3.15 billion people.
7,098 people groups.
That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of souls. What if I told you that was the estimated number of people unreached by the Gospel? What if I also told you that those numbers represented 41.6% of the global population. Pardon me if I’m wrong, but weren’t we given a commandment over two-thousand years ago to tell the whole world about Christ? Then why do almost half of them not even know His name?
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20
Jesus gave us a commission. We’ve had several thousand years to complete it and here we are sipping lattes while people still haven’t heard his name. Something is very wrong. Why have we grown complacent? We sit on our butts pretending everything is fine. Thousands if not millions die every day without hearing the Gospel in their native tongue and we act as if it’s something less than a crisis. We say Jesus could return any day, talking about all the signs that are taking place, yet we ignore the fact that we’re failing in our biggest call. We literally only had one job.
So, we’ve established that we as Christ’s church have miserably failed at our chief calling, but why? Why aren’t we doing as much as we could? I think a large part of it has to do with ignorance. We don’t even realize how great a need there is to evangelize the unreached. I know I, for one, assumed that the amount of unreached people groups was much smaller than it actually is. That’s not to say we haven’t made any progress since Christ’s time, because we’ve made significant progress, but we’re still not a level anywhere near acceptable. We grow complacent because we don’t believe there’s any reason not to.
Many of the other reasons are ones I have discussed at length in my other posts. A large reason I believe we’ve only evangelized a little over half of the world is because of fear for our own safety. Going to an unreached people group is dangerous. It’s hard. It requires a lot of sacrifices, in some cases even your life. But as I discussed in Hudson Taylor Part Three: In Light of Eternity, it’s worth it. Any sacrifice we could make on this earth, be it our comfort, our safety, our home, our family, our health, or our life, is worth it. We have a far better home awaiting us, and so could millions more if we decided to put God’s command over our comfort and safety.
Now as I say all this, I don’t want you to take it to mean all of us are supposed to fly to another country and live there the rest of our lives. Not all of us are supposed to be foreign missionaries, but that absolutely does not mean we weren’t all called to live out our faith radically. The commands of the Bible don’t just apply to pastors and missionaries. They apply to all of us. Not all Christians of the early church were all Pauls or Peters. They didn’t all wander around with nothing but the clothes on their backs. But do you know what they all had in common? They were all selfless. They were all committed to helping each other, loving God and neighbor until Christ returns. Many sold their homes and much of what they had so that those that really needed the money could use it.
There are still 82 (of our total 489) people groups in the United States that have so little exposure to the Gospel that they are classified as unreached. There are millions more that have heard the Gospel that haven’t had anyone take the time to teach them what it truly means. The situation is desperate. This darkness grows even in our own backyard, only encouraged by the rising acceptance it has found among cultural Christians hesitant to contradict the culture.
So if the situation is so dire here in the States, why have I advocated for more missionaries to deliver the Gospel to the unreached in foreign countries? Let me compare the situations. The United States has over 300,000 churches. We have a constitution that allows us to openly pray, meet in fellowship, and read our Bibles. We have hundreds of schools to train ministers and disciples. Unreached countries, however, are an entirely different story. Churches are very few and very far between, often ill-equipped with a lack of information or training. Many of these churches are in regions where their faith is illegal, making the already scarce access to Bibles even scarcer. Many pastors and new believers have little opportunity to properly develop their faith, only knowing one or two people that have studied the Word in-depth.
After seeing these disparities, it becomes more evident why I said what I did. The American church certainly needs a revival, but people in unreached regions need people to come and tell them what we’ve known about for centuries. There is a greater need out there than we can even imagine, and we claim to have the one thing that can save. I love this quote from Penn Jillette, an avowed atheist, and famous magician:
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
We claim to know the One that can save us from all the miseries of this life and the one to come, yet we sit around doing nothing. Even outsiders looking in can see that there’s a serious disparity between what we preach and what we practice. I know our faith isn’t supposed to make sense to the world, but I don’t think this is what that saying is intending.
Love your neighbor with reckless abandon. Don’t stay quiet, the Gospel is worth a little discomfort, isn’t it?