Janese and I began our missions journey in 1993 as we traveled to London, England, to begin our first assignment at the Centre for International Christian Ministries. It was here that we committed our lives to share the salvation of Jesus Christ with those who have never been given the opportunity to hear the gospel. These people are the unreached and they live in the most hostile and resistant areas of our world.
From that time in London until now, people have repeatedly asked, “Why do you go to people who hate us? Why bother? What are you trying to accomplish? Aren’t devout Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhist going to heaven anyway?” And so I quickly discovered that it was critically important to not only understand the mission but the “why” behind the mission. If we don’t understand the “why” then we can easily become distracted and even consumed with the “doing” while the original intent of going gets lost in all of our busyness. And when tough times occur—and they always do—then the failures of our “doing” gives us nothing in which to cling. Therefore, to understand “why we go” is not only important to help us stay focused on the goal, but it also serves as a “battle cry” when we face opposition or even failures. The “why” energizes us, retools us, and propels us back into the fray of world evangelization.
So why is it important for Christians to be intentional in going to those that have never heard?
1. The unreached, as is the case for all people, are the object of God’s love. Salvation thru the death and resurrection of Christ was offered not only to Americans or the Western World or to only sub-Sahara Africa, or to the coastal areas of Asia but God, as an expression of His expansive love, gave His Son as a sacrifice to all peoples in every generation. Therefore, in no way are the unreached, whether Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or animist, under some special condemnation that places them beyond the reach of that love.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”– John 3:16-17
2. The expanse and depth of Christ’s love for the unreached must find its expression in us. We no longer live for ourselves but as Christ’s ambassadors to those living in spiritual darkness. If Christ loved us so much to take upon Himself the humiliation and horror of the cross, and if that love now abides in us as His followers, then this amazing love becomes our compelling motivation in witness.
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”- II Corinthians 5:14-15
3. Our obedience to the Great Commission is not optional but mandatory. Jesus commands us that while going to proclaim the gospel to every ethne, we are to make disciples. This directive to be missional is a call to be Christ’s witnesses simultaneously locally, nationally, and even to the world’s most remote regions. Resistance and hostility to the message do not relieve us of this responsibility.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Amen.”- Matthew 28:18-20
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”- Acts 1: 8
4. In Christ, God has provided everything necessary for man’s salvation; apart from Him, the unreached are without hope. If we truly believe this statement then it will radically transform how we live our lives and exponentially fuel our missional fervor. Dr. David Shibley once stated, “Our passion for world evangelization is in direct proportion to our belief in hell.” Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice that all should have eternal life in God’s presence. The horrifying alternative should unconditionally motivate us to reach our closest loved ones as well our most feared enemies.
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’”- Acts 4:11-12
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”- Romans 1:16
5. The unreached serve false religions, power structures, and philosophies which promote wrong conceptions of God and of the Gospel, robbing Christ of His rightful position and providing a false sense of security through self-righteousness. Most of these people have been born into a world of darkness never having had the opportunity to hear the truth of Jesus Christ. We, therefore, are obligated to declare the majesty of God and the good news of salvation thru Jesus Christ.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” – II Corinthians 4:3-4
Evangelizing the unreached is not an easy task. It is complicated, difficult, and filled with challenges and resistance, but we press ahead into a world that so desperately needs Christ. So when we want to quit, or hide ourselves in daily routines, or simply ignore the needs of our world, let us sound the “battle cry!” We go not because it’s a job, it’s adventurous, or it’s to fulfill some work of self-righteousness or self-gratification, but we go because God so loved the whole world!