The Church In Iran: Percentage Growth is the fastest of any nation on earth!

(If you like what you read and would like to join with me praying for breakthroughs in the lands of Islam by signing up for my weekly PICTURE newsletter. The form is on the right if on a desktop computer or scoll down if on a smart phone.)

1. History

Iran, called Persia until 1935, has a very deep history as it sits on the doorstep of human civilization. It’s cultural and political significance throughout history goes far beyond today’s national borders. All surrounding countries have been deeply influenced by its presence. In fact, at one time some 40% of the world’s population were under ancient Persian Imperial control and influence.

It is mentioned many times in the Bible, beginning with the events of King Xerxes and Esther. Many other Persians leaders are mentioned in the Bible such as Cyrus the Great who freed the Jews from captivity in Babylon, helped them to go back to the Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. Some historians believe that one or all of the three wise men who brought gifts to Jesus at the time of his birth were Persian. They are referred to as Magi and a magus, the singular of magi, was a Zoroastrian priest. Finally, Persians were some of the first people to convert to Christianity (Acts 2:9).

The Imperial Persian cult of Zoroastrianism persecuted the new Christian faith mercilessly until the sixth century because it saw Christians as agents of their arch enemy, Pagan Rome and then the Catholic Byzantines. But by the Sixth Century many leading Persians had become Nestorian Christians and the church was well organised, had sent missionaries to all of Central Asia and even all the way to China in one of the great missionary movements in the history of the world that is now largely forgotten. When the Persian Empire finally fell to the Byzantines in 622 AD (curiously the same year Islam chose to start its calendar) a new era of Arab control slowly developed in the Middle East, emerging from the Byzantine and Persian proxy armies, the Ghassanids and the Lakhmids.

In time Persia regained its cultural and military hegemony over the region as the centre of Islamic law, history and culture from 750 AD until 1220. This is considered Islam’s Golden Age. But then 90% of Persia’s people were horrifically slaughtered at the hands of the Mongols in 1219! Persia took many centuries to recover from this devastation and limped into modern history as a much reduced shadow of its former self.

2. Today

Iran, like most of the Middle East, was deeply humiliated by Western “Christian colonialism” but always retained certain freedoms. The 20th Century saw Iran ruled by a shah until Western powers discovered oil and started meddling in internal affairs. This resulted in a CIA sponsored coup in 1941, which then inspired an Islamic counter-revolution in 1980. Iran has been a hard line Shia Islamic theocratic state ever since.

With Islamic theocracy has come government control of all aspects of society, and economic disaster. The government controls 80% of the economy, most of which is oil related, and the army controls the majority of that share. Corruption is rife, unemployment peaked at 30% and average incomes are now just 10% of the USA.

With the revolution came a call to have sons for the revolution, and the population doubled in short order. Some 60% of the population is now under 30 years of age. This is now a huge headache for the old guard who control society. The youth hate their government, and because the government rules in the name of Shia Islam, they hate Islam as well. Many have turned to drugs imported from Afghanistan and are dropping out of society. They feel hopeless. This predicament is common to the youth of most Islamic countries that adopt hard line Islamist policies, howbeit after a decade or two of disillusion.

3. Evangelistic Highlights

Iran has the oldest of these Islamist governments. Consequently, the second generation is turning away from its ideas. In percentage terms Iran now has the fastest growing Christian population on the planet at around 20% a year. The church is doubling every 4 years and it is mostly young people. Dreams and visions are commonly involved in peoples journeys to faith.

In 1980 there were fewer than 500 known evangelical believers in a country of 40 million. Now there are close to 400,000 out of 80 million and the numbers are forecast to reach 3-5 million by 2030, 10-15 million by 2050 and…drumroll…Iran is on track at current growth rates to become the first ex-Muslim country to come back to Christianity since the Arab invasions 1,400 years ago.  All this in a country that has the death penalty for apostasy!

If Iran is a template for other radical Muslim Islamist countries, then we will see a rapid acceleration in Christianity in many other countries in the decade ahead!

Almost half of those Iranians who have fled the country are also now evangelical Christians. The Iranian Christians, both internal and externally, are seeding many countries around it with the gospel, not least of which is Afghanistan. Farsi language satellite Christian TV and web-based ministries are now reaching into millions of Iranian homes. I personally know one Iranian refugee in Brisbane who has led 50 others to Jesus and started a church.

