External opportunities and threats will invariably exist on the mission field. They usually vary based on your location and context.
Generally, opportunities include situations such as:
- Changes in government leadership or culture
- Kairos events (such as the fall of Communism in the early 1990’s)
- Increased spiritual openness due to difficult circumstances (such as Algerian Berbers’ disillusionment with Islam due to being treated as second class citizens, or youth in Iran who are dissatisfied with an Islamic Republic)
- New technology and media opportunities. Chat rooms began to open with the advent of the internet, allowing off-site missionaries to interact directly with people in countries virtually inaccessible to the gospel. When Middle Eastern theaters showed The Passion of the Christ movie (supposedly because of its anti-Semitism), crowds lined up for tickets to the point that theaters ran only that movie in every theater in cineplexes. Missionaries to the region believed that gospel progress was advanced by five years because of this.
- Migrations from restricted-access countries to more open countries due to poverty or war
Generally, threats include situations such as:
- Spiritual warfare
- Cultures that socially punish people who leave a religion
- Consumerism/wealth that dull spiritual hunger
Here are some examples of both currently occurring on the mission field.
In 2010 the United Arab Emirates began conducting all education grades K-12 in English, and began widely recruiting native English teachers. Many Christians have been able to take those jobs and begin a gospel witness because of this decision.
The number of Saudi students studying in the US has increased 30% over the last 10 years due to an educational initiative by the King. This unique opportunity has afforded many Saudis to hear the gospel.
Syrian refugees are pouring over the border into Jordan to flee Assad’s war on rebels. In Jordan they are freer to hear the gospel, and ministries are starting works among these refugees.
Nigerian and Egyptian Muslims are currently persecuting Christians and destroying their places of worship.
The government of Turkmenistan has clamped down hard on the starting of any new churches.
Secularism in western Europe has virtually killed Christianity, declare some observers. In some countries less than 2% of the population even attends any sort of church.
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