Today was the day I was waiting for. All week we have been hearing about the face of the global church and how to more effectively fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission. But today, among many other speakers, Paul Eshleman, strategic thinker of Campus Crusade for Christ, helped focus our minds on the unfinished task. What remains in reaching our world for Christ? How should we focus on the time between now and the next Lausanne Congress in….say 2030?
The speaker then reviewed the essential elements of the Great Commission. They are—first, providing the Scriptures for all (Romans 12.17). This is crucial because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The second essential element is evangelism to the unreached (Mark 16.15). The third element is discipleship of the reached (Matthew 28.19-20). And a fourth element is mercy to the needy (Matthew 22.39). His address would focus on the theme of evangelism to the unreached.
Eshleman challenged delegates of the global church to finish the task. Now the most wonderful thing about this moment is that he was addressing this charge not to leaders of the Western church alone, but to leaders of the global church! In other words, there is the potential for a vast new army of workers who will fulfill the Great Commission in this generation.
We were reminded that today there are some 100,000 missionaries in the world. But only 3% are focused on unreached people groups. There are a total of 16,000 people groups, but 3,700 of them still have no witness. Of these groups, 652 are groups with more than 50,000 people.
India has the greatest number of unreached people groups in the world. Eshleman passed out a list of the largest unreached people groups with and asked, “What are we going to do about it?”
In terms of Bible translation, out of 8,000 world languages, only 448 have a complete Bible. 1,185 have the New Testament. 843 have a portion of the Scripture. Most have no Old Testament, which is a challenge, he said, because it is hard for people to understand our God and his holiness apart from the Old Testament. Today there are still 2,2,52 language groups that have not even one verse of Scripture. Again he asked, “what are we going to do about it?”
Eshleman said, “all this constitutes an emergency.” “Where is the church NOT present and what will we do about it? There are still people everywhere who have not heard about Christ. This is wrong,” he said. “How much longer will we wait to get on with it?” The global body of Christ needs to remobilize and go especially where no one has ever gone—to people groups that have yet to be reached and have no access to the gospel.
Why have these groups still not been reached? The number one reason most people give is that they did not know so many unreached people groups existed. Other reasons include—we don’t know their language, the church is often preoccupied with its own needs, and in some cases does not truly believe that people without Christ are eternally lost.
Eshleman said that together our ministries can make a difference. At the end of his address, he called for a commitment of the global church to finish the task—playing some part in “doing something about it.”
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