By Frank Cornelius, Lead Church Planting Catalyst
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Rev 7:9-10 (NASB)
I find this glimpse into the heavenly realm to be particularly exciting. The picture of worshipping the one true God with people of all nations is a thrilling visual. But there is also a challenge in this verse: the nations cannot worship as described if they have not heard and responded to the Gospel.
Here are some interesting facts about our state. People from over 130 countries, speaking more than 175 languages have made Colorado their home. One in six people in Colorado speak a language other than English at home. A half-million people living in Colorado were born outside the United States. An estimated 1.3 million (23%) of Colorado’s residents belong to a people group. The nations are on our doorstep.
Our responsibility as Christ followers and Colorado Baptists is to engage these people groups with the Gospel. The good news is we have engaged 21 ethnic or language groups through church planting. The bad news is we have reached only a tiny fraction of Colorado’s people groups. In fact, we have reached less than 1%.
Jerico DeVeyra is the Multi-ethnic Church Planting Catalyst for the Denver metro area. Jerico’s responsibility is to discover people groups, find and develop church planters for those groups and encourage and support those planters as they are deployed. According to Jerico, the top four people groups in Colorado are Hispanic, Indian, Ethiopian and Russian. But, he says, “we have many other groups who also need the Gospel.”
In the near future, Jerico hopes to see church plants reaching people who speak Kachin, Farsi and Hindi. He would also like to see church plants that reach Thais and Cambodians, but those are the most difficult groups to reach.
People groups are not limited to Denver or the Front Range. In eastern Colorado many communities have significant Spanish-speaking populations. Ft Morgan, for example, has become a melting pot. In addition to a large Spanish-speaking population, there are 1,000 Somalis as well as Congolese, Sudanese, and Kanjobals from Guatemala. Western Colorado also has people from many nations. Peoples from South America, Central America, Mexico, western Africa, and several European countries work in the resort areas.
How can you and your church be involved in reaching the nations here in Colorado? First, be aware. Observe the people around you. Don’t be afraid to engage them in conversation and find out where they come from. Second, pray. Pray for the Spirit of God to break through prejudices, biases and systems of false belief and touch their hearts. Third, minister to needs. People groups have needs for which the church could provide ministries. Find those needs and show the love of Christ. Finally, be prepared to lovingly share the Gospel. In the era of political correctness, the church has come to fear offending people. The truth is the Gospel is offensive to all people and all cultures. People from various religious backgrounds are usually open to discuss spiritual matters. Be prepared to share the hope that is within you.
My hope, my prayer is on that day when we stand before the throne many from Colorado will be counted among the nations who are worshipping our God. That will only happen if we fulfill our responsibility to share the Gospel with them.