Here in South Dakota it's harvest season . . . it’s still harvest season.
It's been a difficult harvest for the farmers. There has been too much rain leading to too much mud. There's been early snow. There's been record breaking cold weather. And all of that has lead to a harvest that is still out in the fields. When they should just be wrapping up, there is still a long way to go.
The harvest is plentiful. It's abundant - not record breaking by any means - but there are good yields coming in on the corn and soybeans.
The harvest is plentiful but this year the harvesting is also really difficult.
It's downright hard and probably frustrating and I'm quite certain many a local farmer has been at it until three and four in the morning more nights than they'd care to remember.
But do you know what no farmer ever said?
It's too hard, let's just forget about the harvest.
It's too late. Let's just go in and go to bed.
It's too frustrating. Let's just give up.
You'll never hear those words from a farmer because their job - their calling - is to bring in the harvest.
Jesus said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
I've been convicted of my own sense of laziness and softness as I've watched - and helped a little - as my family works to bring in the harvest. They carry with them a stubborn perseverance, a tenacity and focus that I would do well to learn from.
As I pray for 2,000 Muslims to have an opportunity to hear the gospel here in our region and as I work to do my part to see the 3 billion who have never heard the gospel have a chance to hear it, will I grab hold of the vision and stick with it with everything I've got until it becomes a reality or until I die?
Jesus makes two statements in this verse:
He tells us to open our eyes and look to the fields. They are ripe for harvest! (John 4:35)
The work of salvation is the exclusive work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells his disciples in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day," and later in John 12:32 says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
And so while the work is God's to do, he invites us into that work as He sends us into the world as his witnesses and ambassadors (John 17:18; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20).
The question is, will I pour my life into bringing in the harvest?
Will I dedicate my time and shun distraction and learn what I need to learn and rest when I need to rest and pray like everything depends on it because there is an abundant harvest in the field and the Father wants me to be about the work of bringing it in.
It's my prayer that I will continue to grow in my dedication to the harvest.
It's the Father's heart!
What about You?
Will you pray that your hearts would be shaped more and more like the Father's heart?
Will you pray that your hearts would be broken more and more for lostness?
And will you pray that we all begin to live with the same kind of urgency and focus and stubborn perseverance for the lost locally, nationally and globally that our local farmers have for the harvest sitting out in the field.
Here are a few things you can do to begin to grow your heart for the harvest.
Pray Luke 10:2 - Set an alarm on your watch or phone that goes off every day at 10:02 and commit to obeying Jesus and praying for the harvest.
Pray for your network - On a note card write down the names of everyone you know who is far from God and commit to praying for them every day.
Discover - Read and Meditate on the following passages in scripture: Luke 15; John 17; Matthew 28:16-20; Genesis 12:1-4)
Discover - Read the book of Acts once a week for the next four weeks (4 chapters a day).
Set aside ten minutes - Hit play - Make it Full Screen - Meditate on Psalm 67
I'd have to say that one of the biggest influences on my heart for the nations and the fullfilment of the great commission has been books. As I first read biographies of missionaries and now more and more often, educational and inspirational non-fiction around missions, books have shaped the way I think about the world, the values I hold and the place in my heart that missions holds.
And so I'd love to encourage you to consider reading these books to fuel your missions fire. These are not necessarily in any order and aren't in any way thought to be the best seven books. And it certainly isn't an exhaustive list.
As always, if you have a book that has been instrumental in growing your heart for the nations and the completion of the great commission, mention it in the comments.
[READ ALL OF THE 7 SERIES BLOG POSTS]
Author: Russell T. Hitt
Nate Saint was one of the five missionaries killed in Ecuador by the Waodani Indians in 1956. Their story caught the attention of the church and God used their martyrdom to ignite a new passion for frontier missions - it certainly did for me. While Through Gates of Splendor is the most famous of the books on this incident, Jungle Pilot is an inspiring look into the life of Nate Saint and the motivations and love that drove him.
Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret
Author: Dr. Howard Taylor
A missionary biography classic, this book about Hudson Taylor's life looks into a time when missionaries were first pressing into the inlands of places like China, Africa and India. Filled with stories of risk taking obedience to Jesus and great faith, this missionary biography is one everyone should read.
