Before Christ returned to heaven He gave the command for His followers to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. According to the first chapter of Acts they were to begin in Jerusalem and then work their way out to regions farther and farther away. God’s plan of evangelism has not ceased today. We still have a responsibility to carry the Gospel to those around us and to the rest of the world.
There are so many needs in the world today where the Gospel has not been preached, or is not even allowed. Here are five areas that you may want to consider when thinking about the missionary need.
The 10/40 Window
You may have heard of the phrase the 10/40 window but unsure as to what it means. It is a way to refer to a group of countries and people who are in the least reached region of the world. These are countries stretching from northern Africa in the west through Asia to the east between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude. This band of countries is home to 2/3rds of the word’s entire population. By sheer volume of people and lack of religious freedom, this is a great area to focus the missionary effort.
This region is getting much attention today. A Christian missionary could go to countries in this area of the world and reach so many needy people. Whether you want to call it the 10/40 window (as is popular today) or simply focus your prayers, money and efforts into this region, you will have a great impact on many people for the cause of Christ.
There are still many missionaries who are called of God to work in areas outside the 10/40 window. Be sensitive to their needs as well. They can easily feel like they are second-class missionaries by the way they are treated by those solely focused on the 10/40 countries.
Outside and within the 10/40 window there are many countries which are closed to traditional missions. Missionaries cannot go in and establish churches freely or even witness on a personal level in some cases. Some countries will allow personal witnessing, but limit public meetings and printed literature such as Bibles.
While a “closed country” may not allow traditional missionaries into their borders, some will legally allow them into the country through alternate work opportunities. Some missionaries have gone into countries as legitimate coffee buyers, technology engineers, doctors, nurses, school teachers and social workers. Those are just some of the many ways that missionaries can get into limited access countries.
Another area where missionaries are needed today is in Bible translation. Thankfully there are Bibles in many languages. However, it is estimated that there are around 2000 languages which still do not have any of God’s Word available to them in printed form. There are many more than that which do not have a complete copy of the Bible. Many of these people groups don’t have a missionary who can speak their language or have a Bible believer among their native language speakers.
Don’t think that the golden age of Bible translations is in the past. It is true that the most commonly spoken languages have a Bible available to them now. But there are many languages yet to read about God’s precious good news in their own tongue. The opportunity to have a greater personal influence in a translation project is right now.
Pray for and support those involved in this important aspect of missions.
Many who are interested in missions today are young people who are attending schools of higher learning. I want to encourage you to reach out to those around you. There are millions of students in universities today who have never been taught the Gospel. They are in a stage of life full of searching and uncertainty. This is a great time to share with them the Word of God.
If you are not in school, but live in a college town, you have a great opportunity to reach young people. It is simple and effective to show the love of Christ to college students who are needing guidance. I am not advocating that you look at university students as prey to be captured. Rather, you see them as open minds in which the Holy Spirit can work. Allow God to use you to introduce others to Him and His Word.
University ministry is a great way that you can practically impact a needy mission field right where you live.
Along the lines of university ministry, you have a mission field around you every day. Your neighbors are people for whom Christ died. The grocery store clerk needs to hear the Gospel. Your doctor could be reached with a smile and a well-written Gospel tract. See opportunities around you every day to share the Gospel. It is important to reach those in far off lands, but don’t ignore the needy mission field in the houses along your street.
An Amazing Story
A short version of an amazing story is that one day I sat with a mother in Mexico as she cried and thanked God for her son’s salvation. She and her husband had prayed for 14 years that God would send someone who could share the Gospel with their son. Their son was Deaf and they did not know how to communicate with him. Unknown to them at the time, they were praying for my family. God used us to spend weeks and months with their son sharing the good news of the Bible. When he was saved his mother shared their story with me.
You may never know how long someone has been praying for your neighbor. It could be 14 years or 4 decades. You could be the answer to that family’s prayers by walking across the street and sharing the glorious Gospel with the man you casually wave at every morning.
Though I have presented specific areas of need, let me encourage you to consider where God is calling you and how He has equipped you. I remember sitting in a pastor’s office as I was preparing to go to Mexico to start a church for the Deaf. His question was, “Do you think Mexico needs another missionary?” I actually somewhat agreed with his question and apparent frustration. Mexico has many missionaries (and, by the way, Mexico is seeing a great harvest and sending out their own missionaries because of it). Yet the pastor’s question was also frustrating to me.
My response to this pastor was, “It doesn’t matter whether you or I think Mexico needs another missionary. It matters that I believe God has called me there to do a work and I have to obey His will.”
It is of little importance where you focus your missionary dollars, prayers or labor as long as you are obeying God’s leading in your own life. The beauty of missions today is that we don’t have to put all of our financial and prayer focus into one place. Though I serve in a specific area and with a specific people group, I can support missionaries working in many different places with my money and my prayers. I want to encourage you to do the same.
Need help learning how to become a Christian missionary? Take a look at this related article:
Resource – YouTube video “God of this city” performed by Chris Tomlin