Author: John Scott
Category: Unreached People Groups, Partnership
Imagine this scene. You are one of 4000 Christian leaders from 150 nations, seated in the impressive Palais de Beaulieu, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The setting is equally impressive, on the shores of Lake Leman, with the picturesque Jura mountains off in the distance. You are attending an historic event, the first International Congress on World Evangelization. The theme is “Let the earth hear His voice.”
Dr. Ralph Winter approaches the podium. His voice is filled with passion for the whole earth to hear God’s voice. But he doesn’t draw attention to how hard of hearing the nations are. Instead, in that beautiful setting, he begins to tell you a story about blind people. These blind people belong to God, and are serious about following him. But somehow they aren’t seeing the world through God’s eyes. Their particular blindness is not easily diagnosed, and is even more difficult to cure. Then you discover who these blind people are:
“Our exultation about the fact that every country of the world has been penetrated has allowed many to suppose that every culture has by now been penetrated. This misunderstanding is a malady so widespread that it deserves a special name. Let us call it “people blindness”—that is, blindness to the existence of separate peoples within countries.”
It’s you and 4000 others sitting in the Palais de Beaulieu. Your “people blindness” has been preventing you from even seeing, let alone reaching out, to thousands of “hidden peoples” in countries all over the world. You are stunned to have been so blind and not even to have been aware of it.
That was 36 years ago. Some of us weren’t even born then. That’s the year Bill Gates graduated from high school and entered Harvard University. That same year the first advertisement for a personal computer appeared, with 1K of programmable memory. The price tag? $565. Today there may be as many as 2 billion computers in use, operated in locations every bit as remote as the remotest hidden peoples. Most of these computers have at least a million times as much memory as that first computer. Who could have imagined such staggering change back in 1974?
Why is it that we as a worldwide church have not seen a correspondingly dramatic change in the situation of these hidden peoples during this same period?
In his landmark speech, Dr. Winter warned that it will take “radically new efforts of cross-cultural evangelism in order to effectively witness to these 2387 million people.” Today God is doing remarkable things among some of these peoples through such radically new efforts in cross-cultural evangelism – in places like India and China, and across Africa. Yet this forgotten fourth still make up over 28% of the world’s population.
Why are many of us still blind, and so many of these groups still not only “hidden peoples” but “missing peoples” – missing from around the throne in the vision John saw in Rev. 5 and 7?
Thirty-six years ago the first Lausanne Congress brought these missing peoples to light. What will be the legacy of the upcoming 2010 Cape Town Congress? Will its impact dramatically change the destiny of these peoples – in this generation?
In a few short months we will be coming together in Cape Town as representatives of the church around the world. What if we decided to make a difference together, so hidden peoples are no longer hidden, missing peoples are no longer missing, and the forgotten fourth are no longer forgotten?
Imagine committing ourselves to join God in radical new approaches to cross-cultural evangelism among peoples like the Mappila of India and the Eastern Baloch of Pakistan. Imagine anticipating the day when we see their names removed from the list of missing peoples. And imagine the joy of looking forward to worshiping together with them around the throne of the Lamb throughout eternity.
Imagine yourself, your church, and your ministry in this picture. What do you see? How could you contribute to seeing it fulfilled?