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Who Will Go?

In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said that “the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed through the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” It states that every People Group should  hear the gospel before the end will come. So I ask the question, Who will go?

Studies show that there are still nearly 6,800 unreached people groups, unreached means that there is less than 5% professing christians, that number represents around 3.1 billion people. Most of the unreached people groups are located geographically in what some scholars call The 10/40 Window from West Africa across Asia between 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees north. Global Missions is only sending 3.3% of our Missionaries to the unreached peoples, that breaks down to 13,000 workers which means 1 missionary for almost 237,000 people! Furthermore, less than 1% of every dollar that is given to missions in America is dedicated to the work among the unreached and unengaged.

I sit here in tears just thinking of the number of people who have never even had the option to hear the good news, to know of the great love of the Father or know that they do have a savior. It’s heartbreaking and it is a complete injustice.

But we have a great Hope! Jesus is writing the story, not us. I believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 that the Gospel WILL be proclaimed! In the midst of these outrageous numbers and statistics, we are hearing and experiencing amazing testimonies coming from the 10/40 window. Testimony of the Man in white showing up to muslims in dreams, healing and signs and wonders in refugee camps, and worship and prayer being established AND led by local believers!

We are in an hour in time where the Church needs to plumb-line itself to the great commission. Jesus gave the call to preach the gospel “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” to His Church. “Just as every believer’s first calling is the Great Commandment; every believer’s first ASSIGNMENT is the Great Commission because it is the preeminent mandate of the Church.”(R.A Martinez)  I believe, as the Church, if we put the Great Commission as the plumb-line of every kingdom assignment and orient ourselves with those that have yet to hear or have a witness that we would begin to think differently on how we spend our money and where we send our young people. May we be a church that when we hear the Lord say “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” that our first response would be “Here I am Lord, Send me.”

 

Bethany Tombley, MAPS Global leader

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Create and Demonstrate Love

“Art translates. Music translates. Songs go to places where preaching will never go. Art goes into spheres of society where you could never stand up and preach a message.” – Sean Feucht

Isn’t this a true statement? I remember years ago watching a documentary about the power of music called ‘The Music Instinct’ featuring musical genius and multi grammy award winner, Bobby McFerrin. It demonstrates how music/sound effects the body, mind, soul and spirit and why. This was mostly a scientific documentary but ultimately it resonates the reality of how we as human beings are affected by the attributes of creative sound. This is fascinating to me in the way of God being the Uncreated One who first created with sound. He made everything in heaven and in the earth with sound. Our very bodies are held together by frequency of sound spoken by God our Father! God started the whole creative process. God is the creator and Satan is the imitator. He (Satan) has actually no creative ability. He can only imitate and prevent what has already been created.

Music in fact does have multi-effects on humanity. As David played the harp heaviness was lifted off of the king. David wasn’t just playing a top 10 iTunes worship song. He was just releasing a sound. God moves through us as we release the creativity that is in our hearts through artistic expression.

I don’t want to lead you into thinking that music is the ultimate area of creative renaissance. Any artistic medium which a person uses to express oneself is an avenue of creative renaissance.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are those who want to give all the glory and honor to Him who alone is worthy. One way we can best accomplish this is by knowing and operating in our gifts and talents through true Sonship. Living out our identity in Christ not only allows for us to live in freedom but it actually gives permission to others around us (or across the world) to live in this freedom of self expression as well. Romans 8:19 states For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” As we walk in sonship, we create and release art that carries the power of the revelation of Jesus. When we create we are walking in true likeness of Christ. Because He creates, we then create. It’s giving the world an expression of true beauty that it has never seen or been moved by…yet! This is what the world is longing for whether they are in New York, Tokyo, Bali or Bagdad. The world is longing for the creative revealing of love that is drawing people into the beauty of Jesus.

“You can never have authority over what you don’t love.”

Do you have a heart to impact culture with faith through Jesus Christ? Then you must love the culture you are desiring to impact. You must pray for the culture you are wanting to see set free in the love of Jesus!

We are hearing all the time these days about people who are in the eye of the media that work in the arts and entertainment industry coming forth and expressing new life in Jesus Christ. This is amazing! There are many born again believers in very strategic places who have access to non-believing influential people that I would never get the chance to meet. They get the opportunity to be in relationships that have impact in the lives of these people who are just one encounter away from the love of Jesus. I, along with many others, am praying for these ones who are shifting atmospheres in an industry that is influencing our generation on multiple levels. The hope is not to just have another salvation check mark by a name of a person or people group we are for praying for but most of all that they have a genuine real encounter with the love of their Creator and that encounter would overflow in their lives and the lives around them. This is the heart of Jesus. This is the desire of a good Father.

