The average annual religious change in Iran Islam…


The average annual religious change in Iran:
Islam, +1.2% (matching the population’s overall growth)
Christianity (all traditions), +5.1%
Evangelicals (+19.6%)
Source: Operation World, 2010

The reality of Iran is rapidly changing, but Iran is an outlier in the Middle East. Many other countries in the region are seeing declining Christian populations.

Asian Urbanization Increasing Speed


via The China Post. Some pretty amazing statistics: 1 billion people will migrate into Asia’s cities. India has to build the equivalent of Chicago every year to accomodate migrates. 100 new cities from China will join the list of the top 600 urban centers which generate 60% of global GDP in the next decade. These are huge, major trends.

It doesn’t mean rural ministry must stop. But it does mean that more and more, “unreached” is not some outback tribal person with a stake through their nose, but rather an urbane, well-educated, mass-transit-riding, Western-dressing, iPod-toting, Mandarin/Bahasa/Hindi-speaking, still-Asian-Religion-participating young man or woman.

Status of East Asia: Spring 2011



1. March 2010 earthquake in Japan. At 5:46 GMT (2:46 local time in Japan), a massive earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of Japan. It unleashed a huge tsunami which swept Japan’s eastern coastline and pushed buildings, boats, cars and people miles inland. This “wildcard” event in Japan will shape the nation for the next 2 to 5 years.

Food and Hunger Issues.

2. China may not be able to meet sharply rising food demand from its domestic resources (WSJ) although it does have huge food reserves. Food price spikes have been an important contributor to revolts in the Middle East.

3. Famine in North Korea has again reached dangerous levels (see WFP/FAO/UNICEF special report, 35 page PDF), with over 6 million of people living in conditions of food insecurity and risking starvation. A coalition of 54 NGos have urged a permanent humanitarian channel to ensure the flow of aid. However some worry that the North is exaggerating the crisis and funneling the aid to the elite. The British ambassador said the markets seemed well-supplied in the capital city. Nevertheless many seem to believe the crisis is real: see UPI, NYT, WSJ, AsiaNews.IT, Reuters, Khaleej Times, Asia Times, UK Guardian, and Voice of America.

4. Although food is rarely an issue in Japan, the 2011 Disaster has impacted Japan in several ways: first, in that it is difficult to get food stocks to refugees who need it; second, many countries are worried about radiation poisoning in Japan’s exports.


5. China’s incredible economic growth leads it to more and more influence abroad.

6. China’s massive economic growth is leading to massive urbanization driven by rural-urban migration inside China.

7. In addition to this internal migration, many expatriates are coming to China seeking business opportunities. New legislation is being written to manage the skyrocketing number of foreigners coming to China.

8. Japan’s economy has been devastated by the 2011 Earthquake and will likely be a long time in recovering.

War, Conflict, Military

8. China has the world’s second largest defense budget and its largest military, and it is rapidly expanding its capacity. It has what appears to be an aircraft carrier nearing completion. It is moving closer to deploying a “carrier killer” missile. The Eurasia Group listed both China and North Korea as 2 of its top 10 risks for 2011. It has set up its first private bodyguard company: is this the beginning of a Chinese “Blackwater”?

9. North Korea also has an army of over 1 million. It continues to lurch confusedly between offering charm and rattling its sabers. The possibility of conflict between North and South Korea, or between North Korea and other nations, is not to be dismissed lightly.

Technology & Science

10. Censored or not, use of the Internet has grown exponentially in China.

11. Mobile phones are the most common way that people use the Internet.

  • There are well over half a billion mobile phone subscribers in China alone. At least a quarter of those—and perhaps more—access the Internet via their phone. Many mobile web users are mobile-only; they do not access it any other way. (This is not necessarily “smart phones” like the iPhone—other handset cans access the mobile Web.)
  • South Korea is a heavily wired society: had some 45 million mobile phone subscriptions in 2008, or a 90% penetration rate. Two-thirds of Koreans make payments using their cell phones. A third of South Korean students send over 100 text messages daily. Koreans on average consume 129 minutes of digital television on their phones. 80% of Koreans have broadband access, and 57% of Korean music sales are digital.
  • Japan, too, is heavily wired. In a 2005 population of 127 million, some 94 million had phones and 82 million subscribed to mobile data services. Interestingly, SMS messaging has apparently been less popular due to a lack of SMS interconnections between operators. Mobile email is more common.

12. China’s sciences in general are booming. China is poised to overhaul the US as the biggest publisher of scientific papers.

Politics, Governance, Regulation, Control, Oppression

13. Although China’s economy has opened up drastically, the government still attempts to regulate and control society. Censorship is widespread, over all forms of communication. China is nervous about the revolts in the Middle East, and “the 12th Five-Year Bluepring on Economic and Social Development for 2011-15 had much to say about the Party’s new imperative to impose tighter control” (Asia Times).  Although some have been talking about the possibility of a “Jasmine Revolution,” John Robb’s analysis from a source in China suggests that the “Jasmine Revolution” doesn’t exist inside China—but perhaps outsiders are formenting the fear of the idea of a revolution in the minds of the government. Most Chinese don’t seem overly concerned about changing this: middle class Chinese are enjoying a better standard of living (see economics, above) and are not interested in change.

