“What took you so long to tell us about Jesus?” This genuine, yet stinging, question came from the lips of a young Nepali woman, rescued from human trafficking at the Indian border. While living in a safe home, she realized that Jesus not only wanted to save her physical life, but also her spirit and she accepted Christ. She also stated, “I am now nearly 20 years old, but no one in my village has ever heard about Jesus. If Christians knew about this forgiveness and peace, why would you not run to tell us?”
It is true, the “low-hanging” fruit has already been picked and churches have been established among many people groups. But there are other branches where few stretch out to pick. The “unpicked fruit” remains – the people groups are harder to get to and it takes more energy and creativity to reach them. These groups exist with massive spiritual strongholds surrounding them. To reach them requires more risk, more courage, and more intensity. But still…will the Church run to them, and then equip them to run and gather even more groups?
We have been in a series of seeking to comprehend the world, asking why and how God plans to reach it. We discussed, “What Happens to People Who Never Hear the Gospel.” Then we shared, “Why Would God Create People He Knows Will Never Hear about Jesus?” In the third post, we asked the question, “What Does GOD Think of Christians Who Never Impact the Least Reached?” In this post, we will posit a few answers to the question, “What Might the Least Reached Think of Us Who Keep the Gospel Among the Same People Groups for Generations?”
This blog post will attempt to consider a Christian’s disobedient delay from the perspective of the least reached – those waiting and wanting to know; those thirsting and yet not knowing Who can quench their thirst.
What Might the Least Reached Think of Us?
⦁ “It’s about time!” Ahh, yes! Finally, someone shared with us the good news we need! Thank you! Like the young lady in the first story, some of us “least reached” are both relieved and incredulous. Relieved when we hear and believe, and incredulous that so many of our ancestors have known nothing. If the news is so good, why do you keep it to yourselves? We are waiting and eager, and Jesus said the harvest is plentiful. We are waiting for you!
⦁ “We know governments and certain people from our religion can stoke fear or hatred. Please come and share with us anyway!” Do you realize that much of our devotion stems from the fear of our god(s)? Most of us have never rejected Jesus. We have simply never heard of Him! But if you tell us the true stories about Jesus, we will love him! The beliefs of our ancient cultures have enslaved us for millennia. It’s not easy to break those strongholds. Yes, some of our people do bad and evil things. But please realize that many of us deeply hunger for Truth. We are starving to know the love of the One True God. Please share a meal with us.
⦁ “Do you not care about us, or is it that you simply just don’t think about us?” Do you know that this earth is the only heaven we will experience? Here and now is as good as it gets for us. Do we ever cross your mind? Or are we forgotten… out-of-sight, out-of-mind? Maybe Christians are not afraid of us, maybe they are just apathetic or distracted? Does your non-ending entertainment lead to our eternal punishment?
⦁ “Are you asleep in the light?” We live in spiritual darkness, searching for answers that abound all around you. Since you live in this amazing light, do you know how to move it from your mind to your mouth? We would love to hear the stories of Jesus. We would love to experience the forgiveness and the power of God. We would love to be free from demons that plague our children and families. Our god only likes to punish people (or is absent and uninvolved). Did your God really love people so much he became a human? Are your eyes open to see how amazing that is?
⦁ “If our house is ablaze and my people are inside, why are you softly whispering, ‘Your house is on fire’?” Please don’t be afraid to offend me with truth and love. You may call it cultural sensitivity or political correctness, but if you don’t tell me what sin is and the message of the cross, you only make me comfortable on my way to an eternity apart from Jesus. Please raise your voice, raise your intensity, raise your prayers and help rescue us from the dominion of darkness. Did Jesus ever raise his voice to warn people, to invite people, to teach people? Will you?
The above scenarios have come from multiple real conversations with non-Christians in North Africa, the Middle East, and across Asia. We studied the Bible weekly with a young East Asian woman for six months. One day she made her decision about Jesus.