Eternity in Their Hearts
Author: Don Richardson
Don Richardson was a missionary in Indonesia in the 1960s and while there discovered a principle: God has been preparing the peoples of the world to know him. Through the lense of twenty five uniques stories from all across the globe, Eternity in Their Hearts proves the truth in the words of Ecclesiastes: He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Let the Nations Be Glad
Author: John Piper
With deep Biblical insight and reflection, Piper forcefully makes the case that, "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate." This is a great resource for everyone interested in learning more about why we do missions and why it should be in the mind of every follower of Jesus.
In the Gap
Author: David Bryant
In the Gap lays a foundation of understanding for what it means to be a world christian, those who are (in Corrie Ten Boom's phrase) tramps for the Lord who have left their hidding places to roam the Gap with the Savior. They are heaven's expatriots, camping where the Kingdom is best served.
Out of the Comfort Zone
Author: George Verwer
George Verwer is the founder of Operation Mobilization where he now serves as the "Special Projects Dude". This small book has been used to mobilize many to the mission fields of the world. You can even get this book and others free when you email George.
Western Christians in Global Misssion
Author: Paul Borthwick
As the state of Christianity increasingly shifts to the global south, our missionary strategies and thinking will need to adapt to new realitites. Borthwick presents a thoughtful book to help the church navigate these new realities with honest self reflection and missional determination.
This list of seven books is in no way exhaustive and so I want to encourage you to share the book that has helped you catch the missions vision in the comments below.
*all links to books are affiliate links
Last week we shared seven podcasts that we have found helpful to fuel the missions fire. Today we’d like to add to that list of resources and share with you seven video channels that will help you train unto the harvest and cast vision for the great commission. Some are focused purely on training and equipping the local church. Others are focused on helping the local church catch God’s vision for the nations. All have been inspiring and helpful and we hope they will do the same for you.
Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) works to multiply healthy disciples and raise up missional leaders. We are challenged to inspire believers to cultivate a heart for the least reached locally, nationally and globally and to provide tools that will help them make a difference.
We hope that these seven video channels will support that effort.
At the bottom of the post, we’ve shared one video from each of these sites to give you a bit of the flavor of their content and we hope you will explore more.
[READ ALL OF THE 7 SERIES BLOG POSTS]
MB Mission believes in the power of story. Their videos will take you into the heart of mission all across the world, telling the stories of God’s engagement with and through his people. Powerful testimonies will encourage and inspire you.
Global Frontier Missions
Their GFM 101 series of videos have been especially helpful for casting vision with local churches and individuals. These short videos do a great job of unpacking the great commission and some key concepts that missionaries are wrestling with today.
Frontiers is one of the largest mission agencies focusing specifically on the Muslim world. These inspiring videos tell the story of God's working through his people across the Muslim world.
No Place Left Training
The No Place Left Network are a group of like minded individuals and churches who are working to see movements of disciples making disciples spread across the globe until there is no place left (Romans 15:23). In order to work toward that goal, they have been developing simple and accessible training tools. These they freely give to anyone who is interested in being a disciple who makes disciples and we have incorporated these tools into our Everywhere to Everywhere training events. The 411 Training module is a key component of E2E.
Curtis Sergeant Training for Multiplication
Curtis is one of the foremost trainers in movement methodology and has been a catalytic part of movements across the globe. His 28 multiplication concepts videos are a great first step into thinking about multiplication. They are accessible and easily understandable and at less than 10 minutes, each can be watched over a lunch break or after work.
Engage Africa has put together a series of five videos unpacking their work to see multiplying movements happen across Africa. Hosted by African pastors and practitioners, these videos allow us to learn from local leaders on the ground in Africa. Filled with powerful teaching and amazing testimony, these videos are a great tool for learning about missions and movement.
Pioneers is another large mission agency whose focus is on unreached people groups across the globe. Their videos do a good job of telling the story of what God is doing among the nations. They also have a series of videos to help train and equip sending churches - great for pastors and mission committees.
If you know of other video channels like these, feel free to share them in the comments below.