4. Prayer Points

  1. Praise God for the harvest, the speed of which we have never seen before in a Muslim country
  2. pray for strength in the face of strong government persecution
  3. Pray for more souls to be saved via satellite TV and online ministries
  4. Pray for more expatiate believers among those who have fled to Europe in recent years
  5. Pray for female believers, they face great pressure from government religious police
  6. Pray for the less evangelized people groups such as:

the Zoroastrian Parsees

the Baha’i

the Persian Jewish communities

the semi-Nomadic Luri peoples

the restive Kurds

Two Fascinating and Sad Trends in the USA

Dear friends,

What goes for the USA generally goes for the western world, so these two trends can be extrapolated into a bigger picture of the state of Western Civilisation.

First. Here is the headline I read the other day on the secular website Zero Hedge:

40 Facts That Prove That America’s Moral Collapse Is Spinning Wildly Out Of Control

It was an interesting but very sad read on what is basically the destruction of the family over the last 50 years, led by the selfish sexual revolution.

Then two days later I came across this headline on the same website:

The Number Of Americans With “No Religion” Has Soared 266% Over The Last 3 Decades

I couldn’t help but join the dots between the two. The “No Religion” group is now the largest demographic cohort in what was once the most Christian country in the world!

Christianity believes in family, it teaches dying to self for the sake of others, it teaches moral and sexual restraint. It is exactly these attributes that are disappearing or have  disappeared, leaving the USA with a nightmare of social problems. Homosexual marriage and the transgender avalanches will only exacerbate the problem for the next generation of confused children.

Where will this lead us in 10, 20 or 50 years from now? Fortunately the rest of the world is heading toward Jesus at a rapid pace. I see a future where missionaries from other parts of the world will be re-planting the gospel in the Western world!

Kevin

THE CHURCH IN INDONESIA: WHAT A HARVEST!!!!

To subscribe to the PICTURE newsletter just fill in the form on the right if on a desktop computer or scroll down if on a smart phone

1. History

Indonesia is a vast archipelago of 17,500 islands and 250 million people standing between Asia and Australia. Its history goes back to a vast migration of peoples into the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Madagascar thousands of years ago. With the cultivation of rice in the rich tropical volcanic soils there soon developed many people and kingdoms, leading to Java becoming one of the most densely populated places on earth today. Large amounts of international trade between India, the Middle East and China meant many religions took root in what is now Indonesia. Animism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam each flourished in succession, and now it is Christianity’s turn.

The Europeans arrived in 1512 and this eventually led to occupation by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese. Unilateral independence for the long-suffering Indonesians was finally declared in 1945 and this led to several decades of military government which included the killing of 500,000 accused Communists in 1965 after an attempted Communist takeover. A staggering 5% of the Balinese were executed in this reign of terror.

2. Today

Indonesia has over 750 and distinct people groups and 722 languages. Most of these groups are the dominant Indo-Malays who, along with the Chinese who are 4% of the population, control the wealth and politics. Indonesia has now morphed into one of the world’s largest democracies and with that has come economic expansion at around 5% a year for the last decade. However, this growth in the economy and in population has led to large scale corruption and environmental damage to its forests.

Islam is the dominant religion and it gives itself preferential treatment in most spheres of public life. Intolerant Islamisation is pervasive and growing. Having said that, only about 1/3 of those counted as Muslims actively practice the faith and are adamantly opposed to any Christian existence in Indonesia. Some 500,000Maluku and Sulawesi Christians are now displaced because of their violence. Another third are nominal and another third follow Kejawan (a religion that combines animistic, Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi, beliefs and practices) that predated the arrival of Islam. Many of these last two groups are open to Christian witness.

3. Evangelical Highlights

After the attempted Communist coup in 1965, the government demanded all citizens adhere to one of six official religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. This eventually resulted in over 2 million Muslims identifying as Christians for the first time! This windfall has now grown to many more millions as each generation enters their new faith at a deeper level. Forty million Indonesians now identify as Christian with some 15-20 million of these being evangelical. The church is strong, growing, prayerful and unified. Evangelism is vibrant, even to the Muslim community. This has resulted in somewhere between 5 and 10 million more Muslims becoming Christians in recent decades. This is by far the highest number of Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s) for any single Muslim majority country in the world…so far!

