There are around 7,000 unreached people groups in the world today, like the:
➢ 2.8 million Sasaks of Indonesia
➢ 6.3 million Gadarias of India
➢ 27+ million Burmese of Myanmar
➢ 3 million Moors of Morocco
➢ 45 thousand Lolos of Southeastern China
➢ 8 million Somalis of Somalia
Nearly 3 billion people live in these 7,000 unreached people groups. So what’s it going to take to get the Good News of Jesus to all these wonderful people? The answer could be in understanding and applying the concept of triage. We need to do triage in missions, like is done on the battlefield or in the emergency room. Imagine you’re a doctor working in an emergency room. Three people enter the E.R. at the same time. The first wants to sell the hospital some new medical equipment. It could be that the new equipment is actually needed. But the second person that comes in has just suffered a broken arm while playing football. I think you would agree that the broken arm takes priority over the new equipment, at least “in the moment”. But then the third person comes in. This person has just suffered a severe head injury from a car accident. Doing “triage” means you prioritize which of the three will get the attention of the medical staff first.
Doing triage in missions would work like this: Think of the first person that walked in to the E.R. as a person living in a Christian area, where the Gospel is widely available. They may not have heard it yet, but the opportunity is there in forms such as Christian TV or radio, churches in the area, people at their work place or school who are Christians, etc. Then think of the person who had the broken arm as someone who lives in an area where there are Christians, churches, and opportunities to hear but many, or most, have said, “No thanks.” Finally, think of the person who suffered the severe injury as someone living in a place where the Gospel isn’t. These are those living in unreached people groups where access to the Gospel is very limited or possibly non-existent. Doing “triage” in missions means we sort the three “people” by their need to hear. I heard it said, “Everyone is equally lost, but not everyone is equally needy.”
“Status quo missions” isn’t getting the job done. Consider these facts:
➢ 80% of missionaries work among Christians.
➢ 16% work in areas where the Gospel is available, but most people have said, “No thanks.”
➢ 4% work in places where the Gospel isn’t.
This is exactly why we need to do triage in world missions. When there are so many people with little or no access to the Gospel, why are the majority of missionaries still going to Christian areas? Most likely, it is due to issues like fear, convenience, comfort level, financial cost, cultural dynamics, and more. But these excuses are exactly why so many people have never heard. It may be messy, dangerous, inconvenient, costly, and challenging to go to the places where the Gospel isn’t, but SO WHAT?! The Lord is worthy of worship in all places, among all people. Simply put: Doing triage in missions means we will stop sending long-term workers to the Christian areas and start going where the Gospel isn’t.
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
(Mark Baxter has spent decades mobilizing and training workers to go to the hardest and darkest places on earth. He has traveled extensively to those places himself to share the Gospel and start new churches. He is based in Jacksonville, Florida.)