GLOBAL FRONTIER MISSIONS
NO PLACE LEFT TRAINING
CURTIS SERGEANT TRAINING
The path of the missional heart is often a difficult one. The distractions that life will throw at you are many and varied. The number of fellow sojourners with whom you'll be able to run daily are often few. There is little in the culture and sometimes even in the church that will encourage your heart for missions and the completion of the great commission.
Because the challenge is real and because I need all the encouragement I can get to help me stay the course, I want to take the next few blog posts to share with you resources that will help to continuously fuel your missions fire. Today we will start with seven podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis to stay encouraged, to be inspired and to continue to learn.
If you have a favorite missions podcast that helps you run the race well, please leave a comment and share it with the rest of us.
With all of these podcasts, if you search in itunes or your favorite podcast service, you'll be able to find them.
Global Missions Podcast
The Global Missions Podcast is hosted by Rob Magwood and in general, each episode is an interview with a missionary or missiologist or author about missions. The purpose of the Global Missions Podcast is to provide helpful resources and practical information to churches and individuals to help them effectively support and engage in global missions.
My favorites: What's the role of the North American church in global missions?;
Ministering to those from honor/shame cultures.
Author and mission leader Steve Addison hosts this great podcast which focuses on disciple making movements. Most episodes are interviews with movement leaders who are making disciples who make disciples. If you need help believeing that the harvest is plentiful, if you need encouragment to share your faith boldly, this podcast will inspire you.
My favorites: Ron Surgeon Interview; God, give us Austin or we die!; Reaching the world in your backyard; NoPlaceLeft Manchester
Host Bryan Entzminger does a great job of interviewing a wide range of missional people. Some are experienced veterans and recognized experts while others are young missionary candidates just preparing to move into ministry for the first time. It creates a great resource for anyone interested in missions.
My favorites: Brett Butler; Curtis Sergeant; C. Anderson
Strike the Match
J.D. Payne is an author of over ten books on missions and his experience and insight make this podcast a great resource to continue learning. Many of his podcasts are just him sharing his insights and wisdom on missions but he also has great interviews with missiologist and missionaries.
My favorites: Nathan Shenk on Church Multiplication and Health; John Klassen on Engaging with Muslims
The Storyline Podcast is part of Storyline Missions, an effort to equip local churches with great commission vision. The foundation of this is the Storyline Workbook, an 8 lesson curriculum which is great for Sunday school classes and small groups. The first 8 episodes follow and supplement the lessons in the workbook. The rest are interviews with global leaders about accelerating the emerging mission force in the world.
My favorites: Living the Wartime Lifestyle; Mobilizing the Russian Church for Missions
Crescent Project Radio
Crescent Project Radio is hosted by Matt Bonner and each episode is an interview with someone involved with ministry to Muslims or with former Muslims who have left Islam to follow Jesus. This is a great podcast to share with your friends who are struggling to understand how we as Christians are supposed to engage with the Muslim world.
My favorites: Nasser's Story (part 2); Standing in the Fire with Tom Doyle -Part 1 ; Tom Doyle: Standing in the Fire (Part 2); Ajla's Journey to Faith
The Sent Life
The host of The Sent Life is J.R. Ammon and he has spent the last several years reaching Muslims in a North American city. He builds each podcast episode around three rounds through which he unpacks missional principles and ideas.
My favorites: Status Seeking; Love for Timothys
It was a story that gripped the world for nearly two weeks. A Thai soccer team and their coach, trapped in a cave by rising waters were rescued in a daring and dangerous mission by Navy SEALS. It was with hope that the world watched the courage and tenacity of the rescue team and the resilliance of the boys.
Last week I recieved an update from a friend who had been in Thailand for a conference with OMF. He relayed the obeservations that one of his collegues made from the rescue mission in relation to reaching the unreached in our world. I recieved permission to share those observations here.
No doubt you’ve heard reports about the Thai soccer team rescued from a cave. Our friend, Larry Dinkins has shared some insightful observations to consider. Thank you for praying that God will thrust out scores of more missionaries to share Christ’s love with unreached people groups across East Asia. Larry shares these comments:
The rescue and the picture above I think gives us a graphic image of what it is going to take to reach the unreached: teamwork, dedication, perserverance, focus and hard work.
