Known best for his role as founder and director of the Jesus Film Project, Paul Eshleman has in recent years turned his attention towards an ambitious new project: the “Finishing the Task” Movement. Its aim is to introduce full-time Christian workers to every unengaged people group in the world—all by the end of 2017.
For Eshleman, short-term missions simply does not make the cut when it comes to pursuing the Movement's vision: “We want to make clear it's not just people going for a week, but people with an ongoing commitment, incarnating the life of Jesus among them,” he says. Whether missionaries or tentmakers, the Movement seeks to place “at least one full-time worker for every 50,000 people in the group, just to get started.”
It is an enormous challenge, but believers everywhere have readily risen to accept it. Significant progress has been made since Eshleman first set out on this endeavour in 2005—approximately 1,585 groups around the world have received their very first workers and churches. “Since , 17,543 full time workers have been sent to these groups. About 81% are nationals from the country, indigenous workers,” says Eshleman. “They planted 76,292 churches and report 1,579,000 new believers.”
This growth is certainly impressive, and the outlook for 2017 is hopeful; but still the Great Commission remains as relevant as ever. Many more Christian workers are needed in order to truly fulfill Christ's command to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20). Continued prayer, support, and action from the global church are all necessary if we hope to meet not only the 2017 goal, but the goal of the Great Commission itself.