"The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time" -- Carl F. H. Henry, theologian
The Good News. That's what we believers often call the Gospel. Indeed, the Gospel story is extraordinarily good news. However, Carl Henry, founding editor of Christianity Today, said something worth pondering. Can the Gospel be called "good news" for those who pass into eternity without hearing it proclaimed or announced or explained?
More than seven billion people live on Earth today. Joshua Project researchers say that more than two billion of them have never heard anything about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, at the moment, have virtually no way of ever hearing it. Phil Bogosian, who directed the Global Adopt-a-People program, calculated how many people in unreached people groups die each day not having heard about Jesus Christ. He reflected on how our attention is captured by a news report of someone trapped in a well or a mine and how soon massive amounts of resources are mobilized for a rescue attempt. Then Bogosian asked: "What would we do about it if the 66,000 who die every day in unreached people groups were individuals trapped in a well?"
The answer to that question should be obvious. When a child is missing or someone has fallen into a well, every resource that can be found is immediately mobilized. Time is of the essence. People stay glued to news media for updates. Isn't there some relevance in that scenario to how the Church should be mobilizing for world evangelism? Shouldn't there be the same anxiousness and urgent insistence among Christians about getting the Good News to those who have yet to hear anything about it?
Researchers say there are about 5,000 culturally distinct people groups still unreached by the Gospel. It has also been calculated that the Church possesses the resources and manpower necessary to start church-planting movements within all those unreached people groups. Why don't we mobilize those resources and do it? Let's get the Good News to everyone on time!
The Gospel is indeed good news, but it must reach people in time to truly be good news for them. Therefore, we need to rekindle a sense of urgency among Christians. The staggering number of over two billion people who have never heard about Jesus Christ should stir our hearts and move us to action. We must work to overcome the barriers and obstacles that hinder the spread of the Gospel. Complacency has no place in our mission to reach the unreached. Together, let's make sure the Good News reaches people in time.
-- Howard Culbertson,
More mini-essays from Engage magazine in the "Slogans that awakened the Church" series