Serving as Senders
Chapter Eight: Your Part in the Big Picture
"Be strong and very courageous that you may do it!"
"With tears in her eyes she said. ’I have never heard of this Jesus. Thank you for telling me.’ This was the response of our hotel maid as she received a Bible and the message of Christ’s love. Before we left, she bowed her head to receive Him as Savior.
"Little did I realize this story and a story yet unfolding would be birthed as I watched our three member mission team fly off to our church’s adopted people group without me because I had forgotten my passport! As I sat alone in a hotel room near JFK airport, I cried out to God. I felt I had failed the Lord, my congregation and my family. But God had a plan. He revealed that night and in the days to come that our small church family would be used by Him to reach an entire nation with the Gospel, but not without Him!
"Our church’s involvement began five years before, when six people registered for the "Perspectives" course. During that time we began praying for a couple who were teaching English in a Muslim country which had only one known believer. As the Missions Committee and church Elders prayed, God led us to formally ’adopt’ this people group.
"On that first trip, after catching up to the other three in our team, I received a deep, God-given love for the people. Through the help of a ’tentmaker’ Christian worker, I was able to lead a Basketball Clinic for a University team. Because of the one-day delay (due to the forgotten passport), I flew with two Middle Eastern coaches which resulted in an invitation to bring a team from the USA!
"More prayer and another trip! This time we took an Athletes In Action basketball team, which resulted in the establishment of an International Tournament among these Muslim nations. We asked our translator if we should publicly share Christ since it had apparently not been done here for a thousand years! He answered, ’The President says we have religious freedom, so do it!’
"During the opening ceremonies, the nation’s Vice President asked me to give a greeting. I stepped to the microphone and gave the gym and national TV audiences a three minute Gospel message. During our eight-game, two-country tour, we openly preached Christ, resulting in over 100 declaring their salvation in Christ and hundreds more asking for help and materials.
"After returning home, we learned that each of the five churches in the capital had been closed down by the police. Our church prayed and fasted. God not only changed the leaders’ hearts to reopen the churches, but our team was invited for a Second Annual Tournament.
"In preparation for this second basketball outreach, our church family and other friends prepared, prayed and fasted, and gave financially for the trip. However, in the week prior to leaving, one of the players broke his ankle, several players were unable to secure their financial support, one of the two tournaments was cancelled, and officials told us we would not be able to share Christ openly. When it seemed impossible, God provided another player, the finances, an extended stay in our ’adopted’ country, and a game in a neighboring country.
"The spiritual battle was still being fought as we arrived. We could not share Christ during the half-times as we had been told. But the officials also turned off all the lights immediately after our games so we could not talk with the people. We sent urgent e-mail messages home! We needed prayer! And God intervened!
"In answer to those prayers, a member of the President’s cabinet invited me to his office. This began a chain of events that encompasses international exchange on government and university levels, international oil and telecommunication companies, leaders of Christian moral and ethics curriculum development, and multi-million dollar agreements. Without giving details (because negotiations are in progress), we can say that God has fulfilled not only what He had revealed to me in that lonely hotel room, but has done far more than we could imagine. And the story continues...!"
Why is it so crucial that you and your fellowship be strong and courageous to serve as senders? Because God is orchestrating a concert of global activity in our times in which tens of thousands of new missionaries are going to every people, tribe, tongue and nation. And every goer needs a solid team of senders. You and your "little church" could reach a nationand nationsfor Christ!
A New Harvest Force
Worldwide, the harvest team is growingparticularly in the Two-Thirds World. (Westerners used to call it the "Third World," but it represents two-thirds of the world’s population living on two-thirds of the earth’s surface. And this "developing world" now forms more than two-thirds of the global Body of Christ.) Mission is now from everywhere to everywhere:
· A church in Mongolia was birthed in 1990. Within five years they sent their first two missionaries to India. Several Mongolian congregations are now sending missionaries into China and around the globe on Operation Mobilization’s Doulos and Logos II, their floating evangelistic bookstores.
· One of Christendom’s most unique missionary teams is a Filipino couple sent under a Singapore mission agency, supported by Indonesian churches to minister to Indians in Paraguay, South America.
· Brazil has sent out more than 2,500 missionaries, and its churches are challenging each other to send out 50,000 of their young people into cross-cultural ministry.
