“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” These words, spoken by Neil Armstrong 50 years ago—July 20, 1969—as he first placed his foot onto the surface of the moon, convey the fulfillment of a dream that abides in every human heart. Every man, woman and child has at some point looked up into the sky with a longing to get off our sin-scarred planet and go to a place where dreams become reality.
The mission to take men to the moon and bring them back safely was initiated by a challenge laid out by President John F. Kennedy in a speech on a sultry day in September 1962:
We choose to go to the Moon! . . .We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.
At the time, these were radical words. But they propelled the entire scientific and engineering community of the nation to mobilize towards achieving this goal. The branches of the military cooperated together, and various corporate entities united behind the objective. Entirely new metals were forged; new uses for radar, microwaves and other technologies were discovered. New training methods and facilities were developed. Lives were sacrificed in the effort.
The single-pilot Mercury spacecraft blazed into the heavens, and the two-person (and two-rocket) Gemini project performed a successful rendezvous in space. These paved the way for Apollo atop the massive Saturn 5 rocket that propelled humanity out of earth’s orbit, around the moon, and ultimately fulfilled the dream of landing astronauts on our nearest celestial neighbor and bringing them home.
Fifty years have passed since man first walked on the moon. Think about what has happened in the last 50 years. Advances in computer technology; significant agricultural development; radically improved global communications systems. Accompanying these advances are massive disparities in wealth; the accelerating rise of immorality and deviant behavior; the ubiquitous addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography and media. What might happen in the next 50 years?
I would like to propose a challenge to all Christians. The challenge is a bold one, far surpassing what was proposed and achieved 50 years ago. The challenge is this:
We choose to finish the Gospel Commission and hasten the coming of Jesus! We choose to finish the work in our lifetime, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; we choose to train ourselves and our children to take the everlasting gospel to the unreached peoples of the world in this generation; we recognize that this goal will organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. This challenge is one that we accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win by the grace and mercy of God.
This is a radical challenge. To meet this challenge is going to require cooperation within the church to a degree far beyond what we have previously achieved. Personally and corporately, as families and as churches, we will need to allocate our resources towards this one goal. Training programs will need to be developed; new media will need to be produced. Above all, laborers are needed who are compelled by the love of God in Christ Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit to go to the least reached and potentially most dangerous places on the earth. Lives will be sacrificed in the effort.
Scripture tells us that the result of this challenge, should we choose to accept and complete it, will be glorious. We choose to finish the work so that Jesus will come back and we can go home. We will be transported—not on a rocket, but on angels’ wings—to a world beyond Orion to live and reign with Christ Jesus. No more sin or sickness; no more crying or pain; no more death. Never-ending joy; ever-increasing love; eternal life. Will we—will you—take up the challenge? Take one small step for the unreached, and let God turn it into a giant leap for eternity.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.