For "America's Pastor," everything seems to be going extremely well right now in the USA. Lakewood Church is bursting at the seams. Pastor Osteen continues to be invited to speak on TV shows such as Larry King Live. AIROST will soon be adding routes to five new cities. Your Best Life Now has set numerous sales records. And now his new book (Become a Better You) is ready to come into stores all over the USA.
One problem remains for Pastor Joel. His books are not selling well in a large part of the world: the "10/40 window."
The "10/40 window" is the part of the world in the eastern hemisphere that falls roughly between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude. You can clearly see it on the map above. This is the section of the world A) where most of the unreached people groups live, and B) where most of the non-Christians live. For these two closely related reasons, this part of the world is a primary focus for international missions.
The 10/40 window is also the area of the world where Christians face the most persecution. The worst persecutors, such as North Korea, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Sudan, all fall into this critical window of the world (North Korea is actually not labeled on this map because it is so dangerous for Christians to even be there).
TBNN has learned that Christians who live in these countries just do not find Pastor Osteen's books relevant. For example, despite the fact that "Your Best Life Now" was translated into Korean, the North Korean Christians just do not want to read it.
North Korean Pastor Kim Sung-Wei (named changed for security reasons) told TBNN, "North Korean Christians face great difficulty each day. If the authorities find out that we serve Jesus, they will take away our homes and jobs. If they find us meeting together for worship, they will throw us in jail. As a pastor, I have been beaten three times already this year. This man, Osteen, writes about things that we do not understand."
"Your Best Life Now," while being a best-seller in the USA, sold five copies in Pyongyang, and three in the remainder of the country. We have heard of similar stories in much of the rest of the 10/40 window.
Although Lakewood Church denies it, TBNN has also learned that "Become a Better You" has had almost no advance orders from inside the 10/40 window.
TBNN recently made a trip to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia to meet with Christians there. We took an advance copy of "Become a Better You" with us to get a local pastor's thoughts on it (obviously, it had been translated into Arabic).
We told pastor Abdul al-Mansur (name changed for security reasons) that Lakewood Church's website said this about the new book: "Joel Osteen offers seven simple yet profound action steps that will help readers discover the better things they were born realize."
We then shared Osteen's 7 steps:
1. Keep pressing forward.
2. Be positive toward yourself.
3. Develop better relationships.
4. Form better habits.
5. Embrace the place where you are.
6. Develop your inner life.
7. Stay passionate about life.
Pastor al-Mansur's reaction was typical of what we have seen from Christians who face significant persecution. He told TBNN, "I feel sorry for this man Osteen. He writes all about making yourself better. This is not what the bible says. We know that only God is good, and that He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross. We know that if our sufferings bring glory to Him, then it is worth it. Only God sustains us. Pastor Osteen seems to be reading his own books more than he reads the bible."
TBNN has also found out that although the Osteen books have not done well in the 10/40 window, they have found surprising success in Western Europe. Paris, in particular, appears to be a hub of Osteen book clubs.
No word yet as to whether or not AIROST will be scheduling flights to Beijing, Damascus, or Tehran any time soon.