Switching Metaphors

Jean-François_Millet_-_The Sower“The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”

I have become completely fixated on the concept of treating Christian evangelism as if it were a political campaign, featuring Jesus as the dominant and exalted candidate for the highest office in the land, and His gospel as the perfect campaign brochure. The idea has taken hold of me.

I am equally fascinated by Jesus’ many remarks, found in the gospels, concerning the topic of agriculture. There are in fact many parallels between his treatment of farming and our understanding of politics. Most Christians would agree that when Jesus spoke of seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping, weeding, watering, and pruning, he was referring to what he saw as his universal appeal to all the nations of the world.

So what is this “seed” that he often referred to? Jesus, the master gardener, said, “Once there was a man who went out to sow seed…”(Luke 8:5). When his friends questioned him about this story, his answer was, “The seed is the word of God.” (Luke 8:11)

Seeds are plain and ordinary, right? You pick them up at the garden center in the spring and plant them in your garden. Or you re-seed the bare patches in your lawn. No big deal.

But some seeds are more valuable, and they come with a history. They are called heirloom or heritage seeds, and they have been developed over hundreds of years, perhaps by a single family who has guarded and propagated this particular variety because of its inherent value.

So for the purposes of this article, and because it fits my narrative, I want to compare the Christian Bible to a seed catalog:

  • The Old Testament as a record of the history and development of one particular seed.
  • The New Testament (Acts of the Apostles and Letters) as a “how-to” manual for planting and caring for this seed.
  • The Book of Revelation as an analogy to the full-grown plant.
  • The Four Gospels as the actual seeds that need to be planted.

One hundred percent of Christian literature, without exception, is about the seed, but it is not the seed. Apologetics, Christian history, Holy Encyclicals, the lives of the saints, instruction in ministry, books on how-to-live-the-Christian-life, conversion stories, exciting fiction, the coming apocalypse; these are all great and inspiring books, and thank God for them, but they are not the seed. (And nobody said they were). This noble body of literature is entirely directed towards people who are intent on nourishing the seed that has already been planted in their lives.

Consider the factory worker in Flint, Michigan who is trying hard to be a good Muslim. Or think about the computer programmer in Seattle who was told by her parents to avoid western philosophies like the plague. How about the successful businessman from South Philadelphia, who meets his family and friends regularly in the Hindu Temple? Christian literature finds no home within them. What bears repeating is that there are over 5 billion of these good people in the world, and they constitute seventy percent of the earth’s population. For them, Christianity is a non-subject. There is an impenetrable spiritual barrier in place that not many humans can cross.

Not many can cross this divide, that is, with the notable exception of the humble postal worker, who can easily step over the barrier and plant a gospel seed as easily as dropping an envelope through the mail slot in the front door or the mailbox at the curb.

The four gospels are the very seeds that Jesus came to deliver, and they were intended for planting. Sending any other Christian literature to our secular world is like sending pictures of corn to a farmer. He doesn’t need pictures. He needs corn seed.

I am of the belief that mailing out single, intact, copies of the gospel is a crucial step in the education and transformation of the world, one that could have a lasting impact on our civilization. I have created a small personal program to do just that. In my opinion nothing else will do. Gospel tracts won’t do. Great Christian literature won’t do. How-to books won’t do. I would like to be a sower of real seed, seed that will take root and grow.

There is a question looming in my mind: Is sending out copies of the gospel a waste of my time? I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I’ve decided to go ahead with my program despite my own doubts, based solely on some old scripture passages that I have admittedly interpreted to suit my own purposes:

  • “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

This passage is most reassuring and would seem to indicate that my program cannot fail. Lord, help my unbelief!

  • The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:3-9)

The Parable of the Sower is so important in the gospels that it is repeated six times (twice in Matthew, twice in Mark, and twice in Luke). In the story, Jesus throws his seed out indiscriminately and stands back to see what might happen. Some of the seed takes hold and produces prodigiously, while some of the seed does not fare so well. Interestingly, Jesus seems to expect 100% germination, while allowing that only about 25% of the seed will mature.

And paraphrasing some other encouraging words of Jesus:

  • “Don’t bother to weed.” (Matt. 13:24-30)
  • “Don’t fret over your crop. Just leave it alone.” (Mark 4:26-29)
  • “That tiny little seed you are planting will be the biggest crop in your field.” (Mark 4:30-32)

Finally, Jesus’ concept of farming includes the possibility for exponential growth. Jesus predicted that some of those seeds could produce as much as 30, or 60, or 100 fold return. Best to wait and see before getting carried away! But I am eager to observe the outcome of my small gospel-planting project. My hope is that at least some of those who read the actual gospel will modify their way of thinking about Jesus, and believe in the possibility of a world completely immersed in his divine and passionate love.

