Monday, July 16, 2012

Missions Around the World (showcase): Norway and China

Our youth group from church is in Orlando this week doing mission work.  We'll end our week at Walt Disney World touring the World Showcase at Epcot and learning a bit of "missions & outreach" information about each country.  This is what we'll be learning:
·      History of country Two centuries of Viking raids into Europe tapered off following the adoption of Christianity by King Olav TRYGGVASON in 994. Conversion of the Norwegian kingdom occurred over the next several decades. In 1397, Norway was absorbed into a union with Denmark that lasted more than four centuries. In 1814, Norwegians resisted the cession of their country to Sweden and adopted a new constitution. Sweden then invaded Norway but agreed to let Norway keep its constitution in return for accepting the union under a Swedish king. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century led to a 1905 referendum granting Norway independence. Although Norway remained neutral in World War I, it suffered heavy losses to its shipping. Norway proclaimed its neutrality at the outset of World War II, but was nonetheless occupied for five years by Nazi Germany (1940-45). In 1949, neutrality was abandoned and Norway became a member of NATO. Discovery of oil and gas in adjacent waters in the late 1960s boosted Norway's economic fortunes. In referenda held in 1972 and 1994, Norway rejected joining the EU. Key domestic issues include immigration and integration of ethnic minorities, maintaining the country's extensive social safety net with an aging population, and preserving economic competitiveness.
·      Population in 2009, 4,812,000
·      Population age 0-14 in 2010 18.8%
·      Life expectancy (females and males, years)  83.4/ 79.2
·      Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 3.0
·      Unemployment 3.3% of labor force
·      Homelessness rates  Despite Norway’s increased level of wealth and increased attention on poverty from the government, child poverty has gradually increased since 2000. Even though poverty is not nearly as prevalent in Norway, than it is in many other countries, the child poverty rate is surprisingly higher than that of other western societies. Child poverty in determined by comparing what children have in one country, compared to several neighboring countries.
In 2006, almost eight percent of all children under eighteen years old living in Norway (85,000 children), were living in households defined as “poor” by the European Union’s poverty measurement standard.
Statistics show that of Norway’s population of 4.4 million, there are 1.4 homeless people per 1,000 people. It would be better to consider the majority of these people to be categorized as “living in poverty,” because there are very few that are actually homeless. The majority of people living in poverty stay with friends or family, live in institutions, prisons, hostels, or shelters. The government has established facilities to lodge all whom are unable to manage and protect for themselves
·      Population Below Poverty Line 6.4%
·      People living with HIV/ AIDS 4,000 in 2009
·      Religion Church of Norway (Evangelical Lutheran - official) 85.7%, Pentecostal 1%, Roman Catholic 1%, other Christian 2.4%, Muslim 1.8%, other 8.1% (2004)
Norway has an official Protestant State Church based on the Evangelical-Lutheran religion. Although there is no separation of Church and State, all inhabitants have the right to exercise their religion freely in accordance with a 1964 amendment to the Constitution. Eight out of ten ethnic Norwegians are members of the State Church of Norway.

Some 5.9% of the population are members of other religious communities, while 6.2% do not belong to any religious community at all. The largest religious and life-stance communities outside the Church of Norway are the Humanist Movement, represented by the Norwegian Humanist Association (63 000), Islam (60 000), the Pentecostal Movement (45 000), the Roman Catholic Church (40 000 or more), the Evangelical-Lutheran free church (20 000), Methodists (13 000) and several lesser free churches.
·      History of country For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, MAO's successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. China since the early 1990s has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.
·      Population in 2011 1,343,239,923
·      Population age 0-14 in 2010 19.9%
·      Life expectancy (females and males, years)  75.9/ 72.3
·      Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 20.4
·      Unemployment in 2011 6.5% of labor force
·      Homelessness rates 2.8%  (estimated 150,000 children)
·      Population Below Poverty Line 13.4% 128 million Chinese are now considered below the poverty line (2011)
·      People living with HIV/ AIDS 740,000
·      Religion Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2% note:officially atheist (2002 est.)
·      UM Missionaries
o      Connie Wieck is a United Methodist missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries serving in Longzhou (“Long Joe"), in southern China near the Vietnam border, under the auspices of the Amity Foundation.

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