|Republic of Malta|
Area 316 sq.km. Three small but strategic islands in the central Mediterranean. Dry limestone hills with no rivers.
Capital Valetta 9,128. Urbanites 90%.
Maltese 95.3%. Descendants of Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and others.
Other 4.7%. British 5,500; Arab 2,500; Other EU 2,000.
Literacy 96%. Official languages Maltese, English. Maltese is related to Arabic with a strong Italian influence.
Based on tourism, ship building/repairing and light industry. Rapidly becoming a major container-port hub. HDI 0.850; 32nd/174. Public debt 44% of GNP. Income/person $9,330 (30% of USA).
Independent from Britain in 1964. Parliamentary republic since 1974. Power alternates between evenly matched socialists, who favour non-alignment and links with N. Africa, and nationalists who favour links with Europe. Malta is negotiating early entry into the EU.
The Catholic Church is the State Church. Discriminatory legislation against other religions and denominations was eased in 1989 and 1990. Legally, there is religious freedom.
1 Malta was the first nation in Europe to embrace Christianity after the Apostle Paul's shipwreck on the island. It has been staunchly Catholic for many centuries with high church attendance. Despite continuing devotion to religion, few Maltese have been confronted with the need for a personal faith in the living Lord Jesus. Pray for a removal of the barriers of spiritual blindness and fear that hold many from commitment to Him.
2 Catholic charismatic groups have grown and spread all over the islands. They have considerable evangelistic zeal. Pray that leaders of the groups may centre their ministry on the Bible and resist pressures to compromise basic scriptural truth.
3 A Protestant evangelical witness among Maltese did not exist until after independence in 1964. This was not permitted by the Britlish rulers. Praise God for steady, albeit slow, growth since then. There are over 500 associated with the 11 or so congregations. Pray for:
a) The two Baptist groups and the AoG and their expanding witness to Maltese, and tourists. Though official opposition to Protestant activities has largely gone, social pressures on seekers and new converts can be intense. For many, to be Maltese is to be Catholic. Pray for multitudes to come to living faith in Christ.
4 Many Maltese have emigrated to other lands such as Australia (150,000), Britain (36,000), Italy (25,000) and Canada (20,000) where a number have come to the Lord. Pray that some of these may return to their homeland with the gospel.
5 North Africans have close links with Malta especially diplomatically isolated and unevangelized Libya and also Tunisia. Pray for the many travellers, tourists and businessmen who come to Malta from these lands. Pray that there may be effective literature and personal outreach to them and that Malta may play a key role in the rebuilding of the North African Church.
a) The Maltese Bible Society published the first one-volume Maltese Bible in 1980. Widespread publicity and controversy were stirred by this edition. A Catholic version was published in 1985. The Gideons have distributed Maltese, Arabic and English New Testaments widely in hotels, schools and institutions. Pray that many may read the Word with inner enlightenment and outward change.
b) Christian literature is limited in quantity and variety. Pray that evangelical titles may increase in number, and for the provision of those gifted in writing or translating. Pray for an effective publishing and distribution structure to be established.
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