Have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like if you had never heard the name of Jesus or the simple, clear tenets of the Gospel? I suspect for most of us that scenario is so far removed from our sphere of experience that it is literally unimaginable.
What cannot be imagined is reality for 6,426 people groups in our world. These people live in enormous darkness. Generation after generation live and die without ever hearing the sweetest name on earth—Jesus—in their heart language. Stop reading and just whisper His name. Breathe in the essence of that sweet name that means more than the world to you. His name means eternity to you.
During this Christmas season, we in America will battle to keep Christ in Christmas. Those of us who are Christ followers will fight to stop the attempt by secularists to eradicate the name of Jesus from the holiday that bears His name. But for the 6,426 people groups around the globe, Christmas will mean nothing, and the simple yet powerful story of God becoming flesh to save us from our sins will never be told. The Gospel will remain silent.
What should our response be? Feel guilty? Determine we can do nothing because we live thousands of miles away? What can we do? Can an average Oklahoma Baptist and Christ follower do anything about the silence of the Gospel among these 6,426 people groups? Glad you asked!
The answer is simple and for that reason we often overlook it. Jesus, after a preaching mission, told His disciples that what He had seen in the villages were people harassed and downtrodden like sheep without a shepherd. His description is pointed. People who are lost have no guidance, protection or hope. But He did not stop by describing the helplessness of people; He told His disciples what they should do about it. PRAY!
How simple. How powerful! The first step before giving or going is to pray. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out (thrust out) laborers into the harvest. The harvest is plentiful (how true—6,426 people groups without the Gospel), but few laborers.
So how do you pray? I would recommend you go to the website www.bobmayfield.com/6426project and adopt an unreached people group that will become your personal prayer target. If your Sunday School class has not adopted one of these people groups, challenge them to join you in praying for them. Research and seek information about that group.
What should you pray? Jesus told us. Pray for laborers. Pray that God will send someone who is a Christ follower to these people, and pray that He will open the hearts of the people to their witness. Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send both laborers and harvest.
Does this simple plan work? I wish I had the space to tell you stories of how prayer prepared a people to hear the Gospel and how God touched the heart of someone to carry the Gospel to these people. The evidence is clear and the pattern certain. Pray for openness and pray for laborers.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.