The Spiritual Need in Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia is as ethnically, linguistically, religiously, and socially complex as the myriad of countries it includes. Though definitions vary, Southwest Asia refers to nations like India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and countries as far west as the Arabian Peninsula, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The overwhelming majority of people in this region are Hindu or Muslim. And while there are smaller populations of Buddhists and followers of other religions, it is Hinduism and Islam that compete for adherence and position in culture and society. Many people live as unwelcome minorities who face persecution and insecurity in their identity, if they do not follow the dominant religion in their area. This tension leaves many people questioning how to live and searching for truth—but often seeking answers in religions that cannot provide a firm foundation.
Throughout Southwest Asia is an immense need for missionaries sharing the gospel with Hindus and Muslims, and only an incredibly small number of Christians living there. The number of unreached people groups in this part of the 10/40 Window is staggering—the International Mission Board estimates that almost 2,000 of just over 2,200 people groups in South Asia are unreached. In Southwest Asia, that represents far more than a billion individuals who have likely never heard of Christ.
According to some estimates, there is on average only one Christian missionary for every 179,000 Hindu people in the world. Estimates show that more than 90% of the world’s Hindu people groups live in Southwest Asia. The Muslim populations in this region are more traditional than in other parts of the world, strictly following orthodox Islam, whether Sunni or Shia. And with only one Christian missionary for every 405,500 Muslims in the world, we are compelled to endeavor in Southwest Asia until Christ is known among each of these established people groups.
Even with some of the highest numbers of unevangelized individuals and people groups of any region of the world, the church is growing where seeds have been sown. When given the opportunity to hear and experience the truth, many Hindus and Muslims in Southwest Asia are willing to trust God through opposition, poverty, and other challenges in order to join the growing Spirit-led gospel movement that is transforming lives in this region.
Church Planting In Southwest Asia
ABWE teams in Southwest Asia are multiplying leaders, churches, and missions movements. Through education and medical missions, we are connecting with families and sharing spiritual truth. In the countries where we lead church planting in South Asia, we partner with existing national ministries meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, vulnerable, and unevangelized.
A pervasive caste system in some countries, extreme poverty, and susceptibility to natural disasters can make Southwest Asia a challenging place to live. Many governments in the region oppose Christianity, creating barriers against religious freedom, as well as challenges for foreign missionary access and ministry. ABWE’s Live Global ministry focuses on partnering with national workers who are equipped to impact their own communities and cultures through evangelism in their local language and culturally-intelligent church planting in South Asian countries.
Though it can be difficult to enter this limited access region, population-benefiting approaches like business-as-mission, tentmaking, and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) can offer means to entry and relationship building.
The gateway cities of Southwest Asia—international hubs like Dubai, Karachi, Delhi, Kathmandu, and Dhaka—create access for cross-cultural workers to invest in ministry with people from unreached people groups from all over the region and across the 10/40 Window. We seek highly entrepreneurial team members who are willing to help initiate new ministries and engage in relational evangelism in these urban frontier settings.
Established ministries throughout Southwest Asia include our partners Memorial Christian Hospital (MCH) and William Carey Academy (WCA), two phenomenal ministry platforms for ABWE teammates to share the gospel.
Our partnership with Memorial Christian Hospital in Bangladesh offers more than medical ministries. Its campus houses outreaches that include an elementary school, two Bible colleges, a health science college, a tribal outreach project, camp ministry, a handicraft business, a literacy program and three Bible translation projects. There are two health clinics and four new church plants within driving distance of our campus. The hospital opens doors for sharing the good news and establishing communities of faith. While we have need for more medical team members, we have urgent need for more team members in the many non-medical ministries the hospital has enabled. All of these programs have been useful for sharing truth and discipling believers.
The opportunities for ministry in the western region of South Asia are endless. The density of unreached people who are seeking truth is staggering, and the need for missionaries to reach them is just as immense. Your skill sets can be used on the mission field—is God leading you to join a gospel movement and plant churches among the unreached in Southwest Asia?