The first scourge is Covid-19. As of this writing in March 2020, over one-half million individuals have the disease and 25,000 have died from it, with numbers rising daily. An unseen enemy stalks the earth.
- The response: The entire world is in a panic and chaos reigns. Fear grips the globe. Schools, churches, and businesses have closed. Wall Street and Main Street are suffering, and massive sacrifices are being made to stop the spread of the disease. Social distancing is the new norm. Governments and media from around the world are focused on the situation.
- The result: Unintentional physical death and economic destruction.
There is a second scourge far greater than the first: abortion. Over 42 million abortions took place in the world in 2019, with just under one million happening in the U.S. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, 62 million abortions have occurred in America. Each unborn baby already has unique DNA, making him/her distinct from the mother. A child that God destined before the foundation of the earth is callously killed, and in many cases for convenience’s sake.
- The response: Half the world doesn’t care that life is snuffed out in a mother’s womb. Pro-life legislation is far removed from most governments’ actions and many church parishioners vote for their pocketbooks over biblical values.
- The result: Intentional physical death.
But there is a third scourge far greater than the other two: failure of Christians to “go” and reach the unreached with the gospel. There are 17,000 people groups in the world of which 7,000 are unreached (less than two percent evangelized) and 1,500 of those are completely unengaged (no missionary, no Bible in their language, no Christian witness). Approximately, 7.7 billion people are alive today; 42 percent are unreached or totally unengaged. Approximately 200,000 people enter eternity every day; almost half of which never heard the gospel message once!
- The response: Less than 2 percent of Christian global missions resources (human and financial) go to these areas of the world. The vast majority of Christian resources goes to local outreach, where everyone already has adequate access to the gospel. Comfort, security, materialism, and apathy has desensitized the American church to this greatest of all scourges.
- The result: Intentional eternal death.
Three scourges—all worthy of addressing. However, the third scourge which impacts eternity the most receives the least amount of focus and effort. I’m reminded of two quotes that apply:
“I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the yet unreached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond!” –Isobel Kuhn, missionary to China and Thailand
“Somewhere along the way we have subtly and tragically taken the costly command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations and mutated it into a comfortable call for Christians to come, be baptized, and listen in one location.” –David Platt, pastor and author
UPDATE (12/22/2020): I wrote the above blog in March 2020, highlighting three scourges occurring in our world. I argued that each scourge is evil, but of ascending consequences respectively. I wrote it to assist me and other followers of Jesus to keep things in eternal perspective and to encourage a focus on global missions, beyond local outreach, which is both convenient and visible.
I would like to add something today in December 2020. I feel it’s prudent to educate ourselves of critical steps to take in light of the times in which we live, turbulent and chaotic times that will increasingly bring greater stress upon our world, cultures, governmental structures, relationships, lives, etc.
To followers of Jesus: We must abide in Jesus, learning to spend extravagant time with Him via prayer, Scripture reading, and obedience to His commandments. Reverence to God is the beginning of wisdom and obedience to His commandments leads to understanding, both of which we desperately need (Psalm 111:10). The Bible makes clear that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20) and that our focus should not be on earthly, temporal things (Col. 3:1–2; 2 Tim. 2:3–4). Jesus is the Rock, giving us a solid foundation via His Spirit, to withstand the coming apocalypse. We need to put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10–18). One of my favorite verses is John 16:33: “In Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
To those who do not follow Jesus: “All humans have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom.3:23). Jesus made very clear that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6) and “for unless you believe that I am God, you will die in your sins” (8:24). Scripture makes clear that we (1) must confess that we are sinners and cannot save ourselves, (2) must believe that Jesus is God Himself in human form (Col. 2:9) and trust that He alone can save us and give us eternity with Him based on His death and resurrection, triumphing over sin, death, and the evil one, and (3) must be willing and committed to allow Jesus’ Spirit to work within us to turn our life around, to follow Him, and to obey His commandments, ultimately producing good “fruit” (Rom. 6:22; John 14:15). People say that Jesus was a great teacher, which He was. However, in the Gospel of John, Jesus makes clear that He is God (John 10:30, 38, 14:9). Either Jesus was and is God Himself, worthy of following, or He was the biggest fool that ever lived. You alone will make that decision for yourself, and where you spend eternity will be determined by that decision.
***Our author, Bob Stock, is a layperson and chairman of the missions committee at Raleigh First Assembly in Raleigh, NC.