A missionary struck up a conversation with a businessman seated next to him on a plane flying over Southeast Asia.
The plane was heading toward an area where the missionary hoped to make new contacts with a people group yet to be reached with the Gospel. He asked in a general way if the businessman knew anything about the group and how to develop relationships with them.
"No problem," the man replied. "I could introduce you to them. We've already been in their villages. We know how to get to their children. I can give you prices."
Horrified, the missionary realized his seatmate's business was sex trafficking. The businessman assumed the curious American questioning him was either a customer or wholesaler involved in the same trade.
After all, who else would care about the remote villagers they were discussing?
That missionary is the son-in-law of Tom Elliff, newly elected International Mission Board president. Elliff tells of the encounter to make a point about the mission terms "unreached" and "unengaged" -- often used to describe the thousands of people groups with little or no Gospel witness.
"We're actually deluding ourselves to say that they are unengaged or unreached," Elliff says. "What we should say is that they are unengaged by us and unreached by the Gospel, because other people already have engaged them."
Those others include not only criminals but legitimate corporations, humanitarian groups, governments -- anyone who is serious enough about connecting with a group of people to "pay the price to get there," Elliff explains. Their motivation may be to help or to exploit, but seldom to share the love of Jesus Christ.
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