After a video, David Yoo from Korea introduced the session on Discerning the will of Christ for 21st century world evangelisation by leading us in prayer.
We then watched a powerful video reminding us of the many people around the world who need to hear the gospel, and how we each, personally, can do something to help share the Bible, especially the Oral Story, with the hundreds of millions of people who need to know a Christian.
Paul Eshleman is starting the session picking up from John Piper’s session on Wednesday and the need to pick up both the challenge of suffering now, and suffering in eternity – we can’t afford to choose one over the other. He starts by sharing a story of a young lad from Iran who was miraculously healed from burns in a fire, and later watching the Jesus DVD says that it was Jesus who rescued him – fantastic testimony!
In terms of world evangelisation today we need to ask where is the church not present and what are we going to do about it? It is absolutely wrong that there are areas of the world that haven’t been reached, we represent 5 million churches, 12 million Christian workers. An American leader talked about sending people to Latin America, Paul challenged him on why when they’re growing so fast, he said they were invited, Paul said the most neglected people don’t know who to invite – we need to focus on that. Tim Keller reminded us that many of these people are in cities, it’s not just a small villages with huts.
Seven key elements of the Great Commission:
- Engaging the unreached people groups
- Oral Learners
- Church planting & presence
- Prayer & unity
- Compassion ministries
Assumptions in this:
- Evangelism is not enough, disciple-making is what it’s about
- Concentrating on where the church is not
- Every part of the world is called to go to every part of the world. No country is exempt from sending and no country is exempt from receiving.
- We believe that living out our faith is an absolute imperative. Our message is hollow if our lives do not back up the words we speak.
- Loving one another and working together should be the standard of the Church. God has given each person and organization unique gifts and callings. We should honor those callings. But all of us can give some percentage of our time and resources to work together on the priorities of the whole Body of Christ.
86% of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus don’t know a believer – that’s our fault.
Scripture translation should be our number 1 priority. Out of 8,000 languages only 448 have the whole bible, another 1185 have the New Testament, 843 groups have a portion of Scripture. There are 2252 languages that have not one verse of scripture and no-one is planning on going to them.
A new strategy is it doesn’t need to be a professional translator, we could look to people to move into new areas, to live in their community, learn the language, and eventually share the gospel through story telling so at least people understand some of the scriptures.
From here on there were a number of examples of how this has worked so far interspersed with Paul’s thoughts, which aren’t appropriate to blog here but were inspiring.
We have to keep it a priority:
- How many people are being asked today would they like to respond to Christ?
- The media and public stage is crucial – it was preaching, then books, now media, e.g. internet, TV stations. 25% of people coming to faith through media on mobile phones!
- We need to focus on the leaders and people of other faiths.
Engaging the unengaged people groups
Unengaged means that there is no worker, or plan for work with a people group. A few years ago some key leaders identified 639 groups that needed reaching. Five years later 470 of 639 now have full-time workers reaching over 540 million people; so far 225,000 decisions to place faith in Christ, 8,000 churches established by over 4,000 workers.
A team from India shared how they did this through:
- Prayer (which in India also means love)
We accessed a list of 632 unengaged unreached people groups with a population of over 50,000. We were then given an opportunity to update any of the data and discuss:
- Why haven’t these groups been reached?
- How can our church/organization work with a local partner to launch an effort toward one of these people groups?
When asked the question before, the number one answer was: “we didn’t know”, now you know so there is no excuse!
Now using the Reflection and Commitment sheet to look at tentative commitments. If Moses had had to work out getting over the Red Sea he’d have never gone, we can leave some of these things to God! We were encouraged to consider who we would commit to reaching with the good news.