What Does “FinisTerre” (“Ends of the Earth”) Mean?

Oct 12, 2021

The End of the Earth for the Romans

Along the most western point of the Iberian Peninsula of Spain lies a rocky promontory on the Atlantic coast. In the Roman era it was thought to be the end of the known world, and so the Romans named the town there “Finis Terrae,” meaning, “the end of the earth.”
For them, as they looked beyond their Mediterranean-centric world to the West, that rocky promontory of Spain seemed like the end of their world. Little changed until the first return voyage from the Americas occurred centuries later. The world just got a whole lot bigger!

The End of the Earth for Paul

I’ve wondered, when Paul revealed his desire to extend the gospel to Spain (Romans 15:24-28), if he similarly thought he was extending the gospel to the ends of the known world at his time.

Pagan sailors may have felt they had found the end of the earth in western Spain, but the Savior, who made the earth and the seas and all that is in them (Nehemiah 9:6), has commanded His servants to race with His gospel far beyond the Mediterranean world to the ends of the earth:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

“For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 13:47).

The result of His servants’ obedience will be that Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain, who purchased for God men from every tribe and language and people and nation, will get the reward for His suffering one day (Revelation 5:9-10).

The End of the Earth for Us

This command to make disciples of ALL nations (Matthew 28:18-20) has captivated us and motivates us to go find forgotten or overlooked people and language groups who have yet to hear of Jesus Christ. Our name (“Finisterre” – the end of the earth) helps us communicate this world-wide gospel ambition which we love.

In particular, our vision is set on a mountain range in Papua New Guinea that someone named the “Finisterre Mountains.” (I have been unable to find out who or when that happened. Was it when the Portuguese landed in 1527??). Surely, whoever those explorers were, they felt that they had found the end of the earth once again.

Within this one mountain range there are approximately seventy-three different languages (almost all of them could be labeled “unreached”). These have not yet had the opportunity to hear the gospel, read the Scriptures in their own language, believe on Jesus Christ so as to be saved, be gathered into an autonomous church, and then themselves participate in the extension of the gospel to the next tribe.

It is possible to group these seventy-three language groups into about twelve language clusters. We hope to see each of those twelve clusters reached with a missionary team bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why “FinisTerre” Exists

That is our vision. God has not tasked us, however, as an organization to complete the gospel task. That task He has given to the local church. We exist as a parachurch ministry to come alongside local churches who have raised up their own qualified missionaries and assist them by providing the specific training required to live among such unreached people as well as ongoing support those missionaries will need until the job is done.

Have you ever given thought to those souls who live at the end of the earth? Has your heart ached for those who will live and die without ever reading the Bible in their own language, who will never hear that Jesus Christ accomplished salvation for all who believe on Him? Only judgment awaits them unless servants of Christ run to them with the hope of the gospel.

If you are interested in knowing more about what we do or how we do it, click here. If you are interested in giving to this gospel effort to make Jesus’ name known at the ends of the earth, click here.