To Make Christ Known to All
America has had a lot to deal with as a country in the last couple of years. Politics. Racial tensions. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. Distance learning. COVID and its good friends masking and vaccine requirement debates. Red states vs. blue states. Trump vs. Biden. Republicans vs. Democrats. Whatever side of whatever issue you fall on seems to demand your complete and total loyalty with no space for even an attempt at understanding the other side. It would be easy and understandable to focus exclusively on the problems we face at home as a nation. It is tempting to withdraw into our American borders and leave the rest of the world to sort their own stuff out.
Unfortunately, with the advent of internet technology and the reality of a global economy, we can’t build a wall around our borders as China did so many years ago. Like it or not, we are connected to the rest of the world. Consider where your appliances are made, your cell phone and computer, your shoes and clothes. Even if the final assembly was in the United States, dig into where all the parts and components were made or from where the raw materials are sourced. Where is your coffee grown and, in my opinion more importantly, where your cocoa beans for your chocolate are grown? When the snow and cold visits in just a couple of months, ask where your fresh produce in the grocery store was harvested.
During my high school years, when the internet was still this mysterious thing only available on a couple of password protected computers in the computer lab and the 24 hour news cycle only really kicked into gear for the really, really, REALLY big news events, it was hard to know much about what was going on in other parts of the world. It was even harder to feel like what was happening in such far away lands could ever impact the life of a quiet, Midwest farm girl. In the late 1990’s, as the internet became more and more accessible, the world began to shrink. Online chat rooms allowed you to chat for free with people from all over the world. Email meant letters could be exchanged in moments rather than weeks. You didn’t have to wait for the evening news and Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, or Peter Jennings to show you what was happening because you could look it up whenever it was convenient for you.
But we were never meant to live in a safe, protected, bubble where we never had to consider the parts of the world which differ widely from our own corner. The power of the Holy Spirit isn’t meant to be contained to some small, exclusive part of the world. The Holy Spirit was given so that we may be witnesses of Jesus’ life “to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) God’s love for any one person would have been enough to send his Son but it was His love for the WORLD which caused God to send His only Son. (John 3:16) The command given to the disciples, which still applies for us today, is to go and make disciples of ALL nations. (Matthew 28:19)
We are all called to play a unique role in spreading to Good News of the Gospel throughout the world. Prayer support. Financial Support. Spiritual formation. Translation skills. Medical skills. Teaching skills. So many little things go into sending a single missionary an unreached people group and so many more go into enabling them to stay and do the work to which God has called them. Each person who helps them prepare and supports them along the way, as those who work as full time missionaries to specific people groups can tell you, is an important, vital part of the work they do each day.
In the next few weeks, we hope to feature some of those who are working around the world with different people groups. As the world begins to open up again, as international travel resumes and we are reminded of the world outside of our borders, we need to remember the people God has called us to, in our own way, welcome into the family of God.
In addition to the posts in the coming weeks, we want to invite you on a journey of praying for those countries where the Gospel struggles to be heard. On the BEYOND app, our feature Bible study will be a daily chance to learn about and pray for the persecuted church around the world. You can download the free app from Google Play or Apple AppStore for your mobile device. Or, if you would rather, you can log in to your free Back to the Bible account and join us online through your web browser. It total, there will be approximately 60 countries you will be praying for through the study.
- Each day, when I run to the upstairs office, at the top of the steps I pass by IOLBC’s mission statement: To Know Jesus Christ and Make Christ Known to All. It is a daily reminder that our mission doesn't end at the edge of our camp property, or even in partnering with our member congregations. Our mission extends out into the entire world. In what ways are you reminded to pray for others throughout the world?
- Reach out to one person who has been doing full time missionary work this past year. What can you do to encourage them as they continue to face the many challenges COVID has added to their ministry?
- Consider a specific nation or people God is calling you to pray for. How can you learn more about how God is working in that country right now? How can you gather and encourage others to join you in prayer?