TODAY, THERE ARE 700 million dedicated followers of Jesus in the world. They are found on every habitable continent and in every country. They are, by and large, the product of the past era of world missions that has spanned the past 200 years. Countries of Europe, followed by North America, took the Gospel to the spiritually dark continents of Africa, Asia and the Americas. This era coincided with the colonial era in world history. This was missions from the ‘West to the Rest’. There were ‘missionary-sending countries’ and ‘missionary-receiving countries’. It was characterised by the faithful ‘sending’ of thousands of western churches and the sacrificial ‘going’ of thousands of the finest young men and women these churches had to offer.
World history and mission history have always walked hand in hand. Missions today finds itself holding hands with this new era of world history we know as ‘globalisation’. The result: never before in all of history have the world’s remaining unreached peoples and the Church been in such close proximity to one another.
The ‘West to the Rest’ era of missions has now given way to ‘from everywhere to everywhere’ and ‘missionary-sending countries’ and ‘receiving countries’ has given way to ‘near-neighbour missions’.
The USA is home to over 90 million Evangelicals, but now also to 69 unreached people groups. The UK has more than 5 million Evangelicals, but also hosts 30 unreached people groups, and Australia has 3 million Evangelicals, and is home to around 20 unreached people groups. India has 26 million Evangelicals and approximately 2300 unreached people groups, and Indonesia has 13 million Evangelicals and more than 220 unreached people groups.
Every country in the world would have statistics that represent an Evangelical population and unreached people groups. The key to doing fruitful mission in this era is the mobilisation of all God’s people into active participation. We can no longer delegate this to trained professionals as we did in the previous era. We can all learn the cross-cultural skills necessary to share the Gospel with unreached peoples that many church folk rub shoulders with on a daily basis through work, community activities, etc. God has strategically placed these people on our doorstep – just as he said He would (Acts 17:26–27)!
Max and Dorothy Chismon
Ministry team leaders involved in mission mobilisation of the global Church