The Lord Jesus Christ used a particular strategy when he fed five thousand people who had followed him on foot from the surrounding towns. It was near evening, and the disciples came to him, asking Jesus to send the crowd away for the night. Jesus had a different plan, however. He had the people sit in orderly rows on the grass. After Jesus took the food and gave thanks, the disciples started at one end of the front row and went right along the front row giving everyone a helping.
A preacher and writer, J. Oswald Smith, asks an unusual question at this point: “Did the disciples turn right around and start back along that front row again, asking everyone to take a second helping?
“No! Had they done that, those in the back rows would have been rising up and protesting most vigorously. They would have been saying, ‘Come back here. Give us a helping. Why should those people in the front rows have a second helping before we have had a first?’
“And they would have been right. We talk about the second coming of Christ. Many haven’t heard about the first coming yet. Why should anyone hear the gospel twice before everyone has heard it once? Not one individual in that entire company of five thousand got a second helping until everyone had had a first helping.”
Many Christians fear going to countries where no missionaries have stepped foot. It is far easier to remain in familiar territory. Yet Jesus commanded believers to go into “all the world” and find new locations where Christ’s name has never been proclaimed. Smith’s realistic interpretation of the feeding of the five thousand challenges our methodology when it comes to evangelism. Why are most of the people resources and financial budgets designed and directed toward people who have already heard the gospel? In fact, many of those nations are in danger of being overchurched, while other people groups lack a single Bible translated into their own language. Can your support help balance the scales? Can your life make a difference in tomorrow’s evangelistic efforts?