14. North Korea remains firmly closed. The current food shortage has done nothing to loosen the regime’s group. After the revolts in the Middle East, South Korea began dropping leaflets into North Korea urging the people of North Korea to rise against the government, but the North Korean government threatened war if they continued. To smuggle information out of North Korea is to risk imprisonment and execution, yet there are citizen-journalists who do.

15. Japan’s government has been rattled yet again due to the current crisis. The current leadership was not especially stable, and its future once the worst of the immediate crisis is past is very much open to debate.

Changing Cultures

16. As China urbanizes and Westernizes, it is abandoning its traditional vegetable-based diet in preference for Westernized fast food. Bicycles are giving way to subways and cars. A third of the population is now overweight and 92 million Chinese have type 2 diabetes.

17. China is considering reversing its one-child policy. The casualties of this policy have been severe. But at this point many Chinese only want one child anyway. Some economists are contending that the low birth rate is destined to stifle China’s economic growth.

18. Many Buddhist-based societies (in China and elsewhere throughout Asia) have festivals in which they provide “paper tokens” for those in the afterlife—e.g. paper money so that the dead can buy things in the underworld. As the Asian world has modernized, other things have become available in paper form too—including paper houses, paper cars, paper microwaves, paper televisions, and paper cell phones. Now, the latest craze: paper iPads. And just like the real iPads, paper iPads are sold out too.

19. Women in China: here’s a Letter from China: Women Struggle for a Foothold in Chinese Politics (NYT)

Outlook of the next generation

20. There are over 630 million people under the age of 24 in China—about double the population of the United States. At least 30 million Chinese youth suffer from emotional and behavioral disorders (People’s Daily).

21. In Japan, “Hundreds of thousands of Japanese young people now face a transformed Japan that will test a generation reared in affluence yet dismissed by its elders as selfish materialists.” (NYT) Will they rise to the challenge (TIME)?


22. Christianity in China is a growing influence.

23. This is not to say that persecution has reached an end in China, and of course it continues in North Korea.

24. There is still a dramatic need for Bibles for believers in China.

25. Much was made some years ago about Back to Jersualem and the idea of 100,000 Chinese missionaries moving through Muslim lands toward Jerusalem, evangelizing everyone along the way. Much is still made of this in many quarters. I theorize that more made of Back to Jerusalem than perhaps is deserved, at this point at least.


Case Study: How does the IMB Correct People Group Data

Here’s a case study in how one (very large) mission organization handles unreached people group data and the correcting thereof. The IMB monitors and manages feedback with a goal of listening particularly to field practitioners — those who live and minister on the local level.  Jim, the lead researcher, wrote to Brigada this past week, “We consider them as our primary authorities, even beyond public information which is often biased by governments, religious authorities and census takers.  Each month we process several hundred pieces of feedback for adding people groups, deleting people groups, modifying people group information, changing engagement status or some other data attribute, so these documents are important for all Evangelical partners.” It’s an important question — one that we all value highly. Want to see even more info on this? Take a look at this document…

which explains in detail how this monitoring and managing process works out practically. It’s a good sampling of how carefully our researchers are handling these data. Let’s remember to pray for them — researchers at IMB, Wycliffe,, Finishing the Task, etc. From their data flow a lot of our mobilization throughout churches and agencies. (Thanks Jim!)

Joshua Project Data on the Unreached

Joshua Project has provided some of the current facts about those unreached with the Gospel.

Global Statistics
Peoples-by-Country Individuals
Global Total 16,595 6.73 billion
Unreached / Least-Reached 6,864 2.77 billion
Unreached / Least-Reached 41.4 % 41.2 %
10/40 Window Total 8,810 4.43 billion
10/40 Window Least-Reached 5,903 2.69 billion
10/40 Window % Least-Reached 67.0 % 60.8 %
Affinity Blocs 16
People Clusters 251
Peoples Groups (without reference to Countries) 9,877
Unreached Peoples Groups (without reference to Countries) 4,152
Countries 236
Languages 6,510
Challenging Mission Facts

• Of the 16,595 people groups by country, 6,864 are still considered unreached.

• 9,731 people groups by country are not considered Least-Reached, totaling 3,953,774,000 individuals, or about 59% of the world’s population.

• Of the 16,595 total people groups, 6,864 are identified as Least-Reached using Joshua Project criteria, totaling 2,771,999,000 individuals. Of these 6,864 groups, 5,903 are in 10/40 Window countries. That means 86% of all unreached people groups are in the 10/40 Window.

• 961 of the Least-Reached groups are NOT in the 10/40 Window, totaling 79,110,000 individuals. These groups are relatively accessible to the Good News of the Gospel.

• Of the 6,864 Least-Reached people groups, about 3,548 (52%) are small groups under 10,000 in population (or population unknown) and all these groups total less than 8,000,000 individuals. Of the remaining 3,316 least-reached groups, about 1,329 are under 50,000 in population. That leaves 1,987 Least-Reached groups 50,000 and over in population. A vibrant church in a large group may take the gospel to a number of smaller satellite people groups that have ethnic similarities.

Click the link below to get more information on Peoples, Languages, and Religions

Joshua Project – Great Commission Statistics about Peoples, Countries and Languages