The Urgency of Sending Missionaries to the Unreached - Radical

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The Urgency of Sending Missionaries to the Unreached

Isaiah 49:6 mentions a prophecy about the coming Messiah whose salvation will “reach to the end of the earth.”  It’s not enough to have a heart for your community or even for your nation: God calls us to share his heart for all nations. If your vision is not about reaching the entire world with the gospel, then your vision is too small. In God’s sovereignty, your ministry can become a launching pad that sends hundreds of young adults to play strategic kingdom roles in the Great Commission

The Urgency of Reaching the Unreached

Before we explore the practical aspects of missions mobilization in your ministry, we need to discuss the urgency of reaching the unreached around the world. There are many worthy causes for us to pursue, but nothing is more urgent. John Piper put it this way, “Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering.”1 The exclusivity of the gospel demands urgency to extend the gospel.

The exclusivity of the gospel demands urgency to extend the gospel.

When Jesus said to “make disciples of all nations” in Matthew 28, he meant ethnic groups: bands of people who share the same unique language, customs, appearance, and religion. Although there are about +200 countries, there are approximately 17,000 of these unique ethnic groups around the world, ranging from 2,500 to 25 million people. Almost two-thirds of these groups are “reached”, while around 33% are “unreached” by the gospel.

Why Are There Still Unreached People Groups?

2,000 years after the Great Comisssion, why are there still so many people who have never once heard the name of Jesus? God doesn’t have a distribution problem, rather we have a disobedience problem.

The most urgent need is for people to go where no one else has or is willing to go. Unreached people groups are unreached for a reason. They live in difficult places, and so we need people to recover the holy ambition of Apostle Paul who wrote in Romans 15:20–21, 

I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” 

In his book, Counter Culture, David Platt pleads with believers to take the plight of unreached people seriously:

When will the concept of unreached people become intolerable to the Church? What will it take to stir our hearts and lives for men and women whose souls are plunging into damnation without ever hearing of salvation? This cannot be conceivable for those who confess the gospel. For if this gospel is true, and if our God is worthy of praise from all people, then we must spend our lives and mobilize our churches for the spread of Christ’s love to unreached people groups all around the world. Jesus has not given us a commission to consider, but a command to obey.2

I can’t think of any tragedy greater than a person being born and living their entire life without meeting a Christian, reading the Bible, or being exposed to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Oswald J. Smith put it this way, “We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.”

When the Gospel is Preached Among the Unreached

Some of my friends from college decided to take the mission to reach the unreached seriously and partnered with a missions organization. They moved with a small team to a remote, unengaged tribe in Papua New Guinea. Over time, they built a hut and learned the local language and culture. They created an alphabet for the tribe because they had no written language. Then, they translated the first Scriptures and taught the people how to read them.

While they were doing this, they held gatherings for the tribe and slowly taught through the story of the Bible. They taught Scripture chronologically working up to the death and resurrection of Christ. Once they got to the cross and resurrection, the gospel began to click for many of the people and several came to Christ. In this small village, a local church was planted in a place where there has never been one before.

It is impossible to exaggerate the urgency of getting the gospel to unreached.

Now this fledgling church is seeking to send missionary teams to nearby villages to share the gospel story with tribes that they used to have animosity towards. As more and more of these tribes began to come to Christ, the other tribes that missionaries had not been to yet began to notice the difference that the gospel made in those villages. The tribal leaders without a missionary began to write letters demanding missionaries come to share the good news with their communities.

What’s going on? Where is our help? Have you forgot about us? We of Sinou have not forgot about wanting a missionary, we carry a huge heavy constantly about this. We carry this heavy cause we fear for our lives. We know that the Bible says that you should come and tell us. We need it… how will we go to God’s place if not? Only those who know will go, how will we know if no one teaches us? That is the whole of my worry, we want a missionary now to give us God’s talk.3

Do you notice the similarities with Romans 10:14–15?

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 

It is impossible to exaggerate the urgency of getting the gospel to unreached. Millions of people lack access to the gospel, and some are begging for someone to come to them. How can we, who have been radically transformed by Christ, not share the means of our salvation with others?


1. Piper, John. Christians Care About All Suffering and Injustice

2. Shadrach, Steve; Worcester, Paul. The Fuel & The Flame: Ignite your life & your campus for Jesus Christ. CMM Press. Kindle Edition.

3. Bakken, Duane. Letters from Tribes


This article is part of a mini-series by Paul Worcester. To learn more, read Paul’s article on Mobilizing Young Adults to the Mission Field and How to Talk about the Great Commission in Your Young Adult Ministry.

Paul Worcester

Paul Worcester is the National Collegiate Director at the North American Mission Board where he focuses on encouraging, inspiring, and equipping collegiate leaders and students across North America. Paul is the founding director of Campus Multiplication Network which is an international and interdenominational coaching network for collegiate leaders with over 300 leaders from 15 different countries. Paul and Christy have two young children, Owen and Evelyn. Paul is the author of Tips for Starting a College Ministry and the co-author, with Steve Shadrach, of The Fuel and The Flame: Igniting Your Life and Your Campus For Jesus Christ.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!