Their facial expression morphs slowly from shock, through pity, to a polite smile. “That will be… nice,” they reply as genuinely as they can. It is the same reaction I received when I told my friends and family I was moving to Detroit. Everything they know about these places comes from the media and crime reports. I understand. That is all I knew about these places, too, before I came.
Sometimes, as I listen to their worries of gun crime and violence, I wonder if I, too, should be worried. Am I crazy for doing this? For giving up all I know, all my friends and family, and many of my possessions, to stay in a city that has a terrible reputation? Perhaps I am crazy, but only from a worldly perspective — a perspective that does not know, nor understand, the desperate need of the people of this city to know about the Savior Jesus.
Yes, it would have been so much easier to live the American dream — get the little house in the countryside and be sure to tell my neighbors and those I run into at the grocery store about Jesus. Surely that is just as important? People in Midland, Michigan need to know Jesus too! Indeed, that is correct, but here is the difference. Here is the reason I gave it all up and stay for this new life in this new city. Here is why my heart screams to stay as my head screams to leave.
But surely those folk in the grocery store in my town who do not know Jesus are also unreached? Yes and no. Yes — they have not yet given their life to Christ and are currently destined to an eternity in hell. However, in those areas, there are many, many people who could tell them about Jesus. In fact, in the town I just left, there were more churches than grocery shops and coffee shops combined. The light of the truth is not lacking there. An unreached people group is defined as a group of people who do not have enough Christians in their area to evangelize the rest of the population. In these countries, the name of Jesus may not even be known, or the truth of the gospel may not even be available.
The need for Jesus
Here in New York City, especially in certain areas, many people come from unreached people groups. They have had virtually no access to the gospel. Without people coming into those neighborhoods specifically to tell them about the saving work of Jesus on the cross, they will never know. These people are walking into an eternal death without even being aware of who can save them. They need the chance to say yes to Jesus. They need the opportunity to choose life. That is why I am here. That is why I stay.
“For how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” – Romans 10:14.