May 1, 2013

Which countries are most in need of missions work?

I've recently compiled some data from a number of different sources together in order to rank which countries are most in need of mission work.  In the future, I will have a longer spreadsheet with weighted values, but for now, I've compiled a list based on 3 crucial issues:

1) % of the population unevangelized
2) number of unreached people groups
3) non-evangelicals per missionary

A lot of data is missing, primarily the number of missionaries in each country.  When data was missing, it was interpolated and estimated based on region, countries with similar data, and some anecdotal information.  Continents are added to the list, just for reference.  Also, some countries listed don't exist anymore, and some countries are recognized on some lists, but not on other lists, so there is some mish-mash of data (ex. Palestine/Israel).  Cells with a blue background were estimated.

You can check out the spreadsheet here:


If you don't want to check out the whole thing, here's the top ten countries in most need of missions efforts:


(If they have an asterisk, they contain some data that was estimated.)

Just because a country is on the list and it needs more mission efforts, please don't automatically assume that we need to send missionaries there from OUR churches.  We have to be wise and ask the Lord what we can do to reach these nations.  Consider all options: radio, internet, guerrilla evangelism, native missionaries, national missionaries, near-cultural missionaries, cross-cultural missionaries, etc.  Also, remember that this list is not complete.  When I finish the longer, weighted spreadsheet, I think it will more accurately reflect countries of need.  Yet even when that is complete it will only reflect need at the country level and not at the people group level, which is more important.

January 19, 2013

Send 1 Missionary or 72 More Missionaries?

Let me explain...

The average American missionary family requires about $70,000 USD a year.
The average native missionary in the unreached world requires about $2,000 USD a year.

If instead of supporting the 1 American missionary, you decided to support native missionaries, you could support 35 missionaries.  That allows you to support 34 MORE MISSIONARIES FOR THE SAME COST.  But let's not stop there.

Now that the 1 American missionary has come home from the mission field, he will find a nice job in the US.  The median US household earns around $50,000 a year.  Let's say this missionary is so sold out to the cause of the Great Commission that he is willing to live off $24,000 a year and give the rest to missions.  The $26,000 will support 13 more missionaries.  We are now up to the possibility of supporting 47 MORE MISSIONARIES.  Still not done.

This former American missionary has decided not only to give his money, but also his time.  Let's say, he's decided to become a volunteer representative for a mission organization like Gospel for Asia.  By representing at Christian events one weekend a month and speaking at a church once or twice a year, he could easily raise enough support for 15 more missionaries.  Now, we see the possibility of sending 62 more missionaries to the mission field.  One more step.

In addition to raising financial support, let's say that each year this former missionary also recruits others to join the effort.  He might recruit another volunteer, or intern or staff for Gospel for Asia.  Using a low ball estimate, that recruit is good for an additional 10 missionaries per year that can be sent to the mission field.  When you add all this up, we are talking about the possibility of SUPPORTING 73 MISSIONARIES INSTEAD OF JUST 1 MISSIONARY.

By the way, those 73 missionaries already know the language of the people they are reaching.  They already know the culture.  They don't need visas or a front.  They don't have to return home on furlough.  They will live at the same economic level as the people they are reaching.

Obviously, God is not bound mathematics and statistics.  He is sovereign and does what He will.  Certainly, He calls some people to be a foreign missionary.  However, given the facts that up to half of all foreign missionaries don't return to the mission field after their first furlough, only 3% of their time is spent doing evangelism, and 90% of pioneer church planting is not done by foreign missionaries, do you really believe that God has called all our current American missionaries to a foreign mission field?  Is sending one American missionary more important than sending 73 native missionaries?  Is your goal to send out your own friends, because you know them, or is your goal to see the world be saved?  Please don't let tradition be a barrier to releasing the Gospel in all the earth.

September 15, 2012

Jesus' Return: Missions Mathematics

2 billion people have never heard Gospel.

131 million people are born each year.

The Gospel is shared with about 250 million new people each year.

At this rate, and using simple mathematics, every person on earth will have heard the Gospel by 2029.

Matthew 24:14 says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." 

Therefore, Jesus could return during our lifetime (for many of us).  Wow!

