The great commission is far from being in the bag. We’ve all heard the stats.
300 million people speaking 2000 languages do not have one word of scripture available in their heart language.
7287 peoples across the face of the globe are unreached. That is, “there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group.”
Of these, 3100 people groups across the world are unengaged. That is, there is no evangelical church planting strategy being implemented among them.
In Indonesian the phrase used to describe such people reveals as much about us as it does those who still wait. What is the phrase? ‘Suku terabaikan’, literally ‘Ignored People.’ It’s an uncomfortable label as it kind of hits the nail on the head. There is a reason why there are 3100 unengaged peoples in the world. We – the global church – have chosen to ignore them.
The stats don’t move us …
In the film Hotel Rwanda there’s a poignant moment when hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina thanks a journalist for taking video footage of the genocide that was taking place. ‘I am glad that you have shot this footage and that the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance that people might intervene.’ Yet the journalist Jack replies ‘I think if people see this footage they’ll say, ‘oh … that’s horrible,’ and then go on eating their dinners.’
To our shame, that’s how most of us respond to the stats above (those of us overseas included). They don’t move us. We feel their challenge for a moment and then forget the big wide world outside our own back yard all over again.
And so if the stats don’t move us what will?
… Jesus will
As we pray for God to raise up workers for the harvest fields and as we urge our brothers and sisters to give themselves to sacrificial disciple making at home and abroad, we must remember that it’s not stats alone that will move us. What we need is more of Jesus. He is the one who can seize our emotions, he is the one who can capture our affections and he is the one who can stir our convictions.
So as we share the call to mission with this generation and the next, let’s get back to his Word. Let’s make the biblical case for mission all over again. Let’s see again and teach again that this great disciple making task is what Jesus calls his church to do, it’s what Jesus equips his church to be. And it’s what Jesus himself is doing right now, by his powerful Holy Spirit. He is fulfilling everything promised about him that repentance for the forgiveness of sins is preached to all nations (Luke 24:44-49).
Those we ignore, he adores.
By Michael Prest, working in SE Asia