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 5, 2012

What is the Largest Missions Organization?

(updated August 21, 2015)

What is the largest mission agency?

It depends on your 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 25,000 staff worldwide(1), although a large amount of them serve in the US and about 60% of their funds are spent in the US.(2)

Another possibility could be Gospel for Asia with around 16,500 missionaries.(3)

Another possibility could be Christian Aid Missions.  It gets a little complicated, but basically they support over 500 indigenous missions ministries, which deploy tens of thousands of missionaries (4) (over 800 ministries and 80,000 missionaries the last time it was posted on their website (5)).  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 around 25,000 short-term workers every year(6) and also has a staff of over 18,000, the vast majority of whom are in the US. (7)

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. (8)

If you are willing to count volunteer evangelists, Gideons has over 300,000 members worldwide, but the vast majority are not serving in a capacity that would qualify them as a 'missionary'. (9)

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

It would be Cru with $694 million in world revenue (10) or if they aren't considered a mission organization, it would be International Mission Board with a budget of $301 million.(11)  YWAM might have a large budget as well, 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. (12)

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.

1. Laurie Goodstein, "Campus Crusade for Christ Is Renamed," The New York Times, July 20, 2011,
2. Cru 2014 Annual Report, (2015), 12,
3. 2007 Gospel for Asia Annual Report: A Year of Joy, (2008), 21. (The 2007 annual report was the last time Gospel for Asia published the number of missionaries they have.  The current number is unknown to the public and may even be less, based on the use of funds in Indian foreign contribution filings.)
4. Christian Aid Mission. (accessed August 21, 2015).
5. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine, "Christian Aid Mission: Discover Indigenous Missions, (July 30, 2013)," (accessed August 21, 2015).
6. YWAM: Youth With a Mission Cancun. (accessed August 21, 2015).
7. YWAM: Youth With A Mission Worldwide, "About Us," (accessed August 21, 2015).
8. Jason Mandryk, Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation Completely Revised-7th Edition (Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica Publishing, 2010), 948.
9. The Gideons International, "About Us: Worldwide Impact," (accessed August 21, 2015)
10. See note 2 above.
11. IMB Connecting, "Fast Facts," (accessed August 21, 2015)
12. Jason Mandryk, Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation Completely Revised-7th Edition (Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica Publishing, 2010), 939-950.

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 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?'

June 29, 2012

Shortwave Radio in Missions

I'm a big fan of missions radio.  According to Operation World, 99% of earth's population can hear the Gospel via radio "(assuming good radio reception, availability of radios, power, and also insterest in seeking the correct frequencies)." (21st Century Edition, pg 7)  Most missions radio is broadcast using Shortwave, which is different than FM, AM, or satellite.  Here's a good description I found of shortwave radio and the advantages of it.  This was found at: Bible Voice Broadcasting.

What is Shortwave?

FM radio waves travel by line-of-sight and only carry short distances because of the curvature of the earth. AM radio waves are transmitted by the earth's surface skin and can travel a little further, but both can only be heard well in the country in which they are transmitted. This makes them subject to political control by that country.
Shortwave radio waves, on the other hand, reflect off the upper surface of the atmosphere so they carry over large distances and cross national borders.
Most of our transmissions are on shortwave radio, but we also have a growing network of local FM stations and some AM transmissions.

Why Shortwave?

In many parts of the world...
  • Social changes, politics, international terrorism and lack of funding have affected field missionary work.
  • TV is not readily available or affordable.
  • Illiteracy makes literature distribution ineffective.
Shortwave radio unlocks doors...
  • In closed countries where believers depend upon broadcasts as their main source of encouragement and teaching.
  • It crosses political, religious and geographical barriers and reaches remote areas and supplements the work of field missionaries.
  • It serves as the 'local church' where one is not available.
  • It is the most cost effective mass communication tool. Shortwave radios are readily available everywhere, often at low cost.

Resurgence of Shortwave

Despite new technologies such as cable, satellite and the Internet, shortwave radio is actually experiencing resurgence with a growth in shortwave radio audiences. Around the world there are at least 600 million shortwave radio sets. In one factory in China, 30,000 new radios are being manufactured each day.
Latest research shows that the number of shortwave listeners is growing worldwide, with shortwave popularity at it's greatest in developing countries. For example, 98% of Zimbabwean households with radios have shortwave, and in parts of India that number is 99%. It is not just developing countries that listen to short wave. A recent survey from the BBC revealed that in 1999, 97% of business travellers listened to the World Service.

