According to the World Watch List 2022 of Open Doors, listing the top fifty countries where it is most difficult to follow Jesus, eight countries from Africa and Asia combined are in the top ten! In this issue, we look at the oppression of Christians and others in Nigeria and India, which rank 7th and 10th respectively.
Christians in Nigeria are ‘facing extreme or very high persecution,’ writes Babatomiwa Owojaiyie in ‘Christian Persecution in Nigeria: A biblical response to an insensitive government’. He questions the role of the government in such a national crisis where ‘extra-judicial killings of innocent citizens and wanton destruction of property have become daily incidents’ and examines the biblical perspective of suffering for one’s faith and the rightful response as Christians. He recommends that the Christian community should unite and speak out, for both Christians and non-Christians, against all forms of evil and injustices in Nigeria. He also urges ‘international faith-based organizations to add their voices to this cause’ and ‘the international community to respond actively on the unabated persecutions of Christians in Nigeria.’
The rising communal violence in India in recent years is best understood within the historical background and context of modern India—political, economic, cultural, and religious. Even though the constitution of India states that ‘all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion,’ the experiences of Muslims and Christians tell a different story, as revealed in ‘A Historical View of the Christian Minority in India: Rethinking Christian witness in a BJP-run nation’ by Cynthia Stephen. They are targeted and attacked as their significant numbers may pose a threat to ‘the Hindutva political project’. How can Christians be effective salt and light for Christ in the midst of such discrimination and oppression? ‘Missions need to rethink evangelism . . . Innovative approaches are needed,’ Cynthia concludes.
It is certainly challenging to be followers and disciples of Christ in the midst of persecution. What about discipleship in a multicultural context such as Canada? In ‘Why Canada’s Multicultural Policy Falls Short of the Gospel Ideal: Moving toward involvement, empathy, and commonness’, Sherman Lau invites the reader, together with Canadian Christians, to reflect on the values advocated in Canada’s multicultural policy: accommodation, tolerance, and co-existence. He asserts that this policy ‘falls short of the kingdom ideal that God has for his ecclesia . . . Jesus’ disciples were called out from Jerusalem to not only be witnesses of the good news but to be the good news by crossing ethnic, social, and religious barriers.’ He ‘proposes the alternatives to the multicultural values of accommodation, tolerance, and co-existence—the kingdom practices of involvement, empathy, and commonness—which form the foundation for intercultural discipleship.’
Discipling and equipping the generation of digital natives (also known as Generation Z) for ministry is another challenge we should pay more attention to, for the future of mission depends on them. Kaiky Fernandez and Pedro Dulci, strategic coordinators of the Invisible College, use this college as a case study for transforming ‘Theological Education for Digital Natives: A case study of the Invisible College’. Its theological teaching and learning are conducted with flexibility and quality, highlighting the importance and relevance of theological studies, and in a relational environment. However, there are many difficulties ahead which ‘are intrinsic to this generation, similar to those experienced in the local church, in evangelism and discipleship,’ caused by inattention and anxiety of the students. The authors want us to understand them, to support them with practical biblical wisdom, so as to enable ‘this important generation of the population not only to know the gospel, but also to live the gospel in their daily lives.’
Many are living in unprecedented times of hardships and dangers, even the threat of a nuclear war or World War III. May this issue awaken us to pray for peace, to raise our voices against all forms of injustice, and to practice the kingdom values of involvement, empathy, and commonness towards foreigners in our midst.
Lausanne Global Analysis is also available in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Korean. Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue will be released in July 2022.
Loun Ling Lee serves as the editor of Lausanne Global Analysis. Her previous roles include lecturer in mission at Redcliffe College (UK), training director of AsiaCMS based in Malaysia, mission mobiliser with OMF, and pastor at Grace Singapore Chinese Church.