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Friday, July 6, 2012

The Center Of Christianity Is Shifting

"As I travel around the world," writes Dan Egeler, Vice President of International Ministries for the Association of Christian Schools International, "it’s clear that the center of Christianity is shifting or has already shifted. There has been explosive growth in the Christian faith in what is termed the global South—Africa, Asia, and Latin America—and this growth is now beginning to dwarf the bloc of Christians in Europe and North America."

Let these words sink in.

Dan Egeler further reports that "churches [in the global South] are becoming movers and shapers in society rather than declining." This is encouraging, indeed. And then he adds: "the church in the global South wants to train up their children in 'the way they should go' and to 'teach the nations' through Christian schooling. This secondary (and unplanned) movement will also surpass the movement of the global North."

While in Africa a couple of years ago, I became aware of the extraordinary surge of Christian schools there, and more recently I came into contact with the burgeoning Christian school movement in Central America. I was invited by Eduardo Steele to do a two-day training conference in biblical worldview integration for Christian school teachers, administrators and pastors in Panama last April.

I will never forget this experience. It was abundantly evident to me that "Aslan is on the move" in Panama, in a special way. I sensed this in the Sunday church service I attended, and I sensed it in the Monday-Tuesday gathering of Christian educators from across the country. Actually, I sensed it before I arrived, as more hours than I want to know were spent translating scores of PowerPoint slides and numerous handouts into Spanish. These people are hungry for the purposes of God to be fulfilled in their generation through Christian education.

Eduardo Steele has been actively involved in the Panama Christian school movement for decades, while at the same time working for thirty years as a professor of mathematics at the University of Panama, a position from which he recently retired.

The chart immediately below (courtesy of Rod and Sherry Boyd) is just one indicator of what is going on in Panama. It shows the growth of Christian schools only among Assemblies of God churches, but you get the idea:

This chart only shows the number of schools affiliated with Assemblies of God churches in Panama.

Below you see the faces of people who are dedicating their lives to discipling the nation of Panama via Christian education:

Teachers from one of many schools attending the conference in Panama:
Peniel Christian School, with Principal Omaria Kirten, upper left. 
Lunch with Professor Eduardo Steele, long-time Christian school leader in Panama.

With Principal Elena Reid Duncan, who has served at Professor Steele's school for over 25 years.
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