Frequently Asked Questions

Across the years, we have received regular queries from our users. We pass these questions and our answers on to you, hoping the information provided will prove useful. Note that Operation World is abbreviated throughout as OW

For questions regarding abbreviations found in the text, please visit this Abbreviations page. For questions regarding the use of specific terms in the text, please see the Glossary here.

Operation World – the Book

When will the next edition be published?

We are working on it as we speak! Since the last edition, we have also published several other resources, relocated the office multiple times, and seen every team member from the 7th edition (except for two) move on to other commitments. The process of setting up systems and processes, doing the massive amounts of research, analysis, consulting, and then writing, editing, and publishing makes it a multi-year project. When things become clearer, we will share a publication date. We are looking forward to its completion just as much as yourselves!

Where can I obtain another copy of Operation World (or other OW publication)? 

OW is available in all its formats via Our Publications page or in a variety of retail stores. Support your local Christian bookstore if you have one!

Besides English, is OW available in other languages? How can I get a copy of OW in another language?

You can find all the OW publications, in all available languages, here on Our Publications page, including our free mobile app (available in English and German).

I wish to translate OW into another language. Whom do I contact? 

We are eager for OW to make its way to the hands of intercessors around the world in a language they can understand, and therefore we welcome those willing to volunteer for the significant task of translation of any of our resources! Permission requests to translate the Operation World text should be directed to, and approved in writing by Pieter Kwant, The Piquant Agency, 183 Platt Lane, Manchester M14 7FB United Kingdom.

I wish to share or distribute some of the information in OW with my prayer group / in a presentation / on my website. Is that okay?

We are eager for this information to be shared, that prayers might increase! For most small group and congregational contexts, the short answer is therefore, “No problem, go for it!” We do, however, adhere to international laws governing the copyright of published material. Please consult the guidelines found on our Terms and Conditions page.

I have found in the text what I believe to be an error / information that needs to be updated. How do I submit corrected or new information for use in a future edition?

Together, the OW team and publisher work earnestly to present a resource as accurate as we are able to make it. Regrettably, it is all but impossible to produce a manuscript of such volume and complexity without inaccuracies or mistakes within. Additionally, time has passed since the last edition and inevitably, things change. Please submit your suggestions, corrections, updates, disagreements on our Contact page.

Will you ever offer an online version that is updated in real time?

We don’t believe it is possible (without nigh-unlimited resources) to do both in depth research / analysis and careful, consultative writing of prayer material while at the same time updating all of the information in real time. This website and the mobile app (which mirrors the data on the website) are updated more frequently with simple adjustments to the most obvious changes in the world. However, it is our goal to shift to a publication schedule that allows for more regular updating of the material while retaining a robust research methodology.

Why not just put all of OW’s content on the web for free?

Unless all the expenses involved in producing OW (which are many) are otherwise underwritten, we must charge in order to recoup the costs of research and production. All royalties are used to offset the day-to-day operational expenses of this project, to finance production costs of future versions and to assist in publishing other language editions which are less economically viable projects than English. All team members are volunteers who receive no personal income from OW royalties; they instead trust the Lord to meet their financial needs, just like missionaries serving in other fields. We recognise that in the midst of epochal shifts in publishing (printed and digital), social media, attitudes toward information, fundraising and missionary finance, that significant changes in OW’s own strategy may be required in the future. We want to be faithful with all the Lord has entrusted to us – in both the what and the how of our resources and their distribution!

Operation World – the Information

Why do you count as “Christian” groups that many evangelicals consider questionable, even heretical?

This is a commonly asked question, particularly – why OW includes denominations that many would regard as in error, or even heretical cults. The answer, while perhaps not satisfying, is relatively simple – sociological research typically relies on self-identification as a means of determining inclusion in a group. In other words, if a group claims an allegiance to Christ, OW counts them as Christian. If an individual claims affiliation with a particular denomination, OW counts them as part of that group. This approach to research is not atypical. Matthew 10:32 and Romans 10:9 are good Scriptures to refer to on this issue.

This means that the label Christian is not an indicator of theological orthodoxy, but of affiliation with a particular tradition or confession of Christianity. Were we to adhere to the theological persuasions of some Christians, no group except their own would be included as truly Christian.

Does this mean OW is unconcerned with theological orthodoxy? Or with biblical teachings?

