Jan 06: World, The Church Worldwide

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Area: 134,940,000 sq km

Antarctica, with 14 million sq km, is not included.

Population: 6,908,000,000    Annual Growth: 1.20%

Urbanites: 51%


    Languages: 6,909


Largest Religion: Christian

Religion               Pop %Ann Gr

Answer to Prayer

The gospel took root within hundreds of the world’s least reached peoples. In many cases, peoples with no known believers ten or twenty years ago now have churches within them, some of them thriving, growing churches now involved themselves in the Great Commission! The 1990s saw the most concerted attempt to analyze the need of the world – a process in which Operation World itself played a part. And 1995 saw the beginning of the Joshua Project List (JPL), originally a list of 1,583 of the world’s least reached peoples. While this is expanded to now include all peoples in the world (16,350), the original list served as a catalyst for the Church to pray for, adopt and engage with every one of these least reached peoples. It also inspired national-level research in many countries where the 1,583 were found; this missiological and people group research by Majority World Christians has been a major step toward completion of the Great Commission. Much pioneering work remains, but praise God for miraculous opening of doors and receptivity to the gospel in new places – some once considered all but impossible to reach.

     For an additional 7 Answers to Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

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The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of World.

The Church Worldwide


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Challenge for Prayer

The rise in levels of persecution – especially for Christians. The end of the European colonial era, the end of Christianity’s status as state religion in most of the West and the resurgence of religious sentiment globally, especially fundamentalism, all mean that Christians generally no longer operate from a position of power or privilege. Christians are subject to persecution in much of the world. Evangelicals are subject to even more due to their proselytism and commitment to the uniqueness of Christ. The presence of persecution and hardship in the life of the Church appears to be normative in Scripture; contexts where persecution does not exist at all should be as much cause for concern as places where it is intense.

a) The main offenders:

     i Muslim countries and regions – the rise of extreme Islamist interpretations of the Muslim faith and the association of Christianity with “the Great Satan” have made Christians vulnerable to heightened religious violence coming from radicalized Muslims. The increasing application of shari’a law creates a climate where harsh persecution can easily occur. In a handful of countries, the courts may sentence a national to death for becoming a Christian; imprisonment awaits in several other nations. Beyond the government stance on such apostasy from Islam, community leaders and family members pressure new believers to revert to Islam and, occasionally, will murder those who will not.

     ii Marxist/Communist states continue to make life very difficult for Christians – this is especially true in North Korea, where profession of faith leads to imprisonment and death, and in Laos, Vietnam, China and Cuba, where unregistered Christians have suffered severely.

     iii Hindutva philosophy in India and radicalization of some Hindus in Nepal have led to heightened pressure and acts of terror against Christians in parts of these countries.

     iv Buddhists have persecuted and maltreated Christians in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

     v Christian governments, or government structures that endorse only one form of Christianity, have often been among the harshest persecutors of evangelicals. Examples of such instances include Eritrea, Belarus, southern Mexico and Russia.

     vi Secular governments – most notably in Western Europe – in their attempts to safeguard against dangerous sects and to further erase religion from public life have passed laws that make life difficult for believers to publicly practice their faith. Pluralism in such contexts apparently requires tolerance of every lifestyle and value system – except for biblical Christianity.

b) Christians’ concern for the persecuted Church is growing. There are several networks and ministries mobilizing prayer for and support of Christians suffering: Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, International Justice Mission, Barnabas Fund, Christian Freedom International, International Christian Concern, WEA Religious Liberties Commission and many others. The annual International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is coordinated globally by WEA. Open Doors maintains a persecution index for the world’s nations, updated once a year.

     For an additional 9 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

More Information

The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of The Church Worldwide.