"My father sought the Truth, and died without finding it.
Oh why did you not come sooner?" – Mr. Ni.
Mr. Ni was a Buddhist in the 1800’s. He made this statement and asked this question to James Hudson Taylor, missionary to China. This is the moment when Mr. Ni realized just how long Western countries have had the Gospel, compared to when it finally arrived in his community. My perception is that Mr. Ni, who did believe the Gospel, was grieving the fact that his father entered eternity never finding what he searched so diligently for because no one had come to his people sooner.
I have often had a similar train of thought when I talked with Christian brothers and sisters who parents died lost. I am not referring to friends whose parents died lost after hearing the Gospel. I am referring to those friends whose parents died lost and never heard the Gospel one time. They lived in a place where Gospel access was limited or non-existent during their day.
I wonder to myself if they think of what their parents are facing in eternity right now. I wonder if it concerns them that it took outside Christians so long to get the Gospel to their community. I have never asked anyone questions related to this but I do think about it often.
When I think about people like Mr. Ni’s father, my heart aches. I ache because 2+ billion people are unaware they are facing a bleak eternity. They have not heard the Gospel one time because we are taking too long to get it to them.
The fault for their lack of Gospel access is not theirs. It is neither the fault of Muslim extremists, Hindus, Buddhists or any other group of lost people, as I was recently told that it might be. It is the fault of the Body of Christ. Jesus commissioned His Bride nearly 2,000 years ago to accomplish a task that has yet to be accomplished to date. This task is to proclaim the Gospel to ALL PEOPLES. When Jesus commissioned His disciples, He was not focused on just some or the easy and likable ones, but to ALL. And, ALL includes our enemies. Not everyone will believe but everyone needs to hear.
Mr. Li’s question is legitimate. It is as legitimate today as it was in the 1800’s when he asked it. It is a question we need to think about. I agree there are factors that make it more difficult to advance the Gospel among certain peoples and locations versus others. But, I am hard pressed to believe that it is okay that 2+ billion people live beyond the reach of the Gospel after 2,000 years of Church existence.
The good news in all this is found in Matthew 24:14. Jesus tells us that the Gospel WILL be proclaimed in ALL the earth. This is a promise from Jesus Himself. It will come true and possibly in my (your) lifetime.
Additionally, God has given us, the body of Christ, His Spirit and Power to carry us to every place no matter what comes our way to try and stop us. He is walking with us and empowering us to fulfill the commission He gave us nearly 2,000 years ago. And, let us not forget another important detail. God has blessed the body of Christ with enough resources and manpower globally to ensure the Gospel is proclaimed everywhere. This is ALL great news!
It is clear we have a lot of work yet to do and a lot of catching up to do as well. But, it CAN be done and it WILL be done! The question is, will you or I obey and be part of that equation?
…WHY DID YOU NOT COME SOONER?
Let that question soak in a bit and then ask yourself, “Is Jesus Worth It?”. Is Jesus worth all the struggles, pains, sufferings, and sacrifices you may have to take part in to be part of ensuring all peoples in all places has access to the Gospel? Is Jesus worth giving Him your children and our next generation to advancing God’s Kingdom, even in the dangerous places?
IS JESUS WORTH IT?
Steve Schirmer, President of Silk Road Catalyst and co-Host of Missions Talk. Least Reached Advocate. Dedicated to No Place Left.