GCOWE '95 is almost over, and you're heading home with your head stuffed full of ideas about reaching unreached peoples. Perhaps you've decided on specific strategies. Maybe you'll adopt a people group. And definitely your prayers will be more highly focused on the daunting, yet exciting task ahead. "A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the AD2000" will echo in your thoughts.
As you leave this place, one man's story from India may help you understand how the vision grows.
P. M. Thomas lived in South India. In 1963, God gave him a burden to live and work among people who had never heard the Gospel. Like Abraham long before him, Thomas pulled up stakes, heading north with his wife and baby.
Things went from bad to worse. The money his friends promised for his support didn't materialize. And at one point, he was so poor he had no money for the baby's milk.
When Thomas arrived in a town in the state of Kashmir and declared himself to be Christian, the townspeople weren't impressed.
"The town will become unholy," they said. "The water will become unholy." They asked him to leave, threatening to kill him. He persevered, and spent nights building a mud hut for his family. Bit by bit, he started his mission work among unreached peoples.
As problems arose, he went before God in prayer. When he collapsed with a heart attack, he was concerned that the non-Christians would doubt God's ability to heal. So he and his wife asked many Christians to pray. God healed him, and his friends continued to support his ministry, both financially and with their prayers.
Thomas' ability to work with unreached peoples grew as he met others sharing the same task. Thomas attended the Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization in 1974. In 1980, he attended the Edinburgh '80 consultation at which 280 world leaders first embraced the goal: "A Church for Every People by the Year 2000."
"It was an eye-opening experience to learn about unreached peoples," he recalled.
Today's people groups.
One of Thomas' ministries has now become the largest missionary agency in India, India Evangelical Team. The director of another mission agency, spawned from Thomas's ministry, has recently put together a conference to teach 150 pastors the importance of reaching the unreached people groups.
As a result of Thomas' vision, today as many as 1000 missionaries are serving unreached peoples.
The vision grows. With prayer and faith, it will continue to grow.