Archive for the ‘Reaching the Unreached’ Category

  1. Mid-Term Field Report: “Utilize The Time”

    Posted on September 17th, 2014 by Jonathan

    As many of us are leaving summer behind to return to school or get back into a regular routine at work, Matt is doing no such thing. Life is different for him. Matt lives in Central Asia and was sent out to serve mid-term by The Church at Brook Hill. Mid-term is described as a period of anywhere between two months and two years. For him, school looks more like learning a foreign language, and monotonous routine . . . well, there’s not much of that.

    We asked Matt some questions about his life in Central Asia. Our hope is that his words might challenge those of us tempted to simply survive the next test or deadline. Our lives are intended for more than intention-less routines driven by purposeless attitudes. When we realize that God desires to use us to bring the nations to Himself, and when we hear of brothers and sisters whose devotion to Christ means harsh persecution, we see everything differently. The reality is, we have so much more to live for than the weekend.

    Here’s what Matt had to say . . .

    _______________________________________

    What has been the most surprising aspect about serving in this new context?

    Time and time again, my team and I have been surprised at how quickly God answers the prayers of us and our supporters back home, and His answers to these prayers are often even better than we knew to ask for! We shouldn’t be afraid to ask Him to act in big ways to help us reach lost people. He desires and is worthy of the worship of all peoples and is actively working in hearts and lives all across the world.

    What has been the most difficult part of your time there?

    It has been difficult being part of a new team re-engaging a minority people group that has not been worked with for several years. Due to the difficulty of gaining access to our people’s homeland, we are in the process of establishing a business in a nearby country where there is a significant population of our people. This poses many challenges such as learning a minority language with few immersion experiences, balancing business and ministry responsibilities, and justifying to the community why we as Western businessmen spend so much time with this minority people and are learning their language.

    Can you give us your highlight of the trip?

    One of the biggest highlights so far has been growing closer as a team and becoming more like a family.  Being part of such a small team, we spend a lot of time together, and the Lord has used that in teaching us more of what it means to be the body of Christ. Praying, worshiping, and having fun together, holding one another accountable, and being united in a common vision has helped us to encourage one another during the difficult times and overall thrive in our first year on the field.

    What advice would you give to people considering going mid-term?

    Utilize the time before you leave the U.S. to establish routines of engaging lost people where you are currently. Often times, we get caught up in enjoying the benefits of Christian community so much that we rarely put ourselves in places where we are surrounded by the lost. Going mid-term is a weird balance between a sprint and a marathon; the routines you are able to establish before arriving on the field will help you to make the most of the time you have in your new context.

    What advice would you give to friends, family, and church members in terms of how they can support workers like you?

    The way that is most obvious and yet often over-looked is to actively pray for that person, their ministry, and their people. Be proactive in asking for ways to pray for that person and in regularly praying for their boldness and evangelism opportunities. Also, we love hearing from friends, family, and supporters about what is happening back home and how we can be praying for them.

    What is one big takeaway that the the Father has taught you in your experience as a mid-term worker?

    I often feel like I am sitting on the front row watching Him prepare the harvest of these people in a way in which only the Creator of the universe is able! In our first month on the field, He answered our prayers by providing a language teacher, national believer, and friend all with a single person whom He had burdened to return to his family and country (at the risk of his life) to help reach his people with the gospel of Christ. The things we’ve seen happen over the past year are more than coincidences; no doubt the Lord is doing the same type of things in unreached people groups all across the world!

    What is one thing you have learned from the national brothers and sisters that you are partnering with?

    Extreme persecution is normal, expected, and worth the risk for the believers in this part of the world. Coming from a place, like the U.S, where it is “safe” to be a Christian, it is still difficult to fully understand what these national brothers and sisters experience everyday in living and dying for Christ. That being said, the Lord is using these terrible acts to bring others to faith, grow the church, and advance the gospel of Christ to the most difficult to reach people and places in the world.

