Four out of ten people in the world today have no access to the Gospel. FOUR OUT OF TEN. If any statistic should haunt those living in the heritage of the Wesleyan holiness movement, it is this one. Forty percent of the global population has no access to a Bible, a Christian, or a local church. This “Gospel Famine” not only ranks as the greatest evangelistic challenge for our generation but remains the greatest “social injustice” issue of our time. There is no deeper human need than that of salvation, and four out of ten people have no access to the Gospel. As people who have the call to social holiness in our DNA, we must rise to meet the missiological need around us.
The Joshua Project has been working with evangelical churches and missions agencies around the globe to keep track of “unreached people groups.” These are whole, unique cultural/linguistic groups of people who make up the 4 in 10. The majority of these people are found in what has come to be called the 10/40 window, meaning the area of the globe found between and around the 10 degrees north to 40 degrees north latitude lines in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. As the small number of Christian missionaries working among these people groups see the first indigenous converts to Christianity, they are measuring progress by markers that should break our hearts: the first Christian wedding ceremony in living memory in a community; the first child of a particular people group for generations to be born into a Christian home; the first indigenous Bible teachers and preachers raised up in a community. These are realities that Christians in the Western world take for granted, but they will not be reality for peoples around the world unless Christ-followers answer the call to global evangelization, leading people to the place of born-again conversion. Not only that, but these realities are being threatened in our own contexts, partially due to a more relaxed posture taken by Christians toward evangelism.
The most disheartening part of our current missionary-sending and overseas giving in the evangelical world is the disparity between how much is sent to those in the 4 in 10 versus the other 6. Even while many missions organizations are becoming aware of this disparity, we still send more people and resources to places where the Gospel is already present. While certainly all people and places are worthy of ministry, funding and partnership, we must not lose sight of our commission to go to ALL people. As holiness people, we must take this call seriously. The Holy Spirit was not given for our personal holiness alone but to fill us with power for a specific purpose as detailed in Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” As Holy Spirit-filled people, we have the power to see this commission fulfilled. The Lord is still looking for those who, empowered by His Spirit, will be His witnesses to those most disconnected and difficult to reach — the ends of the earth.
The significance of Acts 1:8 is enhanced by a simple three letter word: “and.” God’s missional call to bring people to repentance and salvation applies to our home community (our Jerusalem), our wider community (our Judea), those close to us geographically but far from us culturally (our Samaria), AND to the ends of the earth. While those in our domestic communities have access to the Gospel (to a Bible, a Christian, and a local church), the gap between our neighbors and the Gospel continues to widen with the ever-increasing secularization and religious pluralization of our society. In a country plagued with division,...
We must be a set-apart people who continue to minister to and with those in our Samaria.
The answer to the missiological need in our day is not simply sending missionaries to the 10/40 Window — it is BECOMING missionaries wherever we find ourselves to whomever God’s Spirit would lead us, both locally AND globally.
People’s lives around us and on the other side of the world are in turmoil and spiritual death. As holiness people, we understand that Jesus offers all people a transformational and eternal hope. We can not allow ourselves to become comfortable “doing church” when people near us OR far from us are ignorantly bound for hell. We have been empowered as witnesses. We have been filled with His power to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. The Church must grasp again her evangelistic mandate; we must make ourselves available to bring those caught in the “Gospel Famine” the relief they most desperately need.
For cited sources, please read the article in Issue 2 of Remnant.