Missions, reaching around the corner and around the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the biggest and most important business we could ever be about. But why?
First, because of the size of the task. There are over 6.7 billion people on this planet. The population has increased faster in the last 60 years than during all the previous centuries put together. At present, it is increasing at the rate of one million people a week. From approximately 70 people groups at the tower of Babel we now have 24,000 people groups. During the last few minutes, 62 babies were born in the U.S., 274 in China, and 395 in India. The simple fact is there are more people to be reached than ever before in history. However, all of this is more than mere statistics to God. They are precious souls that Jesus died for.
Second, because it deals with the deepest need of the human race. When Jesus saw the multitudes He saw them wandering aimlessly as sheep having no shepherd. We all know what the basic needs are: food, shelter, medicine, and education. However, there is a need that is deeper still — the need for salvation. One can meet all the basic needs, yet still there is a profound emptiness within the heart. It is not enough for us to give bread to eat; we must also give the Bread of Life. It is not enough for us to teach others how to write their names; we must also teach them how to trust in the Savior’s name. It is not enough for us to introduce them to a better way of life; we must introduce them to the One who gives everlasting life.
Third, because of the opposition we face. Satan has blinded people into following false religions and gods of all kinds of imaginations. These religions use the same technology and methods we use to reach people. They have adopted some of our songs and have Sunday school for their children. For many of them America is the biggest mission field. False cults, too many varieties to count, work very hard to reach people. These religions and cults are sending out more missionaries than we are — including other independent Baptists and Southern Baptists combined.
In Matthew 9:37, Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.” This is still true today. We have fewer going to tell the good news. Many sources are reporting the trend of declining interest in missions among North American Christians. Ironically, this trend appears at the same time that we have the greatest opportunity for missions. So, why don’t we go?
• Raising support
• Economic situation and cost of living
• Parental opposition
• Decreased emphasis given to our youth
• Priority given to social needs
• Pluralism among the youth of America
• Safety issues due to the political climate in countries abroad
• Financial debt – school loans, etc.
I believe the biggest reason fewer are going is because fewer people are praying as Jesus told his disciples to: “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). The BBFI currently has 848 career missionaries, 35 TEAM missionaries, and 19 chaplains. We had 54 resign in 2008 and four passed away. However, we had 46 newly approved missionaries in 2008 and we processed over $41 million. Even through the difficult economic situation in 2008, more was given to missions than in 2007. It’s true we are facing the largest task, the deepest need, and the strongest opposition. But, consider this… 1. We still have the greatest message the world has ever heard. It’s the only message that turns people from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from bondage to freedom, from death to life, from sin to righteousness. Jesus is alive and Jesus saves! This is our message. 2. We now have the greatest evangelistic opportunity of this age. Unbelievable opportunities abound on so many fields. People are searching for the Truth. 3. We also have the greatest means to proclaim this message. There is satellite, TV, internet, high-speed presses, computers, rapid transportation, and so many other resources. 4. We have the greatest power to proclaim this glorious truth. This marks the difference between the missionary endeavor of false religions and that of the churches of the BBFI. Theirs is manmade; ours is Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit is the Originator, Director, and the One who empowers our endeavors.
– Jon Konnerup | BBFI Mission Director | Baptist Bible Tribune, March 2009