Growing up in a small, rural Texas town, Chris Clayman’s journey to West Africa and then to one of the worlds largest and most diverse cities may be surprising to some. But in light of God’s superplan, it makes perfect sense.
Clayman is the Co-Founder and an Associate Director of Global Gates, a mission organization focused on reaching the ends of the earth through global gateway cities. Superplan: A Journey into God’s Story is Clayman’s telling of his unexpected journey into the superplan of God. It is a book filled with encouragement and challenges readers to step into risk taking obedience to Jesus.
“Superplan” is a term a Bangladeshi brother in New York City coined in thinking about his own story and after hearing the of the circuitous journey on which God took Chris to bring him to Harlem where he regularly shares the love of Jesus with the very West African Muslims he had hoped to reach when he originally moved across the ocean.
"God’s Superplan is the redemptive story of God, rooted in eternity, recorded in the Bible, and realized even today. God’s Superplan transcends our strengths and weaknesses, victories and sufferings, ideas and efforts. In dramatic ways, God is drawing people into knowledge and love of him from all peoples and areas of the world. This redemptive story is one God does not keep to himself. Instead, he beckons us to leave our mundane, small plans to join him in his Grand Narrative." - Chris Clayman
Part memoir, part biography of former Muslims, part missiological treaties, Superplan is an excellent book. The book is also a lens into ministry among diaspora peoples in North America and is therefore both an instructive and helpful resource for anyone wanting to share the love of Jesus with immigrants and refugees.
Superplan is a vivid example that modern missions is truly everywhere to everywhere.
Buy Your Copy
As the new year approaches we all have opportunities for new beginnings. It’s a time of both reflection and of setting goals, and as we look ahead, we at E2E would like to offer 10 ways that you can invest more focus on the great commission in 2020.
1. Start The Year In The Word
If you have not yet, we’d encourage you to find some time in the coming days to work through the Father’s Heart Bible study. It will help you to discover the desires of God for the nations. N.T. Wright reminds us that, "Mission is not something added on to 'biblical theology.'...The story of Scripture, focused in the Gospel events concerning Jesus, is about mission from start to finish." Here are a few other studies and resources that will help you immerse yourself in God’s word to begin the new year:
2. Start The Year In Prayer
Prayer is the foundation of every move of God. When we pray, God begins to shape our hearts toward those things that we are praying for and so if you want your heart to grow in its commitment to the great commission, to the mission of God, then prayer is one way to do that. Here are a number of resources that will help you pray more for the nations and God’s mission:
3. Subscribe to a Podcast
Listening to interviews, missiologists, on the ground practitioners and prayer warriors on podcasts is an easy way to fuel your missions focus. Subscribing to a podcast or two ensures a regular dose of great commission inspiration.
4. Eat Out with Friends
One simple way to both enjoy time with friends or family and inspire a heart for the great commission is to eat out at ethnic restaurants. Not Taco Bell or Panda Express but a restaurant owned and operated by an immigrant family.
5. Watch a Movie
Movies are a great way to spend time with friends and family and can also be a great tool for inspiring and motivating people towards a great commission focused lifestyle. Watch one of these movies at home or gather a group from your church for a movie night.
6. Read a Good Missions Book
Books are a great way to dive into the story of God’s mission to redeem the lost to himself. They are great gifts as well and so make sure you are both reading and passing along books to others. Here are a few lists of books to get you started:
7. Buy a World Map
Visual reminders of the world that God created and that we live in help us remember to pray for the unreached. Consider buying a world map to help keep you focused and inspired. Here are a few creative ideas:
8. Write an Encouraging Letter to a Missionary
As someone who lived cross culturally, there is little that brings more encouragement than a hand written letter from a friend or supporter. Do you support a missionary? Get their mailing address and send them a letter in the mail.
9. Give a Beginning of the Year Gift rather than an End of the Year Gift
Many end the year with a little extra end of the year financial gift to missionaries or mission agencies and that is amazing and super helpful for those raising full time support. But what would it look like if you started your year by giving an extra financial gift of blessing. It seems it might focus the trajectory of your heart and your year! And it would be a huge blessing to the missionaries you support.
10. Commit to serving Locally, Nationally and Globally
Most mission trips - whether they be local, national or international trips - take a fair amount of planning and preparation. Commit now to taking a trip this year! Here are a few organizations and trips worth considering:
As with any endeavor - if we want to grow - we have to invest. We have to invest time, energy, effort, thought and often, finances and when we do we find ourselves becoming the thing we wish to become. It is no different with developing a life shaped by and living for the great commission.
Take steps today to shape your life around the fulfillment of the great commission!
