We Can Finish The Great Commission—In This Generation

We Can Finish It.

Want to know something extraordinary? The Great Commission, Jesus’s last words on earth—his charge to reach all peoples of the earth with his teaching and baptizing them and discipling them—can be finished in this generation. Not just our lifetimes. This generation.

John records in Revelation that in heaven there will be people “From every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9) We’re not there yet. We have work to do.

What’s the first step of the Great Commission? Going.

John Piper says there are three roles you have have in reaching the world. You can go. You can send. Or, you can disobey.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a)

We need to go.

What’s next? Discipling them. How do we do this? Local ministry. Church planting. Preaching, teaching, loving.

What precedes successful church planting and discipling? The Word of God. Which Gospel are people supposed to believe in if they don’t have the Word? In “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded,” what did Jesus command? How do we know?

We don’t know his teaching or his life without his Word. The Word of God—the Bible—is at the center of the toolkit in the Great Commission.

There are 6,992 languages in the world and 1,967 still do not have a word of Scripture.

We’re working with Wycliffe Bible Translators and The Seed Company to see that all languages are reached in this generation. Our prayer is to start a translation program in all languages still lacking one by the year 2025. We call this Vision 2025.

The Vision:

In the early 1990′s, Wycliffe realized that at their current rate, it would take 150 years to start a translation in every language still needing one. They trusted God for a bold new vision—to cut 120 years off of this goal. This is Vision 2025.

Through putting much of the work in the hands of locals, utilizing technology to our utmost capacity, and innovations like the cluster model (which we’ll have to describe in another post) we have exponentially accelerated Bible translation. We’re on track now to start a Bible translation in every language still needing one by 2033ish. We are still accelerating though, and want to shave another 8 years off this goal.

What Can You Do?

Here at Missions Untold we always want more people to get involved in missions. Many consider it; few go. Whether it’s church planting or medical missions, prison ministry, orphan and widow care, Bible translation, or whatever else, we want you to go. The West has such abundant resources and we send so few. It’s paltry.

We can finish the Great Commission in this generation. Bible translation is vital, but so is church planting and discipleship and anything that helps the Great Commission. Let’s reach the world in this generation.

Figure out your gifting and consider joining the cause. If that’s Bible translation, write me. If it’s something else, write somebody. You’d be amazed how many careers have been changed by a simple email. Reach out to somebody you know or somebody whose email you’ve found on a website. Get involved. Find out what your options are.

If everybody were doing what you’re doing, would the world be reached in this generation?

“I’ll Go if God Tells Me?” or “I’ll Go Unless God Keeps Me?”

A reader wrote in recently and we chatted over the open doors to mission work in his. He’s in the perfect spot—if there ever was one—to pursue missionary work. He’s married, has a seminary degree, he’s free of debt, and has no kids yet. You don’t need any of these things to become a missionary, but this is quite a combination.

One line in his email struck me as countercultural in every respect. It’s such a simple thought, but I’d never considered it. He said, “I plan to go into mission work overseas unless God keeps me here.”

Oh that the Christian church would have this mentality! This is the opposite of what we hear today.

This is what you have heard: “If God tells me to go into mission work, I’ll do it. Otherwise I won’t.”

Well hey, when’s the last time God told you to do anything? Right.

He doesn’t slip a post-it note under the door listing location, assignment, and language very often. It’s not his style. He gave us his Word and a brain to carry it out. If we waited for God to tell us to forgive somebody, or feed the poor, we wouldn’t do that either. But, we have no excuse, we have the Bible.

Be missional at home or away, even dare to plan to be a missionary unless God instructs you to stay. I pray that millions of Christians would take on this heart for carrying out the Great Commission without excuses!

Be countercultural! Be the change in our dormant church.

Sad Truth About Mission Work

The sad truth about mission work is that not many root for it. Not in real life at least.

There are those who cheer it on in name, after they’ve read a good book on a good missionary. The next day their friend tells them they want to be a missionary and they apply the brakes, forgetting the ardor of yesterday. “What about all of these arbitrary practical concerns? What about the American dream?” Of course they wouldn’t say this, but they’ll list the things contained in the dream. You don’t want to be left out do you?

Remember in school when you didn’t study enough for the test or didn’t do a good job on your paper, and you sneered to your neighbor, “I hardly studied at all. How about you?” The worst feeling in the world is when they said they in fact had studied, or spent all week on the paper. It made you feel sick. Underperformance loves company. I’ve been there. I was the sneerer.

This will happen in your mission work as well. So many have considered it, but chose not to study all night or write all week, which to us might mean striving and praying toward the mission field, learning languages, doing the schooling and training, and getting involved locally.

Those who underperform don’t like that you do your work and push toward the goal. They want you to acquiesce as they did, and they will work to see you do.

