South Asia

Consisting of eight nations (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), South Asia represents nearly a quarter of the world’s population. Christians form a small minority in this region, which is home to approximately one billion Hindus, 600 million Muslims, and only 35 million Christians. ScholarLeaders has supported Christian leaders from three South Asian nations (Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka). Through the Vital SustainAbility Initiative, ScholarLeaders works with the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in India and with Colombo Theological Seminary (CTS) in Sri Lanka. The Centre for South Asia Research at SAIACS (India) is a collaborative ministry of SAIACS, the Theological Book Network, and ScholarLeaders International.

Pakistan is the only nation established in the name of Islam. Constitutionally, all laws must conform to the Quran. The country has a large economy and a rising middle class, but also faces challenges related to illiteracy, corruption, and terrorism. Of the nation’s 213 million people, more than 96% are Muslims. Christians represent a very small minority, but the Church continues to persevere and grow, despite persecution. Learn about the Church’s historical relationship with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the strongest barriers to missions, and Muslims’ most common objections to Christianity in this 2016 feature on Gloria Calib’s prophetic leadership in Pakistan. For a Christian response to religious extremism, read Maqsood Kamil’s 2016 Insights Perspective.

Sharing its northwestern border with Pakistan, India is home to over 1.3 billion people, 80% of whom are Hindus. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India has seen tremendous change over the last 30 years. Although the percentage of people living below the global poverty line has decreased, economic inequality has increased. Internal migration and urban growth have strained infrastructure, and have challenged traditions and identities. Since 2014, the political ascension of Hindu nationalism has increased pressure on religious minorities. Islam is the second largest religion in India. With around 180 million Muslims, India has the third largest Muslim population in the world (behind Indonesia and Pakistan). Although only 2 to 3% of Indians are Christians, the Church is still 26 to 35 million-strong and growing. The Church needs leaders who can shepherd new believers and help address the unique contextual needs of the subcontinent. Learn about Manohar James’ distinctive response to Hindu nationalist persecution and rising “re-conversions” to Hinduism here.

A large island just southeast of India, Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism in the world. 70% of its 22 million people practice Buddhism; the rest are Hindus (13%), Muslims (10%), and Christians (7%). The teardrop-shaped island nation has seen plenty of tears in recent years: ethnic riots, the 2004 tsunami, and 26 years of civil war. Lal Senanayake’s 2019 InSights Perspective offers reflections on understanding suffering in light of God’s character. Presently, political stability has led to increased economic growth and development. Although nearly 85% of Sri Lankans remain in rural areas, the country has a remarkably high literacy rate of 92%. Most of Sri Lanka’s 1.5 million Christians are Roman Catholic. Although Evangelicals comprise only 2% of the population, they have continued to grow at twice the rate of the general population.

Prayer Community

Patrick from Hong Kong

In last seven months, the pro-democracy anti-extradition protests have completely changed Hong Kong. The protests started as peaceful marches against the extradition bill. However, violence and clashes between protestors and police erupted when the nonviolent protests failed to effect change. To date, police have arrested over 6,000 people and have fired more than 16,000 rounds of tear gas in the city.

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Prayer Community

Michelle Mingyue Kang in China

As the social environment gets more complicated, believers are facing a host of issues related to the family, such as extramarital affairs, homophobia, questions related to sex education and social services, etc. Due to a lack of academically trained professors, and a dearth of Christian writers and researchers, Chinese theological education cannot build itself up and remains ill-equipped to tackle these issues.

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Prayer Community

Kinyip Louie in Hong Kong

Pray that the Church would learn how to love and pastor the younger generation, many of whom have become disillusioned with both society and the Church. Some of them, because of their participation in the protests, have been arrested or have broken relationships with their families.

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Prayer Community

Rania Hendy from Egypt

The Christmas scene in Egypt might be completely different from the celebrative scenes in many other countries throughout the world. Nonetheless, it is not so different from the first Christmas scene in Bethlehem.

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Prayer Community

Benrilo Kikon from Nagaland, India

As a woman from a patriarchal Naga society, I am keenly sensitive to Mary’s role in the Christmas story. What immediately fascinates me is that she was chosen to bear the Son of God – what an honor! In a world in which women are dishonored and marginalized, this is a great story of honoring women.

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Prayer Community

Samuel Nwokoro from Nigeria

As I grew older, I searched for the deeper meanings of Christmas. But what I found meaningful about Christmas at one stage of my life would not always suffice for the next. It seems to me that, as we grow and experience life in many ways, Christmas grows with us. We do not leave it behind. It shows up every year. It meets us at different points in our lives and we ponder its meaning anew.

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Prayer Community

“Raymond” from China

It is customary for Chinese churches to reach out to local communities at Christmastime. However, as the situation worsens for many churches, and as Christians are constantly discouraged and even threatened, I am really not sure how we could sit around the table again this year to sing Christmas carols and retell the story of the Nativity. We Christians are in tears, crying as the psalmist once cried out in overwhelming desperation: “How long, O Lord, will you look on…” (Ps. 35:17).

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Prayer Community

Kei Hiramatsu from Japan

In Japan, where only 1-2% of the population is Christian, people do not celebrate Christmas in the way Christians around the world do. Our culture generally associates Christmas with romance; thus, young people feel urged to find someone with whom to spend this “romantic holiday.” Alternatively, many families perceive Christmas as the day when they eat Kentucky Fried Chicken together (it is funny but true!). For many Japanese, Christmas is not the day for celebrating our Savior’s birth.

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