June 25, 2012

Matthew 9:37 (and Luke 10:2)

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."

This is probably the 2nd most famous Biblical passage used when preaching about missions.  We read these words that Jesus spoke to His disciples and to us.  They are beautiful words that give us an illustration we can hold onto.  We hear these words and automatically take them into consideration.  We automatically assume this is the current situation when it comes to the mission field today.  We assume this is the status right now.  The natural conclusion is that we need to send more missionaries to the mission field.  Therefore, this verse becomes such a great missions mobilizer.

Have we ever stopped to consider the verse in a logistical manner?  Have we ever broken it down by the numbers?  Let's do that...

When Jesus said this, there were about 72 'workers' for a 'harvest' of about 300 million people (world population ca. 30AD)

That's about 1 worker per 4 million people.

Today, there are about 400,000 missionaries serving in the world (Operation World 7th Ed., pg. 951).  The 'harvest' is about 2 billion unevangelized people.

That's 1 worker per 5,000 people.

It's a huge difference, right?  One person trying to reach 4 million people is daunting.  However, one person trying to reach 5,000 people doesn't sound bad at all.  That could almost be completed in a year.  So if we interpret Matthew 9:37 in the context of our current situation, it would seem as if the workers aren't few.

Let's dig deeper...

In addition to the current 400,000 missionaries serving worldwide, there are literally tens of thousands of native missionaries ready and willing right now to go into the harvest field.  The primary thing keeping them from doing that is a lack of finances.  If you were to add up all the potential missionaries that have been identified by mission organizations like Christian Aid, Surge, Advancing Native Missions, Partners International, Empart, etc., you would discover that there are perhaps 50,000 additional workers ready to go through training and start evangelizing unreached areas.  They just don't have the financial resources to be missionaries, so they are stuck working in fields and factories.

So is the harvest plentiful, but the workers few?  The harvest is certainly plentiful.  No one's going to dispute that.  Are the workers few?  Yes and No.  If you play the numbers game, the workers aren't few, since 1 per 5,000 people isn't that bad.  The problem is that too many of the 400,000 missionaries aren't engaging the unevangelized people of the world.  Instead of going after the harvest, they are going after the gleanings.  Instead of going after the loaf of bread, they have decided to go after crumbs.  Another factor is that many of these 400,000 missionaries aren't trying to evangelize and plant churches.  Instead, their primary objective is some kind of humanitarian work, like orphanages, clean water, AIDS prevention, fighting human trafficking, etc.  If you factor in these issues, the number of workers becomes fewer.

In any case, the number of unevangelized persons in the world continues to grow, so the current workers must not be doing their job very well.  To be precise, the percentage of people who haven't heard the Gospel is shrinking, but the overall number of people who haven't heard the Gospel is growing according to the most recent data I've looked at.

Another thing to consider is that Jesus was looking for hardcore workers.  He wasn't just looking for Christians with a good heart and willing to share the Gospel, He was looking for people He could send out to heal the sick, raise the dead, drive out demons in order to show people who God really was.  This becomes obvious when you study the surrounding passages in Matthew 9, Luke 10, and the Great Commission passages in Mark 16, Luke 24, and Acts 1.  In all honesty, many of the 400,000 current missionaries are not of that caliber.  However, a good number of the 50,000 potential native missionaries could be.  A lot of evidence seems to point to this.

So, after the full consideration of these issues, it turns out that maybe the workers really are few.  However, if we work together to bring the focus of missions back to its original intention--the unevangelized, we can soon have a many workers in the harvest field.  We can try to shift some of the 400,000 missionaries to unevangelized areas.  However, this isn't the best strategy, since some of them will be foreign missionaries and not suited to reach the unevangelized areas.  Plus, it might take a while to get through to them and get them to pack up and move.  That's time we don't have.  Time is of the essence.  Millions die each year without ever hearing the Gospel.  If we want to send workers into the harvest as quick as possible, while sending the right people, we should consider supporting the native missionaries who are waiting to be trained and sent.  Like I said, there are about 50,000 of these native missionaries available and willing right now.  For this, you can look into ministries like these.  Also, don't overlook internet missions, radio missions, film missions, etc.  Technology is a wonderful thing that is hastening Jesus' return in these end times.

January 17, 2012

A Lesson from Big Music Concerts

I want you to take a few minutes to watch these videos.  Just relax and watch.  Notice the expressions of the singers and the response of the audience.



Now, imagine if they were all saved.

That's why missions exists.