David Sitton

A 2013 of God-given historic proportions

“The kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.” (Matthew 11:12) (HCSB)

2013. Momentum. Excitement. Heightened anticipation. Those are words describing the beginning of the year for To Every Tribe. To Every Tribe has momentum. Christ provided His mission with more than $490,000 in the purchase of 50 acres of buildings and land at Chachalaca Bend. There is much excitement about what God is going to do at Chachalaca Bend through missionaries who will be trained and sent to unreached people around the globe. Our anticipation of what Christ will do next through His people for his mission has been heightened by all the great things God has done for us in just the past year.

2012 – LOOKING BACK

To Every Tribe begins 2013 with hands held high in praise and hearts full of gratitude for Christ, his mission, and his work among his people! Here are our hand-picked top five things that God has been doing down in South Texas over the past year:

1. Largest attended Open House with Adoption of Village Q in Oaxaca, Mexico

2. Construction Begins on first Missionary Home in Goroka, Papua New Guinea

3. First 4 missionaries graduate from the 2-year program of the Center for Pioneer Church Planting

4. Record enrollment of 26 in the Center for Pioneer Church Planting

5. God provided over $490,000 of $1.85M, and we closed on the property at Chachalaca Bend

2013 – LOOKING FORWARD

Grateful for what God has already done, we are asking Him to accomplish the following through To Every Tribe in 2013:

1. Seek to develop and identify 2 complete missionary teams for Papua New Guinea, and expand to a potential of 3 teams for Mexico

2. Send workers to PNG to finish the house project in Goroka, and develop a construction and funding plan for the next missionary house

3. Realign and establish To Every Tribe for the next stages of growth and development in mobilizing the church, training disciple-makers, and sending missionary teams

4. Pursue a partnership with new local churches to expand the reach of Ekballo prayer, sending missionaries, and generous giving to the mission of the gospel to unreached people groups

5. Ask God and his people to provide over $1.35 million needed to purchase the 50 acres of buildings and land at Chachalaca Bend so that To Every Tribe will be debt free by 2014

6. Implement a strategic master plan for future training and sending from Chachalaca Bend

THE CHALLENGE

David Sitton, President of To Every Tribe, began the 2013 Open House at Chachalaca Bend with this challenge from Matthew 11:12: “The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” (NIV) Christ, The Forceful Man who won the kingdom through His death and resurrection, is advancing his kingdom through “forceful” disciples willing to lay it all on the line for the gospel. Whether staying home in order to send or going as the sent, followers of Jesus have a responsibility to His mission of advancing the kingdom through a violent faith willing to do “whatever” for the gospel.

We are running headlong toward the challenges that lay before us in 2013 as Christ advances His kingdom through His people. Matthew 11:12 reminds us that Christ’s mission is a violent mission. 344 years ago, the Puritan preacher Thomas Watson noted, “The kingdom of heaven will not be taken without violence. The violent take it by force. The earth is inherited by the meek (Matthew 5:5.) Heaven is inherited by the violent. Our life is military. Christ is our Captain, the gospel is the banner, the graces are our spiritual artillery, and heaven is only taken in a forcible way…the right way to take heaven is by storm; or thus, none get into heaven but violent ones.”

The advance of Christ’s kingdom through To Every Tribe will not be without a violent faith, with war being waged against anything that would present itself in opposition to the gospel. This includes violence against the desire for all the baubles that this world has to offer. Paraphrasing Watson, Christ’s mission is military. But we do not wage physical weapons aimed at physical violence. We do not offer a sword of death and oppression. We offer Christ and his gracious provision in the gospel. Our sword is the Word of Christ proclaimed to the unreached, those who have no access to the good news of Jesus. This war is waged by sacrificial proclamation, sacrificial praying, sacrificial serving, sacrificial sending, and sacrificial going to those who have not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are 3 billion unreached people on this planet. There are 3 billion reasons for a violent faith that takes heaven by storm.

