Monday, October 26, 2009

Who Will Go? Who Will Send?

Who will go for it? Who will send em where they need to serve?

I love the Lord and I love missions! How about you? Wanna hear some very beautiful words: "They sent them away." Wanna have ..or see some beautiful feet? Listen, this is not the day when churches in the West should stop sending out on-fire missionaries!

Jesus said "Go" how can we say "No"?

Western churches aiming to send money only and not Christians is an unbiblical and bad idea. It sounds like "God's calling me to go, but He won't mind if I just send cash in my place." That might salve your guilty conscience for awhile but why miss out? It kinda sounds like "Let the National's blood be shed on that foreign dirt and not ours, but hey, we'll support em all the way!" Ask what He would have you do? Why not pray: "Here am I! Send me."

I love it that so many wonderful Christians are boldly sharing their faith using social networks, emails, websites, cell phones etc, but we all must remember that none of this high tech stuff (fishing tools) should replace God-called Christians from actually going to unbelievers in foreign lands to serve them, to witness and to plant viable Christian churches that will love and minister to the people. We've got to remember that many people still don't have an email inbox ..or a computer for that matter, or speak our language (I should talk, cuz I'm guilty of foisting my English and Danglish on people for years). But it's only right for some of us to go be with them where they live and then learn their language. it's only right for our churches to send strong consistent believers! They've got to see Christ's love and practical ways lived out before them and for some hearers it could take a couple years before they finally trust Christ. Yes, I've seen this in lands like Switzerland where a pastor or Christian must earn the right to be heard. You know, I've been seeing so called "cyber-churches" popping up and I feel really excited about those involved who have a heart to spread the Gospel to as many as possible while we still have time. But starting twitter churches etc (which I am not slighting at all..) is not something any of us should do to replace churches being planted at home and overseas. We are the Church and we need to gather together to encourage and help each other. Fellowship needs to happen face to face and heart to heart a lot as well as adding in the cool supplemental online edification that we've been experiencing!

Did ya know that at the beginning of the 20th century, about 71% of all professing Christians in the whole world.. lived in Europe? It's true. Did ya know that by the end of the 20th century, that number had shrunk down to only 28%? Yup, and approximately 43% of all Christians now live in Latin America and in Africa. i

Did you know that in the year 1900, Africa had ten million Christians living there, which was about 10% of the world's population? By the year 2000, the number of real Christians was 360 million, which is about half the population of the entire continent. This was probably the largest shift in spiritual affiliation that has ever occurred on this planet, anywhere. ii

Did you know that the number of practicing Christians in China right now is approaching the same number that is here in the USA? It's true! iii

Did you know that there are more Presbyterians currently in church in Ghana than there are in all of Scotland? And Scotland is known for having had great preachers.  

Did you know that last Sunday.. more believers attended church in China than in all of so-called Christian Europe (Tactful gracious Muslim evangelism needs to be happening in the EU more and more).

Did ya know that Kenya has more Christians in churches on Sunday than Canada does.. or that more believers already worship together in Nagaland than they do in Norway? It's true, and more righteous fishers of men, women, boys and of girls from Brazil are now active in cross cultural ministry outside of their own homeland than there are from Great Britain or from Canada. Astounding and cool huh! In the Southern part of the world, the churches are increasingly sending believers out in faith. iv

Mark Noll has said, "The Christian church has experienced a larger geographical redistribution in the last fifty years than in any comparable period in its history, with the exception of the very earliest years of church history."  Any of us on any given day can easily become so distracted by our particular social events (big deal), concerts, sports n movie stars, getting the next iPod, video game or larger flat screen TV but here are some more stats that might help bring us to put what's really important in proper perspective:

The Need - More Missions Factoids

• Of the 16,344 people groups by country, 6,639 are still considered unreached.
• 9,705 people groups by country are not considered Least-Reached, totaling 3,957,919,000 individuals, or about 59% of the world's population.
• Of the 16,344 total people groups, 6,639 are identified as Least-Reached using Joshua Project criteria, totaling 2,743,659,000 individuals. Of these 6,639 groups, 5,186 are in 10/40 Window countries. That means 78% of all unreached people groups are in the 10/40 Window.
• 1,453 of the Least-Reached groups are NOT in the 10/40 Window, totaling 350,125,000 individuals. These groups are relatively accessible to the Good News of the Gospel.
• Of the 6,639 Least-Reached people groups, about 3,457 (52%) are small groups under 10,000 in population (or population unknown) and all these groups total less than 8,000,000 individuals. Of the remaining 3,182 least-reached groups, about 1,290 are under 50,000 in population. That leaves 1,892 Least-Reached groups 50,000 and over in population. A vibrant church in a large group may take the gospel to a number of smaller satellite people groups that have ethnic similarities. ivb

So what is your part to play in the global arena (actually not to play with, but to take seriously..) in helping to bring about closure on Christ's Great Commission? The Lord of the harvest can still direct each one of us and this is way thrilling to say the least! In fact it makes me think about what that great contemporary theologian, Larry the Cable Guy, always says, "Let's geter done!" 

i.)                   Dana Robert, "Shifting Southward; Global Christianity Since 1945" in International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April, 2000, Vol. 24, No. 2, p. 50.
ii.)                  Philip Jenkins, "Believing in the Global South" in First Things, December, 2006, No. 168, p. 13.
iii.)                Mark Noll, The New Shape of World Christianity, p. 10. The remainder of these statistics are from Noll's book.
iv.)                Ibid. p. 20, p. 21 and ivb

*Basic prerequisites for Christian missions involvement? 1) Be saved.. for real, 2) live a holy spiritual life, 3) Stay connected to a sound Christ honoring, Bible teaching church, 4) Be "sent" rather than "went" (some anxious Christians find it too difficult to wait for God's perfect timing and way in all this (ya know, getting the details of "how to" from Him), so they leave prematurely.. to the hurt of their families and others)!
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