The 10/40 Window: New mission opportunities
by Pat Gustin
Windows have always intrigued me. Curtain-fringed windows. Bay windows overflowing with flowering plants. Windows with shutters closing tightly against a storm. Windows barred to keep out danger. Windows stained to convey beauty or a message.
Windows. Sometimes they are open, welcoming us. At other times they are closed shutting us out.
But consider another windowa special one, behind which live millions of people, scattered in thousands of homes in scores of countries. These people are like us, with homes and families, joys and sorrows. People like us who need the Lord. But when they look out their windows, they cant see the Lord; they dont know the joy of salvation. And we must ask ourselves: What can we do to help?
Towards the beginning of the last decade, mission strategists and planners from Christian churches around the world began to take a serious look at the task facing them. After nearly 2,000 years of going into all the world, what has the church accomplished? What is left to do? Where should the church focus its efforts in order to fulfill Christs command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every. . . nation, tribe, language and people (Mark 16:15; Revelation 14:6 NIV)?
How are Christians doing?
As mission leaders looked carefully at the issues involved in reaching the globe for the Master, several facts of both joy and concern have become apparent. First, the good news:
Now, the facts of concern:
What is the 10/40 Window?
The 10/40 Window is a section of earth running from northern Africa through the Middle East and central and eastern Asia, between the tenth and fortieth parallels north of the equator (see map on page 16). The area has several significant features that Christians must consider:
Adventists and the 10/40 Window
The Adventist Church has always recognized the need to go into all the world. Since the mid-1980s, however, there has been an increasing emphasis on finding the still-unreached areas and peoples of the world, and diligently targeting them for mission work.
Several organizations have been in the forefront of this move. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), with its emphasis on relief and development projects, consistently goes into parts of the world where other mission efforts would not be welcomed. Loma Linda University and its specialized medical and surgical teams have been able to take their gifts of healing to some previously untouched areas. Adventist Frontier Mission has focused its efforts on the frontiers of the world by doing its work in previously unentered areas.
In addition, since 1990 the office of Global Mission at the General Conference has spearheaded efforts to reach not just the countries of the world, but also the unentered population groups within each country. Many of them are in the 10/40 Window. In 1998, as a part of this global mission, nearly 20,000 Global Pioneers moved into unentered areas in their own countries to do pioneer evangelistic work on a voluntary basis, focusing on an unreached group for one or two years.
What can we do?
As committed Christians of the 21st century, what can we do to meet the challenges and needs the 10/40 Window presents to us? Obviously, we dont want to turn our back on the hurting, the poor, and those without the joy of salvation. Here are some things we can do.
1. Take the issue seriously. Reaching the unreached is a serious, urgent business. Jesus said so. In the parable of the good shepherd, with 99 of his sheep safely in the fold, the shepherd risked the dangers of the night to seek the one that was lost. He risked his all for just one percent. Can we do less, when more than 50 percent of Christs sheep do not even know Him?
2. Pray for this area. Join millions of Christians around the world in intercessory prayer for people in the 10/40 Window. They need to experience the joy of salvation that we know. Place them before Gods throne each day. The early Christian Church consisted of people who prayed daily and fervently for power and wisdom. And throughout history, mission advance has always been coupled with dedicated prayer. Hudson Taylor, the famed missionary, once said, If you would enter the province of Honan (in South China), you must go forward on your knees. Can we do less?
3. Get involved. Our involvement on a personal level is essential to reach these people with the good news. Our talents and resources must be placed on the altar of God. We need to increase our efforts to meet the physical, material, and spiritual needs of people living in this area. Humanitarian, educational, and relief work do make a real difference.
4. Look for creative ways of sharing the joy of salvation. One of the best New Testament approaches is to go as tentmakers. The Apostle Paul entered unentered communities as a businessman with a trade. He earned his living making tents but devoted much of his energy to bringing the good news to people who had never heard it. Pauls modern-day counterparts are finding joy and success by pursuing their professions in countries all across the 10/40 Window. Computer specialists, engineers, health-care personnel, business persons, entrepreneurs, educators, and other professionals are following in the footsteps of Paul, working for the advancement of Gods kingdom not as regular church-sponsored missionaries, but as modern-day tentmakers.
Christian students can pursue their education (especially advanced degrees) in universities located in the 10/40 Window. Here they can put themselves in close contact with future thought-leaders while they gain a credible education.3
But before going into the 10-40 ministry, they must be well-informed on one or more of the worlds major religions and the culture that accompanies it. Those entering countries in that area of the world obviously need to become extremely sensitive to the customs, culture, religious beliefs, and convictions of the people in this area. Only as this happens can they present the good news that Christians hold dear in a way that is meaningful to the hearersanswering their questions about life, meeting their heart needs in ways that are significant and culturally relevant to them.
No matter what method or approach we use, we must become one with the people as Jesus didliving among them, learning their language, sharing as much of their life and culture as we can. Only then will we have the right and the opportunities to begin sharing our convictions and beliefs.
Practice the art of genuine Christian friendship. Not friendship with a hidden hook to be dangled in front of non-Christians, and then withdrawn if they dont respond in some pre-determined way. Not friendship with a hidden agenda. But genuine friendship that takes people and their lives seriously. We must get involved in the day-to-day lives of people and come in close contact with them as friends. Remember: We can give our unconditional love and friendship to non-Christians wherever we find them and the Holy Spirit can then use it. We dont have to create or even worry about results.
One final point. Almost every country on earth has people from the 10/40 Window countries who are working or studying there. We can reach out to some of these internationals living among us, and by so doing, we can give them a clearer picture of what Christians and the God of Christianity are really like.
The 10/40 Window is a window of opportunityat times cracked open slightly, at times tightly closed. Committed Christians cannot close their eyes to what we see through the 10/40 Window. We see the needs. We feel the pain. It beckons us. And God calls us to reach out to those living behind the window.
Pat Gustin is director of the Seventh-day Adventist Institute of World Mission. Her address: Andrews University; Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104; U.S.A. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes and references:
1. Population of the area, by religion: Muslims22 percent, 706 million; Hindus23 percent, 717 million; Buddhists5 percent, 153 million.
2. Quality of life is defined by life expectancy, infant mortality, and literacy.
3. For more information on tentmaking and studying in countries located within the 10/40 Window, contact Global Partnerships at the Institute of World Mission. E-mail: email@example.com Web site: www.andrews.edu/IWM/partners
Dialogue homepage: www.adventist.org/education/dialogue/