· Nigerian churches have sent more than 2,000 missionaries. Kenya is fielding about 2,300 cross-cultural workers. And India has more than 11,000 workers ministering across the complex cultural barriers in that massive country.
· Recently 65,000 Korean young people committed themselves to serve as missionaries for one year or more.
In North America, the number of career missionaries dropped markedly in the late 50s and continued to decline in the ’90s. In 1988, American churches had a career missionary force of just over 50,000. By 1997, that number had declined to about 30,000, according to the MARC North American Mission Handbook, 17th Edition.
Yet, recently even American churches see signs of a striking surge in the harvest force of the near future:
· More than a quarter-million American short-term missionaries go outside the borders of the U.S. every year now. Conventional estimates are that 20% of short-termers will move into longer-range mission work.
· As the Baby Boomers near retirement, the Finishers’ Project estimates that more than four million Boomers will retire early and consider missions as their "second career."
· U.S. Center for World Mission Founder Ralph Winter holds that perhaps 40,000 American young adults are now ready to go as missionariesif churches would send them.
But regardless of how many commit to missions in the 21st Century, this new harvest force won’t go (or worse, will go and not be as effective) unless they are sent.
In secular war, there is an acknowledged ratio of support personnel to frontline soldiers. In World War II, the military ratio was generally 15 to one. In the Persian Gulf War of 1991, that ratio was expanded to 50 support workers per frontline soldier.
Spiritual warfare, which all true missionary work is, demands no less an emphasis on support personnel. In the 1700s, the Moravians of Central Europe enlisted four senders for each goer. In the Student Volunteer Movement, a massive army of 20,000 frontline missionaries were sent out. But in that same God-inspired movement, there were 80,000 committed to care for those who went. If the 21st-century harvest force is to grow by thousands of new missionaries, the sending force must grow proportionately by hundreds of thousands.
Look What God Is Doing in His Harvest Field Today
To understand the significance of a sending ministry, we need to see how it fits into the big picture of what God is doing. The message of the Gospel never changes, but the "all things to all men so that by all means..." (I Corinthians 9:22) do change. For example, the following factors are affecting the methods God is using to reap a 21st-century harvest:
· Restricted access countries are increasing, making harvest laborers more creative in their entry as students, business entrepreneurseven tourists.
· Short-term missions is getting strategic. Increasingly, their efforts are being integrated carefully into long-term strategies on the field. For example, a missionary in a restrictive country had tried without success for five years to meet the leaders of his target city. When he hosted for just one week a team of professionals from his home country, the leaders of the city openly welcomed them. As the missionary followed up on the group’s contact, he exclaimed, "this team opened more doors in one week than I had opened in five years!"
· Missions is accepting more "imperfect" laborers. Many are finding it easier to break through the cultural and personal barriers of the people among whom they minister because they have "been there." Thus, a single American mother is effectively ministering to single moms in Indonesia. A recovered alcoholic is a missionary to alcoholics in Russia. God is releasing non-traditional workers into His harvest!
The harvest field isn’t primarily rural anymore. Over 50% of the world’s population now live in cit-ies. Mass media blankets huge populations, and many times displaced people groups are more open to the Gospel than when they had lived in their rural homelands.
· Technology is being used as never before. The JESUS Film, a drama portraying the events of the Gospel of Luke, has been viewed by more than a billion people in 400 languages. Through this film alone, it is reported, millions have come to faith in Christ! E-mail and the Internet have truly connected the world into a global village!
Dave Bryant, executive director of Concerts of Prayer International, says in his exciting book The Hope at Hand (Baker Books, 1995), "There’s an explosion of spiritual harvest around the world such as the Church has never seen before." Let’s look at some highlights:
· Every day across the world another 74,000 are added to the Body of Christ!
· The country of Jordan recently joined an admirable group of countries including Panama, Croatia, Papua New Guinea and 24 otherscountries who have mandated Bible teaching in their public schools.
· In the late 1980s in England, less than 8% of the population attended church and an average of one church closed every week. Yet by the late ’90s one new church started each week. Virtually every denomination in the Body of Christ in England committed together to plant 20,000 new churches and see 20% of the population attending a Bible-teaching church. Argentine believers multiplied by 800% over a recent ten-year period.
