International (MNN) — 75% of the world’s population lives in countries and/or societies with religious hostility, according to a report last year from The Pew Research Center.
That number is up from 70% the year before.
Of the five specific religions cited in the study, Christians were ranked with the highest number of nations harassing them.
However, Tom Elliff, President of the International Mission Board, says persecution of Christians will not dampen the Gospel. “That’s what persecution proves in a country. There are those who totally abandon the faith, and then there are those to whom the Gospel IS them. It is their life. It is their salvation. They understand it is only Christ, and only in Him is there eternal life.”
Although there is more hostility to the Gospel, there is also a greater need for people to hear the name of Christ.
“The world’s population is not declining. It is growing,” says Elliff. “It took until 1804 to reach the first billion [people] in our history, and now we have 7 billion on this globe. It’s not just that they’re being born, but they are dying at 2 [people] per second. That means an entire city disappears from this globe every 24 hours…. These are people who, for the most part, do not know Christ, and many of them right now–1.27 billion of these people–could die without ever hearing the name of Jesus.”
Elliff says in a world’s growing opposition to the Christians, the Church’s response will be defined. “Does that mean we’re going to pull in our dollar, go back home and say, ‘Well, let’s find the 25% of the [world’s population] that are friendly to us?' Or are we going to find creative ways like global strategic mobilization? Are we going to find creative ways to share the Gospel with people who are in this dark, broken world?”
For the IMB, creatively mobilizing the Gospel last year resulted in almost 30,000 churches planted and hundreds of thousands coming to know Christ.