With our real-time access to information and bombarded as we are by news of wars, famines, disasters and tragedies from every corner of our world, it’s so easy to become pessimistic and wonder if the Church and the Gospel of Jesus is really making a difference in the grand scale of things.
In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha’s servant was gripped with fear when one morning he woke up to find a large contingent of hostile army surrounding them. What he saw was true, but it was not the whole picture. Elisha responded by saying, in essence, ‘Don’t be afraid because there is more to things than what you see. What our God is doing is far greater than what the enemy is doing’. Then he prayed for his servant, ‘Lord open his eyes that he may see (what you are doing)’. I am hoping in this article to be an answer to that prayer for you as I share what God is doing around the world and how what we are doing as a Church is so worthwhile.
I know you may have heard this many times, but it’s true: We are living in incredible times. The Church is growing everywhere. Like Paul said, “Indeed in the whole world it (the Gospel) is bearing fruit and increasing” (Colossians 1:6 ESV). In spite of the secularization of our world and the introduction of many religions, Christianity remains the one with the largest population of adherents with 2.4 billion followers – a third of the world’s population. Of course, this includes every shade and texture of Christianity, yet it gives us an idea of the global reach of the Gospel.
What is more remarkable for me, however, is the growth of the branch of Christianity called the ‘Evangelicals’. These are the ‘born agains’ if you like. The true Church. These are those who like us stress the authority of the Bible, the importance of believing that Jesus Christ saved you personally from sin and hell, and the preaching of the Gospel to others. Recent statistics show that Evangelicals are the fastest growing bloc at 2.2% annual growth worldwide, faster than even Islam (which is growing at 1.8% and considered the world’s fastest growing religion). The real Church of Jesus is bearing fruit and increasing rapidly all over the world. Globally, researchers estimate that more than eighty thousand people get born again and 510 new churches get planted every day. What the Church is doing is making a huge difference everywhere.
Nowhere is this more remarkable than in the region of the world called the ‘Global South’. The Church has seen explosive growth in Africa, South America and in Asia. For example, in 1900 there were less than 9 million Christians in all of Africa, today there are well over 500 million Christians. In the last 15 years alone, the Church in Africa has seen a 51 per cent increase, which works out on average at around 33,000 people becoming Christians each day in Africa alone!
All across Asia, the Church has witnessed great growth. Take Korea as an example, in 1900 it had no Protestant church. Today, there are over 7,000 churches in just the city of Seoul, South Korea. South Korea is now one of the largest missionary sending countries in the world. In India, 14 million of the 140 million members of the “untouchable” caste have renounced Hinduism and become Christians. A massive percentage of this occurred in the past 20 years.
As I pointed out in the last edition of this magazine, more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 25 years than in the entire history of Christian missions. In Islamic Indonesia for example, the percentage of Christians is now so high (around 15 per cent) that the Muslim government will no longer print statistics. In Iran, a strong underground church movement continues to emerge with thousands of house fellowships multiplying throughout the country.
The Buddhist bloc which has always been a hard nut to crack has also been experiencing the touch of God. In Cambodia, the church exploded from just a handful of believers in the 1990s to over 400,000 today. In Mongolia, the church grew from a few isolated believers to over 50,000 in 200 established fellowships within that same period.
To the question: ‘Is what we do worthwhile?’, these testimonies answer a loud ‘YES!’. These are truly the days of God’s power. And as we consider that there still remain close to 2 billion people who have not yet heard the Good News, let’s be spurred on by what God is doing, let’s get involved. Let’s give our all to take this Gospel to the ends of the earth, starting from our neighborhood. Yes we can!