What has caught your attention in the last few months? Is it the pandemic—deciding if you should visit with friends, go to church, or even to the market? Is it your finances? Perhaps your income is jeopardized, and you’re worried about paying your bills. Is it politics? With the election drawing closer, everyone has an opinion, especially the news media. Or maybe you’re focused on the violence taking over our cities, the claims of white privilege and racism, and the threat of social assassination.
I admit spending an inordinate amount of time pondering all these issues. Too much time. If I’ve spent any time at all focused on God, it’s been on a personal level—introspection, prayers for health and safety for me and my friends and family, thanking God that I don’t need to worry because He is still in charge.
How would you like to be in the air force? Not the USAF, but in God’s air force? You don’t even have to leave home to join up.
For the past 25 years, we’ve lived in Colorado Springs, home of the US Air Force Academy, two air bases (Peterson & Schriever), and the Space Command. While I’ve never been in the military, I’ve picked up a few facts just by rubbing elbows with our friends and neighbors.
Last week I wrote about entire cultures comprised of people who never get a chance to truly celebrate Christmas—because they’ve never heard of Jesus. There are over three billion people who live in these ethno-linguistic groups, about 40% of the earth’s population. I also explained that of these people groups, there remain approximately 1,400 (around 568 with populations over 5,000) who are unengaged by the church. No one is yet doing anything to bring them the good news of God’s love.
It’s all well and good to make these lists and to bemoan the fact that after 2000 years, there are still entire people groups who are being left out of all our mission efforts. But awareness by itself accomplishes nothing. What can we do to change this situation? More importantly, what can I do?
What if you had never heard of Christmas?
Here in the U.S. almost every house in our neighborhood has some sort of decorations up. Santa is at the mall, and the stores have been pushing gifts for months. At least one radio station has been playing Christmas music nonstop since Thanksgiving. Our tree is up, the stockings are hung, and the calendar is full of invitations.
I’ve been commenting on an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.
In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:
I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. … From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”
If you want to read all ten myths now, check out the article online. You can see my other articles on this topic by choosing God:World under “Categories” on the right-hand column of my blog page.
You may have noticed my new little widget on the sidebar here. It shows a photo of an “Unreached People of the Day” along with a few facts to inform your prayers. If you click on the photo, the link takes you to the Joshua Project website, where you can learn more. Joshua Project is a ministry that seeks to highlight the ethnic peoples of the world with the fewest followers of Jesus.
When Pete and I talk about missions, we are often asked about the phrase unreached peoples. “What do you mean, unreached? My neighbor here is unreached. He never goes to church. I don’t need to go anywhere—there are plenty of unreached people right here in my city.”
This type of confusion is what happens when mission researchers (who can be rather geeky at times) interact with the general public.