In recent years we have heard a great deal from Christian missiologists about the 10/40 Window. The term was originally coined in 1990 by Luis Bush when referring to the territory in the Eastern Hemisphere located between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north of the equator. An estimated two billion Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists live in this region. Undoubtedly, Christians need to be intentional about building bridges of love and understanding with this large sector of the world’s population.
Christopher Sorensen has devoted his entire ministry to sharing the love of God and the truth about Jesus Christ with Buddhists. While still single, he took a break from university to serve for three years in Cambodia. After completing his undergraduate degree, he returned with his wife, Shannon, to serve in Thailand. I asked Christopher to share the most important lessons he has learned in the past decade about sharing Jesus with Buddhists. Here are just a few of his powerful insights:
To know and love Jesus personally and supremely is essential. Buddhists have good moral teachings but lack a personal relationship with a living, loving Savior.
Rice is not sown and harvested in the same day. Nor will the grain wait on the stalk forever.
Without background knowledge of the stories of the great controversy between good and evil as revealed in the Bible, a propositional gospel presentation is, at best, incomprehensible to a Buddhist.
A personal encounter with Jesus—be it a vision, dream, miracle or answered prayer opens a window of opportunity during which we must work and pray hard. Supernatural encounters are not enough.
I asked Christopher’s permission to share these lessons with you. His testimony has inspired and motivated me to share the love of God and the truth about Jesus Christ with those around me. Many of us may never live in the 10/40 Window, but, if we look carefully, we may discover this challenge is a present reality in our own neighborhoods. Perhaps you have a Buddhist neighbor or a Muslim work associate. Your son or daughter might be bringing a Hindu classmate to your church youth group. We need to understand how to connect with our non-Christian neighbors in ways that extend the unconditional love of our Father in heaven.
This idea of the 10/40 Window existing nearer to us than we might realize became more personal for me when my cousin embraced a religion different from my own. He met a classmate from Malaysia while attending graduate school and their friendship grew into a marriage relationship. As part of that journey, my cousin converted to Islam, the faith of his wife. Another member of my family expressed a strong attraction toward Buddhism. I quickly realized that I had much to learn about connecting in meaningful ways with those who have a very different worldview from my own.
In this issue of Ministry, Scott Griswold gives special attention to the challenge and opportunity we have in sharing Jesus with Buddhists. Scott and his family accepted a long-term assignment to serve in a country where most of the people are Buddhists and has devoted much time and energy to studying Buddhism with the goal of understanding the Buddhist worldview and learning how to share Jesus with them. We hope that this article will act as a catalyst to promote healthy dialogue. As always, we welcome your feedback and constructive suggestions at [email protected]. We also welcome your manuscripts on building bridges of love and understanding with members of other world religions. You can submit your manuscript via our Web site, www.ministrymagazine.org.
One thing is certain: whether living in the 10/40 Window or ministering to our non-Christian neighbors, Christopher Sorensen was right in his assertion “to know and love Jesus personally and supremely is essential.”