The temperature is rising in the world and it has little to do with climate change. Opposition to Christianity is reaching feverish levels in many countries, testing the limits of faith in the hearts of believers.
A “New Atheism” is escalating in America; it’s an outspoken form of unbelief. An article in the Economist reports that when Democratic convention-goers in Charlotte, North Carolina arrive, they’ll be greeted by a billboard proclaiming that Christianity “promotes hate” and exalts a “useless savior.”
According to WIN-Gallup International, a network of pollsters, the U.S. has experienced a fivefold increase in those who call themselves atheists. At the same time, the report says the proportion of Americans who say they’re religious has dropped from 73% in 2005 to 60% in 2011.
While U.S. believers sometimes contend with the ire of neighbors or the occasional sign proclaiming, “Only Sheep Need a Shepherd,” and “Theology is a Myth-Stake,” others in the world increasingly face real danger for proclaiming Jesus as Savior.
In countries where David C Cook labors alongside local churches and organizations to both evangelize and disciple, believers often face hostile opposition from the government, as well as religious groups such as Islam and Hinduism.
Disenfranchised youth are vulnerable to megalomaniac leaders, religious texts are taken out of context, and ethnic divisions fuel all stripes of brutal, sadistic, and relentless violence. Yet the Gospel persists as the Holy Spirit steadily burns across the world, most especially in developing nations.
Brad Quicksall, Vice President of International Programs at David C Cook says:
It’s an exciting time. It’s a tension-filled time. And it’s a time all believers need to be in fervent prayer for their brothers and sisters in Christ.
For example, in Nepal, Christianity accounts for 2.8% of the population while Hindus comprise a whopping 75%. Nepali Christians deal regularly with violence and intimidation by Hindu extremists. The new government’s constitution may virtually ban evangelism, and militant Hindu groups are pushing for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion.
Some estimate the Nepali Church is growing at a pace of 25% a year. Yet in spite of the rapid expansion of Christianity, this is an uncertain and even fearful time for Nepal’s believers.
With the meteoric rise of Christianity come waves of new believers, a number of who plant the majority of emerging churches in Asia. Part of our calling in the Global Mission Unit at David C Cook is to help these individuals shepherd their flocks, often in the midst of cultural opposition and oppressive living conditions.
The acceleration of Christianity also creates a deficit of resources, including Bibles, commentaries, and discipleship materials. To add to the problem, illiteracy is a significant issue in some areas – and oral learning (stories and information passed verbally from one person to the next) is prominent elsewhere.
Our Global Mission Unit found a solution to help disciple most of these new leaders: Since nearly every adult in Nepal (and in other developing countries) owns a cell phone, the ministry is putting 65 hours of audio recordings from Warren Wiersbe’s “Be” Bible commentaries on SD cards that fit into these devices. (Be Alert, Be Authentic, Be Comforted, Be Compassionate, Be Courageous, and many others…)
Time and time again pastors have requested SD cards as opposed to CDs, DVDs and even books. SD cards are particularly valuable to bi-vocational pastors (the majority) who spend their days working in the fields or doing other manual labor. It is not unusual to see a man plowing a field with an ox while conversing with friends and neighbors on the phone.
In the past we provided a small library of books to pastors in developing countries. In India, for example, we gave 115,000 leaders these mini-libraries. Those cost $23 per set. By comparison, SD cards cost a mere $5 apiece including the initial translation and recordings. SD cards are small chips and less obvious than larger materials, protecting the anonymity of pastors and Christian leaders in the event of persecution.
Prayer is essential in these rapidly changing times, so are your financial contributions. Through your support you’re standing in the gap for new Christian leaders in developing countries. Click here to donate now.