As I type, our missions team is on their way to Peru to participate in the fourth annual Amazon Missions Festival with JungleMaster Ministries. God is using Immanuel Bible Church to bless the nations with the gospel. I praise Him for the tremendous generosity that has poured out of our church to equip this team for this short-term ministry labor. Indeed, there are goers and senders — and both are essential to finish the Great Commission.
This brings me to a most encouraging post by John Piper where he asks, “How much is left to do in the Great Commission?” He opens by saying something that may strike you as ridiculous given the perceived enormity of the mission: “We should be dumbfounded at how doable the remaining task of world missions is.”
Is he serious? Yes. After defining some key terms related to world missions and enlisting the help of the research arm of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, Piper concludes that there are only 3,100 “unengaged” (no evangelical mission effort underway) people groups in the world. Piper considers this number in the context of the resources available for world missions and concludes that this number is actually “amazingly small”:
Does that number sound large to you? 3,100? These are the people groups yet to be pursued and penetrated with a missions effort. The number is, in fact, amazingly small compared to the resources available to us.
Consider these numbers from the January 2013 issue of The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (vol. 37, no. 1):
- There are 44,000 Christian denominations in the world — 14 for every unengaged people group.
- There are 700 million evangelical Christians in the world — 225,000 for every unengaged people group.
- There are 4.5 million Christian congregations in the world — 1,451 congregations for every unengaged people group.
- There are 4,900 Christian foreign mission sending agencies in the world — 1.5 agencies for every unengaged people group.
This is simply mindboggling. I am not unaware that most of these 3,100 unengaged peoples are in places and under regimes that are hostile to Christian presence. So I am not saying it will be easy to reach them. It will be very costly.
Very costly, but surely Piper is right to conclude, “if God would grant the passion and courage and wisdom, the remaining task is neither vague, nor enormous, nor unattainable.”
What we need is more mission teams like the one that left today from the parking lot of Immanuel Bible Church at 2:30 a.m. And not only more teams, but sacrificial senders that believe like Jeremiah that “nothing is too hard for the Lord” (Jer. 32:17) — including the Great Commission.