Wednesday, 9 November 2011
World Evangelism -- Is It Possible? by George Verwer
Never in the history of the church have there been so many special programmes and campaigns, literally around the entire world. The highest goals and aims in the history of the church are being set by many different denominations and agencies. Many of these organizations are now linked through the AD 2000 & Beyond Movement. The overall goals is that everyone in the world receives the gospel and that the church be planted in every Peoples’ Group. The Missions Mobilization Network of the AD 2000 concerned with the mobilization of new missionaries has set as a goal the mobilization of 200,000 new missionaries in the next few years. In God’s providence, I am the Chairman of this Track. Part of me cries out, ‘Lord, how did I get into this?’
It does seem that across the world there is a great desire to work together more, as hard as that may seem in the pluralistic societies in which we live. It is encouraging to see major, mega denominations in many lands setting powerful goals and aims in the area of church growth and evangelism. Testimonies from Korea, Ghana are especially encouraging.
The main focus of the AD 2000 is the 10/40 Window where about 90% of the unreached peoples area is located. When some have complained to me regarding t he 1040 Window, I have told them to go and build their own window. Of course the whole world is our field.
I have sensed a renewal in my own life and vision through the AD2000 Movement. I have a negative and cynical streak that constantly needs attention. Waves of discouragement seem to daily come on me and I am trying to learn how to spiritually ‘surfboard’ on them. To me, the task, especially the Muslim World, seems like a triple Mt Everest. Some of the goals and aims of some groups seem not only unrealistic, but ridiculous, and in some cases not in line with what the Bible teaches. At the same time, I’m convinced that the positives in all this far outweigh the negatives and I want to lock hands and hearts with all who build upon the Word of God and love the Lord Jesus. One thing for sure is the fact that the goals and visions of this Movement and other movements will never become a reality without the massive mobilization and education of millions of believers and of the church.
Let us be honest and admit that at present only a tiny percentage of believers are really taking ownership of the Great Commission. In most places there is more talk than walk and some it leads to a cloud of deception and unreality. Many times people are willing to talk (and even pray) about missions, but when young people volunteer, they are unwilling or unable (so they say), to come up with the money to send them out - we are seeing that in certain new mission-sending countries right now. People often get defensive at this point and give wonderful stories of workers being sent out by the church, but in fact it’s the exception rather than the rule. A major grassroots missions movement is on the way… but it’s not here yet!!
Education is not the whole answer, but it is a vital part of the answer. Believers everywhere need to be taught the basics of evangelism and world missions. They need to know what the Bible says. They need to know something of what has been done and then they need to know what needs to be done and how vital their part is in it all.
Before we can blanket the world with the Gospel, we must blanket the church and God’s people with the biblical vision and reality of what this is all about. This must not be just the English-speaking world, but the whole world!
Those who already have this vision must unite and make every effort to bring a greater part of the body of Christ into action. There are prayer movements, but this must increase ten-fold and strengthened so that it will lead to real commitments, perseverance and obedience on the part of millions of believers.
We need to see the financial breakthrough for at least 100 million vision-building missionary books, leaflets, tapes and videos in at least 30 languages flood out across the world. Since pastors are so key, and often the bottleneck in world missions, we need to make sure that every Christian pastor in the world gets at least some of this material. This will not be done by one organization in some centrally controlled way. As much as possible, those involved should be linked together in some kind of network. For me, AD2000 is the ideal network, but whether people are linked into that or not they can be part of this great vision and mobilization. History is on our side as it has proven a thousand times over that powerful Christian literature and communication has been part of the backbone of the entire world-wide church growth and missionary movement.
When this communication is received and read I believe it will result in vision and obedience. That has been proven again and again. There are thousands of testimonies as to how God has used such communication to change individual lives and churches. Think of how God has used such books as Operation World. Think of how God has used the writings and communication of Ralph Winter, Billy Graham, OJ Smith, Elizabeth Elliot and a host of others. All we need to do is multiply all that has been done by 100 and make sure it gets into all the other major languages as well, not just English. It’s so simple in some ways that every believer can get involved. Write to your favorite mission group and get a good supply of their books, literature and tapes and start to read and distribute it. Can you imagine if simultaneously around the world God’s people would do this? Backed with love, action and prayer I believe it would be a major factor in enabling us to reach the goals and aims that are burning on so many hearts in these days. There are hundreds of publishing houses willing to help. There are hundreds of Bible schools and similar training centers who are ready to train the workers raised up by prayer and communication. Of course, much of the action will be in local fellowships across the world. There are thousands of agencies, missions and groups that would provide much of the structure and pastoral care that is needed for major missions thrusts. Not so many of these are in the 10/40 Window, but many are starting to aim in that direction and materials we distribute can be used of God to move the attention of people more in the direction of the unreached people groups.
Let us pray for the release of finance needed for this huge foundation laying, mobilization and educational effort. Finance seems to be the great obstacle as books and tapes cost money. The real obstacle is a lack of love, faith and biblical commitment. We can’t separate what I’m saying here from personal reformation, reality and revival. It is a mistake to think that the next big move is God’s. His big moves have already taken place – the Cross; the empty tomb; and Pentecost. Now it is our turn!! We need to repent and turn from all that is hindering us from doing God’s will in our day.