Please read pages 25-27, "The Unfinished Task - The World's Peoples", "The Unfinished Task - Challenges for prayer", and "Scripture on the Great Commission", then return here for our prayer time together.
Unreached people groups comprise 41.1% of the population of the world. Despite this reality, only about 1% of missions giving goes to reach unreached people groups - and 40% of the world's missionaries are located in 10 countries that are oversaturated with missionaries (The Parable of the Apple Orchard demonstrates in story form the disproportional approach much of the Christian world has to missions. For more statistics and statistical references, see the About Missions site.)
Let me be clear: Every soul is precious to God. He doesn't want any to perish. These statistics and prayer points aren't about bailing out on the need to reach our neighbor next door. Instead, they are a fresh reminder that we need to let our lights shine brightly both at home and internationally, among those who have forgotten and those who've never heard. But as we seek the Lord to guide us in our own praying, giving, and going, and as we are involved in mobilizing our churches in praying, giving and going, it's important to keep in mind this reality of missions: The unreached will remain in darkness unless someone obeys God in making them a priority.
This morning in my quiet time, I read Joshua 17. Joshua is giving instructions to Joseph's "house" - the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh - that they should conquer the forested hill country in order to gain more land. The house of Joseph expresses concern about the iron chariots of the Canaanites in the forest, but Joseph doesn't let their concerns change his charge to them. Instead, he promises them:
This "little commission" given by Joshua came with an assurance of victory and the promise of the farthest limits of the forest if they would be obedient. The "Great Commission" that Jesus has given us goes far beyond those assurances. As we pray, give, and go to fulfill His command, we are simply participating in gathering to the fold people who are already His -- God has given the nations to Jesus as an inheritance, as we previously discussed. We have the assurance that the very gates of hell will not prevail against the church as we move forward for His kingdom. And most importantly, we have the promise of His presence with us as we go. The unreached people group represent the "farthest limits" and there are some strong enemies in the way. Our prayers today are part of reaching the ends of the earth - let's trust God to drive out the enemies and make a way for the messengers.
My prayer for today: Lord, You know the stars in the sky and the hairs on my head. As I looked up at the sky yesterday You impressed on me that You even know the distance between the stars. Nothing is a mystery to You. I'm reminded that to You, there are no unreached peoples, because You see from an eternal perspective. You know how each one is going to hear and You know who among them will believe. From our perspective, though, we want to be fully obedient. You said the fields are white to harvest and that we should pray for laborers to the harvest. This is just one of many scriptures that make it clear that we are to be intentional partners with You in reaching the world with the message of Jesus. So Lord, we do pray for laborers to the harvest. We pray for those people groups who are unreached - who have no significant Christian witness among them - and for those who are completely unengaged, with no mission work even started among them. The darkness is not dark to You Lord. Shine Your light in these areas and in our hearts. Awaken us to the role You want us to have in reaching these people. Tear down the barriers that isolate these people and make them difficult to reach. Raise up solid researchers who can be modern-day David Livingstones, raising awareness to the rest of us about where the unreached are and how to reach them. Grant a vision for unreached people groups and call many churches to adopt one and pray until that group is reached. Thank You that we have many assurances of Your power and authority with us as we are obedient to the task. We pray that Your Holy Spirit would go before us and prepare hearts and minds for the message of the Gospel. In Jesus' name, amen.