FEEDBACK: Reaching a world of 7 billion souls
The Christian Chronicle asked church members, ministers and ministry leaders around the world about the population milestone and its implications for Churches of Christ. The survey included questions about natural resources, the increasing diversity of ages on the planet and whether or not the rapidly growing population should create a sense of urgency in Christians to spread the Gospel.
Following is a sampling of responses.
Bill Brant, president, Herald of Truth Ministries:
“While there are 7 billion people in our world, the most striking statistic is that it is estimated that two-thirds — 4.4 to 4.6 billion — still don’t know who my Jesus is.
“Our ancestors are 13 guys who turned the world upside down, which means we still have a lot of telling to do. We must take the words of Jesus to his world, everyday.”
David Kolleh , minister in Gbarnga, Liberia:
“More than one million identified species of animals and plants inhabit the earth. Of these, only man can in part control and modify his environment. Because of this ability, he now dominates the earth to an extent probably never before approached by any species. This reproductive potential has been and still is controlled by disease, limitation of the food supply and interspecies competition in the struggle for existence. With the world’s population at 7 billion, there is no doubt that the challenges before the human race are enormous.
“As more people inhabit the earth, the issues of jobs, employment and sustainability become crucial. Urbanization also becomes a problem to tackle. As people continue to rush to urban areas for better life, rural areas are abandoned, leaving aging populations that cannot carry out any development. Overcrowding, street prostitution and crime often increase.
“This therefore calls for action to increase the campaign to reach the souls and design strategies that will cope with the population explosion so that many people are not left abandoned. Every plan should be put into place to tackle the problem of the unsaved.”
Denise Dickinson, member of the Grace Chapel Church of Christ in Cumming, Ga.:
“I do not believe that, as Christians, we should feel any more urgency with 7 billion (or the projected 8 billion) than with the 6 billion of past decades. The parable of the lost sheep had the shepherd leaving the 99 for the one lost. We should never feel comfortable turning as a flock and leaving one behind. That doesn’t mean they will choose to come with us, but we should try. That is all God asks of us.”
George Hall, director, Biblical Institute of Central America:
“We must reach the world with the Gospel! Jesus’ apostles were to take the Gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:16).They did it! They preached the gospel to the whole creation (Colossians 1:23). We can do it with very little money, but we can only do it with great resolve. We can only do it by biblical methods.”
John Reese, president, World Bible School:
“Jimmie Lovell (the founder of World Bible School) used to say, ‘Every person has more right to hear the Gospel once than any person has to hear it twice.’ His aim to give every person the opportunity for rescue remains valid. But, in the decades since Jimmie, our lack of focus on the mission has only increased the ratio of those who have never heard to those who have.
“At 7 billion, the task now seems harder than ever. On the other hand, God has given means of communication that are faster and better than ever. The challenge is not in the numbers. The challenge is in our hearts. Will we take the mission seriously this time? Will we focus on spreading the Gospel seed? Are we willing to sacrifice so that others can hear once what we have heard so often?”
Chris Burke, minister in Johannesburg and lecturer at Southern Africa Bible College:
“The urgency doesn’t really change with the rising population. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we have the faith to do it. The apostle Paul wasn’t deterred by any circumstance but he was motivated as long as the gospel was preached. I like his attitude, ‘What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes and I will rejoice’ (Phil 1:18).
“The church benefits when it has a good mix of generations. When it consists of just older people (like me) then it’s in danger of becoming an old age home. When it’s made up of just young people then it’s little more than a youth group. The church functions like a family and the interaction of generations is healthy. The young motivate the old and the old teach the young.
“I minister in a congregation in Johannesburg with many university students, and so I have seen the benefit of this. We have always had a lot of people in our home and so our children were raised with many generations around the table. They learned to relate to different ages and formed strong values and ideas from the interaction.”
Larry Musick, former president of Global Samaritan Resources and coordinator of earthquake relief trips to Japan:
“These numbers encourage me. I’m encouraged because I’m reminded that God’s intention for this world’s population to grow and expand is working according to his divine plan. I’m also reminded that his divine plan includes a way for everyone to hear the Good News. I know he uses me in his plan to share the Good News! Therefore, I have no worry for the future, but joyful anticipation about what will happen as we submit ourselves to his will in our lives.”
Julius Mwambu, evangelist in Mombasa, Kenya:
“It’s always good to ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to reach lost souls — and, if we are reaching them, are we giving the right diet?
