The Geography of Neglect

I just received in the mail the latest episode of Dispatches from the Front by Frontline Missions. Andy Naselli notes that this episode is excellent, just like the previous ones. I’m watching it right now and find it to be excellent as well.

My only recommendation to Frontline Missions is to get these in to Netflix as well so that people can easily watch them on their iPads and TVs without having to deal with discs. I bet this could double the exposure, or more.

Before putting this DVD in, I spent some more time on Frontline Missions’ website, and here’s what stands out to me most of all: even more significant than the Dispatches from the Front series is the organization of Front Line Missions itself.

The reason is that they are calling the church to put greater focus on advancing the gospel in the hardest to reach — yet most populous — areas of the world. And, more than that, they give us a way to get involved even if we aren’t frontier missionaries ourselves.

Here’s the gist of what they do:

We believe in the centrality and finality of Christ’s work on the cross — of His radical rescue work for all of us. Knowing its life-giving power, we desire that all people hear this Good News. Many have heard it often, but many more have never heard it even once.

We focus on those with the least opportunity to hear, going to them with urgency, joy, and confidence because we have been sent by our King.

Frontline’s key objective is to advance the Gospel, forming vibrant, Word-centered, disciple-making churches, especially in those regions of the world that have the least Light.

So Frontline Missions focuses on advancing the gospel in the least reached and most difficult places of the world.

Which brings us to the 10/40 Window, the “geography of neglect”:

10/40 is missions shorthand for the most populous and least-reached region of the world. The 10/40 Window is 10° north latitude to 40° north latitude. It contains two-thirds of the world’s people along with the superlatives of despair — worst poverty, shortest lifespan, greatest persecution, least access to the Gospel.

The 10/40 Window is the geography of neglect because, although it contains two-thirds of the world’s population and the least access to the gospel, 90% of American missionaries go to countries outside the 10/40 window, and “less than a nickel of every missions dollar is spent targeting this region of neglect.”

That’s why I am so excited about the work of Frontline Missions: the are focusing on this “geography of neglect.” As a church, we need to give far more focus to the task of reaching those who reside in the hardest to reach places. Frontline Missions calls attention to this urgent priority, and is taking action to address it:

Frontline Missions is serving in many of these countries by providing training, Gospel literature, and support for new church planting efforts. In addition, Frontline funds creative platforms such as education, business, and medical efforts to gain greater access to difficult countries in this region.

We need to make the 10/40 Window a higher priority as a church. Let’s not allow it to remain the “geography of neglect.”

But how do we do that? I first learned about the 10/40 Window when I took the Perspectives course almost 14 years ago. And it doesn’t sound like the needle has moved much since then.

We need to recognize that good intentions are not enough, because they too easily get overcome by the challenges of everyday life. Instead, you make something a high priority not simply by deciding to make it a priority, but also by beginning right away to take actions in light of that priority.

The best way I know to do this for the 10/40 window — besides praying regularly through a book like Operation World — is to get involved right now in the work of solid, biblical  organizations that are seeking to advance the gospel in those regions. Frontline Missions is one such organization, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take at least a small step toward inclining your focus more toward the advancement of the gospel in the most difficult places by learning more about Frontline Missions or taking action through prayer or giving or advocacy.

And, for a taste of how the gospel is advancing in the hardest to reach places (which is often one of the most motivating things you can do), it would be worth checking out Dispatches from the Front.

  • Dan

    Thank you for another excellent post!

    It’s not always noticed, but much of Spain fits in that 10/40 window as well, and appropriately so. It has 345 towns of over 5,000 residents without any evangelical church, and several regions with 0.1-0.4% evangelical Christians. (We visited a town of 7,000 with only 3 believers–a Romanian family that had moved in a year earlier.)

    Sadly, Spain never experienced the Reformation (it responded with the Inquisition, it remained Roman Catholic, and Franco illegalized Protestant churches for much of the 20th century). Yet, as a European nation, it’s often thought to be already “Christianized.” My wife and I look forward to proclaiming the gospel of God’s unconditional grace in Christ to Spaniards!