ManOper 11-04-038

Operation World

The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation, 7th edition


Jason Mandryk

WEC International and Biblica, 2010, 978 pp.  ISBN 978-1-85078-862-1



Jason Mandryk has worked with Operation World since 1995 and is the co-author of the 2001 edition of Operation World.  Operation World was first introduced in 1974 and it has become the recognized worldwide guide to prayer for the nations.


It is written for believing Christians and it attempts to take a central position among issues that perplex evangelicals.  The researchers recognize that the accelerating rate of change in the world makes any published statistic out of date.  Nevertheless, "the purpose of Operation World is to trace the work of God through the years and decades." (xxi)  "Our longing is for this book to be seen as a tool for prayer."  (xxii) 


This book can profitably be used not only to inform for prayer but to mobilize for ministry.  [At a conference in 1988 a woman told me her son was on the mission field because in reading Operation World he became interested in a country and later impressed of the Lord to serve in that country.  dlm]  It can be used in the home, in church, and in school.  The authors suggest praying through the book according to the calendar at the bottom of the pages, keeping it near your television or computer for reference when international issues are in the news, and using it with prayer letters and mission magazines and web sites. 


An explanation of statistics and abbreviations is given at the beginning (pp xxviii - xxxiii).  The statistical base date is June 2010.  Most statistics were compiled from data between 2005 and 2010.  The textual information is valid for July 2010.  (xxviii) 


Each entry is divided into two sections: statistical and background information and specific items for praise and prayer.  The primary headings for the statistical and background sections are Geography (Area, Population, Capitals and Other Cities, Urbanites, Population under 15 years, and Life Expectancy), Peoples (Groupings of Peoples, Languages, Literacy, etc.), Economy (HDI Rank, Public debt, Income per person), Politics, and Religion.  Religion is broken down in the various major religions, and the Christian MegaBlocs (Protestant, Independent/Indigenous, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, marginal sects, and Unaffiliated).  Evangelical percentages for 1960-2010 are carefully derived and the methodology is provided in Appendix 6.  These evangelical percentages are a unique contribution of Operation World.


Where possible a distinction is made between charismatics, Pentecostals, and evangelicals.  Their interrelatedness is complex.  "All Pentecostals are, by definition, both charismatic and evangelical and therefore a subset of both." (xxxi) 


Missionary statistics are generally not included, because despite a momentous effort, too many factors have conspired to prevent meaningful data.  It is no longer possible to produce reliable figures of the number of missionaries serving in a country. (xxxi)  Charts and graphs showing the changes in religious groups are very helpful in understanding the rapid changes in the past 50 years.


The first section of the book is an overview of the world, as a whole and by continent.  This section alone makes the book worthwhile.  Some of the data and changes are astounding. 


For example, in regard to the world: 

Geography:  The world's population nearly doubled between 1970 and 2010.


Peoples:  The Joshua Project lists 16,350 distinct peoples.


Languages:  The largest languages are Chinese 1.213 million, Spanish 329 million, English 328 million. (1) 



  • "Growth of newer 'post-denominational' churches and networks has characterized the past generation with a bewildering variety of expressions of Christian belief and practice.  This Independent MegaBloc grew from 7 million in 1900 to well over 250 million in 2010.  Many are independent evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic denominations and networks."  (3) 
  • The current annual growth rate of evangelicals is 2.6% (3)  [The 6th edition, 2001, (p. 3) estimated the annual growth rate of evangelicals at 4.5%.]
  • Christians of all stripes have declined slightly since 1900 from 34.7% of the population to 32.3% in 2010.  (5) 
  • 63.2% of the worlds Christians are in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  (5) 
  • "Evangelicals numbered 89 million (2.9%) in 1960, but by 2010 they were 546 million (7.9%).  The growth rate peaked around 1990 at 4.5%. (6)
  • "The sobering fact is that … probably 24-27% of the world's population have not had the good news presented to them in a way they could appreciate and meaningfully respond to."  (10) 


Global Trends to Watch:

  • Human trafficking.  "Today, approaching 30 million people live in what amounts to slavery.



  • "There are now 200-250 million people living outside the land of their birth." (14)


The Unfinished Task - Religious Systems

  • "The world has seen a resurgence in religious sentiment and commitment in every region and in almost every religion." (21)
  • "Recently, secularism as a social construct and atheism as a belief system in the West have, in some circles, become particularly aggressive and assertive, seeking to eradicate religion from the public sphere and humiliate those of religious -- or at least Christian -- persuasion." (21)
  • "Global religious dominance will be contested by three main forces -- Christianity, Islam and non-religion." (21)
  • "There are 14 countries with a resident Christian population of less than 1%, and a further 23 with less than 5%."  (21)
  • Muslim growth in the past 100 years has been rapid - from 12.3% in 1900 to 22.9% in 2010.  (22)
  • It is estimated that about 10% of foreign missionaries work among Muslims, even though Muslims make up about 37% of all non-Christians in the world.  (22) 
  • "The non-religious, or secular, bloc has shown the most massive growth in the past century, from a tiny 0.2% of the world's population in 1900, peaking in 1980, but in 2010 representing 13.6% - mainly Europeans and Chinese.  (23)  "Countless millions of Christians are non-religious in everything but name.  Christians have generally proven singularly ineffective in communicating the gospel to secular, postmodern culture.  But secularism is very effective at undermining Christianity…." (23)
  • The Indian sub-continent has the largest concentration and variety of least-reached peoples.  (23) 
  • "The proportion of Buddhists who have come to Christ is minute…." (23)
  • 6,645 of the Joshua Project List of 16,350 people groups are in the Least Reached/Unreached category - 40.6% of all peoples.  The total population from unreached people sis 2.84 billion, or 41.1% of humanity.(25)  [This contrasts with David Barrett's number in "World A" of 2.05 billion or 29+% (IBMR, Jan, 2011)].

We have mined all of this from the first 25 pages and have not yet begun to study the continents and the individual countries.  Truly this is a magnificent compilation of most important information for everyone concerned about The Great Commission.  My personal growth goal for 2011 is to read and pray through Operation World.  I challenge you to this goal as well.  DLM.