nations

This past weekend, the United States celebrated Independence Day. Two hundred and forty five years ago, the signers of the Declaration penned their names to a treasonous statement of freedom.

The subsequent victory in the War for Independence led these newly free colonies to create a government. The United States is the one greatest political experiments in human history. Combining Judeo/Christian principles with Enlightenment ideals, the founders gave the world a model for representative government. The Constitution and Bill of Rights have been unparalleled in simplicity and clarity in its written limitations on the government.

As a follower of Jesus and citizen of the United States, I am deeply grateful for the religious freedoms provided in the Constitution. Many billions across the world know no such freedoms. Followers of Jesus in many nations must meet in secret to worship Christ.

With the freedoms we have in the United States, we are in danger of taking those freedoms for granted. My hope is that the isolation and limitations we experienced during Covid-19 pandemic serves to motivate us in expressing our religious freedom by living out our faith regularly and faithfully.

I also hope that we will develop a burden for the unreached peoples of the world in praying for gospel witness to be made available to them.

One of the more striking mission declarations in the Bible is the promise of Revelation 5.

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:1-10 (emphasis mine)

In this vision, John witnesses the praise of heaven. In that praise, heaven affirms that every people group and language will be represented in heaven.

According to the joshuaproject, there are roughly 17,500 total people groups in the world with nearly 7,500 of those groups considered unreached. Unreached groups are those without a gospel witness in their language.

From Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, and Revelation 5, it is God’s desire that people groups all over the world hear the good news about Jesus. Therefore, the mission of leading our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus is part of our responsibility. While we must pray for our neighbors and share the good news where we are, we must also be willing to send the gospel to those who’ve never heard the message of Christ.

One of the best ways to be attentive to our calling to unreached people groups is to pray for them. For each month at Wilkesboro Baptist, we’ve chosen an unreached people group to pray for.

Our prayer group for the month of July, 2021 are the Kazahk people group of Kazahkstan. The Kazahks have about 16,000,000 people in 25 countries, though around 12,000,000 of them live in Kazahkstan. They are predominantly Muslim. Devastated by the Russian Civil War of the early twentieth century, many Kazahks were displaced. They are currently searching for an identity and desperately need the hope and identity that can be found in Jesus Christ. There is a small Christian population (.10% or 1/10 of 1% of the national population). They are still considered unreached. You can read more about Kazahk people here as well as discover specific prayer points for this people group.

Would you take some time today to pray for the small group of Jesus followers among the Kazahk people? Would you pray for the many millions who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ? Would you take a moment to use your freedom to pray for this unreached people group and the unreached peoples of the world?

vbs15main

VBS at Mud Creek Baptist Church just finished. The theme for this summer was “Calling all the Messengers.” A tremendously creative team (Allison Gosnell, Brittany Pace, Diana Hefner, Autumn Thompson, and Deanna Bradshaw) envisioned a missions theme for this summer and were helped by an army of volunteers, church staff, and leaders. Numbers of children put their faith in Jesus Christ, and all of them came face to face with our mission as messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

VBS highlighted 3 countries where we have worked recently—Honduras, Kenya, and China. Honduras is a predominantly Christian nation (largely Catholic). Our work there with the Christian Community of Honduras and Pastor Israel Gonzalez begins with compassion and service projects giving us the platform to share the gospel. Over the years, we’ve seen many come to faith in Jesus Christ and many churches started through this partnership.

Kenya is also largely Christian. The Kenyan population is generally very open to hearing and responding to the gospel. Our partnership is through North Carolina Baptists with the Baptist Convention of Kenya. Our platform is the “Houses of Hope” project providing a home to a needy widow that will also be a location for a village Bible study. Over the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to witness hundreds place their faith in Jesus Christ and seen how God can take a chicken and turn it into a church which I’ve written about here.

China is a very different country. Our kids heard from a journeyman who spent two years in China learning the culture and language and sharing the gospel. China is predominantly non-religious, has nearly 1.4 billion people, and regularly persecutes believers. Many Christians in China worship in house churches that are not sanctioned by the Communist government. Nevertheless, the gospel is spreading in this closed country.

The children at our VBS this week were challenged to pray for missions and to one day go on mission. This challenge is not just for the children at our VBS. It’s for each of us. God is doing a redemptive work in the world. He promises to redeem for himself by the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ, believers from every tribe (race or clan), tongue (language), people (commonly bonded people of society—usually Jews in the Scripture), and nation (people group—usually Gentiles in the Scripture). This promise is found in Revelation 5:9-10.

The bottom line is that there are currently 6,552 groups of unreached peoples in the world. Unreached is defined as no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people. This number is approximately 3,047,782,000 people (that’s 3.4 billion people!) or 42% of the world population. These statistics and more can be found at the Joshua Project.

God promised to redeem for himself people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. He will keep his promise. Have you partnered with God in his mission? Our VBS children partnered this week learning, praying, giving, and sending crafts to participate in God’s redemptive, eternal, universal mission.

What about you?

Will you join God?

Will you go on mission?

You say, “But where can I go? How can I get started?” Well, you can pray for our summer mission teams as a starting point. Here are some prayers you can pray. You can also sign up through the Joshua Project to pray for the unreached peoples across the world. And while you’re praying, ask the Lord where He might want to send you on mission this year. If children at VBS can join God’s mission as messengers, then we can too.