Religious belief is fading in the modern world! This is what sociologists and anthropologists have confidently predicted for generations. Some surveys also seem to support this idea. Christianity is shrinking and secularization is taking hold.
But is this really what is happening around the globe?
While Europe and North America have taken some recent hits, there is an abundance of evidence that an ongoing global spiritual awakening is taking place! So, here is some good news…
Kingdom Expansion in Asia
In the last century, Christianity has grown within the continent of Asia at twice the rate of population. From only 27 million Christians in 1910 to fast approaching nearly half a billion Christians today, the world’s largest land mass has seen a massive increase!
China not only has the world’s largest population, it also boasts the fastest growing Church! From a mere one million believers in 1949, current estimates range anywhere between 75 million to 150 million. Given many believers have gone underground, it is impossible to know exact numbers. However, despite increased persecution and the government seeking to stop the continued growth, it is predicted that China, while officially atheist, could have more Christians than the U.S. by 2030.
India is another country experiencing much persecution, in this case from Hindu militants. However, God is at work and it is reported that there are now more than 60 million Jesus followers in the Indian nation.
Pakistan, where Islam has dominated for centuries, like India hosts huge Christian gatherings. Recently, 86 year old evangelist, Marilyn Hickey, preached the gospel to over one million people in Karachi, where many converted to Christ!
In other parts of Asia, the Philippines is another country with a booming population. As this has increased, so has the number of new believers. Today it is overwhelmingly Christian with perhaps 85 million believers (78% of population).
There are an estimated 15 million Christians in South Korea (Protestant and Catholic), around 30% of its population, which is remarkable given there were virtually none at the beginning of the last century. During the 1960’s-1980’s, South Korea became the fastest-growing Christian population in the world. Although the growth rate has since reduced, Protestant Christianity remains a vibrant force in the country, home to the largest churches in the world. It has also become one of the largest missionary sending nations. From initially sending out their first twenty-four missionaries in 1974, the numbers of missionaries sent out by Korean churches has grown exponentially. Forty years later, over 27,000 Korean missionaries from various denominations were serving in 170 countries.
In its northern neighbour, arguably the most oppressive place in the world, it’s estimated there are still 9 million followers of Jesus in North Korea (population 25 million).
While Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim state, the number of Christians is in the region of 30 million (approx 11% of population).
Singapore is reported to have more than 20% of its population professing faith in Jesus, while in Hong Kong it is 10%.
In Malaysia it is 9%, while Vietnam has over 8 million Christians (8%).
Nepal is the world’s only Hindu kingdom. In 1959 its first church started with 29 members. Today, Asia Evangelical Alliance reports that Nepal has more than 500,000 Christians.
In Mongolia there were only 4 Christians in 1989. Today, there are over 20,000!
In Cambodia during the late 1970’s following the Khymer Rouge genocide, there were only 2,000 Christians. Today, there are over 150,000!
In summary, the Asian continent has witnessed a huge growth in the number of Christians over the past century. Today, it has more Evangelical Christians than Europe and Northern America combined.
While the Church is growing rapidly in terms of peoples and places, its influence into Asian society is the next challenge in order to see the kingdom of God truly established.
But, the over-arching good news is that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom is on the increase throughout the continent of Asia!