I feel the need to apologize for an answer I gave for a common question. The question was “what about those in on deserted islands who haven’t heard the Gospel?”
Originally, I’d given an answer in sync with how the Apostle Paul answered the same question (yes, this question has been asked for almost 2000 years), that due to all the missionaries’ testimonies, the killings of missionaries, and also today, the fact that you can find practically anything about anybody on the internet, it’s extremely difficult to not know about Jesus Christ. I also mentioned that if the asker of this question really cared about those people who haven’t heard, then they’d drop everything and travel to them so they could tell them about Jesus, so there wouldn’t be any questions about “what if…”. I still stand behind much of this, but due to visits from missionaries to a church we used to attend, I need to take a step back and take note that for the past 2000 years, though many have answered the call to go, just the fact that there are still some places in the world that actually do not have any knowledge of Jesus Christ, shows that many also chose to stay at home and instead complain about God’s fairness in their eyes.
So we come back to the question, “what about those in parts of the world who don’t know about or who have never heard about Jesus before they died?”
In addition to Paul’s response, we need to remember that God is a living God, who is very active in the world. And since we’re talking about the God who created everything that exists, the God of the Jews and Christians, we can look at the book of Genesis in the Bible and read about how God revealed Himself to Abraham in a land where He was not known. We don’t know the details about Abe’s life other than where he was from, and that when God revealed Himself to Abe, he listened, believed, and responded in obedience, no missionary needed. God revealed Himself to him, giving him the opportunity to respond in faith.
Some denominations today believe in something called Prevenient Grace, which is believed, in the words of a United Methodist Pastor, to “come before any human decision. It’s the love of God wooing us, the will of God drawing us, the desire of God pursuing us, the gift of God freeing us, and the activity of God empowering us,” and it’s supported by Psalm 139:13-16, John 6:44, Romans 5:5-6, and 1 John 4:10. In other words, the Holy Spirit woos people to Him before ever hearing the Gospel. Then, when they finally hear it, they’ll recognize their sin and be ready to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior. A visiting missionary once told us of how she’d recently traveled to a part of Nepal that’s difficult to get to by vehicle, with the hopes of sharing the Gospel. She said that even in the bad weather, hundreds of people from surrounding villages hoofed it to this site. After sharing, a really old woman from one of the tribes said that God had revealed Himself to her 40 years ago, and that she’d been praying for all those years that He would send somebody to tell her and the rest of her tribe about Him. Finally now, 40 years later, this missionary came, shared, and all received Jesus Christ.
So as also with Abraham, God revealed Himself to somebody who was willing to listen. She then prayed for somebody who knew God to tell them all about Him, and finally one day, somebody did arrive.
One question might be why so many people in this world don’t know about Jesus, even when God reveals Himself to some. Another weekend service later, a missionary from Tanzania, Africa told her story. She said that in Tanzania, the 2 religions there are Voodoo and Islam. She said that when she’s asked people if they know who Jesus is, they think she’s talking about some guy from a local village. In other words, there’s no knowledge of Jesus Christ there, whatsoever. A perfect example of what Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, when he said that the reason people are perishing is because Satan has cast a veil over their eyes so they can’t see.
But we’re bold in our ministry and witness because we believe. If you read the Bible and TRULY know Jesus, then you can’t help but tell others about Him. For example, when I started reading the Bible and getting to know Jesus personally, I couldn’t help but start up conversations about Jesus and the Bible with the homeless people on my walks to work each day. I seriously couldn’t help it. In each of our conversations, Jesus always came up because I was always so excited about what I was learning from my personal Bible studies and times with Jesus. It was all so awesome that I couldn’t help from telling them about Him. In the same way, if somebody asks you about your joy, faith, or beliefs, then you should be prompted by the Holy Spirit to share with them what you know and who (Jesus) you know. Or if you notice that somebody is in need of Jesus Christ, then His Word should burn inside of you until you share Him with them (this should tell you something about many today who claim to be Christians, yet keep Jesus to themselves).
A modern-day example:
On 9/11/2001, when the planes hit the towers, firefighters, Paramedics, and rescue crews of all sorts who heard of it immediately got into their vehicles and drove to NYC to help. And not only those from New York, but also from Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, and other states. Their departments didn’t call them there. The NYC emergency departments didn’t call them there. They saw a massive need, didn’t think about details, and just went. Many of them died there, many survived, and many saved those in need of rescue. But they all saw the urgent need, and went.
My point is that if you know Jesus, and know that there are people somewhere who don’t know Him, then what’s keeping you from jumping on a boat or plane, traveling over there, and sharing Jesus with them? Or if you can’t go, then what’s keeping you from praying that God sends somebody who will? Just the fact that you’re asking about them should be enough to fill you with passion, excitement, and the realization of the urgency to share Jesus with them. If not, then my only assumption is that you really don’t know Jesus, don’t want to know Jesus, and/or are just making empty excuses to justify your judgments against God. Because if you really cared, you’d do anything and everything to make sure that no one died without first having the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ.