Were the believing church to grasp the Bible in one hand and Operation World in the other, and truly devote itself to prayer and action, we might see great advances for the kingdom of God in our generation.
Since the last edition of Operation World which came out in 2001, there have been many changes in the world. Everyone knows about the attacks of 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the global financial crisis, the huge Chinese economic juggernaut. But here are other changes of even greater eternal significance. Jason Mandryk, author of the new 2011 edition of Operation World, reflects on trends shown in the OW team's research.
- The speed with which several historically Christian countries have become post-Christian and secular in society and culture, including the UK, Scandinavia, and Australia. Sadly, I suspect we have an impending similar crisis in the USA, South Korea and South Africa.
- The rise of a strident, militant atheism. That this change has coincided with increasing secularization and a declining number of evangelicals is no accident.
- The depth of syncretism existing throughout Christianity. This syncretism not only sees Christians visiting the witch doctor, but also has become deeply compromised with the pagan culture of the West. Christianity is as much about success, consumerism and buffet-style personal spirituality as it is about becoming disciples of Jesus.
- The rate at which missionary presence has shifted from being predominantly Western to being overwhelmingly Majority World. This move has come not just from the explosive growth of missionary sending from Latin America, Asia and Africa but also from the emergence of a massive tent-making force from developing world countries such as the Philippines.
- An increase in religious fundamentalism and persecution has occurred not just under Muslim and Communist/atheist regimes, but among Hindus, Buddhists and, dare I say, even Christians. Dangerous forms of radical fundamentalism perpetrate oppression and violence.
- The continued growth of the church in China. While this rise is slowing slightly, Christianity’s influence and acceptability is increasing significantly. The Chinese church now faces the challenge of retaining its youth—a generation that has grown up in the faith is being tempted away by materialism.
- The unstoppable tide of humanity called immigration. This movement of people has already transformed the face of Europe, North America and Australia in many ways, both good and bad. What we have witnessed thus far is a mere shadow of what is to come.
- Although the percentage of humanity that has heard the Good News has increased, every day that passes sees the total number of unevangelized increase—now 1.75 billion and growing.
- Although there are thriving churches in tribes that had no Christians nine years ago, there are still thousands of people groups where the gospel has made little or no impact.
- The number who have come to faith in Jesus is greater than ever before, and as a result the challenge to teach them to obey all that He has commanded is likewise greater than ever before.
- The Great Commission is vaster than even the statistics can communicate. The nature of evangelization is so much more than shoving a tract into someone’s hand, showing them the Jesus film or even leading them to Christ. It involves making disciples, transforming world-views and changing communities.
(from Operation World Beyond 9/11, reproduced from WEC.go magazine, Spring 2011)
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