by Tess Rivers
OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. (BP) — The reality of more than 2 billion unreached people living in more than 6,000 people groups is “totally intolerable,” IMB President David Platt told an overflow crowd during an appointment service for 63 new IMB missionaries.
Abha Perdew*, who was born in the United States and raised by Hindu parents, agreed with Platt’s assessment during the service Nov. 9 at First Baptist Church Olive Branch in Mississippi.
“I grew up believing most of what my parents taught me and what I learned at the Hindu Center I attended with my family,” Perdew said. “No one ever told me about Jesus.”
Then, through relationships with Christians in graduate school, Perdew found Christ and chose to follow Him. Now, she and her husband Kenneth* — one of the Christians who initially told her about Christ — are preparing to move to southern Asia with their children to share the Gospel with others who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.
“My call to international missions started with my own testimony,” Perdew said. “One of the questions I had when I was a seeker was, ‘What will happen to the millions of people in [southern Asia] who have never heard of Jesus?'”
Platt, preaching from the book of Romans, explained that “unreached” people have knowledge of God but live in rebellion against Him. As a result, they stand condemned.
“All people have knowledge of God,” Platt said. But for the unreached, “their knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell.”
Unreached people — in contrast to those who have access to the Gospel — have never heard the Good News that through Jesus’ death and resurrection sin is conquered and death is defeated, Platt said.
“Unreached people don’t even know the Gospel exists,” he said. “There are no churches, and they have never even met anyone who is a Christian. Unreached people are born, live and die without ever hearing the Gospel.”
While this reality is “totally intolerable,” no person or people group “on the face of the planet is beyond the reach of this Gospel,” Platt said.
But how will the Good News get to people who have never heard?
“The plan of God warrants your involvement,” Platt told the missionary appointment service crowd. “God has not saved you to sideline you. He has saved you to send you. Will you place a ‘blank check’ before God?”
As Platt’s challenge echoed across the auditorium, men, women and children streamed forward to lay response cards at the front of the auditorium. Some committed to pray for unreached people and for genuine revival that produces workers who will go to the nations. Others committed to engage in global missions through their local church, including participating in at least one global mission project every year.
Platt’s challenge also resonated with the 63 new missionaries, including Carson West*, who will serve in Sub-Saharan Africa.
West, who felt God’s call to ministry in 2012, described his call to missions as a tension “that would not go away.”
As he studied the Scriptures, he found himself wanting to live among the nations “to tell them about Jesus … and to walk with them as they grow.”
“I [can] no longer ignore the fact that millions of people have never heard about Jesus,” West said. “I [cannot] ignore that fact that God is calling me to preach His name to those who have never heard it.”
Tess Rivers is a writer for the International Mission Board.
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com).
Baptist Press (BP) is the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention and provides news to the 42 state Baptist papers.