Did you know that there are over seven billion people in the world today? While it can’t be 100% confirmed, many demographers believe the number of people alive today outnumbers the amount of people that have ever lived and died before the 1950s combined.
Did you know that among the 7 billion plus people alive today, there are over 16,000 people groups? A people group is a large group of people sharing the same language, culture, customs, and values.
Did you know that of the 16,000 people groups around the world, 6,500 of them are completely unreached with the Gospel? According to the Joshua Project website, “An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group” (Joshuaproject.net). In essence, there is little or no Christian missionary presence and less than 2% Christian population.
Did you know that among these 6,500 unreached people groups, over 5,500 of them are in the 10/40 Window? The 10/40 Window is the area between the 10 degree north and 40 degree north latitudes. This area covers northern Africa, the Middle East, and most of Asia where over 2/3 of the world population lives.
Did you know that of every dollar brought into the American church, less than one penny goes to reaching the unreached in the 10/40 Window? I recently heard a pastor say that more money was spent by Americans in 2014 for Halloween costumes for pets than was given by the American church to reach people in the 10/40 Window.
Did you know that less than 5% of the missionaries sent out by the American Evangelical church go to the 10/40 Window?
Why do I share these somewhat sobering statistics? For several reasons. First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I do not want to bash the American church. When I first began to read and study the statistics and information of unreached people groups, my first reaction was frustration with the American church in a whole. I thought, why are they not doing more? God quickly slapped me in the face with a truth I read in a book by Robert McAfee Brown that “when I look at the shortcomings of the Church, I can’t charge them up to somebody else. I can’t say, ‘it’s their fault’; I have to say (and it’s no fun), ‘It’s my fault'” (Brown 14). The truth is, the church is not the building, the church is the people. And as a Christian, the Bible says that I am the church. I’ve come to realize that I am as guilty as any on living my life with a limited perspective of the world so I do not write to condemn the church.
The main reason I write these statistics is to inform you. Some of you I’m sure are familiar with those stats I shared, but for many that I have shared these with before, I’ve found that these statistics will blow your mind.
When Jesus’ time on earth was complete after His resurrection, the gospels give accounts of Jesus’ last words. In Matthew 28, Jesus gave His final instructions to the disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 emphasis added). This command is not just for some elite Christians, but for all Christians! While the location of where we “go” might vary, we are all called to be apart of reaching the nations.
The biggest problem I see with all of this is not the fact that there is still over 6.500 people groups unreached; the issue I see at hand is the lack of responsibility most of us feel towards helping reach those people. In our court systems in America, we have a law titled “Ignorantia juris non excusat.” In Latin it means “ignorance of the law excuses no one.” While we uphold this in the court of law, we often would like to ignore it in regards to our responsibility as Christians. But ignorance of God’s word is no excuse. Just because we don’t feel adequate to serve God in reaching all people groups, doesn’t mean God doesn’t want to use us.
So what is our role in reaching the nations and what can we be doing practically in our day-to-day lives to live with a global mindset? Claude Hickman, in his book Live Life on Purpose, lays out five responses to God’s call to reaching the nations.
The first step is to learn. This past year has been a huge learning experience for me. From great missional books like I mentioned above, to using amazing resources like the Joshua Project and learning from others who have served in cross-cultural ministry, God has expanded my perspective of the world and opened my eyes to the needs and the opportunities to serve.
Next is to pray. God instituted prayer as an avenue for us as humans to intercede to God on behalf of others and to help bring His will here on earth. James writes in his letter, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b). We ought to be praying daily for unreached people groups and for God to send people to take the gospel to them. An easy and great way to do this is to simply download an app on your smart phone. Joshua Projects has an app with an unreached people group of the day. It gives statistics, information, and specific prayer requests. I have realized that simply spending a few minutes each day doing this is a great reminder to keep the unreached in prayer and to encourage others to as well (You can download the app here).
For some, the next step is to go. I think it is important for all believers to go short-term on missions if at all possible. Having been on several in the States, one overseas, and another approaching in just one day, I’ve seen how God has grown and used these trips to change my life. But for some, the call is more than just a week, month or summer. For some, God is calling to full-time mission work. Personally, I’m still trying to figure this out. I’m still wading through the waters trying to figure out if God is calling me to go overseas or calling me to “go” stay in America. But the call is still the same regardless, “make disciples of all nations.”
The last three steps are to welcome, send, and mobilize. There are nearly 700,000 international college students in America. But of these, most of them are never welcomed into an American home ever. Jesus told His followers that “all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). There is an ever-increasing number of internationals, many of whom come from these unreached people groups, that are waiting for someone to notice them and reach out their hand in friendship.
As believers, we are called to give generously to the local church (2 Corinthians 8:1-15). With this, we should be supporting local ministry and global ministry. Giving generously does not mean giving God our leftovers. We should be giving to God of the first fruits of our money, not the crumbs. Apart from the church, there are many great mission organizations that are focused on reaching the unreached groups (Joshua Project, EFCA, New Tribes Mission).
The final role of a Christian is to be a mobilizer. Regardless of our age, location, or job, we should be passionate about reaching the lost and should be looking for ways to reach the lost here and raise awareness among other believers of the need to go and serve.
We all are called to be people that pray, send, welcome, and mobilize. The real question is whether or not we are to go. In Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38). I want to end by challenging you with a quote from one of the wisest men of all times, Uncle Ben from Spider-Man (I mean, he was pretty wise…). “With great power comes great responsibility.”God has blessed those of us that know Him for a reason. That reason is not just for our own gain but to reflect our blessing onto others. I hope that as God has laid this on my heart to live with a global mindset He too will burden you to do the same and live your life on purpose: to reach the nations for Christ.
Brown, Robert McAfee. The Significance of the Church. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956. Print.
Hickman, Claude. Live life on purpose: God’s Purpose, Your Life, One Journey. Eunumclaw, WA: WinePress Pub., 2005. Print.