What are red zones? In this episode of In Plain Sight, we’ll see how billions will be born, live, and die without ever hearing the gospel. God cares deeply about the regions where most people will never encounter a Christian, and so should we.
There’s a lot of speculation surrounding the question of when Jesus will return.
But no one knows the exact day or hour of the Second Coming, no matter how many times you guess.
The Bible just doesn’t give us that information. But it does tell us this: while we wait for Jesus’ return, we are living in a time when God wants the gospel to go out to all nations.
Because there’s something worse than not knowing the day of Jesus’s Second Coming—it’s not knowing that he even came the first time. And that’s the case for billions of people in the world today. But who are they?
When we talk about the spread of the gospel, we can divide the world into three categories or zones.
First, there are green zones… think North America or parts of South America and Europe. These are places and people groups where the gospel is accessible, many disciples have been made, and local churches are able to respond to the needs of their communities. Most people in green zones will encounter Christians and have opportunities to hear the gospel.
Second, there are yellow zones or formative areas. These can go either of two ways. First, a yellow zone can be a place or people group where there used to be a lot of churches and the gospel was prevalent, but that presence seems to be decreasing. You can think of places like Germany or Switzerland. But yellow zones can also be places where the gospel is now spreading significantly, maybe for the first time in decades or even centuries. Christianity may still not be widely accepted or accessible, but is seemingly growing.
And then… there are red zones.
A red zone is a place or people group where most people will never encounter a Christian who can share the gospel with them.
We’re not talking simply about lost people—those are found everywhere: green, yellow, or red. If you’re in a green zone now, you have lost people in your neighborhood. In green and yellow zones, unbelievers could meet a Christian, go to church, read a Bible, or hear the gospel on the street or from a friend. The gospel is accessible and present.
But this is not the case in the red zones. The majority of those in red zones will be born, live, and die without ever hearing the gospel in any form. Without ever seeing a church. Without ever reading or even having access to a Bible. Without ever knowing the true Jesus.
There are many factors for why these zones are red, like geographical barriers, ideological and violent persecution. We see these challenges in places like Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, or North Korea. And these make it hard to share the gospel and plant churches.
And this most urgent spiritual need is elevated when we consider that many red zones also have intense physical needs due to economic strife, war, and natural disasters.
And while some red zones may have a little green here and there, the truth is that the population in red zones is increasing every year.
Let’s Do Something About the Red Zones
The question is not whether people in the red zones need to hear the gospel or not. We know that all are sinful and fall short of the glory of God. Whether you’re in Atlanta or Pyong Yang–salvation only comes through faith in the saving work of Christ on the cross.
The question we should be asking then is: what are Christians and churches in the green zones doing to take the gospel to the people in the red?