Billions Still Await the Message of Christ
"I get chills everytime I ask the question, "How many of you are first generation Christians? Almost every hand goes up. That feeling never gets old," said John L Pudaite, President of Bibles For The World sharing about his experiencing bringing the Gospel into new territories.
The experience is personal for Pudaite whose Grandfather was born and raised in Northeast India when he first heard the Gospel. Many is his village and surrounding villages ended up coming to Christ when a British missionary broke the law and brought the Gospel into Manipur, India for the first time. The rest is history.
"We can be a part of a last days move of God that is foretold in Scripture. And that's both a privilege and a profound responsibility," said Pudaite.
It's a responsibility Pudaite and connected ministries of The Allianced for the Unreached are taking seriously culminating in a national effort to raise awareness called, International Day for the Unreached this Sunday, May 15, the day of Pentecost.
The Alliance for the Unreached estimates there are 2.8 billion people without the Gospel. Other organizations including Joshua Project.net say it depends on how you define unreached to narrow down an exact number. JoshuaProject.net estimates the unreached population to be just over 3 billion out of a total population of 7,291,524,000 in the earth today which equates to over 40%.
The International Day for the Unreached is sponsored by Missio Nexus, Reach Beyond, Bibles For The World, Operation Mobilization and The Seed Company.
Pudaite shared a number of alarming missions statistics including,
- Less than 5% of the full time missionaries are working among the unreached groups.
- Less than 1% of all the dollars given to missions actually go to the unreached.
Other Progress is Being Made
The Alliance for the Unreached is not the only network working on this issue. Dr. Paul Eshleman, Vice President - Networks and Partnerships at Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ International) said the problem is awareness. The general population is unaware that there is a massive need for focused missions efforts to complete the task before us. But there is much to rejoice about at the same time. Eshleman who founded The JESUS Film Project said the 2-hour film on the life of Christ has been translated into into 1,400 languages and is available as a downloaded app. The goal is to make the film available in every language. Right now they are averaging one new translation every week. The Film has served as a catalyst in gathering viewers and converting people to Christ all over the world.
Eshelmen has also been working for the last 10 years to help coordinate and lead a network of 1,336 denominations, mission organizations and churches called Finish the Task, a collaboration focused on getting workers into every people group and tribe.
"This has been remarkable. There has never been a larger group in history moving into unreached groups in the last 10 years. Since Novermber of 2005, 1340 churches and organizations have gathered together and committed to sending a team to people groups with under 2% engaged," said Eshleman. Since 2005, 19,971 full time vocational workers and 68,000 bivocational workers have been sent and supported resulting in 97,000 churches planted reaching over 2 million people for the Gospel.
"The issue is we haven't had the focus," said Eshleman, "They are reachable. In terms of where we send the workers, 98.7% of the money we give to missions goes to where the Gospel already is."
Organizations like Cru, Bibles for the World and others are working to change that.
JoshuaProject.net in tracking unreached groups identified the vast majority of the unreached population reside in the 10/40 window - the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. (See map above)
Pray, Give, Go
"With more than 2 billion people who haven't had a chance to meet Jesus, it's time for the Body of Christ to take a radical stand and say, 'This has to end in our generation,'" said Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in support of the International Day for the Unreached.
It's focused attention, intentional giving and strategy that can reach the unreached of the world. Media and digital distribution technology are making it easier to reach people across borders and info restricted access areas. Pudiate shared that he has seen people in remote areas save all their money just to access a smartphone to communicate with the rest of the world. Texting has been a major part of the strategy in reaching these folks.
Other times it's about getting creative, developing a strategy and then taking that step of faith to go into these territories.
Pudaite reiterated, "Let's not forget that the return of Christ is tied to every nation hearing the good news."