The centre of world Christianity is .... Niamey?

Centre of World Christianity

Centre of World Christianity

Until today I had never heard of Niamey, the capital of Niger. According to the Economist it is the demographic centre of world Christianity:

Just 70m of Western Europe’s 375m adults attend church at least once a month. Meanwhile, in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, the church appears as strong as ever. There are 277m adherent Christians in sub-Saharan Africa and 250m in Latin America. As Christianity has shifted southwards, that has moved the centre of Christianity to Niamey, the capital of Niger (calculated by taking the Christian-adherence weighted-average latitude and longitude of countries' capital cities). As the crow flies that is 2,433 miles from Bethlehem.

Q. If someone from Nigeria is a Nigerian. What do you call someone from Niger?

A. A “Nigerien" (nee-ZHER-yen).

Wheaton professor decides that Christians and Muslims “Worship the Same God.”

Why would a Christian academic at an evangelical college equate the God revealed in the Qur’an and the God revealed through Jesus Christ? Why shouldn’t we be surprised when it happens?

In the lead up to Christmas, Larycia Hawkins, a Wheaton professor donned a purple headscarf in solidarity with Muslims and declared that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Wheaton stood her down, not for wearing the hijab, but “to explore theological implications of her recent public statements.”

Wheaton, an evangelical college, does not teach that the God of Islam is the same God of the Christian faith.

Hawkins has stood her ground. Wheaton College students have staged a sit-in at president Philip Ryken’s office.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? It can be arranged.

Remove God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, deny the Incarnation, the Cross and the Resurrection, affirm salvation through your own efforts and you could possibly equate the God of Islam and the God revealed by Jesus Christ. Alternatively, you could take both Islam and Christianity seriously. You will soon find that they are different faiths with very different concepts of God.

Movements are born and maintained through commitment to a cause. When people stop caring, a movement begins to fade away. Our modern-postmodern society does not share our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. We can make peace and be accepted if we’ll just stop insisting on his uniqueness.

We face that pressure every day. It’s nothing new.

Jesus laid down his life for claiming he was more than just another religious teacher. Paul found that the message of the Cross was unacceptable to both religious fundamentalists and immoral pagans. So he proclaimed a foolish message in weakness and God did the rest.

Jesus Christ alone is Lord and Saviour of the world. Stake your life on it, expect trouble and you will see God's glory revealed.

To search or not to search?

There’s a view out there that we don’t need to make a special effort to find people far from God. You don’t need to add something to your already busy life. Just do what you normally do. Hang out with the people you know and the opportunities will come to you — or not.

Then there’s the view that Jesus was always on the move from place to place, like a shepherd looking for lost sheep. My friend Grant takes the second view. Here’s a story from his latest newsletter:

A friend and I were preparing to go out to parks, believing God will lead us to people whom He has prepared to hear the gospel.  

As we were praying and asking God to lead us, I remembered an Iranian couple we had met two weeks prior. I believed God wanted us to again go to that same park to meet the couple and share Jesus with them.  

As we arrived we looked around but could not see anyone, then over under a tree I saw an older couple whom I recognised; it was the elderly Iranian couple. We walked over and reconnected with them. As we shared more about Jesus, Muhammad said, “I have read many stories of Jesus in Iran and I love Jesus but I cannot follow him because I am Muslim”.  

He went on to say, “In Iran if you follow Jesus and the government find out they will put you in prison or even kill you.  This is what happens to people there”.  

My friend and I began sharing how he didn’t need to give up his culture to follow Jesus and then shared a simple message through drawing a picture that illustrated who Jesus is and how we can be made right with God by going through Jesus. I then shared how Jesus had lead us to the park that day as He had wanted us to share this message with Muhammad and his wife.  

When I said this Muhammad said, “Really!  Really?  Jesus sent you here today?” I said yes and told him that Jesus wants Muhammad to know him. At the point Muhammad had tears rolling down his cheeks and a great joy came across his face.  

We ended our time by praying with Muhammad and his wife, giving Muhammad a big hug and arranged to meet him again and share more Jesus stories with him and his wife.