To mix my metaphors once again, I would like to see many people cast their vote in favor of Jesus, and cultivate his love in their hearts.

 

Political Baby Steps

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“Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.”

 

I am a complete novice when it comes to politics and the process of running a political campaign. I have never been involved in politics at any level, with the exception of helping my friend become president of our senior class at college. Our main strategy at that time was to plaster campaign fliers on every tree and lamppost across campus. It actually worked surprisingly well.

Thinking I would test the concept of running a political campaign for Jesus, I printed up some business cards with His picture on the front, and my website on the back, and got myself into Times Square, New York City. My plan was to distribute the cards to random pedestrians, and assess their reactions. I discovered three things:

Not a single person would take a card from me, or even make eye contact.

When I placed the cards on public benches and tables, they were immediately removed and discarded by custodians working in the area.

If I placed a card on a table that was occupied, the reaction was often ridicule or outright hostility.

I somehow managed to place about 250 cards on public seating locations in Times Square before I lost my nerve and hurried home.

Over the next couple of months I got “hits” on my website from the following countries: United States, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, Argentina, Portugal, Australia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico, Albania, and Sri Lanka.

I won’t even try to correlate the hits on my website with the distribution of business cards, but I must say I was encouraged by the apparent interest in Jesus shown by people across the globe.

So how do modern political campaigns get their literature out to the masses? One technique that is familiar to many of us is the use of mailing campaigns. Postcards and flyers arrive in the mail describing a candidate’s qualifications, (and the opponent’s shortcomings), in the hopes of educating the electorate. Sometimes these campaigns target specific people at specific addresses, but at other times they are simply addressed to “Local Postal Customer.”

Every Door Direct Mail, or EDDM, is a service of the U.S. Postal Service developed to make mass mailing both easy and inexpensive. No postage permit is required, and no mailing lists are needed. Using their mapping tool, I can hover over an area that I am interested in, select an entire postal route, (typically around 500 households) and arrange for my campaign literature to be delivered to the “local postal customer “at the low cost of $0.18 per mail piece.

Let me repeat that: I can deliver my campaign literature (in this case the Gospel of Mark) to an entire postal route of 500 households, for about $90.00 postage (plus the cost of the printed material). Since each household typically consists of at least 4 people, I will be effectively reaching 2000 people with my candidate’s message every time I conduct an EDDM mailing to an individual postal route.

Unless I’m mistaken, delivering an up-beat message through the mail to prospective voters is probably the most efficient and successful tactic that a politician can employ to win votes during an election. Likewise, a short and pithy biography of the candidate may be just the ticket to a successful campaign. I’m certainly hoping that is the case in this most crucial of all elections. I will keep you up to date on my progress.

 

 

Why Hasn’t Jesus Returned?