4. Prayer Points

A battle rages in the spiritual realm for the heart and soul of Indonesia. Radical Islam badly wants it, The occult is still thriving, yet Jesus is the true Lord of these people.

Please pray…

  1. For an end to nominalism in the denominations (Lutheran, Catholic) that have been Christian for hundreds of years.
  2. For the 128 people groups in the country lager than 10,000 that have hardly any Christian witness.
  3. For the vision of national church leaders to see a church in every village.
  4. For the thousands of Indonesian missionaries who serve outside their culture, but inside the country.
  5. For the large, wealthy and influential Chinese evangelical community to fully engage with the task of winning the lost.
  6. For the tribal peoples from many outlying islands that have been Christianised, that they would get a vision for missions into their neighbouring Muslim communities.
  7. For the uniquely Hindu Balinese, among whom there are few believers, but the numbers are growing.
  8. For Sumatra, 10% Christian but still the largest un-evangelised island in the world.
  9. For millions more souls to see the truth and to be set free.
  10. For Jesus to reveal himself to the millions who earnestly seek spiritual enlightenment while they fast during Ramadan.
  11. For the scriptures to find their way into millions more homes so the truth can be compared to the Qur’an

Next: Iran

Revisiting The Crusades

Copied from an excellent email newsletter I get each week called MercatorNet

The history of the Crusades is more than an academic pursuit nowadays. After 9/11, defeating the “Crusaders” has become rallying cry for Muslim extremists. At the same time, by the Western media it is often depicted as a shameful period of intolerance. Ridley Scott’s 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven painted the crusaders as cynical, chauvinistic and greedy. What is the true story? To find out what modern scholarship has to tell us, in 2005 MercatorNet interviewed Thomas Madden,author of several books on the Crusades. We are republishing it in view of its continuing relevance. 

MercatorNet: How successful were the Crusaders in meeting their own goals of protecting the Holy Places and opening up Palestine for pilgrims? 

Madden: Initially quite successful. Jerusalem was conquered in 1099 and the surrounding areas were placed under Christian control shortly thereafter. This lasted, however, only so long as the Muslims in the region were fragmented into warring groups. Once the Muslims began to unify under leaders like Nur ed-Din and Saladin they were able to begin to push the Christians out. Numerous Crusades failed to reverse that trend so that by 1291 all of the Holy Land was permanently lost to the Muslims.

MercatorNet: Were the Crusaders exceptionally violent? After scaling the walls of Jerusalem in 1099, the victorious Crusaders “rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins”, according to the contemporary chronicler Raymond d’Aguiliers. It’s not the stuff of exemplary Christians, is it?

War is by nature violent. The Crusaders had come to Jerusalem to restore it to Christian control, the Muslims were there to stop that. Someone was going to get hurt. Today we think of war as an exceptionally clean and precise thing in which the deaths of even 30 people is a bloodbath. That is a very recent occurrence. (Look at the death tolls during the battles of World War II.) When the Crusaders stormed Jerusalem many of the Muslim and Jewish defenders were killed in the ensuing melee. Best modern estimates of the death toll are in the neighbourhood of 4000 people. The rest were ransomed or allowed to depart freely. This is on the high side for cities captured by storm in those days, although by no means out of bounds.

The image of wading through blood up to a horse’s bridle reins was obviously not meant to be taken seriously. It was a figure of speech meant to impart that many people were killed. (If today I accuse someone of making a mountain out of molehill, do I really mean what I say?) As for whether the Crusaders’ actions were those of “exemplary Christians,” they believed that they were and so did every other Christian in Europe. From their perspective they were righting a horrible wrong. They were coming to the defence of the defenceless, punishing those who persecuted pilgrims and polluted the holiest site in Christendom, and cleansing Jerusalem. They believed that they were acting out of love and charity for those Christians in the East who had been unjustly conquered by Muslim armies.

It is common today to regard Christianity as a pacifistic faith, but we should be mindful that such an idea is neither historical nor Biblical. After all, Christ did not politely ask the moneychangers to leave the Temple but quite violently drove them out. He also assured his Apostles, “I have come to bring not peace but the sword” (Matt. 10:34).

MercatorNet: In 1204, the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade sacked the Byzantine capital of Constantinople — which is a long way from Jerusalem — and established a Latin kingdom in its stead. It was a blow from which Eastern Christianity never really recovered. Doesn’t this prove that the Crusaders’ motives were financial and political rather than religious? 

Madden: Only if one knows nothing about the Fourth Crusade. The Crusaders made the detour to Constantinople because they believed they were performing an act of love and charity for the Byzantine people, restoring to them their rightful emperor (Alexius IV) and giving them the opportunity to depose their evil usurper (Alexius III). For this errand Alexius IV had promised to join the crusade and financially support it on its way to the Holy Land.

In fact, though, the Crusaders were sold a bill of goods. The Byzantine people had no desire to be ruled by a Crusader-backed emperor and even when Alexius IV was placed on the throne he found it impossible to make good on his promises to the Crusaders. At last he was assassinated in a palace coup and the new emperor, Alexius V, refused to fulfil his predecessor’s promises. Having been detoured, detained, and betrayed the Crusaders attacked Constantinople in 1204 and captured it. It is correct to say that Constantinople never recovered from this conquest (at least under Christian rule – it recovered quite nicely under Ottoman control). It is not, though, correct to say that Eastern Christianity was unable to recover. It had no substantive effect on the Orthodox faith.

MercatorNet: The Crusades are often presented as a Christian version of jihad, a Holy War to proselytise with the sword, forcing conversion upon the paynim. The most influential historian of the Crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, has described the Crusades as “a long act of intolerance in the name of God”. How much truth is there in this? 

MaddenJihad and Crusade are very different things. The jihad is a responsibility of all the faithful, the Crusade was not. Jihads could and very often were wars to expand the dar al-Islam(the Abode of Islam) at the expense of non-Muslims. Crusades to the East were defensive wars whose object was to restore formerly Christian territories that had been conquered by Muslim armies. Those Christians and Jews conquered by jihad warriors were given the option to submit to Islamic law or die. Everyone else conquered by a jihad had only the option to convert to Islam or die. Crusaders, on the other hand, were forbidden to convert by the sword. Indeed, conversion had absolutely nothing to do with the Crusades to the East. Muslims in the region who were conquered by the Crusaders were allowed to continue freely practicing their faith.

Runciman is certainly correct that the Crusades were acts of intolerance. It is important to remember, though, that the concept that religious toleration is a good thing is only a few centuries old. A medieval Crusader would have insisted that Muslims conquering and capturing Christian people was not something to be tolerated.

MercatorNet: ISIS, al-Qaeda and other Islamists describe the US and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq as “Crusaders”. How well do today’s Muslims know the history of the Crusades? 

Madden: Not well at all. In fact, the Crusades were unknown in the Middle East until the late 19th Century when the stories of them were brought by the English and French colonial powers. The truth is that in the grand scope of Muslim history the Crusades were just too small to be noticed. From the Muslim perspective the “Franj” (Europeans) were just one more group in an already chaotic political landscape. After a short time they were defeated and expelled and that was all. Much more important were real enemies like the Mongols.

In the 19th Century, however, colonial propaganda swelled the Crusades into an early effort to bring civilisation to the region. By the 20th Century, when imperialism had been discredited, the Crusades were cited by Arab nationalists and Islamists as the reason for poverty, corruption, and stagnation in the Muslim world. The notion is absurd. Long after the Crusades were finished in the Middle East Muslim powers continued to expand at an extraordinary rate. By the 16th Century the Ottoman Empire dwarfed Europe in size, wealth, power, you name it. Blaming others for your society’s own problems, however, does have a certain appeal.

MercatorNet: Do the Crusades have any contemporary relevance? Can we use them as a template for today’s confrontation of the West with the Islamic world? 

Madden: No. The Crusades came from a very mediaeval mindset that came out of a religiously unified Christendom under attack from a powerful outside power. They were also closely bound up in the ideas of pilgrimage, relic veneration, penance, and chivalry. None of these are components in the struggle between the West and radial Islam today.

MercatorNet: What if there had been no Crusades? How different would the world have been? 

Madden: In 1526 Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled almost the entire Muslim world, crushed the armies of Hungary at the Battle of Mohács and subsequently captured the whole region. Three years later he brought enormous forces up to Vienna. Had a series of exceptionally heavy rainstorms not kept the Sultan from bringing along his heavy artillery and other forces he would very likely have captured the city and subsequently most of Germany. As every European at the time knew, the last remnant of Christendom was close to extinction. Despite their numerous failures, it is certainly fair to say that the Crusades at least slowed the advance of Islamic armies into the Christian world. Had there been no Crusades it is difficult to see how Europe could have avoided complete conquest by the Ottoman Empire.

