck Hagel was confirmed as US Secretary of Defense on Feb. 26 and John Kerry was confirmed as Secretary of State on Jan. 29. Both Hagel and Kerry have been vocal critics of past US military actions. Hagel has supported appeasement with US enemies such as Iran, Syria, and Hamas. But that has not stopped the recent wave of accusations against the US foreign policies which Hagel and Kerry now represent.
In fact Hagel’s first foreign visit, to Afghanistan, was marred on March 9 by suicide bombs that killed 19 people in Kabul and in the Khost province. Afghan President Hamid Karzai claimed that those attacks were actually in the “service of America”, and that the US was bypassing his government to negotiate directly with the radical Islamist Taliban. The Taliban retorted that the attacks were meant to send a message to Hagel that the insurgents were a force to be reckoned with. A Hagel-Karzai press conference at Karzai’s presidential palace was cancelled. Then on March 11, the same day Hagel left the war-torn nation, an Afghan police officer shot dead two US military soldiers and was himself immediately killed—with two other policemen—by US military troops in response. This was only the most recent in a wave of insider attacks.
Six days earlier in Caracas—just hours before announcing the death of President Chavez—Vice President Nicholas Maduro said he was expelling two US military embassy officials for plotting to destabilize Venezuela. Maduro, Chavez’ chosen successor, who will run in the April 14 special presidential election, also said that, “We have no doubt” that Chavez’ fatal case of cancer was induced by “the historical enemies of our homeland,” clearly referring to the US military. Chavez had been a long-time US foe. He called the post-9/11 US military actions in Afghanistan “the massacre of the innocents.” He praised Muammar Gaddafi and criticized the US military”indiscriminate bombing” of Libya as way to get its hands on Libyan oil. He called Venezuela’s vast oil weath as “a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world, the United States.” He used oil money to fund and influence his favored political candidates in Belize and several Latin America nations.
Chavez has been a close friend of Fidel Castro and a major prop and advocate for communist Cuba. He joined with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to declare an “axis of unity” against “US imperialism.” And “Chavez peppered his frequent anti-US military tirades with songs, dances and jokes that won him a huge popular following” at home.* But he left Venezuela deeply divided along class lines. His widespread nationalization of industries resulted in skyrocketing inflation, severe currency devaluation, and shortages of basics such as flour, eggs, sugar and gasoline—a heavy economic yoke that the next president will have to bear.
North Korea, probably the most isolated economy in the world, is facing even stricter UN sanctions since it conducted its biggest-yet nuclear test explosion on February 12. Blaming the US for those sanctions, North Korea repeatedly vowed to launch a nuclear strike against the US, with one army general saying one long-range nuclear-armed missile could turn Washington into a “sea of fire.” North Korea threatened to nullify the 60-year-old armistice that ended the Korean War, and start a nuclear war with South Korea. Both Koreas are now staging war exercises. The North’s young Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has been known for inflammatory rhetoric before, but he now has more nuclear power to back it up. It is time to pray for God’s restraining hand upon these nations.
PRAY WITH US. Father God, we declare that the earth is Yours and everything in it. All power belongs to You, but You have established authorities over the nations for Your purposes. Without You the nations would be at constant war. You oversee the balance of power which restrains them. You have used the power of the US military as a deterrent to war in some regions. But the US has instigated war in other regions, ostensibly for the sake of democracy and against totalitarianism, with conflicting results. Now it has fallen deeply in debt, and the US military is straining to sustain its presence in a world with dangerous and unpredictable nuclear powers.
We turn to You, and ask You to hear the cries of Your people in these nations. Hear the tiny underground church in Afghanistan, for Your own church began that way with 120 people in Jerusalem. Pour Your Holy Spirit on them that they may pray and speak with power, that the oppressive Taliban not prevail, but that freedom of religion would grow so that Your gospel may go forth with Your power for salvation. Bring together Your people in Venezuela, who are planting thousands of churches a year to reach unbelievers and nominal Christians, to pray for more of Your influence in a nation that is veering toward authoritarianism. Bind the strong man spirit and raise up servant leaders in Venezuela. We praise You for the rapid growth of Your church in South Korea into the second largest mission-sending nation. Hear their cries against the hostile threats from the North. Fulfill their longing to reach their brothers with Your good news, and to see the Koreas reunited instead of divided into warring camps.
We come against every form of tyranny and the Antichrist spirit in these nations. Establish in them righteousness, truth, peace and good will toward all men. And restore the US to its constitutional and biblical foundations so that its influence in the world may serve Your good purposes. In Jesus’ name, amen.
*Financial Times, “Venezuela: To the heir, a poisoned chalice”, March 6, 2013
A Time to Pray: Afghanistan, North Korea, Venezuela, Chavez, US military actions
Will Hagel take US military in a new direction?
Christian News: Sources on US military activity in these nations
Belize City House of Prayer, Belize Prayer Network