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Insight

Thoughts on the unreached

The call to the unreached echoes the urgency of the apostle Paul, who plaintively wrote, “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14, NASB). Paul wrestled with the plight of the unreached — those who have not yet heard about Christ. The heart of the missionary beats to see them reached.

The fact is, there are still lost billions whom we are called to reach with the message of our Lord. Regardless of the reason, those who are lost without Christ face eternal destruction. Our Lord came to this earth to seek and save the lost.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, John saw Jesus as more than the Jewish Messiah — he saw the One who would accomplish redemption and offer everlasting life to every person on the planet. While the Jews, for the most part, didn’t comprehend it, the Samaritans in their first encounter with Jesus surprisingly grasped it. They said, “We have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

Later in the New Testament, this theme is emphasized again. The apostle Peter, who was personally taught by the Lord himself, wrote that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV). God wants to reach everyone with His love, mercy and grace.

As a body of believers, we have been commanded to carry on His work. Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (NASB). This process involves seeking out those who are in unknown territory — both spiritually and geographically.

In today’s world, we are confronted by many hard-to-reach places. Yet we need not be daunted by restricted-access countries or people groups living in rugged, remote areas. The Church should have no borders in reaching the lost. Our mandate is to go to every person with an adequate witness of Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer.

From the beginning, Assemblies of God pioneers gave us guidelines in developing a world missions strategy. Their primary emphasis was that the Fellowship would be Spirit-driven. The Holy Spirit prepares the way and opens hearts to receive His message. We do not recruit missionaries; rather we depend on the Holy Spirit to call whomever He wills. Our responsibility is to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth workers and call people to areas where the need is greatest. Over the years God has repeatedly answered our cries by burdening people for a particular area or group at just the time when doors for outreach opened. We continue to rely in faith that He who gave the command will equip those He needs to accomplish the work.

Sometimes we may be tempted to deliberately place missionaries in certain areas or ministries. We are on risky ground, however, if we take on the respon-sibility of trying to call specific people to specific places. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Of course, we provide guidance and prayerful input, and we inform people of areas where great needs exist. But ultimately, as a Fellowship, we depend on the Holy Spirit to call and direct missionaries regarding where they should go.

While we rejoice over the growing number of people coming to Christ in these last days, missionaries continue to search for the “lost sheep” who remain outside the fold. Finding them may not lead us down smooth and easy paths. But the joy of bringing them to the Good Shepherd outweighs any inconvenience or sacrifice that may come their way. And as long as there are lost sheep, God will be faithful to call His children to seek them with the good news of His love.

L. JOHN BUENO

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