SPOTLIGHT - to the ends of the earth
About the Spotlight Writer
Hey friends! My name is Lee and I am 23 years old. I graduated from the University of Texas in 2016 and have since moved to Dallas, TX to work for a nonprofit organization that exists to mobilize the local church to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the Unreached areas of the world. Most of the time you can find me reading a book while sipping my Americano at a hip coffee shop or listening to obscure bands at small music venues.
I was sitting in a popular Thai food restaurant in Austin, TX having dinner with some girls from my small group one night. We were all in college at the time and had spent the evening talking about how crazy life was with exams, homework, social organizations, church activities, relationships, etc. We shared stories from the week and spent the night laughing over Pad Thai and curry dishes, and we were about to close out the dinner by praying for each other. Before we did so, our waitress came over to ask us one last time if we needed anything before the check. Her name was Coco and she was a young woman who spoke little English, but had the biggest smile. While she stood at our table, I explained to her that we were about to spend some time praying to God, and I asked her if she had anything going on in her life that we could pray for. She seemed a bit confused at my question, so I began to elaborate by saying that we were followers of Jesus and that we like to talk to God and ask Him for things in Jesus’ name because He hears us and He loves us. The next thing that Coco said left me completely baffled and would change my world forever.
Coco responded to my question by saying, “Who is Jesus?”. As soon as those words fell from her mouth, I looked at my other friend’s faces at the table and we all had the same expression: eyes widened and jaws dropped. We had just met a girl in our city of Austin, TX in a very popular, very Americanized Thai food restaurant, who had never heard the name of Jesus before. As we tried to conceal our shocked faces so we wouldn’t make her feel uncomfortable, we proceeded to very simply share the good news of the Gospel with her. Nothing crazy happened and she didn’t become a Christian in that moment, but Coco heard for the first time in her life that God loves her not for what she can do or how “good” she can be, but because of what Jesus did on the cross for her.
After, we continued talking with her and heard more about her own story. As it turns out Coco had just moved from her small village in Thailand to Austin three days ago. As we said our goodbyes to Coco and left the restaurant, I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of both joy and sorrow. My friends and I had just gotten the chance to share the greatest news of the world with someone who had never heard it before and that left us giddily praising God, but on the other hand, we had just met a woman who had lived over 25 years of life without ever hearing the name of the only One who can give true life and freedom. I thought to myself driving home that night as I passed at least eight different churches, how many people are there living in Thailand or other countries in the world who are just like Coco and have yet to hear the name of Jesus? Unlike Coco, how many of those people will never leave their home country and go to a place where they might have the chance to hear the gospel?
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
After meeting Coco, this verse became very real for me. I began to see “making disciples of all nations” as a call for all Christians, not just the special, missionary types, or “super-believers”. God showed me that He has children, people who Jesus bought with His blood on the cross, who live in places of the world that are very dark and hard and without the Gospel. These people are my future brothers and sisters in Christ who will be around the throne of God in Heaven worshiping Him for all eternity, but at this time have no one who is actively sharing the good news with them.
After this encounter, I soon joined a disciple-making group that helped me learn how to share the gospel with those around me, including internationals in my city, and also taught me about the Unreached People Groups (UPGs) of the world. A UPG is a group of people who share a similar culture and language, but have little to no access to the Gospel. This means that people in these groups will most likely live and die without ever hearing about the saving grace of Jesus. Today, there are over 7,000 UPGs left in the world, equating to about 3 billion people who will never experience the love of a Savior, who will never be set free from their sin, who will never get to taste eternal life with the Father, unless someone goes and shares Jesus with them.
So I have this extreme burden. To not just see all nations hear the Gospel, but to see lives changed by the Gospel. Lives of those who live in darkness and poverty, those who experience systematic injustices everyday, those who are continually suffering, but have no hope for redemption in Christ. And I have the desire to go, to be with the Unreached and share the good news with those who have never heard, just like Coco, but not everyone is able to go or should go. However, I do believe that all Christians are called to have this same burden, to support global missions to the Unreached, whether it is through praying for nations that are Unreached, praying for missionaries among the Unreached, giving financially to those who are going, or just spreading the awareness that over 30% of the world is lacking the truth about God’s infinite love and mercy for His people shown through the sacrifice of His humble, servant Son, Jesus.
“And the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14).
Scripture tells us that every single nation or people group will one day hear the gospel. We have a promise that every ear will hear of His goodness and glory, and then Jesus is coming back! So if you’re like me and have the desire for Jesus to come quickly, let’s all ask God how He wants to use us personally in His Great Commission and what role can we play is seeing all nations worship Him.
*If you want more resources about UPGs and how to pray for them, Joshuaproject.net is a great place!