Most of us are already vaguely aware of our material privileges, although we rarely pause to thank God for them. But we may be less aware of our spiritual bounty.
First of all, we know about Jesus. Even if His beautiful name is used as a curse word or joke, virtually everyone has at least heard the Christmas story.
In the developed nations, 98 to 99 percent of the population is evangelized. Evangelized means that they have heard the Gospel message and have had the opportunity to respond. I am not saying that nearly everyone is a Christian, but that they have heard the Gospel at least once. Most people, in fact, have heard the Gospel many times. How different this is from millions in Asia.
For nearly seven years, I wandered from village to village and street to street in North India as a missionary evangelist. Everywhere I would ask the same question, “Have you heard of Jesus?”
I cannot tell you how many times I would hear the reply, “Sir, there is no Jesus Christ living here. Maybe he lives in the next village. Why don’t you try there?”
More than a billion people in Asia are unevangelized—they have not heard the Gospel clearly even once. They have never seen a Bible, a tract or a Christian video. Hundreds of millions have never heard a Christian radio broadcast or even met a believer—let alone spoken with a trained missionary evangelist.
Hundreds of thousands of villages are without a Christian witness, and there are 10,000 unreached people groups in the world still without a church! Most of these are in Asia.
Imagine a soccer stadium with 30,000 seats filled with the populations of Asia and the evangelized countries. There are 24 hotdog vendors serving the crowd; these represent the full-time Christian workers serving in these areas of the world. Of the 24 vendors, 20 are set apart to serve the 6,000 spectators sitting in the front rows, but only 4 vendors are serving the 24,000 spectators in the back.
And it’s worse than that, because only a few of the well-fed spectators in front are even interested in hotdogs, having brought in ice chests loaded with other food. By contrast, thousands of people in the back rows are on the verge of starvation, perishing for lack of food! However, the 20 front vendors do not even venture back to help their 4 exhausted fellow vendors save the lives of the starving people. Instead, they continually walk back and forth in front, asking the privileged spectators over and over again if anyone is hungry. Some well-fed spectators are concerned enough to pass a little food toward the back, but most simply enjoy the game.
That’s what is really happening in Christian missions today. In addition to keeping the lion’s share of the Christian workers for themselves, the evangelized nations also consume the vast majority of Christian literature. Through the Internet, they enjoy a boundless supply of Christian resources for evangelism, discipleship, worship and Bible study. They are also the primary recipients for well over 90 percent of all Christian radio and television. And they have thousands of Christian schools, colleges and seminaries. No wonder they’re stuffed!
Our first reaction, I suppose, should be to fall on our knees and thank God for the privilege of living in nations that are super-saturated with the Gospel. But next, we need to ask ourselves seriously why God has given us such tremendous material and spiritual resources.
* Cited data are from Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, AD 30-AD 2200.