International Day for the Unreached: Re-Igniting the Church's Passion for the Lost
One of Christ’s most emphatic directives to His followers was a call to carry His message to the ends of the earth, an admonition to be fulfilled before He returns. Called the “Great Commission,” Christ’s call urges His followers to spread His message worldwide, a task that will be highlighted this coming Sunday, May 15, on a day that has been designated “International Day for the Unreached.”
Now, I am aware that there are other important days that we observe such as the “Day for the Unborn,” and “Day of the Persecuted Church.” Why add this one? Well, the fulfillment of that Commission remains a huge task! There are an estimated 2.3 billion people in the world who have never been given a clear presentation of the gospel. The International Day for the Unreached (IDU) comes at a time when Europe is crowded with refugees from countries without a Christian heritage, when the comfort and hope offered by the gospel would be especially appreciated.
Additionally, there are many nations throughout the world where gospel message-bearers and ministries are not welcomed because of religious, cultural or political opposition. Yet, Christ calls us to deliver His message even in those settings.
We at NCBC support several missionary units directly focused on unreached people groups. Just what is meant by an “unreached people group?” It is a specific ethnic group that does not have enough believers and resources to reach their own people, let alone reach out to others beyond themselves. We partner with a couple on the distant island of Sumatra that is keenly focused on a very unreached people. We partner with another couple in central Thailand who are attempting to bring unreached Thai Buddhist to saving faith in Christ. We have another long-serving couple in Turkey using creative means to reach Turkish Muslims. We have a single lady in Togo engaged in a medical ministry to unreached tribal Muslims. There is another young couple in northern Ontario attempting to enter an isolated unreached Native American group. As a church we have not neglected the unreached.
But lest we pat ourselves on the back and say we are doing enough, we need to look at the bigger picture. There are still 9,600 unreached people groups around the world where those previously mentioned 2.3 billion people are imbedded. We need to ask, “What might NCBC do to help accelerate the reaching of those groups?” Well, we could determine to commit a concerted effort on one of those groups. We could actually “adopt” a specific group, declaring our determined effort to have them reached. Here is how:
We can commit to pray specifically and systematically for those people. Prayer is the essential foundation of our mission, the bedrock of all our outreach efforts. If we underpin our efforts with prayer, guided by His Word and filled with His Spirit, we are fully capable of bringing the joyous news of the Gospel to that particular people. A.T. Pierson once said, “Every step in the progress of missions is directly traceable to prayer.”
We can partner more fully with a missionary couple we already have living among that unreached group. As this couple continues to engage that group, we can increase our commitment of resources to their projects. This could mean additional financial resources, technical resources, project help, strategizing with them, and possibly even personnel. Helpful short-term teams could be sent to augment their work.
We can partner with other churches that also have adopted that same people group. These may have personnel ready to go that we could also commit to support by prayer and resources. We could periodically connect directly or indirectly for the purpose of mutual encouragement and information sharing.
The “Alliance for the Unreached,” is calling on churches to set aside May 15 as a day to take a bold stand for reaching the unreached, by praying for those who are still living without the good news of Jesus. This day, Pentecost Sunday, is chosen as marking the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church which equipped and empowered believers to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Moreover, IDU will be observed on Pentecost Sunday each year, demonstrating that the Lord’s gift on that day remains with us even now.
This coming Sunday our church will participate in the IDU by highlighting the unreached in our services. The worship music and sermon will center on this topic. Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren has joined scores of ministers in asking Christians to make a renewed effort to reach the unreached. “With more than 2 billion people who haven’t had a chance to meet Jesus, it’s time for the Body of Christ to take a radical stand and say, ‘This has to end in our generation.’ Join me in committing to pray, give, go, and advocate for those who need to know Christ by participating in the International Day for the Unreached.”
Might not NCBC use this day to consider adopting an unreached people? The GO Team has done due diligence in identifying a specific unreached people for adoption. Three members of the team have visited that group on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia and have been gripped by the need. The name and location of that people will be presented in the services this Sunday. For security purposes, the name and location of the group cannot be put in print at this time. This group is “Unreached, But Not Forgotten,” and that is the title of this week’s sermon.
Hudson Taylor once said,”The Great Commission is not an option to be considered, but a command to be obeyed.” It is a sacred call from Christ to His followers to carry His message onward to the ends of the earth until every people group has had opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. We will focus on that call this coming Sunday.
Global Outreach Team