Overseas Council’s region of Asia is home to nearly 60% of the world’s population, or 4.3 billion people (Johnstone). China is the world’s most populous nation, accounting for 1.3 billion of this number. The Asian region is home to many religions, including most of the world’s Hindus, hundreds of millions of Buddhists and more than half of the world’s Muslims. Protestants in Asia number 55-60 million with the largest concentrations in India, the Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea. Statistics vary widely, but it appears that estimates of an additional 80-100 million Christians in China may be realistic as well. Christianity is experiencing strong growth throughout the Asian region. There are hundreds of established leadership training centers in the region, some with more than 100 years of history. Yet the need for new paradigms of leadership training is great. Overseas Council’s partners in Asia are at the forefront of preparing leaders for the Asian Church in the 21st century.
Major Trends In Theological Education In Asia
- There is a growing need and desire for lay leaders to be theologically trained. Seminaries must look at distance learning for the people in the pew, especially in rural areas. Dr. Ashish Chrispal, Regional Director for Asia
- Asia is home to the three major world religions apart from Christianity – Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. It is also the heartland of other significant religions – Sikhism, Jainism, Daoism, Confucianism, Baha’i and Judaism. Vast differences in wealth, technology, language, religion and people groups exist in Asia. The wide variety makes it especially difficult to sow seeds in the region and a very significant challenge for world evangelization. Operation World
- Church growth in Asia continues to be remarkable; for its sheer scale, for its unprecedented occurrence in previously unevangelized nations and regions and, in many areas, for how long it has been sustained. Some of the greatest growth in the past decade or two has been in China, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam and, although unverifiable, North Korea. Operation World
- China is in the midst of amazing changes. Christians now almost certainly exceed 100 million. The government recognizes the positive social impact that Christians can make and increasingly accepts the reality that the Church in China is there to stay and will play a major role in shaping the country’s future. Operation World
- The recent growth of the Church has largely been through the work of national workers, local evangelists and ordinary believers. These churches are, more than ever, Asian in structure, style and leadership – taking forms relevant for those they are trying to reach. Beyond the continent itself, Asian Christian leadership is assuming a much greater role in the global body of Christ. This includes countries such as South Korea, China and India but also places such as Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. Operation World
- Almost one third of the world’s population is under the age of 18. Many are at risk; suffering or dying from preventable diseases; unwanted and living on the streets; and exploited through trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and child labor. Our role is to support, network and help build relationships with strategic resources who are involved in the important ministry of Holistic Child Development. Through our collaborations, this movement emphasizes the importance of curriculum and addressing the realities having a major impact on children growing up around the world. Working together on this issue reflects our desire for schools to become increasingly responsive to their contexts.
Daniel Owens, PhD
Regional Consultant for Vietnam
Daniel recently completed a PhD in Old Testament studies from Wheaton College. Together with his wife and two sons, he returned to Vietnam in late May, 2014 and teaches Old Testament studies at Hanoi Bible College.
Ashish Chrispal, PhD
OC-USA Regional Consultant for Asia
“The Church of the future depends on its educational ministry to equip the whole Body of Christ by rooting and grounding it in the Word of God. Overseas Council has always believed, ‘As goes the seminary, so goes the Church.’ Therefore, I believe that as Overseas Council comes alongside our seminaries to bring excellence in discipling the disciplers, the future of the Church is brighter as the light and salt of the society. Thus the ministry of Overseas Council of training the called to multiply God’s resources has given me impetus and vision to serve the cause of theological education in Asia for Christ’s glory.”