Basque Country Prayer Points for Week of September 4, 2023

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • The number of cases of sexual diseases in Basque country is on the rise, so much so that health care officials are concerned. The number of cases of syphilis and gonorrhea have gone up exponentially since 2018. The director of public health shared this was not a problem unique to Basque Country as similar increases are being seen in other parts of the world.
    • Pray for those who are sexually active with multiple partners and the health care workers that are treating them.
  • Basque country currently has ~5700 people who have some level of protection due to male violence. Most of the protection is directed towards women, though children and men are being protected as well. Four levels of protection exist with most of the cases falling in the basic level of protection.
    • Pray those who are being protected, those that are doing the protection and those who are the attackers.
  • The Basque Country budget has increased ~21% over the last 3 years. The three areas that have driven the largest part of the increase have been: health care, education and government services to help with employment and social services. Thankfully they have been able to address the increase with European grants and taxes.
    • Pray as leaders work to ensure these areas are well funded without neglecting the other areas.
  • Schools officially are scheduled to start on Thursday, September 8. New education rules were passed and were partially implemented for the last school year. This school year they are obligatory. The evaluation process is an area that is seeing considerable change as they move from a number grade system to be one that uses 5 different categories to communicate mastery of the material.
    • Pray for educators, parents and students as they return to school and as they work through the impacts of the new education laws.
  • The next steps are being taken politically after the July 23 elections. On Saturday, September 2 Pedro Sánchez was inaugurated as the leader of the PSOE party. He is also the currently functioning president of Spain. The legislature will vote on who will be PM on September 26/27. It’s expected to be a close vote between Sánchez and Feijóo (leader of the PP party). Puigdemont is also back in the news as his upcoming trial starts Thursday September 7 for his actions in the Catalonia separatist movement in 2017. Also, conversations have restarted about changes in how some regions interact with the Spanish government, with Basque Country being one region that is leading the request for this change.
    • Prayer for the political leaders as they begin the legislative session at the national and regional levels.
  • The employment market took a turn in August, and the impact was felt across several different sectors. It‘s much better than 2022 and they believe it’s part of the normal cycle that has been seen in previous years during the month of August.
    • Prayer for those who are seeking work, business owners and leaders as they work to understand the situation now and for the future.

The verse for the week:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

Basque Country Prayer Points for Week of May 8, 2023

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • On May 28 elections will be happening at the local (city), regional and national level. The regional and local levels have 5 different political parties who are looking to either maintain or gain power to make changes. Leaders across the different parties are communicating messages for why people should support them and their party.
    • Pray for the people as they look to determine which candidate will best represent them in the coming years to make legislative decisions.
  • The regional government is building a new location for those who are affected by male violence. It will have space for women with children, women who are solo and for people who are in need of additional privacy or monitoring. They have double the number of spaces available over the last 5 years.
    • Pray for women & children impacted by the violence, men who are acting in this manner and workers who support those impacted.
  • Concern about the Basque Pubic health care system continues. A couple of weekends ago thousands of people in the 3 Basque capitals took to the street to protest the situation. Many are seeing that making certain types of appointments are taking months to get or that the local health care centers do not have enough staff to support the needs of the community. The leader of the system provided comments that contradict this view talking about the investments that are being made in the system, which have increased over the last 10 years.
    • Pray for those who are looking for care, the workers and leaders as they all work to navigate the current situation.
  • The effects of the low national birth rate are continuing to be seen. The latest area of impacts is in the education system. The number of students enrolled in schools over the last 5 years has dropped by ~8500, which has resulted in reduction in the overall number of classrooms.  Even some schools have closed or consolidated with others due to this drop. Another effect is the decrease in first communion in the catholic church, with another reason being secularization of the population.
    • Pray that young people will start to have a desire to have more kids and for leaders as they navigate the current situation.
  • Last year the price of electricity was the topic of considerable discussion as the price was very high. Thankfully this year the price thus far has gone down, with the daily rate recently being ~62€/MWh compared to ~178€/MWh on the same day last year. Another area where costs have also been high is food items. The local paper over the last year has shared the cost of the same items in February, March and now May. While the overall cost is being recorded at historic highs, thankfully this month saw a slight overall decrease, though some items in the list saw an increase.
    • Praise that people are seeing some lower energy bills after having high electricity  & gas bills. Pray for people as they look to determine the best way to spend their money.
  • Over the last several years a group of historians in Basque Country have been researching the biographies of soldiers with Basque heritage that participated in World War II. They believe in total ~2500 soldiers are in that profile, and they are working on biographies of 1600. Recently they made a presentation in Texas about their findings.  They also have a desire to have a monument built for the 85th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in either California, Nevada or Idaho where there is a large population of people with Basque heritage.
    • Pray for these historians as they look to show the contribution of Basque people during World War II.

