Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson speaking in Brisbane, said about Christianity:
China: 10-12% – 100 to 120 million; India 6%; Indonesia: 100 Bible Colleges; Africa: 70%;
In Sydney 8-10 thousand attend “Rice” monthly!
Christianity, actually, is quite evidently about to enter its most vibrant and wonderful stage globally. That is what is actually happening.
This will be a century of enormous ferment over beliefs and the values that are driven by beliefs; and by behaviour.
The Chinese government understands that. They should. Ten to twelve percent of the Chinese population today are believed to be Bible-believing Christians. That is a hundred to a hundred and twenty million people!
Six percent, it’s estimated, of India’s population: I have a friend who heads up – gave away a business career, a very spectacularly successful one – to head up Alpha in Asia, not Australia, in Asia. Twelve thousand churches in India today are offering Alpha courses and forty percent of the people who enrol in them remain in a church.
In Indonesia, the most populous Moslem nation on earth right on our doorstep. There’s a hundred Bible Colleges in Indonesia. Did you know that? Just been there, and for all of the ferment in that country there’s a real interest in belief and some very strong Christian growth.
Africa: seventy percent Christianised. Now they say it’s a mile wide and an inch deep – desperate need for good teachers. I heard the Bishop of Uganda the other day describing how he has several hundred parishes that he cannot fill with trained men and women. Enormous need, but an extraordinary response to the Christian gospel.
What should we say then, in the face of all this? Should we despair at the state of our culture? At one level – yes! But what should it drive us to do? Gird our loins to take up our cross and to reflect the Hope that is ours!
We must broaden our horizons and understand the Christian hope. There is real work to be done, firstly in this country. We must do everything we can firstly on our knees to encourage people, our fellow-Australians to come back to faith. As a very big part of that we need to recognise that as a multi-racial society – great thing – many of the people who come here are very open to the faith.
I have a young Chinese friend in Sydney. He’s a Presbyterian Minister, he’s only 31, but you know he has a thing called Rice. I said ‘Why do you call it Rice?’ and he said because I come from Asia and we like rice. I said ‘What’s Rice?’ He said, ‘Once a month we get young, mainly Asian believers together in the Sydney Entertainment Centre for a night of fellowship. Not a church. Just a night when we come together for some fun, share experiences, sing, pray, what-have-you.’ I said ‘How many do you get?’ and he showed me a photograph. Auditorium full; he said eight to ten thousand people.
Wouldn’t it be an incredible irony if we from a traditional Caucasian background who walk away from our faith and our culture and let it decay around us, have the whole situation picked up and retrieved for us by New Australians? God bless them if it happens, but we ought to be working with them in every way we can. And then there’s the homelands they came from.