Are we up to the task?
Let us meditate on Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3-7:
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Jesus is worth all of our efforts; all of our sacrifice; all of our lives.
When my family and I returned from Turkey in 2012, one of the biggest challenges we faced was the level of fear and misunderstanding that we saw in well meaning Christians toward Muslims. We had spent nearly five years building relationships with Muslims who had become our dear friends and it broke our hearts to think that fear, misunderstanding and misinformation were paralyzing the church and preventing them from even saying hello to Muslims here in the U.S. let alone telling them good news about Jesus Christ.
In all honesty, my first response was one of bitterness toward the church but God in his grace soon moved me to compassion and understanding. Our friends didn’t share our experience of loving relationships with wonderful Muslim neighbors and friends. It was at about that same time that a friend told me about the Bridges Study.
The Bridges Study is a six lesson DVD study that can be used with small groups or Sunday school classes. As I’ve helped groups go through the study, I’ve seen it break down fear and remove misunderstanding as participants grow closer to Jesus as they step out in faith. Crescent Project founder, Fouad Masri, hosts the study which includes great teaching, inspiring testimonies and actionable next steps. I think every church should take their members through the Bridges Study.
Here are five reasons why.
The Bridges Study will help you learn about Islam and Muslims through a Biblical/Missional Lens.
Everyone is learning something about Islam and about Muslims. The source of that learning is generally the media or media personalities and the motivations behind those talking is often quite different. Some just want everyone to get along. Others want to warn us of hidden plots to take over America. The Bridges Study however presents great information in six thirty minute lessons through a Biblical lens that believes that God wants to see all Muslims repent and believe and follow Jesus. Participants often report that the Bridges Study lowered their fear, increased their understanding and gave them a heart to begin to pray regularly for Muslims to come to faith and look for opportunities to build relationships.
The Bridges Study will strengthen the faith of those who go through it.
Whenever we step outside of our comfort zones, we have an opportunity to be stretched and see our faith grow. One of the surprising benefits of working to mobilize the church to share the love of Jesus with Muslims was that as people began to explore learning about Islam and about how to share their faith with Muslims, their own faith began to grow.
I’ve seen many who have taken the Bridges Study and met a Muslim suddenly reading their Bibles far more regularly because their new Muslim friends ask them questions they’ve never been asked before. Their prayer lives increase. As God begins to use them, their faith grows.
The Bridges Study will help those who participate to be Christ’s ambassadors.
2 Corinthians 5:20 says that we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. One of the cornerstone lessons of the Bridges Study is the four attitudes of an ambassador. It is a lesson that is crucial to understand if we are to share Jesus love with Muslims and as so many participants point out, with anyone.
The Bridges Study will invite participants to step out in risk taking obedience to Jesus
together with others.
After each lesson, there is an action step to take. These are designed to get you out of the living room and into a relationship with a new friend. The goal is to give your new Muslim friend an opportunity to respond to the gospel and be connected with a true follower of Christ. It also gives you and your group an opportunity to step out in risk taking obedience to Jesus together. It gives you the chance to run after the things of God together! There is very little that is more exhilarating than step out in faith with a group of friends for the glory of God!
Passive faith becomes active.
Shallow fellowship become deep.
And God will use your group to share the gospel with Muslims in your community. You’ll be running together!
The Bridges Study will help you to be a part of seeing Muslims come to faith in Christ
and worship Him.
Many of the people I work with struggle to believe that God could use them to introduce a Muslim to a life transforming relationship with Jesus. But as participants begin to step out in faith, God begins to use them, to give them opportunities to share and to love well. Jesus tells us that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few and then he commands us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers into his harvest fields. The fields are his and he wants to use you to see Muslims come to faith in Christ. He has used people just like you all across the world. The Bridges Study was created first and foremost to help mobilize more harvesters into the harvest among Muslims.
