MOBILIZING MISSIONARIES FOR PIONEER CHURCH PLANTING
Last night I stood in a passport control line to enter a fully Muslim country. For an hour we snaked to the front of the line, surrounded on all sides with the most colorful collection of God’s creativity I’ve ever witnessed in one place. Here was three Ugandans and an American with lines of Somali ladies to our right, a smattering of Europeans behind us, Indians, Arabs, and other individuals of middle eastern descent all around. But best of all were the Pakistanis.
My interest was so piqued by their unique appearance that I strained to see where exactly their passports were issued. These desert-hardened men with rough turbans covering the top part of their leathery faces, all sporting huge beards and the long Muslim pant suit in various shades seemed to have stepped out of a history book. Each carried a large, beaten up, hard shell briefcase, and all had a box of food with greasy sides.
With the slow moving pace, I had plenty of time to thank Jesus for placing us near these men. I wondered about their families. I thought about their homes and their herds and what brought them so far – a pilgrimage to Mecca maybe? I was struck by how different their lives must be to my own, and then desired so greatly to meet them in their homes, to hear their stories, to step into their world.
Then today we flew over their houses. I mean, I can only assume the far flung villages in the mountainous valleys of rugged Southern Pakistan we traversed belonged to peoples similar to them. From my vantage point in seat 18A at 35,000 feet, I could finally visualize where the unreached remain in one of the most difficult places on earth. My heart nearly broke as I pondered the plight of these honorable people, who have lived and died for generations under a sincere belief in the one God whose prophet is Muhammad.
We are en route to another largely unreached land, where less than 2% of 30,000,000 people have come to know the love of Jesus Christ. We want to hear from those who are reaching them effectively, those who are training indigenous missionaries to go to the hardest fields, who are multiplying churches in the tens of thousands in the middle of a move of God. I’m excited to see what God is doing there. I’m proud of those individuals offering their lives to take the message of the cross to those who have never heard.
But here’s where my missionary heart weighs heavy tonight: who will go to the rest?
This is 2017. Some of us have had the gospel in our land for hundreds of years, some for thousands. And while my own nation boasts some of the greatest and most generous missionaries carrying the cross into harsh lands over the nearly two hundred years we’ve been sending them out to die, we’ve stopped well short of fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission. 2000 years into the project, this Gospel of the Kingdom hasn’t yet penetrated every place.
In Africa alone, we still have nearly 1,000 unreached tribes remaining. Who will go to them? Worldwide it’s past 6,000, who cares enough to offer themselves to the Lord of the Harvest? It’s been said that the Global Body of Christ has roughly 3,000 times the financial resources and 9,000 times the manpower needed to finish this work, and all that stops us is our slack surrender.
Where is the generation who will care more for the glory of the Name of Jesus than for their own lives? Where are the students who will give up their small ambitions to preach the Gospel of Christ? Who will leave friends and family to go live in these villages, learn their language, their customs and their ways? Who will risk all to establish the Kingdom where the King is not yet worshipped?
Where are you right now? What are you doing with the one life God gave you to spend on his glory among the nations? How are you putting that degree to use? How are you putting into practice that wealth of knowledge you’ve acquired from years in Bible studies and church attendance? How are you using your retirement? How are you spending your summer break? What are you doing with your finances? It’s the equivalent of Monopoly money anyway–worthless at the end of the game, unless you figure how to trade it in for eternal souls.
The rocky deserts of southern Pakistan might sound like hell on earth, but that’s the point. Jesus will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But some bold and courageous individuals must rise up to plant those churches that can storm those gates and bring God’s Kingdom down to this broken earth.
Will you go?