OPPORTUNITIES TO PARTICIPATE

We are eager to see what Christ will do through To Every Tribe in 2013. And there are many opportunities for you to participate with us in Christ’s mission.

1. First and foremost, you can pray that Christ will be honored and glorified through To Every Tribe in 2013, and that He will continue to use To Every Tribe to spread His name and His fame among those who have no access to the good news of Jesus.

2. Your help is needed in serving in many diverse areas of ministry.

3. Your gifts are needed to come alongside local churches in helping train and send more risk-taking followers of Jesus to some of the 3 billion people who will never hear the good news of Jesus unless we tell them. We still need $90,000 in order to have full ownership of the 50 acres of buildings and land at Chachalaca Bend. We need your help. Participate with us in propelling missionaries into the harvest from Chachalaca Bend by clicking on this link: http://bit.ly/givenowTETM

God-given historic proportions. 2013 is going to be a year unlike any other at To Every Tribe. We look forward to partnering with you in the gospel for the advance of the gospel and Christ’s kingdom! Pray for us. Partner with us. The gospel continues its advance in 2013 and we are excited Christ has included us in His mission, a mission fueled by violent faith that sacrifices all to take the kingdom for the sake of Christ.

Forcibly Flung to the Nations – Ekballo

The gospel task, essentially, is to take territory for the Kingdom of God.  However, we’re not after geographical conquest.  Rather, we target spiritual strongholds where Satan has exerted his control for centuries.  We are compelled to go after the hearts and souls of people for whom Christ died.

To advance the gospel means that we are to go everywhere extending the Name and the Reign of Christ throughout all of the earth.  That’s the Mission.  God makes his own name great among all of the ethnicities of the earth1 and he does so through the geographical scattering of his people.2

The harvest of nations is an enormous task requiring thousands more of well mentored missionaries than are presently available.  What should be our response to this labor force deficit?

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go!  I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.3

There is a Lord of the harvest.  I’m so grateful that the work of the gospel around the world is in the hands of One who is big enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to manage it.  The harvest of nations is the Lord’s work and he will do exactly what he wants to with it.

As Lord of the harvest Jesus will have a full crop of all the elect from all of the people groups of the world.4 Likewise, he will have a full contingency of harvesters who are necessary to gather them.  All of the goers, all of the martyrs, all of the intercessors and financial senders who are necessary – Jesus will have a full number of everyone and everything that he intends to use for the ingathering of a People for his name and glory.  Jesus is the Lord of the harvest.

There are workers in the harvest. This speaks to the opportunity we have of working with Christ.  Don’t ever forget the magnitude of this privilege.  We get to be missionaries for Jesus Christ!  It is indescribable grace that Jesus allows us to be partners in mission with him.  We get the joy of being front-line spokesmen for Jesus Christ in the far-flung places where his salvation is unknown!

The workers in the harvest are to do two things.  First, we are instructed to “ask the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers.”  Send out in Greek is ekballo, which means to “thrust out violently”; to “forcibly expel”; to “fling out.”  It is a spiritually violent and authoritative word, used for example, to describe the driving out of demons.5 When Jesus commands demons to leave a person or place, they immediately relocate.  In the same way, as we pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out workers, we are asking Jesus to strategically and forcibly redeploy his people into his worldwide harvest.

 

Prayer is the biblical way, primarily, that missionaries are inwardly compelled to change locations and go somewhere with the gospel.6 We don’t try to twist anyone’s arm or talk anyone into anything.  We pray that the Lord of the harvest will ekballo a work force to accomplish his own work.  In a refreshing way, instead of trying to argue people into becoming missionaries, we go over their heads.  We ask the Lord to compel those whom he wants to carry his gospel seed bags and drive his harvesting combines.  The same authority that expels demons in Jesus’ name propels missionaries to joyfully “pack their coffins” en route for remote and hostile places where Jesus is not known.  When Jesus says, “go!” demons vacate and missionaries relocate.  We do the praying and Jesus does the flinging!

