Tuesday, April 22, 2008

May all the nations praise you , O God

Evangelical Christianity is growing faster than any other religion in the world. Most Christians now live in the "global south" (previously referred to as the developing world or third world). In 1949 there were an estimated 1 million Christians in China; today there are 80 to 100 million. The growth rate of Christianity in India has increased from 1.6% to 3%, to currently about 6%.

In the 13th century Kubla Khan asked for 100 learned men to come to the Far East (China) to teach Christianity. After World War II, General Douglas MacArthur asked for a thousand missionaries to go and preach the gospel in Japan. The church failed both challenges.

Currently, half the missionaries going out are from the "global south", and half from the "western world." Here are the percentages from each area:

North America 39%
Europe 11%
Asia 36% (Korea is the number one missionary sending country in Asia).
Africa 6%
Latin America 5%
The Pacific 3%

Notice that North America and Europe combined are the source of 50% of the missionaries sent out; the last four categories (the "global south") also add up to 50 %.

Some churches in Africa are made up of over 20% orphans and widows. More and more churches are serving the homeless, the jobless, the addicted, and those without a Bible or Christian neighbors or relatives. Many churches only have a Bible or two among the whole congregation. These are some of the great challenges of the church today.

The Biblical model of discipling the nations, especially as seen in the Acts of the Apostles, (or perhaps more accurately "the Acts of the Holy Spirit") is evangelistic church planting. In this model, people and prayer are much more important than programs or property. God uses people who prove the greatness of their God and give Him the glory. Prayer is the primary "strategy."

"Look out among the nations, observe and be astounded, be amazed; for I am doing a work in your day, which you would not believe, if it were told you."--Habakkuk 1:5 (The Modern Language Bible: The New Berkeley Version, Zondervan Publishing House)

"Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for mankind. How everyone throughout the earth will praise the Lord! How glad the nations will be, singing for joy because you are their King."--Psalms 67:2-4a (Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers)

"I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth."--Isaiah 49:6 (KJV)

"All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations"--Psalms 22:27-28 (KJV)

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