Man’s List or God’s List
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Most Christians understand that when Jesus said this, the word nations is not referring to countries or nation-states. Instead Jesus is referring to different ethnicities (from the Greek word ethne). However, what Jesus did not do was give us a list of who these people are and where they are located.
Because Jesus did not provide a list, mission organizations have created their own. These lists attempt to classify every group in the world. When you focus on a specific country, it is not difficult to identify problems with its data. Some of it is incorrect or incomplete and at times very old. However, the biggest problem arising from these lists is that millions of unreached people are ignored. A missionary will drive by unreached villages to arrive at a village that is on their list of unreached peoples. In the process they bypass thousands of other lost peoples to reach that one group.
In Thailand there are many different peoples and the goal of the national church is to reach every one of them, both those on a mission organization’s list, and those on God’s list, and those we don’t know about yet. The goal of the Thai church is to plant a church in every province, district, sub-district, and village in Thailand. By reaching every village the opportunity is much greater that every ethne will have heard the “gospel of the kingdom.”
Though the gospel has been in Thailand for 188 years, 75% percent of the sub-districts still have no church. Sixty Percent of the country’s population lives in these sub-districts. The accompanying map shows the situation clearly. The green indicates there is at least one church in that sub-district and red means there is no church. The three northernmost provinces have only 5% of the population in Thailand yet 51% of the Christians. For decades missionaries have bypassed millions of lost people to reach those on their list. This needs to change if every ethne in Thailand is to be reached.
If they don’t have a church how are they going to know who God is? Who will teach them?