The 10/40 Window

Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast that answers all of your mission-related questions. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce.

Ron- Hi, Joy!

Joy- Hi, welcome back, guys! So today I have a question that someone asked me and I knew that you would be the right guy to flush this out and it’s about the 1040 window and the question was really, has it changed in the past few decades? And really what is it?

Ron-Okay, well let’s explain what it is first. I think it was around 1990 that this came into vogue in the mission circles talking about the 1040 window. The 1040 window is 10 degrees to 40 degrees above the equator primarily in the Africa-Spain corridor all the way over to Asia. So if you take all the countries in there you are looking at those countries that have been least reached, poorest, low standard of living, high degree of resistance traditionally to the Bible, Christianity, the Gospel and they had a pretty good level of persecution in there, of believers. So it’s funny how it all looks on the map, those are the areas where there was the greatest need back say in 1990 when it was started to be referred to.

Joy-Because of the poverty.

Ron- Because of the poverty, because missions had not been strong in that area, resistant of varying religions that were hostile; Islam, Hinduism, various ones like that, and communism started to filter in there too back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, therefore, this was the area of greatest need. But now getting into your question, now it’s the area, I would say, of the greatest turning to God around the world. So in that 32 years, a lot of years, in those years it sort of flipped over and now you’ve got in many of those countries things are coming to life. Like in India, we’ve talked about it before, there is a massive turning to God right now and for so many years prior to 1990 it was very hard sledding, there was just nothing and the church was there but it did not have an incentive to evangelize, to reach out and plant new churches and things like that. China, all of southeast Asia, this is sort of why I built upon that, the whole teaching of when did missions start to really change in that 1040 window, etcetera? It was around that 1989 – 1990 period and that was when the Berlin Wall came down, when the Soviet Union fell apart, and Tiananmen Square happened. Those three events ranging 1989 to 1991 were centered right around that 1040 window. That’s when it flipped over. The national churches in those areas, not all but the majority of them, came to life at that point and they started to take ownership of the lostness of their countries and they started to pour out effort, energy, resources that they had to go and make a difference in their people, in the lives of their people, by introducing them to Jesus. It was also a time when persecution really ramped up more because of the aggressive nature of the national church and that’s when persecution really spiked in many countries. The standard of living sort of stayed the same except for a few countries and they were poor. Some countries though became a little bit more prosperous and when they became prosperous the hunger for God left. The hunger for goods and money and ease came first.

<p>Map of the 10/40 window</p>
The 10/40 window is 10 degrees to 40 degrees above the equator primarily in the Africa-Spain corridor all the way over to Asia.

Joy- Kind of like North America.

Ron-Exactly, they became more Western. So there was that transition point in that part of the world going from a traditional old world type of poverty and resistance and non-Christian belief to all of a sudden where the Gospel started to take off and some areas were becoming more wealthy. Communism started to affect more and more, you know, 1949 in China, 1979 in all of Vietnam, those areas. It started to wane a little bit and the Gospel and the church and evangelical type churches started to take courage and God gave them tremendous anointing to go out and do the job. So that is the 1040 window story in very short order and I’m sure somebody that knows it a lot better than I do can give you more details but that is the basics.

Joy- So with the 1040 window originally it was a place that missionaries were going to specifically in the beginning and is that still an area that is heavily saturated with missionaries?

Ron- Well, no, not really. And somebody listening to this is going to say well, what about this country? Well sure, there is always an exception but overall, missionaries were banned from most of those countries like India, China, it was very difficult to get into. Vietnam really started to come away from the cloud of restrictions on the church and had a little bit of room to grow right around 1991 to 1994 so there were no missionaries in there after 1975. So you’ve got these various countries where the missionaries were going, had left and couldn’t go in with a new batch so, therefore, they were not really in the plan. You would get the odd missionary in the Middle East undercover.

Joy-And the Middle East is in the 1040 window?

Ron- Yes, the 1040 window is basically the Middle East, so you’ve got that North Africa region, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, etcetera. Not many missionaries were going in there as I say, except undercover. Then you’ve got in the Gulf States, very few missionaries. Then you had some of those other countries that were very difficult to get into. So no, you would say that the Western missionary efforts was moving more to the Americas, Central and South America, parts of Europe, Sub-Sahara Africa, and certain opportunities in some of the Asian countries in limited numbers. So the heyday of missions with the Western missionary was changing in that period of time, right around 1990.


So the heyday of missions with the Western missionary was changing in that period of time, right around 1990.

Charis- I find it interesting that in the 1040 window with the missionaries having to leave, with the persecution increasing, and with the national church stepping up, all of those things happened and now we’re seeing the huge mass numbers of people turning to the Lord. It just set itself up perfectly.

Ron- It would be like a mom and dad turning over the business to the kids. It would be like all of a sudden, Kids, we’ve trained you what to do, you know what to do, we are just going to go on holidays down to Florida now, you take over.” That was more or less what happened. They stepped up to the plate and did a much better job in many regards. Not that there was anything wrong with what the missionaries did, I’m not saying that, but they are doing a much better job because it was people that were resident there, they were born there, they knew the culture there, they had everything in their favor. Whereas, the Western missionaries going in had a lot of handicaps upon them because they were foreigners.

Joy- Does the 1040 window still have the same relevance that it once did then?

Ron- People still talk about it but it’s not really that much simply because I think the eyes of the mission societies and the Western missionary movements have moved away a lot in that zone from doing church planting or establishing Bible schools, or one to one evangelism, or leadership, leadership of the church in that area. Now it’s the nationals. So the eyes of the Western missionary world have been taken off 1040, it still exists, they still talk about it, but not that much effort is put into that part of the world now. Its other areas, other means, etcetera.

Joy- Okay, and you mentioned sub-Sahara Africa. So that was always more receptive to the Gospel than other parts?

Ron- No, that was just different. What was down there, you had in sub-Sahara Africa, many different countries with different cultures and some were where the missionaries went into and established good strong works, but it was mostly missionary driven and still is today, a lot of it, missionary driven.

Joy- What countries would be down there?

Ron- Oh, let me get my atlas out here! You would get all those countries into the Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe which used to be called Rhodesia, you’ve got Tanzania, that’s a brief sort of thing but it’s underneath that area, sub-Sahara desert. Now the Horn of Africa, which would be over in the Ethiopia area that we talk about a lot, it’s sort of a split you might say between the two. We consider it 1040 window just because of the results there! And it’s close to the 1040 if it’s not in it, I haven’t looked at it lately. But it would fall into that whereas, if you get south of that, no it’s not the same thing.

Joy- Okay, so if I’m understanding correctly, back in the day, originally, the 1040 window was a place that was hostile to the Gospel so missionaries wanted to go there and they had some success but it was really when things changed and they left that God kind of did a big movement and stirred things up. So my question is then, is there another place in the world that is really ripe for the Gospel that not a lot of people have been to? Or is that not happening?

Ron- There are one-offs now. It’s not a region as much as it is a part of a country, or a style of ministry in a country or something of that nature.

Joy- Okay, well, you answered the question really well actually, Ron, thank you!

Ron- Off the cuff too!

Joy- Awesome, thanks!

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