“Christ said the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. This is what is happening today. … Most us are in offices and sometimes we reach none, or very few. We need to organize ourselves and form evangelical teams everywhere and try to reach the lost ones with the real message.
“I myself I have a dream. I’m praying to God that, within five years, I may begin a ‘Back to the Bible’ ministry in which I will be able to move from market to market, holding seminars and teaching the Word of God.
“That’s what I’m planning. With God all is possible. Pray for me to achieve this goal.”
Remy Kingsley, church member and representative of Metro Manila Ministries:
“It does not bother me about the rise in population since God is in control of everything. It is our duty as Christians to share the Gospel with the lost. People are dying and living everyday. We should be aware of those around us as we continue to be good examples in our deeds and tell them about Christ.”
Moses K. Banda, a native of Malawi and student at African Christian College in Swaziland:
“To us as Christians, it’s a challenge to push us into service, to help these people depend on God. We need to find good ways to reach them and empower them. They need skills to be strong and self-sustainable. I think we should look at them as a great harvest for God’s house.
“We also need to look at issues that draw us apart and dwell on things that draw us closer. Remember the theme of John 17, that they all (the 7 billion souls) may be one just as you and I are one.
“I strongly believe that mission work is still needed in areas like the United States, Sudan, Egypt and many of the 10-40 countries north of the equator. Unity and commitment will help us empower these 7 billion-plus people.”
Mark Hooper, facilitator for Asia, Missions Resource Network:
“Of the seven billion souls on the planet, almost 60 percent of them are in Asia. Churches of Christ send only 13 percent of their missionaries to Asia. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
“Thankfully, more Asians are stepping up and saying, “Here am I, send me.” Chinese, Singaporean, Filipino and Indian church members are being sent out as missionaries to other peoples. Pray. Send. Go.”
Moses Akpanudo, founder of Obong University, a Christian university in Nigeria:
“The increase in world population to seven billion this year is a great challenge to Christians to reach everyone with the Gospel.”
Dick Ady, president, World English Institute:
“It means that there are more and more people who need to hear the Gospel of Christ. It also concerns me that we are not reaching enough of them. It also concerns me that so many Christians think locally rather than globally.
“I am discouraged that we aren’t doing more as the people of God to teach them the good news about Christ. I am encouraged that we have such a tremendous opportunity to lead people to Christ.
“I can see why the younger generation (between 18 and 30) focuses on service and responding to human need. At the same time, we must not neglect the Great Commission, which focuses on response to the spiritual needs of people by sharing the good news about Christ with them. The holistic ministry of Jesus included healing and feeding bodies AND spiritual teaching. What shall it profit a man if he gains good health, plenty of food and water and long life if he loses his soul?”
William Singleton, missionary in Cambodia:
“It is and has been the mission of the church (every true Christian on earth) since before Pentecost to take the Gospel to all the earth’s population. The Gospel went to the ends of the world in Paul’s life time (Rom. 10:18). They did not have modern means of travel or communication, but the first century Christians, through zeal and dedication, accomplished what they had been ordered by God to do. If you love God you keep his commandments.
“We have the same command today, but much more effective and convenient means of travel and communication. If we love God we will keep his commandments also.
“Pauley Sim, an older man I baptized into Christ in 2001, began sharing Jesus almost immediately. Within a year he had over 30 in his home that wanted to be baptized. Since that time he has baptized over 1,800 into Christ. If one person were to teach and convert one person a year and teach them well enough that they would convert one person a year with that pattern continually repeating its self with each convert, that one chain of events would reach the entire world’s population in 33 years.”
Bob Towell, director of Internet program for World English Institute:
“People are being born faster than Christians are teaching them. However, there is good news: The Internet makes it possible for Christians to teach them. Just as Rome’s roads made it possible to spread the Good News of Jesus to the whole Roman Empire in just 30 or 40 years, so the Internet makes it possible to teach every one of the 7 billion people who will study with us even if they reside on the other side of the world.
“Christians need to ask themselves, ‘What am I going to present God on Judgment Day? Will it be places I visited? Will it be ‘holes-in-one’ I scored? Or will it be the hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of people I taught that God will forgive them if they quit sinning, acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, show their sincerity by being immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit and live righteously the rest of their lives trusting in Jesus to save them?”
FeedbackAll is possible only if we adhere to the word of our Lord Matt. 28:18-20 He told us to go spreed the good news, but most of us we don’t care or follow the instructions. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.If Jesus was a physical manager He should have fired many millions of his workers.Julius MwambuKisauni Church of ChristMombasa, Mombasa
KenyaMay, 15 2013