I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.
Can you imagine this scene? What it would feel like to stand in this vast crowd? The indescribable joy of worshiping Jesus with brothers and sisters from every nation and tribe and people and language!
I first experienced a bit of this vision 34 years ago while attending a Cru missions conference for 18,000 college students. During one of the main sessions, Elisabeth Elliott challenged my heart when she said, “There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.”
I received my initial call to missions that night as I thought about Jesus’s command to make disciples of all nations. This is a cause truly worth living for!
After living 22 years in Budapest, Hungary and helping to lead CRM’s Ethne Collective for the past four years, I’m more passionate than ever to pursue this vision of seeing all nations worshipping Jesus.
While we’ve seen significant progress over the past century, we’ve still got a long way to go.
IMB and Joshua Project, two well-established mission agencies, estimate there are at least 11,500 people groups in the world depending on how you define the term.
Joshua Project believes the number of unreached groups is almost 7,000 with a total population of 3.2 billion, or 42% of the world’s population.
They define “unreached” as a group having less than 2% of true believers and less than 5% who would even say they’re Christians. Most of these unreached groups live in restricted access countries.
Sadly, IMB estimates there are almost 3,200 groups that are not only unreached, but also unengaged. This means no church or mission agency is even working among them. Each of these red dots represents one of these unengaged groups. This accounts for 233 million people!
These are the missing “nations and tribes and peoples and languages” from the vision in Revelations 7!
The good news is that God is on the move!
I made my first trip to Lebanon in 2007 just as we were beginning to experiment with Disciple Making Movement tools. I remember riding in the car one afternoon with the man who leads our work there. He told me, “I often feel like we’re speeding down the highway and I look over to the side of the road. I see God flying by us moving so much faster than we are. He is at work in so many ways beyond what we can even imagine.”
That image of God speeding by on the side of the road has always stuck in my mind and is a great picture of what we’ve seen God doing the past 10–20 years around the world. My friend isn’t kidding when he says, “we’re just trying to keep up with what God is doing.”
We’ve seen over 5,300 Discovery Bible Study groups started in 12 countries—more than 100,000 people with 75% of them being Muslims. And these numbers increase weekly!
This is one example of what many are seeing across the Middle East. David Garrison chronicles this in his book, A Wind in the House of Islam.
Since the foundation of Islam up until 1980 there were only two known movements when significant numbers of Muslims chose to follow Christ. But just in the last 17 years, 69 new ones have occurred!
In fact, more Muslims have begun following Christ in the past 20 years than the previous 15 centuries of Islam. Many are having dreams and visions of Jesus…and then meeting a believer.
The Middle East is only one example of how God is on the move around the world. And what we’re experiencing there connects to what he’s been doing beyond CRM over the past 50+ years.
Since 1949, the number of Jesus followers in China has grown from only 1 million to over 100 million! And the Chinese Church is sending missionaries along the ancient Silk Road trade routes through Central Asia to India and the Middle East.
Remarkable growth has also been seen in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation. Now 15% of Indonesians follow Jesus, making up half of the world’s Muslim Background Believers!
These are examples of gospel movements. We believe gospel movements like these—supported by effective movement strategies, tools and processes—give us the best hope of responding to the challenge before us: the 42% of the world that remains unreached.
We believe, without apology, that if the vision of Revelation 7:9—every nation and tribe and people and language—is to become reality, gospel movement, energized by the Holy Spirit, is the best hope for success.
Picture that Revelation 7:9 scene for a minute—a great multitude that no one can count worshipping Jesus. Imagine yourself there in the midst of the throng.
Wouldn’t it be utterly fantastic to have person after person in that too great to count throng come up and say “Thanks. You played a part. I may not be here worshipping Jesus had it not been for you!”
The fact is that we’re all going to be in that crowd. And the decisions we make now will determine who else will be there with us. That vision and that desire is why we do what we do.
May God give us all the wisdom and obedience to play our part...so even more will be there on that day, worshipping before the throne of God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bobby Booze joined the CRM-Hungary team in 1996, training and mentoring church planters, pastors, and church leaders. In 2014, Bobby and his wife Debbie moved back to Greensboro, NC. As the operations director for Ethne, Bobby uses his experience and passion for the nations to help lead and support the work of 120+ CRM staff impacting 50+ nations.