There are twice as many churches in the Twin Cities as there are missionaries to all the unreached Buddhist peoples in the world. There are some 1000 culturally distinct Buddhist people groups that have no evangelizing church planted in them. Some 150 million people without Christ and without hope live in these groups. About 400 missionaries are working among these groups. But there are well over 800 Christian churches in the Twin Cities.
Recently I have been increasingly gripped by the unfinished work of world evangelization. What does that mean? What would “finished” look like? Two thoughts: 1) Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations (=people groups); then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). 2) Everywhere Paul went in his missionary journeys he formed converts into new churches (Acts 14:21-23).
At least then we could say that a biblical attempt to finish the command of Jesus to disciple the nations (=peoples) would include the attempt to plant a church in every people. How many converts there have to be from every people before the task is done, no one knows but God. He knows his sheep by name and calls them. He said in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also.” God will see to it that his sheep from all the peoples are gathered in (John 11:52). The work he has appointed for us is to go and plant an evangelizing church in every unreached people by “witnessing to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Is it not clear from this that if we want to be a faithful and obedient church we must be radically committed to send our people, at whatever cost, to as many of the 12,000 unreached people groups as we can in the next ten years?
Does this thought grip you the same way it does me: where the church is planted it often explodes and changes society profoundly for the good of people? But where the church is not planted, nothing happens! Can you feel what Paul felt when he said, “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named.” He was driven by this prophecy from Isaiah 52:15.
They shall see
who have never been told of him,
and they shall understand
who have never heard of him.
More and more I feel the urgency of this priority for our church. Yes, there are crying, urgent needs in Minneapolis. But just think of it. Over 800 churches!!! More churches than all the missionaries now working among all the unreached Buddhists and Muslims of the world. That means 5000 people groups with 1.13 billion people cut off from Christ and from eternal life, and only 400 missionaries working there!
How then shall we live? What should our lifestyles be? What should be our sacrifice for this utterly urgent mission of obeying Jesus and reaching the unreached peoples. How then should we pray? How should we read and study? How should we play?
Sixty-six thousand people a day die without Christ among the unreached peoples of the world. If this does not move you to do something radical with your life, ask God for a baptism of power and compassion.
That’s my longing for me and you,