The region of East and West Africa is known for its political instability and economic insecurity. With conflicts raging for more than the last 50 years, this region has some of the highest numbers of people starving and is constantly plagued by natural disasters. The political and economic challenges have greatly impeded economic development.
Our work throughout East and West Africa consists of training and equipping indigenous leaders who are sharing the gospel, and starting new churches among communities who have yet to hear about Jesus. Persecution is frequent, and the Christians are under threat, but we continue to build a network of leaders with a vision to start churches. We have seen great success in multiplying leaders through integral disciple-making training. Economic small business training and community development have also been effective tools for gospel sharing. Because accepting Jesus often means being disowned by your immediate family, these strategies are crucial to reaching the vast Muslim population with the gospel message.
Despite the strong Christian heritage in this region, today Christians number only a small percentage. The primary religion is Islam, and followers of Jesus experience ongoing persecution for their faith. Extreme Islamic groups have gained power in many countries with an agenda to rid the entire region of its Christian presence.
Our strategy throughout the Middle East and North Africa is to preserve the Christian presence that is under persecution and develop long-lasting leaders who are equipped to lead their communities to Jesus. As we work with our network of leaders, we are seeing more people come to faith in Christ than ever before. Our priorities are reaching out to Muslim neighbors, starting new churches, and engaging communities through holistic projects. Jesus is being made known as our indigenous leaders take significant risks to see a multiplication of the gospel.
The diverse mountainous region of Central Asia is a land of growing Islamic influence. This region is full of rich history that encompasses the Silk Road, where many early Christians traveled to bring the message of Jesus. Today, however, less than 4% of the population follows Jesus.
In Central Asia, we are equipping leaders who carry a vision to see the least reached in their region know and follow Jesus. We focus on the holistic needs of individuals to create a path forward for the gospel to be shared. We are refining our multiplication efforts to see the gospel go to places and people who have yet to hear through strategic training and an emphasis on integral disciple-making. Our work in Central Asia produces exponential impact and more leaders willing to step forward and advance the gospel.
With deep roots in Buddhism and Islam, many ethnic minorities are represented in this region. China has experienced a tremendous transformation over the past 30 years. The impact of urbanization, booming economic growth, migration to cities, and drastic social change have left both positive and negative effects.
Leaders continue to emerge with a vision to see the people in this region come to know Jesus. We strategically come alongside these indigenous leaders to provide mentoring and coaching through training, strengthening the effectiveness of their work. In both urban and rural settings, we provide holistic support and prioritize starting new churches. We focus specifically on sharing the gospel with Buddhists and Muslims through our outreach strategies. Strengthening the indigenous leaders, who are risking everything at times, is a priority. As a result of equipping these leaders, more people are open to the gospel than ever before.
With more than 1 billion Hindus and 160 million Muslims living in India, this area is diverse. Nepal is predominantly Hindu, Sri Lanka is Buddhist, and Bangladesh is a Muslim nation. India is mainly Hindu and dominates this part of the world in size, religion, and culture. It is against the law for Hindus to convert to another religion in this region.
Although legal and governing laws make it hard for the people in South Asia to believe in Jesus, new believers come to Christ every day. In South Asia, we are establishing a network of indigenous leaders and organizations to facilitate learning and a shared strategy to reach the least reached in creative and culturally relevant ways. We strategically focus on integral disciple-making to see a multiplication of new believers and equip indigenous leaders to share the gospel. Women are overlooked and forgotten despite often being the catalyst for advancing the gospel, so we have specific efforts to invest in women in this region.
Southeast Asia is comprised of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. This region has been plagued by war, natural disasters and deep poverty. While many follow Buddhism mixed with animistic beliefs, a heavily populated Indonesia contains more Muslims per capita than any other nation. In recent years, there has been an upsurge in Muslim fundamentalism. Today, only a tiny percentage follow Jesus, and some of the harshest treatment of Christians comes from countries in this region.
Despite the saturation of Islam and Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Jesus followers are multiplying. We have new and relatively young leaders who have a deep desire to see their communities come alive with the gospel of Jesus. We believe the Church is breaking through long-held barriers and we have a crucial window to identify, support, resource, and equip indigenous leaders who share the gospel. There is a unique opportunity to focus on oral storytelling here, and we have seen thousands of individuals equipped through this method. Integral disciple-making is another priority that allows leaders to multiply as the gospel goes forward to those who have yet to hear. The people of Jesus display bold faith as the gospel goes forward.