I believe technology will continue to accelerate the advance of the Gospel.  However, at the same time, the small people groups that will be the last ones to hear the Gospel, aka the tail-enders, will slow the advance of the Gospel to all nations.  I also feel that the Gospel will not just be preached to every person once and right away Jesus will come.  I have a feeling there will be a penetration of the Gospel worldwide where everybody sees Christianity as a beacon of light in their own communities.  Everyone will be aware of Christians in their midst.  I believe before Jesus' return and judgement, God will have adequate time to prove to people worldwide that He is indeed the Lord and He is good.  It will be undeniable, even as believers are persecuted and put to death.  This is how I see it playing out, but I'm also not an expert on eschatology.

September 10, 2012

Important Mission Agencies

I have recently updated my list of favorite mission ministries.  I based my list on the big picture of the Great Commission.  I like to focus on organizations that are reaching the most and doing it in an effective, Godly manner.  It doesn't necessarily mean these are the best mission organizations or the ones that are most in need of funding (although in many cases, they are).  There are also plenty of small mission organizations that are doing a great job and on track to reach millions someday.  Also, we're all on the same team serving the Lord together.  It's also important to note that many of these ministries work together or with other ministries on the field.  This is just a way of saying, 'Hey, check these guys out.  They are reaching millions, so they must be doing something right.'  If you were to combine the following ministries, they are probably responsible for half of all Gospel presentations in the unreached world--maybe about 170 million per year.
















I also want to give honorable mention to Wycliffe Bible Translators, Cru, and Gideons.  

Wycliffe is critically important, because they are currently translating the bible into hundreds of languages that don't already have a Bible.  Many of the above ministries like Gospel for Asia and Bible League are currently distributing Bible translations done by former Wycliffe missionaries.  I sometimes wonder about the pace of translation of Wycliffe.  After reading a little bit about the process, I wonder if it is worthwhile to institute accelerated translations, even faster than what they are doing through Wycliffe Associates and The Seed Company, but I admit, I don't know a whole lot about translation.

Cru is worldwide and they play a crucial role by reaching campuses around the world and therefore, reach the world's future leaders.  I wasn't able to list them above though, because I don't feel like they are a mission organization in the truest sense, since half of their ministry is in the US.  However, I did list 2 spinoffs of Cru: Global Media Outreach and the Jesus Film Project.

I think Gideons is the world leader in Bible distribution.  While some of the scripture placements are spot on, some of their scripture placements are in well reached areas.  Also, last time I checked a Bible is $5 through Gideons, while through Bible League it's $4 and through Gospel for Asia it's $3.

Anyways, click on the buttons above and check out these great ministries.  God bless.

September 5, 2012

What is the Largest Missions Organization?

What is the largest mission agency?

It depends on you're definition.

If you're looking for manpower...

and you consider Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) a mission organization, then they are the largest with about 20,000 staff worldwide, although over 6,000 of them serve in the US and about half of their funds are spent in the US.

Another possibility could be Gospel for Asia with around 16,500 missionaries.

Another possibility could be Christian Aid Missions.  It gets a little complicated, but basically they support over 800 indigenous missions ministries, which deploy a total of more than 80,000 missionaries.  However, the amount of funding they give would only be enough to fully support about 3,000 missionaries.

If you count short-term mission workers, YWAM (Youth With A Mission) sends 20,000 short-term workers every year and also has a staff of 16,000 in the US.

If you are looking for the organization that sends the most missionaries to another country as foreign missionaries, Wycliffe Bible Translators is likely the largest.  They send about 5,000.  In other words, if you don't count national missionaries, Wycliffe is the largest.

If you are willing to count volunteer evangelists, Gideons has 287,000 members worldwide, but the vast majority are not serving in a capacity that would qualify them as a 'missionary'.

If you are looking for the organization with the largest budget...

It would be Cru with $509 million or if they aren't considered a mission organization, it would be Wycliffe with $141 million.  YWAM might have a larger budget than Wycliffe, but YWAM is decentralized, so I guess we have no way of knowing without a lot of extra research.

Using Operation World's definition of a missionary (on page 949-950) and their lists, Cru is the largest with 9,913 missionaries, while Gospel for Asia is second with 9,550.

If you are wondering what mission organization is the largest by way of having planted the most churches...

well that's a blog post for another day.

