How do we reach the unreached? Who are the unreached? Why do we reach the unreached?
There are tragic stories all around us of those who are living without hope and without the spiritual well-being we all need. A woman diagnosed with a rapidly advancing Huntington’s disease takes her own life before the disease takes it and her husband soon follows her in death. A single mother of two young autistic boys, now a new mother again, self medicates her pain with drugs and alcohol and wakes up from a blackout to find her infant dead. A 64 year old man in a rural town bursts out in domestic violence, confronts the arriving police officer with gunfire and is shot dead. These are stories that have all just recently occurred not in 3rd world countries, not in inner cities but in what is statistically the happiest state in the country, reportedly the most peaceful state in America, Maine. Though our state is known for it’s peace and beauty there is an underlying darkness that is seldom known until we unfortunately see it on the news. Surely these people have jobs, neighbors, friends, communities, but are living unreached; far off from God.
So, what are we to do? Do we dismiss these tragedies as just an unfortunate, unpreventable part of life? How do we get to know these neighbors? Specifically what is the Church supposed to do who more than anyone is commanded to love their neighbor and be the good Samaritan. Our well-put-together weekly programs and modern Sunday morning worship music isn’t what I see being prescribed in scripture as the solution to draw near those who are far off.
First, we start not with what to do…but who we are that will motivate and equip us to reach our neighbors. The apostle Paul who tried to destroy the early growing number of Jesus followers -turned one of the most influential early fathers of Christianity- says, “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” -Ephesians 2:11-17. Does this not sound like some of these neighbors in need? “Separated, far off, having no hope.”
So, yes these neighbors are in need. Maybe that moment of need isn’t right now but maybe next month they’ll lose a loved one, maybe next year they’ll receive a life changing diagnosis. It is our responsibility to emulate Jesus to the world all around us and this is how these people who are unreached by a life-changing, hope-giving Gospel will see and hear his good news.
Our methodology for doing this, and part of our personal vision for ministry for the province of Quebec and the city of Montreal, is through what we call Missional communities- groups of people who are committed to the work of knowing their neighbors and coworkers in a deep and caring way to demonstrate the peace between man and God that Jesus has brought to us.
You won’t find the concept of Missional community anywhere in the Bible and I’m not saying Missional community is the next big idea that your church needs to be a part of. What I am saying is that this is a way we can all be involved and connected in what God’s word does call us to in our personal ministry of stewarding the mystery of Jesus, being an ambassador of God’s kingdom and being a witness to our neighbors of the continual work of Jesus in our lives. This work is extremely difficult but it is a life and death matter when our neighbors walk through deep darkness apart from spiritual hope. If we can make an effort to know just 5 neighbors or coworkers on a deeper level then this good news will multiply and lives will be turned from dark to light by the body of Christ, His Church.