Jesus understood that the endeavor to which he was commissioning his disciples—and all disciples to follow—would require long-term investment of lives and resources.
Jesus framed the Great Commission with two mission-sustaining promises. First, he promised his authority to fulfill his commission through his disciples. The task would not be possible apart from the power of God that ensured the mission’s success. Second, he promised his presence with them in the disciple-making pursuit. No matter how difficult the road ahead, Jesus promised to be with them in the journey.
Jesus concluded his mandate with six vision-expanding words, “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). Those words told Jesus’ first disciples that this mission was not only beyond their human ability to complete, but potentially beyond their lifetimes. Jesus knew from the beginning that his command would be generational. A long-term investment of time, resources, and lives from each generation of disciples would be the key to reaching those people groups where Christ is not named (Romans 15:20). Each generation would plant gospel seeds, some of which the next generation would harvest.
If a key to reaching the unreached is long-term investment, then how can we maintain a long-term commitment to our mission? Consider the following four areas that enable long-range thinking in our efforts to take the gospel to those separated from Christ by religious, cultural, and linguistic barriers.
Because our task is far beyond our human ability, God’s people must commit to lifelong prayer. We must pray unceasingly for efforts to take the gospel to those who have long been separated from Christ.
How can we pray for the unreached?
- Pray for laborers to be sent into the global harvest fields (Matthew 9:38).
- Pray for God to open the minds of those who are far from Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
- Pray for pastors to be raised up from among the unreached peoples and for churches to be planted.
- Pray for God to protect, sustain, and encourage those missionaries who are already engaged in reaching the unreached.
- Pray for churches to engage in Great Commission thinking and activity.
An eternal perspective is critical to remaining focused on long-term investment in missions for two reasons. First, an eternal perspective reorients our view of time. God is not bound to work according to our schedules and is not limited by our time constraints. The history of taking the gospel to the unreached was written by those who understood this perspective. David Livingstone, a British missionary, worked 33 years in Africa and died in a small town on Lake Bangweulu in Zambia. Hudson Taylor, also a British missionary, worked 51 years in China. Taylor was buried in Zhenjiang, China. Both men made long-term investments that would bear fruit long after they had had passed from this earth into eternity.
Second, an eternal perspective reorients our view on treasure. Missionaries who go to unreached people groups and those who support these missionaries both sacrifice earthly treasure to make an eternal investment. These are long-term investments of lives, finances, earthly goods, and relationships that will bear eternal fruit. The treasures that we store up in heaven are the lives we have impacted by sharing the gospel and showing Christ’s love (Matthew 6:19-20).
Advancing the Great Commission, from the disciples’ day until today, is not an easy task. Missionaries must learn new languages and cultures, obtain permissions to live in another country, complete training, and raise support. Once on the field, there are unforeseen challenges and obstacles, and it takes time and effort to develop redemptive relationships with people who are blind to the truth and opposed to the gospel.
Perseverance is foundational and essential to maintaining a long-term investment in this kind of environment. The barriers that have kept unreached people groups in darkness will not be easily breached. Perseverance can only come through continually abiding in Christ; and moving forward can only come by faith in the One who called us to make disciples of all nations.
Passion for the unreached requires us to align our hearts with the heart of God for the unreached.
God’s passion is to see believers from every nation, tribe, people, and language one day standing before his throne in worship. A redeemed people from every ethnicity will join thousands upon thousands of angels, together saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13).
This is God’s passion! When our hearts are aligned with his, this will be our passion as well. The Great Commission will be carried out by humble servants who are passionate about what God desires.
Jesus said that he would be with us in this mission, “. . . to the end of the age.” Reaching the unreached requires long-term investment; however, we do not know when the end of the age will come. Therefore, there is an urgency in our mission to reach the unreached—which means the time to get involved is now.
We at ABWE believe that God is raising up a new generation to go to some of the farthest frontiers of missions. Recognizing that time is short, and eternity matters, we’ve launched the Open Initiative to send 7 teams to unreached people groups in the next 7 years. Explore how you can join us through prayer, sending, supporting, or going.