Missionaries in Asia have long faced violence. A hundred years ago, American and European Christians streamed into the region to convert the Chinese and Koreans. During the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) in China, foreign missionaries were targeted and in many cases killed.
But they kept coming because Asia houses some of the world’s largest non-Christian populations. Today, Christians in Asia number 350 million, up from about 20 million in 1900, according to statistics from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. And as Christianity flourishes, more and more believers–often Asian–begin to heed Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to spread their faith across the world.
The presence of South Korean Christian aid workers is one of the most visible examples of the trend toward “majority world” missionaries–those hailing from continents other than Europe and North America. South Korea, for example, sent only 93 missionaries abroad in 1979, but by 2000 there were over 8,000 and this number doubled by 2006.