Image: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

By Alex Pollock

On Saturday, 9 September, in a sideline meeting during the G20 summit, several countries agreed to the creation of a multinational rail and shipping project that will link India with Europe, via the Middle East. The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) will help to boost trade, energy production, and digital connectivity for all three regions. Plans for the corridor began in July 2022 during US President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia. During the G20 summit, India, the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union agreed to a framework for the corridor, with more concrete plans expected to be rolled out within 60 days. The planned corridor will connect India to Western Europe via Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, and Israel, and will include the building of a hydrogen pipeline, trains, fibre optic cables, electrical cables, and other infrastructure. It will run almost 5,000km (3,000 miles) and consist of an eastern corridor – connecting India to the Arabian Gulf – and a northern corridor which will connect the Arabian Gulf to Europe. Expected to cut trade time between India and Europe by nearly 40%, this corridor will rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative – a project started by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. While not present at the announcement of the corridor, China’s Foreign Ministry said, “It welcomes all initiatives that truly help developing countries build infrastructure and sincere efforts to promote connectivity and common development,” as long as such initiatives “do not become geopolitical tools.” India is not a part of the Belt and Road Initiative, so this project provides alternative infrastructure and trade resources to the world’s most populous country.

India is also the world’s most ‘unreached’ country, with 2,135 people groups (90% of its population, according to the Joshua Project) with little to no exposure to the Gospel. One of the unique aspects of the IMEC is the religious demography of the countries through which it will be constructed. Running through one of the most prominent Islamic-majority nations (Saudi Arabia), the largest Hindu-majority nation (India), the Jewish state of Israel, and ending in Christian-majority Western Europe, the IMEC presents the opportunity for more than just goods and energy to be transported. As with any opening of relationships between nations, there is also a potential spiritual opening as well. The harvest is plentiful, especially within these strategic nations, and the Church should not be ignorant of the season it finds itself in but should rather be prepared for the opportunity the Lord is presenting through the development of the IMEC. For the Gulf States included in the project, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the IMEC is one of many examples of how the Lord is opening doors in what used to be a very closed region. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has opened his country in many ways in recent years as part of his Saudi Vision 2030, and the improvement of relations with other Gulf States has also provided opportunities for ‘outsiders’ to enter the country. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also some of the newest members of BRICS – a group of emerging global economies – which also comprises religiously diverse nations.

These recent geopolitical events can serve as a reminder to the global Church that the Lord is actively working in the economic and political realms of every country. There are opportunities for the Church, both within and outside of these countries, to accomplish great work if it is willing to understand and interpret the season. In Matthew 16, Jesus tells a group of Pharisees and Sadducees, “When evening comes, you say, `It will be fair weather, for the sky is red, and in the morning, today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast’. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” May the Church pray for a greater understanding of the ‘signs of the times’ that the Lord is presenting and be prepared to make the most of each opportunity it is given.

Please join us in prayer for the following:

  • For the IMEC to create needed economic growth for the countries involved
  • For the Church to become aware of the opportunities the Lord is presenting through these geopolitical developments
  • For believers in these regions to be intentional about where the Lord is calling them to go, how He is calling them to serve, and the role that they can play in the advancement of His Kingdom