“I’ve always been drawn to Jesus, I just never had anyone to talk with about Him before until I met you.”
This was the story I heard yesterday over lunch with some of my favorite missionary friends. Because of the sensitivity of their location and their work, I won’t use their names or the country where they minister other than to say it’s in a 99.9% Islamic area of this world.
As COVID-19 devastated the globe, they were deeply engaging in life-changing conversations with their local milkman. Unlike our secularizing Western culture, Muslims are always talking about religion. And when they meet an American living in and among their community, running a business, adding value to their local economy and the people around them, it doesn’t typically take long for the conversations to move toward the differences in Islam and Christianity.
They’re curious, and like this local milkman, many of them are already being drawn to Jesus.
UPG Missions Can Be Lonely
Cross-cultural ministry to the unreached places of the world is often lonely and exhausting. Roughly 42% of the globe is considered unreached – that’s 3,000,000,000 people. These aren’t people who have little interest in the Gospel, these are people who have no access to the Gospel. It’s possible to be born, live, and die in these places and never even meet a Christian, let alone have a chance to hear the Kingdom-resurrection message of Jesus.
And yet, missionary after missionary will tell you they regularly meet strategic individuals in these places who are hungry for the Gospel. Most Muslims who come to faith will tell you they had dreams or visions of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is doing what He promised, so we must do what we were commanded.
“And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
How Can They Hear Unless Someone Tells Them?
Last January, I had the honor of visiting this area of the world and witnessed a local Muslim man get baptized in the ocean. One of the photos of that day hangs over the desk in my office over 8,000 miles from where it was taken. I still get emotional when I look at it. Jesus had been preparing this man’s heart for years, but it wasn’t until he met the local business as mission (BAM) team that he ultimately came to faith in Christ.
People all over the world are hungry for Jesus, but they need someone to help them understand what they are feeling. I can’t help but think of Acts 8 and the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch:
“The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’
The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.’
The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?’ So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?’ He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.”
These stories are still happening all over the world today, and we are called – dare I say commanded – to be part of them.
Missions Isn’t Just for Traditional Missionaries
When most of us think of global missions, we think of a very specific type of person. We think of traditional clergy, religious workers, or maybe medical professionals working in a cross-cultural setting. And that’s certainly true.
But business, the marketplace, and entrepreneurship are quickly becoming a key channel for the Gospel to do its beautiful work. Not only can the Gospel be displayed through genuine, value-adding, culture shaping small businesses, but it also opens the door for Gospel proclamation in some of the most unreached areas of the world.
And since we know the Gospel redeems and rescues all things, including the work of our hands, these endeavors are not just fronts for selling Jesus in foreign lands. The businesses themselves are a core part of the Gospel’s resurrection in these local communities, adding value, providing jobs, improving economics, and meeting a real local need.
Yes, we desperately need a pipeline of traditional pastors and missionaries, but 21st Century missions is mobilizing marketplace leaders – entrepreneurs, educators, scientists, tech-wizards, gym owners, accountants, economists, programmers, writers, attorneys, real estate professionals, you name it – to embrace their Kingdom role in the Great Commission to the ends of the earth.
The Hunger is Real
Across the globe right now, countless people like my friends’ milkman are being drawn to Jesus by the Holy Spirit. And they’re quietly asking themselves, “How can I understand unless someone instructs me?”
All of us are called to pray.
All of us are called to send.
And some of us are called to go.
Maybe you always wondered what your finance or biology degree could possibly do for Jesus. Business as Mission just might be the answer. If you feel the Holy Spirit drawing you, we might be able to help. The harvest is great but the workers are few.