There are 3 billion people in this world who are unreached by the Gospel. Unreached people aren’t just people choosing not to believe or hear the Gospel. Unreached people are unable to hear the Gospel because no one around them knows it. Three. Billion. To add to the weight of this number, 99% of church funding for missions support goes to people who have access to the Gospel and other Christians. This means that a mere 1% of funding from churches is aimed to support these three billion people without hope of hearing the Good News.
On Sunday, our church’s worship service was a time of collective attention and prayer to these unreached people groups. The sanctuary was flanked with giant panels full of the names of people groups who don’t have access to the Gospel. The country of India filled almost five full panels. We prepared our hearts for considering the depths of the need of these people and my heart shattered. There are so many times in life when I feel alone, but I am never alone. I may feel hopeless, but I am never without hope. I may feel anxious, but I have a relationship with the One who is Peace. I may feel discouraged, but I have access to the very words of God that breathe courage into my weary bones. I get overwhelmed, but I can pray to the one who has overcome all things. I may feel as though I am losing the battle, but I have full assurance that this battle is already won. Yet there are three billion people who are actually hopeless, totally alone, with only reasons for fear, discouraged, overwhelmed and overcome. They don’t even realize the battle they are in. My heart was reoriented to the depth of what I have been given and to the depth of what they lack.
Way back when we started our international adoption journeys, we were purposeful in thinking through what kind of Gospel access these countries had. We prayed and thought about which countries our children may not have ever had access to the Gospel. Now we have two children from countries that we love deeply that are full of people who have no access to the Gospel.
As I held Kai’s hand and we prayed for China and for India, tears streamed down my face. It was hard to find the words to pray. These unreached people have names. They are Kai’s grandparents, neighbors, aunts, uncles. They are his foster mom, caregivers, doctors and those who saved his life. They are Ella’s parents, siblings, orphanage workers and the children that she lived with day after day, the ones who found Ella and her sister tucked into a basket. The faces we have seen and the people we have met in these far away places don’t feel so far away.
I asked Kai what it would be like to see his mom and dad in Heaven. He looked up at me and said, “but I don’t think I would know or recognize them.” I looked at him and answered, “don’t you think God would want you to know them?” He smiled and grabbed my hand. I think He would.
I hope in Heaven, we will see that the prayers for people we don’t know, but deeply love really did effect much. God chooses to work through the prayers of His people. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop grieving for the lost. Don’t look away. #hopewins