A Norwegian evangelist once adjusted the “loaves and fishes” story like this:
Imagine Jesus fills the disciple’s baskets, and they start distributing food to the first few rows. By row four the baskets are empty, so the disciples return to Jesus, who fills them with again. They go back to serve the people, but instead of going to the fourth row, they start with the first row again! All evening they serve rows one, two and three.
What do you think the people in the back rows would have said? “Hey! What’s going on? Fair go mate! A little justice?”
This altered version illustrates a curious yet sad reality. About 3 in every 10 people still have little to no access to the gospel. Many of these have never heard about Jesus. Some of them live in places where they could travel as far as they could in any direction and not meet a group of people who know and love Jesus. The may not even have the Bible available in their language. Imagine if Wellington had no Christian bookstore, no churches, and no people that knew Jesus. It’s hard to get your head around, eh?
Mission circles use terms like ‘unreached’ or ‘least-reached’ people groups. These groups of people need someone to go to them, learn their language and culture, love them, pray for them and tell them the stories of Jesus.
Here’s the kick in the tail. Over 95% percent of all missionaries, mission work and finances go to peoples who have heard the gospel many times. All the while, roughly 1.7 billion souls wait in the back rows for the Bread of Life. Who will make the back rows their priority? We can’t leave it for the local church in the place, if there isn’t a local church in the place!