Would there have then been an Enlightenment, a Scientific Revolution, or an Industrial Revolution under an Islamic empire? It is interesting to speculate, but we can, of course, never know. It seems certain, though, that without the Crusades, the world that we live in today would be different in almost every respect.

Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University.  As an author and historical consultant he has appeared in such venues as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and The History Channel.

How Is Choosing Your Age Different From Choosing Your Sex?

(Copied from Zero Hedge without comment…)

A scholar in Finland recently proposed a novel new legal concept: The ability of people to decide their own age.

The academic notes the difference between “chronological age” (how long one has been alive), “biological age” (the physical quality of one’s body), and “emotional age” (the age one actually feels one is). The former one cannot change at all; the middle one can change through healthy living; but the latter-most one would be able to change simply at will, including legally, depending on how one feels.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. It is worth pointing out that the author of this theory seems both sincere and well-meaning, the frankly unbelievable proposition notwithstanding. But of course it rings very closely to the phenomenon of transgenderism, in which people are said to be able to choose their own “gender,” e.g. a man can choose to be a woman, and vice versa.

The silliness of choosing one’s own age is self-evident; but in acknowledging that, one must also note the cosmic absurdity of choosing one’s own sex. Both rely on a solipsistic and metaphysically untenable view of reality, namely that one can simply wish away concrete biological facts in favor of mere desire. Of course this is impossible, no matter the circumstances.

Yet this is what transgenderism has wrought: A world in which obvious truth is being increasingly abandoned in favor of deeply weird, anti-scientific ideology. It is likely that we will continue to see more and more strange ideological propositions such as trans-ageism; these sorts of things will surely continue until people start rejecting them, up to and including transgenderism. 

But that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Surrogacy: The New Frontier in Child Abuse

Surrogacy is big business these days. With the mainstreaming of same-sex marriage has come the mainstreaming of surrogacy and the only difference between surrogacy and child trafficking is the timing of the contract and exchange of money.

Far more important than the issue is for adults is the issue for the children themselves.

Here is one persons story from the website Them Before Us that gives you an idea of the cost to the child of their existence being the contract for exchange between two adults, and in most cases of never knowing their birth mother or donor father.

“I am a donor-conceived person. This means that my mom went to a fertility clinic with a sperm bank and was artificially inseminated to get pregnant. She was/is a single mom and this was her only option. She elected to use an anonymous sperm donor.

Anonymous donation is very strict, capitalistic, and based in part on eugenics. Only neurotypical, height/weight proportional, college educated, usually 5’10” or taller, “normal” biological males are allowed to donate. This created a system that selects only middle/upper-middle-class white males of an incredibly specific caliber. It created a binary of “these are males who are worthy enough to make children” and “these are not worthy males.” Any type of neurological or physical difference disqualifies a man. I cannot even donate because I’m too short. This is selective breeding to create humans of a particular appearance and genetic makeup. This is eugenics.

Anonymous donation also means that children are born into a conditional existence. I am allowed to live, but I give up all rights to the entire paternal side of my biology. This means I get no medical history, no pictures, no communication, no information on my biological father.

I was forced to live by an agreement that I had no say in. Why? Because the fertility industry is run like a business and anonymity increases the supply side of the supply/demand need for human creation. We mass produce people like a product and then deny them basic human rights and dismiss their inherent human curiosity. It is my right to know where I come from, who I am, why I am the way I am, and who my bio family and ancestors are. That info should never be systematically taken away from me.”

Read More at We Are Donor Conceived

PICTURE Edition 18: The Church in India: Watch Out World The Spiritual Giant is Waking!

(A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an I-pad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts under the heading P.I.C.T.U.R.E)

This week we look at India, which does not have a Muslim majority, but never-the-less has nearly 200 million Muslim citizens, or one in seven on the whole planet! I lived in New Delhi for a year in 1981 and call India my second home. It is an extraordinary place and something spiritually explosive is happening there that will soon change the world, and Islam!