Last thing I want to say is that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better.  A ministry might be a large ministry, but it might not be effective.  Also, be careful of comparisons.  We need to see ourselves as being on the same team.  Too often in the past, denominations or organizations have only concerned themselves with "Where are we, and where aren't we?", rather than "Where are disciples, and where aren't disciples?"  It shouldn't be about a particular brand of Christianity having the most pins on a map in the foyer.  We're all a part of the body of Christ.

(My data comes from Operation World, Mission Handbook, ministry websites, and, but I'm too lazy to properly cite right now.  Please excuse me.)

August 30, 2012

Good Places for Evangelism

I saw a few videos on Christian World News lately that are examples of good places to street witness: Times Square and at the Olympic Games.

Both of these places attract tourists from countries where they might not have many witnesses of the Gospel. They may have never come across a Bible or Christians that take the time to talk to them to share about Jesus.  One of the best things to do in a situation like this is find out what their primary language is and give them a DVD of the Jesus Film in that language.  The Jesus Film project offers DVDs that group multiple languages together on one disc, so they can be used for whole regions like Muslim Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, India, etc.

Is there a popular tourist destination where you live?  Have you considered getting some cultural training and sharing the Gospel there?

August 25, 2012

Seeking Missionaries for North Korea

If Christians really believed that getting the Gospel into all the world was as important as it really is...

North Korea is the most difficult country for missionaries to gain entry.  The border with South Korea is a demilitarized zone and almost no one gets through without being shot or blown up by mines.  Their northern border with China is difficult to pass through as well.  I don't know how possible sea access is.  There are some ways the Gospel is getting in, but I think it's safe to assume missionaries are needed in that country.

If Christians really believed that getting the Gospel into all the world was as important as it really is, we would brainstorm and come up with every possible way to get the Gospel in to unreached places.  Once we came up with those ideas, if they were promising, we would spend the necessary time, effort, and money on those ideas to get the Gospel out there.  Now, in most places of the world, it's pretty straight forward--send native missionaries, do radio broadcasts, internet evangelism, Jesus Film, literature distribution, etc.  North Korea is different though.  It requires creativity.

If you skydive with a wingsuit from 30,000 feet at the north end of South Korea, you could glide 5 miles into North Korea.  You could go with a big bag full of literature to distribute, hide out in the woods, make contacts with people whenever you can, and pray that you don't get caught.  The point here is that if we truly believe Jesus saves, we would see hundreds of believers volunteering to do something this crazy.

If you are serious about getting practical, I have better ideas than this.  If you want to know about them, email me.

Never heard of wingsuits before?  Check out this video.

(If any North Korean official reads this, you should know that the goal of Christians is not to undermine or overthrow any government.  Our goal is to tell people how they can get to Heaven.  We want to share Jesus' teachings, and people will learn how to better love one another, and be honest, good citizens.)

August 20, 2012

What's Your Mission in Life?

What's your mission in life?  Where do you fit in?

I recommend using three questions to discover where you belong in life.  When I was searching for my mission in life, I more or less used this common sense method.

I asked myself, "Self, what is the biggest need in the world?"

And after consulting scripture and doing lots of research, I came to a conclusion.

Then I asked myself, "Self, what activity or activities will do the most to meet this need?"

After coming to a conclusion for that question, I finally asked myself,

"Self, what organization is most effective in these activities?"

After research and prayer I discovered that organization.  Common sense and the desire to serve God told me that I should either join this organization, or donate as much money as I possibly can to this organization and only this organization.  I should continue to do this until I die or the answers to any of the questions change.  Then, I found out where I belonged in life.  It's a simple common sense method to discover how you can best fit into the body of Christ.

My answers to the questions were:

1) World evangelization and making disciples of all nations
2) Evangelism done by native missionaries through personal witnessing, literature distribution, radio outreach, internet evangelism, the Jesus Film, audio Bibles, and other methods, depending on the situation
3) Gospel for Asia

If I can be completely honest with you, if you are a born again believer, I don't see how your answers to these questions would be any different.  (In some cases, you might want to support other organizations, if Gospel for Asia doesn't work in a region that is in need, or in the case of internet evangelism, since Gospel for Asia doesn't have this ministry developed yet.)  But if you think a born again believer can come to different conclusions, please let me know.

