A new missions mindset

Rural village with one person walking in distance next to a red and blue fence between houses at sunset Lalibela Ethiopia Horn of Africa

It’s been more than 2000 years since Jesus challenged us with the Great Commission, to “go into ALL the world”. You would think that in that vast amount of time, all people groups might have been reached. Sadly, research indicates that there are still approximately 1/3 of the world’s languages that have no Scripture at all.

Many of the people groups that have not yet had scripture translated into their native tongue are physically or socially impossible for Western Christians to reach. Does that mean we just write them off and walk away?

In John 15, Jesus clearly reveals to us His heart for seeking and finding the lost. In the story of the missing sheep, we see that it’s simply a shepherd, not a gallant rescuer from another country, that has the intrinsic ability to search familiar terrain, garner the trust of the animal, and safely return it to the rest of the flock.

It might challenge us to take a look at our current missions mindset from a completely different angle. Maybe instead of seeing ourselves as the “shepherds” who must go seek out “the lost”, we are supposed to take on a more strategic role of selecting and supporting locals to reach their own people, and inspiring our own local church bases to leverage support for this “new” approach.

Pastor Dan went to Bumbiri Island in Tanzania, Africa with a team researching missions opportunities there. He was asked to preach the first sermon at a new church that had just been built via support from American churches funneled through local missionaries. The missionaries contracted local workers and purchased local materials from local vendors. What Pastor Dan experienced in that first church service forever changed how he perceives missions.

The local missionaries projected that only a handful of new believers would attend the new church. Much to everyone’s surprise, every single one of the workers and materials vendors began attending every service as well. They reasoned that since they had built it, they now belonged to it; it was “their” church. What an unexpected evangelism opportunity!

So what pieces of our Westernized missions strategies need a makeover in order for the marginalized people in hard places to be reached? It might be more simple than we think.

Instead of walking away, we walk alongside. We intentionally position ourselves in the nations nearest the unreachable, support the people already doing ministry closest to the inaccessible, offer resources to those working with the dialects closely resembling their remote neighboring people groups, partner with local missions and ministries working in proximity to those out of our reach.

Most only need simple tools and resources to enable them to extend their reach to those currently living without the gospel of Christ translated into their own languages.

What is one small step you can make towards helping reach currently unreached people groups?

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Rob Hoskins is the president of OneHope. Since taking leadership of OneHope in 2004, he has continued to advance the vision of God’s Word. Every Child. by partnering with local churches to help reach more than 2 BILLION children and youth worldwide with a contextualized presentation of God’s Word.

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