Unfinished business makes me uneasy.
Perhaps you’re the same way. When I see tasks in my home, office, or ministry that have been left incomplete, I’m palpably dissatisfied. I crave the sense of fulfillment that comes from a mission accomplished. Without that, discouragement soon sets in.
So, I find it curious that, for Paul, there was a single, gargantuan, unfinished task that, rather than daunting him, animated him with indefatigable, apostolic zeal.
By the year A.D. 56, though the message of Jesus had spread across the Roman empire, much gospel work remained undone. Someone had to shoulder the responsibility of going where Christ had not yet been preached, planting gospel seed on virgin soil. Yet faced with this task unfinished, the apostle to the Gentiles didn’t waver, but responded with striking resolve: “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:20 ESV).
Notice the weight of one word in particular: “ambition.” The original Greek word conveys the sense of doing something “for the love of honor”—to aspire passionately for the prize of accomplishing what is noblest and worthiest. This is not the sigh of a man downcast by the weight of incomplete work. This is a statement of one pulsing with energy at the high, heavenly privilege of heralding Christ to lands and peoples unknown for the sake of God’s glory.
Contrary to much modern pessimism, the gospel has radically advanced in the two millennia since Paul penned these words. The trajectory of history has been irreversibly altered by the risen God-man, and numberless nations and peoples have already been won to his kingdom. Still, the task is not done. Nations, tribes, and people groups—comprising billions of unreached and hell-bound souls—remain without the light of Christ.
The Spirit of God remains at work, electrifying his set-apart workers with an ambition to take Christ where he is not yet named. In the 2022-2023 period, the ABWE family witnessed the approval of 52 new short-term workers and 53 new mid- and long-term missionary appointees.
This issue of Message Magazine exists so that you can (1) praise God for and (2) pray fervently for this new class of global gospel workers. They aren’t daunted, and neither are we as we long and labor for the day when all nations are assembled before the throne of him who is supremely worthy (Revelation 5:9).