  2. That Muslims May See Christ’s Surpassing Beauty

    Posted on September 12th, 2014 by David Burnette

    Kevin DeYoung posted the following prayer by Samuel M. Zwemer (1867-1952), an RCA minister and Princeton professor known as “The Apostle to Islam”:

    “Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who hast made of one blood all nations and hast promised that many shall come from the East and sit down with Abraham in thy kingdom: We pray for thy prodigal children in Muslim lands who are still afar off, that they may be brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Look upon them in pity, because they are ignorant of thy truth.

    Take away pride of intellect and blindness of heart, and reveal to them the surpassing beauty and power of thy Son Jesus Christ. Convince them of their sin in rejecting the atonement of the only Savior. Give moral courage to those who love thee, that they may boldly confess thy name.

    Hasten the day of religious freedom in Turkey, Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Send forth reapers where the harvest is ripe, and faithful plowmen to break furrows in lands still neglected. May the tribes of Africa and Malaysia not fall prey to Islam but be won for Christ. Bless the ministry of healing in every hospital, and the ministry of love at every church and mission. May all Muslim children in mission schools be led to Christ and accept him as their personal Savior.

    Strengthen converts, restore backsliders, and give all those who labor among Muslims the tenderness of Christ, so that bruised reeds may become pillars of his church, and smoking flaxwicks burning and shining lights. Make bare thine arm, O God, and show thy power. All our expectation is from thee.

    Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son in the Muslim world, and fulfill through him the prayer of Abraham thy friend, “O, that Ishmael might live before thee.” For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

    – Taken from Islam and the Cross: Selections from “The Apostle to Islam” (edited by Roger Greenway).

  3. 3 Comments

    Pastor David Platt Elected as the New President of the IMB

    Posted on August 27th, 2014 by David Burnette

    We’re grateful to announce that the trustees of the International Mission Board (IMB) have just elected Pastor David Platt to be the IMB’s 12th president. As the missions entity of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the IMB serves approximately 40,000 churches and over 4,800 international missionaries. David Platt will succeed Tom Elliff in this position.

    Here’s a video announcement from the IMB along with a few excerpts of the news release from Baptist Press:

    Baptist Press:

    ROCKVILLE, Va.—David Platt, one of the most passionate and influential voices for missions among evangelicals, was elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board Aug. 27 by board trustees, meeting at the IMB’s International Learning Center in Rockville, Virginia.

     Platt, 36, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a Southern Baptist congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, will take office effective immediately as president of the 169-year-old organization, the largest denominational missionary-sending body among American evangelicals. More than 4,800 Southern Baptist international missionaries serve worldwide.

     Platt succeeds former missionary, pastor and Southern  Baptist Convention president Tom Elliff, 70, who has served as IMB president since March 2011. Elliff asked the agency’s trustees earlier this year to begin an active search for his successor. Elliff and his wife, Jeannie, plan to return to their home state, Oklahoma.

    Pastor David on the Lord’s leading in this transition:

    “This is not something I saw coming,” he said. “I love pastoring The Church at Brook Hills. I love shepherding this local church on mission for the glory of God among the nations and could picture myself doing that for decades to come. At the same time, God has been doing an unusual work in my heart and life. The only way I can describe it is that He’s been instilling in me a deeper, narrowing, Romans 15 kind of ambition, where [the Apostle] Paul said, ‘I want to see Christ preached where He has not been named.’ … He has given me a deeper desire to spend more of my time and energy and resources in the short life He has given me to seeing Christ preached where He’s not been named. The concept of unreached peoples — of nearly 2 billion people who have never heard the Gospel — is just totally intolerable.”

