How many people die each day without hearing the Gospel?

Jumbo Jets

If 88 Jumbo Jets fully loaded with passengers crashed every day for a whole year, the tragedy still would not equal those who die without ever having heard the Gospel.

A friend’s prayer letter first drew my attention to this proposition, which caused me to wonder: How many people are on a jumbo jet? How many people die each day? How many people in the world are unevangelized? So I decided to look into these matters.

First, I checked with the World Health Organization and learned that in 2011 about 55 million people died. Divide that by 365 to find that 150,685 people died each day.

Now, how many of those people have not heard the Gospel? One of my favorite “go to” sources for information is The International Bulletin of Missionary Research.  Each January issue contains an update on the state of Christianity based on the World Christian Database. The IBMR 2014 update indicates that 29.2% of the world is unevangelized and that the world’s population will surpass 7.2 billion people mid-2014. So just about 2.1 billion people in the world are unevangelized.

A simple calculation (150,685 people who die per day times 29.2%) shows that 44,000 people perish each day without hearing the Good News. An average Boeing 747 holds about 500 persons. So 44,000 persons per day divided by 500 persons per plane = 88 planes per day.

I suppose that the person who first thought of this analogy intended it to be a “wake up” call to the Church. And thus it is! With 2.1 billion people in the world who have not heard the Good News about Jesus, strategic action needs to be taken.

As I contemplate the Church’s response to this tragedy, two responses quickly come to mind.  First, messengers need to be sent to the unevangelized to tell them the Good News of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25 NIV). Second, an appropriate response would be to “ask the Lord of the harvest… to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2 NIV).

While these two responses are good, I felt it necessary to make some personal applications. What will I do about those people who have never heard about Jesus and eternal life that he offers?

First, I can send messengers to the unevangelized, which I have been doing and will continue to do. Recently I’ve written two other postings about how to do this well, which you may find interesting:

Partners in Mission: The Example of the Philippian Church and the Apostle Paul
Serving as Senders: Six types of support every missionary needs

Second, our family is willing to put some skin in the game. We’re ready to go to the Philippines to share the good news and to prepare Filipinos to do the same. But for us to go, we have to be sent – and there is still a significant amount of monthly support needed.

Third, I decided to set the alarm on my cell phone to ring at 10:02 PM each evening to remind me to pray for workers to be sent out to the unevangelized. “Lord, send forth more workers!”

Finally, I’ve written this to encourage others to ponder their involvement in taking the Good News about Jesus to those who’ve never heard.

So then what might your response be? What will you do?

Please share your thoughts about taking the Good News to those who have not heard.

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3 thoughts on “How many people die each day without hearing the Gospel?

  1. Unless, of course, you don’t believe in an entity which has existed before the Universe, knows everything, sees everything, cares about everything and yet still makes massive mistakes and behaves like a spoiled child.

    In which case, not wasting time listening to your fables is time saved.

    What sort of creator needs his creations to worship him? Sick, very sick.

  2. Greetings!
    For about a week I’ve been pondering the comment that you placed on my blog posting about 88 Jumbo Jets – but only now had the freedom to respond Your wrote:
    Unless, of course, you don’t believe in an entity which has existed before the Universe, knows everything, sees everything, cares about everything and yet still makes massive mistakes and behaves like a spoiled child.

    In which case, not wasting time listening to your fables is time saved.

    What sort of creator needs his creations to worship him? Sick, very sick.

    I commend you that you are looking for a creator-god that exhibits moral excellence. However, it seems – if I’m reading this correctly – that in your opinion, the God revealed in the Bible falls short.
    I would agree with you that if the creator needs his creations to worship him, this would raise questions about the moral excellence of the creator. From my point of view, however, I would consider the premise, the creator needs his creatures to worship him, to be incorrect; thus the conclusion drawn from the premise is also incorrect, for, from what I know, nowhere does the Bible state that the Creator-God needs our worship.
    Allow me to expand this a bit.
    The Bible, which I consider a reliable source of information about the nature of God, states that God does not need our worship – or anything else from us, for that matter. This passage would be the clearest example:
    The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things. Acts 17:24-25 NASB
    In addition there are a series of passages from the Old Testament, such as 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Psalm 50:7-12; Psalm 51:16; Jeremiah 6:20; Hosea 6:6; 8:11-13 Malachi 1:10-14 that, when read in context, also affirm the proposition that the creator-god does not need his creatures to worship him.

    On the other hand, I believe that when humans do understand God’s nature and his works, they freely choose to worship him, because he is worthy. This point comes out in the book of Revelation in two places:

    “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev. 4:11 NASB)

    And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Rev. 5:9 NASB)

    These two examples highlight that God is considered worthy of worship because he is the creator of all things and is also the redeemer of all humanity.

    If you are looking for moral excellence in the creator-god, have you taken a good look at Jesus?

    The Gospel according to John gives a well-rounded overview of Jesus’ life. John starts his Gospel with the assertion that Jesus is God (1:1), who is also the creator (1:3 cf v.10), who became flesh (1:14) so as to make God known to us (1:18 cf. vv. 4,9). The rest of the Gospel of John allows us to see Jesus deeds and hear his words, which are consistent with the claims made about him in the prologue.

    .These claims are not just the attestations of John and the other disciples of Jesus, but Jesus himself claims to be God. Here is one interesting example where Jesus says:

    “I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” (John 10:30-33 NASB)

    We see here that the people understood the claims that Jesus made about himself and sought to put him to death.

    Here is another instance when Jesus claims to be God:

    Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9 NASB)

    Finally, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead serves as that ultimate confirmation that Jesus’ divine claims are true, as the Apostle Paul writes, Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4 NASB).

    I also find this statement of Jesus interesting. “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? (John 8:46) It seems to me that Jesus considered himself to be without sin and to speak the truth. These claims would support the assertion I earlier made about Jesus’ “moral excellence”.

    There is much more that could be said about these matters. I’ve attempted to offer a few words for your due consideration. If you care to further discuss these matters, feel free to write.

    Blessings.

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