Jesus commanded, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” and “make disciples of all nations” (Mk 16:15; Mt 18:19). These simple yet vital instructions define the primary life-mission for every Christian.
Christ has commissioned us as His ambassadors and witnesses to the world. Thus, as His devoted followers, we are to actively share the Gospel and make disciples; and help to equip and send others.
So how are we, as the Body of Christ, doing with our mission to reach beyond our borders and take the Gospel into all the world? Well, let’s just say there is still much to be done!
It is a joy and privilege to offer someone the incredible news of our Savior. But often, our circle of influence may not reach beyond our own city.
THE BIG PICTURE
Today, there are still vast population segments in our world that have never even heard the name of Jesus, let alone been given a clear presentation of salvation.
Missiologists estimate there are still roughly 7,000 people groups without a witness of Christ, and no indigenous (local) community of Christians to evangelize them.
Incredibly, for almost half of these people groups, there is no coordinated effort to reach them (“unengaged”). There are no missionaries or planned outreach, no churches planted, and no Christian materials or Bibles in their mother-tongue languages.
In total, almost 2 billion people today need someone from outside their own people group to bring them the Gospel; then disciple them and equip them to reach their own people group.
FLESH AND BLOOD
Sending Bibles or printed materials is good; but it does not help the 1+ billion people who are illiterate. The internet is useful; but not for the 3 billion people who cannot access it (many of whom live among the unreached). And for the majority of the unreached, the preferred learning mode is oral, not written.
So what does this tell us? That God still needs people – those who are willing to obey Christ’s call and commission – to personally GO to unreached people groups.
Jesus did more than send messages to the world. He came in the flesh and dwelt among us in living, bodily form. He was seen, touched and heard. He gave up His own life so that others might be saved and have eternal life.
Then Jesus asked His disciples to do the very same, to go and lose their life for His sake. And as His disciples today, we are also called to go into the world, represent Christ and make disciples of all nations.
Simply stated, discipleship means to walk with them until they can walk with Him. This takes time and relationship, and may not sit well in our fast-paced, instant-results culture. But God will not conform His already-revealed ways to suit our lifestyles.
Making disciples involves going to and living among people, sharing God’s Word and Christ’s salvation, and walking together in mutual support of the Spirit’s ongoing transforming work in their hearts and in ours.
IT’S ABOUT THE ONE
Missionary service does not seem as popular a message from pulpits today. Yet the Bible reveals that people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6a). Millions upon millions are perishing without Christ – eternally destroyed – yet so many are unaware that this is so.
May pastors and leaders be bold to remind their flocks that Jesus has already said the primary calling for every believer is to go and make disciples. May the Lord of the Harvest once again lift the eyes of His Body to see that the fields are ripe for Harvest and the laborers are few.
Jesus taught us the priority of leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one (Matt 18:12-14). In this hour, may our hearts and resources once again be turned from simply tending the flock to actively seeking and saving the lost – especially in the unreached, never-heard-the-name-of-Jesus people groups of the world.
It was not that long ago that missions giving from Western nations supported more missionary outreach than ever in history. There was purpose in our God-given prosperity! But today, for every dollar of Christian resource given, less than one penny is devoted to reaching unreached peoples. That means that less than 1% of what the Lord has given His Church is being used to reach those who have never heard the name of Jesus.
WHAT IF… ?
What then can be done? Clearly, reaching the world for Christ is a massive undertaking and can seem overwhelming. But remember that Jesus only asks of us what He also enables us to do. So preaching the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation must be do-able!
Sociology studies reveal that an entire culture can be changed when just 2% of its people have a strong enough vision to act upon it. And what greater vision for any people or culture than the cause of Christ!
This means that if just 1 in 50 people in a village gets saved, and discipled to walk with Jesus and committed to share the Gospel – they can change their entire village! Just 100 in 5,000 could change a city; 1,000 in 50,000 could change their region. And so on.
Jesus makes His priority clear – but do we believe His Commission enough to act upon it with full-hearted commitment and zeal?
Please pray with us that the command of Christ to reach the unreached will become a priority for churches, denominations and individuals – that we will unify and work together, unto the glory of God.
God’s Spirit can easily inspire ways for this to happen. Here’s just one idea: There are hundreds, if not thousands, of denominations in the world today. What if someone reading this began to organize the denominations to “adopt” one or more unreached people group? Each denomination could then devote all of their missions’ resources, efforts and personnel to equip people who are best positioned to reach their adopted group – and easily accomplish the goal.
We can do this! Christians today – in the Western world alone – have enough resource, technology and gifting to easily fulfill Christ’s Great Commission within a single generation (20-25 years) if we would simply unify and make it a priority (Eph 4:16).
You might be asking, “Well, what can I do?” It is true that no one of us can do it all; but each of us can do something.
First and foremost, we must pray. Jesus said: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt 9:37,38). Our Lord asks us to both go, and to pray for others to be sent. Pray, too, for God’s Spirit to be poured out on today’s generation. They desperately need the passion and purpose of God revealed for their lives!
At World MAP seminars, we always emphasize Christ’s Great Commission. Indigenous pastors are taught to not only make disciples, but to make a priority of reaching the unreached groups in their regions and to plant churches. Those who already know the culture and speak the language are often the most effective in their own harvest fields. So as you partner with World MAP in prayer and giving, you are equipping others who are right now reaching the unreached!
Be encouraged. There is more being done to reach the lost than we may know. A pastor raised in an isolated island of the Philippines moved to Manila for his education. He ended up receiving Christ and entering the ministry. He let us know that he was translating World MAP materials into his native tongue to evangelize and disciple his unreached island homeland. Wow!
At a World MAP seminar in Pakistan, a pastor heard the call. He wrote to us recently that he had packed up his family and moved to Thailand as a missionary. He has planted one church, and will soon plant another!
Use your influence to influence others to get involved in missions. Talk to your friends, your pastor and fellow believers in your church. Be bold, for you are only asking of them what Jesus has already asked of them! Support ministries that emphasize taking the Gospel to unreached peoples, or that actively equip others to go to the unreached.
These are the greatest days of Harvest opportunity the world has ever known. So while it is yet day, may we do our utmost to be about our Father’s business and fulfill Christ’s command. May we rise up to pray, give, go and help send others.
For truly, if we will heed the call, one day, “This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14). Now that really will be a great and glorious day!
by Wendy Parrish