Over the past several years I have watched from the sidelines the rise of urban missions, inner city missions, and urban church plants. While these efforts may be well meaning and good, this has caused more and more individuals to ask me, “why are you going to unreached people groups, when people in our own back yard need the gospel too?”
I’m not denying that people here need the gospel. But, with Churches in every town (and even sometimes on every corner), and Google in nearly every pocket… I’d guess that anyone who wanted to know Jesus, has the access they need… and you’d be right there, ready to jump into action. We have hundreds of Bible translations and resources available to us in our own language, and have access with only a few taps of our fingers.
I see this wealth of access, and compare it to the people groups I see here in Papua New Guinea. I fly for an hour to get into a tribe, and have probably have flown over 50 others on my way –very few of which have any access to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. To top it off, even if one of those groups down there did have a Bible… it would take a healthy adult anywhere from 2 -10 days to hike to the next village through intense jungle, only to arrive in a village that doesn’t speak the same language… and you wouldn’t be able to understand their Bible. No internet out here either, and even if there was, and you happened to be literate, you wouldn’t even be able to Google a translation in your language.
Many of these people groups have no access to the Gospel.
And you know what? Many are right now asking for missionaries. Asking for missionaries! They have seen life change happen in other villages and in other tribes, and want the same thing for themselves… all too often only to be disappointed with the response “There are no missionaries to send to you.”
So as I reflect on the call to discipleship made by Jesus, I hear a radical command to deny everything and to follow Him. Don’t be fooled, either… It will cost you. It might cost you everything, even your very life –but it will be absolutely worth it in light of eternity.
God wants people be reconciled back to Himself through Jesus, and for whatever reason, has chosen to make us His ambassadors; And to do this particular job. It’s not only the job of some elite few that have some “special spiritual gift’ or some special “calling to missions,” it is the task of every blood-bought believer to make disciples of every tongue, tribe and nation. Jesus wants to use you, the common, to show the uncommonness of His grace to the nations. Fishermen, Tax Collectors… Sinners… So if you’re waiting for a call to missions, here it is: now go!
But the problem is that too many of us don’t want to pay such a steep price… the price of leaving family, leaving jobs, leaving security and comforts, and leaving our culture. We’d rather have Jesus be our backup, our security blanket; For in case life throws us that curve, and doesn’t working out the way we expected.
I am not saying everyone needs to leave their home country and become some missionary. What I am saying is that the Church needs to be abiding in Christ and allowing Him to challenge us out of our comfort zones, and then let Him take the position of true Lord of our lives. There are more than 100 churches for each unreached people group on this planet, and this task of reaching people groups with the gospel should already have been long finished. Sadly, there are still over 2500 distinct language groups with NO ACCESS to the gospel and this breaks my heart! It should break the Church’s heart too. Let us be a part of God’s heart for the world, and let us help the nations to be reconciled back to Him.
How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?