The Ultimate Fighting Championship is not for everyone, but UFC 257 with Poirier vs. McGregor was the largest exhibition in the world to be hosted in 2021 so far, and it took place in Abu Dhabi. They had 2,600 excited fans attending the event in the arena. So many people registered to watch the fight online that the ESPN+ system crashed.
The fight was supposed to take place in Perth Australia, but due to Australia’s coronavirus restrictions it was not possible, so UFC moved the fight to a place dubbed “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.
Fight Island is the name that the UFC calls Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It is a tourist hot spot and is currently open for business.
What does this have to do with missions?
2020 has changed how missions will be done forever. Anyone currently sitting at home waiting for the world to go back to the way it was in 2019, so that they can return to work, is absolutely wasting time. The battlefield has changed, and with it, the strategies also need to change.
Here’s the secret: Perhaps 2021 is a year when missionaries need to clear their mind of old habits and look at the brand new opportunities that God is placing in new regions around the world to preach the Gospel.
While many nations in the West remain closed for travel – several nations that have never heard the Gospel are wide open and are hungry for travelers. Nations that have been traditionally ‘closed’ to the Gospel are now open for travel.
The UAE for instance, where Abu Dhabi is located, is 86% unreached with 31 native people groups that have never heard the Gospel. UAE shares a border with the unreached nations of Saudi Arabia and Oman. This is an amazing new opportunity for Christian missions.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19
In May 2020, 70% of Abu Dhabi’s companies shut their doors because of covid, but now the engines of tourism are roaring. Abu Dhabi is anxious to get the wheels turning again and missionaries have an amazing chance that has never been available before in the history of the church, to have unparalleled access to an unreached nation in the Middle East. The UFC is taking advantage of this opportunity in a big way and creating an entirely new market in the Middle East along the way – and they are doing it for profit. Shouldn’t the passion of the Gospel drive churches to do more than companies who are driven by profit?
2021 is a brand new year and behold, our God is doing a new thing. Stop crying over old opportunities that have dried up and praise Him for the new smörgåsbord that lays before us.
The day of the Lord is getting closer and the unreached areas of the world are growing fewer. If you would like to join BTJ in these new opportunities in closed countries, click here.