When I traveled to Northeast India, to one of the last unreached people groups in the world, I was making a good salary and a nice home. But this last year, my wife and I sold nearly all of our stuff and followed Jesus into the unknown of leading the non-profit Jesus’ Economy full-time without a salary. We sold our stuff, including our house, to make it work. The reason: We can’t live in a world where there are people without a voice and where there are people who have not heard the name of Jesus. We cannot live in a world where there are solutions to poverty and bringing the gospel to the unreached, and not take action.
In Northeast India, I saw the Holy Spirit work—and I saw the liberty of Jesus completely transform lives. Those who had formerly never heard Jesus’ name were so grateful that they now knew Jesus. But there are still 101 Million there who have not heard Jesus’ name. How can I live in a world like this and not do something about it? I also had other reasons for making such a drastic life change.
How could I not serve a God who has given me my very voice? God helped me learn to speak—95% of what I said as a child could not be understood but I now speak perfectly. How could I not be willing to give up everything to follow this God?
Creating a more equitable and just world is part of my calling, as is bringing the gospel to those who have not heard Jesus’ name. It’s how I’m called to use my voice.
But I think we’re all called to this mission. It will look different for each of us, but what’s certain is that Jesus will drastically change your life. Here are three biblical lessons that I regularly come back to during this journey.
The Bible’s grand vision for the world is seen at the end of Revelation. It’s a world where there are no more tears, where there is no more pain, where God’s people stand equal and in loving relationship before God. The Bible’s trajectory is clear—evil will be destroyed and good will be restored. Justice and equity in their full form will exist when Jesus returns.
The followers of Jesus will sit down at a table and celebrate. They will celebrate justice and equality for all. They will celebrate what Jesus has done (see Revelation 19; 21).
In the meantime, we’re called to be ambassadors of this message—to be people who help make way for the kingdom of God here and now. Global equality can come to our world. Justice can come to our world. We can create equal opportunities for all. Each person can have a place at this table. And when we make these opportunities for the impoverished, we bring a piece of the kingdom of God here.
One of the things we often forgotten about the story of the Good Samaritan is that it involves one man responding to an opportunity to do good. A Samaritan sees a man who is beaten and poor on the side of the road—and he takes care of him. He steps in when all others have ignored the hurting man on the side of the road. The Samaritan sees an opportunity to do good and acts upon it (Luke 10:25–37).
Today, we likewise have an opportunity to do good. We often forget that there are opportunities right in front of us, each and everyday, to change the lives of the hurting. There are opportunities to help our neighbors who are far away and to engage in relationship with those who are near.
Doing good betters our entire world. Creating opportunities for the impoverished, outcast, and marginalized to be empowered is good for us all. What’s good for you can be good for me; what’s good for them can be good for us. Because we’re all connected in some way or another—in some sort of loose affiliation. We’re all human after all.
In the book of Romans, Paul the Apostle notes that he intends to travel to Spain (Romans 15:24). This is because he plans to bring the gospel to the far western point of the known world of the time. Meanwhile, Thomas the Apostle—according to Syrian church tradition—was bringing the gospel to India. That’s the far East of the known world of the time. There is a global trajectory here. This is a direct reflection of Jesus’ command to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
While on this path, the early church leaders recognized just how interconnected their efforts were. We see this when Paul raises funds for the impoverished in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). We also see it in the numerous mentions of other churches in Paul’s letters. And we see this interconnectedness in the story of the book of Acts, which involves multiple missions out from the Jerusalem church and the church at Antioch to bring the gospel to other cities and regions.
Our world is more interconnected today than ever before. And we can leverage these connections for the sake of the gospel. The work of the early church is far from complete. So my question becomes: What are we going to do about it? And what do you see when you look at the world?
When I look at our world, I can see how we can create a new, global and spiritual economy for those that need it most. I can see how the thirsty can have clean water. I can see how marginalized women can have gainful employment that lifts their entire families out of poverty. I can see businesses in the developing world creating opportunities for us here in the U.S. I can see the freedom and liberty of Jesus being accessible to all. I can see us rallying together around the common good of equality for everyone. I can see grace reaching every person.
How is Jesus asking you to drastically change your life?