Anyone who has planned a trip of some distance knows it's important to check in along the way to be sure they are still on course, and that is especially true for the church on her long journey to the ends of the earth.
That is where Jesus told his followers to take the good news when he gave them the Great Commission 2,000 years ago, of course, and I'm encouraged by evidence that the worldwide body of Christ is adjusting her steps to get where she needs to be.
The positive response to this year's third annual International Day for the Unreached (IDU, www.dayfortheunreached.org), championing greater missions focus on those who have yet to hear the gospel, suggests a growing awareness of the importance of redirecting some of our efforts.
The IDU campaign has been a wake-up call for many, like the person who told us after this year's May 20 event: "I was shocked to realize that for the billions of unreached people, there are only a few thousand missionaries on the planet that are focused on reaching [them]... Do the math. That is an impossible task..."
Thousands of Christians around the world joined our live-streamed event, to be challenged by the need and inspired to play a part in taking the good news to some of 2 billion-plus people who have not yet been told about Jesus.
Reasons for optimism
As a result of this year's campaign, the organization I lead, World Mission (www.worldmission.cc) and the 10 other members of the organizing Alliance for the Unreached (www.dayfortheunreached.org/about/partners) have seen an increase in the number of churches and like-minded mission agencies requesting our resources. Our website offers a wide range of free infographs, videos, bulletin inserts and other materials.
These are intended to be part of inspiring a much-needed change in missional mindset that will address the great discrepancy in how missions resources are being allocated. Currently, well over 95 percent of all the existing prayer, workers, and finances are going to places that either are already reached or that have a strong gospel witness.
Meanwhile, less than 1 percent of the church's mission resources go to places where people have yet to hear the gospel for the first time—with 70,000 of them passing into a Christless eternity each day.