The Great Imbalance
It is amazing to observe the expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ from the time Jesus informed His disciples that He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18). For almost 1900 years the growth has been gradual and has flourished, by and large, mostly in the western world. However, with the beginning of missionary movements in the early 1900s (where Grace Brethren missions began) and investments in them, the great growth of the Church has been seen in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It is estimated that by the year 2030, 85% of the followers of Jesus worldwide will be found in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The only thing that will diminish this celebration would be to know that 40% of the world remains unreached. This means our work is not finished until Jesus’ promise is completed: that all nations will hear and respond to the Gospel (Matthew 24:14).
There were two facts presented this past Sunday in our new Made for a Mission sermon series which are difficult to accept. The first: there are still two billion people or more who are part of people groups that are still unreached. This means there is no established church where a particular people group can observe an example of others being transformed by the Gospel of Jesus. That’s a very large number, and it should cause followers of Jesus to see someone to go and tell them about the new life that Jesus offers.
The second fact is that 90% of the global workers being sent out to share the Gospel are going to people groups who have already received the good news, and many in those people groups have responded in faith. It seems there is an imbalance in the proportion of workers going to reached people groups as compared to unreached groups.
If I understand 2 Peter 3:9 (which says that God is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”) and Acts 4:12 (which says “there is salvation in no one else [but Jesus]”), then it is imperative to take the good news of Jesus to every people group as soon as possible!
The good news about taking the Gospel to the whole world is that the Holy Spirit oversees this process like a field general leading a military campaign. He directs the “troops” as He desires. Acts 13:1–3 indicates that the Holy Spirit informed the local leaders of the church in Antioch that Paul and Barnabas were to be set apart for the work He had planned for them. It is interesting that the words “set apart” actually mean “released,” as in a prisoner being let go from jail. But a “field general” can only lead if he has enough willing soldiers to obey his commands.
To bring balance to the number of workers needed to go to the unreached people groups of our world, could it be that the Holy Spirit is wanting us to release some from our congregation to the work He has planned for them? I believe the answer to this question is “yes.” May we be ready to hear what the Spirit is saying to us individually and corporately to “make disciples of all nations [people groups],” especially those who have not had the opportunity to respond to Jesus’ invitation as we have had.
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Dan Green and Nancy moved back to the US after missionary service in Brazil with Encompass World Partners for 15 years. They were involved in evangelism, church planting, and leadership training. Dan grew up on a farm in Indiana, while Nancy comes from northeast Ohio. Dan studied at Purdue University (Agronomy), OSU (Soil Chemistry), and Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions. They have four children and six grandchildren. Dan enjoys gardening, camping, and international travel.