Secondly, disciples are told to pray for harvesters and… What is the first word of Luke 10:3? – “GO!”  Pray and go.  The sense of the text is that we should pray for laborers to go and then get busy being a part of the answer to our own prayers!  This is what the Church is called to do.   We are to pray and go.  Praying, going and sending glorifies God!

Important Question: If working with Christ in the gospel around the world is such a privilege, why is it necessary, so often, for the Lord to forcibly expel his laborers into the mission?  Why aren’t potential laborers lining up for this incredible opportunity?

The answer is in the next phrase.  Jesus forcefully reiterates the implications of going.  “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”7

Jesus sends lambs out among wolves!  Is there any doubt what the outcome of that will be?  Jesus is describing a slaughter.  As we go in his name, Jesus says, we’re going as the main course meal!  That’s what lambs are to wolves.  This is a primary reason people refuse to go.  Even believers are not usually eager to line up for a blood bath!

And so, the Lord ekballoes us.  He forcibly flings us out into the world by his grace.  He does it by transforming our hearts.  He makes himself so valuable to us, that suddenly, we begin to “break the jar and pour out all of the oil upon his feet.”8 Our fears and love for this world disintegrate and morph into a passion for his name and compassion for perishing people.  So much so, that nothing else matters anymore.  Jesus becomes our most treasured “pearl of great price” and we find ourselves doing strange things.  We begin to sell homes and land and property.  We begin to take our families, even our young children, into some of the most dangerous and difficult places in the world.  And we do it with joy, because Jesus and the gospel are worth it!

This is what Jesus did.9 He saw the people and was moved by compassion for them because they were distressed, harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.  Jesus came to earth as the Lamb of God to die.  That was the plan from the beginning.  The slaughter of Christ on the cross wasn’t an afterthought or an accident. The Lamb of God intentionally came to die for his sheep.10 After Jesus rose from the dead, he turned to his disciples and said, “As my Father sends me, so send I you.”11

That’s how people become missionaries and how the world will be won for Christ.  That’s how it works.

We do not need a missionary calling.  If we are believers in Jesus Christ we are called to Christ!  If we are called to Christ we are simultaneously called to his mission.  And when we are called to his mission, we don’t “cut and run” when the going gets tough and treacherous.

I’m asking the Lord to ekballo (forcibly expel) every believer in Christ who reads these words.   Some will be ekballoed to actually go as missionary martyrs.  Some will be ekballoed into financial martyrdom, as believers in the early church did.12 First century disciples were frequently compelled by the Spirit of God and by the joy of Christ in their hearts to give in ridiculous ways.  Some of them actually sold homes; some gave land, and many hundreds of thousands of others shed their blood and guts, in extraordinary ways, in order to see to it that the gospel would go to the ends of the earth.

This is the mission of God.  Missionary martyrs going, financial martyrs sending; and all of us praying and working together, for the gospel and the glory of God to be known and enjoyed by all peoples.

____________________

1 Malachi 1:11

2 Matthew 28:18

3 Luke 10:2-3

4 John 6:39; Revelation 5:9

5 Matthew 10:1

6 Persecution is one way that workers are outwardly compelled to change locations and go with the gospel. Acts 8:1-4

7 Luke 10:3

8 Mark 14:3-4

9 Matthew 9:35-37

10 John 10:15

11 John 20:21

12 Acts 2:45; Acts 4:32-36

zp8497586rq

David Sitton at the 2011 Desiring God Conference

To Every Tribe is Pleased to Announce:

 

David Sitton will be speaking at one of the seminars at the

2011 Desiring God National Conference entitled:

 

Finish the Mission: For the Joy of All Peoples

Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged

 

In addition to the seminar, Dr. John Piper will be interviewing

David along with Greg Livingstone from Frontiers.

