My friends, Brian and Dawn, are in South Asia for about 2 weeks. I have enjoyed their updates and the opportunity to pray for them as they travel to different parts of the region to work with different mission organizations. Anytime someone gets to travel in another country, it potentially shakes their accepted point of view.
courtesy of Dawn S
No matter where we are from, we have a tendency to think that we are at the center of the universe. It reminds me of the farmer whose son returned from college. The farmer dad had never traveled outside of his county. His college educated son proclaimed that there was a whole world out there. “You are not the center of the universe, Dad!”, the son complained. The dad replied, “There is north, east, south and west. Sure looks like I am in the center.”
This mentality inhibits our ability to see the needs of others, especially when they live on the other side of the world. In some ways, they hardly exist in our sense of reality.
Many of these people have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. In fact, entire groups of people have never heard His Name.
Over the past decade, the Western church focused more attention on unreached people groups. These are people who have less than 2% of Christians in their group. The increased focus is good. However, I think that we are still way out of balance.
Most churches in the West focus 90% or so of their budgets on their own culture. If the church does provide funds for missions, a large part supports short-term teams. Again, that is a good thing. But, the focus is really on the team, not the mission field. And, how many churches are willing to risk sending short-term teams to the places where most of the unreached are located?
We are a risk and sacrifice averse society.
Here are some facts compiled by www.thetravelingteam.org/stats (this is in the US):
|Annual Income of All Church Members: $30.5 trillion.
|Annual income of Evangelical Christians is approximately $6.72 trillion.
|Given to any Christian causes: $545 billion (1.8% of our income).That’s also how much we spend in America on Christmas.
|Given to Missions: $31 billion, (0.1%). That’s only 5.7% of the money given to Christian causes of any kind.That’s also how much we spend in America on dieting programs.
|Money that goes toward the Reached world: $26,970,000,000 (that means 87% of the money given to “Missions” goes to areas with “reached” status or access to the gospel already).
|Money that goes toward Unreached Peoples: $310 million (that’s only 1% of what is given to “Missions.”).That’s also how much Americans in 2011 spent on Halloween costumes (for their pets).
|The $310 million (going toward UPG’s) is only .001% of the $30.5 trillion Income of Christians. (for every $100,000 that Christians make, they give $1 to the unreached.)
So, what is the big deal you ask? Here is a quote from my friend Brian,
“Our English-speaking(italics mine)guide made a comment about how the wind chimes and bells were meant to wake up the gods so they could hear the prayers. I chuckled and asked, so why do they need to sleep? At the end, when I paid him, I challenged him to find a god that did not sleep or slumber. Here is a whole massive group of people depending upon gods that supposedly need to sleep and be awakened by physical sounds in order to hear prayers.”
Over 40% of people in the world today have similar beliefs. Most of the people are in parts of the world where we send very little resources to share the good news of a God who never sleeps. That is why I say we are out of balance.
Question for you: Do you think that God cares how we invest our resources?