We hope this Christmas season finds you reflecting on the year that has passed, anticipating the year to come and drawing near to the savior. Our prayer is that this week may be one spent meditating on the coming of Christ into our lost and broken world. May his mission be our mission, his vision, our vision and may we be shaped by his love.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."
It was 2008 when our family moved to a Central Asia. We were settling into life there, learning the local language and enjoying the adventure of new beginnings and new experiences. At the end of our first November however we began to encounter an eerie silence. We lived in one the world’s largest cities, bustling with noise and commotion and yet we could not avoid this silence. It was a Christmas silence.
This nation was over 99% Muslim and as we went about the dailiness of life, there were no discernible signs that the Christmas season was upon us: no Christmas music in stores, no lights, no Christmas trees, no manger scenes - nothing.
The silence became for us an ever present reminder that the light of Christ had yet to shine in that land - for most, the light of Christ had yet to be seen.
It was in that season of silence that we began to discover four attitudes, born in the Advent traditions of the church, that would help us fix our eyes on Jesus and live with intentionality for his glory.
If we look into the silence, the darkness and brokenness, we see that the prince of this world always fights to preserve the darkness. Satan is a tyrant unmatched in all history. He is the enemy of God and thus, he is all humanity’s enemy. Wherever the light of Jesus is pushing into places of darkness, he will oppose it. In much of our world that opposition comes in the form of brutal oppression and violence. At Jesus’ birth, he fought back through King Herod. Today it may be an oppressive government or violently radical religious groups.
But Satan doesn’t always use violence and brutality. Deception works just the same. He takes the truth of a Creator God, twists it and binds 1.7 billion Muslims in a false religion. He pawns pantheism and paganism and atheism and materialism as paths to a good life. The pursuit of the American dream works just as well for him as the ideological brainwashing of an atheistic Chinese regime.
The first coming of Christ has happened. 2,000 years ago Jesus was born as a baby, lived a perfect life and died for the sins of the world. Satan was defeated at the cross and the light of life is available to all who call on the name of Jesus to be saved. The second coming of Christ WILL happen. He will come again. He will make all things new. Satan will be cast into the pit and sin and death will be no more.
In the interim however, 5.4 billion people in our world are not experiencing the abundant life of Jesus. 2.2 billion live in places with no access to the gospel. But it's not just those tied up in false religions. It’s right here in our Christmas saturated society as well.
A recent article in the Washington Post wrote about the fact that the average lifespan of Americans has fallen for the first time in decades. It’s fallen not because older people aren’t living as long, it’s falling because of the drastic increase of mid life deaths of 20, 30 and 40 year olds. One researcher said, “There is something more fundamental about how people are feeling at some level – whether it’s economic, whether it’s stress, whether it’s deterioration of family. People are feeling worse about themselves and their futures, and it’s leading them to do things that are self destructive and not promoting health.”
Our world is a broken place. The thief comes to steal and kill and to destroy. That’s the bad news. Tish Harrison Warren recently wrote that “To practice Advent is to lean into an almost cosmic ache: our deep, wordless desire for things to be made right and the incompleteness we find in the meantime. We dwell in a world still racked with conflict, violence, suffering, darkness.”
Lament is our appropriate response.
It’s not the way things are supposed to be. It breaks the Father’s heart and it should break ours.
We move from lament to expectation because that is not the end of the story. Jesus was born. Harrod Failed. The true light which gives light to everyone has come into the world. Satan has been defeated.
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus told his disciples that "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come." And we know this will happen because when John is given a peak into the future reality of heaven in Revelation 7:9 he says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands and crying out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Jesus is true to his word.
And as we move from Expectation to Celebration, it truly is the time to sing Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Like the wisemen, we sacrifice time and resources to come to Jesus and when we see him theirs is the only right response – to fall down and worship! We’ve been saved. We’ve been adopted into His family. We’ve been set free and made new and can live the abundant life of Jesus and we will reign forever with him in heaven.
More Muslims have come to faith in Christ in the last 15 years than in the previous 1400 years combined. The fastest growing church in the world today is in Iran. Syrians are coming to faith faster than Christians in Europe can handle and it’s bringing revival to the church there.
Because Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, we live in eager anticipation of others experiencing the same gift of salvation that we have experienced.
Lament. Expectation. Celebration.
It’s an advent pattern that we discovered could help us keep our focus on Christ during Christmas.
And so as we fix our eyes on Jesus this Advent season, let us fix our hearts on the things that his heart is fixed on, on the reason that he came. Ever since Genesis 3, everything in scripture – everything in the cosmos - was pointing to the moment in time when God would send his son into our broken and dark world in order to reconcile all things to himself. The Bible is the story of rescue. Of mission.
