Overcoming Practical Barriers to Serving Among the Unreached

By Oluseyi Ige
Seyi serves in Nigeria as the mobilization director for NEMA – Nigerian Evangelical Mission Association.

And the LORD said unto Abram(the youth of this generation), after that Lot( entanglement) was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes(to the unreached nations), and look from the place where thou art(your present location) northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever…Arise(decide and commit to make your life count for eternity), walk through the land(research, visit, make a prayer walk) in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Gen 13:14-17 (commentary added in parentheses)

Most treasures of real value are not gotten on a platter of gold. They are not always found on the surface. God promised to give the surrounding land to Abraham, but there are challenges and hurdles that must be crossed in order for this promise to be actualized.

Serving the Lord among the remaining unreached people group demands from us an acknowledgment that there are barriers that must be overcome to win the allegiance of these nations to Christ.

Yes, amazing progress has been made to the fulfillment of God making his name famous among the nations but there is a tragic reality that some unreached people nations are still yet to hear the gospel.

Let us identify and glean some practical tips on how to overcome some of these barriers together. A problem recognized is a problem half-solved. What are the barriers?

The Fear of the Unknown

The greatest barrier that will face any one who wants to invest his life in the service of the master is the fear of the unknown. This giant has been the cause of many truncated vision to the unreached nations.

The fear of how to survive in a foreign land, far from friends and relations, fear of rejection and unacceptability. When I have the clear leading to invest my life to bring glory to His name, this giant stood strongly to oppose me.

One sure way to overcome this barrier is to walk by faith, trusting God that He that has called you has the blue print of your life and knows the best way for you to follow. The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith.”

Parental and Peer Pressure

Being the first son of my parents, the expectation was that as soon as I finished my studies I will pick up a job to cater for the rest of my younger ones but this was not to be as I had a dramatic encounter that altered the direction of my life.

The encounter that changed the course of my life was an averted death during an attempt to reach a riverine community with the gospel, they mistaken us to be spies from a rival tribe who had killed some of the members of their community few weeks before we went there.

We were about to be killed by the youths when the Lord made a way of escape.

As we were taking off in a dug-out canoe, I desired to dust my feet and curse this community, then I heard a quiet voice in my spirit, “I have many communities like this in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria,” the voice continued, “after your NYSC service, work with a ministry that is reaching this riverine tribes with the gospel.”

I knew that is His will for me, but how will I disappoint my parents whose expectations from me are high and have put so much into my education, so I tried to ward off the instruction, however the more I did that, the more I was not at peace.

To worsen the situation, as soon as I finished I got three lucrative offers. My parents vehemently opposed me. It was the most difficult time of my life. The Lord demanded my absolute surrender- my dream, my ambition, my certificate, all what I have and all that I am.

Eventually ,prayerfully they released me to fulfill the call of God for my life to work as missionary in this terrain. This was the beginning of a walk of faith with Him and I never regretted making that decision because He has really been faithful. This barrier can be overcome by:

  1. First resolve in your mind that you are ready to obey the leading of God.
  2. Prayerfully commit your parents to God so that they can release you to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.

Impaired Vision

The third barrier is the problem of impaired vision. God told Abraham that he should look and see the land as far as he can see he will get.

This barrier is has to do with not seeing things in God’s perspective. Jesus had to help the disciples in John chapter four verse Thirty-five to see the unreached with the right perspective.

He said, “You have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested!”

Although many people want to please God, they are not ready to embrace God’s global purpose for their lives. God in Acts 10 revealed his global purpose to Peter, but he could not comprehend why God should use him-a Jew to reach the gentiles.

Every one of us needs to see beyond our locality and embrace God’s global agenda. Inability to recognize this is hindering many young people from fully pursuing the purpose of God. Every individual needs to understand that he is an instrument of change.

We need to see beyond the rod in our hands- gift, talent, color, and training and see ourselves as tools in the hands of God to transform political landscape, social decadence, geographic terrain and spiritual atmosphere of the nations.

Cultural and Language Barriers

When these three barriers above have been surmounted, then overcoming the last barrier will not be an herculean task. Cultural barrier is one barrier that must be overcome in order to be effective among the unreached people.

The first step is to love and appreciate the people and be sensitive to their cultural differences (worldview). When this is done it will be easier for one to relate with them. Be humble to become a learner. We need to avoid the error of premature judgments as we affirm the truth.

In conclusion, beloved, the Lord wants to impact the nations through your obedience. Can you see people coming to the saving knowledge of Christ because you made the choice not to give up that vision because of the barriers?

God is ready to supply the strength needed if you are able to trust Him, see the task in the light of all His provision and ready to learn from others. Do you have a call to make a positive impact among the unreached nations?

Are you faced with the fear of the unknown or parental pressure? Let the love you have for him compel you to obey Him and you will begin to experience the depth of his power in your daily walk with and work for him.

He is more than willing to supply the grace needed to overcome all barriers. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

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