Will New Developments Make it Easier to Bring The Gospel To the Hostile?
Each year, Open Doors, a ministry founded by “God’s Smuggler,” Brother Andrew, publishes a list of the 50 nations most hostile to Christianity. It’s called the “World Watch List.” For the last 16 years, North Korea has topped the list, and it would’ve been just the kind of place Andrew van der Bijl would’ve visited in the 1950’s, closed, as it has been, to the gospel for mainly geo-political reasons. Sadly, we have essentially no impact here, because the government has a complete lockdown on the Internet. Please pray that will change, as the diplomatic relationship with North Korea shows signs of thawing!
Meanwhile, the rest of the World Watch List nations have better news for us, as we examine the details.
In Myanmar, (World Watch List #24), for instance, all students are required to recite a Buddhist prayer before school begins, and in May 2017, three Christians gathering firewood were tortured to death by the army. Yet fully one-fourth of our 534,710 visitors from Myanmar from January 1 to March 31 indicated decisions for Christ! Pan from Myanmar wrote us: “I’m very pleased to receive your kind email. I live in Myanmar. I teach young children. I’m Buddhism but I’m follower of Christ because some ideas are agree with me. Please send the Bible.” Please pray she’ll respond to sound follow-up instructing her to leave Buddhism altogether and trust Christ alone.
In Afghanistan, (#2), our decision percentage is 19%. Ahmad from Afghanistan wrote us: “Have to clean my doubts, so please answer my questions first: Why Jesus died for our sins?” Please pray he gets great answers to sincere questions.
In Pakistan (#5), we have over 1,100 new disciples (visitors actively writing their Online Missionaries) since 2018 began. Persecution is institutionalized there: Christians work in the “unclean”, less-desirable occupations. In June of last year, a Christian sewage worker died during Ramadan; medical professionals wouldn’t defile themselves to touch him. Yet Marjaan in Pakistan writes, “Good Morning respected Father. I want to learn about Jesus Christ life and his education for happy life in Urdu version.”
In all, visits from World Watch List countries totaled 15,683,691 through March of this year, with 2,088,336 of them indicating decisions for Christ. That’s the same percentage we get from our USA visitors (13%). Does this tell us something exciting?
“Fake News” Exaggerates the Negative… & Obscures Good News
Could it be that the rising persecution of Christians worldwide tells us that Christians, we of such apparently “little strength,” (Revelation 3:8), actually have more influence and more opportunity than we think? “The field” is a rough neighborhood. That’s why Jesus told His followers to expect it and to get excited when people “insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers.” (Matthew 5:11) We are a threat to rulers of darkness, to spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
At a missions conference last week, I attended a session led by Joshua Project missiologist Dan Scribner where we learned some interesting facts about the global growth of communities of believers worldwide:
There are thought to be a million Christians in Iran today. In 1979 there were only 500.
There are 60-80,000 believers in Mongolia today. (An 33-34% annual growth since 1989, when there were only 150 known Mongolian believers.)
You’ve heard Islam called the fastest-growing religion in the world. The truth is that this is in comparison to nominal Christianity. (Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.) Worldwide, the growth of evangelical Christianity surpasses that of Islam at 2.8%.
God is using geo-political changes—as well as the technology we use every day— to bring the Good News to those eagerly looking for the hope it brings. When people from nations like Iran, Kuwait, Mauritania and Syria are showing as much hunger for the Good News as the USA; when doors formerly closed show signs of opening; when indications everywhere are that information age conveniences like thumb drives, portable wifi and cell phones are supporting seekers and Christians in hostile nations; when you’re smack in the middle of something amazing God is doing in the world, you must not let the “fake news” get you down! Your prayers, your gifts, your influence, are making a difference! Thank you so much!
Love, in Christ,
One Day Closer!