Start a Bridges Study today and join God in his miraculous movement in the Muslim world.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BRIDGES STUDY
Click here to watch Session 4 to get of feel for the study
After participating in an Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) training weekend, many ask the question, "What next?" The Bridges Study can be a great next step as you return to your home church. Invite others to join you in exploring how God might want to use you - and your church - to reach the Muslim world.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT E2E
In 1792, William Carey published his rather long titled manifesto of missions, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. The title reflects the times in which he lived both in its length and in its use of the word "heathen" and yet, its publication along with his subsequent founding of the Baptist Missionary Society later that same year began what we now know as the modern missions movement.
Many were to follow in Cary’s footsteps, taking the gospel from the West where it had been firmly established for over 1,000 years to the East and South where it had yet to be shared. In 1900 Africa was less than 10% Christian.(1) In 1950, 100 years after Hudson Taylor arrived, the population of Christians in China was a mere 3.4 million out of a total population of 550 million.
This was the reality in which the paradigm of modern missions developed. It was the need of the hour. The vast majority of those whose faith in Christ compelled them to take the great commission seriously lived in the West and so, through much sacrifice, they supported and sent their sons and daughters to what David Bryant calls “the widest end of the gap.”
The world in which they lived dictated that they sail slowly to these lands, that they send occasional correspondence back to home churches which remained far away, across a vast expanse of land and ocean. The work of missions then was “over there” and it was left to those who felt called to go. For the rest of us, “over here”, well we did our best to support their work, to pray, to give to the missionaries and occasionally, to go ourselves. But mostly we got on with the work of doing church in places where we were the majority culture.
And the paradigm through which we view the great commission increasingly became something for someone else to do.
Doug Birdsall, quoted in the book Western Christians in Global Mission says, “The Great Commission is for every church in every culture in every generation. There are no exclusions. But . . . every church in every culture in every generation must determine the way in which they respond to this responsibility -- in a way that is appropriate to time and context."
For those in William Carey’s and Hudson Taylor’s time, sending missionaries overseas was the only responsible response to the vast numbers of people living outside of any real access to the gospel. The only way to bring the gospel to China was to go there. Those generations in those churches determined the best way to complete the great commission was to send missionaries.
The problem is that this paradigm for how to complete the great commission became the status quo and each new generation of churches simply continued to do what previous generations had done. They improved upon the mistakes of previous generations thankfully, but the basic idea of mission stayed the same and the church by and large, remained on the outside looking in.
In the last twenty years however, the context of our world has changed in unprecedented ways. Those changes demand that this generation reassess the church’s role in Jesus commission to His church as we see it in Matthew 28:18-20. We cannot continue to merely do what previous generations in the West have done. To do so would be irresponsible!
When Hudson Taylor went to China in the 1850s, his friends and sending churches back in England knew very little about China. None of them had ever met anyone from China. It was quite literally on the other side of a very big world.
Today, we can learn anything we want about China with a click of a button. Nearly everything we own was made in China and with very little effort, we can befriend a Chinese student who wants to practice English online. Over 350,000 Chinese are studying in U.S. universities and there are Chinese restaurants in most every town. Because of entrepreneurial opportunities, every city in America has Chinese residents.
And it’s not just China. Sioux Falls - a small Midwestern city in South Dakota of just under 200,000, is home to over 140 different languages from countries. A vast majority of the workforce at John Morrell - Sioux Falls’ third largest employer - is foreign born. Just up the road at South Dakota State University in Brookings, students from all over the world are working toward both bachelors and advanced degrees.
Globalization is a reality that has moved forward at a lightning quick pace. Driven by technological advances that have connected our world like never before, by the rise of English as a global trade language and by the greatest migrations of people the world has ever known, globalization is changing the context of the world in which we live.
And it is this changing context that demands we rethink the role local churches and individual Christians play in in the great commission.
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
God is on the move. While the kingdom of America is changing and those changes won’t be without their challenges, the Kingdom of God is not in trouble. God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 was that all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.
God is keen to keep His promises and the witness of the Old and the New Testament alike is of a God who is passionate that all the nations of the earth - all people groups - would know His glory and be reconciled to Him.
And God intends to see that vision come to fruition, to see the day when great multitudes that no one can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, are standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They will be wearing white robes and will be holding palm branches in their hands. And they will cry out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9-10)”
That is the mission of God! It is what the narrative of scripture is all about. Christopher Wright has said that “it’s not so much that the church has a mission as it is that the mission of God has a church.”
