What do you think of when you hear the term ‘developing country’? Do images of unimaginable squalor come to mind, open sewers and garbage on the streets? Yes, well that is true. But there is also rapid growth and urbanization happening right across the developing world. You probably feel it back home in the West in the decline of manufacturing and service sector jobs that have gone to developing countries. The world is becoming more equitable, and that means we in the West are going to have to learn to take a smaller portion of the world’s wealth so that others might have a chance. As a Christian I’d have to say that it was long overdue.
I’d also have to say as a Christian I am very excited about another development in the world, and that is the explosive growth of the Christian church. This shot, taken with my phone camera from 100 feet back, shows a fairly typical scene at the churches in Malaysia. These are 75 new members of our church being added this morning. Every month there are 25 to thirty new baptisms, every quarter there are upwards of 75 new believers added to the rolls. With a membership of four thousand already, we are shortly going to have to go to three services.
Other churches in Malaysia are doing equally well. In fact with a Christian population is 12% and climbing, the authorities are beginning to sound alarm bells in the corridors of power. But it isn’t just Malaysia that is experiencing this kind of growth. Across the straits in Indonesia the Christian church has found their voice as well and these two predominantly Muslim countries are beginning to change for the better. China already has more evangelical Christians than the United States, and that number is going to continue to grow, despite the best efforts of the Communist government to crack down.
Nor is this growth limited to Asia. There were approximately 3 million Christians in all of Africa in 1901. In 2001 there were over 330 million. Even more alarming to Muslim authorities there, around 6 million Muslims leave Islam and become Christians every year. Their strength can be seen in the election of a Christian Prime Minister in formerly Muslim controlled Nigeria and the secession of Christian Sudan from the impoverished Muslim north.
All of this sounds a little disconcerting to Christians back home, I know. We are used to thinking of ourselves of the embattled and faithful few. It just ain’t so, folks. Christ is marching triumphant across the developing nations of the world and has even begun to make inroads into the Muslim heartland of the Middle East. It is an exciting time to be a Christian and to witness the phenomenal rise of His church in these days. Didn’t the Lord promise to “build His church”? Well He is! Halleluyah!