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The Importance of Community

If you would have asked me even several years ago what makes a great missionary, I probably would have given you a very loaded response that included these main points.   

  1. Loving God with all their heart-including a deep life with Jesus, that is characterized by  of prayer, worship, Scripture reading and  fasting
  2. Commitment to learn and love people well.  This includes being a learner of culture, of history and of course serving.
  3. Clear focus on the task and the unwillingness to give up despite obstacles.
  4. The ability to communicate the vision and task with others-if you do this well your funding will not be an issue.

Today I still believe that all four of those components are essential to producing great missionaries. However, today I believe I would add a fifth component.  This fifth element I believe is the secret weapon, the “secret sauce” in not only in producing a good missionary -but in producing effective, long term missionaries.  The fifth component is “commitment to community and relationships”.  

I am well aware that when I say “community” some people may cringe because of bad or disappointing experiences.  However, we must throw that aside these setbacks and ask what does God want us to aim for when we are striving for community, and how does this type of community equip a person for long term missions? It is easy to define the word community as  a group of people that center the lives around one core reality.  But I believe the definition falls short of conveying the fullness of Biblical Community.  I believe in order to understand  how a community can train someone to endure the hardship and sacrifice of long term missions-we must speak of the characteristics of this community not just its definition.  

True community is the making of family by the intentional weaving together of resources, time, energy, goals of that community around the truth of the gospel.  The individuals in this community adhere to the Great Commandment to love God with all of their hearts, soul, mind and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.  The individuals are committed to living out the Sermon on the Mount in such a way that their hearts continually are cultivated for the fruit of the spirit to be manifested.  Finally the individuals know they can not obtain these characteristics individually but they are only able to live these components out in fullness -in the context of relationships with others that are equally committed to do so.  

When you have a group, or team of people that adhere to these standards -community is birth.  It is the intentional walking out of this lifestyle that not only births community but sustains the life of that community. This type of community equips one to be ready to endure hardship, to embrace sacrifice and to become missional.  

 

Ronnette Cooper, MAP Leadership

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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

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Unexpected Healing Service Among the Unreached

Here at the Missions and Prayer School (MAPS) we get the privilege of participating in the Great Commission by training and sending those who will take the Gospel of the Kingdom to unreached nations primarily in the 10/40 Window. Our students did just that this past spring as we went to Northern Iraq for a 90-day placement. Leah Mix and I led the team and we had many great opportunities to see the Goodness and Power of God as we ministered to local people in the prayer room, some Christian churches, and in refugee camps. Some of these opportunities our team has already shared about in earlier posts. In this post I will share one testimony from our work in the refugee camps.  

Three months in Northern Iraq presented many challenges for our students and leaders that gave us great opportunity for growth. Language, culture, diverse ethnicities, food, etc. were some of the wonderful changes that we had to adapt to. Often we ministered in refugee camps where the people that we engaged with had lost everything. Being faced with these circumstances we had to learn how to present the goodness, love, and hope that is found in God to a different culture with a different language.   

One of these times we went to minister in a refugee camp and a student named Zach, our translator and I met a group of four young guys in their tent to share with them about Jesus. As we sat there with them there was a young boy there and after I shared a word of knowledge for healing of the lower back the guys pointed at the little boy that the word applied to him. Words of Knowledge are a way that God speaks to those who believe in Jesus to let us know things that we could not know naturally by our own understanding or insight. I prayed for the boy and all the pain left his body. The small group was amazed by what the Lord did, word got out about the healing and little by little the tent was filled with people that needed healing and those who were just curious to see the power of God. One man came into the tent, looked at us, pointed at his shoulder signaling that he needed healing in his neck/shoulder/back area and sat down. When we got to him we found out that he had been beaten by ISIS because he had a Christian business partner and it had messed up his neck and back. Zach laid hands on the man’s shoulder and we prayed for him. He began to feel tingling all over his back and all of the pain and limitations that he had on movement were gone! The Lord healed this man, when we saw him the following week he was grateful to see us again and invited us to share with his family who had all heard his testimony! After this man was healed many more were healed that day in the tent and what had started as a small gathering of about 5-6 people turned into a tent full of about 20 people. We were able to preach the Gospel and many encountered the Lord.  

Zach also prayed for a man in that refugee camp who had a broken hand. The man was healed and we were able to stay in touch with him and share more about the Lord on a weekly basis. As we were returning to the states the ministry team that we were working with there messaged us to inform us that this man and his wife both gave their lives to Jesus!!!  

The Love of God transcends culture and language and God’s power was manifested many times as were were faithful to take His Gospel to the unreached. Our team witnessed healing happen many other times in these camps and in other contexts as God would bring hope to a people that had lost hope. Praise God!!! We know that the Lord will be faithful to move as we respond to His call to reach the unreached, as we take part in the fulfillment of His Great Commission!

 

Sebastian Angulo, MAPS Leader

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Israel, Islam and the Harvest

God has a spectacular plan at the end of the age. We must understand the continuity in Jesus’ leadership over the earth and over the nations if we are to understand how these three global issues relate to and converge together at the end of the age: Israel, Islam, and the Harvest. God has intertwined the destiny of the Gentile church, the destiny of those in the Muslim world and the destiny of the Jewish people together in a spectacular narrative that is going to play out on the global stage in the days ahead.

