Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Who will be the new Missionaries?

I’ve just returned home after attending a WENSA (World Evangelisation Network of South Africa) mission conference over the last three days. (I’m still hoping that the name of this network will change so that it says Southern Africa instead of only South Africa. Eight people from our church in Swaziland attended the conference.)
On the first day, Pieter Tarantal (and if you’re not from South Africa, don’t try and pronounce that!) kicked off by speaking about The God of New Things. He shared some amazing statistics with the group. I did not try and verify each number, as I believe what he said is fairly close to the reality. According to him:

  • 114 people are coming to Christ every second
  • 44,000 new churches are established each year
  • In India, 15,000 people are baptised daily

In Africa:

  • There are 20,000 new converts every day
  • In 1900 there were 8 million believers
  • In 1990 there were 275 million believers
  • 396 million in 2000
  • 450 million in 2005
  • Today there are close to 500 million believers

The largest church in the West is found in the Ukraine and the leader of this church comes from Nigeria

I can’t remember where I read it, but apparently the nation with the greatest growth in Christianity at the moment is China.
Listening to these statistics and seeing what is happening to the church in the West (where most churches are becoming smaller at an alarming rate), I asked myself the question where missionaries will be coming from in the future?
And the answer, it seems to me, is that a new wave of missionaries are going to be sent into the world, not from Europe and the USA as in the past, but from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
And as I listened to this, I was wondering if we perhaps are seeing something of 1 Corinthians 1:21 coming true: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” Might it be that the West has become so self-sufficient and so sure of themselves, that they have come to the point where many feel that they do not need God anymore? And is this perhaps the reason why the Gospel is spreading at such a rate through those countries that we had traditionally regarded as our missionary objects?


Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - Posted by | Africa, Church, Cross-cultural experiences, Evangelism, Indigenous church, Meetings, Mission, Missionary Organisations, Swaziland, Theology


  1. […] Mission Issues comments on a talk given by Pieter Tarantal at the WENSA mission conference, with several interesting statistics (and yes, China has the greatest growth in Christianity–makes sense, no?) […]

    Pingback by Who will be the new missionaries? | Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. Arnau, I recently listened to a podcast by Andy Stanley where he discussed the very same thing you mention here in your blog. Andy Stanley makes the point that our (American’s) affluence is a reason that we find our country turning away from God. America was founded upon its collective trust in God, yet today our political leaders are trying to separate our country and its people from God. As our country grows more affluent, people tend to falsely believe that all they need is themselves. They forget that our affluence, our blessings are a gift from God and that ALL we have and ALL we are is given to us by God.

    Darrel Donatto
    Palm Beach Gardens, FL

    Comment by Darrel Donatto | Friday, May 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. The only point I may question is whether our affluence is always a blessing from God. There are times when I wonder about this. I’m not speaking about living fairly comfortably, but the way in which most of us live (and I have to be honest and include myself in this) is far beyond living comfortably. In my opinion, Europe is worse than America as far as this problem is concerned of people believing that they don’t need God.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Friday, May 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. You might be interested in the work of Todd Johnson and Kenneth Ross at Gordon Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity. They have a World Christian Database which is quite helpful. http://worldchristiandatabase.org/wcd/

    Thank you so much for your blog. As a missions student, your writing has been thought provoking, as well as providing a perspective from the southern hemisphere and on the field – for one in a library most days, that is needed!

    Comment by Lisa Beth White | Monday, June 1, 2009 | Reply

  5. Thanks Lisa. I’m glad someone is benefiting from this blog.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Monday, June 1, 2009 | Reply

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