The Internal Revenue Service admitted yesterday that identity thieves have accessed tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households. Cybercrooks used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data to gain unauthorized access to the prior-year returns.
Such criminals clearly value earthly treasure above heavenly reward. Now consider the number of people who are making precisely the opposite decision.
More people are coming to Christ today than ever before, many in areas especially dangerous for followers of Jesus. Some surveys put the number at 82,000 a day, others at 150,000 or even 175,000. When I was in Beijing years ago, I was told that 100,000 people come to Christ every day in the People’s Republic of China. More than a million Cubans have trusted Christ in the last 10 years.
This spiritual awakening may have begun in South Korea, where five of the world’s ten largest churches are now located. It has spread to Central and South America, where evangelical Christianity is by far the fastest-growing demographic in the region. If current trends continue, Brazil will be 50 percent born-again Christian by 2025. As many as 28,000 trust Christ every day in sub-Saharan Africa. Missionaries working in the Islamic world say that more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 15 years than the previous 15 centuries.
How did this movement begin? In prayer.
Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea began with six members in 1958. Today it numbers more than 800,000 members. At the heart of the church’s ministry is its 4:00 A.M. prayer meeting. Members pray through the evening every Friday. Many Korean churches in the U.S. are following a similar pattern by praying all day each Saturday or on other days.
We find a similar pattern in other regions. Cuban churches are filled for mid-week prayer services that last several hours. It has been my privilege to attend many such services; each time I sensed the powerful anointing of God’s Spirit. When I was in Brazil, I was astounded by the deep commitment to intercession I witnessed. In the Islamic world, I have encountered believers who are praying boldly and sacrificially for Jesus to reveal himself in visions and dreams to Muslims. And multiplied thousands are coming to Christ as a result.
A. J. Gordon observed, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” John Wesley believed that “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” E. M. Bounds added, “God shapes the world by prayer.” And he noted, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.”
Are you praying every day for spiritual awakening to sweep your culture? Can such an awakening begin with you?