So I ask, did they [Israel] stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!… Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” – Romans 11:11-12, 25-26 ESV

Israel bore the burden of the promises of God for thousands of years in order for God to bring salvation to all the nations of the earth. Now the church in the nations is bearing the burden of the promises of God for two thousand years that will bring bring salvation to Israel. Both of them will come to fullness in the generation of the Lord’s return.

This phrase “fullness of the Gentiles” is the greek word pleroma which can mean a few distinct things:

It can be used to describe the body of believers that is filled with the presence, power, riches of God and of Christ. It can also describe a container that is filled to the brim or a ship that has reached max capacity of passengers and personnel. Lastly, it can mean the completion of something or the fullness of time.

I think in Paul’s mind, all three of these meanings are applicable to this verse and dramatically shaped his Missiology. Our Eschatology must inform and fuel our Missiology. What did Paul understand in the plan of God for the earth that he would write “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of [Israel]. My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they would be saved” (Romans 9-10) and then just a few chapters later write, “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience–by word and deed, … and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.'” (Romans 15)

Paul endeavored to preach the gospel where Christ had not yet been named because he understood in the sovereign plan of God that his assignment to the Gentiles would lead to a global worship movement in all nations that would provoke his kinsmen according to flesh to jealousy. When Israel comes into her full restoration under the New Covenant, the whole earth will experience a restoration that Paul described as life from the dead

Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! … For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? – Romans 11:12, 15 ESV

When all the nations sing and when Israel receives her Messiah, “the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.” (Zechariah 14:9)

Where does the Muslim world come into play? Paul understood that part of the “fullness” that the Gentile church is going to experience is connected to Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:14. There in a fullness that is yet incomplete in the nations. That deficit is a witness of the gospel in every ethno-linguistic people group.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations [ethnos], and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14 ESV

Again in Acts Chapter 1, when the disciples ask about the restoration of Israel, He does not rebuke them but instead redirects them to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the pathway towards the restoration of Israel. 

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:6-8

There are approx 16,500 identifiable people groups or ethnos in the earth today. Out of all the unreached people groups in the earth, almost half (3,573) of them are located in the Muslim world. The population of the Islamic world is 1,537,185,000. 80.4% of those 1.5+ billion people have yet to hear a witness of the Gospel and the church has yet to take root among them. To say it another way, 1,343,613,000 Muslims have yet to hear and experience the gospel of the kingdom.

Jesus prophesies that there is a last great harvest to come in before “then the end will come”.

God has reserved this last great scenario to show off his glory, sovereign leadership over human history and his great mercy. If Matthew 24:14 is true, that means that we are about to see a grace come upon the church that has never been seen before on the earth. We are about to see God release a fullness on the church that will produce the greatest apostolic missions thrust that has ever been witnessed in one generation that will lead to the fullness of the Great commission that will graft hundreds of millions of Muslims into the covenantal promises though salvation in Jesus. The harvest in the Muslim world will prophesy and provoke Israel to jealousy and God will magnify the worth of Jesus in all the earth by taking the two sons of Abraham and reconciling them through the gospel of Messiah.

This generation of prayer and missions will have a holy bullseye on the Muslim world and a holy burden for the Salvation of Israel.  They will witness the destiny of the church, the destiny of the Muslim world to exalt Jesus through day and night prayer and worship, and the destiny of Israel to receive their Messiah and usher in the King to Jerusalem.

 

R.A. Martinez, Director of MAPS Global

7 Reasons Why I Permit My Teenage Daughter to Engage in Gospel Work in the Middle East

  1. She wants to. In our context, a typical mission trip to the Middle East amounts to this: spending hours a day in a small prayer room, declaring the worth and beauty of Jesus in worship along with asking Him to reveal His saving power to tens of millions of unreached Muslims; going into refugee camps to show the love of Christ to unwanted masses of people who previously have had no access to the Gospel; spending time in fellowship with a small group of indigenous believers. No trips to the ruins of cities in the Bible; no tour-guides describing archeological wonders from the ancient world. No awe-inspiring mountain ranges or quaint towns along the seashore. Not that I’m against a mission trip that happens to include beautiful vistas and hip coffee shops. My point is that her trips to the Middle East are appealing to her for other reasons and have none of the allure of other destinations. She is wooed by the Holy Spirit to a people group she has grown to love as she has prayed for them from a thousand miles away. This compels me to say “yes.”
  2. We’ve prayed. My wife and I have not heard the audible voice of God telling us to let our daughter go. However, through praying regularly over our children since conception, He has developed within us a God-given sense of future and destiny for each of them. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit” (Romans 8:16) on matters of ministry callings and assignments, among many other things. We’ve observed the activity of the Holy Spirit in her life through the years and believe that her desire to GO is in line with what He has been doing all along. No surprises. It’s more like fulfillment.
  3. Things are not always as they appear. When my daughter was fundraising for her first trip to the Middle East, we received a scathing rebuke from one of the recipients of her letter. Accusations of irresponsibility and gross generalizations about conditions in the region abounded, all of which were informed solely by headline news. In reality, the threat level was pretty low, based on real-time evidence provided by locals. The decision to send anyone, much less your own child, “into harm’s way,” should always be weighed carefully and measured against real threats. “No” is a valid option but one that should be exercised sparingly and with sober regard to the seeds it plants. Our general disposition toward sending missionaries to the unreached should be an overwhelming “yes.” The burden should always rest on the nay-saying voice within us.

