"Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." -- Keith Wright, Nazarene pastor and district superintendent
When was the last time you heard impassioned intercessory prayer for lost people? Probably far too long ago. That lost people do matter to God is clear from the pages of the Bible. For instance, the story of Jonah is about how a foreign city of lost people mattered to God and about how much God wanted those lost Ninevites to matter to Jonah as well.
Jesus used the occasion of a journey through foreign territory (Samaria) to say to His followers, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). Clearly, reaching lost people is not a multiple choice thing where we can say, “I choose Option A. I’ll care about these lost people in my neighborhood. Let someone else choose Option B and care about the lost people elsewhere in the world who have no access to the gospel.”
Missionary strategists tell us there are huge groups of unreached people in cities and countries around the world. Shouldn’t our hearts be burdened for them? Those people matter to God. They should matter to us.
The “lost people matter to God” phrase has been used by Bill Hybels, pastor of the Chicago-area Willow Creek church. The phrase also appears in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination’s statement of core values.
Do our hearts yearn that people everywhere hear the Gospel? Do our prayers reflect that yearning? Does our giving reflect that yearning? Do the actions we urge fellow believers to take reflect that yearning?
-- Howard Culbertson was professor of missions and world evangelism at Southern Nazarene University, in Bethany, Oklahoma, U.S for 25 years. Culbertson, who formerly served as a missionary in Italy and Haiti, has published numerous articles, books, and chapters in books on missions.