BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — David Platt said he doesn’t know why he was born in the shadow of dozens of churches when people on the other side of the world are born, live and die without ever hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I can’t answer the question why,” the Alabama pastor told a crowd of 400 believers of more than 50 nationalities in an undisclosed location in the Middle East.
“But I do know this: I’ve been reached for a reason” — to complete Matthew 4:19, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Platt’s Aug. 14 message focused on “Follow Me,” his latest follow-up book to the bestselling “Radical.”
“It’s not just ‘follow Me’ and put a period on it like we are the end game,” said Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. “It’s redemption for a reason.”
It’s to “fish” for the “millions upon millions” who are “on a road that leads to an eternal hell.”
Platt asked the question, “How many who call themselves Christians have actually counted the cost of following Jesus?” Disciples of Jesus have always had to leave behind comfort, safety and security, he said.
“This is so different from the way we usually view the will of God,” Platt said, noting that most people look for “open doors” as a sign of confirmation.
Platt asked what if closed doors and a high cost is what followers of Christ should actually trust as confirmation, having been sent out as “sheep among wolves.”
“Do we really want to become a follower of Jesus? There is deep cost here,” Platt said. “You become a follower of Christ, and you lose your life as you know it. For everyone who follows Jesus, comfort and security are no longer our primary concerns. Our possessions are no longer our own.”
This isn’t some “radical brand” of Christianity; it’s “basic” faith of a Christ follower, Platt said.
As Christ showed His love by leaving everything to pursue mankind, we should pursue unreached people in hard places who live and die without hope, Platt said.
Sujay*, a former Muslim, said God used the persistent pursuit of an American who moved to his country to “open my eyes.”
“An American man came to my university and started studying the Bible with me,” said Sujay, one of five believers from hard-to-reach areas who spoke via video during the simulcast. “Initially I was very suspicious. Who is this white guy? Why is he so interested in me all of a sudden?”
It took six months, but Sujay believed the Gospel and trusted in Christ.
Javeed* had a similar story of how God brought a believer to intersect his life.
He was discontented with his own religion, taught from childhood to believe “God was someone sitting very high in heaven and you can’t reach for Him…. He will not answer me.”
Javeed found an old copy of the Gospel of Matthew and began to read but was struggling to understand. “One of my friends came to me and said, ‘Hey, you want to know more? I have a friend [who is a Christian].'”
The friend took Javeed to meet the Christian at church, where Javeed heard the Gospel in a way he could understand for the first time.
“It was blowing my mind,” Javeed said. “I left behind all of the worries in my mind and heart to have a relationship with God.”
Now Javeed and Sujay are leading others to be disciples — and to disciple others.
They realize that their own salvation is not “the end game,” Platt said.
“If it was, then surely God would take us out of this world of sin and suffering,” he said. “We’re on earth for a purpose.”
Platt said he is “zealous” for Christians not to “miss the entire point of our lives.”
“If we’re not careful … we’re going to stand before God and say, ‘I didn’t do the one commission You gave me to do,'” he said.
The simulcast, which LifeWay Christian Resources intended to air to thousands worldwide on Aug. 14, was postponed due to technical difficulties, said Philip Nation, director of adult ministry publishing at LifeWay.
The second attempt on Aug. 21, however, gathered “even more people” when it was simulcast, Nation said.
Platt wrote on his blog at radical.net that when he heard the simulcast had been postponed, he was “disheartened” but trusted God’s sovereignty.
“I began to pray that God would be glorified in all the individuals, families, small groups and churches that were gathered together that night for a simulcast but who unexpectedly found themselves with needing to find ‘Plan B,'” Platt wrote.
At least one person was saved during those “Plan B” meetings, and others spent the evening on their faces before God praying on behalf of unreached people groups. That’s what the group that Platt was with did as well. They got on their knees in an area where believers know the cost of following Christ and prayed for disciples to be made, he said.
“They prayed that all of us, along with all of them, would lock arms together as disciples of Jesus, making disciples of Jesus wherever God calls us, however God leads us, no matter what it costs us,” Platt wrote.
*Name changed for security reasons. Grace Thornton is assistant editor of The Alabama Baptist. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).