 

The dates of the conference are September 23-25, 2011

and will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center

in Minneapolis, MN.

 

For more information, visit www.desiringgod.org/events.

 

Because David will be speaking at the Desiring God National Conference,

To Every Tribe will not be hosting a conference this fall.  We would like to

encourage you, instead, to attend the Desiring God National Conference.

 

God Fed the Sparrows and Sent a Missionary on His Way

Thirty-three years ago today (October 3, 1977) I left for the first time as a missionary to Papua New Guinea.

Twenty years old; lean and green and ready to tackle the world for Christ.  I boarded an airplane (by myself) in Corpus Christi, TX around 11:00 AM headed for New Guinea via Honolulu, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

I was inexperienced, under-trained, under-financed and totally determined; a dangerous combination.  But I did have a bible and a surfboard…and not a worry in the world.  The Lord must have chuckled at my reckless audacity; I think he liked it, though.

Family and friends gathered at the airport terminal.  There was much hugging and weeping as they figured I would be eaten by cannibals before my first two year mission was completed (and it nearly happened)!

Several elders from my sending church huddled together whispering among themselves about how they didn’t think that young kid would actually leave without enough money.  One of them told me years later that they thought I was completely crazy, but they couldn’t be left responsible for my starving to death in the jungle!  Right there on the spot, they gathered the remaining monthly support I needed.  Ah… Jehovah Jireh!

My old mentor used to say – “Look at the sparrows, missionary!  When God quits feeding the sparrows, missionaries will become extinct.” Well, the birds are still eating.

Three decades plus two years ago today I started a missionary journey for Christ.

I find myself especially tender on this anniversary.  4:00 AM tears puddle my keyboard as I reflect on the astounding privileges of my life.  To be used by God, even just once in a lifetime; to unhinge a stronghold of the enemy by the power of the gospel and Jesus’ name would have been enough.  But he’s given me so much more. I will die singing praises.

Amazing grace.  Amazing God!

October 3, 1977: God fed the sparrows and sent a missionary on his way.

Alex Chediak Interview with David Sitton (Pt. 3)

The following is the  third interview of David Sitton by Alex Chediak.  The first and second interviews can be read here and here, as well as at Alex’s blog at AlexChediak.com.  Special thanks to Alex for permission to re-post the interviews.

Are there any new developments at To Every Tribe that you’d like to share with us?

The big thing for us is seeing the gospel advance into previously unreached areas. I like to talk about the “advance” of the gospel. Advance denotes movement, action, intentionality and progress; setting targets for the gospel and then going after them for Christ. To do that well requires teams of well trained church planting missionaries. And that’s what we’re attempting to produce, with God’s help, in our Center For Pioneer Church Planting (CPCP). Beginning in September, we are transitioning into a two-year training program, 40% of which is focused upon on-the-job training situations in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Mexico. For example, we’ve discovered a whole new region in the Black Water swamp lands of PNG where the evangelical gospel is virtually unknown. Plans are being made to get the gospel established into that area as quickly as possible. We also have a reconnaissance research team, right now, in the remote parts of Oaxaca (Mexico) gathering data in order to determine the most strategic place to launch a church planting team. These are the things that excite me the most.

You’re hosting a Mission Conference with the title Reckless Abandon: For Jesus and the Nations. Why that title?

I got the Reckless Abandon title from Ed McCully, who was one of the Ecuador 5 that were martyred in Ecuador in 1956. Here’s his quote:

“I have just one desire now; to live a life of reckless abandon for Christ and I’m putting all of my strength and energy into it. Maybe the Lord will send me some place where the name of Christ is unknown.”
–Ed McCully (in a letter to Jim Elliot, September 22,1950)

It’s our conviction that most of the easy-to-reach places have already been harvested. The ones that remain unengaged are hard to get to, and oftentimes hostile. It requires a certain missionary mentality for a man to take his family into these dangerous places. It requires a reckless abandon that comes out of deep conviction that Jesus and the gospel are worth it. Whatever the hardship or suffering, Jesus is always worth it. If there is a line, over which, Jesus is no longer worth the sacrifice, that line points directly at the thing that we value more than Christ; whatever it is we value more than Christ is an idol in our lives.

