Evangelization of the two-thirds of the world’s population that has yet to hear of Christ might seem to be an impossibility. At the time of the International Congress on World Evangelization held at Lausanne two years ago it was estimated that 2.7 billion persons had not been evangelized. And the birth rate continues to outstrip the growth rate of the Church.
“We are ashamed that so many have been neglected,” declared the Lausanne Covenant. “It is a standing rebuke to us and to the whole church.… The goal should be, by all available means and at the earliest possible time, that every person will have the opportunity to hear, understand, and receive the good news.”
But how? Is it realistic to think the Gospel can be presented to every person on earth in this generation? The Christian leaders from around the globe who signed the covenant believe it is. The conclusion of the document included these words, “We enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each other, to pray, to plan, and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world.”
The goal is not new. Three-quarters of a century ago it was a rallying cry for missionary recruitment in North America. The Student Volunteer Movement was determined to send abroad enough young people to accomplish the task. Those who responded to the challenge wrote a glorious chapter in missionary history, but they fell short of the goal.
Why does a new generation of Christian leaders think it is possible, even though there are more millions to reach? For one thing, improved means of travel and communications make the unreached far more accessible. Another promising factor highlighted at Lausanne was the emergence of missionary-sending societies in African, Asian, and Latin American ...1
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