Ko-JesusThese days many devout Christians are asking themselves why Jesus hasn’t returned after all this time to usher in his kingdom. He promised to come, and we have certainly prayed for his return.
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”
And still there is this bewildering delay.
As a Christian, I believe that the answers to these kinds of puzzling questions are often hidden in the Bible. Some things that happened in the past may have set a precedent for future events. An ancient scripture from the second book of the prophet Samuel may be a good example of this:
“Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and said to him, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, even when Saul was still our king, you led the people of Israel in battle, and the Lord promised you that you would lead his people and be their ruler.’ So all the leaders of Israel came to King David at Hebron. He made a sacred alliance with them, they anointed him, and he became king of Israel.” (2 Samuel 5, vs. 1-3)
David was already a powerful warlord when this event took place. He was king of the tribe of Judah. He had slain Goliath. The prophet Samuel had anointed him. He certainly could have conquered the rest of Israel and assumed control of the country, or simply installed himself as king and quashed any rebellion. But he chose instead to wait seven years until the leaders of the tribes of Israel came to him.
Here we are, thousands of years later, and we find ourselves wondering why Jesus, (the descendant of David) hasn’t returned, as he said he would, to rule the world.
I am speculating, of course. But I personally think he is waiting for the leaders of the nations of the world to come to him and ask him to be their ruler.
Waiting patiently certainly worked for David. He had the full cooperation of all the tribal leaders and all the people. Why should Jesus settle for anything less?
So how is Jesus going to get 220 heads of state, the leaders of the nations of today’s world, to come to him and ask him to be their ruler?
I believe the answer has always been to take his case directly to the people. Let them decide by a simple vote whether or not they want Jesus as their leader. They in turn will need to ask, or possibly insist, or most probably compel their leaders to seek out Jesus and ask him to govern the nations.
Getting his case to the people may prove to be a daunting task due to several disturbing statistics:
1. As many as 67% of the world’s population has never even heard the name of Jesus, or has scant knowledge of him. These are called the “unreached people groups”.
2. As much as 99% of the church’s mission budget goes for work among the already evangelized.
3. Christians make up 33% of the world’s population, receive 53% of the world’s annual income, and spend 98% of it on themselves.
4. Christian organizations spend $8 billion a year on conferences.
Obviously some changes will have to be made.
A bit of good news: The Gospel (Jesus’ campaign brochure) has been translated into the languages of 94% of the world’s population.
The process I envision could in some ways be considered a political campaign with the objective of getting Jesus elected Governor of the World. (Or whatever you might want to call Him.)
I should point out that the goal is not to make religious converts, in the normal sense of the word. Not that that’s a bad thing. But the main concern is to get his campaign literature into the hands of normal intelligent people the world over so that they can decide for themselves whether or not to vote for Jesus, based on his public record.
I feel we have a good candidate. He scores well on all of the key political performance indicators:
• Rationality
• Authoritativeness
• Adventurousness
• Inspiration
He possesses the attributes we are looking for:
• Honesty
• Integrity
• Trustworthiness
Is he still alive? Yes he is. Does he want to govern us? Yes he does, and the sooner, the better, in my opinion.

Lot’s of people have tried to predict when Jesus will return, and so far they have all been wrong. I would like to take a crack at it, tongue in cheek of course:

  • Take the perfect number 3.
  • Multiply it by the perfect number 7.
  • Add that to 2017, the launch date of this blog.

That brings us to the year 2038.

That is the date of the so-called “Year 2038 Problem”, also known as clockapocalypse, when time will end for 32-bit computers on January 19th of that year. During the ensuing chaos, I predict Jesus will calmly step in and put things right.

That gives us twenty years to finish the job he gave us to do: to spread his gospel over the entire earth. I think we can do it!

That’s why I named my website “Let’s Get This Done!”

The Power To Govern

Scan

“The Lord is King, the Most High over all the earth”

Our country has just been through a bruising presidential election, and for better or for worse, the winner clearly walked away with the power to govern. The loser was given no such power, and really had no recourse but to return to the private sector.

So winning an election isn’t incidental. When it comes to governing, at least in a democracy, winning an election is everything.

It seems to me that in the history of the world, absolutely nothing ever got done in the absence of a clearly defined leader or head of state. Sometimes a leader would come into power by conquering and subduing a people, and sometimes a long established monarchy was able to hold on to power. But the best kind of rulers, in my opinion, were the ones who had been intentionally chosen by the very people seeking to be governed.

As Christians we know that Jesus Christ is High King of Heaven. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega.

But on earth, sad to say, he only has 30% of the vote. And that is just not enough to rule on earth. We Christians want him to govern, and He wants to govern, but until he wins some sort of election, some sort of universal popular acclaim, He has to work behind the scenes in the private sector. (Of course, He could easily conquer and subdue the earth, but He doesn’t seem inclined that way.)

I believe that Jesus is fully aware of this reality. When He set up his special little kingdom among His tiny group of original followers, he basically told them to do two things:

  1. Live your lives as if I were your king.
  2. Spread my gospel (my governing principals) over the entire earth.

To me, that sounds a lot like a political party campaigning for it’s favorite candidate.

I don’t know too much about running a political campaign, but I know that one of the first things, and probably the most important thing, is to get the word out. Print up the campaign literature and pass it out everywhere, particularly where the candidate is not well known. Take his case directly to the people. Let them decide by a simple vote whether or not they want him as their leader.

This question constitutes the main theme of this blog. How is Jesus going to get seven billion people to come to him and ask him to be their ruler?

