Church in Asia faces major challenges to evangelism, says leader - by Dibin Samuel, Christian Today,

General August 9, 2008

Taking the Gospel to the unreached is the greatest challenge facing the church in Asia, the Rev Godfrey Yogarajah told delegates at the recent General Assembly of the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia.

"We need a fresh vision for Asia in the 21st century - for each of our beloved nations that are made up of individuals, families, communities and a mosaic of races, language, religious traditions and cultures, a vision that is born out of the biblical world view and honours Jesus Christ, Lord of our nations and Asia," said Yogarajah, whose seven-year stretch as EFA's General Secretary came to an end at the General Assembly held in New Delhi last week.

He outlined some of the challenges facing the church in Asia at present, including the continent's huge head count - Asia is home to 61 per cent of the world's population and 83 per cent of the world's non-Christian population.

"Hence the un-reached peoples groups is the greatest challenge to the church here," he said.

Poverty and the widening gulf between rich and poor, global food shortages, rampant materialism side by side with abject poverty, natural disasters, political and cultural nationalism, war and armed conflict, religious fundamentalism and persecution are other hindrances to the expansion of the Asian church, added Yogarajah.

"Today there are increasing number of natural disasters, like tsunami, cyclones, earthquakes and the call to rebuild and restore these nations, the church in Asia cannot ignore. Then there is chaos in South and East Asia due to military rule, war in countries like Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, resulting in thousand of lost lives and destitution," he explained.

Turning to the issue of persecution, Yogarajah said, "Christians have been persecuted in this century than in all previous centuries put together. One’s patriotism is determined by one’s religious identity and this must be countered."

Also during last week's General Assembly, the 16 national member fellowships agreed to re-name the EFA the Asia Evangelical Alliance and installed the Rev Richard Howell, head of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, as its new General Secretary.