Monday, June 13, 2011

All the Families of the Earth

God promised Abraham saying, "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Isaiah foretold a day when, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). John foresaw a day when there would be "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Rev. 7:9).

It seldom gets reported in the news (secular or Christian) that God is actually doing what He promised to do. But He is. Really. Consider the following:

Today there are approximately 6.7 billion people on the earth, comprised of approximately 24,000 people groups (ethnicities.) Of these 24,000 people groups, about 16,000 have embraced the Gospel of Jesus and now have solid, thriving churches committed to evangelizing their own people. This leaves about 8,000 people groups who lack churches, evangelists and scripture (in their own language.) Not bad considering where the church began 2000 years ago.

At Pentecost the disciples of Jesus were an infinitesimal portion of the human population (approximately 120 out of 170 million souls). But look how the church has grown in proportion to the general population!

By A.D. 100, one in every 360 people was an active believer

By A.D. 1000, one in every 270 people was an active believer

By A.D. 1500, one in every 85 was an active believer

By A.D. 1900, one in every 21 was an active believer

By A.D. 1970, one in every 13 was an active believer

By A.D. 2010, one in every 7.3 was an active believer

Now, as noted above, there are still about 8,000 ethnic people groups to be reached. But the good news is that the number of churches per unreached people group has gown dramaticaly over the last hundred years. Viz.:

In 1900 there were 20 churches/unreached people group

In 1970 there were 150 churches/unreached people group

In 2010 there were 1000 churches/unreached people group

This is not an excuse to “let go and let God.” Rather, this is a call for us to find our place in this incredible story of redemption that God is writing; to pray, give, send and go until the number of those who love and worship Jesus is, as John foresaw in his heavenly vision, beyond human reckoning.

*Statistics from the U.S. Center for World Missions

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