While preparing to speak at a conference on reaching international students, I discovered some information on the worldwide growth of the Church that is both fascinating and encouraging. Note the 20 nations in which Christianity is growing the fastest:
Top 20 Countries Where Christianity has Highest Percentage Annual Growth
1. Nepal – 10.93% 2. China – 10.86% 3. United Arab Emirates – 9.34% 4. Saudi Arabia – 9.27% 5. Qatar – 7.81% 6. Oman – 7.62 7. Yemen – 7.09% 8. Mongolia – 5.96% 9. Cambodia – 5.87% 10. Bahrain – 5.49% 11. Benin – 4.85% 12. Burkina Faso – 4.81% 13. South Sudan – 4.67% 14. Bhutan – 4.60% 15. Mali – 4.54% 16. Brunei – 4.49% 17. Guinea – 4.44% 18. Kuwait – 4.26% 19. Singapore – 4.12 20. Turks and Caicos Islands – 3.97%
Some things to note in this list are that 19 of the 20 are in Asia and Africa (Turks and Caicos Islands is in the Caribbean). Eleven are in majority Muslim countries, and not one country is in Europe, North America or Latin America. The source for this information is The Center for the Study of Global Christianity based at Gordon Conwell Seminary, published in June 2013. The full report can be found online at http://www.globalchristianity.org/globalcontext. The report is extensive, numbering 92 pages.
The World Status of Bible Translation (Wycliffe Bible Translators 2013)
Bob Creson, President of Wycliffe Bible Translators, has said that the Bible could be translated into every language by 2025. With that in mind, note the current statistics relating to the availability of the Scriptures today:
1. 6,900+ … languages spoken in the world today 2. 1,900+ … languages without any of the Bible, numbering 180 million people 3. 2,167 … total number of current translation programs, on behalf of 1.9 billion people 4. 1,294 … language groups that have access to the New Testament in their heart language, numbering 598 million people 5. 513 … language groups have access to the entire Bible in their heart language 6. 1,010 … languages have some portions of Scripture available in their language (one or more books)
In the 2012/2013 school year a record number of international students came to U.S. colleges, nearly 820,000 students. These students contributed over 24 billion dollars to the economy. Overall, students from China, India and South Korea make up 49% of all international students in the U.S. China leads the way with 235,000 students, up from 194,000 the year prior. Statistics from some universities in the Northwest are:
1. Univ. of Washington – 9% international, but 20% of freshman students are internationals 2. Univ. of Oregon – 10%, totaling 2,946 students 3. Oregon State Univ. – 5% 4. Portland State Univ. – 5% 5. Washington State Univ. – 4% 6. Eastern Washington Univ. – 3% 7. Univ. of Idaho – 4.7%, 551 students from 70 nations
There are a few matters I will mention from these numbers. First, the Church is growing among many peoples in the world, and it is growing among peoples where opposition to the Gospel is often intense and violent. Seventy-five percent of the world’s population lives in places hostile to the good news of Jesus Christ, and yet it is among these peoples where the growth rate is often greatest.
Second, the Scriptures, or a portion thereof, has been translated into the languages more than 97% of the world’s peoples. This doesn’t mean that 97% can access the Scriptures, or read them, but the translation work is complete or partly complete.
Third, the world’s peoples are represented in our nation’s colleges in the form of international students. These students are the future leaders in their countries. We must do all we can to reach them. And consider this, only about 25% of international students are invited into the home of an American family. When invited they will come. And when they come into our homes we have the opportunity to show them love and demonstrate the truth of Christ for them.
Have you hosted an international student, or an immigrant, in your home? My wife and I have been privileged to have people from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Uganda, Malawi, Mexico stay with us, and others from China, Iran, India, and South Korea have dined with us. Usually our guests are greatly honored at being in our home because it’s an uncommon experience for them.