It makes a difference what we see when we are confronted by people.
Matthew relates how Jesus had been “going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (9:35 NASV).
And then Matthew makes this significant observation:
“Seeing the multitudes, (Jesus) felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (9:36-38).
There are more Christians today than ever before in history. There are more people who have never heard of Christ in culturally perceptible terms than ever before in history. There are more people in the world than ever before in history.
World population stands at an estimated 4.5 billion people. To grasp something of the immensity of that number, Ronald Blue, writing in Bibliotheca Sacra, suggests that we think of 1 billion in terms of time:
“One billion days ago the earth may not yet have been created. One billion hours ago Genesis had not yet been written. One billion minutes ago Christ was still on earth.”
Of those 4.5 billion people inhabiting earth today, Walbert Buhlmann, in The Coming of the Third Church, estimates that one-third call themselves Christian, one-third are unresponsive to the Gospel and the remaining one-third have never heard the name of Christ.
There are millions of people who could hear if the church around the world would reach out in it geographic, linguistic, cultural community. But over one-half the worlds population will hear of Christ only as the church crosses linguistic and cultural boundaries to present Him.