By Amanda Benson, teacher at Faith Academy in the Philippines — I am sitting in one of my favorite places in this country, in my rocking chair on the porch of my condo, looking out as the sun sets over the city that has come to be my home: Manila. I see the immense sky, the painted masterpiece of the Creator.
But I’ve started seeing something else, too.
I recently sent a picture of my skyline view to a friend, who commented on how many people live in this picture compared to the population of South Dakota. There are at least 13 million people living just in the picture you see above. That’s over 15 times the population of South Dakota, where I’m from. That’s more than the populations of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, and Montana combined. Just outside my window.
Even in a Christian nation, so many haven’t heard
The Philippines is a largely “Christian” nation, by the world’s standards. According to Wikipedia, roughly 80 percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholic and 11 percent are Protestant. If you’re just looking at these 13 million people, that’s 1.4 million Protestants and 11.6 million Catholics. That’s a lot of “Christians” (put in quotes because we all know that not everyone who professes to be a Christian is actually a Christian, saved by the blood of Christ). There are still so many people who do not know Jesus as the only Way, Truth, and Life.
And this is one of the “most-reached” nations in Asia, being called the “fourth-largest Christian country on earth” by Wikipedia. Think of the billions of other people around the world who have never even heard of Christ. In a recent prayer meeting, we used THUMB, an acronym to pray for the least-reached peoples: Tribal, Hindu, Unreligious, Muslim, and Buddhist. As we watched videos for each of these groups, I was again struck by the sheer number of people who don’t know Christ around the world.
Prayer and practice
As this world so often seems to be crashing down around us, and as we seek urgently for Christ’s return to make all things right, I am challenged to continue spreading the gospel to the ends of the Earth.
- As a teacher at a school for missionary children, I am investing my life into my students so that their parents can actively share the gospel, many with the 13 million people that live right outside my window, others with people in other nations.
- I am praying actively that God will raise up more workers into the harvest field.
- I am praying for those who are trying to get to the harvest field — that God will bring in their support.
- I am praying that those already in the harvest field will be fruitful and will see many come to know the Lord.
I am mostly praying that God’s Spirit will work in mighty ways to bring people into his Kingdom, since all of our efforts are in vain if he is not at work.
This work is not easy. Sometimes it’s not incredibly fruitful in our eyes. These words of Christ have been running through my mind: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Not everyone will come to know Christ. Most, in fact, will reject him, choosing to live their own way. But some will not. Some will understand the depth of his love, the greatness of his mercy, the riches of his grace, and the beauty of his salvation. This is the goal of all of our striving, and Jesus says this is the hard way.
What are you doing to reach the unreached as we wait for Christ’s return? You may not have 13 million people in your view, but you don’t need 13 million. What about the one or two you see every day on the streets? What about the people you interact with at work or school? What about immigrants or refugees in your community?
Some ideas for getting started
- SEND offers hundreds of opportunities — long term. mid term and short term — to engage the unreached.
- Find SEND’s ideas for daily prayer for the unreached, or learn about Joshua Project’s unreached of the day.
- Check out resources for engaging the unreached in your own community.
Learn more about the unreached
- ‘Is Jesus some person living in your village?’ — An exploration of what “unreached” means, and what it doesn’t mean.
- Uncovering the unreached — A missionary’s treasure hunt leads to prayer guides that inspire Ukrainian believers to engage the cultures around them.
- Exploring the faith she mocked — Building trust in unreached communities can take decades, but SEND is poised to invest more in Ummi.
- Three ways to inspire prayer for the unreached — A church-planting movement’s foundation rests on prayer — and global workers can help lay that foundation.
- Upward evangelism — Ministry among diaspora Vietnamese ends up also engaging wealthier Taiwanese.
- ‘Are you a new creation?’ — A young woman from an unreached people group ponders this most-important question.