    David Platt’s message to IMB missionaries overseas:

    “I just [want] to say to you, more than anything, that the vision of the IMB remains the same: a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ.. If you don’t hear anything else, please hear me say that all I want to do is lock arms with you, with what you’re doing on the frontlines, with what’s going on back here in mobilizing churches, to go after that vision. … I’ve been so thankful over the years pastoring in the church to partner with so many of you in different parts of the world. I’m thinking about specific brothers and sisters that I’ve had the joy of serving alongside and many others that I look forward to serving alongside in different ways. And I just don’t believe that there is a means that God has blessed so greatly as He has the IMB and this coalition of 40,000 [Southern Baptist] churches working together for the spread of the Gospel to the nations.”

    “I am honored, humbled, overjoyed and overwhelmed to be in this role, and I just want you to hear from me from the beginning that I am committed to praying for you, to supporting you, to listening to you, to learning from you. … How can we most effectively work together to make disciples of all nations? … I love you, I’m praying for you, and I’m honored to serve alongside you in what is the greatest mission on this earth.”

    For the entire article, go here.

    Please be in prayer for the IMB and its missionaries, for SBC churches and members, and for Pastor David and his family as they make this transition in ministry. Also, please remember to pray for The Church at Brook Hills, as they too will enter into a time of pastoral transition.

  4. Who Are the Unreached and Why Must We Go to Them?

    Posted on August 21st, 2014 by David Burnette

    4916016011_a65f52d968_o

    What does it mean to be part of an Unreached People Group (UPG)? How do unreached peoples stand before God? What is our obligation, as followers of Christ, to those who have no access to the gospel?

    The following outline provides a good summary for these kinds of questions. The outline was taken from Pastor David Platt’s sermon titled “Our Obligation to the Unreached,” and is based on Paul’s teaching in Romans 1-3 about man’s inherent sinful condition. To access the sermon in its entirety, including the outline below, go here.

     

    Who are the Unreached?

    • A people group among whom there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage the people group with church planting.
    • Technically speaking, the percentage of evangelical Christians in this people group is less than two percent.

    How Many People Are Unreached?

    • Over 6,500 people groups are unreached . . .

    Including at least two billion individual people

    • Over 3,000 are also unengaged (meaning there is currently no evangelical church planting strategy under way to reach that people group) . . .

    Including around 200 million individual people

    What Does It Mean To Be Unreached?

    • Practically . . .

    You do not currently have access to the gospel.

    Unless something changes, you will likely be born, live, and die without ever hearing the gospel.

    • Biblically . . .

    You have knowledge of God.

    You have rejected God.

    You stand condemned before God.

    You have never heard the good news about how you can be saved by God.

    Why Must We Go To The Unreached?

    • Because their knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell.
    • Because the gospel of God is powerful enough to save them forever.
    • Because the plan of God warrants the sacrifices of His people.
    • Because the Son of God deserves the praise of all peoples.

    To learn more about unreached peoples, visit Joshua Project.

  5. Persecution: The Basics

    Posted on July 21st, 2014 by Jonathan

    Every once in a while, it’s good to get a refresher on concepts we generally think we understand. When’s the last time you’ve heard a good explanation of persecution?

    Below, you can listen to a good overview of what persecution is, how it may look, and why it occurs from Jonathan, the (well-traveled) Pastor of Global Disciple-Making at The Church at Brook Hills.



    When it comes to the persecution of Christians, Open Doors is also a great resource. They have a good general overview of persecution as well as country-specific information.

    ~ The goal of persecution is to silence witness. ~

  6. CROSS Asks, “Where in the World are You?”

    Posted on June 13th, 2014 by Jonathan

    The guys at CROSS would love to hear where the Lord is leading you since the conference last December. So if you attended CROSS and are going overseas in the next 2 years (short or long term), let them know by emailing info@crosscon.com. Be sure to include where you’ll be going and how long you’ll be there. It’s possible that you could serve the next gathering!

  7. 4 Comments

    Follow Me: Believing Requires Proclaiming

    Posted on May 5th, 2014 by Radical

    The below excerpt is from Pastor David’s book, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live (88-90).

    Following Jesus necessitates believing Jesus, and believing Jesus leads to proclaiming Jesus. Consequently, a privatized faith in a resurrected Christ is practically inconceivable. Yet privatized Christianity is a curse across our culture and the church today.

