As I write this, I have just returned from three weeks of following up on our current partnership ministries in the Middle East that began several years ago with the unprecedented Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis. I also spent a week conducting strategic and secret meetings in another Middle Eastern country where we have not previously had feet on the ground, trying to establish new partnerships and strategies for reaching their tens of millions of unreached people with the Good News and the hope found only in Jesus Christ.
This country is one where terrorism is still very much an ongoing and resurging threat and where the U.S. has already spent billions of dollars and sacrificed so many lives of our fighting men and women in battles against the various terror groups and the atrocities they commit.
As of 2016, the U.S. has suffered almost 4,500 casualties (KIAs--killed in action) and 32,000 (WIAs--wounded in action) in this country in an attempt to protect and liberate the people from the hands of these horrific and ruthless terror groups. Estimates are that over 500,000 civilians have lost their lives in this country. Several million others are now living in refugee camps (seeking refuge in other countries) or as IDPs--(Internally Displaced Peoples, living in refugee camps within their own country because their cities and villages have been destroyed, their way of life lost, and it is unsafe for them to return).
Similarly, in April of this year, Syria, a neighboring country, passed Law #10 of 2018 which requires all property owners to present documentation of rightful ownership of their residences, businesses, farms, etc., within a 30 day period or forfeit the right of ownership. This poses a very significant obstacle and just adds to the level of 'hopelessness' among the estimated 11,000,000 Syrians who are either refugees or IDPs and who do not have the required documentation, the money, or the freedom to return to their communities to prove ownership. In essence, and by design, these displaced people will forever be displaced and without hope of returning to their old way of life or being reunited with family and friends.
This same hopelessness is what we see in so many of the war-torn and/or poverty stricken countries around the world--most of whom live in what is referred to in Christian missions lingo as the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is the area of the world between latitudes 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator in the Eastern Hemisphere, covering North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This window encompasses 74 countries, many of which have with the world's greatest physical and spiritual needs, most of the world's unreached peoples and most of the governments that oppose Christianity.
Though this window incorporates only 1/3 of earth's land base, 2/3 of the world's population live there. In areas of the 10/40 window, there is only one missionary for every one million people.
Some of the problems in the 10/40 window are starvation, disease, economic disaster, religious persecution, government and political breakdown, and insufficient living conditions. But far above all of these, is the need for the Gospel of Christ.
Hopelessness can easily be overlooked by those of us who have never experienced it, but it is a debilitating and overwhelming reality for the majority of the world's population! When we look at the shear hopelessness experienced by so many in the world today from a Kingdom perspective, it is evident that the Lord is using this opportunity to open the hearts of so many people who are desperately seeking any good news of hope and peace to hold on to; especially a hope and peace that are eternal and life changing.
Not only has God used these horrific atrocities to open the hearts of the suffering, He has used them to open doors for the Church to share the Good News of the love and the hope of Jesus Christ among these people. The governments of these nations may be closed to the Gospel, but government cannot stop the power of the Gospel among those whose hearts are now open and searching desperately for what only Jesus can give--provided the Church is willing to send and to go and make Him known!
These doors are open now, but they will not be open forever. Now is the time for the Church to wake up and to unite and break ground that is fallow, to sow the seed of the Gospel among the unreached, to nurture the sprouts that come forth, and to harvest the crop of souls before the harvest is lost!
The doors are open right now in some of the hardest to reach places on the earth and the harvest is ripe and ready, yet for the most part, the Church is somehow absent, busy doing church instead of being the Church to a lost and dying world!
Most believers spend their entire lives talking about the harvest--like a labor crew trying to gather a harvest while sitting in a barn. We go to the barn (our churches) each Sunday morning and study bigger and better methods of agriculture (the spiritual harvest). We sharpen our harvesting sickles and we go home. We come back that night to study better methods of agriculture, sharpen our sickles, and go home again. We are back for a midweek meeting to learn bigger and better methods, sharpen our sickles, and return home. We do this week after week until the weeks turn into months and months into years, yet few if anyone, ever goes out into the fields to gather the harvest.
Talking about the spiritual harvest is not enough. We must all become involved in the actual harvesting process. This does not mean everyone is to leave their jobs, seek financial support from others, and travel to other nations as preachers of the Gospel. But every believer is to be plugged in and involved in some significant way in the worldwide harvest. For some, most of our time will be spent in the fields that are right outside the doors of their home; in their school, on their job, and in their local community. Still, we all must be diligent to not become so localized, that we neglect being actively involved in our greater mission of reaching the entire world.
Every born again Christian has the responsibility to be actively involved in the work of the harvest in ways that are strategic, intentional and effective in reaching the uttermost parts of the world. I once heard someone say: "The greatest enemy of God's best, is something else that is good." The enemy may not tempt us to rob a bank or commit murder, but he will distract us from doing God's will by tempting us do something else that is good!
If the enemy can convince the Church to narrow our focus to just trying to reach our own communities, while only throwing a token toward the unreached world, he will have accomplished his purposes. If not my church, then who will take the life changing, soul saving Gospel message of Jesus Christ to the more than 4 billion people living in the 10/40 Window where 85% of the poorest of the poor live and where 90% of the people are unreached with the Gospel message?
In order for us to do the will of God, we must have vision to see the world through the eyes of God. God's purpose is salvation for the world. Because this is His purpose, it must become our purpose. We must make His global cause our priority. Until we receive vision of the spiritual harvest fields, we will never fully understand our role in the Kingdom of God that gives purpose and direction to our lives. The vision of spiritual harvest should be central to our lives, but looking at statistics and the vast number of the unreached, for most it must be only a minor concern.
We tend to talk about the things we love or that affect our lives directly. We talk about our husband or wife, our children, friends, politics, finances, business, hobbies and sports. But how often do we think or talk about lost souls? How much concern do we give each day to the multitudes still waiting in the gap; the spiritual harvest perishing in the fields?
When God's eyes behold the nations of the world, He sees a spiritual harvest perishing because of the lack of harvesters. Jesus said: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Matthew 9:37-38)
There are many needs in the world including hunger, poverty, sickness, homelessness, terrorism and social injustice. Mission work involves all levels of human need but spiritual harvesting, the winning of lost men and women to Jesus Christ, must be as important to us as it is to God--or our priorities as Christians are out of order! God's purpose is for the Church to make known throughout the world His plan of redemption through His son Jesus.
There are approximately 3.2 billion people representing over 7,000 people groups yet to be reached with the Gospel. There are over 2,000 languages for which there is no translation of God's Word. For every 10,000 villages in India, 9,950 have no Christian witness. In Iraq the total Christian population is estimated to be less than one half of one percent! In the 10/40 Window where Cattle For Christ is working, 90% are unreached.
If the Church is to fulfill the Great Commission and reap the spiritual harvest, we first need to repent, and get out of our cultural, theological and denominational ruts. Some will be called to leave their jobs to be full-time missionaries, but all are called to make sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with all the world their mission and life purpose.
Wherever it goes, whether to the most advanced universities of the world or to the poor and uneducated, the Gospel has the same effect: It transforms lives as people are reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
We are going! Will you help send us?