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Have Christians Dropped the Ball on Great Commission? How John Allen Chau's Martydom Highlights Need for Global Evangelism


Nearly 2.2 billion of the approximately 7.5 billion people on earth have never been exposed to the Gospel. It was likely that grim statistic that prompted 26-year-old missionary John Allen Chau to undertake a fatal solo expedition to North Sentinel Island to share the message of salvation with the isolated Sentinelese people.
Before his trip to the island, Chau wrote in his journal of his heart's desire to see the Sentinelese saved. He was passionate about seeing unreached individuals come into the knowledge of Jesus.

His martyrdom brought attention to the number of people who have never heard of the Jesus.

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He gave what Christians call The Great Commission. It is found in Matthew 28:19, which reads, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The call for global evangelism is evident. However, of the approximately 430,000 missionaries in the world, only between 2-3 percent are pursuing people groups who have never heard the Gospel. Long-time missionary Richie Seltzer believes the church is still attempting to fulfill The Great Commission.

Research supports his claim. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity indicates world evangelization plans have grown from 250 in 1900 to 2,500 to 2018.

Seltzer, who travels around the world through his ministry Revivalist Culture, stated, "We are the light of the world – emphasis on 'world' as it pertains to the Great Commission."

There are many reasons why evangelism is not taking place in the 10/40 window, the region of earth where most of the world's population lives (the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia) but few profess faith in Christ.

One predominant explanation is many Christians are unaware of the unreached. The World Evangelization Research Center states that out of 648 million evangelical Christians, 70 percent have never been told about the billions of unevangelized in the world.

Another reason is Christian persecution. The 10/40 window serves as the most active area for hostility against believers. David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, says Christian persecution is "the highest of the modern age."

Nevertheless, he believes the church shouldn't be deterred "from spreading the love of Jesus."

In order to reach the billions that have not heard of the Gospel, Curry suggests missionaries should change their perspective. That is, instead of fearing or feeling the need to pursue martyrdom, he insists people should pursue helping, serving and loving the way Jesus did even if that means loving and serving in the name of Jesus without just trying to share the Gospel.

Curry also says missionaries should take the time to understand the cultures of countries where Christians are persecuted.

"The greater challenge is often people are confused by and don't understand the cultures where Christians are persecuted," explained Curry. "Most believers don't know what is happening. They see episodic reports, but they lack understanding of culture and contexts where persecution is happening."

Lyle Phillips, founder of Mercy Movement and pastor of Legacy Church, found success when he took the time to understand the culture before spreading the Gospel. Phillips has done work in India and Japan. He traveled to India over a period of five years where he and his team rescued over 400 children from human trafficking. He established a network of pastors to help create churches and find homes for the children. One of the network partners in North India has baptized about half a million people over five years where Christian persecution is prominent.  

Phillips, Seltzer, and others have recognized the importance of being in the will of Jesus. Meanwhile, they admonish believers to draw courage from the next verse found in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:20, which reads, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."


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