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One Billion Lost Sheep

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

Every once in a while, you read something that stops you in your tracks.

For me, recently, that “something” was a chapter in a book called While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks: Forty Daily Reflections on Biblical Leadership by Dr. Timothy S. Laniak. When I ordered this book, I didn’t know much about it, but after reading just the first chapter, I could tell it was going to help me be a more effective spiritual shepherd.

Dr. Laniak lived among shepherds in the Middle East for a while, to study both shepherds and sheep from a biblical perspective. Because the Bible consistently refers to the analogy of sheep and shepherds to teach spiritual truth, Dr. Laniak thought it would be helpful to study them and bring to typically clueless (to the skill of shepherding) Westerners insights that could help us in our relationship with God, the Good Shepherd, and others as we seek to shepherd them.

I’m now on day 14 of this 40-day journey, and I’m loving it. It’s helping me understand what it means to rest by still waters (Psalm 23) and to have a broken heart for scattered sheep (Matthew 9:36-38), as well as the significance of a staff to a shepherd and how that relates to spiritual leaders leading their own sheep.

Chapter 10, in particular, hit me hard.

The chapter begins with this simple, yet profound sentence: “There are about one billion sheep in the world, but each one matters to a shepherd somewhere.”

What struck me in particular was the number: one billion. There are one billion sheep in the world—and every single one matters to a shepherd somewhere.

He goes on to tell the story of Ahmed, a Bedouin shepherd he met who said: “Since 1984 I have never lost a sheep or goat that I didn’t find again, dead or alive—except one. And that one I can never forget. She is on my mind every night before I sleep.

One lost sheep mattered to Ahmed. One lost sheep matters to Jesus. One lost sheep should matter to us.

There are one billion sheep in the world, and each one matters to a shepherd somewhere. There are one billion teenagers in the world, and each one matters to the Shepherd of our souls. And they should matter to us too.

That’s why one billion jumped out to me from the page of this powerful book. It made me think of the one billion teen “sheep” in the world, most of whom are lost. All of these lost teens must be found. We must deploy all our resources to reach every lost one and bring them into the fold.

Jesus put it this way in Luke 19:10:

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

If we want to be like Jesus, then we must join Him, the Good Shepherd, on this search-and-rescue mission for these precious lost sheep.

Here are three ways you can join this mission right now:

1. Pray.

As you pray, include prayers for teenagers you know. Pray for the lost to be found and the found to join the search for their own lost friends. Never underestimate the power of praying when it comes to “seeking and saving” those who are lost.

2. Give.

The ministry I founded 31 years ago exists for one purpose, and that is this: Every teen, everywhere, hearing the Gospel from a friend. We provide free apps, tools, and training in 17 languages (and growing) so we can mobilize teenagers around the world to reach other teenagers with the Gospel. We depend on God to move in the hearts of His people to make all of this possible. To donate toward this vision, click here.

3. Go.

Why not consider volunteering with your church’s youth group or a local ministry (Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth For Christ, First Priority, etc.) and get in the grit of reaching, discipling, and mobilizing teenagers for Jesus? Read my free e-book, Gospelize Your Youth Ministry to get started.

Pray. Give. Go.

Let’s not stop until every last sheep is reached and rescued. Like Ahmed, let those lost sheep be the last thing on our minds before we go to sleep at night.

Unlikely Fighter

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