Thousands of delegates from nearly 200 countries sat in rapt silence as the chief missiologist rose to his feet to open the second world congress of the Great Commission Council. An imposing figure, the chief opened his long-awaited oration with unforgettable words: "The Great Commission will be fulfilled within the lifetime of most of us sitting here tonight!"
Armed with the latest figures and computerized maps, he showed that the unevangelized have dropped to less than 20 percent of the total population for the first time in history. The audience applauded when he reported, "We now have 760 million 'Great Commission Christians' actively sharing their faith—a 150 percent increase since 1970."
Apocryphal? Partly. There is no Great Commission Council or chief missiologist, but the speech's tone has been evident at many missions conferences I have attended, and the facts are accurate (see David Barrett's Statistical Table on Global Mission: 2000 and Patrick Johnstone's Operation World ).
But let's continue with the story.
The missiologist revealed a similar numeric cornucopia for Scripture distribution, Christian agencies and workers, use of the mass media, and income for global missions. But he saved the best for last. He boldly predicted that the remaining unreached people groups can be met by moving only 0.4 percent of the Christian workforce to countries in the 10/40 window.
"The end is in sight at long last!" he proclaimed.
Bedlam erupted in the great hall. Then a diminutive African delegate headed to the platform and reached for the microphone.
The audience quieted down. Her countenance was heavy with sorrow. "I am from the country that has been considered by many of you to be the greatest example of success in world ...1
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