Excerpts taken from Dr. Johnson’s
sermon to AGTS students during Missions Emphasis on January 21,
“Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our
area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can
preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want
to boast about work already done in another man’s territory”
(2 Corinthians 10:15b-16, NIV).
I recently received an email from a new missionary in Thailand. “I’ve
just bottomed out,” she said. “I’ve felt almost
desperate to get out of here. I’ve felt no spiritual impulse
to stay. I’ve been ashamed to say my attitude toward the
very people I should have a burden for has been nothing short
of ungodly.” Later in the email she admits, “I’m
doing better and I’ve recognized the need for spiritual
Leadership development among Christian minorities
in a hostile environment is a difficult task. We tend to think
it is an automatic process. But that’s not how it is. There
are ups and downs. It is one step forward and two steps back.
The process takes years, and there are many failures, drop-outs
and disappointments along the way.
Usually, missionary “failures” and
frustrations, as expressed in this email, are not highlighted
in typical missionary presentations. Ironically, the best “missionary” stories
often position us to be the least prepared for what needs to
be done in our world today. Reporting our successes as “mission” successes
carries a subtle piece of unintentional misinformation because
these events are happening where the church is strongest.
a result, those back home never get to see the unreached world—the
peoples and cultures where there is no church or witness. Our
success blinds us to the faces of the lost and deafens us to
hear the Spirit’s call.
Extreme missions is:
- missions at the periphery of the centers
of church power
- the pioneer missionary task of going to a culture
that does not have the gospel and establishing the church
from the perspective of God’s plan to reconcile
to himself a people from every tribe and tongue
- missions that
demands your entire life and taxes your mind, body and spirit
to their limits, and in its pursuit you will gain your soul
as you pour yourself out for Christ
- worth living and dying for
This mission, and the heart and
worldview that power it, need to be at the center of every
Christian, church and endeavor.
I cannot sell the idea to
you. I cannot convince you. I cannot tell you stories that will
move your heart to do it. I cannot make it more palatable. I
cannot promise it will make your life easier or more peaceful.
It is an unnatural, other-focused endeavor that requires the
supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. I can promise if you align
your life with God’s global purpose
for extreme missions, you will find joy and you will make
forever friends (as Paul called the Philippians “You whom
I love and long for, my joy and my crown”). Most important,
you will have the satisfaction of laying your head on your
pillow every night knowing you have helped to bring the saving
message to those who have never heard.
Extreme missions is driven
by extreme vision and extreme passion. The extreme mission of
taking the gospel to the least- reached and unreached people
of our world can be accomplished only with the apostolic vision
and passion that we find in Paul’s heart: “Our hope
is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity
among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the
gospel in the regions beyond you” (2 Corinthians
I am proposing that we need apostolic
vision and passion to preach the gospel among the least-reached.
The gospel is still God’s answer to a broken world.
Gospel Was Paul’s Answer
Paul was passionate because
he had been touched personally. He believed the gospel
was the power of God unto salvation because he had experienced
The Gospel Is Our Answer
Paul uses the Greek word kanon
to speak of the allocation God had given him. God still
is giving specific callings and assigning fields of labor
Does this mean Paul’s zeal for proclamation
is only for those specially called? No. The abundant testimony
of the New Testament is that we are all brought into God’s
family to be His ambassadors to a lost world (Acts 2:17ff,
1 Peter 2:9,10).
The Gospel Is the World’s Answer
Oddly enough, for
all our protestations, bumper stickers, billboards, church
signs and media proclamations that the gospel of Jesus
Christ really is the answer, it seems to me the apostolic
passion to trumpet that message abroad is in danger of
Part of the reason is the phenomenal success of the Christian
mission. Some parts of the world are so Christian we conceive
of the task in terms of serving the needs of Christians.
A second reason has to do with our western affluence. We
tend to see missions as moving from affluence to poverty—“us” giving “them” something.
As a result, subtle shifts that put the priority and power
of the message on the back burner to focus on tangible
needs are taking place. Thus, “mission” and “missionary” are
no longer clear words. Missionaries do a plethora of things.
Total Number of People Groups...... 15,954
Unreached People Groups............... 6,775 (42% of Total)
Total World Population...................... 6.44 billion
Population in UPGs............................ 2.51 billion
(39% of Total)
UPGs are people among which there is no indigenous community
of believing Christians whit adequate numbers and resources
to evangelize this people group (less than 2% evangelical
Christians and less than 5% Christian adherents). Sociologists
have determined that evangelical Christians must make 2%
of a population before they can impact the whole group.
“It comes more natural to us to shout the gospel at people
from a distance than to involve ourselves deeply in their lives,
to think ourselves into their culture and their problems, and
to feel with them in their pains.” (John R.W. Stott, Christian
Mission in the Modern World, p. 25).
The Unreached and Least-Reached Are Still Waiting for the Gospel
India (79 UPGs) 924,062,685
China (402) 181,693,470
Pakistan (65) 156,020,905
Bangladesh (32) 140,838,688
Indonesia (77) 136,019,543
Japan (10) 123,148,873
Turkey (29) 72,526,319
Iran (54) 68,743,752
Thailand (28) 54,505,514
Nigeria (34) 45,832,293
Myanmar (26) 40,439,050
Algeria (29) 32,819,294
Morocco (14) 30,716,613
Afghanistan (41) 29,844,754
Iraq (17) 27,306,463
vision was for the “regions beyond”—the
least-reached. He was under divine compulsion to proclaim the
good news where it had not been heard. We have heard much about
renewal, but we greatly need a renewal of the apostolic passion
to proclaim the gospel to those who have never heard.
to break the bubble around an isolated and protected North American
world so we realize there are people living here and around the
world who will never hear the gospel until someone is willing
to cross into their world and lay his or her life down for them.
We need career cross-cultural missionaries to go to the least-reached
peoples of this world. We need pastors and everyday Christians
who will purpose in their hearts to reach truly lost people here
in North America. We need believers who will live in relentless
pursuit of lost people and be co-seekers with Christ to bring
them home to the Father.
This is not a short-term, temporary
task. It engages our entire lives. I want this apostolic lens—the
heart to proclaim the gospel among the least-reached—to
become the guiding framework for every decision that you make.
You are going to pursue something, to give your life to something.
I pray you will give it to telling this story, participating
redemptive purpose for every people on this planet.
Dr. Johnson’s exegetical notes on 2 Corinthians