Do you know how the missions community defines “people groups”? And then what an Unreached People Group is? We put together this video to help you learn. Tell us what you think and then tell others!
Why exactly is there such a thing as Christian Missions? Is it mentioned in the Bible? If so, where? And how many followers of Jesus are expected to be involved?
Watch this video for answers to those questions and more. And then share the video to let others know!
“There’s a family at church who is originally from the middle east…. The husband frequently goes back in what I think is some form of unofficial mission work. One time we heard that he went back to baptize some new converts but before he got there some of them were killed for their new faith. His life is often in danger too. Last week we heard he had just come back here and said that Muslims are coming to Christ in unprecedented numbers…it’s like they’re running to Jesus. The Christian workers there can’t keep enough Bibles and literature in stock to give them! Just wanted to tell you that.”
This was part of an email I received from a family member this week. How encouraging of a note, right? Big stuff is going on around the world with the unreached, probably most of which we here in North America have no idea about!
And that was one of the points of the book “Miraculous Movements” by Jerry Trousdale. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world are falling in love with Jesus! And these movements of entire villages coming to Christ are not being instigated by well trained American missionaries. Instead, we see numerous examples of “simple” people reading the Word of God, engaging in passionate prayer for their lost brothers and sisters and then boldly going into places in spite of danger.
Don’t do mass evangelism, just focus on one family!
Disciple people toward salvation?
How do you react to those statements? Do they make sense? But when we look at the practices of Jesus when He was with us, the statements agree with His practices. Like the book says, these practices are counter-intuitive. Traditionally we want large numbers of salvations because that shows we know what we’re doing.
But Jesus taught us in Luke 10 to enter a town, find a family and stay with them. We call this the Person of Peace principle. They will be the one that takes the message you’ve brought into their family and friends. Jesus also showed us that the most fruitful way to lead people into His kingdom is to walk beside them. We cannot arrive in a location, preach the Gospel and see people saved and then leave. Instead, true salvation comes when we slowly introduce people to the truths of the Bible and teach them to discover them on their own. Only then will that new disciple embrace Jesus and even more importantly go out and teach others to do so.
Prayer is an absolute must.
Personally, I give mental consent to this statement, but I still find my actions in disagreement. Every great movement into the Kingdom is born out of prayer. And the many stories in the book once again confirmed this truth. There is a mystery in prayer, but every mature Christian will agree that the very act of petitioning the Lord to do the very actions He wants to do, works! But yet, we engage in best practice seminars, vision casting conferences and endless years of seminary training. All of which are not bad, but end up building our confidence in ourselves to do the job instead of depending on God to break through.
Finally, I want to key in on the point in the book about the hardest people yielding the greatest results. This mirrors a thought brought up in “Organic Church” by Neal Cole. Do you want to find the soil most ready for the seeds of the Gospel to grow? Then go to where the most “fertilizer” is. Jesus’ actions mirror this as well. (Hmmm, let’s change that to the actions mirror Jesus.) Christ was always with the dirtiest people because He knew that they were ready for rescue. We need to remember to ignore our fears when we are directed by the Holy Spirit to go to someone or to someplace that seems impossible for a church to be planted. Because we simply don’t and can’t know what God is up to.
And doesn’t that describe working with Muslims perfectly? Our media tells us that we should fear Islam and its followers. The devil tells us we should never bring the Gospel to them because they will never listen. The soil looks absolutely rocky, infertile and mostly dangerous to us. But as we see in Miraculous Movements, these conditions are a lie and God is doing something amazing among our Muslim cousins. Read this book and begin to engage in prayer for our Muslim cousins to meet Jesus.
Church (the big C, body of Christ Church),
why do we exist?
To worship God.
To go to church to learn more about God.
To be sanctified and become a better “us.”
None of those are wrong by any means. But if those are the primary purposes why are we still here? On earth? Would it not be much easier to do all of those things in Heaven away from all the temptations of this fallen world? Becoming more Christ-like would certainly be easier if we could walk with Him in paradise without distractions.
So again…Church, why do we exist?
While those answers are not incorrect, they do seem to be incomplete. What did Jesus have to say?
