"People are just as lost in the United States as they are in India." "The United States has the fourth highest number of lost people of all the nations in the world." I have heard statements like these on more than one occasion. The owners of these sentiments are usually expressing the point of view that American Christians should take care of America first. They object to international missions with the question, in David Platt's words, "What about the needs here?"
Platt calls this objection a "smoke screen." In Radical he writes, "They [objections like this one] are smoke screens because most of us really are not very concerned about the needs right around us. Most Christians rarely share the gospel, and most Christians' schedules are not heavily weighted to feeding the hungry, helping the sick, and strengthening the church in the neediest places in our country." In other words, the person who expresses such an opinion is usually showing a disproportionate defensiveness to cover up a hard heart. He doesn't want to expend himself for the nations because he doesn't want to expend himself at all.
It is not a question of who is more lost because the same terrifying destiny awaits any lost person. It is not merely a question of numbers. It is a question of access to the gospel. In the United States there is an abundance of churches, Christian media, and neighbors who are believers. But at least one-fourth of the world has little or no access to any of those resources. When I resigned my pastorate to go to South America, there were over a hundred applicants wanting to take my place. When God led me to return to the states, no one took my place. A missions spokesman once asked the disturbing question, "Why should anyone get to hear the gospel twice before everyone gets to hear it once?"
As stated in earlier posts, the debate over global versus local is a false dichotomy. It is not "either-or" but "both-and." The Apostle Paul who said, "It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known" (Romans 15:20 NIV) also said, "I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel" (Romans 9:3 NIV). His missionary zeal and his concern for his own nation were one and the same passion.
In prayer today, let's ask God to help us to overcome any and all forms of self-deception. Let's ask Him to help us eliminate any and all excuses based on false thinking. Let's ask Him to use us both at home and for the nations.
The Purpose of This Blog
In response to the challenge by the Southern Baptist Convention that churches take on the task to share the gospel with unengaged unreached people groups, the missions team of Harmony Pittsburg Baptist Association felt the need for a way to focus prayer on the task. This blog is intended to facilitate prayer for those contemplating their role in fulfilling the Great Commission. This on-line prayer guide may prove useful to those exploring a call to missions involvement as well as to those who have sensed a call to pray for those who will go to the front lines.