CM2000 2 January, 2000
Plenary: World Evangelization: Where We Are & Where Do We Go From Here

Where are we?
The Gospel for Every Person

Patrick Johnstone

The Biblical Imperative

In Mark 16:15 Jesus gave the task of preaching the gospel to every person. How can we measure whether a person has effectively heard the Gospel? We can never know whether we have really attained that goal, for we cannot get hold of the information in the ultimate source - the Lamb's Book of Life, which has yet to be opened!

Making the Gospel Accessible to every Person

We can measure the accessibility of the Gospel through multiple ministries - personal witness, literature, Scripture translation, Christian video, cassette, television and radio availability, the use of the Internet and many other tools God has given us today. Every extra means of communicating the Good News increases the likelihood that during a person's life-time he or she will have a meaningful, even life-changing opportunity to respond to the claims of Christ and become a member of the Body of Christ. Such a person could then be said to be evangelized - even if that opportunity is rejected.

Many of the special tracks of AD2000 and Beyond Movement have had this vision to make their particular ministry medium available to the whole world population. We are now going to hear from two servants of God who are to speak on progress in their remarkable ministries:

The Multiple Layers of Ministry

Let us put some of these layers together!

  1. We have the primary means - of witness of Christians within the culture. Earlier we saw how there are churches within the vast majority of ethno-linguistic peoples, and, in fact, probably only 6.3% of the world's population lives within a culture without a vital witnessing church. We can represent this as a horizontal bar of ministry. Notice how most of the world's population is "covered" potentially by such. I am very aware that this does not take into account all the other barriers of caste in India, mountains for the Kurds in the Middle East, religion among the Bengalis and Pakistani peoples as well as many other factors. So this is a big over-simplification. The coverage increases if we include all peoples among whom there are also expatriate church planters on site and the potential coverage goes up to 99%.

  2. We have just heard of the thrilling progress in Bible translation from John Bendor-Samuel. The staggering change over 200 years is extraordinary. We have seen the accelerating rate of progress in NTs completed and the bold visions for the future. As things now stand about 92% of the world's population has access to a NT in their own language, and this is even higher if we include Bible portions. This is not to say that there may be difficulties with illiteracy, distribution or availability, but potentially the Scriptures are there for the determined seeker. Now we can add another layer.

  3. Then we heard of the JESUS Film and it extraordinary impact and use. Over 99% of the world's population could have access to the JESUS film in various forms - comic strip, cassette, video, film or broadcast on television. The 4.1 billion viewers comprises 2/3 of the world's population, but we must add the rider that this is a cumulative total, and many of these viewers will have seen the film multiple times and their viewings are cumulatively added to the total number of viewers. So now we add another layer:

  4. The AD2000 & Beyond Movement Radio Task Force was primarily represented by World by 2000 and its partner ministries. World by 2000 was a commitment by five international radio ministries to provide every man, woman and child on earth the opportunity to turn on their radios and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in the language they can understand so they can become followers of Christ and responsible members of His church. These five international radio ministries, FEBA Radio, Far East Broadcasting Company, HCJB World Radio SIM, and Trans World Radio made this commitment with the objective of jointly completing this task by the year 2000. In addition to the original broadcast ministries, Galcom, Words of Hope, IBRA Radio and Back to the Bible were invited to join as Associates in the World by 2000 effort as a result of their commitment to the World by 2000 objectives.

    One hundred and ten new language broadcasts were added to international missionary radio broadcast schedules. These represent over 650 million people who are now able to hear the gospel in a language they can understand. Only 7 of the 300 originally targeted languages still remain without broadcasts. What an achievement! This now means that over 99% of the world's population could have access to some broadcasting in a language they understand - assuming they have access to a radio, and batteries to run it and be within range of the broadcasts. This adds yet another layer.

We could add many more layers to this blanket of coverage.

I could tell of the amazing work of the Global Recordings Network who have prepared recorded electronic messages in over 5,000 languages and dialects. The 5,000 total was reached in October 1999. What of the massive literature and Scripture distributions of Every Home for Christ, Open Doors, The Bible League and many others when whole 10/40 Window countries have been covered by this medium?

SAT7 broadcasting in the Middle East has gradually increased its Christian broadcasting in Arabic to the whole region with outstanding results. The rapid multiplication of legal or illegal satellite dishes ensures a wide coverage. Millions of the majority religion are regular viewers and their whole world-view and perception of the Church and of the Lord Jesus Christ is being changed in a positive way. It has also raised the morale of the marginalized indigenous Church and brought about a much greater unity among Christians of a wide ranger of traditions.

The wiring up of China and India for the Internet, the massive increase in those with access - often through Internet Cafes ensure a massive increase in coverage of the most challenging countries for the gospel through this medium of such potential. Many are convinced that even rural India will be extensively opened up for the gospel through the Internet.

How many individuals have been evangelized?

The layered coverage shows that as far as availability goes, coverage is well over 99% of the world's population. This is astonishing. However the realities of the world today is that availability is not exposure. There are man barriers to access or understanding. We can only conjecture the actual percentage.

For example the JESUS Film has had 4.1 billion viewers, but how many of the world's individuals would this mean - 3 billion? Maybe. Then how many of these actually heard the message of the film and understood it to the point of making a decision for or against acceptance of the Gospel?

My own reckoning is that between 15% to 25% of the world's population have not sufficient exposure to have a valid opportunity to make a decision for or against Christ. So much depends on the strictness of the criteria we use to measure this, hence the range. If we take the average of this, it means that there are 1.2 billion people on earth today that are yet to be evangelized.

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