Think about this: there are people you walk past, sit beside, and talk to every single day who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. And then there are the people you don’t walk past, sit beside, or talk to that don’t know Jesus. Think about who those people are for a moment.
According to the Joshua Project, there are 17,070 people groups in the world today. Of that, 7,098 of those remain unreached by the gospel. Not only do these people not have a relationship with Christ, but they have never even heard of him. Wild right? Growing up in the culture we have, Jesus has become this moral compass. The idea that, “that person acts good, they must be a Christian” dominates our thinking. We’ve just become so accustomed to Jesus and church, that we can’t imagine life without it.
Here’s the crazy part: of the 7,098 unreached people groups, 82 of them are right here in America. That might seem like a minuscule number to most of us compared to the 7,016 others, but those are people right in our neighborhoods, our schools, our states, and our country that don’t know Jesus.
What if one of those 82 people groups is someone you see every day?
The mission of Jesus has not changed: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
We hear “go” and think “where?” but I believe Jesus did not intend for us to ask “where?” but rather, “to who?”
Our mission is not a location, but a people.
There are plenty of amazing stories of Christians going to far away countries and sharing the gospel. However, God is equally glorified and proud of us when we take the Good News of Jesus to the person sitting beside us in coffee shops as he is when we take it to the people living on the other side of the world.
I’ve attached an article at the bottom of this post written by John Piper about a man named John G. Patton, who took the Gospel to an island called Aniwa in 1866, but let me briefly share a few points from that:
- Sometimes when we accept our call to mission, we will face opposition, even from fellow Christians. One example of this that Patton faced was from someone to whom he was very close. Patton was leaving a successful, known occupation as a minister in Glasgow for an unknown mission on an island that was full of cannibals. His friend told him he was making a mistake.
- Just because we say “yes” to mission, doesn’t mean we will not face opposition. Patton constantly fled attack after attack. One of the natives of the island followed him around for 4 hours with a loaded gun pointed in his direction. His first wife and baby died of fever. He fell ill over 14 times, almost to his death.
- In the midst of all of that, Patton recalled never feeling Christ so close. Jesus did not end the Great Commission with “go” but with “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
Mission is not easy, but Jesus promised to be with us, presently helping us, through his Spirit, to place people in his hands.
John Patton took the words of Jesus seriously. He set his heart on winning the souls of the people of Aniwa for Christ, and accomplished that mission only with the Holy Spirit’s help.
“I claimed Aniwa for Jesus, and by the grace of God Aniwa now worships at the Savior’s feet.”John Patton
He did not claim the island, but the people.