The 10/40 window has been a very popular and driving missions term in the last couple of decades. Many efforts have gone into recruiting missionaries to go into these unreached areas to evangelize many who have never heard the gospel. Praise the Lord for all that has been done and all that God is doing.
I sometimes have felt guilt for not going to this part of the world. I have read many articles, heard many messages and have many friends advocating the need in the 10/40 window. It is a great need! Some churches now will only support new missionaries going to this area of the world. In the book Missions in the Third Millenium author Stan Guthrie quotes people as saying “those in other countries have had their chance” and “no one deserves to hear the gospel twice until everyone has heard it once.” I know that most 10/40 advocates are not this stern, but it sometimes gets implied. While I agree that everyone needs to hear the gospel, I tend to disagree on the philosophy this teaches in our goal of making disciples.
How many times did you hear the gospel before you were saved? I heard that the average is seven times. Did you immediately become a mature fully devoted follower of Christ? If we are to reach the unreached, will it only be Americans that can reach them?
The International Baptist Mission board has put great focus on the idea of unreached people groups. They have started to pull their missionaries from “reached” areas in order to send them to the unreached. While I agree that the unreached need to be reached, I disagree with this decision. Americans are descending the list of countries that send out missionaries. Why can we not train the nationals in these “reached” countries so they may be more effective in sending their missionaries? This is also a need.
I work in Brazil and there are plenty of churches needing pastors. There are not many choices when it comes to receiving a Pastor. In Brazil there is a need to train Pastors and missionaries. Brazil is growing economically and in Christianity and could be a great sending country; but if we pull our trainers from the country, it will fail. 10/40 window countries are more receptive to Brazilians because of their skin color and political neutrality. Americans often need to use “creative access” to get into these countries, when Brazilians just go in. I know Brazil is not the only country where this is the case. Can we not have a focus for the 10/40 window by focusing on training in other countries?
Another issue with the 10/40 window focus is that there are other areas in the world that are just as needy. Europe has dove into unreached status in many areas; Brazil has places that are under 2% evangelical as well and I know that there are other countries in the same boat.
Stan Guthrie also says: “the concept of the Window is at odds with another key missiological principle - reaching the spiritually receptive. Is it ethical to take missionaries away from regions where large numbers are entering the kingdom, such as the Philippines, in order to send them to resistant areas where the harvest is almost nonexistent? The answer should be sending more to both. Missions is not a limited pie. We need more people, more money, more resources, more thinking, and more prayer, both in the Window and around the world, until the Great Commission has been fulfilled.”
Let's reach the unreached! But lets not forget to train mature disciples in other countries that will extend their influence in even the unreached areas.