It is my small uninformed humble opinion that the world’s Christians should begin focusing more energy into printing and shipping individual copies of single gospels (possibly through the mail) to virtually every country on earth, especially to those countries where Christianity has no vital presence. I am not talking about gospel tracts, or how-to books. I am talking about printing the entire gospel of Mark, for instance. Or Luke or John or Matthew, printed in the language of the country of destination. These small booklets are no more than 50 or 60 pages in length and are easily read and understood by normal intelligent people.

I know this is not a new idea, and it is certainly being carried out by lots of individuals and groups all over the place. I’ve made up my mind to join in the effort in my own small way. I am still gearing up, but I have a plan and I will write more about this as things develop.

 

The New Evangelization

Summary

“Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”

 

In 1990 Saint John Paul II came out with his encyclical Mission of the Redeemer, where he described three different types of evangelism: mission ad gentes, Christian communities, and the “new evangelization.”

The mission ad gentes, which means “to the nations,” describes a situation where “Christ and his Gospel are not known.” (This is the missionary activity that I am focusing on in this blog.)

Christian communities refers to the ongoing catechesis and care for those who are “fervent in their faith.”

The New Evangelization: Here, Saint John Paul II was speaking to a specific group of people: baptized Christians who have walked away from the practice of their faith.

“…entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case what is needed is a ‘new evangelization’ or a ‘re-evangelization.’”

In 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict established a brand new Vatican office, The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, thereby bringing this “new evangelization” front and center to the church’s modern mission.

I personally know more than a few young and not-so-young men and women who have dedicated their lives to the cause of the new evangelization. Their work is difficult and noble. They are often focused on high school and college campuses, although certainly not exclusively, and their mission is to seek out those individuals who have drifted away from God and find themselves in a dangerous world without an anchor. The church has allocated enormous resources toward this initiative, both financially as well as with prayer and personnel. Within the church’s hierarchy, especially in the U.S. and Western Europe, the new evangelization is uppermost in everyone’s mind.

My wife and I served on several parish missions as part of a team that would travel up and down the east coast seeking to renew parish life. We would give our witness, lead the music, pray over people for healing, and try to answer people’s questions as best as we could. Skeptics might say that we were “preaching to the choir”.  Evangelicals would call it “refreshing the saints”, and John Paul II called it “the ongoing catechesis for those who are ‘fervent in their faith'”. But I must say I never encountered a single person who was being exposed to Christianity for the first time.

It is good to be reminded that, in the eyes of God, the soul of a freshman at Rutgers University is of infinite value and is loved in exactly the same measure as the soul of a tribal chieftain in the mountains of Pakistan.

Which brings me back to my original thesis: What about those 5 billion souls who have yet to hear the Gospel? Speaking solely as a layman, I am concerned that our resources are possibly being allocated disproportionately. What Saint John Paul II wrote in his encyclical was:

“I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” (Bl. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, no. 3). (emphasis mine).

Our current Pope Francis has often weighed in on the topic of world evangelism. In March of 2016, speaking at Saint Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis said that God “would rather have many seeds be carried off by the birds of the air than have one seed be missing, since each of those seeds has the capacity to bear abundant fruit – thirtyfold, sixtyfold, even a hundredfold.”

And as recently as September 2017, Pope Francis told the people of Columbia, South America, “Dare to find new ways to share the faith.”

I am currently in the process of exploring a new way (for me) of spreading the gospel.

The Missionary Model

bu003722

“Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.”

 

While talking to a Catholic friend of mine, I mentioned my new interest in world evangelism and I mentioned my intention of blogging on the subject. He suggested I look into some of the great evangelists of the past, those towering saints of the church who first took Christianity to a pagan world.

He also suggested I look into the Catholic Church’s Vatican office responsible for the Propagation of the Faith.

Saint Paul, of course, came to mind immediately. After a dramatic conversion, he received the gospel, and it so took hold of him that he was a completely changed person. He insisted that Jesus Christ himself had mysteriously transmitted the gospel to him! “No one taught it to me!” (Gal. 1, vs. 12) Taking that exact story, and without consulting anyone, he thrust himself out into increasingly remote locations throughout the northern Mediterranean coastline, eventually landing in Rome, the pagan capital of the world, where he was put to death for his faith. He left in his wake an impressive number of strong vibrant Christian communities and a legacy of written letters that make up a quarter of the entire New Testament.

St. Francis Xavier, a co-founder of the Jesuits, was another extraordinary evangelist, pushing out into the Far East with nothing but the shirt on his back and the gospel story in his head. He spent a great deal of time in India, where he assimilated himself into their culture and proceeded to convert tens of thousands of souls to Jesus. Pope Pius XI proclaimed him patron of all foreign missions in 1927.