And so to this advent pattern of Lament, Expectation, and Celebration it is important to also add Mission. Our appropriate response to Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost, is to join him on his mission. He is the light of the world and he called us to be light to the world as well; we are not to hide our light. He was sent into this dark and broken world and he says, as I was sent, so I send you. He leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one. He sweeps the house clean to find the lost coin and his last command to his disciples and to us was to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit and teaching them to obey everything that he had commanded.
Christmas is the celebration of the mission of God. The God of the Universe loved us so much that he sent his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
That’s why Jesus came. That’s why we have Christmas.
Lament. Expectation. Celebration. Mission.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus – mindful of the brokenness and darkness of this world – but filled with hope because the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
As we do that, commit to taking some time to ask the Lord what he might want the next few weeks to look like for you and for your family.
He might just say, Stay the Course.
He might invite you into life altering changes, into a new journey of risk taking obedience to the King.
Lament. Expectation. Celebration. Mission.
This article is taken from a sermon preached for Advent. You can listen HERE (20 minutes).
I was sitting at my computer, sipping on a cup of coffee and working on a sermon I'll be sharing in a few weeks. I took a short break, checked into my Facebook account and saw a note from a friend. A friend of his, Pete, is working in Europe and had met a Muslim man who had been having dreams of Jesus. This man was from a particular tribe in Africa and Pete was wanting help in locating a follower of Jesus who spoke this man's native language.
In a world of nearly 8 billion people, how could I find a speaker of a tribal language who also happens to be a follower of Jesus from home in South Dakota?
It's simple really. I shared the request with a few private networks of practitioners; missionaries, trainers, pastors, missiologists and mission minded, great commission people.
Two days later a connection was made.
Will this African man come to faith because of these connections?
I pray so!
We may not know this side of heaven but we have opportunities daily to help point people to Jesus. It may be a simple connection that we help make. It may be that we get to plant a gospel seed. It could be a simple word of encouragement.
When Jairus, an official in the local synagogue, shows up a Jesus' door pleading with Jesus to come and heal his daughter who was sick, we don't often stop to think who it was that told Jairus about Jesus. There was probably someone who said, "Have you heard about Jesus? He can heal your daughter."
God is working. He wants to work through all of his followers. In his superplan, he often works in interesting and unimaginable ways. But He is always working to bring salvation and he loves to partner with us to do it.
Nik Ripkin has a way of speaking with prophetic power to the North American church. If you have not heard his Liberty University talk, I'd encourage you to do so [watch here].
Nik was the featured speaker at this weekends Heart For Muslims conference in New York City and he once again delivered two great talks that were powerful, challenging and full of faith. There is much that he shared that I'd like to write about and will probably revisit with coming articles but with this article I wanted to share Nik Ripkin's three simple steps to helping your church develop a great commission, sending culture that is focused on reaching the nations.
At every child dedication in the church pray a prayer of dedication that includes a dedication to raise the child up to serve the Lord among the lost with all of their hearts no matter where it takes them. Pray for parents to have hearts bent toward sending their children into the harvest among the world's 2.1 billion unreached. And then give every child a Bible and commit to teach them to read and obey the word of God.
At that child dedication, give every child a passport application and have parents commit to keeping their passport renewed and ready to use.
At that child dedication, give every child a savings account with $200 in it as a beginning fund for their first missions trip to be taken as a teen. Have the family and church commit to adding to that account at birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions.
That ought to about do it.
I want to encourage you to consider reading Nik Ripkin's books, The Insanity of God and The Insanity of Obedience.
(check out the movie too)
When I first received training and began working to apply the principles and strategies that would lead to multiplying movements of disciples-making-disciples and churches-planting-churches, I thought I had it figured out.
After all, I'd sat through a few hours of training and read the book, T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution.
I quickly realized that the way I'd always done things and learned to do things - my old paradigms of ministry - were well worn into my life. Like a deep rut in a country road, these paradigms kept sucking me back in. I'd think I was applying the principles of multiplication only to find out I'd slipped back into old habits.
What I needed was a way to continually refresh and re-form and recast vision. If vision leaks, I needed a way to constantly be refilling the vision.
24:14 - A Testimony To All Peoples is just that sort of resource. A collection of articles and testimonies from movement practitioners around the world, it provides a great source of inspiration, testimonies, new ideas and a clear vision for finishing the task.
The book is built around Jesus' words in Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." It has forty three chapters, all easily readable in five to ten minutes.
The old saying goes, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." With this book I'd reframe that old proverb and rather say, "A chapter a week keeps the vision refreshed."
>>> Find 24:14 Here (FREE)
“In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God’s work, especially the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer.”
Prayer is the one resource we have as followers of Christ committed to the completion of the great commission that is truly without borders. It is the work that travels from everywhere to everywhere. It is not bound by time or location and as Samuel Zwemer so aptly pointed out, "the history of missions is the history of answered prayer."