    Multitudes of professing Christians say (or at least think), “Jesus has saved me. Jesus’ teachings work for me. But who am I to to tell other people what they should believe? Who am I to tell others that their belief is wrong and my belief is right? Even more, who am I to tell them that if they don’t believe in what I believe, they will spend forever in hell?”

    I completely understand this feeling. I remember standing one day in a sea of people in northern India. If you’ve never been to India, just think people. Lots and lots and lots of people. Approximately 1.2 billion of them, to be precise, over 600 million of whom live in northern India. Crowded streets and urban slums are surrounded by seemingly endless villages that span the countryside. Economic disparity runs rampant as more people live below the poverty line in India than the entire population of the United States put together.

    But India’s poverty is not merely physical; it’s spiritual, as well. The church partners with whom we work in India estimate that approximately 0.5 percent of the people in northern India are Christians. In other words, 99.5 percent of the people in northern India have not believed in Christ for salvation.

    Knowing this, I looked around me one day in that crowded sea of people and thought to myself, Who am I to travel all the way over here to tell these people what they need to believe? Who am I to tell them that all of their gods are false, whether they’re Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, or any other gods, because Jesus is the only true God? And who am I to tell 597 million non-Christians who surround me at this moment that if they do not turn from their sin and trust in Jesus, every one of them will spend eternity in hell?

    It felt extremely arrogant, completely unloving, and uncomfortably brash to claim that 597 million Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs around me at that moment would go to hell if they didn’t trust in Jesus. And absolutely, such a claim would be arrogant, unloving, and brash–unless it is true.

    If Jesus were just another religious teacher on the landscape of human history, offering his thoughts and opinions regarding how people should live, then it would definitely be arrogant, unloving, and outright foolish for me (or anyone else) to travel around the world telling people they need to either follow Jesus or face hell. But Jesus is indeed more than just another religious teacher, and Jesus is indeed the resurrected God, Savior, and King who alone has paid the price for sinners and paved the way for everlasting salvation, so telling people everywhere about Jesus is the only thing that makes sense. It is the height of arrogance to sit silent while 597 million Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs go to hell. It is the epitome of hate to not sacrifice your very life to spread this Good News among every person you know and every people group on the planet.

  8. Turkey by the Numbers

    Posted on May 1st, 2014 by Jonathan

    000097380003-749x1024-1

    As we commit to pray for Turkey throughout May, here are some compelling figures to keep in mind. The following information was taken from Joshua Project and Hope for Turkey–our official prayer focus website. Check HopeForTurkey.com regularly for updates and prayer requests this month, and be sure to take advantage of the 31-day prayer guide.

    Population:  74,928,000
    Unreached:  74,323,000
    People Groups:  60
    Unreached People Groups:  42
    Islamic:  (96.64%)
    Non-religious:  (3.1%)
    Jewish:  (0.02%)
    Evangelical Christian:  (0.01%); 4,000

  9. Pray For Turkey Throughout May

    Posted on April 30th, 2014 by Jonathan

    If you missed Secret Church on Good Friday and have not yet been able to participate in the simulcast replay, then you may have also missed our prayer focus. Together, throughout the month of May, we’ll be focusing our prayers on the Peoples of Turkey. You can find out about Turkey, the people groups that live there, and the unique culture of the country at HopeForTurkey.com, our official prayer focus website.

    To assist you in knowing how to specifically pray, we’d encourage you to use this beautiful 31-day prayer guide. It includes various general topics as well as specific requests.

    We are praying with expectancy, excited to see what our Father in heaven does as thousands of people lift up Turkey on a consistent basis for the next 31 days. We hope you’ll join us, starting tomorrow!

  10. The Missionary Question

    Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Jonathan

    The missionary question is not, “Where are there unbelievers?”
    The missionary question is, “Where are there peoples who don’t have any Christians among them?”

    HT: Justin Taylor