History
India has an ancient, complex and often historically impenetrable past. It was home to the Bronze Age Harapan civilization, was then invaded by the Iranian Aryans who subjugated the Dravidian race and pushed them to the south. It was also invaded by Alexander the Great, the Muslim Empire and the British. It birthed two of the world’s largest religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. Both Buddhism and Islam tried and failed to conquer the might and heart of the ancient Hindu religion. Instead, India eventually exported its Hinduism, and then its new Buddhism across South East Asian and up into China and Afghanistan. In some places it stayed, in others Islam destroyed the exports. Today it exports the New Age movement to the West. In amongst all this religious confetti there appeared a spearhead of Christianity in the 1st Century with the arrival of the Apostle Thomas on a Roman Trading ship!

Today
India is an enigma to most Westerners: It is vast and old with mind-boggling statistics. It has 456 distinct languages. It is home to 2,500 distinct people groups, 500 cities with over 100,000 people and the world’s fastest growing major economy. It oozes confidence via a highly educated, rapidly expanding middle class sitting alongside a soul-destroying system of religiously sanctioned racial discrimination of castes. It squeezes 1.3 billion people in an area one third the size of China and is consequently suffering massive environmental degradation and a large outflow of people. Unlike many emerging economies it has the rule of law and a functioning democracy thanks to the British. India could very well be THE superpower before the end of this century with its 1.7 billion people against China’s ever shrinking 1 billion.

Evangelical Highlights
In a nutshell, Christianity came with Thomas, thrived and then settled down in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Then came the British with the likes of William Carey and a small army of missionaries. In the Twentieth Century the South Indian Christians started evangelising the Hindu heartland in the north, and I joined them in that task. Now in the 21st Century a fourth wave of New Testament style house churches is taking the north by storm while mega-churches are springing up like mushrooms in the south.

There is an amazing spiritual transformation taking place in India that I believe is unparalleled in the history of Christianity. I saw it firsthand in 2009 when I attended the Inaugural World House Church Conference. Only at the end were we introduced to who our servants for the conference really were. These 12 or so young men were the leaders of movements numbering from 50,000 to 300,000. We have kept in touch with one of these men and his movement has grown from 80,000 to nearly 1 million since then. These movements have deliberately reproduced the New Testament model of church which is being led by the Holy Spirit instead of man. The results are astounding. You can read about them here, here, here and here, and listen to one leader explain his transformation here.

The knock on effect on the Muslims of India is going to be huge in the decades ahead. One network that sent me a report after the conference was seeing 25% growth in Muslims coming to Jesus and being discipled every year for the first decade of this century. One network leader told me several years ago when visiting Australia that he was heading back to baptise the head Imam of Chandigah after seeing him won to Jesus. These new believers will be the bridgehead into the vast Muslim community in North India and the Middle East. Prayer is changing the future of this most important of nations and those changes will ripple out into the countries that surround India.

Below is an example of one house church get together belonging to the network led by Anaroop Swamy, a leader whom we met personally at the conference mentioned above. This extract highlights succinctly what is now happening in India:

For about 2 1/2 hours (the time flew by), with no leader directing the action, person after person shared a testimony, a song, a prayer, a scripture, a teaching or encouragement; one lady even shared a remarkable parable. No one asked for testimonies or anything else; people just spontaneously shared. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that when the church gathers each one has something to contribute. (1 Cor 14:26) This is what I saw. Each of these people (about 45 of them) were constantly winning others to the Lord through taking the time to be building new relationships and in this context of care, introducing them to Jesus. Many testified of meeting the Lord through the kindness of a stranger who became a brother or sister. I heard many testimonies of remarkable healings and deliverance. Two women shared about raising the dead. One lady raised a man from the dead simply by preaching the Gospel over his body until he opened his eyes and sat up! Another lady shared excitedly about the 22 people she baptized in a day. Another shared that she had asked the Lord for 300 disciples (new believers who make other disciples). She announced that since she had now done that, she was asking for 3,000 more disciples. All over the room they spoke out how many disciples they were asking the Lord for in the next month. The smallest number I heard was 5; the highest was 40––for one month. The time finished with communion and taking a meal together.

There is no surer sign of the accuracy of the above assessment than the increasingly frequent reports of rising persecution of Christians. Satan is worried.

Prayer Points
Pray for India’s missionaries, who are now numerically the largest missionary force in the world
Pray for the rapidly multiplying house churches to spread into the Arab countries
Pray for many more Muslims to come to Jesus in the house churches
Pray for the continuation of the supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this nation
Pray for Existing churches to be free of the worst of Western influences such as the hyper-prosperity doctrines and end-times negativism
Pray for a breakthrough among the elite Brahmin caste people group
Pray for the greatest harvest of souls in the history of the world to spill out to all corners of the earth.
Pray for the states of Bihar, and Haryana which are officially still only 0.1% Christian
Rejoice with the angels at what is already happening!!!!!