How could I not mention Saint Patrick? An escaped slave and shepherd, he was impelled by several visions to return to Ireland, the place of his captivity, and to begin proclaiming the gospel to a land under the oppression of pagan Druids. His message was so extraordinary that he converted the entire Irish nation to Christianity in 40 years. He died…on March 17th of course.

And then there is the case of St. Turibius of Mogravjo. A brilliant lawyer serving as a member of the Spanish Inquisition in the 1500s, he was yanked out of that job and sent, against his will, to serve as Archbishop of the newly formed diocese of Peru in the New World. Disgusted with Spain’s treatment of the native population, he hit the ground running and traversed, on foot, the entire 170,000 square miles of his diocese, bringing comfort and help to the poor people he encountered. He actually traversed this enormous diocese on foot on three separate occasions, personally baptizing one half million souls, including St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres. The list of his achievements is as long as your arm.

One more special saint deserves mention: Saint Isaac Jogues. Isaac Jogues was a Jesuit missionary priest who travelled from his native France to work among the Huron and Iroquois native populations in North America in the mid 1600s. Despite having his fingers bitten and chopped off by the natives, he continued preaching the gospel accounts of Jesus’s life among them for many years. He was eventually brought back to France, but his zeal was so extreme that he returned to the New World to pour himself out until his death at the hands of a tomahawk wielding Iroquois warrior.

Now, these people made a mark in their world! They had a story and they stuck to it!

In my own case, I left rural Connecticut when I was 30 years old, and went to live in a Catholic church in the heart of Newark, New Jersey. Joining a number of other zealous young men and women in a program of Christian renewal, we often fanned out across the inner city neighborhoods inviting people to our church. Although some of my new friends may have been effective evangelizers, in my case I believe the local residents of Newark tended to look on me with downright pity. The Lord, in his great wisdom and mercy, arranged for me to meet a lovely young woman and get married, before I could do any real damage in the missionary fields!

Things are a lot calmer now than they were in ancient times. We do things in an orderly and thoughtful manner, and the faith quietly spreads its work of salvation throughout the earth. There is, for example, the Pontifical Mission Society known as the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. This society exists for the express purpose of raising funds to be used by individual missions until such time as the mission is able to stand on its own. The Society also educates the larger church with regard to the missions, and solicits prayers as well as financial sacrifice. The work done by this society is impressive and deserving of high praise. Some of the projects they are currently involved in are:

  • Renovation of Presbytery, construction of wall fence, Maichea
  • Completion of Sacred heart of Jesus Church, Bobo Village
  • Training programme for evangelization agents on Mission Animation
  • Construction of a convent for the FMA – Salesian Sisters at Gubrye
  • Construction of St. Gabriel’s Poutstation Church, Ejefara
  • Re-building Holy Saviour Church, Debiti
  • Construction of Holy Trinity Parish Church, Danalega
  • Construction of Gona Parish, Amurada District
  • Construction of Bishop’s residence, Jimma town
  • Construction of Gidda community church, Cenna District
  • Construction of a church, Wekele village
  • Construction of Chapel for the missionary sisters of Mary Help of Christians at Arsi Negelle
  • Renovation of a convent for Sisters of Mercy – Gute, Abakuna
  • Construction of Ketchi Church
  • Purchase of furniture, equipment, kitchen material for Catechetical center in Adaba

These projects represent the Society’s work in just one country, Ethiopia. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith works with missions throughout the entire earth. It would be hard to think of a more worthwhile expenditure of resources.

And yet, back to our original concern: There are those five billion un-reached souls who have no way of hearing the wonderful invitation of our loving Lord Jesus contained in the gospels.

Furthermore, at least technically, the word “propagation” should imply some specific and intentional transmission of the faith toward the un-evangelized population, rather than just funding the maintenance and education of already established missions.

When a young couple falls in love, gets married, and begins discussing the “propagation” of the human race, they are not talking about repairs to the roof!

But all of the dedicated missionaries pouring themselves out for mankind certainly don’t need me standing around offering criticism.

And I admit that I am not standing in the short line of volunteers looking to get their heads chopped off by preaching the gospel in one of these hostile locations.

So I ask again:

Can anything be done about this? Is the situation hopeless?

