When I was in college, I had the privilege of spending 6 months overseas engaging and evangelizing unreached peoples: Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and people following various earth religions. It was my first experience with anyone outside of western North Carolina; in fact traveling for this trip was my first time even riding in an airplane! During this time my faith grew beyond measure, I experienced God in His Word like I never had before, and I shared the gospel with people who had never heard.
One of the most profound things I learned however was when I arrived back to my hometown in NC. While it was in fact true, I found it to be an ugly truth plaguing the American Church, specifically rural church in the southern United States. What was it? The idea that the world is only as big as one’s backyard; the idea that the church exists only as we know it, consists only of people just like us, and that “missions and evangelism” were only for people in China and Africa.
After spending a few more years in full-time cross-cultural missions, I finally returned to the southern United States, and continued to see the same issue. It is my prayer that this simple message will be used by the Holy Spirit to change hearts!
The root of the issue and the solution revolve around the same truth. The problem comes from either disregarding this truth or ignoring it, while the solution comes through understanding and obeying it. It can be found in the words of Jesus, known to us as the “Great Commission”.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:28-20.
Based on Jesus’ supreme authority, which was proven by His perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection, He commanded His followers to go “make disciples” of “all nations”. This phrase, “πάντα τὰ ἔθνη” translated “all nations”, literally means every ethnicity, what we categorize today as people groups. This command refutes any notion that the gospel was meant for a specific ethnicity, culture or geographic location.
If this is so plainly set forth in Scripture, why is it neglected by so many “Christians”? If I find myself guilty of neglecting this, what can I do to start changing the way I see the Great Commission?
While God has not called each of us to Nepal or Uzbekistan, He has called each believer to obedience, and that means being a “World Christian”. Here are some practical steps toward helping you, your family and your Church get a global vision of God’s plan for the nations.
- Pray for unreached people groups with your family every day. Thanks to “The Joshua Project” this has never been easier. There have been thousands of unreached people groups identified, and they have a website and an app that will provide you with a different group to pray for everyday! https://joshuaproject.net/pray/unreachedoftheday
- Begin writing down sections of the Bible you come across in your regular reading that reveal the plan of God for “all nations”. The truth that God is going to ransom people from every people group is not limited to two verses found in Matthew. As you read the Bible with this in mind, you will begin to see the great story of redemption being for all nations from the beginning.
- Pray daily for God to give you a global gospel vision. All too often we want to run to the “to do” list in hope of accomplishing something great while forgetting the need for the working of God to change us into the image of Christ. The first step is dependence upon Him.
- Pray for persecuted believers in other countries. It is difficult for us to imagine physical suffering because of our faith, but it is greater today than it ever has been. Christians are being beaten, robbed of property, losing their livelihoods, and facing imprisonment, rape, torture and even death. This is hardly on our minds as we gather on Sunday mornings, much less throughout the week. Change that now! Visit http://www.persecution.com/public/pray.aspx?clickfrom=%3d6d61696e5f6d656e75 or download the app for info and daily prayer requests.
- Place a world map on a wall in your home. This is one of the most practical ways to begin understanding how big the world is. If you are like me, and spent 20 years of your life not thinking about the world outside of your town, this is a must. This is also a good place to write down some of the Scriptures you find about the gospel for all nations!
- Visit ethnic restaurants in your community. We all love Chinese food, and yet I wonder how many of us ever even consider sharing the gospel with the people who work at a Chinese restaurant. The same goes for Japanese, Mexican, Vietnamese or any other kind of ethnic restaurants in our areas!
- Adopt a missionary as a family. As a former missionary who lived on financial support, I encountered so many people who think giving to missions means the entire church sending $25.00 per month. Change that by sending that just from your family!
- Visit your local county’s website to learn about the various people groups in your community. There has never been more globalization than right now. There has never been so much informative technology as there is right now. Putting this together means it is possible to get information about all the nations living in your community.
- Begin building relationships with people from different ethnicities. There are a ton of ways to do this, some easier than others. You can begin in those restaurants you visit regularly. You can invite some friends from school who have different ethnicities or cultures over to your house. You can go to their neighborhoods and seek practical ways to meet some of their needs. The important part is it takes action! It is not just a concept, theory or idea, it takes action.
- Start today! It is so easy to read something like this and get excited, and still forget about it by bedtime tonight. So do not wait, start right now! All of these unreached people groups are made up of unreached people. The Great Commission in it’s most simplistic form is people reaching people. Find people all around you, take the gospel to them. Live as a global Christian. See the Big Picture!
Go get some friends like this!