Feature

Pushing Back the Darkness

. . . to the Ends of the Earth

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Reaching the entire world with the message of salvation is at the center of God’s heart. The prophet Isaiah predicted: “All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (52:10). And we are beginning to catch a glimpse of the fulfillment of that promise. Earlier this decade, distinguished missiologist Dr. Ralph Winter (who passed away last year) said: “We are in the final era of missions. For the first time in history we can anticipate the completion of the missionary task, which is to establish an indigenous church-planting movement within the language and social structure of every people on earth.”

However, even though significant progress is being made, more than 2 billion people—about a third of the world’s population—remain unreached by the gospel. While missions agencies have done a remarkable job spreading the gospel during the twentieth century, many strategists are now clamoring for a shift in focus and resources in order to complete the Great Commission.

The vast majority of the remaining unevangelized people live in the 10/40 Window. The people groups in this wide area that stretches from West Africa all the way across East Asia are often described as “unreached” or “least-reached” or “ignored.” They are commonly defined as identifiable groups of people who have distinct cultures, languages and social structures. Here is the stunning news: The 10/40 Window consists of an estimated 2.4 billion individuals living in more than 5,000 unreached people groups.

What makes the task even more critical is that most of the countries in this window are closed to the gospel, have no known believers, have no church, have no missionary and have no Scripture in their native language. This part of the world—once the center of Christianity—is now dominated by other major religions: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and animism. Persecution of Christians is prevalent throughout the 10/40 Window.

Motivated by Christ’s Great Commission, Alliance workers are on the front lines facing the forces of spiritual darkness every hour of every day in places that are highly resistant to the gospel. Some of these remote, hard-to-reach regions are:

Mongolia: a Buddhist-dominated nation (96 percent) of 3 million people, wedged between the vast countries of Russia and China.

Russia: a formerly Communist country still shackled by a century of atheistic indoctrination and a general mistrust of non-Orthodox theology.

Uruguay: a proud nation with a strong Roman Catholic history and probably the least-reached country in South America. Investment in planting new churches is both essential and strategic.

Bob Fetherlin, vice president for International Ministries, said: “I want to use The Alliance as never before to push back the darkness with a sense of urgency for lost people, that those who have not yet been told about the Light will see and those who have not yet heard will understand. This calls for radical engagement and obedience.”

Fetherlin, a former missionary to Mali, West Africa, says that the part of the world where the majority of least-reached peoples are concentrated is Central and Southern Asia. This area, located in the 10/40 Window, is considered by many to be the final frontier of Christian missions.

“God’s heart longs for the remaining unreached peoples to hear, understand and believe the good news about His incredible Son,” Fetherlin says. “We’re committed to going to the tough places.”

You can make a difference regarding the eternal destiny of thousands of men and women who need to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If your church or civic group can adopt a stretch of highway to pick up the trash, can we not adopt an unreached people group to bring before the Lord in earnest prayer?

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