PRAY TO THE LORD OF THE HARVEST.
WHEN JESUS TOLD HIS DISCIPLES THAT THE HARVEST WAS PLENTIFUL BUT THE WORKERS FEW, WE MIGHT EXPECT HIM TO FOLLOW THAT UP WITH, "THEREFORE GO." BUT WHAT DID HE SAY NEXT? "THEREFORE PRAY EARNESTLY TO THE LORD OF THE HARVEST TO SEND OUT LABORERS INTO HIS HARVEST."
Jesus knew, taught and modeled the fact that nothing we do is more important or more powerful than prayer. Knowing this truth, we must be a people of prayer, and here we offer some resources and guidance for your prayers for the spread of the gospel and making of disciples among every nation. Let's pray desperately to the Lord of the harvest, knowing that only by His power can we accomplish what we have been commanded and commissioned to do.
When we use words like "people group" or "unreached," you may wonder what exactly that means, or why it is so important to pray for.
In Matthew 28, Jesus says go make disciples of all nations. In Revelation 5 we see people from every tribe and tongue, all nations, worshiping Jesus around the throne in Heaven. This word "nations" (or ethnos in the Greek) refers not to countries or “nations” as we imagine on a map, but to what we call “people groups." So the commission of Jesus was that every ethne, every people group, would hear the Gospel and, as we see in the vision of John, some would respond and one day worship King Jesus around the throne in Heaven.
WHAT IS A PEOPLE GROUP?
An ethno-linguistic group with a common self-identity that is shared by the various members. For strategic purposes it is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance
WHAT IS AN UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUP?
A people group is considered unreached (UPG) when there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage this people group with church planting. Technically speaking, the percentage of evangelical Christians in this people group is less than 2 percent
WHAT IS AN UNENGAGED PEOPLE GROUP?
Unreached people groups are unengaged (UUPG) when there is no church planting strategy, consistent with evangelical faith and practice, under way. Gathering believers and planting churches are the keys to establishing an effective and multiplying presence among these people groups
WHAT IS THE REALITY?
11,295 people groups in the world ( 6.9 billion people)
6,903 people groups are unreached (3.9 billion people)
2,994 people groups are unengaged (189 million people)
WHERE ARE THE UNREACHED?
2/3 of the world's population (4 billion people) live in an area known as the 10/40 Window (10 degrees to 40 degrees North Latitude, from North Africa to East Asia), and 95% of these 4 billion are unreached with the Gospel. There are 1.2 billion people under the influence of Communism, 1.3 billion Muslims, nearly 1 billion Hindus, 350 million Buddhists, and 250 million Tribal Religionists. 80% of the world's poorest people also live here. Unfortunately, only 8% of the world's missionaries are sent to countries within the 10/40 Window, and less than 5 cents of every $100 given to world missions by American churches goes there
HOW CAN I PRAY?
Pray, Jesus said, to the Lord of the Harvest, to send workers into the fields. We are not all called to go, and regardless of where we will live our lives, we cannot save people. But we can pray to the One who sends laborers and the One who saves sinners. We serve a God who took fishermen and made them fishers of men; a God who took dead people (like us) and made them alive again; so follow the links below and pray to that God, for a different people group each day, or a different country each day, or for the specific people groups that Watkinsville First Baptist is working to reach, by the grace of God, for the glory of God.
"There will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land." Deuteronomy 15:11,
Countless times in scripture we see that our God cares for the poor, the hurting, the helpless, the needy. We are made in His image and, as wholehearted followers and as the church, we can reflect His nature and character in how we care for the least of these. The way we treat the poor reveals what is in our hearts, and the heart is what matters to our King:
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me....‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ - Matthew 25:34-40
THE REALITIES OF THE WORLD
While it can be difficult to comprehend the brokenness around us, we must see and know so we can respond and pray. The natural response may be one of guilt, but we must remember, our God is sovereign, and He is not unaware or surprised by global poverty or local affluence. He has blessed some to be a blessing to others, that all may worship Him as provider. As you read the numbers and stats below, do so with a heart of prayer and a readiness to sacrifice, to give, and with an openness to the fact that God may call you to give up a standard of living that others may live.
870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat
The vast majority of hungry people (98 percent) live in developing countries, where almost 15% of the population is undernourished
Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year
One out of six children -- roughly 100 million -- in developing countries is underweight
11% of the global population, or 783 million people, are still without access improved sources of drinking water
Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death, and 88% of diarrheal deaths are due to a lack of access to sanitation facilities, inadequate availability of water for hygiene and unsafe drinking water
Today 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, live without even basic sanitation
Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation
A conservative estimate from the United Nations in 2005 puts the number of homeless worldwide at 100 million
Most of the 100 million are women and children
Approximately 3 million are homeless in the United States
Overall, at least 600 million people — again, most of them women and dependent children — live in shelters that are life threatening or health threatening in developing world cities
Over 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 (PPP) a day
Of the poorest of the poor, more than 8 out of 10 live in the 10/40 Window
20% of the world's population holds 75% of the world's wealth
For every $1 in aid a developing country receives, over $25 is spent on debt repayment
Since the death, burial and resurrection of our King Jesus, 43 million Christians have become martyrs
100 million Christians around the globe are currently suffering persecution because of their faith
Such suffering is mostly unknown to us here, and thus difficult for us to comprehend. Ignorance is easier, but we must be devoted to awareness, to remember the brothers and sisters in prison and those who are mistreated
But what do we do with this information? How do we respond?
1. don't waste your freedom
As you learn about the dangers of being a Christian in other parts of the world, remember how blessed we are to have the freedoms we do to share our faith. Let us honor those who die for their faith by dying to ourselves every day and taking full advantage of the freedom we have to preach Christ boldly.
2. pray for those facing persecution
We are never told to pray that persecution would stop, but that brothers and sisters would be strong and bold in the midst of it. The promise of Scripture and the testimony of history is that Christians are strengthened and the church is multiplied through the suffering of faithful followers. Persecution happens because people are acting as witnesses to the good news of Christ, and because people are coming to faith in Jesus. We clearly do not want either of these things to stop.
So what should we pray for?
- Pray like Paul did in Ephesians 3, that they may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being, and that in the midst of suffering, they might know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God
- Pray like Paul did in Ephesians 6, that they would have strength and courage to stand for the faith, that that words may be given to them in opening their mouths boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which many of them are ambassadors in chains, and that they may declare it boldly, as they ought to speak
- Pray that persecuted believers would have access to a Bible
- Pray that they have the courage to remain in their homeland
- Pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian "family" who loves them and supports them emotionally and physically
- Pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live