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” -Mark 16:15
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. –Luke 24:45-47
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” -John 20:21
In all four gospels the writers include what has been come to be called the Great Commission. And while all four gospels are eye witness accounts of Jesus and His ministry that do not contradict one another, there are very few things about Jesus life that make it into all four of the gospels. For instance Jesus walking on water occurs in Matthew, Mark, and John but not in the gospel of Luke. And the miracle of turning water into wine only appears in the gospel of John.
However, the commissioning of His disciples was significant enough that all four of the gospel accounts included it.
So what does that mean for us as the Church today? Clearly Jesus left us here for a purpose. He said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Why did the Father send Jesus?
To pay for our sins.
To restore our relationship with the Father.
To show how much He loved us.
Again, all 100% true and biblical. As before they are not incorrect, but perhaps incomplete.
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” -Mark 1:38
Jesus was sent in order to preach the Kingdom of God. And now He has passed that mission on to the Church. Jesus created His church for the purpose of mission.
“It’s not that God has a mission for his Church in the world, but that God has a Church for his mission in the world.” – Chris Wright Tweet
How are we doing at the mission that we were sent out for?
It has been over a decade since the horrific tragedy of 9/11 left its mark in history and has effectively generated a roller-coaster ride of fear with ups and downs and twists ever since. Now with the atrocities going on in the middle east, Americans reportedly feel less safe than any time since 9/11. Terrorism has become part of the nightly news.
As followers of Jesus how are we supposed to respond? There are obviously a lot of mixed emotions and feelings that arise when talking about the subject. Is it possible to mourn the tragic nature of that day while taking an eternal view of today’s events? What if we were able maintain our remembrance of that day but celebrate that God can change the hearts of all persons for His glory?
We are first introduced to the man named Saul in Acts 7 where he is present at the stoning of Stephen. Stephen had just finished his speech before the Sanhedrin, and he doesn’t exactly take it easy on them! The men of the court become so outraged that they begin to take up stones. And to ensure they get a full range of motion for throwing, they remove their jackets and lay them at the feet of Saul! And scripture points out that he was “giving approval to [Stephen’s] death.”
If that wasn’t enough it continues on to say that “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.” Acts 8:3
It picks up again in Acts 9:
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”
Saul did not just stop with the church in Jerusalem. His hatred for these followers of “the Way” was so strong that he went and asked permission to expand the persecution. He wasn’t under orders. He didn’t try to resist doing it. He himself went to the leaders and vehemently requested the right to hunt them down.
That requires a special kind of hatred. He couldn’t stand their existence. He wanted them gone and with zeal he volunteered to be the one to do it. That is the true definition of terrorism. A systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve a goal.
With permission granted, Saul rides off to extinguish this threat. But along the way he encounters the one thing that can overcome the power of fear. The one King that can take what is meant for evil and use it for the good. The one man that can speak life into a heart of stone.
With a flash of light Saul is knocked from his horse and Jesus goes to work on his heart.
A terrorist encountered Jesus that day.
And walked away with a new identity.
The Apostle Paul was born.
Paul became the missionary to the Gentiles. He goes on to write the majority of the New Testament. Save from Jesus himself, Paul was arguably the most influential man to walk the earth.
But we have to remember, that before Paul there was Saul. A terrorist focused on destroying the Church that Jesus Himself could have rightfully condemned. But Jesus had compassion on Saul, and invited him into a better way. And in the midst of all the terror around us, Jesus is still calling out to all nations saying “Follow me.”
Jesus’ Church is no stranger to persecution and threats. But let us not be overwhelmed with fear. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Today as we remember what fear and hatred can do, let us also remember that the Gospel of Jesus has overcome it all. As we pray for loved ones and for brothers and sisters going through persecution, let us also remember that Jesus taught us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43)
God’s heart is for all nations. He does not want us to pick and choose who is “worthy” of hearing the Good News of Christ. And in fact, we need to remember that He may very well have chosen someone we consider a “terrorist” to become an apostle. An apostle that becomes the catalyst for the Gospel transforming a people group from unreached to worshipers of the true God!
We never know when the next “Saul” will encounter Jesus. Let us pray towards that end!