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I've often heard people citing the "can a nation be born in a day" passage (Isaiah 66:8), sometimes incorrectly citing it as "can a nation be changed in a day." The context is typically a prayer for revival, and sometimes a passionate cry for a movement to Christ is linked to this idea. But do movements really happen that fast? The famous "EE-Taow" video notwithstanding, have we seen a large population “transformed in a day” in recent history?

There are numerous stories of individual villages coming to faith (which is what the story of EE-Taow best represents). But there are no countries that were under 5% Christian in 2005, and over 5% Christian in 2015 (a 10 year difference). In fact, the World Christian Database reports only 6 countries that were “under 5% Christian in 1970, and over 5% Christian in 2015”--a change that took thirty years, and is hardly the entire nation transformed. Three of these six were church growth stories, and three are simply overseas foreign workers:

  • Bahrain – from 2.7% to 13%, this is nearly all expat Christian (overseas foreign workers)
  • China – from 0.1% to 8.9%, an amazing story of church growth
  • Myanmar – 4.9% to 7.9%, another story of church growth
  • Qatar – 3.6% to 9.4%, mostly overseas foreign workers
  • Sudan – 3.1% to 5%, church growth
  • UAE – 4% to 12%, again, overseas foreign workers.

On the other hand, given a century, 43 were dramatically changed from under to over 5% (from 1900 to 2015). Most of these were dramatic changes (from under 5% in 1900 to over 60% in 2015). These 43 include:

  • Angola
  • Bahrain
  • Benin
  • Brunei
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • China
  • Congo
  • Congo DR
  • Ivory Coast
  • Ghana
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Sao Tome & Principe
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • S Korea
  • S Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Taiwan
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • UAE
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

It appears that sustained church growth over decades is the key to see national transformation. We often think of "movements" as "sudden change": as if an entire population, millions and millions, came to Christ over night. But really, movements, while rapid, are chiefly simply growing faster than the population around them, and able to scale to 100% of the population. Countries that were less than 1% Christian in 1900 now widely have the Gospel. Persistence and multiplicative growth are key.