It’s hard to face the reality that the world is very much in need of the Gospel message. There are many people all over the world that have not heard the hope of the saving grace of Jesus and the life open to all men that He can give. While the whole world is in need, not all needs are the same. In a hospital not everyone has cancer or some terminal illness, rather there are differences in the needs of the patience. The same can be said with the world. While all countries and all peoples desperately need to hear the Gospel, not all countries have the same need.
If this is the case, how do we judge this need?
You’ve likely heard of the terms heards and unheards. Let’s generally define what they mean. Heards are people who have heard the Gospel or who have a chance to hear the Gospel because there are disciples or churches located near them. Unheards are people who have not heard the Gospel nor have access to it, because their city or area does not have a church or disciples.
The places that need the Gospel the most then are places where there are unheards. Our focus should be on sharing the Gospel in places where the most unheards can be found.
If unheards take priority in our mission, this should lead us to ask “where are these unheards?” There are three main places where we can focus our efforts to reach these people.
- Cities* – This is not to say that rural areas do not need the gospel. Rather the rise of globalization and an increase in the general economic welfare of the world has led to massive growth of the world’s cities. There is an overwhelming need for unheards to be engaged in cities, where there are so many.
- Closed-Countries* – Closed countries are places where governing authorities do not welcome missionaries. Certainly a missionary can go to these places, but they won’t be welcomed by governing authorities there.
- Culturally-Distant Contexts* – Linguistic and cultural gaps sometimes seem wider than geographical distances. Many unheards are from cultures that are vastly different from Western cultures. These gaps must also be overcome if these unheards should also know the gospel as well.
What’s important to conclude from our definition of heards and unheards is that, while all places have need, not all places have equal need. The task of the Great Commission is massive and to complete it we need to be strategic – with God’s blessing of course. More than strategic though, we need to be humble and prayerful that God will guide our steps to reach the most for Him.
*These have been taken from Jake Taube’s excellent book on missions, Send Me I’ll Go.