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WEEK OF PRAYER: Jesus is unfamiliar gift for many in spiritually lost world

A big blue bear sits on a park bench in Belgium. The writing on the bench invites those passing by to sit and talk because “Warme William listens.” IMB Photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Dec. 3-10. Each year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions supplements Cooperative Program giving to support Southern Baptists international missionaries’ initiatives in sharing the Gospel. This year’s offering goal is $200 million. To find information and resources about the offering, go here.

Lostness around the world is growing every day. In fact, 59 percent of the world’s population remains unreached. This means there are less than 2 percent evangelical Christians within their people group or nearby. Unless something changes, they have little to no chance of hearing the Gospel in their lifetime.

IMB missionaries are a steadfast presence among the lost. Southern Baptists pray, give, go and send. Together we are committed to reaching the lost. In obedience, we will follow the Lord’s command to go into all the world.

Thai Buddhists visit the Wat Chedi Luang, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to sprinkle water on statues of the Buddha, helping to ring in Songkran, the Thai new year. They believe this will bring good fortunes to their lives. IMB Photo

Many of the unreached people groups live in hard-to-reach places, like remote areas around the world. But did you know that Europeans are now considered unreached? Europe has 800 million people, and only 1 percent are evangelical Christians. Though the continent has a historical presence of churches, many have turned away from faith of any kind. Europe’s top five unreached peoples – Russian, British, French, Italian and German – make up 55 percent of the European population.

Consider this picture of lostness from Belgium. A big blue bear sits on a park bench, arm extended to the side as if inviting people to come and talk. Writing on the bench does just that, invites passersby to sit and talk because “Warme William listens.”

While people sit and talk to the inanimate bear, International Mission Board missionaries Don and Pam Lynch park a bicycle cart, start a generator and turn on an espresso machine.

The missionaries are also ready to listen. Through offering a cup of coffee, the Lynches and team members have a chance to connect with people, start conversations and open doors to the Gospel. When people share their struggles, the missionaries can actually hear, build relationships and most importantly, introduce a loving Savior.

The bear can’t do anything.

Hundreds of muslims in Ghana gather to pray together for Eid prayers. This annual gathering in a field on the east side of town marks the end of the Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. IMB Photo

A government initiative in one region of Belgium led to the creation of Warme William to address rising numbers of depression and suicide among teenagers and young adults. Sadly, without belief in a personal Lord, people resort to talking to the bear.

“When 99.5 percent don’t know the Lord, then they have no hope for the future and there’s no consequences for anything,” Don said. “If you have no hope for the future, you don’t have anything to look forward to. Life is either a great adventure or a slow death.”

In addition to a regular coffee cart ministry, the Lynches hosted volunteer teams this summer during Belgium’s Ghent Festival, one of Europe’s most popular cultural events. Volunteers engaged with visitors of the festival and offered a listening ear and a prayer to a God who listens.

Pray for new initiatives around the world to seek the lost and offer a message of eternal hope.

Pray with Don and Pam that God will provide more opportunities to have deep Gospel conversations with people and long-term friendships.

Pray that God would lead more workers to seek the lost around the world and respond with the Gospel solution.