Mobilizing prayer is then an important work with eternal significance. With today's article we want to share a few resources to help your church pray more for the nations so that you can better partner with our missionary God through prayer.
These are but four simple resources to mobilize more prayer from your congregation. But they will mobilize nothing if you don't take them and share them with others and invite others to join you in using them to pray for the nations.
Will you join the Everywhere to Everywhere community in mobilizing more prayer?
Before moving to Central Asia in 2008 I was fortunate to spend time at Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado doing some pre-field training. This included two weeks of language training with Dwight and Barbara Gradin. We were not learning our target language but rather receiving training to be more effective and efficient language learners.
That training set the stage for becoming a language coach and the writer behind The Everyday Language Learner. The goal was to help as many people as possible be successful language learners and in the process create a location independent business which would allow continued work throughout the Muslim world regardless of whether we lived there or not.
When we returned to the states in 2012, my goal was to continue to grow this online business model. Traffic grew. Influence grew. But I lacked the business acumen to really make a go of things. And so in 2014, The Everyday Language Learner went away. I moved on and see now all that God was doing to prepare me through those years for the work I'm doing now to mobilize and train the church into the harvest.
I want to share with you a few resources that were created during that season. The three resources below are ebooks that you can downloard for free. I hope that they will help you learn another language so that you can more effectively share the gospel.
Enjoy and share them with others.
Before You Move Overseas: This workbook is a blueprint for the weeks and months BEFORE you board the plane. In it you will find actions that, when implemented, will help you prepare for the language learning journey. This workbook is filled with the actions I wish someone had encouraged me to take in that year before moving. The bulk of this guide then is made up of ten actions you can take over the coming months before you move. [Read it Here]
Activities and Strategies for Everyday Language Learners: This ebook is a collection of 56 articles from the Everyday Language Learner blog focusing primarily on practical, hands-on activities you can do in your personal study time, with a language helper or out in the community. This is a 243 page ebook! [Read it Here]
The Everyday Language Learner's Guide to Getting Started: This is the most robust guide I wrote and in it I give all the information needed to be a self-directed, independent language learner. [You can download a zip file from the bottom right of the Resource Page]
Most cross cultural work will require the learning of another language. It is essential to be able to effectively communicate the gospel. I hope that these resources will help you on the language learning journey.
“The Bible has been changed.”
It was an assertion I’d heard before. I’ve heard it from nearly every Muslim friend I’ve talked about the gospel with and so I wasn’t surprised when my new friend John tossed it into our conversation.
We’d been talking and as is often the case, something he’d said reminded me of a story from the scriptures. For probably the fourth time in our conversation I’d gone to the Bible and shared a passage or a story, a proverb or a psalm.
There are a number of helpful responses to the claim that the Bible’s been changed. Indeed, the ability to defend the validity of scripture is a necessary skill that all involved in Muslim ministry must acquire. Thankfully there are great resources for equipping believers in this skill [see Fouad Masri’s small booklet “Is the Injeel Corrupted”]
And perhaps in a later post I’ll unpack a few of those.
It has often been said that one can win the argument but loose the person. It seems there are times when this is used as an excuse for shoddy theology and weak-kneed gospel proclamation, but it does reflect Jesus’ instruction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).
Abdu Murray is an example of someone who does this well. His winsome proclamation and defense of the gospel is a living example of 1 Peter 3:15 where believers are exhorted to “honor Christ the Lord in our hearts as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
In his hour-long presentation at the Defend Apologetics Conference, Abdu begins with an encouragement from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Murray points out that Paul does not say, ‘each argument'. Arguments are plentiful and they deserve answers, but as followers of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, we are encouraged to answer ‘each person’.
My friend John is a person. He is fearfully and wonderfully made. He was created in the image of God, a God who knows every hair on his head and who willingly went to the cross for him.
And so we must take care not to dehumanize our non-believing friends into caricatures of the arguments they espouse. While rude caricatures and gross mischaracterizations are the tenor of these days, as disciples of Jesus we must love non-believers as Christ loves them.
We must have the First Corinthian’s thirteen kind of love that is patient and kind. We must not envy or boast or be arrogant or dishonor them. We must not insist on getting our own way. We must not get angry easily or hold grudges and we can’t rejoice in their wrongdoing but rather must rejoice in the truth. And we protect our non-believing friends, trusting with a deep hope that never gives up.
Because love won’t fail.
And yes, because the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, we must be prepared to help remove those blinders with sound teaching, good questions, gentle rebuke and prayerful perseverance.
But we must do all of this first and foremost, in love.
Here is Abdu Murray's talk.
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We are a collection of practitioners and trainers dedicated to equipping and encouraging everyone everywhere to proclaim the gospel and make disciples among the unreached locally, nationally and globally.