Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been passionate about reaching the lost. Through going to Life Pacific College with plans to serve as a missionary, and later becoming a church planter here in the U.S., I’ve been fueled by what I thought was a strong, clear vision of God’s heart for the nations.
And then I went to the Middle East, and discovered what I had been missing. Spending a week with some of our Foursquare family living and ministering in parts of the world where there are few, if any, Christians opened my eyes in a new way to the reality of unreached peoples. It was a life-changing time.
I knew that there are many who still need to hear about Jesus, of course. But somewhere, somehow, I had failed to really connect with all that means for His followers—you and me.
Shortly before my visit, I’d been reminded how far off most Christians’ radar unreached peoples are: less than 1 percent of giving goes to fund work among those who have yet to hear gospel, while only around 3 percent of the missionary workforce is focused there. Meanwhile, those unreached peoples total almost 3 billion—almost half the people on the planet.
I was shocked when I thought seriously about the huge mismatch between need and response—a wake-up call, if you will, that was magnified by my time in the Middle East. I heard Foursquare workers there speak matter-of-factly about the challenges they face. As one husband and father about my age spoke calmly of having received death threats, and how that was just an everyday part of the cost of following Jesus, I thought, And I’m worried about church budgets and how I am going to be perceived by people out in the community!
Then I got to meet some of the indigenous people, sitting with a group of men and talking as they enjoyed a hookah. As they spoke about their lives, I realized that they were not the fanatical enemy so often portrayed by much of the media back home. They were ordinary people trying to care for their families—who need to hear of the God who loves them.
That awakening has reshaped my understanding and vision as my wife, Jen, and I have been sent out from Faith Community (San Diego Foursquare Church) to plant Light Church in nearby Encinitas, Calif. As we seek to reach some of the disaffected and disenfranchised in this charming and vibrant but spiritually dry beach community, we have made the unreached a core part of our strategy and DNA.
One of the first things we did before starting to meet formally as a fellowship was to organize a non-churchy fundraising event, well supported by the local community, to help refugees in the Middle East. We also plan to be involved with refugee projects locally, and support Foursquare Missions International’s unreached peoples efforts.
Embracing the challenge of playing a part in reaching the unreached in this way isn’t a distraction from my church planting; it’s actually enhancing and enriching it, with a fuller sense of our part in the Great Commission. Having touched the land where Jesus is largely unknown, met the people and shared their food, I know that I simply can’t leave the task of reaching them to an underfunded few any longer.