  4. My own sense of conviction regarding the Great Commission and going to the unreached has matured. Over the course of several years, the Lord has plumb-lined my own life to the Great Commission, especially as it relates to taking the Gospel to people groups who previously have had no access to it. This has naturally poured over into the lives of our children as we’ve acquired a worldview that is just that: a WORLD view – an “other-than-us” perspective that challenges our personal comfort and preference for a safe and quiet life. We’ve partnered with missionaries, read books together about pioneering Gospel laborers, and worshiped over and prayed for nations and people groups. In doing so we’ve created a family culture in which sending laborers or becoming one yourself is the only right response to Jesus.

  5. We surrendered a long time ago. Our surrender has not been perfect, but it has been intentional and sincere, and it started when our kids were young. Every father and mother is familiar with the drive to protect and defend their children. We feel it when we teach them to ride a bike, when we watch them drive away for their first solo adventure in the car, and when they give their hearts to another in love. Believe me, we also feel it when they board a plane for the heart of the Muslim world. As parents, we have a responsibility to position that drive-to-protect under the leadership of Jesus and ultimately under the greater drive to propel them forward into fruitful Christian ministry. In these decisions we must adhere to a zero tolerance policy for the spirit of fear.

  6. Jesus said “Go.” The American Church’s reluctance to wrestle with the challenges and legitimate dangers associated with sending laborers to the unreached has yielded abhorrent results. We’ve propagated an attitude of indifference toward, and at an ever-increasing rate, actual opposition to the command of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations, which is the central mission of the Church. The American Church sends only 3% of its missionaries and only .0001% of its annual income to the cause of reaching those with no access to the Gospel. My daughter’s “yes” is one small drop in a very large bucket, but it has profound significance in a generation that is poised for awakening, revival, and commissioning to the nations.

  7. Eternity trumps temporal. Almost everything in me that says “no” to sending my daughter to the Middle East is rooted in fear and in the concerns of this age. Paul exhorts in Colossians 3 that we should seek and set our minds on things that are above, where Christ is (v. 1-2). The implication here is that we do and become what we think about most. The obsession of our thought life becomes the obsession of our being and doing. Fixing our minds on things that matter for eternity causes us to engage in activity that matters for eternity. When I put my fears about my daughter ministering in the Middle East on the scale opposite the eternal destiny of souls Jesus died to purchase, what is everlasting outweighs what is temporal.

Chris Carter, MAPS Global Pastor

 

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Why Send Praying Missionaries?

Throughout MAPS I have run into a question. Why would MAPS send missionaries with such a strong emphasis on building prayer in the nations? Even as I went to the nation of Iraq, a nation that has historically been torn up by war and was an active war zone at the time of my trip, there was the question of why would we spend so much time building prayer when we could be helping to meet the insurmountable physical needs? Were there not more important things to be doing?

 

As I faced this question, the words of the disciples surrounding Jesus at the table as Mary poured out her costly perfume echoed through my mind. “What a waste…” But I would beg to differ, you see if I can teach a nation to just touch the hem of His robe, then I know He will turn to them in compassion and heal their flow of blood. In a nation that has seen such bloodshed and violence, what is most needed is the presence of the Prince of Peace. We must teach the nations how to access the only One with the power and the authority to heal their immeasurable needs and crises.

 

See, the disciples were in the presence of Jesus, the One who is the Answer to the deepest needs of humanity, and yet they could not see it. They still sought the answer to their needs in money and in things outside of Jesus Himself. Yet, Mary looked at Jesus and saw His worth. She was more focused on the worth of Jesus and what He was doing in the earth than she was focused on the crisis at hand. She chose the greater thing, and was given something that could not be taken away from her. Jesus said to her that wherever the gospel was preached that what she did would be told in honor of her.  Jesus desires to find Mary’s in all nations, those who will recognize His worth and lavish their love on Him.

 

Beloved, we must come to realize that the greatest injustice in the earth is not abortion. It is not genocide, it is not rape and it is not poverty. For all of these stem from the greatest injustice of all. The greatest injustice of all, is that the worth of Jesus is not yet recognized fully in the earth, and that worship of Him is not the primary focus of mankind. Only when the worth of Jesus is recognized on the earth and when He becomes the primary focus of mankind’s attention will every other injustice fade from existence. Therefore, we must send missionaries who know the worth of their Beloved. We must send those who like Mary are willing to pour out their costly oil at the feet of Jesus.

 

Hannah Davis, MAPS Leader & Graduate