I remember, as a college student, thinking there were no worlds left to conquer.
Richard E. Byrd had explored Antarctica, Hillary and Tenzing had climbed Mt. Everest, man had walked on the moon. There was nothing left to do that had not already been done.
Some people feel the same way about mission.
- All the world has been reached and explored, they say.
- Whatever is left to do, the local believers can handle anyway.
- The day of the missionary is gone.
- There is plenty of work to to do at home.
- There is absolutely no need to cross cultural boundaries to do mission.
But That’s Wrong — Dead Wrong!
There are plenty of worlds to conquer, we just don’t see them!
Today the Church is faced with many challenges in getting the Good News to the whole world. Some of these challenges are in the world outside the church, and some of them inside the church.
Let’s start by looking at the state of evangelism among the more than 13,000 unique people-groups in the world.
The immensity of the remaining task will quickly become clear.
The Non-Christian World
There are about four billion non-Christians today who have not been evangelized successfully. Nearly one third of the 13,000 people-groups in the world are yet to be evangelized.
These are staggering numbers.
This means nearly one-third of the world’s “nations, kindreds, tribes and peoples” have not been effectively evangelized!
About three billion people believe in and practice non-Christian religions. Nearly one billion today are considered “non-religious.”
And many of these people could be reached with the gospel only if someone from a different culture makes the effort to reach out to them.
Only a minority of non-Christians live near enough to Christians to be influenced by them.
The Urban World
Since 2008, over 50 percent of the world’s people live in cities.
The remaining population is rural, heavily dependent on the cities.
In the past, most megacities (five million or more) were in the western world and had an underlying Christian worldview.
Today, most of them are in the eastern world and are not simply non-Christian, but often anti-Christian.
These cities are and “Everest” challenge for Christian believers.
The Hurting World
Tremendous physical needs challenge us:
- Nearly one half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 per day
- About 35 million people have HIV; one to two million die each year from AIDS, including 200,000 children
- Up to 150 million live as street children
- There are 42,000 new orphans every day, many from HIV deaths
- Over two million children die every year of vaccine preventable disease
- 500,000 children die each year from diarrhea
- Six thousand die daily from drinking dirty water
The Least Evangelized World
Nearly two thirds (63%) of the world’s population lives in the area known as the “10/40 Window,” yet less than eight percent of them are Christians.
This part of our globe contains the area from 10 to 40 degrees north of the equator. It spans the area from North Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia to include the Asian subcontinent and most of the Far East.
It is home to most of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. This is the least evangelized area of the world.
Look at some statistics in the 10/40 Window:
- 72% of the people groups which are less than 2% Christian
- 95% of the world’s least evangelized people groups (Groups where 90% have not heard the gospel!)
- 85% of the world’s poorest people
- 34 Muslim countries, 7 Buddhists nations, 2 Hindu countries
- Fewer than 11% of all Christian missionaries work here
What Does It Mean to Be Faithful to the Great Commission?
These challenges must be met by Christians if we are to be faithful to the command Jesus gave in the Great Commission.
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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19 – 20
Which of the challenges mentioned above appeals most to you and why?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.