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Reader feeback: Can churches reach 7 billion souls?

Costa Ricans worship during a joint service of several congregations celebrating the Pan American Lectureship. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

New on The Christian Chronicle’s website is a report on the earth’s population crossing the 7 billion mark.
The historic total was reached while I was in Costa Rica at the 48th Pan American Lectureship, an annual meeting of Church of Christ members from the U.S., Latin America and around the globe. (My roommate was Bob Prater, a longtime missionary in Africa and Germany.)
The online version of the story includes web-exclusive comments from Howard Norton, former missionary to Brazil and president of the Baxter Institute in Honduras.

The number is simultaneously inspiring and discouraging, said Howard Norton, president of the Baxter Institute, a ministry training school in Honduras.
“This number shows the need to use mass media and technology” to reach lost souls, Norton said. However, “this number should not diminish the fact that evangelizing 7 billion still depends mainly on one individual reaching out to another person.”

Also online is a web-exclusive sampling of opinions about the 7 billion mark from church members around the globe. I was particularly impressed by the responses from David Kolleh, a minister in Gbarnga, Liberia. I met Kolleh in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, in 2005, just before the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state (and recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize). Kolleh shared with me his story of survival during Liberia’s long, hellish civil war. (Read my feature about him.)
Here are his comments on the 7 billion mark:

“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.”

Read the full story, and please feel free to leave comments with your own thoughts about crossing the 7 billion mark.
Finally, you’ll find a feature on Churches of Christ in Costa Rica, including a photo gallery from the congregations I visited and the Pan American Lectureship.
(You will NOT, however, find video of me screaming at the top of my lungs on the “Tarzan swing” during my visit to the Arenal Ecoglide Canopy Tour. Sorry to disappoint!)

Teresa Wilguess, my friend and fellow member of the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond, Okla., makes it look easy as she participates in the Arenal Ecoglide Canopy Tour during the Pan American Lectureship in Costa Rica. (All the photos of me show a bit more concern on my face.) (Photo provided)

  • Feedback
    7 billion is a number that we can count. Bible say that will be likes the starts that you cannot count it’s. I agree with my brother Norton one person reach by another, however we should put some urgency in message because we don’t know the time or the day. Please everyone pray for labors is plenty harvest.
    Francisco A. Davila
    December, 15 2011
    We can win the world when we learn to love each other. Then and only then will the world reconize us…
    December, 15 2011
    YES!!!!When we start to be CHRISTIANS,TRUE DISCIPLES and not “church O Christers” who think that Christianity is a Sunday morning and Wednesday night visit to a building, where the most important discussion is about food! Secondly,If we think that it is somebody elses’ work with the money we supply; Thirdly when we do not emphasize that Matthew 28:18-20 is a command, which Jesus gave to the Apostles to make Disciples baptizing them in the name of the Godhead, or rather the Godheads authority, and that The Apostles were to teach the disciples everything that Jesus instructed them to observe and according to the Greek rendering, it was to be a continuous action. “Keep on going making disciples” and the command is designed for all generations until the end. What do you think? Why were the Christians called disciples, I could write a book to show the evidential scriptures…But I wont be too critical of those lazy pew sitters who dont realize the responsibility belongs to every Christian.
    John Jansen
    December, 15 2011
    We can win the world through the Bible. The Word of God is such a wonderful tool. Use it for the right job. We can reach person to person, so it will not be such a stretch to win the world.
    Also, we have to supply the required, necessary resources for the preachers to work fully, then we can see the good results. Please pray. I am praying to go full time in preaching, and for God to lead me all the way for spreading his salvation.
    Shekhar Suryawanshi
    December, 16 2011
    We can reach all that God would have to be saved as long as each Saint believes in the power to save, the gospel . Honor to all the Saints who believe in the power of the gospel and are willing to teach it forward (2 Pet. 3:9).
    robert brooks
    December, 16 2011
    We are not powerful. However, the word of God which created the universe is infinitely powerful. It is living and active. The words of Jesus are spirit and life, the flesh profits nothing. Men are saved not by human effort, but according to the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Spirit. Only God can purify our conscience through the death and resurrection of Christ. The power of salvation is in the Gospel of Christ. Simply put, only by going into all the world, not under human power, but through the power of God in faith can we hope to reach seven billion people. Not through human wisdom, but by the power of Christ and him crucified. To intellectuals, it may seem overly simplistic. But in the grand scheme of things, this is the way it has always been. We go, God works through us in spite of us, or perhaps even through our bumbling efforts. When we trust God more than ourselves, we allow God to do mighty things through us.
    December, 17 2011

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