Kevin Davis

PICTURE Edition 17: The Church in Guinea Bissau: Mature, Healthy And Growing

(A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an Ipad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts)

1. History

Guinea Bissau is a tiny, struggling country on the west coast of Africa. It was slowly carved out of the existing kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire, by the Portugese from the 16th Century and this is the prime reason for its separate existence from what was French Guinea. For hundreds of years it was part of what was called The Slave Coast. The Portugese were prevented from exploring the interior of their colony until the 19th Century as the Gabu controlled the inland and profited greatly as middlemen in the slave trade.

In the 1950’s an armed guerrilla movement erupted and fought the Portugese with help from Cuba and Russia. Independence was declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974. A one-party Marxist government ruled for the next 20 years. Unstable leadership has continued ever since.

2. Today

Guinea Bissau is one of the poorest countries on earth, with an income of just 0.5% of the USA. Life expectancy is about 50 years, literacy is abysmal and nearly half the population is under 15 years. Sadly, Guinea Bissau is now a prime trans-shipment station for cocaine on its way from South America to Europe. This is corrupting many people and potentially its institutions.

Around half the population is Muslim, but they are strongly influenced by traditional Animist religious practices. The next largest religion is African Animism. Interestingly, according to the Pew Research Centre and World Atlas, the influence of Islam is now falling below 50%. If so this is a rare event in a Muslim majority country.

3. Evangelical Highlights

Some 20% of the country is nominally inside the Christian religion, with half of these being Catholic. Evangelism was banned before independence but with the many political and humanitarian crises that followed, evangelicals soon gained the respect of all successive governments. They now number around 2% of the population but are growing healthily at over 6% a year.

Christian programs are now broadcast on national radio in Portugese Creole and there is now a dedicated Christian radio station for this largely illiterate country. An increasing number of missionaries are arriving from other countries to help the local church which is solid, mature and indigenous. Brazil has recently taken over from westerners as the main sending country and there is a solid program of training for new leaders. It is estimated that by 2050 the nation will be 30% Christian, and most of that figure will be evangelical.

Prayer Points

Pray for more and more church planters to be raised up

Pray for increasing evangelism in the Muslim Fulbe and Malinke strongholds

Pray for Christian Radio to penetrate thousands of hearts

Pray for missions to the young

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders following

Pray that new foreign missionaries will be sensitive to local leadership and culture

Pray for the Brazilian missionaries teaching leadership courses such as the Kairos courses

Pray for continued successful evangelism to the Animist people

Pray that demonic control via witchcraft can be broken

Next week: India (because it is the second largest Muslim country in the world by numbers)

PICTURE Edition 16: The Church in Guinea: Small And Introspective

A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an Ipad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts

1. History

Guinea (an ancient Arab term for black people) is a smallish Muslim-majority country on the south west coast of Africa. Climatically it ranges from savannah in the north to deep tropical rain forest in the south. It is one of the wettest countries in the world and spawns four major rivers. It was part of the Arab trade routes for centuries and fell in an out with the prevailing empires of that region including the Ghana, Songhai, and Mali kingdoms. By 1235 its rulers were making a Hajj to Mecca. Along with most countries on the west coast, it was a source of slaves for the new world. The French took the area in 1890 and gave it its independence in 1958.

2. Today 

In recent times Guinea has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. After independence it was subject to coups, strong-arm leaders and a terrible two decade experiment with Marxism which saw the infrastructure collapse and the people impoverished. In 1970 some 50,000 people were executed after yet another attempted coup. Then in 2104 Guinea was the epicentre of an Ebola outbreak that grabbed world headlines. Literacy is a mere 45%, almost half the population is under 15, there is virtually no infrastructure and the average income is just 1% of the USA. However, under the current president democracy and economic growth has finally taken off in a big way with Chinese investment.

