(July 2014 estimate)
Capital: Tarawa Atoll
Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific, is the first to face the possibility of having all of its land territories disappear due to rising sea levels. With land scattered across 2 million square kilometers around the Equator in both the North and South Pacific Ocean, this modern day Atlantis consists of 3 island groups: The Gilbert, Line, and Phoenix Islands. Kiribati consists of 33 coral atolls, 23 of which are inhabited by a growing population of 103,000 people, all of whom face a massive exodus and migration from their homeland.
Kiribati is the only nation in the world to fall into all four hemispheres. Half of the population lives on a single atoll on the main island of South Tarawa. The capital of Tarawa is halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Gaining independence from Britain in 1979, Kiribati is a democratic republic. As one of the least developed Pacific islands and having very few natural resources, many work abroad. Tragically, many of these workers return home with HIV/AIDS or drug problems and addictions. Due to the vast distance between the islands, many people depend on foreign aid and remittances abroad to bolster the economy.
Nearly all of the people (98.5%) identify as Christian, but nominalism and syncretism block many from true fellowship with God. The once-strong Protestant Church faces slow decline, losing members to other groups. Practices of spiritism have become far too common. The theological college in Tarawa is not evangelical. Spiritual growth is too often followed by decline, since foreign financial windfalls and occasional healings become the main attraction rather than biblical teaching and transformed lives. Overpopulation and unemployment have become a dangerous combination and have led to a rise in alcohol abuse, especially among the youth. There is a need for revival among the youth, for them to live wholesome lives with godly purpose. The impending disaster of becoming refugees due to land loss can be a powerful reminder that our eternal home is in heaven. May the people come to know God and find their security in the Lord – regardless of any possible loss of their nation's land.
(Used with permission from www.prayercast.com/kiribati.html.)
Consider how you may be able to proclaim the gospel among the various people. Reaching out and teaching the youth is a large need for this island nation. It is a vast demographic that is growing up with a "cultural" Christianity, but not understanding the importance of a personal relationship in Jesus Christ. For more information, please contact BIMI's Southeast Asia Director.