NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Neyland Stadium, where the University of Tennessee plays football, holds about 104,000 spectators. The University of Florida is an archrival. Can you imagine being just one of 1,600 Florida fans scattered around the stadium? I bet you’d feel a bit intimidated.
Or what about being one of 150 Democrats or Republicans sandwiched on the floor between more than 10,000 members of the opposing party at its national convention? You’d probably keep a low profile.
Christians in Southern Asia do feel intimidated but they don’t have the luxury of keeping a low profile. Jesus Christ calls Christians to preach the Gospel to all peoples, to be salt and light to the world around us and to be “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That calling puts our Christian brothers and sisters in a precarious, but necessary, situation.
The small number of Florida fans and the handful of delegates represent 1.5 percent of the total at either the football game or party convention. It also represents the percentage of Christians among the 1.385 billion people living in the seven countries that comprise Southern Asia. That means 1.364 billion people do not know Christ as Lord and Savior. Put more directly, it means nearly 99 out of 100 people currently have hell as their eternal destination.
Southern Baptists, that’s not acceptable and we’ve got to do something about it.
Actually, we are doing something about it, but we are not doing enough. Currently our International Mission Board has one missionary for every 8 million lost people in that area of the world. That’s about the same as having one missionary to reach the entire city of New York. Can we honestly expect to lead the nations of the world to the cross of salvation facing those kinds of odds?
Southern Baptists last year gave more money to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering than ever before, reaching $136.2 million. But that is still only about $8.50 per Southern Baptist per year given for the sake of completing the Great Commission. We can do better than that. Our denomination was founded for the sake of evangelism and missions. What if each member of a Southern Baptist church gave $100 this year? We’d see the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering rise to $1.6 billion!
Of course, money doesn’t lead people to Christ, but the lack of it can prevent people from having access to the Gospel. Because of a shortfall in the Lottie Moon offering two years ago, hundreds of potential missionaries were put on “hold” until funding increased enough to send them.
Southern Baptists, let’s stand with this remnant of our brothers and sisters around the world, first by sacrificially giving through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, then by praying for our missionaries and the people they serve, and by going as God calls us.
A lost world can’t wait for us to deliberate. We must act now.
James T. Draper Jr. is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.