One question that many of you might be asking about this trip is: why? Why Bangladesh and India? Why train leaders? Why?
Well, the first answer to that question is simple: God’s heart. God desires to see people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation worship Him both now and in eternity. We see this in His promise to Abram that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” in him (Gen 12:3). We see this in the great commission when Jesus tells His disciples and His church, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). And we see this in John’s vision of heaven when hears this song about Jesus, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from very tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). God’s heart has been and is for the nations.
The second answer to that question is the incredible need. Bangladesh and India are right near the center of what missiologists have called the “10/40 window“, a rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude which has the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists and is home to some of largest unreached people groups in the world.
Bangladesh has a population of nearly 160 million and is home to 145 million professing Muslims. That total of 145 million people puts Bangladesh at number four in terms of countries with the most Muslims (following Indonesia, Pakistan, and India). It is also home to 315 distinct people groups who are unreached. The number of professing Christians in Bangladesh? 0.4% of the population.
India has a population of 1.3 billion and is home to over 1 billion Hindus and 172 million Muslims. It is home to 2,245 distinct people groups who are unreached. The number of professing Christians in India? 2.1% of the population.
And to top it all off, the overwhelming majority of pastors in these nations are untrained and ill-equipped for their task. The possibility of them going to their nearby Bible school or seminary is virtually non-existent because of availability, lack of resources, and the steady flow of persecution in these countries.
What does all of that mean? The need is staggeringly great.
The third answer to that is strategy. If God desires that His gospel go forth to all nations so that He might gather for Himself worshippers from every tribe and tongue and people and if the needs in these countries is seemingly insurmountable…what is the most effective strategy? Well, there is no single answer to that question, but one of the answers is multiplication.
When my dad’s Company and other organizations like the one Eric Belz serves with (Reach Global), train pastors and church leaders, it is always with the idea of multiplication front and center. The hope and the charge for these leaders is that they take the training they receive and not only invest that training in their own local churches through the faithful preaching of God’s Word, but that they take the training they receive to other pastors and church leaders in their region. It is principal that is rooted in 2 Timothy 2:2 “And what you [Timothy] have heard from me [Paul] in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
Paul ⇒ Timothy ⇒ Faithful Men ⇒ Others Also
In terms of numbers, here’s the idea. 20 pastors from different regions of Bangladesh attend a training. Those 20 pastors take that training back to their own families and congregations. But, additionally, let’s say 15 of those 20 pastors take it to other pastors and leaders in their respective regions. If those 15 pastors each commit to training an average of 3 other pastors or leaders in their region, that training is now impacting an additional 45 pastors/families/churches. But what if of those 45 newly trained pastors and leaders, 30 of them commit to taking that training to still others and they train an average of 2 other pastors or leaders? Then we have an additional 60 pastors/families/churches that have been impacted. What started as 20 has multiplied to 125. And that’s not just 125 individuals, but 125 influencers of households, churches, and communities!
And the hope is that this influence continues to multiply and ripple throughout the country and beyond.