Why the Forgotten & Why are They a Priority?

By Derek Schujahn
Derek is the Global Mission Coordinator for Every Nation Ministries and a leader in the SVM2 Network.

It’s everywhere you go. Like an incessant cell phone ringing deep from within your bag, it calls for you throughout the day. “Probably not my phone,” you think. But the call is for you, and it will ring until you answer.

It has become increasingly difficult for me to read the news lately. I try to ignore the constant reports of war, poverty, and disease ravishing the rest of the world as I sit in my comfy chair of self- absorbed delusion.

I live in a small town. I eat good food, drink clean water, pay my taxes, and my two little boys play soccer every Saturday. Let the world burn. I’m safe and doing just fine in my slice of Americana.

So how do I respond to the news? How do I respond to genocide in Africa or war in Lebanon, while I’m concerned about gas prices at the corner?

As a good American Christian, I press shuffle on my iPod worship playlist and turn up the volume to drown out the cries of injustice and pain reverberating in my heart. Besides, we’ve got enough problems to worry about here in my own community, right?

Perhaps you are on the frontlines of the battle, preparing for a lifetime of service among a people group waiting to hear the Gospel. Perhaps you have already committed a good portion of your life to bring hope to the destitute and fight oppression wherever it is found.

Or perhaps you are a bit like me. Filled with a passion and desire to see something, anything done – but what? And how? And by whom?

While living in China this summer I walked past toddlers sleeping on city sidewalks, dying of hunger and neglect. And it is clear that there is no political, economic, military, or ideological answer to the Middle-East crises.

Only the life-transforming power of Jesus can bring hope and peace to such a complex and ugly situation. Somebody must do something.

On the spiritual front, I am told that nearly 2 billion people in this world are shut off from the life-changing message of Jesus and have no hope of hearing unless someone goes to them. These are the “Forgotten” peoples.

They are the Muslim, Animist, Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, and Tribal people groups that, in general, make up the world’s poorest, underdeveloped, disease-ridden, politically oppressed communities on earth.

They represent about 10,000 people groups with no Bible in their language, no message bearer down the street, no church within a day’s walk, and no chance to meet the Person who loved them and gave His life for them.

It is clear from Scripture that “every nation, tribe, people, and language” will be represented in heaven (Revelation 7:9), and Jesus promised in Matthew 24:14 that “this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a witness to every nation (or people group) and then the end will come.”

It is also evident that the Gospel is advancing among these people groups unlike any other time in history.

More Muslims have come to know Christ in the last five years than in all of history combined, estimates of 25,000 per day in China are surrendering to Jesus, and the present day Church has more money, more available personnel, more training, more information, more ease of travel and communication and technology than ever before.

God has set the stage for every people group to be reached within this generation if only we would rise to the challenge and obey. Jesus has promised that the Great Commission will be completed. The question is not whether these “Forgotten” peoples will eventually hear the Gospel.

Jesus has not forgotten them. The question is whether we will respond to the call in our generation. At present, only 5% of the Church’s resources are focused on reaching 95% of the world’s least reached people groups. We have a chance to re-allocate these resources in our generation and make a difference in history.

God, in His sovereignty, decided to bring us to the Kingdom for such a time as this. We have the privilege and obligation to live in such a way that would bring His glory to the ends of the earth. We are so close to the completion of this epic endeavor, and we have only to surrender ourselves to His purposes in this generation.

The cold truth is that the Great Commission will not be fulfilled in this generation, or any other, until a sufficient number of individual Christians consider it their personal obligation. This is reality. Nothing will change until you and I and others are sick of the present world situation and volunteer our lives to do something about it while we yet have breath.

Why should we bother with such an enormous task? Why shouldn’t we just close our eyes and play church, paying more attention to tabloid news that the scary images of Muslim extremists? Because our Savior is worthy to receive the reward for His suffering, and He alone is the hope for our world.

So as I go through my day, I will pick up with trembling hands that haunting cell phone whose caller ID reads the Name of the One who enlisted me in His army years ago.

His message to me is simple, “As the Father sent me, so now I send you” (John 20:21). Let us answer this call and join together in honoring the King with our lives until every tribe has heard the Good News.

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