Mark Twain once said there are only three categories of untruth: lies, damn lies and statistics. His point may have been that we often use statistics to obscure a truth we’d rather not face, or to create more distance between us and a reality that is getting uncomfortably close to home.
This may have been the thinking behind Joseph Stalin’s remark that, “If you kill one man it’s murder. If you kill a million, it’s merely a statistic.”
Seeing a truth as a statistic instead of a personal story can make it easy to avoid some pointed truths Jesus is trying to bring home to each one of us. If I tell you there are over 200 million lost people in the USA…or that two out of every three people you pass on the street are in danger of being with out God for all of eternity… or that only one in six Americans will be in church next Sunday – you might find that overwhelming to the point of inaction. “Let Billy Graham or the Southern Baptists reach them – they are good at evangelism and I am not!
Billy Graham has been the most successful evangelist in the history of the church. But even ten years ago when he was still active, he only reached about 150,000 Americans per year. If we toss in the efforts of all the other evangelists, perhaps they can reach 1 million Americans per year. Humm… at that rate it will take evangelists 200 years to reach the lost – if no one else is born or dies! The Southern Baptists, arguably the largest and most evangelistic Protestant denomination, only reached 385,000 annually (2008). That’s not going to work.
But let’s make it personal. If every believer in the US (that’s you & me) introduced two to three friends to Jesus, over the course of our entire lifetime… all the lost in this country could be reached in one generation (about 40 years).
I believe God has given each of us our own personal mission field; a handful of people He has put in our lives who do not yet know Jesus. Our job is to pray for them and to ask God to show us one, two, at the most three that we can befriend in Jesus’ name. As God leads we need to keep on praying and ask the Lord to help us develop a friendship with spiritual potential. It is highly possible that we will be the only chance that person ever has to find out about Jesus.
If you could have just one of your seeker friends or relatives spend eternity in heaven with you, who would you choose? Will you begin today to pray daily for the Lord to use your relationship to help introduce them to Jesus?