Find your fans—find those few people who encourage you to fulfill the global Great Commission. There are plenty of people to fulfill the local Great Commission. Don’t let yourself be talked out of the global work.

Those fellow aspiring missionaries you swim with against the current will eventually stop swimming—most of them at least. They will have peace when they do, in the same way your muscles have peace when you stop swimming against the current of the river. It’s not often God’s calling, but the lack of resistance which gives them this peace.

From Commonplace to Revolutionary

This morning many of you opened your Bibles. It’s what you’ve done nearly every morning for years. This is a very commonplace thing for us to do. It is part of our morning routine. This morning I realized how blind I was to this privilege. We have taken this for granted.

I am grateful for the people who were martyred and burned at the stake to bring me this book in my heart language. They were killed by those who claimed to be the church.

We’ve had 2,000 years as a church and until a hundred years ago, there were fewer than 1,000 languages with a New Testament. There are about 7,000 languages in the world, and 2,000 of them have not a word of Scripture. Many of them don’t even have an alphabet.

What has taken us so long? We have the most money, the most education, and the most resources. Why haven’t we blessed the world with those gifts?

I praise God that in the last century he has raised up people to begin the work of translating his Word into the languages of every tribe and tongue. There’s still so much work to be done though.

There are 2,000 people groups that aren’t as fortunate as we are. They can’t wake up in the morning, open their marked up, worn out, and weathered Bible to grow in their relationship and knowledge of Christ.

Where are those who will bring the Word to them? 

Who will plant churches? Who will provide scriptures? Who will care for their orphans and widows?

Will you go?

Nearsightedness

“Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

In the day to dayness of life, we forget this simple truth. Most of what we do will burn in the end. Most of what we do has no eternal significance. Only what’s done for Christ will last. What will you do today that won’t burn up?

Discipleship in the Wilderness

This is a guest post from Brendan Kalish. He is a former coworker and dear friend. He is currently working as an intern with Into the Wilderness, a wilderness ministry based in Turin, Italy. More wilderness ministry resources can be found at www.outdoorleaders.com.
into the wild

Seeking God in the Italian Alps.
Image courtesy of Anthony Testa. Brendan is pictured second from the left.

We often assume that meetings in a church sanctuary or living room will fully prepare us to live the Christian life with all its sacrifices and messiness, but looking back, I have grown the most in settings outside my weekly routine, outside my comfort zone, when I was challenged to do something I had never done before.

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10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be a Missionary

You shouldn’t be a missionary if:

1. You are owned by Fear

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” -2 Tim 1:7

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,” -Rom 8:15a

2. You cultivate bigotry/racism.

Obviously right?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28

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Africa and The Prosperity “gospel”

There are many great things happening in the world of missions right now. There are others that need to be redirected.

100 years ago, only about 5% of Africa’s population was Christian. Many of those were the descendants of Europeans living in South Africa. Today half of the continent of Africa professes Christ. What wonderful news!

That said, the fastest growing Christianity there isn’t necessarily theologically stable. People have gone from the most powerful witch doctor (now called a traditional healer) to the most powerful faith healer. Personality cults abound. Pagan and animistic practices mix with Christianity.

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A Fun Look at a Strange Bible Translation

John 3:16, Ziga first draft, translated back into English:

God wanted to possess the earth so much that he sent his only son so that whoever was deceived by him would not perish but would become a wandering ghost forever. -John 3:16

This is what a local translator did with John 3:16. He had no theological education and was working from a trade language—not the original Greek. He was a new believer and didn’t have the opportunity to work alongside trained Bible translators. We don’t mean to knock his work. He wanted to translate God’s word, which is a great endeavor. He just didn’t have the training.

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Do I Go Where the Spirit is Moving, Or to a Barren Land?

One of the double-edged swords of missionary life is found in thinking about how you could be more useful.

You ought to think about how you can best spend the years that God has lent you. If he’s given you one, two, or five talents, you want to do your best to double them and not plant all your seeds in barren land. However, you don’t want to jump from wave to wave of what the Spirit seems to be doing in the world. You need to hunker down for the long haul sometimes.

I worked on a church plant in Spain for over two years. We saw a few handfuls of people come to Christ. It’s easy to ask what the team of two full-time and two part-time could’ve done if we went to China instead. We might have seen that kind of fruit every couple of months and established a large house church. So did I waste that time? No.

The flip side.

In Brazil, you have some of the fastest growing Christianity in the world. It is the 3rd largest missionary sending country by some counts, behind the US and South Korea.

70 years ago, if you said Brazil would be one of the largest Bible believing countries in the world with massive revivals and the 3rd largest missionary sending capacity, you would have been laughed off the block. Why did this happen?

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