Southeast Asia is home to an incredibly diverse population. The island nation of Papua New Guinea alone is home to more than 1,000 people groups who speak more than 800 languages. Christianity has taken root and continues to grow among ethnic minorities who face increasing persecution from oppressive regimes.
Islam is another challenge to native believers in Southeast Asia. Christians in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, face high levels of persecution from radical Muslims, who are pushing Sharia-inspired laws in more communities. Meanwhile, a growing Muslim population on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines continues to breed radicalism and hatred for Christians. In both of these countries, however, Christianity has sustained continued growth.
With the growth of Christianity in Southeast Asia comes an enormous need for trained church leaders. Thousands of rural congregations languish without adequate leadership, falling into unbiblical teaching, moral failure, and syncretism.
In addition to persecution from radical Muslims and hostile governments, native missionaries in Southeast Asia are challenged to minister to unreached people groups in regions of extreme poverty and where there is rampant drug usage. The countries of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand comprise Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle, one of Asia’s two main opium-producing areas. Myanmar is also the world’s largest producer of methamphetamines.