Mission to the Unreached: Part 1
To explore—whether that be places, philosophies, world views, or things—is to be human.
Any fan of “Star Trek: The Original Series” can mentally hear William Shatner’s voice reciting this opening monologue, “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before!” (Script writers for “The Next Generation” series corrected the gender bias: “To boldly go where no one has gone before!”) The expectation is that humanity will never outgrow our desire to investigate unexplored lands.
That desire led the Vikings to establish settlements in North America around 500 years before Columbus “discovered” America. Of course, the First Nations settled in the Americas long before any Europeans arrived—probably emigrating across an ice bridge from Siberia and other East Asian regions.
The pull to explore uncharted lands goes back (as far as we can document) to Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, surveying and settling the post-flood world. God later sent Abram from Chaldea to Canaan to establish a mission to reach not only the Canaanites, but also travelers passing through between Egypt and Asia Minor.
Jesus instructed the disciples to spread the gospel message first in Jerusalem, then to move out into Judea, Samaria, and out to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Paul took that commission seriously, preaching the gospel in some of the most staunchly pagan nations of his time.
Paul developed missionary strategies that we still employ today. When he entered Athens—the hub of Greek mythology—he began by looking for some common ground to connect with the citizens (Acts 17:16-34).
After speaking to local Jews and God-fearing Greeks, they invited him to visit with the thought leaders at the Areopagus. He began by calling their attention to their own altar to an Unknown God. That connection gave him an opening to present the message of the true and living God. He didn’t convince everyone, but some accepted the message. Unlike many other cities where Paul preached, this group was willing to consider Paul’s message and didn’t chase him out of town with sticks and stones.
Though Paul’s confrontational nature often got him into trouble, we can see him learning as he tried new missionary tactics. He shows us that we can be culturally sensitive without compromising our message when entering new, unreached, territories.
Connecting: When you were a child, how far did your parents allow you to wander unsupervised from your home? Where was your favorite place to explore?
Sharing: Paul potentially offended the Athenians by telling them he was going to correct their misunderstanding about the Unknown God in Acts 17:23. Is it ever a good idea to tell people that you know more than they do?
- Only if you can do it tactfully
- When God tells us to speak, the Holy Spirit will give us the right words at the right time
- It’s best if we can get them to ask questions—then we have a natural opening to share the message
- It’s best if we can lead them to discover the message for themselves, without appearing to be the ones imparting our knowledge to them
- Who cares about tact? Just tell them what they need to hear; how they respond to the message is up to them and is not our concern
Applying: Is there some community near you that doesn’t have an Adventist presence? Have you ever considered being a part of a church plant? Could your study group act as a core leadership team of a new congregation in this area? If you are interested, speak to your pastor or Conference leadership about the steps to establish a new congregation, including any potential training opportunities for church planters.
Valuing: Can you easily and naturally strike up a conversation with a stranger? Have you thought about how you can steer a discussion toward spirituality? If you are courageous, pray for God to open up divine appointments for you to connect with new acquaintances. And if you’re not yet ready, pray for God to endow you with that courage.
~ Chuck Burkeen
Before you go…
So many of you have written a note of thanks at one time or another this year for what we provide through this ministry. For your appreciation, we are grateful. It is our privilege to be your ministry support staff. You are the frontline provider of significant ministry in your local congregation or wherever you serve. If you ever wondered about our receptivity to a financial gift, please know that we would receive it gratefully. Many of our resources are now being shared with you at no cost, but it does cost us something to produce them. Your gift would help us tremendously. And if you gave, maybe you would see it as another way to identify with the Center, because it is your ministry.
If you are wondering how you can continue supporting this ministry and impact others’ with its resources, would you consider offering them a Christmas gift by submitting a one-time donation via PayPal @C4CreativeMinistry (ht
You could also mail a check to:
Center for Creative Ministry
Milton-Freewater, OR 97862
Your donations ensure that your ministry continues both in your hands and the hands of thousands of others.
We need your help and we need your prayers that God will continue to lead us as we deal with new realities.
Monte Sahlin | Chair of the Board
The Center for Creative Ministry is fully recognized by the North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; it is also a 501c3 nonprofit organization which makes donations tax deductible in the U.S.