“My grandfather was always there for me before he passed away. But only 6 months ago I heard about this God named Jesus. I do think He’s right. But I cannot dishonor my granddad by believing. I would rather spend eternity with my granddad in the wrong place than be separated from him forever. Please tell me, if this is so important, then why did no one come tell my granddad before he passed?”
Every time we think of this story, tears pool in our eyes. How many people are still waiting to be told the story that would set them free?
So, what can you do to step up to the plate and engage tangibly?
Here are a few ways:
1. Pray. Find a way to pray for the unreached. We recommend you use Operation World. Or download the Joshua Project app for Unreached of the Day. Or take the 40-day Open Your Eyes Challenge by 10/40 Connections. Become aware and pray for those with limited access to the Gospel.
2. Give. Examine your finances. Where does all your money go? Compare aspects of your budget perhaps – entertainment vs. tithing. Then break down where your tithes and offerings actually go when you give to your local church or nonprofits. What % goes where? Who specifically benefits from your giving? Think in terms of nations and access, reached people groups and unreached people groups. Consider making some personal or family goals to make specific impact among the least reached.
3. Welcome. Open your home with hospitality, especially during holiday times. Celebrate every occasion! Find an international student or family to befriend. Are there any people nearby you from the 10/40 Window? Their home nation may have greater restrictions for the Gospel or more overt persecution, but in the U.S. there is greater freedom for them to seek. Take a risk, share a meal, make a friend!
4. Go and Serve. Places with less access are typically harder to reach. We recognize that. So, if you or your family needs an easier start, then try to balance the thousands you spend on mission trips into “accessed areas” with an equal $ amount for work among the least reached. That might mean less entertainment, simpler vacations, or different school options. But in these choices, you’re teaching your children about your priorities and God’s passion.
We hope you see God’s trust and expectation of you. We hope you see the least reached as a beautiful, friendly, ripe harvest. And we want you to realize the multiple blessings that await those who expend themselves for people who have never heard of Jesus.
Of course, the danger of this topic is that those with sensitive hearts will say, “Oh my, I have done so little and have brought shame to myself and to God.” While those with proud and satisfied hearts may say, “Well, I have certainly have done my best and maxed out every option my denomination offers.” The reality probably lies somewhere in the middle. Some of us need to rest in God’s mercy, and some of us need a kick in the tail, a bigger vision, a bolder step of action. May God reveal to you into which of these categories you fall!
Don’t Miss Out!
One more reminder. Yes, if you don’t pledge your life to God’s purposes and work with God to reach those who have never heard, you forfeit some blessings (and dare we say, you miss out on a number of sufferings! Those come with the territory too).
⦁ You miss out on knowing that you are pushing to the final frontiers of God’s mission, where the “high-hanging fruit” remains.
⦁ You miss out on seeing people accept Christ and churches planted in areas where none existed before.
⦁ You miss out on sensing God’s smile upon a new people group, and their worship of Jesus – both now and in eternity.
⦁ You miss out on certain (yet unknown) heavenly rewards and treasures that come with reaching the least reached.
⦁ You miss out on celebrating with deepest joy. Compare “athletes” (sweating and straining) vs. “fans” (watching and cheering).
The other day we shared the story of “Jesus and Good Friday” with a Chinese man in Malaysia. He said, “Oh, I had no idea what Good Friday was. But now I know. It wasn’t good for Jesus though, was it? But it sounds like it was good for us.” When we told him Jesus is alive. He said, “Really? Alive? Well, that’s a marvelous story!” A man in his 60’s who had never heard the story of Jesus. As we left him, our 5-year-old ran to him and said, “Jesus loves you!”
Do you sense the urgency, the necessity? It is our heart not to heap piles of guilt on your shoulders, but to provoke you to action. Jesus wants us all to make disciples of the nations. So, join the race to the last remaining people groups. Let’s run to tell them, and then also equip them to run!
P.S. We recommend you read the book Engaged in Love and War. This book takes you on a journey of the partnership Christ entrusts to you His Bride to move God’s global purposes throughout the earth. It helps equip and empower you to do just that.