Interview of Ian Johnson by Rob Moll (Christianity Today)
Under Mao Zedong’s dictatorship, Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism suffered persecution and near-extinction. In recent decades, however, they have each made an astounding comeback. In The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, Ian Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has covered China for The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and other publications, offers an intimate look at this remarkable recovery. CT editor at large Rob Moll spoke with Johnson about the reasons for spiritual ferment among the Chinese people.
What spurred your interest in China’s religious resurgence?
When I first went to China in the 1980s, I thought there was probably no religious belief at all. Continue reading
PMT 2016-090 by Jeremy Weber in Christianity Today
Gentry note: Christianity is experiencing growth in many unexpected parts of the world. Let’s pray for its continued growth and its growth into Reformed maturity.
The world’s most unexpected megachurch pastor might be an illiterate, barefoot father of five.
Bhagwana Lal grows maize and raises goats on a hilltop in Rajasthan, India’s largest state, famous for its supply of marble that graces the Taj Mahal. He belongs to the tribals: the cultural group below the Dalits, whose members are literally outcasts from India’s caste system (and often called “thumb signers” because of how they vote).
Yet every Sunday, his one-room church, with cheerful blue windows and ceiling fans barely six feet off the ground, pulls in 2,000 people. His indigenous congregation draws from local farmers, whose families’ members take turns attending so that someone is tending the family’s animals. The cracks in the church’s white outer walls are a source of pride: They mark the three times the building has been expanded. Continue reading
PMT 2016-078 by The Guardian
A growing number of Muslim refugees in Europe are converting to Christianity, according to churches, which have conducted mass baptisms in some places.
Reliable data on conversions is not available but anecdotal evidence suggests a pattern of rising church attendance by Muslims who have fled conflict, repression and economic hardship in countries across the Middle East and central Asia.
Complex factors behind the trend include heartfelt faith in a new religion, gratitude to Christian groups offering support during perilous and frightening journeys, and an expectation that conversion may aid asylum applications. Continue reading
PMT 2016-062 by Mark Howard
(The Gospel Coalition)
Ken Gentry note: The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Even among Muslims. Despite persecution Christianity is growing in Islamic lands, as postmillennialism would expect. In a time of decline of the church in America, it is encouraging to see its strengthening under the most grueling circumstances in Muslim countries. Pray for the church in the Middle East.
Everyone loves a good story. As Christians, we especially love stories that tell us how, when all seems lost, God makes a way.
One such story is about the church in Iran—and it’s one of the greatest stories in the world today.
It’s a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ. Continue reading
PMT 2016-048 by Brian Douglas
Fear for the church’s future is trending. It’s almost too easy nowadays to fall into despair: Christians’ interactions with culture and politics can often seem clumsy or foolish, and you don’t have to look far for biblical compromise, destructive power-plays, or “scandal du jour” moral failure. Compounding the problem is the fact that the modern church has been shattered into 30,000 to 42,000 denominations (depending on which study you read)-a degree of division that further damages its credibility. Continue reading
PMT 2016-043 by David Garrison
(Ken Gentry: The following article by church historian David Garrison, Ph.D., was published in The Aquila Report (June 7, 2016). It contains encouraging research regarding Muslim conversions, which would fit postmillennial long-term expectations.)
Ten-year-old Nadia wasn’t surprised when her father signed her marriage contract, nor when she had to move in with her 20-year-old husband two years later. Nadia’s experience is not unusual in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It also wasn’t out of the ordinary when her husband became an opium addict (Iran has the highest rate of drug addiction in the world). Two of Nadia’s brothers also succumbed to drugs. One was sentenced to prison for killing a man in a drug-related dispute, the other committed suicide. One day Nadia’s cousin who had recently become a Christian quietly gave her a New Testament in the Persian language.
Nadia prayed, ‘Allah, show me your truth.’ As she read it, Nadia said, ‘I felt my heart open like an old door. Inside I felt very warm and thirsty. It was like drinking cool water, and I wanted to drink it all.
‘From that time on,’ Nadia recalls, ‘Jesus’ work started in me. It was a strange happiness like nothing I’d ever known.’ Within a week she’d led her husband and three children to faith in Jesus. Continue reading
PMT 2016-034 by Carl Bunderson
According to sociologist Rodney Stark, China’s intellectuals are increasingly convinced ‘Eastern religions don’t fit the modern world they’re engaged in and that they need to look to the West to find philosophies and religions.’
Christianity is spreading rapidly in China, and it could be because of how well the faith fits in with modern scientific technology.
According to renowned sociologist Rodney Stark, the number of Christians in China is growing at an impressive annual rate of 7%. Continue reading