My good friend Kyle Barr wrote this not long ago and it’s brilliant:

“God is endless and He is the creator and therefore we are creative beings(since we’re made in His likeness). Being “creative” is an expression of God and so to me a creative renaissance is an outpouring of Himself that’s being expressed through the Arts. You can’t express something or someone that you don’t personally know which is why this must come from a place of intimacy through worship and prayer. The Artisans in Exodus were given His Spirit to create and make the tabernacle which was the place where God dwelled with His people and where God encountered them. Therefore, I want to see artists today create music, dance, word, sculptures, etc with that same anointing that pull people into a direct tangible encounter with God. Just as Jesus came to give us an exact representation and picture of who God is, may we give exact images through creative art to show the Father!”

If you have a dream in your heart for an expression of creativity to grow in your life then I encourage you to find someone that is doing what you want to do or is going where you want to go and pursue relationship with them. I don’t mean call up Kari Jobe, Lenny Kravitz,  Kirk Cameron, Steven Baldwin, or Russel Willson and ask if you can be best friends. I mean find someone in your community who is doing something you want to do and ask them out for coffee and discuss these topics. The best place to grow creatively is in the context of community. If you don’t have a community then you need to find one and quick! It’s in these relationships that you can receive and give truth in love that inspires healthy growth. Without these types of relationships we will always be found wanting because we were made for them.

Create and demonstrate love in tangible ways with the humans around you and see life happen.

 

Katie Temple, MAPS Leader

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Antioch: Where God Rewrites Stories

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Global Cities: The Frontier of Our Day

“You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth”.

These words of Jesus have driven forward the advancement of the Great Commission with unceasing momentum over the course of the Church Age and  are just as relevant today as they were that day at the dawn of the Church. We are approaching a crescendo in world missions. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and subsequent mass church planting movements across the Global South in the last 100 years have dramatically shifted the geographic center of the life of the Church. It has also clearly quantified the remainder of our mission to which we now lift our eyes: the world that stretches across the deserts of North Africa, the historic Middle East and bustling world of Asia- the 10/40 window. Therein lie the the remnant multitudes of the earth’s over 3 billion unreached peoples. Their reconciliation is all that stands between us and the restoration of all things. We are approaching a crescendo.

As I look to the 10/40 window, I have thought much about the best way to tackle this enormous task that stands in front of us. Where in the world do you start and what strategy do you employ when you are talking about a task that includes reaching billions of people in need of the gospel?

Billions.

Traditionally, the strategy of world evangelism has been church planting efforts in predominantly rural locations that move from village to village within a framework of cultural homogeneity. Historically, this has been the premier church planting strategy- often times at the expense of urban centers. While this has been wildly successful in past times, I want to stress that we are in a unique hour in history and that our old strategies of cross cultural missions have to be adjusted in order to keep up with the sociological phenomenon of world urbanization.

Without realizing it, you and I are living in the midst of the greatest population movement in the history of the world. A vast majority of the earth’s population is leaving rural villages and moving to urban centers and global cities. This is very unique since in most of history, a majority of the world lived in rural areas. In 1800, about 3% of the world’s population lived in urban centers. By 1900, 13% lived in cities and by 1950 a startling 30% of the world were located within urban centers.

Today, over 50% of the world lives in urban cities. It is expected that by 2050 that 70% of the world’s population will live in global cities. It’s difficult to fully appreciate the gravity of these population migrations. To put into perspective, in the just last 200 years, over half the world has moved to cities and these patterns are showing no sign of changing. In the last 2 decades, over a billion people have moved to the cities. Of the 10 largest cities in the world, 7 are found within the 10/40 Window. The masses of unreached people groups are clearly migrating to global cities across the 10/40 Window. *

There a number of reasons for this movement of peoples, but what is of importance is the need to recognize the strategic significance of urban centers as it pertains to the Great Commission and the need to focus our efforts on city missions. Cities have always directed the culture of the the nation they reside in.  As the city goes so goes the nation in terms of arts, politics, philosophy and even religion. Many have rightly noted that cities are transmitters of culture and creativity to the surrounding rural locales. The same cannot be said about the opposite. Even in America today, the demographic trends across a millennial generation suggest that without question, the cultural values of the youth of America- rural and urban- are coming in line with those of existing major metropolitan and cosmopolitan city centers. This case study can be repeated countless times in almost any nation. Without question: what happens in cities directly affects the nation of that city in terms of culture, art, politics and religion.

This means that for those who desire to make a dramatic impact on unreached nations should strongly consider planting in a global city initially and then rural areas secondarily. Even Jesus’ command quoted earlier emphasized Jerusalem- an urban center- first, then a dissemination across rural lines even to the “remotest parts of the earth”. This is a helpful model to use in our present day. It makes sense to church plant in global cities where the nations are literally gathering to be able to hear the gospel. If we can reach the cities with the gospel in a dramatic way, it will dynamically affect the rest of the nation. In short: if we take the cities, we take the nations- in terms of pure population numbers and unmistakable sociological trends.

