I cannot get over the fact that there are more churches in the Twin Cities than there are Protestant North American missionaries to 1,930,000,000 Muslim, Hindu, Han Chinese and Buddhist people who have not been reached by the gospel. “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Surely this implies that churches and denominations with many members and many ministers should be giving many of these people to cultures which have virtually no gospel witness. I cannot see how we can go on with business as usual while this intolerable inequity exists: 650 Protestant North American missionaries minister to 1,930 million unreached people, while 1,000,000 Christian workers in America minister to 200 million people, most of whom are already reached. How will the church give an account of itself to the Lord?!
Here’s what needs to happen at Bethlehem to turn this around.
1) Obey daily the “command before the commission”: “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). A mighty change would occur if 600 people at BBC prayed once a day: “O, Lord of the harvest, I long to see you send out workers from Bethlehem to the hidden peoples. Please God, for your great name’s sake and for the salvation of the lost and for the joy of those who go, send many from our church into your harvest.”
2) A great stirring among the young people must occur to make them open and eager to go. Yes, many middle and older people should go, but history teaches that the great surges of missionary manpower must come from the youth whose vocational options are open and whose roots are not so deep.
3) A new “layman’s missionary movement” must take hold—composed mainly of business and professional men who are as excited about serving the cause of missions here as the youth are overseas. The first Layman’s Missionary Movement was born November 15, 1906, in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York City, when 75 laymen gathered on a stormy afternoon to pray and discuss their role in foreign missions. The aim: investigation by laymen of missionary conditions; agitation to create an adequate missionary policy in the churches and denominations; organization of laymen to cooperate with mission boards and churches to enlist the whole church in the supreme work of saving the world.
The women have been faithful in this cause all along. A great turning will require a mighty new movement among the men. Businessmen must begin to feel world missions as the greatest spiritual challenge of their lives. Their aggressive, competitive nature must be channeled against God’s greatest competitor. Men must be gripped by the truth that selfishness is suicidal while world-service brings the soul its supremest possible satisfaction. No matter how significant or insignificant their gainful employment is, men must begin to view it in the light of the great enterprise of God—gathering subjects for his kingdom from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Laymen must be challenged to live for a cause greater than their jobs present.
This is that challenge. Who has the dream? Who has the leadership? Rise up, O men of God!