The Desiring God National Conference was probably the only place in the world last weekend where worshipers were consciously singing “How Great is Our God” in chorus with pulsars in deep space and Pacific whales (thanks to Louie Giglio!) If that sounds a little strange, go to the Desiring God website and check out his Friday night session—incredible! I was privileged to speak at Bethlehem College and Seminary on Thursday night and then at the DG National Conference on Friday. I have never been treated so graciously or seen so much attention to detail. The folks at DG truly go the extra mile to glorify God with excellence in all they do. The bookstore they assembled in the convention center was phenomenal and could have taken much more of my time and money if the rest of the conference had not equaled its quality. I was truly humbled to be invited to participate and I count the experience as one of God’s richest blessings to me. I was overwhelmed and turned to collect myself more than once as people shared how they were now serving on the mission field or headed that way because of reading my books The Missionary Call or Reaching and Teaching, or when hearing from a missionary friend tell me of the child sacrifices among the people where he works. I hope that all of the people who shared their vision, passion, and prayer requests with me will stay in touch through email, Facebook, or twitter.
I came away from the conference with a renewed passion for the least-reached areas of the world where there is no church or Gospel witness that is sufficient to reach and teach their people. While I was encouraged to meet so many who share my passion to train national pastors and leaders, I also began to burn with a zeal to train up thousands of believers in the traditional mission fields whom God is calling to go to unreached and unengaged mission fields. There are almost 4,000 people groups in the world who are not only unreached, but whom no one is targeting with a Gospel witness. That must change. There are thousands of national believers in other countries whom God is calling to go as missionaries, who have passports that would allow them easier access to places such as the 10/40 window, and who could live on much less than is required for Western missionaries, but they lack missions training. Missionaries have found that training and orientation in anthropology, missiology, orality, and intercultural communication in addition to theological and biblical training is essential for effective missions service today. In addition to providing nationals this training, our years of expertise could provide them guidance in forming international mission sending agencies designed and structured for them to administer in culturally appropriate ways.
IMB President, Tom Elliff, is calling on SBC churches to adopt and reach one of the 3,800 unreached and unengaged people groups (UUPGs) of the world. With about 46,000 SBC churches in the USA, we can do better than that. In many cases the reasons that these places are still UUPGs is because they are in the hardest to reach parts of the planet. This “extreme” dynamic attracts some churches and repels others. Stay tuned for some humble suggestions for how our families, churches, and budgets can help reach and teach these UUPGs. And since I am in a humble suggestion mode ;) a number of ideas have occurred to me that agencies could embrace to help churches, families, and individual believers embrace the vision to close this gap. All of us can do more to make Christ known and embraced in these UUPGs of the world. I know I can, and by His grace, I promise I will. We will be discussing just that over the next few weeks. I hope that you will pray for God to guide you to find your place in these plans as we do.