Friday, March 14, 2008

Check out Worldmap

I love maps, especially when they are connected to the spread of the gospel around the globe. One of my favorite websites to visit is worldmap.org. This site, which is part of the World Missions Atlas Project, contains a great deal of resources, statistics, and maps.

Part of the problem in the Western church when it comes to missions is not knowing where to begin. The task seems so incredibly vast. Clearly, only God can do it. However, He has called upon us to be involved (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8). My suggestion to local churches is to research various parts of the world, pray about it, and then get involved where the Holy Spirit leads.

Why not begin where the need is largest? If you look on the main page of the worldmap website, you will see an interactive globe with faces surrounding it from various parts of the world. Run your mouse arrow over the different faces to see statistics for the different regions of the world. You'll quickly notice that East Asia (which is basically code-speak for China) and South Asia (dominated by India) have by far the most people in the world. However, while East Asia has "only" 400 unreached people groups, South Asia has 1100 that have never been reached.

So if you want to be involved in international missions, but do not know what to do, let me suggest that you begin by praying for South Asia. Second, please give financially to international missions. Your denomination, if you are part of one, should be able to help with this. Third, consider making a short-term trip overseas to assist and encourage missionaries who are already there. Finally, consider being a full-time missionary. I can think of about 1100 people groups in South Asia who need you right now.

One additional way to spur your church's interest in international missions is to put some maps up around your building. You can order various maps at the worldmap site. The map below shows the status of evangelization (or lack thereof) in South Asia. It is difficult to see, but any red area has almost no Christian witness (click directly on the map for a close-up view).

8 comments:

Brian said...

Indeed this is a great missiological tool.

debbie and I really want to be full-time missionaries - planting churches and things (southeast asia or europe) - but unfortunately we both chose to go to seminary instead and now have to pay that off and pray that others will be obedient to answer the call. many are called, few obey.

Eric said...

Brian,

Thanks for your comment.

Maybe the Lord will open that venue for you down the line. Even if not, I'm sure you will be involved in other ways.

Church planting really does seem to be the most effective way to reach the most people with the gospel. I'm excited that more and more missions agencies are moving in that direction.

Frankly, I'd like to see a lot more of churches here supporting national missionaries along with sending our own. Nationals (at least in India) can live much more cheaply than we could. However, if you do support nationals, there needs to be some sort of accountability build in. It may be best for Westerners to work directly with nationals - hopefully getting the best of both worlds out of it.

Rhea said...

Thanks for this post and the info about Worldmap. In a few days I'm actually going to be leaving for a mission trip to the Bahamas (it's rough, but somebody's got to do it ;-) ). My campus ministry actually takes a mission trip every spring break. We're going to the Bahamas because a man who used to be in our campus ministry is from the Bahamas...when he was done with school, he went back there and started a church. So we're going to go and help him with it.

Eric said...

Rhea,

I hope you have a great trip! People in nice-weather places need the gospel, too. It's nice that you get to go there.

Brian said...

The Bahamas aren't as great as people think for missions - unless you stay in a star-studded hotel the living conditions there are generally really poor and dirty.

This is a myth about missions - one would think missions to places like the Bahamas would be grand but not really.

Eric said...

Brian,

Thanks for the "reality-check" for me. It seems that in most cases if we are going to reach the lost with the gospel, we are going to have to go where they live, even if we are uncomfortable with it. Jesus certainly did this.

Rhea said...

Doing missions in the Bahamas is definitely not a vacation, but when most people hear that's where I'm going, they roll their eyes and think that it will be a piece of cake. We actually will be staying in a hotel, but nothing like Atlantis or anything. In that respect it's better than when we go to Europe, as we stay in hostels there.

Eric said...

Rhea,

It sounds like you have found a good middle-ground for where to stay. I hope it all goes very well.