Top Indigenous Mission Trends of 2012

December 31, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – When writing a "Year in Review" on the top trends in the indigenous missions movement, we can summarize 2012 by looking at the stories that most visibly affected the gospel-advancing work of native missionaries overseas.

Regional directors at Christian Aid Mission suggested the five most prominent events that are shaping the way evangelism is done when economic, political or technological circumstances affect large populations and nations. In some cases the gospel is hindered, and in others it goes forth with even greater force than in years past.

Each of these five stories are in some way representative of trends, though specific to certain areas of the world. These trends are expected to continue through the year ahead.

Listed in alphabetical order:

Arab Spring Chaos Sweeps the Middle East

Although uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen grabbed the headlines after the "democracy movements" in the Muslim Middle East were unleashed, there was also tremendous fallout in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, northern Iraq and Turkey. Response to the resulting humanitarian crisis is being largely planned and delivered on the ground by indigenous Christian missionaries. Western Christian churches, charities, and mission agencies are relying on local leaders as never before, and a new global respect has developed for indigenous ministries as a result – especially in Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon.

Boko Haram Death Toll Reaches 2,800

The Muslim crusade to impose Sharia Law on Nigeria and drive Christians southward continued throughout 2012 and made Nigeria a continual demand for emergency relief. The terrorist effort, which began in 2012, attacks Christian churches and schools, usually on Sundays and holidays. Similar violence has occurred in newly-formed South Sudan and continues in Somalia.

Burma / Myanmar Miracle Expands

There has been a flurry of mission renewal, both inside Myanmar and around the world, as the doors of economic and political freedom have started to swing open for this long xenophobic dictatorship. Suddenly, a new generation of tech-savvy, young mission leadership has emerged to reach over 35 nations inside the Burmese federation – and also abroad to a huge diaspora in Malaysia, India, Thailand, the USA and Europe. However, that doesn´t mean that persecution inside the country has ended. There is still resistance from the Theravada Buddhist monks that have dominated the country religiously for over a millennium.

Cell Phone, Internet Use Explodes

The digital revolution is rapidly changing the landscape, as hostile governments and anti-Christian religious persecution are being quickly exposed by cell phone users. Atrocities are harder to keep secret and the light is shining more frequently on their work, exposing their deeds. More importantly, evangelism and prayer movements are harnessing the internet.

Freedom Erodes in Former USSR, Elsewhere

The year 2012 was horrible for Christians in many parts of the world. Violence against Christians increased, as well as overt persecution. A revival of KGB-style persecution, reminiscent of the Stalin era, has steadily increased in Russia and Russian-speaking areas, including the Central Asian republics, such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Persecution continued steadily in Laos, the Central Vietnamese Highlands and throughout the Muslim world.

As leaders of the indigenous missions movement begin 2013, all believe there are many challenges ahead – especially regarding the economy. However, most remain buoyant in their faith. Hope in God is strong and there is a great eagerness to see what the Lord will do in days ahead. There is a sense of progress being made and a conviction that they are intimately involved in the preparations for the Lord´s soon return.