The To Every Tribe Mission Statement reminds us that “To Every Tribe exists to extend the worship of Christ among all peoples by mobilizing the church, training disciple-makers, and sending missionary teams to plant churches among the unreached.” There is an important order in this statement: “mobilizing the church… training disciple-makers… sending missionary teams to plant churches.” The primary goal of our work at To Every Tribe is sending missionary teams to plant churches among unreached people groups. Like the Apostle Paul, we make it our “ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I [we] build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand’” (Romans 15:20-21).
I recently read the book Cross. Its origin was at the first CROSS Student Missions Conference which was held in Louisville in December 2013. The conference was a fresh call to today’s college students to go to the remaining gospel frontiers “for, perhaps, the last great push” in the completion of the great commission. The premise of both the conference and the ensuing book is that “there comes a moment in every movement of God when continuing to saturate one’s native people with the gospel is simply no longer enough.”
This was true for ancient Israel, when God said, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). It was true for Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey as recorded in Acts 13. At first, they preached to their Jewish kinsmen about the redeeming work of God, beginning with Abraham and culminating in the death and resurrection of Christ. But when that message was largely rejected, they said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). It was true for William Carey (1761-1834), the “father of modern missions” who took the gospel to India, and for those who followed his example, like Hudson Taylor (China) and Jim Elliot (martyred in Ecuador) among thousands of others who have carried the gospel cross-culturally despite hardship, loss and even death. And, dear friends, it is true for us in our day.
Not all Christians will go to the nations, any more than everyone in Antioch went with Paul and Barnabas. But we should all have an active role, whether it be “goer” or “sender,” in the great work of God to make himself known to every people group on earth. At To Every Tribe, we embrace that premise fully. Our missionaries are already laboring among the least-reached in Papua New Guinea, Southern Mexico, Northern Mexico, Southeast Asia, and the First Nations people of Canada. Others are on their way to the Gaelic speakers of Western Ireland and other people groups.
*This article was originally published in To Every Tribe’s December 2015 edition of Ekballo Magazine. Stan B. is the current Director of To Every Tribe’s Missionary Sending Agency