There’s an old hymn that goes “one by one / the world will be won.” There are around 2.3 billion people on the planet who claim to be Christians, and around 6.5 billion people altogether on the planet. Now, I know I haven’t taken a real math class since high school, but I’m pretty sure that means that if every Christian led one person to the Lord every year (hardly a feat), the whole world would be saved in less than 2 years. The long and the short of it is that someone’s not doing their job. But you know, I think it’s more complicated than that. My roommate Jon told me that the world is not equally lost and equally saved. There are around 2 million people in the city I’m in, and any Christian here is almost definitely Russian and Orthodox and lukewarm. When the rare Central Asian is discovered to be a believer, she’s asked, even by a non-practicing Central Asian Muslim, why she’s not Muslim, too. In Central Asia, people are born Muslim, they die Muslim, and they live for themselves. The same is true in America, but replace “Muslims” with “Christians.” In this city, genuine followers of Christ would probably be grouped together at the bottom of the survey next to the asterisk labeled, “Other.” There are maybe 50 missionaries in the city (not including the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, which I, sadly, see more and more). That’s a ratio of 1:400,000. Or if I’m less conservative, let’s say there are 100, which makes it 1:20,000. “One by one…” I’ve never heard the audible voice of the Lord, but I know people who have. But like a lot of people, I try to listen to that “still small Voice.” I have to wonder why, when so many of us are listening to the voice of the Spirit, there are so few people in the Central Asian country I’m in (or for that matter, many other equally neglected Central Asian countries). I’ve been reading the epistles of Paul recently, and I see that some are given to be apostles, others prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers (Eph. 4). I know that not all are given to be “evangelists,” (or missionaries) but I have to wonder if it’s that God has misunderstood the need here—that He’s a bad manager who has called 6 million missionaries to their hometowns in America, and 50 to cities in Central Asia. Or, perhaps, some are called but are afraid to pick up their sickles and enter the harvest field. Jon was recently walking back from the Gathering with our friend Jackson. Jackson is a shy guy. He’s from China, but is Central Asian. They, naturally, began talking about God, and Jackson began asking real, honest questions—not out of antagonism, but out of a real desire for truth. He asked if the Bible had been changed. He asked if it was true what he’d heard, that Jesus hadn’t really died on the cross, but that he’d been replaced at the last second by “that other guy” (“you mean Judas?” Jon asked”). After answering his questions, Jon asked Jackson if he’d like a Bible. Jackson’s English is getting better, but it’s still not great. “I would, but I don’t know that I could read it,” he said. When Jon told him that we had one in his native Central Asian language, his eyes lit up. He didn’t know that the Bible was available in his language. A few days later, they were talking again, and Jon asked him if he’d been reading the Bible. Jackson said yes, but that his roommates had gotten mad at him for reading it, and that he could only read it when they weren’t in the room, which he had been doing. And, like my friend Dilshod, he told Jon that we are the first Christians that he’s ever met. The world is not equally lost and equally saved. We are not by default called to our hometowns. The world will not be won “one by one.” If we believe that, there will be a lot of people who wanted to know Jesus descending into Hell. I’m not writing this to condemn any of you reading this, nor am I writing this from some high place of “I’m doing the right thing, and you’re not.” I speak only as someone who’s had his perspective enlarged by seeing a vast need that can’t be adequately conveyed through a blog post like this. I implore you to continue to listen to the Voice of the Lord, and ask if perhaps that Voice is not calling you to some faraway country where the people will stare at you because of your big beard, the girls will giggle because you’re speaking English, and the people’s eyes will light up when share the gospel with them for the first time, as the first Christians they’ve ever met.
Equally Lost & Equally Saved