It’s interesting to note that the apostle Paul’s missional strategy was almost entirely urban. He focused his mission’s efforts on major cities and centers of trade like Ephesus, Athens, Rome and many others. In fact, it wasn’t until the early second century that we begin to see church expansion into the more rural parts of the Roman Empire like Bithynia and Armenia. It’s without question that the apostolic church’s missional strategy was first urban and secondarily (even residually) rural.

I don’t want to suggest that missions efforts to rural areas are wrong. I honor any efforts to close the 10/40 window and rejoice in sincerity of heart. Every person matters to Jesus- whether they live in village or metropolitan center. Yet with limited resources, manpower and time, I want to suggest that we who desire to do the work of pioneer missions across the 10/40 window step back and rethink our church planting strategies. What is the most effective way to tackle the task at hand in our day?

Does it actually make sense to focus our efforts and resources on remote rural areas or rather on major cosmopolitan cities?

Does it make sense to plant long term efforts in places where the population of the world is leaving in droves or rather in the centers of their destination?

Is it really a better long term strategy to be salt and light in villages that are on the tail end of societal influence or rather in global cities that serve as the source of transmission of culture to the rest of the nation?

What is the biblical example that we can learn from and emulate? When I look at the text it seems obvious that the witness of the early church was urban oriented. These are some of the many questions I am asking myself. I don’t want to condemn any expression of missions. I simply want to get this conversation started. Some may think that city oriented mission’s efforts aren’t “real missions”. I would like to suggest that global city centered missions is the only real way moving forward as we approach the day of His appearing. Without a doubt, the next great outpouring of the Holy Spirit across the unreached world- the crescendo of harvest I spoke of earlier- will take place primarily in global cities. I suggest we prepare in advance for that outpouring- For every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

 

Travis Owens, MAPS Global leadership

 

* ”The Challenge of Cities”, Roger S. Greenway, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Pg. 559

 

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The Harvest is Plentiful but the Laborers are Few

“The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest field.”

Matthew 9:38

Jesus spoke these words 2,000 years ago, and they still ring true today- the harvest is plentiful! It is true! Our report from the mission field must be joy-filled and life-giving, because we simply are laborers in HIS harvest field. He is the one who upholds the universe by the word of his power, He is the one who received all authority on heaven and earth. He said those words, and then told us to go. We go under His authority, His dominion, to extend His kingdom.

Do we face challenges? Yes. Is it difficult to move into a new culture? Absolutely. But we don’t go alone, we go under our King’s authority, with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And we should expect to find the world as He told us- as a field ready for harvest.

Testimonies from the mission field support this. In every country I’ve been to, the harvest is plentiful. Souls are saved into the kingdom. Lives are transformed. The sick are healed. New churches are planted.

In Jerusalem, we met a college student who was raised in a conservative Jewish family. She told us that growing up, she despised “Messianic Jews” and had ended friendships with friends who came to Christ. Her heart was cold to the Gospel. In college, she set out to prove through the Old Testament that Jesus was not the Messiah. Through this journey, she actually became convinced that Jesus must be the Messiah, and she put her faith in Christ. Now she says that so many Jews around her have come to faith in Jesus, and God is moving supernaturally by His Spirit across her nation.

In the midst of the Syrian Refugee crisis, a young Muslim man attends a worship meeting at the invitation of our team. With open eyes, he sees a vision of Jesus walk into the room, and place his hand on this man’s chest. For three years he had asked Allah to reveal himself to him, and in a moment of opening his heart to Jesus, Jesus met him supernaturally. This man now is working to reach others in his community with the gospel.

In another Muslim nation, college students enjoy life in a mega-city as they experience western culture and new-found freedom. Approached by girls on our team, they swap stories of life and cultural differences between the east and the west. These girls are the first Christians that the students have ever met, and they excitedly talk about spiritual things and the differences between Islam and Christianity. They love the idea of praying together, and as our team members pray, they say with amazement “Wow, it is like you are speaking to your best friend when you pray to Isa (Jesus)”. The seed of the gospel is planted through this conversation.

Stories like this are not rare. In these nations that have yet to be reached, you are always the first Christian that someone meets. Though we are conditioned to think these nations hate Americans and the gospel, we find that most are surprisingly open and it is easy to share Christ with them. Nations that once seemed hard to reach, now have a growing number of 1st generation believers and churches. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful, and that is what we have found. But the need is still for more laborers, so the question is will you go?

 

Jonathan Shinkle, MAPS Global leadership