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9Marks Pastors' and Theologians' Forum

Do you like Patrick Johnstone's book Operation World? Why or why not?

Answers from


Mark Dever

I use Operation World regularly. When I'm composing my notes for my pastoral prayer I always consult Operation World. It gives me good suggestions for how I can more specifically pray for nations. So rather than simply praying for the gospel to spread in Germany (a fine prayer itself!), I can pray with a little more knowledge and thought about particular ways that Christians are doing this in Germany. Because it is a book, the information is sometimes dated, but periodicals and the internet can easily supplement that inevitable deficiency. 

Mark Dever is the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC.


Matthias Lohmann

I can't think of any reason why you would not like Operation World. Sure, sometimes the "Answers to Prayer" could be better explained and more background could be given for some prayer requests, but no one forces me to pray for everything Operation World suggests and I can use other sources to learn more about certain things.

Ultimately, it is a blessing to have Operation World. My sinful tendency is always to limit my concern to things that impact me personally and immediately. Scripture, of course, is the primary source to correct this sinfully self-centered perspective. It turns our thoughts away from the here and now to eternal matters, from the self to God and others; still, I benefit from other sources that help me to grow in my concern for the whole world. Operation World is such a source.

Matthias Lohmann serves as pastor of the FEG Muenchen-Mitte in Munich, Germany.


Conrad Mbewe
I love Patrick Johnstone's Operation World. It reminds me of William Carey's 1791 Enquiry, especially the survey section where he dealt with the tragic statistics of the unfinished task of world evangelism. That effort gave birth to the modern missionary movement!

I find Operation World helpful not only for prayer but in giving me a snapshot of what is going on in various countries, spiritually speaking. Therefore, as I go to any country as an itinerant preacher, I am able to have on my fingertips some ideas about the kind of country I am visiting. I have found the information to be fairly accurate, within the author's limitations.

But like all human products it has its shortcomings. It is written from a broadly evangelical position, and so tends to be too generous in its definition of healthy Christianity. As long as I bear that in mind, I find it a helpful tool. Perhaps Christians in the Western world have better resources. As a pastor in the heart of Africa, I do not know of a better tool than Operation World for the purposes stated above.

Conrad Mbewe is the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia.


Michael Oh

In earlier generations, Christians prayed for the global lost and missionaries based on biblical conviction, aided by at best an occasional prayer letter and a bit of imagination (often quite inaccurate) about the tribes, languages, peoples and nations of the world. In our generation there is no excuse either for a lack of biblical conviction in praying for the global peoples and the global church or for empty or uninformed prayer. Operation World, perhaps more than any other resource, has impacted the possibility and actuality of informed prayer for the world.

"God bless Japan" is, no doubt, a prayer that God can and does answer. But a person can pray more specifically and strategically for a nation like Japan when he or she has the opportunity to learn not only about Japan's political, demographic, and religious statistics but about Japan's greatest advances, needs, and challenges according to the collective wisdom of church and mission leaders. In general, this type of information helps to increase a Christian's understanding and passion for nations around the world.

Perhaps if we were as informed and deliberate about prayer for ourselves and our nation as Operation World has helped many to be about the world, the prayers of American Christians could advance beyond "God bless me," "God bless you," and "God bless America."

Michael Oh is the president of Christ Bible Institute and Seminary in Nagoya, Japan.


Luiz Sayão

Operation World is a very helpful handbook about evangelical Christian missions around the world. It is a global overview of the church situation in all countries.

The book is an invitation to alterity, to otherness. We are often egocentric, paying attention primarily to our needs and families and churches. To read Operation World is to be set free from this narcissism. It allows you to make a fascinating trip to the persecuted Church in North Korea and Saudi Arabia; to secularized countries of Western Europe such as the Netherlands and France; to the growing churches of Brazil, China, and South Korea; to the challenge of the spiritual awakening in Russia, Romania, and other Eastern European countries; to the suffering and poverty of millions in many countries of Africa.

Operation World is a wonderful opportunity to prepare our minds and our hearts for missions and to see the faces and feel the hearts of our brothers and sisters all over the world.

Luiz Sayão is a pastor, professor of Old Testament, and Bible translator in Brazil. He also translated Operation World into Portuguese.


July/August 2009
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