We can become so laser focused on that directly in front of us, our eternity-minded, peripheral vision grows weak. When my husband and I first entered full time ministry, our hearts and heads filled with tasks and needs of the ministries for which we held responsibility. We spent our days pondering profound questions like, “What can I teach about God that will spark a fire in our high schoolers,” and “How in the world can we recruit enough teachers for the number of kiddos in Sunday School?” I could list 50 more issues we grappled with daily, concerning what, where, how, and with whom we did ministry.
Missionaries entered our field of vision a couple times a year, during our yearly, all-church Missions Festival and on those rare times when a furloughed one came to speak at our youth group. Beyond remaining faithful with my monthly missionary offerings, these rock stars of faith never made it to my back burners, let alone the front.
It’s astonishing that I made such small space in my thoughts and prayers for the millions of people around the globe, entering a God-less eternity every day. At the time, I designated that job to missionaries and evangelists. What narrow perimeters of my resource use and prayer life back then.
The first time I heard the phrase, “10/40 Window” from a missionary, I became captured by the sheer number of unreached people groups on the planet. Maybe some of you already know there are billions, but at that time, I didn’t. What is the 10/40 window? To quote the Joshua Project,
“The 10/40 Window is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. The 10/40 Window is often called “The Resistant Belt” and includes the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists.”
Okay, I hear your questions. “This is all very interesting, but what does it have to do with the book of Joel?” Joel chapter three is a direct and dire warning from God to two groups of people. The first set of people in God’s mind are the nations who opposed, conquered and abused ancient Israel, you know all those somebody-ites you read in the Old Testament.
The second group refers to the nations who will still be opposing God’s people, when Christ returns. Most of them live within the 10/40 window. Without Christ, these unfortunates will be the “multitudes” Joel says will gather in the valley of Jehoshaphat. The Day of the Lord will contain terrors and events that will melt the minds of even the most courageous unbeliever. Their judgement for a lifetime of rebellion will be an eternity doomed to the horrors of Hell.
Joel’s specifics about what ancient peoples did to Israel in chapter three, remind us that as King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” These folks dealt in human trafficking, slavery and carried off all the wealth of Jerusalem’s temple, worth billions in today’s dollars. Their modern counterparts through the centuries, committed the same crimes against the Jews, most recently the Nazi regime’s murder of millions and confiscation of their property during WWII.
Today, billions of people in the 10/40 window are raised in cultures of hatred for God and his people, Jews and Christians alike. This will place them on the wrong side of history come judgement day. The question is, do we care?
Do we care enough to?
-include them in our prayers?
-deliberately focus mission dollars on missionaries reaching these countries?
-thoughtfully engage in relationships with unbelieving immigrants from the 10/40 regions?
-find creative ways to send emotional and spiritual support to 10/40 missionaries?
Including the 10/40 populations in our prayers is easy, it’s a matter of doing it. I’ve provided some resources below. Mission dollars can be sent through your church or you can prayerfully consider becoming a monthly supporter of one of the hundreds of ministries functioning in these hard-ground nations.
Engaging with transplanted Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus in your homeland will be a matter of strengthening your peripheral vision to see if God is placing someone near you. A friend of mine delivers neighborhood welcome baskets for a community organization and recently encountered a Muslim family. Rather than simply smiling and leaving the gift basket with the lady of the home, she asked key questions about how they are adjusting and such. This led to a coffee date and conversation.
What if my friend is part of this woman’s path to Christ? What if that woman comes to Christ and then shares him with her family back in her homeland? See where this could go?
We can also commit more of our creative energy and resource to support the heroes on the front lines in the 10/40 window. Our church supports several missionaries in this category who are serving in countries so hostile and dangerous to Christians, we don’t even know the exact country of their ministry. We know they are working in-country jobs that allow them to build relationships and establish house churches. Their loneliness and stress are overwhelming at times. Cards, texts, e-mails and such can make the difference between a rough day and a better one for them.
The Day of the Lord approaches fast and millions will be called into God’s valley of judgement. This will be their horrifying first day of a god-less eternity. Without God. Forever. Do we care?
Lamp and Sword
****Resources for study and reflection****
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.” Hebrew 4:12
Might be helpful for you to read these passages of God’s judgement on ancient peoples who opposed Israel along with the Apostle John’s prophecies about judgement yet to come. Allow God to light your fires of compassion towards present-day enemies of the gospel.
1 Samuel 5:6
2 Kings 15:5
2 Chronicles 20:20
Revelation 6,8, 9, 16,
Also consider watching any of the movies in the “Left Behind” series based on the books by Christian author, Jerry Jenkins. They are often available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and such. Some of the acting, special effects, etc. is a little bit low-budget, but the overall effect of imagining a world under judgement, with all Christians raptured away, is quite compelling. I believe it’s important for believers to gain understanding as to what horrors await the lost. If you want to look them up by title, start with the phrase, “Left Behind,” and all the movies in the series will come up on an internet search.