Many Christians are surprised when they hear that there are communities where no one has preached nor heard about Jesus. In Nigeria, there are over 83 people groups that are designated as unreached with a population of over 64 million (Joshua Project survey). It is surprising to note that even among the unreached, short thick bottles of Coca-Cola are found in their midst. This observation calls for sober reflection and it is a challenge to global Christians.
Jan Conway in an article titled, "Coca-Cola, statistics and facts," said: "Everyone has heard of Coca-Cola, and you would be hard pressed to find somebody who was unable to recognize the iconic white lettering against the bright red background of this global brand". Conway was convinced beyond every reasonable doubt that all have heard of Coca-Cola. The million dollar question to all Christians is: can any of us boldly assert that everyone has heard of Jesus?
It is obvious that no Christian can make such a claim because we know that it is not true. In Nigeria alone statistics has shown that over 64,306,000 have not heard about Jesus. In one particular community, we informed the residents that Jesus was coming to rule over their community and that they should allow us to set ablaze their gods because they were man-made. They held a meeting and returned to us and told us that they would had liked Jesus to come to their community but they were afraid that He might not be able to survive the harsh environment.
According to them, "From your explanation about this Jesus, He is a wealthy king. We do not have good house to accommodate Him. Our bed is not good enough for Him to sleep on. No good food for Him to eat and no clean water for Him to drink. Please tell him that we appreciate all the food and clothe which He sent to us through you but we are afraid that He will not be able to survive the hardship of our community."
It is important to note that before these people came up with this response, we had already done some explanations about the divinity of Christ. Yet they did not understand because they were hearing about Him for the first time. Even the name "Jesus" was mentioned for the first time in this community. The people innocently made the response out of ignorance.
We visited another community with relief materials and told them that Jesus sent us with the goods. Some groups of women gathered and requested that they would like meet with Jesus to express their profound gratitude to Him for all that He has sent to them. According to them, "Please whenever you are visiting again endeavor to come with Jesus. We want to thank Him for all these gifts that He has sent for us. Tell him that we would like to see Him."
If Coca-Cola has advertised their products and everyone has heard about them, why are Christians finding it difficult to advertise our only product – Jesus? Is it that we do not have the money to carry out the research and advertisement? Or is it that we do not have the personnel requirements? Are we not innovative enough?
Coca-Cola uses the social platforms sponsorship strategy, television and radio commercials, print media, billboard ads, etc. as advertising strategies to spread their brand farther. Coca-Cola maintains human connections, stays truthful to their principles and remains innovative in order to ensure that all hears about their products. Jesus needs to be advertised through every available medium. Church program advertisement should be about Jesus and not about the men of God who are ministering in the program. I have not seen where Coca-Cola advertises their chief executive officer; their advertisement is product-focused.
How thick bottles of Coca-Cola found their ways to unreached communities is what I cannot really explain. I wondered if the company had in any way targeted the unreached who do not have access to any advertisement medium. I presume that their marketing officers must have accessed unreached and hard-to-reach places on feet with their products. Most of the villages where we saw Coca-Cola bottles do not even have roads. Jesus marketing officers (missionaries) should be massively recruited, trained and sent to market their product among the unreached no matter how difficult the terrains.
Investment on research on how to develop missiological strategies to reach the unreached should be supported by every Christian. A comprehensive Biblical study of the history of the Christian mission should be embarked on by every mission-minded believer. There should be scientific investigation of the psycho-spiritual, socio-cultural and geo-political background of every unreached tribe, nation and community and an in-depth research on strategies used before now by missionary heroes of faith. Missionary researchers and field missionaries must learn how to hear the voice of the Holy Ghost for ideas on how best to reach the unreached.
Churches must embark on grooming every member to realize that missionary work is a collective responsibility. If you are not called to go, you must hold lifelines to those who are going by intercession and giving. Every church must set up a mission team that must be stronger, more committed, more innovative and more pragmatic than the Coca-Cola team. It will be glorious if there comes a day when the leaders of our churches and mission agencies will lift their voices confidently to declare that everyone on this planet Earth has heard about Jesus.