About 25 percent of the world's Christians are Pentecostal or charismatic, historian Vinson Synan, dean of the Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, told the triennial Pentecostal World Conference (PWC) in Seoul in September. An estimated 450 million are charismatic or Pentecostal.
"The continuing explosive growth of Pentecostalism indicates that the renewal will continue with increasing strength into the next millennium," Synan declared. "Not only is growth occurring in eye-catching megachurches, but in tens of thousands of small local churches that are planted each year in big cities and remote villages."
PWC chair Ray H. Hughes says two-thirds of Pentecostals live in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. "PWC offers Pentecostals an opportunity to be a unifying force in a divided world," Hughes said.
Missions expert David Barrett told CT that the Pentecostal and charismatic church is growing by 19 million per year.
On September 25 in Olympic Stadium, 100,000 Pentecostals from more than 60 countries gathered at a closing service sponsored by the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, and the Foursquare Gospel church in South Korea. Church banners decorated the stadium, and hundreds of balloons formed a cross.
South Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil expressed his government's gratefulness for the prayers and contributions of the Pentecostal movement. Christianity has surpassed Buddhism as the major faith in South Korea.
During daily sessions, prayers were offered for the economic situation in Asia, peace in the Middle East and Albania, and on behalf of the persecuted church.
The next world conference will be held in Los Angeles in 2001 and will be chaired by Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, based in Springfield, Missouri. The first such international gathering took place in 1947 in Zurich.
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