Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mission Top Ten

I never claimed to be normal; you just wrongly assumed that I was. It’s true. I obsess over things sometimes, usually about things involving world mission.

Last year, for example, I put my entire life, marriage and the welfare of my children on hold and redrew a world map according to macro language and culture rather than the current and much to be commended micro approach to people groups. I created new nations like Afrabia, and Dravidia. Iran and Afghanistan became Persia. and Latin America became Hispana. It was a blast.

My current obsession has been reading through Operation World and creating my Mission Top 10. These are nations which need  apostolic missionary work the most and are the most open to receive it, sort of balancing need and opportunity. My list is subjective of course; yours may look different.Some countries with huge needs and real opportunity did not make the list. So, here is my Mission Top 10.

Japan is the largest unreached nation on earth. It is significantly less than 1% evangelical. It’s culture is so ill, that it will depopulate from 125 million to 75 million by 2050. It is wide open to the gospel. Language learning and ability to contextualize are key issues for Japan.

Bangladesh has a population of 170 million that is breathtakingly unreached, poor and Muslim. Bengalis are the largest unreached people group on earth at 240 million, and Bangladesh is the center of the Bengali world. It is still somewhat open to missionaries, especially those who have skills that can help the poor and build gospel sharing relationships with Muslims.

Russia actually worries me. The future of this country is actually uncertain because they are depopulating so fast and have so many social problems that implosion and dissolution is possible out there in the foreseeable future. The country is 1% evangelical and still somewhat open to missionaries, but not indefinitely. Pastoral missionaries who simply love people and understand how to build community at every level are needed. The shakers and movers will do more harm than good.

Thailand is a nation of 70 million and is quite open to receive the gospel. However, in a recent national survey, 85% of the Buddhist Thai population said that Christianity was unintelligible. Superb language learning and contextualizing the church for Thai Buddhist culture are very important for missionaries.

Spain is almost 50 million people, where only 1% of the population are evangelical and the vast majority of them are immigrants to Spain. The Spanish people are incredibly unreached. Missionaries to Spain must, again, learn the language and integrate into life there and contextualize their ministry.

The Wild West is a region in westen Africa, consisting of Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Chad, Guinea Bissau and Niger. The reason I created this region is because I just couldn’t separate this wonderful opportunity. These nations are much more open to receive gospel preaching missionaries than most other Muslim majority countries and have a population of 78 million, the majority being Muslim. No brainer.

The Czesh Republic has 10 million people of whom 71% claim to have no religion. It is .7% evangelical. Prague is the epicenter of post Christian Europe. Missionaries who know how to learn from the past, live in the present and look to the future with wisdom, joy and hope are needed for a lifetime of resowing the gospel.

Ethiopia is the key to unlock outreach to the millions of unreached Muslims at the Horn of Africa. The Church is small but large enough and vital enough to be sent. The Ethiopian Church is embracing sentness, so lets help them. Missionaries who can respectfully mentor and train future leaders are needed.

Austria is exceedingly post Christian. The population of 8 million is .5% evangelical. The provinces outside Vienna desperately need German language church planting. Germany must recall its 500 missionaries sent for some strange reason to Brazil, Kenya and Tanzania and send half of them into Austria to plant German language churches. (The other half must do the same in Germany.)

The United States receives millions of immigrants from all over the 10/40 window, Muslim, Hindu, and Asian. They usually stay connected to their home. Tens of thousands of potential church planters and pastors to the most least reached people on earth live in the US. I can hear the boos now, but the US absolutely makes the top 10. No brainer. Missionaries who can gospel-engage these people and help the millions of Christians who live here to engage them are needed.

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