Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Globalization and Christ

A number of recent books and articles have driven me to believe that God's hand may be shifting to Asia. In particular, I'm re-reading "The World Is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman. This secular book chronicles the rise of software and outsourcing superpowers such as Bangalore, India and Xianjian, China. The world's wealth and influence are shifting to these two nations in particular as the economic playing field is being leveled by technology.

While we were sleeping last night, executives in America sent their requests for presentations and research overseas to India. India, with its vast intellectual capital, turns these jobs over to men and women with doctorates who will work for a fraction of the wages earned in the U.S. When the U.S. executives arrive at work the next morning, the research and an accompanying PowerPoint presentations will be on their desktop computers. India and China work while America sleeps; the beauty of outsourcing.

If you call to reserve an airline, to order a Dell computer or to resolve a technical computer problem, it is likely an enthusiastic, English speaking West Indian who will fulfill your needs. I recently ordered a Dell laptop and received some of the best service imaginable. When I asked where the customer service representative was located, she sweetly replied "Bangalore, India".

India and China are earning the right to America's repetetive, but skilled IT jobs. In Thomas Friedman's estimation, the only jobs that may remain in America are those that require people skills. If a job has any component that may be done overseas it will be done there in the future; such jobs include taxes, call centers, the reading of CAT scans and x-rays, routine legal work, programming, hotel and airline reservations, project management, data analysis, architectural work, etc. Americans beware! God is beginning to shift world influence to a new world long deprieved of our lifestyle.

World markets and cultures are opening to embrace the surge of American outsourcing. India and China are welcoming American companies, their business practices and ideals unreservedly into their nations. The shift has massive potential for fulfilling the passion of Jesus Christ. The gospel is exploding in India and China. Per a recent article at http://www.religionnewsblog.com/13711/Evangelical-Christianity-shifting-outside-West:

In 1960, there were an estimated 50 million evangelical Christians in the West, and 25 million in the rest of the world; today, there are an estimated 75 million in the West, and 325 million in the rest of the world (representing about 20 percent of the two billion Christians worldwide).

Other experts differ on the number of evangelicals (estimates range from 250 million to nearly one billion) but agree that the number is growing rapidly.

"As the vibrancy of evangelicalism seems to have waned somewhat in the West, many in the non-West are ready to pick up the banner and move forward," said Kilgore, a former missionary who is now associate provost at Philadelphia Biblical University. "Most Americans have no idea how big the shift has been."

Todd M. Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, writes that "Africans, Asians and Latin Americans are more typical representatives of evangelicalism than Americans or Europeans."

The new evangelicals are more exuberant in their worship services; put more faith in spiritual healing, prophecy and visions; and read the Bible more literally than many of their Western cousins.

In a world of globalization and evangelicalization (a coined word), mission agencies relying on indigenous missionaries are enormously effective, while mission bodies dependent upon expensive American missionaries are blunted. Consider these excerpts from K.P Yohanan, founder of Gospel for Asia (http://www.gfa.org/gfa/whynativemissions):

  • Although native missionaries do face many difficult obstacles as they take the message from village to village, they still have an enormous advantage over their coworkers from North America and other non-Asian lands.
  • Today, over 85 percent of Asian countries do not allow western missionaries to come and freely preach the Gospel and plant churches.
  • In the eyes of the people, native missionaries do not represent a foreign country or a strange religion. They already know the language or can easily learn a local dialect.
  • A native missionary can be sent out at a fraction of the cost of a Western missionary. In fact, the average cost is only $1,100 to $1,800 per year compared to over $75,000 per year for a foreign missionary.
  • The possibility of reaching Asia's multitudes through native missionaries in our generation is very real as thousands are being trained to plant churches across Asia!
  • To date 54 Bible colleges have been established in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and at the Bhutan border. Currently, nearly 8,000 young men and women are currently receiving training.
  • The quality of GFA students is incredible. Over 98 percent of our graduates minister in places where the Gospel has never before been preached. Frequently, our graduates will establish a new fellowship within their first year on the field.
  • On average, our missionaries establish nearly 15 fellowships every day in Asia among unreached villages and people groups.
  • The churches planted in each culture are truly indigenous in character, self-governing,self-propagating and, as soon as possible, self-supporting.

I believe we are at a watershed in history. While Asia is rising to new prominence, America's influence in globalization, evangelicalization and mission activity is waning. The next decade of world history will see massive changes in monetary, intellectual, political and Christian capital. Are we ready? What can we anticipate? How can we best support what God is already doing?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rob and I had a fantastic time at the Grove City Church of God on Sunday (1-29-06). People were very responsive to our Islam presentation and many shared concerning their witnessing encounters with Muslims. I was genuinely surprised at the number of people that came into contact with Islam on a daily basis.

Pastor Barr is truly a pastor’s pastor. We greatly appreciate his invitation to speak before his lovely congregation.