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 Empart.  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 Empart.  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.