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Christians are facing increasing persecution, but growth continues

(Mission Network News) — The last decade of the 20th century was the most exciting advance in global evangelization than in all 200 years of the modern missionary movement. However, the President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board , Jerry Rankin, says this a time that could overshadow that time in history.

“As we move into 2007 and reflect on what God is doing here in the 21st century I think we have seen more open doors and more accelerating of the harvest and fulfilling the Great Commission than in any point in my life time. And, it’s just an exciting time to be on mission with God,” says Rankin.

Those open doors have also brought with it persecution of Christians. While communist nations have been notorious for this, many Christian human rights observers say the Muslim world is quickly becoming more responsible for this. Rankin agrees. “There is increasing persecution and as to be expected, a backlash among any movement of Muslim believers to Christ, but yet we’re seeing some very significant church growth movements in the Muslim world,” he says.

Rankin believes the increase in terrorist activity by radical Islam, “Has just revealed the deficiency in Islam and its true nature. And, our people all over the world testify that there are a lot of Muslims out of this cultural environment that have a genuine search for truth that gives them hope and security and they’re not finding that in their Islamic traditions.”

As they search for truth, they’re finding it in Christ alone.

However, Rankin says the anti-west mentality has forced them to change their strategy. “Americans have to keep a very low profile and are not welcome to proselytize and evangelize. So, it involved tweaking our strategy to be move involved in a very behind the scenes grass-roots discipleship and train of local believers.”

Rankin wishes the only obstacles were terrorists or government restrictions. He says there’s a bigger challenge facing them. “I think the biggest challenge is the apathy and lethargy in our churches that are self-centered or in grown, that don’t have the vision for their roll for missions and just stirring them out there apathy to mobilize them and resource this.”

Despite this apathy, Rankin says the IMB is still focused on an ambitious goal. “We’re still pressing forward with our vision, by the end of 2010 to engage every people group in the world.”