Don’t you love it (and let’s be honest, also kind of hate it) when God brings circumstances and input into your life that all mesh together in a perfect storm that causes you to be convicted of sin, or motivated to change or filled with passion for His work and purposes? I do (and don’t).
Recently God put a perfect storm of information in my mind and circumstances in my life that are driving me kind of crazy - making me happy/sad, frustrated/determined, eager/dreading, questioning/sure – and bringing clarity. I was loving an inductive study I was doing of Romans; it really goes into the Scriptures in depth. I was asking God to bring people into my life, or take me into their lives, so that I could share the gospel with them. I was called by God to prepare a session on “God’s Heart for the World” for a Missions’ series being presented at Willard Church. Then, He placed me in a room where I heard Todd Sovine speak. One of the things he said was that only 18% of the 7.3 million people in our district are engaged in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This is in a “Christian” country where the gospel is readily accessible. As I sat there grieving that statistic and asking God to help me be part of making that percentage higher, God reminded me of other information that I, as a missiologist and missions mobilizer, have long been aware of but never applied in the way God was now applying it to my thoughts:
An unreached people group is considered “reached” when 2-5% of the group are in an intimate relationship with Jesus.
They’re considered reached because it is believed that they (the 2-5%) should then be able to reach their own people group. Outsiders – missionaries – should be able to move on to other unreached people groups. (You can apply that as you will to the fact that 18% of our district population is supposed to love Jesus.)
There are many factors that influence the ability of the 2-5% to reach their own people. Is the Bible – even in part – translated into their language? What are the social and political realities? How well have they been discipled?
As I read emails, articles and watch video clips, I find myself asking, “How is this related to the lostness around me – nearby and far away?” An article by Aaron Earls on “10 key trends in Global Christianity for 2017” says that Christianity is no longer Western-dominated. That’s exciting! (And speaks also to the 18% figure.) In Europe, another part of “the West”, that percentage is much lower. The article also says that only half of Christians live in Christian-dominated nations. That means we’re making progress in nations dominated by other religions! Good news! Another key trend is that less of the world is unreached than ever before. Wow! In 2017, 28.4% of the world’s population is unreached with the gospel, compared to over 50% in 1900. Of course, the population has also grown and, unfortunately, the percentage decrease has also plateaued and is expected to remain around 28% for the next few decades. Cities are also growing faster than Christians are moving into them. (Does that relate to the 18% figure in our district? Are we moving away from or separating ourselves from the lost?)
This brings me back to my inductive study of Romans. “The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” I’m so grateful that God grafted me in…a Gentile! However, most Jews and the majority of Gentiles (i.e. everyone who isn’t a Jew) still need to know Him. Many haven’t even heard a clear presentation of the gospel. “’Whoever will call on the name of the LORD will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?” Oh Lord, may every Alliance church in the Central District be a sending church!
Don’t you just love (and sometimes hate) it when God brings circumstances and input into your life that all mesh together in a perfect storm that causes you to be convicted of sin, or motivated to change or filled with passion for His work and purposes? I hope you do, because I’m praying that this article will be part of God’s perfect storm in your life that causes you to respond, “Here am I Lord, send me.”
By Dian Harner, Missions Committee Chairperson