Not at all! OW takes a clear position with regard to Jesus and the Bible, as communicated in The Ethos of Operation World and throughout the text. Our measure for theological orthodoxy in OW figures comes not with the label Christian, but with the label evangelical. This label is based on adherence to four foundational beliefs (see evangelical in our Glossary). Therefore, to ascertain the number of people in a country who adhere to these beliefs, please reference figures related to evangelicals for that country.

Whom do you count as a missionary?

In the last decade, the task of determining the number of “missionaries” has become increasingly complex, perhaps more so than any other in OW. For more information regarding this question and an explanation of OW methodology, see the definition for missionary in our Glossary.

Occasionally, this book seems to portray a strong Western bias. Is that true?

OW strongly desires to represent the global Church as experienced by evangelicals of many cultures, regions and Christian confessions. We try our best to speak from a culturally and politically neutral perspective within broad global evangelicalism (to see how we understand what the word ‘evangelical’ means, please see our Glossary). However, the author and many within the team are Western evangelical Christians and cannot extract themselves entirely from either their heritage or the societies within which they currently reside. To address this inevitability, we reach out to representatives of each country to review our drafts of their country; we welcome their input. It is essential to us that their perspectives are heard, considered, and taken on board. We never publish without going through this exercise of listening and dialogue.

Why does it take so long to produce a new edition of OW?

The 7th edition contains articles on 242 states and territories; each article contains, among many things, information on the denominations, movements, and religions present. Gathering this breadth of data in and of itself requires years of information gathering, researching, praying, networking and more. Once gathered, the data are analyzed and prayer points written, then they are reviewed by contacts made through the research-gathering process. This current edition was completely updated and revised, requiring additional time. Additionally there is more information to filter through than ever; more articles, papers, and books are published with each passing year. Navigating through increasingly sophisticated bias and propaganda takes additional effort.

Why is this book so long? Are all these statistics really necessary in a prayer handbook?

Because OW is used for a myriad of purposes – from an individual’s devotional prayer, to prayer conferences, to mission research – the breadth of information is in fact necessary. To gain the informed, global and – we believe – authoritative perspective given in OW, substantial research to discover the facts is utterly necessary. From William Carey’s Enquiry of 1792 to Operation World today, God has worked mightily across the centuries through statistics and maps, using them to propel men and women of faith and devotion to the places on earth with the fewest numbers of Christians and mission workers.

It might be that the abbreviated and simplified Pray for the World is more appealing to some users, or perhaps the mobile app, or the weekly church bulletin insert called Praying for the World. The children’s version, called Window on the World, is a beautiful companion/alternative to Operation World, and often preferred by many adults!

Operation World – the Team and Project

How many people work on the team compiling OW?

Team size has fluctuated from one solitary worker to a full house of over ten people. Over the decades the team has usually averaged around 4-6 full time members. Most team members live and work in the UK, though some work at a distance (either within the UK or elsewhere). The team has, until most recently, been based around production of OW the book, and once the book was produced, team members often moved on to other pursuits. 

However, God has recently built a core team of workers committed beyond book publication, which allows us to develop other resources and plan forward for the future ministry of OW.

I would like to help work on OW – how do I get involved?

Learn more on our Join the Team page.

Do Operation World team members ever speak at conferences, churches, etc?

Sure! Just get in touch via the Contact page and we would love to hear what you have in mind.

Please keep in mind that our focus is research, and mobilizing prayer and mission for the nations. We love to share about global and regional trends, how they affect world mission, and how to pray into such matters. We love to teach about the biblical basis for mission and global intercession. We are not evangelists or church-planters. We do not lead or conduct large scale public ministry campaigns in other countries. 

How can I make a donation to the ministry of OW?

Everyone serving with OW are volunteers and missionaries, serving by faith and relying on God’s provision for their needs. We are very grateful for the generosity shown by God’s people that enables us to continue this ministry!

To make a charitable contribution to this ministry, visit our Donate page, or contact the WEC office in your country, if there is one.

What is Patrick Johnstone doing these days?

Patrick handed over leadership of the team and ministry of OW in 2004, giving Patrick the time to focus on other projects and ministry. His role related to OW since 2004 has been to support, advise and encourage – from his preferred position of being at a healthy distance! The fruit of his labours can be seen in the brilliant The Future of the Worldwide Church. Never one to stand still, even in his 80s, Patrick is working on two new books while learning yet another language (his 18th?) and speaking virtually in many online events.