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ICC Note: One of the causes of persecution is the rapid growth of the Church in previously unreached areas.
Human beings tend to divide the world into “us versus them” and where the Church is growing rapidly, they become the “them”. The dominant culture feels threatened, like they are being taken over and will often react with violence. We love to see the Church grow but please pray for protection for the local believers whenever you hear about strong Church growth overseas.

Christianity Exploding Outside the West

(ANS) Christianity is exploding around the world outside Western countries, and there is a real possibility that every unreached people group will have the Gospel within 20 to 30 years.

The international director of World Outreach, John Elliott, is excited at the possibilities.

In the early 1990s, missiologists estimated there were 14,000 language groups without access to a viable church. Mr Elliott says that since then, there has been much better co-ordination between different mission organisations to avoid duplication of effort.

“Just this year we have heard that the number of least-reached people groups is down to 6100, so great inroads have been made in the past 12 years. There are some great signs all round the world that in the next 10 to 20 years we are going to see the Gospel established among all people groups. Right now, it’s picking up.”

Because much of the growth is in sensitive areas, missions are careful about what information they give out so as not to jeopardise either their workers or the fledgling churches. But he says that in the Muslim world, and to a certain extent the Hindu world, converts are coming to Christ in the tens of thousands.

“In one place over five years 300,000 of one particular people group has come to Christ. I got an email this morning from our guy in north-east India , where we’ve adopted a church planting model developed by the Southern Baptists. He says just this month they have been able to plant 45 new churches among what would be designated an unreached people group in that region.”

New strategies are being developed to reach these groups: “We know the white-skinned guy is not going to be the one to do it in most cases.”

An increasingly used means is to use a “near neighbour” from an adjoining region, or people who look similar to the target group. It might be a Filipino going into West Africa, or an Indian going to Russia .

Developing income-generating projects in economically depressed areas is another strategy – “something simple, like building a fish farm or offering free computer tutoring to young people. It may be a one or two-year project before you get the liberty to start sharing the gospel.”

Mr Elliott says having people who were formerly recipients of mission activity going themselves as missionaries is a recent development

Not all these people are going to developing countries. World Outreach is now being approached by Third World peoples who want to do mission work in countries such as England or Australia , usually among the immigrant populations there.

While a lot of Western people see immigrants as a negative thing, their arrival opens up exciting possibilities. “Many have found Christ and had their lives radically changed. Some who have come illegally have been deported in the course of coming to Christ.

“They have gone back to their country as Christians, with a vision to plant the Gospel in other areas of the world. Others have been legally adopted by the countries, but now they, too, feel they can use that country as a springboard to share the Gospel, to reach the families back in their countries.”

Mr Elliott says New Zealand has huge potential to participate. “We are seeing the nations starting to come to us. These people are candidates God has sent to us with the possibility they will help facilitate the gospel to the regions they have come from.

” New Zealand churches need to make room for a means to reach out to these people.

“If we miss it, we are going to miss something fantastic. I believe God has some unusual ways in which we are going to finish this race he’s put us to. We have to be open to new ideas and new strategies. We have start saying, ‘God’s sending these people in, what’s our role? How do we participate in what he’s doing here?'”