The verse for the week:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 ESV

Basque Country Prayer Points for Week of April 17, 2023

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • Over Holy Week the province of Gipuzkoa saw a significant increase in the amount of tourists both national and international, with hotels being filled to somewhere between 85% to 95%. Also restaurants and tourist spots saw a similar large increase in tourism.
    • Praise that over the Holy Week Gipuzkoa saw a rise in tourism which is good for the economy
  • Basque Country is continuing to see the population between 18 to 29, which is ~44% of the population, not being involved in associations (sociedades, cultural clubs, etc.).  Several reasons where shared from they do not connect with them, change in habits and values.
    • Pray for the young people and organizations as they look to find ways to support each other
  • With the upcoming election in Spain on May 28 one of the local newspapers had an interview with the current President of Spain. A variety of topics were covered: unintended consequences of the new “only yes is yes” law, education, pension and labor reform.
    • Pray for the people as they look to determine which candidate will best represent them in the coming years to make legislative decisions.
  • Part of the economic engine in Basque Country is manufacturing. During the 1950s through 1980s it made up between 45% to 48% of GDP. It was declining to a low ~21% in 2010, recently it’s started to pick back up with 2021 showing an increase to 22%. The gap in the economy has been filled by services and construction.
    • Pray for the different economic sectors of the Basque Country as they look to provide sustainable jobs and income
  • The Basque Government shared recently that the fraud department, which is focused on job related incidents, had 24 cases of sexual or gender-based harassment reported in 2022. The previous 2 years they had 0. They are working to understand the difference. One reason stated is people are more aware of this type of behavior. Overall 2022 saw ~400 more reported irregularities.
    • Prayer from employers as they look to provide good working conditions for the employees.
  • Point of Interest: The recent winner of the Master Golf Tournament in Augusta GA was Jon Ram. He was born in Barrica, Biscay, Spain which is part of Basque Country. I just wanted to highlight that this region has a rich participation in international sports.

The verse for the week:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:4-5 ESV

Basque Country Prayer Points for Week of March 20, 2023

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • The Basque Government is offering several different options to help families offset some of the costs associated with having children. Historically the requests have been made by women, however over the past 2 years the number of men who are requesting these options have increased.
    • Pray for mothers and fathers as they look to make the best choice for supporting their families and decide about having more kids.
  • The Basque police recently reported the crime statistics to the Basque Legislature. One statistic that is being highlighted is the number of sexual aggressions in Gipuzkoa. In 2022 the number was 128, which is double from 2021 (57). Another area that was highlighted was inter family violence, which also saw an increase in 2022.
    • Pray for the victims of sexual aggression and against family violence along with the police officers that respond to assist in these situations.
  • March 2023 marks 10 years since Pope Francis was elected to be the new leader of the catholic church. The paper had an article discussing several different topics from this ten year period: potential for schism, receiving two leaders from South Sudan and mass for 6 million in the Philippines.
    • Pray for the Pope’s leadership of the catholic church 
  • Mental health education and support for minors is undergoing changes. On the education side they are planning to start offering some classes starting at 12 years old. The Basque Public health care system saw an ~16% rise in the number of minors needing such help.
    • Pray for education system leaders and the health care system as they look to support the youth’s mental health
  • Iñigo Urkullu, president of the Basque government, is on a push to show the importance of the Basque region in Spain and Greater Europe. To accomplish this, early last week meetings were held with other key Spanish regional presidents. Then later in the week he attended meetings with leaders from different regions in Europe.
    • Pray for Urkullu as he communicates with other leaders about the Basque Country and it’s offerings
  • Young adults looking to move out on their own continue to face challenges. One is the cost of rent, which currently has a minimum of ~500€/month. With the median salary being ~1400€/ month, that does not leave much room for the other expenses in life.
    • Pray for young adults as they look to start life in Basque Country
  • The increase in building materials and energy costs are impacting public construction projects in Basque Country. Currently there are 40 projects that do not have bids on them due to these factors, which is another economic impact for the region.
    • Pray for rising material & energy costs as the impacts are felt across several different sectors

