This blog post was first written on the 10th of June 2015, a year ago yesterday. This represents a massive challenge for me, where one night I was lying awake feeling incredibly challenged and broken by statistics which I had found. As such, this post constitutes a pointed challenge and plea to both myself and those reading on the cost of our inaction.
This blog post was written with a heavy heart. Some of what I have written here had become the fuel for my mission trip to Nepal and further my desire to explore mission – other things I will write here have made me cry heavily, in the late of night while reading books in utter heartbrokenness and righteous anger at the evil state of this world. A lot of what I write here is the reason I fully intend to step out in faith and commit myself to a life overseas in the future, however that might look. It is the reason my passion for mission and social action (tied to the gospel of Christ) is fueled.
This post is going to have quite a few statistics. One of my best friends cannot stand reading statistics, and I imagine many others are the same – but to face the deep realities that need to be presented here, I hope you will read on and really wrestle with the things I have to share. Many of us take no notice in our everyday lives of the realities of the earth – we take much for granted and spare little thought for the plight of humanity. After all, what we are reading here are not really just “statistics” – these constitute REAL PEOPLE, people like you and me with hopes and dreams and desires. People who are not a number in a statistic but are individually deeply and intimately known and loved by the God of the universe who sent His Son to die for them and for us.
Many of these people live in the 10-40 window of the earth, as summed up here:
Much of Africa. Most of Asia. The majority of the middle east. The unreached live in some of the most populated countries on the planet, in many of the poorest of countries of the world, in some of the most isolated places on earth, in some of the most dangerous places in existence. Many evils in these countries are the direct result of the lack of the risen Christ.
I have been ridiculously convicted upon writing this, and now rewriting this, even though I support several organisations, sponsor a child, have been to Nepal and wholly intend on stepping out into the mission field myself sometime in the future. My hope for this post is that the Spirit works in convicting you and stirs up within you the desire to do more with the abundance with which God has exceedingly blessed us.
I shared this with one of my friends – and he couldn’t believe it. Living in a world so interconnected, where you can travel from one end to the other in around 24 hours, it’s hard to believe there are people who have never heard the name of Jesus once, much less met a single Christian in their lives.
The reality here is worse then we would think. The number of unreached, unevangelised people on earth is not numbering in just the millions. Unevangelised people, out of around 7 billion inhabitants of the earth, is estimated at 2 BILLION people (some estimate 3 billion people). That’s just under a third of the planet.
Let this sink in for a moment – 2 billion people who don’t know the risen Christ. 2 billion people who’s only eternal destiny is eternal separation from God – all because no Christian has heeded the call of God to reach them. These are human beings, who are daily dying of preventable causes, descending into eternal hell because they have never heard the name of Jesus.
And what’s more? These people are without excuse:
(18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (19) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (20) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (21) For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (22) Claiming to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
~ Romans 1:18-23
This is why we must go. This is why the church must commit itself to mission, to the global call of God to surrender itself for the sake of the nations. Not everyone is called to be a cross cultural missionary; everyone however, is called to missions in some way, shape or form. We have an obligation with the gospel this side of heaven to unreached peoples this side of hell with no way to know they can be saved.
There are ways to combat poverty. There are ways to combat dehydration and starvation. There are ways to prevent disease, and there are sustainable ways to achieve all these things. Social justice is a great purpose, but without the gospel and the risen Christ, social justice places a bandaid over much deeper spiritual issues. Both are needed desperately.
About 2 million children die per year of diarrhea (seriously.. diarrhea). About 3 billion people live on less then $2.50 per day. Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world. 1.5 billion people live without electricity. About 28% of children in developing countries are underweight or stunted. A billion people on this planet are unable to read or sign their name. There are 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS and about 500 million cases of malaria every year. 1 billion people lack access to water and 2 billion access to adequate sanitation. There are approximately 2.2 billion children on the planet – approximately 1 billion live in poverty. The use of fuels indoors for cooking kills 1.5 million people each year, more then half below the age of 5 – 4000 dead per day.
25,000 children die every day due to poverty. They “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
Can we, in good conscience, ignore the desperate poverty on this earth? There are people dying in some of the poorest places on the earth outside of our view and therefore outside of our conscience. People are dying out of sight and out of mind, yet we remain content to keep doing our daily thing like this means zero to us.
Can we really go about our days ignoring the fact that our dogs and cats eat better and more abundantly then other human beings do in some of the poorest countries on earth? Whether we feel like you have money or not, the poorest beggar on the streets of Perth is likely to have more money and belongings then the poorest of the poor sitting on that sidewalk. We are in the 20% richest people in the history of planet earth and we squander our wealth on meaningless rubbish that won’t be coming with us when we die, belongings only good for dust and moth. We ignore the needs in front of our very faces if we only choose to look outside our wealthy bubble.
