FIRST-PERSON: Getting to the edge of lostness

IMB President Paul Chitwood (centered) and IMB missionary Brian Massey, (second from the left) who works among indigenous people deep in the mountains of Colombia. (IMB Photo by Chris Carter)
IMB President Paul Chitwood (centered) and IMB missionary Brian Massey, (second from the left) who works among indigenous people deep in the mountains of Colombia. (IMB Photo by Chris Carter)
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Matthew 24:14 records these words of our Lord: “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”


Because Southern Baptists are committed to a foundation built upon the Word of God, our International Mission Board embraces a biblical missiology. As a result, the overwhelming majority of our resources at the IMB are dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples of all peoples and stewarding the Revelation 7:9 vision of “a great multitude … from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”


Practically, what does that look like? With regard to our missionary teams, 91% are engaging people groups that fit the definition of “unreached” – less than 2% of their population is evangelical Christian. We share God’s heart expressed in 2 Peter 3:9, “not wishing that any should perish,” but also see time and again Jesus’ admonition to get the gospel to every nation. Thus, we prioritize those who are perishing without a gospel witness among their people group.


With regard to IMB financial stewardship, every dollar given directly to the IMB or given through your church and designated to the IMB is used overseas. And the majority of IMB financial resources support missionary teams engaging unreached people groups with the gospel of Jesus Christ.


I’m personally grateful for every evangelical missionary agency seeking to get the gospel to the nations. When it comes to engaging the unreached, however, no group or denomination I know of comes close to committing the amount of money being invested by Southern Baptists in getting the gospel to the unreached. The work Southern Baptists are doing as they cooperate to send missionaries through the IMB is getting to the very edge of lostness. 


Last year alone, IMB missionaries and their Baptist partners overseas engaged 55 formerly unengaged people groups. In some of those instances, we have seen the very first believers come to faith and the very first churches planted in the history of those people groups. We can rejoice that we will be able to look around as we stand before God’s throne – on that day when the vision of heaven is fulfilled – and see our brothers and sisters in Christ from those people groups.


For now, the vision is yet unfulfilled. More than 7,200 people groups remain unreached and more than 3,100 are yet to be engaged with the gospel. Every single day 155,473 people die lost around the world. The Word says we have been left here to make disciples of all peoples, to be a witness for Jesus to the very end of the earth, to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations. And remember, as Southern Baptists we are deeply committed to following the teachings of the Bible.


PAUL CHITWOOD is president of the International Mission Board.

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