The verse for the week:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 ESV

News for prayer for Week of May 30, 2022

Headline News:

The Basque Government is looking for ways to increase the birth rate in the region. The latest measure passed will be that for every child under 3 years old, 200€/month will be sent starting in 2023. They will also see some tax breaks in the following year. The paper also shared how other European countries are attempting to address the situation. Most of the other countries are also giving money along with some type of tax benefit. The birth rate last year was the lowest it’s been. The impacts are being seen in the education system as they reduced the minimum number of students to form a class. They are also concerned about longer term impacts on the work force and pension system.

Sexual aggression saw a significant increase of from 2021 (8) to 2022 (23). Given the increase in this area concerns exist for the summer, with the nightlife and celebrations that will be happening. To help educate young women on prevention a guide has been released. They also saw an increase in contact made with minors for sexual purposes. Last week also saw passing of new legislation that changed several parts of defining, punishments and assistance for sexual offenses. The conversation took two years before it was passed. 

Economy:

Over the last five years ~1100 businesses have closed. A majority of those, 605, have closed in the last two years. The reasons for closure are from COVID, impact from people moving to online shopping and people retiring. These numbers are similar to what was seen in the 2008 financial crisis and is a cause for concern for the area.

The Association for Gipuzkoa business released its latest forecast for the GDP for the region. When they released information in February it was at 5.5%, however the number released now is showing growth at 4%. The reasons they listed for the change was the cost of raw materials, increase in salaries and the decline of sales margins. It will be a joint effort between businesses, employees, governments and society in order to continue operations.

The IBEX35 ended last week on an upward trend closing at 8933.60,  a 5.29% increase for last week.

Political:

Last week the Atlantic Arc convention met in Donostia. This organization was established to show how different regions in Spain and other countries contribute to a better and richer EU. Urkullu presented a 64 page document and re-committed the Basque region for another 2 years as part of the group. Additionally Urkullu started his trip that was discussed in the last news for prayer, which is the first time he has traveled internationally in close to 3 years. 

Juan Carlos I is making an unexpected return to Spain to have a private conversation with his son. All that has been going on Felipe VI, his son and the current King, has been creating distance between them.The last time the two were together was May of 2019. A quote from him on what he was looking forward to in the visit, was hugging and seeing his family.

85 years ago Gernika, Eibar, Irun, Elgeta and Durango suffered attacks from German planes. The attacks on Gernika were brought up by Ukranian President Zelenski in his speech to the Basque parliament. The damage done by these attacks was very impactful. This year the Spanish government approved a declaration condemning the attacks on Gernika and the pain to its victims.

International:

The international section continues to have a focus on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Currently 3060 people from Ukraine have asked for temporary living assistance in Basque Country and the school system has 748 Ukrainian students. Other international items included: ArchBishop of San Francisco’s statements to Pelosi regarding communion, the tragedy that occurred in Uvalde Texas and the Colombian elections.

Sports:

Real Sociedad has completed their season. The final game was a 1 Р2 loss to Atl̩tico of Madrid. The team finished in 6th place overall, which qualified them for the Europa League for next season.

GBC has also completed its season. The final game was a 93-92 win in overtime against Castello. The team finished in 11th place overall missing the playoffs for this year. The team finished 17-17 for the season.

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • Birth rate
  • Sexual Aggression
  • Economic Growth

The verse for the week:

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21-23