Globalization is real. It will have tangible effects on our lives. It will present very real challenges. And yet with it come new and amazing opportunities for the church to be a part of the great commission in ways that were not possible even 20 years ago.
But the question is, as always, how will we respond?
Global migration is increasing rapidly. According to PEW Research, in 2015, nearly 250 million people lived outside of the their country of birth. This is three times more than in 1960. This is due in part to the global refugee crisis but also to the rise of a global middle class. More and more people across the globe are simply able to immigrate to wealthier countries. They come for education, for a better job or to avoid some of the inherent challenges of making a life in a developing country.
A friend of mine immigrated with his parents to Canada when he was fourteen. His father was an entrepreneur and had started several successful businesses in Western China but was continually frustrated by the communist government bureaucracy and so decided he’d try his luck in Canada.
My friend was Hui Chinese, a Muslim minority people. He had been raised in a Muslim home and educated in Chinese schools where he was indoctrinated with atheistic teaching. His chance of meeting a Christian or hearing the gospel in his hometown in China was slim to none.
Global migration trends mean that the chances are increasingly likely that you will have a neighbor, a co-worker or perhaps a doctor who comes from another country. Your children will go to school with children who may not speak English at home. You may say hello to a young man at a coffee shop like I did with my friend and discover that he is part of a people group of nearly 14 million people that is less than 0.01% Christian.
Global Migration creates tremendous new opportunities for churches in the West. It would be irresponsible to ignore these opportunities and so I’d like to offer a few ideas for how you can step into the work that God is doing here as he brings the nations to us.
First, begin praying! God is on the move and He’s inviting you into his mission to reach the nations. You may need to begin praying first for your own heart - I get that. There is a lot in the news that would lead you to be fearful of this talk of global migration trends. You may be nervous or scared or even filled with thoughts and ideas that are decidedly not like Jesus. Dive into the scriptures and let God’s word shape your heart as you pray for Jesus to take away your fear and replace it with compassion.
And then begin praying for the nations among us. Pray for opportunities to build relationships with people who have not heard the good news of Jesus. Pray for their blessing and protection. Pray that they would have an opportunity to respond to the gospel.
Start praying and don’t stop.
Next, do some research. Who is coming to your town? Where are they coming from and why? What do they believe? Are they African or Latin American Christians - our brothers and sisters in Christ from whom we could learn a thing or two? Are they Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist? Are they from an unreached people group or perhaps even from an unengaged people group?
You can learn a lot about people groups at the two sites listed below. These are two organizations working to keep the church informed on how we are doing with the Great Commission.
Finally, meet someone! Say hello. Bring a plate of cookies to someone’s door. Be a good neighbor.
It is not nearly as difficult or complicated as we seem to think it will be. Being a good neighbor doesn’t require a degree in rocket science.
Are their things you’ll want and need to learn? Of course.
Will you need to enter the relationship with humility, actively seeking to learn from and about your new friend? Yes.
Will there be a language barrier? That depends, but if there is, you’ll have an amazing opportunity to practice humility and show kindness by having them help you learn some of their language as you help them learn English.
Will you get to try new foods? Probably, and you’ll most likely be overwhelmed by your new friend’s hospitality.
Will it be hard? Absolutely yes. Relationships generally have their ups and downs and cross cultural relationships are no different. How you respond during the hard moments can and will be a powerful testimony to the transformative work of Jesus in your life.
Here is the reality. You may be the one whom Christ uses to bring one of His lost sheep into His kingdom. He will do that and is doing that everyday all across the globe. You can say, “Yes, I want to be a part of what God is doing.” or you can say "no".
It’s up to you.
While global migration is bringing the people of the world into your neighborhood, technology is increasingly making it possible for you to go into the neighborhoods of the nations of the world.
Call centers are located in India. Doctors are connecting with translators in Africa to help interpret for their appointments with new Americans still working to learn English. Entrepreneurs are outsourcing tech support to the Philippines. Millions of connections are made daily across the world wide web creating space for conversations and relationships that would not have been possible even twenty years ago.
