Every week during the fall, approximately 70,000 people attend NFL games in cities like Detroit and Houston. They pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for the privilege, and, if all goes well, they come away with some happy memories.
Every week throughout the year in China, approximately 70,000 people do something very different: they, too, pay a price, but it's not measured in money. And what they come away with not only changes their lives but promises to change a nation, a continent, and even the world.
According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, 10,000 Chinese become Christians every day. That's 70,000 a week!
At the time of the Communist takeover in 1949, there were 4 million Christians in China. Today, there are an estimated 111 million, which makes China the third-largest Christian country in the world, behind the United States and Brazil. By 2050, the Center estimates that the number of Christians will have doubled.
The explosive growth of Christianity in China is only part of a larger story. The ordeal of Korean missionaries at the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan reminds us of Christianity's growth in Korea.
A happier story is the one Chuck told Christian Post readers about the people called the Nagas. Little more than a century ago, these people living in the area where India and Burma meet were headhunters. Today, an estimated 90 percent of the population attends church on Sunday, and Christian leaders there have set the goal of sending 10,000 missionaries to the rest of Asia.
The Asia Times columnist "Spengler" recently wrote that China may soon occupy the role that the United States has occupied for the past 200 years: "the natural ground for mass evangelization." He adds that "if this occurs, the world will change beyond our capacity to recognize it."
He foresees Chinese Christians, like their Korean counterparts, "[turning] their attention outward." Only, with a Christian population fifteen times the size of Korea's, and a Chinese Diaspora all over the world, the impact will be far greater. "Spengler" uses the word "earthquake" to describe it.
According to John Allen of the National Catholic Report, the most "audacious" Chinese Christians dream of taking the Gospel along the historic "Silk Road" into Muslim lands. As David Aikman has written, they believe it is their task to complete the mission of preaching the Gospel in every land. To that end, Chinese Christians are already secretly "training missionaries for deployment in Muslim countries."
This is what "Spengler" means by an "earthquake." As he puts it, "the greatest danger to Islam" comes from Chinese Christians looking westward toward Jerusalem.
What's remarkable is this vision is taking shape even as Chinese Christians undergo persecution. Then again, Christianity's initial explosion took place under even worse conditions. So it probably shouldn't surprise us that there are more Chinese worshiping in "house churches" than belong to the Communist party.
According to "Spengler," the "fearless" Chinese evangelists may do more to transform their nation and the world than all the armies and diplomats combined. That would be an earthquake worth experiencing.
From BreakPoint®, August 27, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship