The Alliance of Evangelistic Ministries, backed by prominent Christian leaders including Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, has designated May 15 as the International Day for the Unreached, with the aim to reach out to more than 2 billion people around the globe who have yet to hear the Gospel.
"With more than 2 billion people who haven't had a chance to meet Jesus, it's time for the Body of Christ to take a radical stand and say, 'This has to end in our generation.' Join me in committing to pray, give, go, and advocate for those who need to know Christ by participating in the International Day for the Unreached," Warren said in a statament.
The announcement was made at the annual National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville on Thursday, and is sponsored by the Alliance for the Unreached, a group that includes Reach Beyond, Bibles For The World, Operation Mobilization, The Seed Company and Missio Nexus.
"In America, it's easy to get comfortable and complacent. But we want to remind people that there are literally billions of people around the globe in desperate need of the good news of Jesus, but have never heard His name or story. We're called to bring it to them," said Wayne Pederson, president of Reach Beyond.
Warren and other popular evangelical leaders, such as Christian speaker Francis Chan, have spoken out on a number of occasions on the need to reach out to the last remaining 3,000 groups of people who have not had the opportunity to come to know the Bible.
A conference at Saddleback Church in December highlighted the mission, as further explained on the Finishing the Task website. The outreach effort reminds Christians that Jesus "gave us the task of making disciples of all nations, and we know that eventually there will be people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation around his throne."
Some reports, such as analysis carried out by the Barna Group, have suggested that evangelism rates have fallen in North America. Marv Newell, senior vice president of Missio Nexus, said that it is important that western Christians do not forget that many around the world have not encountered the Gospel yet.
"As many believers in North America have lost concern about their neighbors who don't know Christ, it's becoming even harder to be concerned about people around the world who they will never meet," Newell said.
George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization, added: "The birth of OM in the late 1950s stemmed from the lack of the Gospel in places like Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and other unreached nations. Today, we have yet to meet our goal to spread the Gospel to all nations and peoples, but I pray the next generation will do better. This event is a mega step in the right direction."
The DayForTheUnreached.org website provides more information for the scheduled event, including resources such as bulletin inserts, sermon outlines, promotional posters, web banners, videos and radio spots.
The website notes that the chosen date on May 15 falls on the Christian celebration of the Pentecost, which originally marked the beginning of the Gospel being spread out to all the corners of the Earth.
"Imagine a revived movement of believers reaching the hardest corners of the earth for Christ until all have heard the only message that can give lasting hope," it states.