· In 1993 there were no known believers in the Mongolian city of Erdenet. Just five years later the house churches across the city gathered and had to rent the largest auditorium in Erdenet because there were now more than one thousand believers.
· In one decade more than 30 million in Russia came to faith in Jesus Christ.
· The Church in Kazakhstan is mushrooming. For example, a Russian gave a Bible to a young Kazakh named Yerkinbek, who introduced his brother Aitkali to Christ. Aitkali led scores of young Kazakhs to Jesus. One of those was Bakitbek. He led eight others to Christ before he even knew there was an Apostle Paul. One of the eight was his sister Kunai, who introduced dozens of university students to Jesus. So during a brief span of 18 months six generations of new believers were birthed. In Almaaty more than 800 Kazakhs found new life in Christ in one year.
· In Brasilia, Brazil, 40 small congregations joined together to send their first missionary team.
· There are now more than 10,000 Spanish-speaking churches in the U.S.. Ethnic churches, of many languages, are in every major city.
· In Baghdad one church grew from 250 to 1,200 members in just five years. Though many reports from Middle Eastern countries are often cloaked in disguised terms, victory is being told as men and women, embarrassed and frustrated by their religious and political leadership, are trusting in Christ in numbers beyond all previous records.
· A team of Russian military men have formed an evangelistic team called "Christ is Victor." In a military base outside Moscow, the team presented a challenge to come to Christ to the 200 staff members. One hundred ninety committed their lives to Christ. The ten who didn’t, the team explained, were Muslims who did not attend the sessions.
· Recently in Saudi Arabia two Filipino Christians, Janda and Arnel Betran, were beheaded, convicted on what other believers said were totally false charges. More Christians have been martyred for their faith in the 20th Century than in the previous nineteen! And the 21st isn’t looking any better!
· The motto of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is "In God We Stand." The President, Jean-Marie Leye Lenelcau Manatawai, said, "A lot of leaders in the world are now turning to God. For leaders to walk straight they have to follow what the Word of God says."
· The president of Uganda recently addressed his people. His (excerpted) comments: "As I observe the tribal differences, religious divisions, poverty and disease, lack of sufficient educational opportunities for our children, political upheaval and racial strife, it becomes obvious that the principles of Jesus Christ have not penetrated Africa enough! It may seem strange for some of you to think that I would say this about Christ, because I know many of you think this is too religious and not a very practical solution to the problems I have just mentioned....
"As the years have gone by, however, even though I have not become a member of any special religious group, I have decided to follow Jesus Christ with my whole heart. I find in him the inner strength, the precepts and the lifestyle that can help me and all the people of Uganda to solve the problems we face individually and as a nation....
"With that in mind, I want to stress at least three significant precepts that Christ taught and modeled, which if practiced, will help Africa: forgiveness, humility and love.... Today, as we meet together, let’s resolve to take Jesus Christ out of the religious setting in which we have imprisoned Him and walk with Him along the dusty roads of Africa where He feels much more at home."
· The number of Christians in Asia more than doubled during the past 20 years.
· In 1990 there were only five known evangelical believers in the communist atheist country of Albania. In 1997, there were 129 churches and more than 6,000 believers. And "Christ added to the Church daily those who are being saved" (Acts 2:47).
· The country of Uruguay has long prided itself on being a secular atheistic nation, resistant to the Gospel. However, recently a joint effort of mission agencies and churches in the city of Montevideo resulted in an estimated 1,500 people making professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
· Believers in Uruguay initiated a National Day of Prayerpurposely set on the dubious day of October 31Halloween!
· An average of 1,000 people per day die of AIDS in the small country of Zambia. Believers preach at funerals for AIDS victimsusually threeday ceremonies involving thousands. Over two dozen new churches were readily plantedand more each month!
· Recent Marches for Jesuscity-wide demonstrations declaring the lordship of Christhave involved millions of believers around the world. More than 85,000 marched together in Berlin and 1.5 million in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The newspaper headlines in El Alto, Bolivia, read after one March: "Jesus Summons a Bigger Crowd Than the Political Parties!"
· The October "Praying Through the Window" movement has found literally millions of committed Christians from around the world focusing a month of prayer for evangelization within the 10/40 Window. Only God knows what effect these prayers have had on the above reports!
This is good news!
However, with the prince of this world infusing only bad news into much of the Western media, most European and North American churches are discouraged about the increasing encroachment of evil. But where the darkness of sin is abounding, grace is much more abounding. What God is doing in today’s harvest field echoes Habakkuk 1:5: "Look among the nations! Observe! Wonder! Be amazed! For I am doing something in your day you would not believe if you were told!"
Where the Church has been planted, it has grown like wildfire. For example, a century ago true believers represented just 2.5% of world population. Then in 1970 that percentage doubled-to 5% of a much larger world population. Then it took just 22 years to double again; in 1992 true believers represented 10% of an even larger world population. Today the percentage of committed Christians is growing exponentially.
And as it grows, it is reaching across language, racial and cultural barriers to unreached people groups. God has raised up Surinam missionaries to go to the Muslims of North Africa, Chinese believers to settle among unreached Tibetans, and thousands of Indian evangelists to target the 2,000 unreached ethnic groups within India. The Good News is breaking out worldwide!
And we see only the tip of the iceberg of our Heavenly Father’s business these days. His perspective is infinitely deeper and broader.
To better understand and find our part as senders in this awesome task of world evangelization, we must continue to look at the bigger picture of God’s purpose on earth in terms of bridging cultural distinctives and establishing strong, evangelizing churches where "Christ has not yet been preached" (Romans 15:20). We must ask, "What is the remaining task? What is the status of the Great Commission in today’s world?"
The Final Frontiers
Missiologists have researched and determined approximately 24,000 people groups in the world. Roughly half of the world’s population live in 12,000 "reached" people groups. This does not mean all these individuals are Christians; it simply means they live in people groups where it’s possible for them to respond to a clear presentation of the Gospel from within their own culture in their own language.
Thus, the other half of our planet’s residents live in about 12,000 "unreached" people groups. Neither does this mean that there are no Christians living in these areas. It does mean that there is not a viable, Bible-believing, reproducing church.
While about 1,000 of these unreached groups are scattered among various world cultures, 11,000 of them are mostly in five major cultural blocs: Muslim groups; tribals; Hindus; Han Chinese; and Buddhist groups.
The unreached groups are mostly located geographically in what has come to be called ’The 10/40 Window"from West Africa across Asia between the latitudes of ten degrees north and forty degrees north.
Within this 10/40 window are:
- Most of the world’s unreached peoples;
- Two-thirds of the world’s population, although it is only one-third of the earth’s land area;
- The heart of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism;
- Eight out of ten of the poorest of the world’s poor, enduring the world’s lowest quality of living.
Mission statesman Luis Bush, who is calling Christendom’s attention to this region. also points out that the 10/40 Window "is a stronghold of Satan."
The spiritual need staring at us from the 10/40 Window is staggering. Yet, when we grasp its significance, the next question we must ask is: What are we doing about it?
A Mission Renewal Movement
Historically, the modern movements to reach the ends of the earth with God’s blessing have occurred in waves. The first wave, championed by William Carey in the late 1700s, washed upon the seacoasts of the globe’s continents. The second era, spearheaded by Hudson Taylor about 1865, thrust scores of bold and daring missionaries to the inland regions of the nations.
The Third Wave, responding to Cameron Townsend and Donald McGavran’s call to go to the remaining culturally isolated "hidden" or "unreached peoples," is swelling in many giant waves into the 21st Century.
Yet, as awareness of this surge is being broadcast, only a small percentage of the world’s missionary force is currently deployed to these unreached people groups!
Manpower isn’t the only area of imbalance in our attempts to make disciples of every nation. The world’s believers spend .09% of their income on ministries to non-Christians in reached people groups, where a church movement has already been planted. But the world’s Christians spend only 0.01% on reaching the remaining unreached people groups. (Statistics from Our Globe and How To Reach It, page 25. See "Resources," page 200.)
It is impossible to place numbers to the other five areas of care. The October "Praying Through the Window" statistics are encouraging. And reports from individual missionaries of being better cared for are great. But worldwide, because the focus is still on "money andoh, yesprayer, if you can," it would be safe to say that a very meager investment of grass roots care has been made for frontier missionaries. But you, and thousands like you, are learning about serving as senders. And change isslowlycoming about!
