Various authors and presenters, like John Stonestreet of the Christian radio program BreakPoint, and Glenn Sunshine, co-author of The Kingdom Unleased, report that Christianity throughout the globe is still intact and flourishing despite increased persecution amid COVID.
While Christianity and its impact on American society have seemingly decreased with time, they argue in their op-ed published by the Christian Headlines that it's important to remember that "Christianity does not stand or fall with America."
"When we look at the wider global picture, Christianity is more than alive and well. In fact, it is growing at an unprecedented rate," they wrote.
They backed up their argument by offering the following statistics:
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity reported that the percentage of Christians in Africa is growing at a pace of 2.81 percent each year. By 1970, there were approximately 140 million Christians in Africa, up from 9.5 million in 1900. Today, there are over 685 million, roughly double the US population.
Likewise, Christianity is expanding in Asia at 1.5% per year, and this growth rate has allowed for almost 100 million more Christians to be added in Asia than in North America. Although it is difficult to monitor their numbers because of non-stop persecutions, Christians in China are also predicted to outnumber those in America by 2030.
The Muslim world is also seeing a rise in disciple movements amongst their adherents. David Garrison's research, for instance, shows that Christianity is gaining a large-scale foothold in the Islamic world across a wide variety of demographics. Owing perhaps to the numerous conservative Christian denominations that have sprung up in Iran, the country is now regarded as the "fastest growing branch of the Church in the world."
According to one Iranian Christian, the religious reality in his nation is as follows:
"What if I told you Islam is dead? What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening inside of Iran. God is moving powerfully inside of Iran."
Satan continues to resist
Good news aside, Stonestreet and Sunshine noted that there has been an upsurge in persecution among Christians. Nigeria, for example, has the highest death counts in the world, with nearly 2,000 people murdered in 2021 alone.
But in addition to the aforementioned persecution in many African nations, the human rights situation in North Korea, China, and many other countries throughout the Muslim world, South Asia, and other parts of the globe is equally terrible.
The Western church can yet make a difference
According to the authors, the fast expansion of the worldwide Church presents additional difficulties.
In the early centuries, the Church has suffered from syncretism, or the mixing of many faiths, wherever the Gospel has spread.
Proselytizing messages from the West, for example, such as Word of Faith and the prosperity gospel (especially found in impoverished neighborhoods) creep into many Christian groups all over the globe. While pastors in these areas are aware of the differences between the prosperity gospel and a dependence on "expectant prayer," the lines between the two may be hard to distinguish.
However, Johnstreet and Sunshine remain hopeful that the Western church, with its rich "history of theological and exegetical thought," can help the global church train more Christian leaders.
"At the same time, there is plenty that Western Christians should learn from our brothers and sisters around the world," they added.
In their book, The Kingdom Unleashed, Glenn Sunshine and Jerry Trousdale argue that Christians everywhere have previously held onto a supernatural worldview, but Christians in the West have lost it. Since they lack other resources, they are wholly dependent on God for their well-being and on the Word of God for their faith practices.
Hence, the manner in which Jesus did things rather than how things have evolved in American customs became their guide. Likewise, their evangelism is synonymous with the act of making disciples, which basically means following the examples of Jesus and trusting Him for everything.