As always, this is just a method, and God is not bound to our methods and statistics.  Therefore, I don't expect everyone to go to work for Gospel for Asia.  The Holy Spirit will lead different people into different roles.  God bless.

August 15, 2012

With tears streaming down her wrinkled face, the 100-year old woman watched, heartbroken, as flames consumed the funeral pyre holding the body of the last and dearest of her friends.

A few months later, as the only one left of her generation, she saw the first team of native missionaries reach her remote village.

That night she eagerly sat among the other villagers to watch a film on the life of Jesus and to listen with astonishment to a simple Gospel message. For the very first time she and the other villagers heard that through Jesus their sins could be forgiven.

Overwhelmed with the wonderful news about the Savior and His love for her, the old woman joyfully received Jesus. But through her tears of joy, she was gripped with one question: "Why has no one come sooner with this message? If only my friends and family could have heard the Gospel at least once before they died, they might not have been lost forever."

(A true story from Gospel for Asia)

August 10, 2012

Evidence for the Significance of Native Missionaries

I just wanted to share some information about native missionaries/national missionaries that I've come across.  It comes from a few reputable sources in the missions world.  I found this in the 2007-2009 Mission Handbook.

This chart show the incredible growth of non US citizens employed by US based missions ministries.  In 1992, there were very few.  By 2005, they made up 67% of the work force on the mission field.  Today the number is higher still.

Operation World 7th Edition says on page7, "The globalization of the Great Commission movement has profoundly changed the face of mission. Since the late 1970s, there has been a surge of interest and involvement in missions from the Majority World. Mission sending has recently gained or maintained momentum in countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Brazil, Philippines, South Korea and others. Involvement by the more traditional sending regions of North America, Europe and the Pacific has stayed level at best and often declined. The world missions force is more multicultural and multinational than ever before. It faces challenges--and solutions--distinct to the 21st Century."  The first sub-item underneath this paragraph has the title of "The Majority World Church as the dominant force in mission sending."  A few pages later, on page 19 it says, "Relationships with national Churches. Most missionary work is now done in contexts where indigenous Christians exist, gather and even minister in their own evangelistic capacity. Expatriate Christians must learn to serve in harmony with the local church where it exists, as each acts in humility and grace toward the other. Tensions and misunderstandings can occur and cultures can vary greatly, but each needs the other to see the task fulfilled."  In Appendix 3 on page 949 when describing The World's Missionary Force, it says, "Nearly every country is a missionary-sending country. What used to happen "from the West to the rest" is now an extensive and expanding global activity. Missionary vision is alive even in those countries where the Church is young, small or under persecution. When praying for those many places in the world that need more missionaries, pray with an awareness that the answer may come from east, west, north or south, from a neighbouring culture or one on the other side of the world."  Then on page 951, you'll see a list of how many missionaries a country sends.

China 100,000
US 93,500
India 82,950
South Korea 19,950
Nigeria 6,644
UK 6,405
Canada 5,200
Philippines 4,500

All these descriptions and data point to the fact that Christianity truly is a global faith now.  All aspects of Christianity, including missions is now global as well.  After all, Christians all over the world read the same Great Commission Bible verses as do Christians in the traditional mission sending countries.

This next bit of information comes form an article in the Perspectives Reader.

From the highlighted part and the graph, we see that the mission force from the non-west has surpassed the mission force from the west.  Though, this isn't a representation of 'native missionaries', since it is describing cross-cultural missionaries, many of the non-western missionaries are national missionaries.

So what does all this mean and why am I bringing it up?  It's an indication that times are changing.  It's an alert to Christians from the traditional sending countries to take notice that there is likely a missionary force within any country they are trying to reach.  Too often I still hear about mission strategies that sound like modern day colonial efforts.  I hear about plans that were created and drawn up before contact is even made with Christians in the country they are trying to reach.  We need to prevent ourselves from doing that.  If you ever get caught up in a situation like that, I encourage you to throw on the brakes, pray and reach out to the missionaries in the area or near the area you are trying to reach.

If national missionaries vastly outnumber foreign missionaries (and if non-western missionaries vastly outnumber western missionaries), we need to learn how to partner with one another.  Instead of asking the question, 'How can I/we reach the world?' we need to ask the question, 'How can the world be reached, and what part do I/we have in it?'