We had staff retreat this week and it was a wonderful time of review, prayer, renewal and vision-casting. One of the overwhelming things I came away with was a hurting for the rest of the world.
Jonathan B., our new Pastor of Global Disciple-Making spoke on Friday and gave some amazingly sobering statistics and stories. One of his stories hit me so deeply that I had to share it. He spoke of a trip he took to remote Vietnam several years back. They travelled into areas seldom seen by anyone, missionaries or otherwise. They were doing some ethnographic work and as part of it, were asking one extremely group of extremely remote villagers what they believed...did they believe in spirits in the forest...nope; did they believe in ancestor worship...nope. Then they asked how the crops grew - the villagers responded that the rain made the crops grow. He then asked about the sun coming up. The villagers said they just hoped. Hoped in what they were asked? We don't know they responded, no one has told us that yet. The next day, Jonathan and his team went to a little shack that served as a store that sold soap and other sundries. The first thing they were asked was whether or not they would like a Coke. Yep, in the middle of the remote village, some suits from Atlanta had introduced their product. What an indictment of the western Church! Suits selling sugar water found this remote village but we're too busy arguing about carpet colors, preaching styles, worship styles, etc. to bother sharing the life-saving message of the Gospel with a lost and dying world.
Consider please these facts and see if it doesn't prick your heart and change your perspective:
*There are over 12,000 people groups in the world today. 6,475 of them are unreached (less than 2% evangelical believers). Approximately 5,845 are unreached and unengaged (no one working to reach that people group). That 5,845 represents 1.6 BILLION people.
*Greater than 90% of the personnel and resources (time, people, money) of North American missions agencies goes to ministry among the reached.
*One child dies every SIX seconds from hunger-related causes.
*Almost 1 BILLION people regularly suffer from hunger, most are women and children.
*65% of the world's hungry live in only 7 countries: India, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethopia.
Watch this video (done by Gene Mason from BH) for even more statistics:
Lord, help us, help me remember James 1:27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep onself from being polluted by the world." Remind me that "stuff" is fleeting and doesn't matter. Give me a desperation for the poor and the lost around the world.