The situation is not hopeless. I am firmly convinced that a slight adjustment in our evangelistic technique could supplement our global missionary efforts and move the Great Commission forward considerably. I intend to develop this idea in future blog posts.

The Problem As I See It

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“Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all people”

Mark 16, vs.15

 

I never gave more than a passing thought to the “Great Commission,” delivered by Jesus just shortly before his ascension into heaven. Most people, I reasoned, had heard about Christianity and could easily look into its claims if they truly had an interest. And most of the non-Christians that I had spoken to left no doubt that they were definitely not interested. So I decided to let matters be, and not bother people with a topic that didn’t resonate with them.

But something changed for me. A good friend of mine suddenly began confronting me with questions about my faith. He was very respectful, but he was looking for answers. I discovered that I had nothing satisfying to offer him. In fact I had nothing satisfying to offer myself. I could hardly formulate a thought that didn’t sound completely absurd.

One of his observations was that Christianity is rapidly losing ground in today’s world. For some reason my defenses went up, and I felt the need to argue his point and prove him wrong.

Not long after that I came across an article written by a high-ranking Catholic Cardinal, lamenting the condition of the European Catholic Church. He was saying that Europe’s Christian legacy is at risk “because we Europeans have squandered it”.

Even more recently I read that in Great Britain, the Christian underpinnings of their legal system are being quietly put aside, and are being replaced by a type of sharia, or Islamic, law. The article goes on to say, “Given the current trends, Christianity in England is becoming a relic, while Islam will be the religion of the future.

Suspecting that all of these people couldn’t be wrong, and beginning to feel a growing alarm, I decided to look into the status of Christianity in our world today. Some of what I discovered reassured me, but then as I looked further I seemed to fall into an open chasm.

My friend was indeed spot-on about the church’s dwindling numbers in North America and Europe. I guess I wasn’t completely surprised at that discovery. Globally, on the other hand, Christianity seems to be holding its own, and is actually quite robust in some large areas of the world. In China, for instance, one statistic claims that Christianity is growing at the rate of 10,000 to 25,000 converts a day.

So all is well, is it not?

Well, not exactly. There are other more disturbing statistics out there.

For starters, after over two thousand years, Christians only make up approximately 30% of the world’s population. That’s 2.2 billion adherents, true. But 5 billion souls have yet to be reached by Christ’s offer of love and redemption. Five billion souls.

The total world population at this time (2017) is approximately 7.2 billion people, and the average age of these people is a youthful 26 years old.

Two-thirds of the world’s population (4.4 billion people) live in a region of the globe that is almost completely closed to any sort of Christian missionary activity, a policy of hostility enforced by most of the governments in that portion of the world. Although there are Christian missions in existence throughout this region, they are barely holding their own and are under the daily threat of persecution or extinction.

The region I speak of stretches from the Sahara in Western Africa to the eastern shore of Asia, lying between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator. I am talking about the countries of North Africa, all of the Middle East, all of India, most of China, and all of Southeast Asia.

Regrettably, there is almost zero new penetration of the gospel into vast stretches of that region, a region sometimes referred to as the “10/40 window.”

And although missionary activity is being carried out heroically, and with real joy and fervor, statistics reveal that 99% of the missionary funds, and 99% of the missionary efforts, go towards supporting those souls who have already been evangelized. Small churches are being built (or repaired), schools are being established, water systems are being installed, farming techniques are being explained, catechists are being trained. Some new converts are made due to the exemplary Christian witness being demonstrated, but often those gains are more than erased by the terror and destruction of persecution. Meanwhile only one percent of missionary funds and effort are being expended on what could be referred to as “unreached people groups.”

So if what I read is true, if Europe’s and North America’s Christian legacy is at risk, and two-thirds of the world is closed to Christian activity, and no missionary funds are being allocated toward the unevangelized population of the world, then the church does appear to be in a negative downward spiral. Red flags are beginning to fly in my head. I can feel myself being radicalized. Can anything be done about this? Is the situation hopeless? Does anybody even care?

But I know that there are people who care. And many more would care if they were aware of the situation. Something certainly can be done to turn the tide. However, one piece of wisdom coming from our strange and turbulent times rings true: If you keep on doing the same things, you will keep on getting the same results.

Perhaps an adjustment in our evangelistic technique could supplement our global missionary efforts and put us on a more positive trajectory. I intend to explore a particular model of evangelism during the course of this blog.

 

Treating Christian Evangelism like a Political Campaign