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The Need

Recently in church we heard a really convicting sermon about the need for missions and how only through  resting in Christ are we able actually to do the task that He has given us. There was this video that we watched at the end of the sermon, listing facts and statistics about world missions and other related issues. That video is posted below.

This sermon and especially the video has got me thinking. There is so much work for the church to do in the world. And even though we live here, even though we work here, we can and will never able to do enough. That is the reality of the situation. We will never be able to "save" enough people before we are done with our work here.  But none of us are called to do any more than what we have been given. We (and that includes you too, Reader), as servants, are only told to share the Gospel as we go throughout the world. We are not able to save the world, but our God is able and willing to do that through us. This means that we don't have to feel that weight of responsibility for people's souls. We can't do anything to save any other person. We can't even save ourselves! But we need to be faithful and let God do the work that only He can through us.

After the service I decided to look up some more statistics on missions because of the video and I was shocked to see some of these numbers. It's a really long page, so I'll just link it here. It's a really good resource because it compiles a lot of different sources for this rather interesting list that breaks down not only where money tends to go, but where missionaries tend to go, and where they are actually needed (in terms of lost unreached people groups).

Most of the money that we as North American Christians put towards international missions is just spinning wheels "out there", not being put to use to evangelize the lost but sometimes to other Christian denominations (!) or training of local churches. I don't really have anything to say about where or how money is spent by organizations. But to this last point (training local churches) I do want to say something. The work we are doing and will soon be doing out in the villages of Dinagat are among the unreached. These people are trapped in darkness of cults and false religions that bind their people to false beliefs. These people are trapped in a system of works-salvation, thinking that they can do something to earn their way to heaven.  But the more gospel-centered churches that actually are here are the ones that need to be doing the bulk of the work, not us. I think that one reason that money is going more towards training and facilitating is that once there is a national, local gospel-centered church on the ground in any country, that church then bears the responsibility to plant other churches. Part of problem that we have seen in Tubajon is that they don't really know how to go about taking the gospel out to people who need it.  So we will go in hard and heavy first and help the few churches that are there and actually want our help with continuing the training of the pastors and helping them with evangelism and discipleship because without these things they will not be able to go and do the work God has given them. Without helping some weak churches see the value and utmost importance of God's Word and how the Spirit uses the Word through preaching and discipleship, they are likely to slip more into the muck of syncretism and accepting false beliefs as part of the gospel. These healthy churches can then be used by God to expand His kingdom in Dinagat as they are seeking to lift Him up and have Him glorified through the preaching of the Word, the proper administration of the ordinances and the sharing of the Gospel.

While we will be doing the training with them we hope that we will be able to be part of planting a church (by God's grace) in an area that we know has people who are interested in Truth and the Gospel. So we will be working with churches, this is true, and ultimately we think, right. But we will be working with them so that they are fully equipped and ready and able to share the gospel and plant churches that are vibrant and growing and that are able to replicate themselves, not American-style churches.

But this issue of evangelism and discipleship even touches our churches in the States, doesn't it? We are not equipping Believers in America to do the work that needs to be done, or at least not enough. Emphasis is not placed on evangelism, it's not placed on teaching people how to be strategic and purposeful in where we live and how we spend our money. According to the stats that I linked to, most non-Christians do not even know a Christian. The reverse of that fact, that most Christians don't know non-Christians, is shameful. We are living in our Christian bubbles effectively cut-off from the people that actually need the thing we have - the Gospel! What makes this fact worse is that we currently live in an age of hyper-connectivity and our world feels smaller than it did fifty years ago (from what I've been told by people old enough to say that).

Paul tells us in Romans 10 that non-believers won't come to salvation outside of the Gospel being preached to them. That means that people have to preach the gospel. Which means people have to be sent, by being taught and trained how to do just that. But I think that the reason we aren't doing the preaching of the Gospel part of the Great Commission and Romans 10 goes beyond lack of training by churches. I think consistent, solid evangelism-discipleship is absent from church culture today because our theology about this whole thing is flawed. More specifically, our theology may not be affecting our heart. It's all up in the head, and the brokenness, the misery, the suffering, we simply don't care. We need to realize that people that we know (and that we don't yet know) are living and dying without access to the very same thing that you desperately need every single day. God's grace. God's mercy. God's salvation. We don't know how to move the knowledge that there are people destined for hell for all eternity from our head down to our hearts. If we did, then we wouldn't have such a sorry state of evangelism-discipleship and church planting in the world. So we need to see the people that are around us as people who cannot pull themselves up by their bootstraps in true American fashion, grit their teeth and be saved. They are dead. They can't do that. Even if they could put in the effort, they wouldn't reach it, God's righteousness is too high above us for us to reach. And since we are unable to save ourselves, someone had to preach the Gospel to us and the Holy Spirit had to move within us, making us alive to salvation.

It's almost a cliche now, but you don't have to be a missionary to reach the world, especially in America. No matter your political view on refugees and immigrants, you can't deny that most of them are lost and need a Savior. Forget refugees and immigrants, we can't even deny that we are living in a post-Christian culture in which millions of people are leaving nominal Christianity to embrace the spirit of the age. You can't deny that they need Jesus. The only thing you can deny is them the opportunity to hear about salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. You can deny that. And most of us do, to our eternal shame.

So attend that evangelism training that your church offers. If your church doesn't do anything, for whatever reason, ask your pastor for some recommendations on evangelism. Learn what biblical evangelism is and what it isn't. Pray, get courage and strength from God and go share the Good News with someone. We may not be responsible for saving people, but we are responsible to tell them Who can.