There is a small area of the world that extends from ten degrees to forty degrees north of the equator and stretches from North Africa to China. Two-thirds of the world’s population (nearly four billion people) live inside this rectangular-shaped band. Here you will find the largest population of non-Christians and ninety percent of the world’s poorest people. This area is known as the 10/40 Window.
Unfortunately, many Christians are not eager to go to this part of the world. Only three percent of missionaries are serving among unreached peoples; the other ninety-seven percent remain in areas where the gospel is readily accessible. God is not unmindful of the situation, however, and is raising up a new globally-minded generation. There are currently over one million students who are qualified to join the mission to the 10/40 Window.
The Beginnings of a Movement to the 10/40 Window
In 2000, Chuck Phillips was asked to help Passion Ministries put on an event in the United States called One-Day, where fifty thousand Christian college students gathered on a field to pray for their colleges, their nation and the world. Bent down, faces to the ground, these students pled for God to move across their land. As Phillips looked across the field, he realized that he was standing in the middle of the solution—an entire generation of fervent Christ-followers who could potentially complete the missional movement into the culturally-diverse, but spiritually-deceived, countries of the 10/40 Window.
Phillips immediately shared with his pastor what God was stirring in his heart. With the support of his church, he began traveling across the US to talk with Christian students. At each university, he prompted a student group to create a list of obstacles that prevented this missional movement from happening. The lists were almost identical across the nation: a lack of confidence, a lack of knowledge, a lack of support, cultural expectations and outdated methods of mobilization.
Students today desire to make a lasting difference. They want to change the world.
The missional life remains as mystical and abstract as heaven itself. More than any other time in history, students today desire to make a lasting difference. They want more than just a job that will pay the bills or provide an influential role; they want to change the world. This leads Christ-followers to missions, which usually leads them searching for short-term mission opportunities.
Short-term mission trips are a normalcy among this generation. Many people love short-term mission trips because they provide the experience without the commitment. In 2005, over two million short-term mission trips were taken by people in the US; half of the participants were under age 25. Initially, short-term trips were invented for the purpose of developing longer-term missionaries. Those who began the movement hoped that by providing a taste of missions, people would be led into full-time missionary service. Instead, the number of full-time missionaries has remained the same for the past twenty-five years.
Statistically, this generation could complete the Great Commission. However, according to Phillips, “We are very busy being concerned about the Great Commission, but we are not at all busy completing the Great Commission.”
The biggest problem is perception. Most people believe that mission work is only for the most holy of Christians. Since many believe they do not fit in this category, the majority of believers do not truly believe they can make a difference on the mission field, and certainly not among the unreached nations. The reality is that missionaries are normal people whom God is using for his glory because they are willing to believe that he can.
The American culture also clings to a distorted perception of the 10/40 Window, which includes Northern Africa, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Most people presume that Americans are hated in these parts of the world. The truth is that these countries are among the most hospitable. Americans are much more likely to be well-received than they would be in places such as France, Scotland, Hungary and other European vacation destinations. Indeed there are wars being waged in the Middle East, but should we allow secular news media to form our Christian worldview? Since our view of the unreached nations is a murky blend of violence, hatred and war, many students are hesitant to even consider going. Moreover, their parents may be quick to discourage, and in some cases, forbid them to go.
Missionaries are normal people whom God is using for his glory because they are willing to believe that he can.
Today’s students are also embedded in a world of corporate ladders and technological advancement; they are pressured by the expectations of American culture and surrounded by voices that say, “Get married. Get a real job. Grab all you can.” In many cases, young people are choosing the path of least resistance, surrendering to corporate America and rejecting the missional life simply because they do not know enough about it.
Phillips took all these factors into account when he founded Café 1040. The organization’s goal is not to make missionaries; it is to bring clarity of decision and to offer the facts of a missional vocation within the 10/40 Window so that young believers can make informed decisions about the path of their lives.
Café 1040 participants spend three months overseas. They are taken to an undisclosed location inside the 10/40 Window for intensive training. The training is a taste of the real experience; they ride camels, wash clothes in a bucket, read and respond to the culture around them, survive in the Sahara Desert, learn languages and live and thrive in community. Trainers and mentors take their hands and lead as they teach. These experiences give students the confidence to believe they can live in these parts of the world, and can make an eternal difference in the lives of unreached peoples. Students in the Café 1040 program acquire skills that are priceless.
For the past six years the organization has had great success in preparing Christians to reach the unreached nations. Café 1040 actually has more students than they are able to train. One of the greatest challenges to their growth is stateside staff. In an effort to meet growing demand, other opportunities for training bases are arising in other parts of the 10/40 Window. Phillips has located bases in the Middle East and Southeast Asia in which to grow the program.
The four billion people who reside in unreached nations cannot be ignored. The two million students who are waiting to be trained and sent out cannot be disregarded. We all, as believers, have been given a great task. Let us seek ways in which to pursue and participate in the completion of the greatest advancement we could ever know.