If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve likely heard of “the great commission,” where Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and save everyone! I’ve preached on the verse on more than one occasion. Today, after a brief review, I want to focus particularly on the phrase “all nations.”
"Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age”
The last words Jesus had to His disciples were this: go! He reminded His disciples how He had been given ALL authority. Because of that, they are to listen to Him, above all worldly leaders or ANYONE else!
Then Jesus said they are to GO. Did He say to stay? No, He said to go! Where? Into ALL the world, all nations. Doing what? Baptizing them. Who gets baptized? Only those who claim to follow God publicly! It’s an outward expression of an inward decision. Baptizing who? Those who have heard about Jesus and chose to believe in Him, the One true God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then what? Discipleship! We are to not just save people, but teach them how to obey God and live for Him. And with all of this, it might get lonely. We can be encouraged that Jesus will be with us, always. He who has ALL authority, will be with us as we follow Him!
Now that we’ve reviewed the great commission, let’s go in depth into what it means by “all nations.” Depending on the translation or the sermon you hear, ultimately, you’ll hear that this term refers to all peoples. All people groups. It might be a tribe, a group of people who speak the same language. Again, being a Christian in America for very long means we’ve probably heard all this before.
I recently saw a map of unreached people groups. I’d seen it before. What shocked me was seeing a map immediately afterward of where all the missionaries in the world are. Folks: the maps weren’t just different, but drastically different! We’re not reaching the unreached! I can think of two problems. First, apparently those nations we are reaching, we’re failing at discipleship. If we were succeeding, I think we’d have more missionaries. Second, we’re sending people to the wrong areas. Sure, there are unreached people in Europe, but they have churches there! Can’t those churches there reach those people there? I also heard a disturbing statistic recently: there are 9 churches for every unreached people group in the world. Wait, what? How many unreached people groups is your church praying for?
This is the one thing Jesus said we’re to do as Christians. I mean, you know that meme “he had one job!” Is God looking down saying about His Christians, “wow, that’s a neat coffee shop and a fancy Bible study. Love that worship song, Christian rock concert, but… That’s not what I asked you to do! You’ve forgotten My people over here.” Know that I’m speaking to myself here as well.
There are what we know as modern missionaries, who work for Cru (God bless them), or other organizations who plant churches in anti-Christian areas. But the bush missionaries, who blaze a trail, build their own houses, clear a landing strip in the jungle, poop in a hole in the ground that they dig STILL exist! And we need more of them if we’re ever to reach the whole world for Christ. If we’re ever to actually obey the great commission, we need missionaries who go the distance, learn new languages, translate the Bible, learn new cultures, risk their lives, and teach the Word where it’s NEVER been taught before. It’s the great adventure we’ve been called to! We don’t just need missionaries who teach God’s Word where the people have grown tired of it and it’s now a post-Christian society. But we need trail blazers, bush wackers, handy men and creative women to change their lives and their lifestyles to dive into a tribe never reached with the gospel before.
I know some missionaries who work in the bush of an unreached people group. They’re the real deal. It takes them 2-4 days to reach their tribe, once they land in the country, often hiking 1-2 of those days! They get groceries once a month and if they run out, they can’t just go to McDonald’s. They’ve translated the New testament, started a church among the tribe. They have 60 believers there now.
What if every church took ONE unreached people group and started praying for them to be reached with the gospel? What if then, someone was raised up to go, as Matthew 28:18-20 says. We all can’t go, but we can give and we can pray. And we can choose to give and pray for the unreached as opposed to just the unwilling. I know missionaries in a country in Europe who get about one convert a year, while those in the bush receive many annually. Those in the bush are HUNGRY for the Word. I know a missionary in India who hiked miles to reach a group of people to share the gospel with them and they all believed. Why are we pouring money and resources into ineffectiveness? We have one job as Christians.
One last thought on all of this. The missionaries who go into the bush, start a church, translate the Bible for that tribe, and do the hard work, they’re also fulfilling all the other commands in the Bible at the same time. By doing that, they’re reaching the poor, orphaned, widowed, forgotten people of the world. They’re being the hands and feet of Jesus. They’re setting people free of addictions, of abuse, saving marriages and families. The rest of the commands in the Bible aren’t forgotten when we reach the unreached.
So, why don’t we hear about these missionaries you ask? Because they’re not here! They’re busy doing the work of the Lord, often in remote locations without modern conveniences like Internet, or for some, without electricity. And even if they do have those things, they’re not living in America! We hear about American missionaries in America. So we support our own, and avoid telling others at work about Jesus, because that’s what we gave our tithe to those American missionaries to do. Wait what? No! It’s every Christian’s job to share Jesus, not just those in full time ministry.
I’m not here to condemn you, or your church, but I am calling us to rethink our priorities. We have one job as Christians, preach the Word, to all nations. If we’re living in America, we should be preaching the Word and discipling others in how to walk in it. Our money should be tithed to our church, that hopefully also supports missionaries reaching the unreached. And we too, should be supporting such missions. So you give 10% to your church. Give 1% to an unreached people group or missionary. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out a couple of the organizations below. No, I’m not compensated by any of these organizations. I just believe they’re fulfilling the great commission and can help you do your part. Pray. Give. Go. Chose one or all of those options.
Blazing a trail for new tribes, translating the Bible, starting churches, discipling the nations
Ship missions (providing resources)
Aviation training to fly in remote areas