The Holy Spirit is working in places you might never expect. The move of God happening in these 12 locations is notable, and these hot spots are great places for evangelists and missionaries to set their sights.
China. Nothing in the history of missions rivals the success story that is China. Mao Zedong tried to wipe out Christian faith in the 1970s when there were only 2.7 million believers. Today, the most conservative estimate is that China had 75 million believers in 2010. A few years ago the greatest growth was among rural “house churches.” Today Christianity is also growing in China’s major cities, and charismatic renewal has infiltrated state-sponsored churches.
India. Despite language barriers, tribal divisions and violent attacks by Hindus, indigenous church-planting movements have flourished all over India in the last 40 years. Fifteen years ago in Andhra Pradesh, a woman who heard a gospel radio broadcast, asked if someone could plant a church in her remote village. Within the first year after a pastor came, the church had 75 converts. After a church building was constructed in 1994, this church planted 125 churches with a combined membership of more than 5,000. This type of growth is occurring throughout India today.
Iran. Despite crackdowns on church gatherings, arrests of pastors and confiscation of Christian videotapes and other materials, Iranian believers are finding increased openness to the gospel in this stronghold of Shiite Islam. The leader of one indigenous ministry says, “Everyone we share the gospel with wants to become a Christian.” His ministry actually considered limiting outreach until it could obtain more Bibles and train workers to handle the overwhelming response.
Ghana. International Bible Worship Center started in 1991 as a home Bible study with 12 people in Accra, Ghana’s capital. The church grew to 5,000 by the year 2000; today it exceeds 30,000. The pastor of the church, Sam Korankye-Ankrah, grew up in a polygamous family with 24 children. Today, Ankrah and his wife, Rita, lead a multifaceted ministry that is addressing the physical and spiritual needs of a country that could be one of the first African nations to break the cycle of poverty and corruption.
Brazil. This nation of 203 million is experiencing an economic boom during a global recession. It is also in the midst of a Christian awakening. Pentecostal churches have been growing exponentially since the 1970s, as have Baptist, Presbyterian and Nazarene groups that have adopted Pentecostal practices. If Brazil can avoid the traps of greed and moral scandal that crippled American charismatics, it could become a spiritual superpower.
Ethiopia. Since the deposing of Ethiopian dictator Haile Selassie in 1974, evangelicals have grown from 5 percent to 20 percent of the population. Mainline Christians from Lutheran and Orthodox backgrounds have been swept up in Pentecostal revival movements in recent years—and this has fueled huge church-planting initiatives.
Guatemala. At least 24 percent of the country’s population is evangelical, and churches are pushing farther into unreached areas where indigenous people are trading their superstitions for faith in Christ.
Romania. What this Eastern European nation lacks in economic strength is offset by its spiritual passion, especially in the western cities of Oradea, Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara. Many of the Pentecostals in this country are leaving old traditions and embracing a more relevant, charismatic faith and planting vibrant churches—and their sights are set on sending missionaries to the nearby Middle East.
Pakistan. Although it is a dangerous place to be a Christian, the small minority of Pakistani believers is aggressively evangelizing their nation. Many of them report that the Holy Spirit is working miracles that end up bringing Muslims to faith in Christ.
Kazakhstan. There were no known Christians in this former Soviet republic in 1990. Today there are 15,000 believers, and they are spreading their faith from more than 100 healthy congregations. All this is taking place against a backdrop of Islam—since about 53 percent of Kazakhs are Muslims.
Singapore. This tiny, prosperous nation is emerging as an Antioch of the East—a strategic base for both missionary sending and funding. Members of Trinity Church, one of many megachurches in the nation, give more than $6 million a year to missions.
Indonesia. In the world’s largest Muslim country, Christianity is growing so fast the government tries to hide statistics. Operation World says evangelicals have grown from 1.3 million to 13 million since 1960. Time magazine recently called what is happening in Indonesia “a religious revolution.” And Christians in the Banda Arc province say Muslims are much more receptive to the gospel since the 2004 tsunami that devastated the region.
J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, an international outreach focused on confronting the abuse of women. He is the author of several books, including The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale.