As a little girl, the idea of missions scared me. Missions meant sharing the Gospel with a whole new people group in a different culture. And in my six-year-old mind, that meant living in a faraway place, in a hut with no running water or electricity. I vividly remember one day coming home from church crying out to God with a singular request: “Please, God,” I prayed, “don’t call me to be a missionary!”
Like a movie reel, I could see my life playing out right before my eyes. There was my modest hut in a remote village in the middle of the Sahara, with dirt for floors. And hot water? Well you could forget about that. That was simply too much to bear. Too uncomfortable.
The Gospel was never intended for a select few.
I can only wonder what God thought during that tearful plea. Thankfully, God has graciously shifted my perspective on missions, and my opportunity and responsibility in being part of His work. One of the places in scripture where, I believe, Jesus makes His point quite clear about His heart for missions is in the Great Commission. Surrounded by the disciples, Jesus said:
“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” (Matthew 28:18-19).
This commandment – the very last one He left us – is cut and dried: Make disciples. Of ALL nations.
The Gospel was never intended for a select few. In its original Greek, the term “Gospel” means “good news.” And this Good News was meant to be communicated to everyone: all people groups and all cultures. While that message needs to be shared with my neighborhood Starbucks barista, it is equally important to be heard by my neighbor 8,000 miles away who lives in a community that has never known the name of Jesus.
This Good News was meant to be communicated to everyone: all people groups and all cultures.
Both are my neighbors. But how often do we turn a blind eye to those who we know little of, who live halfway across the world and come from a culture vastly different than our own, and instead turn our gaze to people who live and look just like us? Because let’s face it…THAT’S comfortable.
Don’t get me wrong. There is no shortage of people we run across each day who need to know about Jesus. That is part of our mission field. But do we welcome the challenge of stepping outside of our comfort zone into cultures far unlike our own to share the love of Christ?
Statistics show there are 16,825 people groups throughout the globe that don’t know Christ. That’s 2.91 billion people without access to the Gospel. Who will tell them about Christ?
In Jesus, we see one who pursued us relentlessly to redeem us. And as Christ followers, shouldn’t we strive with even an inkling of that same zeal to engage others to know Him? You may say, “But I’m not called to go overseas.” Perhaps. God may not be calling you to relocate. But does that exclude you from being part of God’s work to spread the good news as far as the east is from the west?
There are 16,825 people groups throughout the globe that don’t know Christ. That’s 2.91 billion people without access to the Gospel. Who will tell them about Christ?
Engaging in missions can take a number of forms – prayer, financial support, encouragement, and physical presence, to name a few. Here are some helpful things I’ve found when considering my part of God’s mission:
1. Learn about the needs of the unreached.
The Joshua Project is a great website to check out. Here, you’ll find a variety of information about ethnic groups, needs and statistics, and ministry resources available.
2. Consider local cross-cultural opportunities.
We live in a global melting pot, and that leaves no shortage of cultures in our own backyard. Look for opportunities to engage in activities outside of your cultural norm. Volunteering with international students can be a great start! Many students from overseas are hungry to meet others and learn.
Ask God specifically for opportunities and discernment in how He is calling you to be involved in His global movement. Perhaps research an unreached people group, and start regularly praying for them to be reached and for solutions to be found for the unique obstacles that are hindering the advancement of the good news (i.e. language and geographical remoteness, etc.).
4. Read up.
There are some great books that speak to the heart of this very issue, like Radical by David Platt and Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan.
In Revelation (Revelation 5:9 and 7:9-10), we’re given the picture of every tribe, tongue, nation and people standing before God’s throne. May we be a generation that engages like never before in helping bring the good news to all people.
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