You can probably already hear the rebuttal to the previous post, if not from within, then probably from something you’ve heard others express. “Now wait just a minute. Are you telling me that people are in sin if they aren’t going to Africa? Even if they are faithful church members who serve their community and spread the gospel to those around them? No, no, I think you’ve got this one wrong. Not all of us are called to missions, and that’s just fine.”
Maybe we aren’t all supposed to be career missionaries… fair enough. But then what did Jesus mean when he said to make disciples of all nations?
At least one thing it means is that we don’t have the right to be merely American in our Christianity. Nor do believers in China have the right to be merely Chinese in their walk with God. Believers everywhere serve the same God, and he is the Creator and Sustainer of Chinese people, American people, and all peoples in between. As such, he deserves the praise of them all. We can celebrate our respective cultures and enjoy them, but we cannot hate or ignore other cultures.
So when we become aware that there are 4.1 billion unreached people in this world, we don’t have the option of responding (or not responding) apathetically. God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” and he has appointed us to be his ambassadors (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Corinthians 5:20).
This doesn’t mean we forsake the local ministry with which we’ve been entrusted. People are either lost or saved, and to reach out to the lost is always a great thing, no matter where you do it. But there is a difference between being lost in America’s Bible Belt and being lost in the mountains of Nepal. UPGs (defined in the previous post) do not have access to the gospel like the other people groups of the world, and that’s an urgent need we must address. To say one must choose between either local ministry or global missions is to create a false dichotomy. It’s not an either/or, but a both/and. You can live here and work for there; you can go there and impact here. Faithful local ministry and faithful global missions actually serve one another.
Have you considered the entirety of the Great Commission? Are you intentionally making disciples of all nations, even if indirectly? Do you have a heart for the unreached? The task is huge, and the task is difficult, but what a privilege to be a part of it! As a quick look at Revelation 7 will tell you, it is a joyous task that is guaranteed success.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12)
For more information about the nations, check out Operation World, Joshua Project, and People Groups.