There are approximately 48 million people (as of new estimates) trapped in slavery worldwide which generates approximately $32 billion for traffickers per year. 78% of victims are enslaved for manual labor while 22% of the victims are entrapped in sex slavery. About 55% of all slaves are women and girls.
And this, this is where it gets me. As a kids church leader, its statistics like this that bring me brokenhearted in tears before God and boils my blood with anger. I hate this with an absolute passion. This is the reality which breaks me. 26% of slaves today are under the age of 18. 7.8 million slaves are young girls. India is estimated to have a total number of slaves at 14 million, many trapped in sex slavery and it is thought that as many as 40% of the slaves are young girls under the age of 18. Here is a real life example.
Many of these girls are sold by their penniless families at the promises of a better life and a job elsewhere, much of the time for the equivalent of $100. They are broken by the traffickers – beaten, drugged and raped – and then forced to do unspeakable things so these people can make a quick buck. They are then forced to tell others of how good a life they have been given out of their poverty, and so these traffickers trick others into falling into this evil trap.
Of all the vile evils concocted by Satan, this makes me feel the most anger. I can only imagine the wrath our holy and righteous God of the universe is waiting to pour out on this planet when He returns in judgement. Knowing this, can we in good conscience not be moved to action? Can we ignore the reality of utter brokenness in this world, and can we, as Christians, remain inactive when there is an eternity at stake? What is it going to take for their childhood to be redeemed, to be joyful and to be wholesome, as it should be?
The Iniquity of Doing Nothing
(20) So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the Lord for the war, (21) and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the Lord, until he has driven out his enemies from before him (22) and the land is subdued before the Lord; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the Lord and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the Lord. (23) But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.
~ Number 32:20-23
This is a war. It is literally a battle for the soul of this world. The nation of Israel, if they did not follow God into the battle, committed a sin against the King. They sinned because they did nothing. We have this battle to fight for the soul of this world and we sit on the sidelines and cheer on the few who champion it. Maybe we don’t even cheer – maybe we just blissfully go about our days like nothing is wrong, thinking our lack of understanding absolves us from action.
We watch the David’s rise to fight the Goliath, the Peter’s evangelise the 3000, the Gideon’s lead their 300 men into the fight. We watch the missionaries go out to the unreached, world vision reach out to the impoverished, anti-trafficking organisations move to save people out of slavery, all the while thinking “I can’t do that, that’s just not me”. We think this even though we all are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to go and work with God under His purpose and for His glory. Charles Spurgeon said the following:
“The iniquity of doing nothing is a sin which is not so often spoken of as it should be.”
“If you are idle in Christ’s work, you are active in the devil’s work.”
By doing nothing, Satan wins. Edmund Burke tells us that “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” People stay unreached, poverty remains unalleviated, slavery remains a modern day atrocity. The call of this post is to not to sit idly by while billions of people are trapped in their daily reality on this fallen earth. God calls the church to be the light – we are Plan A of God in the redemption of His world. There is no Plan B in the plan of God. We’re it.
In James, the wisdom book of the new testament, we have this scripture. One that we don’t really notice in the scheme of the book and often pass by unaware of it’s implications.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
~ James 4:17
I know the right thing to do. I give my life to the cause of Christ, whether for the unreached in Nepal, the work of my church in Cambodia, the slaves trapped in India, or work here in Australia, if God doesn’t call me elsewhere, to send others out on mission and give of my wealth for the people dying hungry and thirsty on a daily basis. If I fail to do it, knowing its a right thing that I have to do – it is a sin.
Sponsor a child. Support a missionary. Generously donate to organisations devoted to the destruction of slavery. Go out on mission to the unreached yourself. Jesus, don’t let us (me included) be spectators while this world is perishing in its sins. Spirit convict us to be the hands and feet of Christ and not sit idly by in the face of desperate need and evil.
We need to do something. Can we really call ourselves Christians and not be moved with compassion? We know the right, good thing to do. God has been doing this work in me for a while now – and I am personally resolved to take action, and in fact, have and continuously will be taking action in howsoever God calls me.
So my call to anyone reading this is this:
Just do something. Whether you give into the work of this organisation in the fight against slavery, whether you sponsor a child in the fight against this generation of poverty, whether you go willingly to give your life for the unreached people wherever God sends.
Just. do. something.