A Bold, Move Forward
As in New Testament times, today there are "Pauls" and "Timothys."
Though fewer in number, there are those who follow Paul’s example of "going where Christ is not named." They have set bold, adventurous, aggressive goals to penetrate the final frontiers. "I have fully preached the Gospel in these parts...; I’m going to Spain’which, in Paul’s day, was the end of the earth! (See Romans 15.)
These 21st-century, forward-thinking missionaries are taking the Mark 16 aspect of the Great Commission: Go! Preach! to every person who has not heard the Good News in a culturally relevant context.
On the other hand, there is a second army of cross-cultural workers whose giftings lead them to follow the Matthew 28 command of the Great Commission: Go! Teach! Where daring evangelists of previous generations preached the Gospel of Peace there are today literally thousands of new "Macedonians" standing on the shores of their nations calling, "Come over and help us. Teach us the Word in such a way that we can teach others." (See Acts 16:9 9 and 2 Timothy 2:2.) It was Timothy, Titus, Erastus and others that Paul sent to "set in order the things that need attention and appoint elders in every city" (Titus 1:5).
Some people have suggested repositioning the world’s 150,000 missionaries from working in reached fields to target unreached peoples. But much of the work being done among reached peoples is crucial too. Established churches in areas of reached peoples need to be equipped, trained and motivated not only to evangelize their own people but to become sending centers to reach the unreached! Caring for the missionary workers of these equipping ministries is definitely necessary as they strengthen new churches. These churches are producing the new wave of Two-Thirds World missionaries.
For example, God is strategically using North American cross-cultural workers among Latin American reached peoples. These workers train and equip Latins to share Christ within their cultures and to go out by the hundreds as new missionaries to the frontiersparticularly to the Muslims of North Africa and the Middle East!
Shifting missionaries to target unreached peoples is not the answer. The answer is two-fold:
1) To identify, challenge and mobilize bold, Pauline-thinking, world-class teams to go directly to the unreached groups of the world, and
2) To increase the number of "Timothys" who are training Two-Thirds World nationals to go to unreached people groups which, by the way, are more accessible to them than to Westerners.
Whether they are Pauls or Timothys, missionaries are needed in God’s flourishing harvest field. And for each one, a team of caregivers is also needed!
Even in those cultures where the Church has not yet been planted, among the unreached peoples of the world, the Body of Christ is making great headway.
The remaining unreached people groups on the planet with more than 10,000 population have been identified and researched. As the more than 400 Christian research organizations around the world have begun sharing information, a roster of about 2,000 unreached groups are now being targeted by mission agencies, churches and denominations worldwide.
As the Gospel comes to these 2,000. we will undoubtedly find more and smaller unreached culturesperhaps as many as 8,000 more. Each of these distinct people groups need to hear and see the Gospel demonstrated in their own culture. That means we’re looking at the need for perhaps 10,000 new teams of missionaries. Most mission teams number about eight; so the Great Commission to make disciples out of all the nationsthe ethnic peoplescalls for at least 80,000 new missionaries! These are the Pauls!
Meanwhile, there is still often a need for missionaries to continue ministry in people groups that already have a church movement. For example, the Hmong people of Laos and Vietnam recently shifted from the "unreached" to "reached" status. That is, from the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s, 330,000 of the 500,000 Hmong population became believers in Jesus Christ. So although there is obviously an amazing explosion of the Gospel affecting this entire people group, the Hmong still need outside missionaries’ help to establish training programs, to develop their own Christian growth materials, to mentor leaders. These are the Timothys!
God will accomplish His historic purpose to "make disciples of all the nations"the people groups of the world. (See Matthew 28:19.) At the end of time Christ will be exalted with the song: "By Your blood You have purchased for God men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). So finishing the task is only a matter of when and through whom.
Today there are nearly two billion worldwide who claim to follow Jesus Christ. Out of these, about 600,000,000 are committed, true believers. Clustered into congregations of about 80the average size of the world’s local churchesit’s obvious that the Body of Christ now has millions of congregations to impact their own cultures, reach the unreached and serve churches in other cultures.
If some will go. If some will serve as senders.
(Many statistics have been shared in this section. Because of God’s fast-paced thrust in this 21st century, "numbers" are quickly outdated. For current information about these unreached peoples, the countries they live in and the global efforts to bring the Gospel to them, get on-line via the Internet. A few selected web sites are listed in the Resource Section, page 204.)