How does the church tap into this new space and redeem it for Christ’s global purposes?
Millions of people in countries where there is little if any access to the gospel are learning English. They won’t meet a Christian on their block. There are no churches in their neighborhood and perhaps not even in their city. But they are going online in order to find new friends with whom they can practice English and learn about American culture.
Embassy, a ministry of Crescent Project, is working to ensure that they connect with a follower of Jesus. By helping Christians find online platforms where language learners gather and equipping them with the tools to build relationships and share their faith, Embassy is helping the church reach into some of the remotest corners of the Earth with a faithful witness of the gospel.
From your own living room you can meet a Muslim from Saudi Arabia, get to know them and their family as they get to know you. You’ll be able to encourage them and learn from them and in it all, share about your love for Jesus.
[Read about my experience with Embassy]
And so whether you live in New York City or in Platte, South Dakota you now have easy access to opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people who have never heard His name. You don’t need to be the prototypical missionary to be a part of the mission of God to reach every tribe and people and nation.
There are over 2 billion people who have no access to the good news of Jesus Christ.
A New Paradigm
Historically, the paradigm of missions was that of churches here supporting a few through prayer, encouragement and financial giving to go and live cross culturally.
We called those few missionaries.
We now live in a new time and a new context and so we need a new paradigm, one that sees missions as everywhere to everywhere. One that sees all of the church involved in all of God’s mission.
What if the mission of the King was our primary mission? Locally, nationally and globally?
What if missions were not just about us providing, praying for and provisioning missionaries to go over there, but we moved into this new paradigm of everywhere to everywhere.
We could work toward more robust partnerships where missionaries and churches partnered together to complete the great commission together? Missionaries returning on furlough could spend time training us to minister more effectively with what they have learned on the field.
Our young people going to university could invest in the lives of international students coming to study in the in the U.S. from within the the places of the world that are least reached.
With God using globalization to bring the nations to the United States, what if Christians here in American won Muslims to Christ who then took their new faith back to their families and communities in their home country?
And what if our churches began functioning more as missional training centers, equipping the saints to proclaim the gospel and make disciples - making our main vision not to grow our own church but to see the great commission completed - locally, nationally and globally?
As a representative of MB Mission - a sending agency - I have to tell you that we absolutely need to continue to send missionaries into the world. We need to send more! 2 billion people living outside the reach of the gospel demands it.
But I am convinced that as you move toward discovering your roll in this new missions paradigm locally, your hearts will grow in such magnificent ways that one of the inevitable outcomes will be a greater commitment to the great commission globally.
Your prayers for the missionaries your church supports will grow. Your financial giving to reach the 2 billion lost in darkness will increase. Your desires to go and be a part of the work on short term mission trips will expand.
And in years to come, you will find that those coming back on furlough from China and Turkey and across the world will be some of the young people who are in your church today. Men and women of God whom you have raised up and trained and have sent.
May it be!
A Few Helpful Resources
If you have a heart for the nations, for the completion of the great commission and for missions, then like it or not, you have to think about mobilizing others.
And that means two things.
First, you need to continue to learn and grow in your heart for the nations and your knowledge of what and how God is working to restore all people to himself.
To that end, I want to encourage you to sign up for the Mission Catalyst Newsletter. It's a digest of sorts and comes on regular basis to your inbox filled with information, opportunities and stories.
Subscribe at the "subscribe" button on the top left of their home page: missionscatalyst.net
The second thing I want to encourage you to do is to share your passion with others. It would be a good idea to talk with your missions committee at church (or form one) and see how your church can do a better job of casting vision for missions.
Shane Bennet, a mobilizer and writer for Mission Catalyst wrote a helpful article about how to do this well when sharing with your home church. You can read it at the link below.
How to Ace a Global Report to Your Church (the Five-Minute Guide)
There are a lot of important aspects to being a world Christian with God's global vision. Mobilization is just one of those, but if you can multiply in others what God has done in your heart, imagine how much more impact your life will have toward kingdom expansion.
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers seeking to multiply disciples and churches locally, nationally and globaly among every segment of society until there's no place left.