Guinea’s relationship with Islam is mixed. The three dominant people groups are all strongly Muslim. However, for many people the animistic spirit world is the daily priority with witchcraft very common. On the other hand almost all women suffer genital mutilation. Religious tolerance was common practice until a recent push for more Islamisation. The country hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring war-torn countries and many of these are former rebels stirring up trouble in the predominately forested, Christian south east

3. Evangelism Highlights

The picture doesn’t look good. Only 3% of the country profess any type of Christianity and the Catholic Church is the dominant expression. The true church of Jesus has not yet reached 1% of the total population but it has quadrupled in the last 50 years. After growing strongly in the hard years, there was some falling away after 2000 as nominal Christians departed. The church is currently growing more slowly than the population and is yet to significantly penetrate the Muslim majority in the culturally dominate Fulbe and Mandinka people groups. Scripture translation is an urgent need. Of the 34 languages there is only one full Bible translation and 10 New Testaments. Translations are underway in 10 more.

4. Prayer Points

This is a lost country and God passionately loves every one of them so…

Pray for missions to the youth: IFES, YWAM, CMA and the likes

Pray for more Bible translators

Pray for the breaking of demonic strongholds. As they break people will be set free

Pray for the Holy Spirit to embolden the local church

Pray for more missionaries from surrounding countries, especially from Nigeria where there over 50 million followers of Jesus (yes you read that correctly!!!)

Pray for key Muslim leaders to meet Jesus

Pray that the church can break out of its ethnic limits and reach the Fulbe and Mandinka people groups.

Pray for miracles, signs, wonders, healing and deliverance (Luke 9:2)

Pray for more harvest workers

Next Week: Guinea Bissau

Kevin

PICTURE Edition 15: The Church in Gambia: Tiny But Growing Very Fast

A note from Kevin: If you like what you read why not sign up to help me pray weekly for all the Muslim majority countries one by one. If you are on a laptop or an Ipad the link is on your right, if on a smart phone just scroll to the bottom of the posts.

1. History
The Gambia is a tiny elongated country of 2 million people that straddles the first 300 km of the Gambia River on the Western coast of Africa. The country is completely surrounded by Senegal. It was the source country of many of today’s Black American citizens, and the first African country ever to host an American President in 1943.

The Gambia first appears on Muslim trade records a thousand years ago and was soon dominated by the powerful Mali Empire from 1200-1400. In the 16th Century the first Europeans arrived and this eventually led to a protracted dispute between France and England for control of the area. The eventual success of the of the British is the reason the North American slave trade being based here and why it speaks English in a part of the world that speaks French.

Gambian citizens fought for the British in both the First and Second World Wars. The push for emancipation gathered steam in the 1920’s and eventually led to independence in 1965.

2. Today
After The Gambia received its independence it’s politics slowly disintegrated into several military coups. Multiparty elections in 2018 eventually resulted in a return to democracy, but only after UN intervention. The country is resource poor so relies on subsistence agriculture which employs 75% of the population. It has an income of just 1% of the USA and over half the population lives in or around the capital of Banjul on the coast. There is a small tourism industry here catering to European sun lovers and birdwatchers.

The country has a high level of religious tolerance even though it is 90% Muslim. Gambian Islam is lived out far more gently than in other Islamic areas because so many ethnicities share the country. However, with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, there are dangers for missionaries serving in the country, with a British chaplain serving the local army being arrested for sedition in 2008.

3. Evangelical Highlights
The traditional church comprises about 5% of the population with the Catholics being by far the largest group. Historically the Christians have been fairly complacent in regards to evangelism due to respect for the status quo. However, since the 1980’s, a time of political and social unrest, there has been strong growth in evangelicals who have multiplied 10 fold, now number about 15,000, and are growing at 9% a year. This growth rate will eventually peter out as they begin to evangelise the Muslim majority instead of the religiously traditional Christians.

Believers committed to evangelism and local missions work are few, education is low, resources are lacking and most Christian workers, who are already overstretched, do not want to leave the coast to evangelise the hinterland where they have to learn new languages. Congregations of Muslim Background Believers are growing and there are now two YWAM training bases in the country.

4. Prayer Points
Pray that the church can be set free from fear and complacency
Pray for the many African missionaries who are coming to Gambia to bolster the local church
Pray for the Christian radio station as it broadcasts the Bible orally in local languages
Pray for Bible translation to be completed in the minor languages
Pray for more evangelists who move into isolated areas to plant churches
Pray for Christian TV programs that air nationally to good response
Pray for the evangelising of the rapidly westernising youth who flock to the capital

Next Week: Guinea

Kevin