The Great Commission will be fulfilled. Jesus Christ will offer the blessing of redemption to every nation. From every people group there will be those discipled in Christ’s commandments. And to accomplish His historic purpose, God will use a huge harvest force of goers and senders. As Mordecai said to Esther, "Who knows but that you have been brought to the kingdom for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14).
This exciting scenariothe possibility of being a part of the closure of His Great Plan of the Agesbrings us full circle back to you. You are as excited about "a church for every people" as any mission strategist who theorizes that it can be done. You are as zealous for a thriving reproducing church in your adopted people group as the most ardent frontier missionary. You are as passionate as the most effective fulltime evangelist about seeing the lost from every tongue and tribe fording new life in Christ. But your zeal and passion have been tempered with the knowledge from God that, at least for now, you are to stay right where you are, actively functioning in your local fellowship.
In this chapter we have focused much of our attention on the critical strategy of reaching the unreached. Let’s superimpose this plan of "going where the Gospel has not been preached" over the grid of the six sending responsibilities of a support team. What additional activities for your involvement will this thrust provide for you?
Moral Support: Learn all you can about unreached people groups. Keep abreast of what is being done to develop and deploy the teams needed. When you hear of a person interested in going to the mission field, encourage him to focus on one of the two thrusts of cross-cultural ministry: training Two-Thirds World nationals to reach the unreached (a "Timothy") or taking the bold, Pauline drive to "Spain"to the ends of the earth!
Read Joshua 1. Listen to God’s continual encouragement to Joshua to "be strong and of a good courage" (v. 6). Again, "Be strong and very courageous..." (v. 7). Yet again, "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be discouraged..." (v. 9). And then, as the people followed God’s example (v. 18), you shout the encouragement, "Be strong and of a good courage!" This is moral support at its best!
Logistics Support: If you hold some position (formal or informal) to influence the decision-makers of your church, encourage them to establish corporate mission policies that reflect the two-pronged thrust for training Two-Thirds World nationals and frontier-focused teams. This can be done most directly through the kinds of cross-cultural workers and types of missions your church will support.
When missionary candidates come before your leadership seeking support, discern whether they are part of either a Pauline church-planting team ministry to an unreached people or a Timothy, teaching the Word to national leadership so they may go out to teach others or develop their church as a sending center. Better yet, look among your Body for the cross-cultural "parts" and mobilize them to become part of reaching the unreached.
Prominently display literature and posters that encourage reaching the unreached. On your church’s map of the world, trace the 10/40 Window. Highlight any missionaries you have working in that area or that are training Two-Thirds World nationals to go to that area. Place a small mirror in one of the oceans. Caption it with, "Where in the world do you belong?
Financial Support: Until you have a specific friend moving into this type of cross-cultural ministry that you can financially support, consider directing your missionary offerings to organizations that are focusing on this massive plan of reaching the unreached. You can begin putting into practice the principles of "living more with less." You can submit yourself to the discipline of war-time austerity. You can encourage others to join you. These ideas can be effected on a personal and church level.
Prayer Support: To stretch your intercession to include this awesome task, prayerfully adopt an unreached people group. Learn about the people. Understand their lifestyle. Become aware of their religious practices. Pray knowledgeably for them. Gather a group around you for corporate prayer for the people, for the organization that will target the group, for the specific team that will enter their lives and for the churches that will send and support the team.
Pray for the mission leaders who are challenging the Body of Christ worldwide to participate in this task of world evangelization. Pray for the several thousand organizations that already have a program running to help complete the task.
Learn more about praying for unreached people groups through Operation World, through Passports to the World, booklets on each countrycolorful "People Profiles" on each unreached people group, and the Global Prayer Digest (see "Resources," pages 200,203,204). Use these tools to help you focus your prayers on the unreached.
Spend an evening at your local library or browse the Internet (or find a teenager who can surf the `Net for you) to look up information on the people group your missionary is working amongnot just the political country he is in. Jot down findings that are significant to that group’s needs, spiritual bondage and possible openings to the Gospel. If the group is one that is already reached and your missionary is equipping them for growth, find out how you can pray that they will become a strong sending center for their own missionaries!
