While some goals seem so daunting many would never consider attempting them, one group of kingdom-minded givers is relying on God to fulfill his promise to return when all the world has heard the gospel. Through combining their resources, the goal is within sight.
The little boy pictured is Getenet. He is a member of a tiny, isolated people group called the Gorose, who live high on a mountain in Ethiopia. The Gorose are animists who worship and fear the spirits.
As far as anyone knows, there has never been even one Gorose follower of Jesus. What’s worse, there is no record of anyone ever having gone to the Gorose to tell them about Jesus.
Until this year.
A team of missionaries trained by New Covenant Missions and led by Ethiopian believer Amasaganalu climbed the mountain to the Gorose villages. There, they met Getenet’s parents, who told them he had been paralyzed for most of his life, unable to walk or speak. They had taken him to the hospital and to the shamans, but no one had been able to help him.
Desperate, they asked the missionaries to pray for their boy. As they prayed for him in Jesus’ name, God miraculously healed him, enabling him to speak and walk. The parents immediately began to praise God and quickly gave their lives to Jesus. They became the first Gorose believers in history.
As word of the healing spread, hundreds of Gorose received the gospel. What’s more, many of them, entirely on their own, brought their charms and fetishes to be burned as a sign of their repentance and commitment to Christ.
The gospel has come to the Gorose.
The Bible calls people groups like the Gorose “nations.” Believers are commanded to proclaim the gospel to all nations, and God’s Word promises there will be believers from every nation. But today there are still a few hundred nations like the Gorose who have never heard the gospel. After 2,000 years, isn’t it time all heard?
My family’s story
For years, my wife, Gena, and I have supported multiple ministries and missionaries in the U.S. and around world. But a few years ago, through our friendship with Paul Eshleman of Finishing the Task (a global network of ministries committed to the vision of finishing the Great Commission in this generation), we began to give strategically to help fund the engagement of unengaged people groups – people groups with no known believers and no churches, where the good news of Jesus Christ has never been proclaimed.
Over several years, we were privileged to fund this work with people groups in India and Nepal. It’s been an honor to stand with some of the most faithful and courageous people in the world as they’ve taken the gospel to them. And we’ve had the thrill of seeing thousands come to faith in Jesus in these groups.
It’s been amazing.
The photo below was taken in early 2014. These young men Gena and I were supporting had just completed their training and were about to head out two by two to take the gospel to five unengaged people groups in India. Their faces reminded me of Luke 9:6: “And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” It was a scene right out the Gospels.
Fast forward two years, to early 2016, and I’m in India. This photo shows thousands of new believers. Many are the first known Christians from their people groups.
In just two years, the gospel had come with power to these people. Standing in front of this great crowd, I thought of Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands ….” It was a sweet foretaste of that day!
The Finishing Fund
These experiences led to the creation of the Finishing Fund, a strategic alliance of kingdom investors giving together to make disciples of every nation. The idea was to gather a group of givers who would commit at least $30,000 to the Fund, pool their donations, and make grants to ministries to fund the engagement of the world’s last few unengaged groups.
The Finishing Fund helps people invest in this incredible adventure without becoming experts about which countries they should give to or which ministries they should support. And it allows them to diversify their giving across a range of ministries and geographies.
For the ministries we support, the fund helps to accelerate their work, allowing them to send the first missionaries to unengaged people groups quickly, without having to spend months or years raising resources.
Finishing Fund givers speed the work of the completion of the Great Commission. In less than five years, we’ve invested $12.2 million in 74 projects in 65 countries, engaging 601 people groups with the gospel. New believers and churches are already reported in more than 400 of those groups.
Hastening Jesus’ coming
I am strongly motivated by Jesus’ promise recorded in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” When will the end come? Jesus said, only after his gospel has been proclaimed to every nation – every people group – on earth.
According to Finishing the Task, about 3,500 people groups around the world were unengaged in 2005. By 2007, when the Finishing Fund was launched, that number had fallen to 1,450. Today, there are only about 200 groups that remain unengaged. At the current pace of engagement, by God’s grace, we believe we may be able to begin in all the rest by the end of this year. We are amazingly close to the finish line Jesus set for us.
But it’s not too late for you to join us – there is still work to do. And even after all the people groups have been engaged, there will still be many places on the planet with no Christian witness, and many languages that require Bible translation. The partners of the Finishing Fund are committed to continue to work together to expand God’s kingdom until Jesus returns.
Would you join us?
Photos courtesy of Doug Cobb