Pray for your church to act more aggressively upon the challenge of reaching the unreached.
Communication Support: If you do not know any missionaries, contact your denomination’s missions division or any one of the mission agencies listed on page 204. Express your desire to develop a penpal relationship with someone in a ministry in the area of the world (or people group) or type of ministry (evangelism, Bible translation, etc.) that the Lord has placed on your heart.
Don’t forget the children. Develop an e-mail penpal relationship with the children of missionaries who are living and ministering among the peoples of the world.
Re-entry Support: Review our last chapter and remind yourself of the critical needs of missionaries returning from other cultures. Remember that this area of care is the least talked about and thus the most easily ignored. Yet one of the most critical. Unreached ethnic groups are especially different from Western culture, so re-entry stress is likely to be accentuated in these frontier mission workers. Be an active listener as they process all they experienced.
But the experience they’ve gained and the unique information they’ve learned is particularly important for the home churchfor intelligent prayer and strategic planning. Welcome these returning workers into your home and your life. Let them share what they have been learningin your home group or at your church. Get them on a radio or TV talk show. Have their story written up in your local newspaper. Have them share at the schools and civic organizations. Give them that opportunity for debriefing and for spreading the news of what God is doing in these final hours of history!
(In addition to the individual study below, see the Group Leader’s Guide for session eight beginning on page 197).
For Your Personal Involvement
· Read the story of Esther. (It’s just a short book.) Pay particular attention to Mordecai’s challenge to her when she was hesitant about going in to the king (See See Esther 4:13-14.) As history records, Esther fit into God’s plan and purpose for her. She truly was called to the kingdom for such an hour as that. Throughout the Word, men and women fulfilled His will for their lives and found their place in God’s Hall of Faith (See Hebrews 11.) Mordecai’s question, reverberating down through the corridors of time, heard clearly by some generations, ignored by others, is sounding a challenge to you todaya challenge to recognize that you have been called to the Kingdom for an hour such as this! It is time to give serious, prayerful consideration: Has God placed a call on your life to serve as a sender?
· Reaching the unreached is such a fast-paced move of God that it is making yesterday’s headlines look like ancient history. Because of this, contact some of the organizations listed in "Resources," page 201, to get current information on global breakthroughs among un-reached peoples. Be prepared to share those highlights with your fellowship group. Become "Internet-literate" for even more up-to-the-date information.
This is it! A decision for personal involvement cannot be put off any longer! By the time you have read Chapter Eight, completed the For Your Personal Involvement section and participated in a discussion group, you should...
· Be able to decide if serving as a sender is the part of the Body of Christ that God has divinely established for you for right now. You might remember that in the very beginning we did say that if not serving as a sender is what God shows you by having read and studied this book, that is a good decision. Move on now to find and actively involve yourself in those "good deeds that He beforehand has determined for you to walk in, for you are His most finely crafted work of art created in Christ Jesus" for that purpose (Ephesians 2:10).
· If you do sense God’s calling on your life to serve as a sender but still have not decided on one or another of the six sending responsibilitiesor if you would like to do everything, go back over the For Your Personal Involvement sections to review each chapter. Find someone who knows you well with whom you can talk, particularly about the giftings and abilities that seem to be the qualifications for each category. And one who will give you an honest appraisal of your possession of those giftings and abilities!
· If you have heard His confirmation and have found the one or more areas in which to serve as a sender, actively, aggressively pursue and develop this calling. Begin with the ideas given in this book, but don’t be limited by them. Be creative. Expand your capacity to serve. Allow His genius to surge through you for, after all, "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).
· Go back to the For Your Personal Involvement section of Chapter One, on page 27. If, when you were considering that chapter, you were not able to fill in the statement of the vitality of serving as a sender, reread those Scriptures and prayerfully complete that statement now.
· Multiply yourself. Having a clear purpose in your own heart and mind, actively seek others in your fellowship who will bind themselves with you in the task of serving as senders. Look for vibrant Christians who don’t seem to "fit in" anywhere. It is quite possible they are looking for an opportunity like this. Share the six sending responsibilities with them.
For "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved. But how will they call upon Him if they have not believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard of Him? And how shall they hear of Him without someone to tell them? And how can anyone spread the Good News unless they are sent?" (Romans 10:13-15).