Josef Tson

I noticed that the speakers have worked in Romania and Ethiopia, whereas To Every tribe has historically focused on Papua New Guinea and Mexico. Tell us a little bit about why you chose Josef Tson and Getaneh Getaneh.

Josef Tson lept nearly to the top of my “greatly admired” list when I read about his response to a Romanian prison guard that gave him a choice to either deny Christ and be released, or be killed by firing squad. Josef said, “Sir, let me explain to you the situation. Your greatest weapon is killing; but my greatest weapon is dying. I see no good reason to renounce Christ now. If you kill me, I go to heaven and my sermons will spread around Romania all the faster because people will know that I died for my faith. If you release me, I will go on preaching. Do with me as you wish!” And they released him! I want Josef Tson at our Reckless Abandon conference!

Getaneh Getaneh

Getaneh Getaneh is from Ethiopia and has been tortured more than I can imagine for his faith in Christ. Getaneh has an incredible testimony and is one of the strong voices within Voice of the Martyrs that speaks on behalf of the “suffering church” around the world. I look forward to hearing about his exploits for the gospel in the midst of severe suffering.

Are there any particular themes you’ve asked Josef and Getaneh to address?

Once they heard about the “Reckless Abandon” theme, Dr. Tson and Getaneh Getaneh both accepted our invitation immediately. I know they will speak powerfully to the subject. I will be sitting with everyone else in the conference eager to hear whatever these brothers want to challenge us with. In my sessions, I expect to develop what I believe is the biblical rationale for encouraging extreme risk for the gospel. The outline will be something like this: Risk is always determined by the value of the mission; the gospel is so valuable that no risk is unreasonable; life laid down for Jesus is eternal gain. If I live, I win. If I die, I win bigger (Phil. 1:22-24).

Alex Chediak Interview with David Sitton (Pt. 2)

The following is the second interview of David Sitton by Alex Chediak.  The first interview can be read here, as well as at Alex’s blog at AlexChediak.com.

David – Thanks for your willingness to talk a bit more.

It’s great that so many read our first interview and some cared enough to respond.  I’m glad we can do a Part 2.

For an opening statement, I’d like to reply to Justin Long at The Network for Strategic Missions and his observation (as a comment on your blog) that my definitions of unreached and unevangelized, according to many missiologists are inverted.  And that’s mostly true.  However, Donald McGavran, one of the foremost missiologists of the last 100 years, defined unreached much the same way I do.  “Socially isolated away from gospel witness” is one way he put it.  But the important point is that I suspect most of our differences are largely in the semantics.

I would still argue that the natural progression for the gospel among unreached people groups is this: They are first unreached, meaning, there is no knowledge or access to the gospel within their culture.  Then, as they hear the gospel, some are converted, leaders are trained and a small church is established.  At this point, I consider them to be reached, meaning, that Christ and the gospel are now known, embraced (church planted) and accessible in their culture.

But there is still a remaining need for evangelization to be completed among them.  This is the third phase, which I like to call reaching.  This simply means that the needed evangelization is completed through the efforts of their own national believers (church) and with their own local resources.

At this point is when the pioneer church planter should move on to other unreached people groups.  So the process is Unreached – Reached – Reaching,

Many missiologists see the process as Unevangelized – Unreached – Christian.

Here’s the reason I especially don’t like that third category (Christian) very much.  It has largely lost its meaning for me because too many statisticians include anyone that claims to be Christian into that category.  For example, it is often said that Papua New Guinea is 97.28% Christian.  That is complete nonsense to anyone that has spent any amount of time in PNG.  When the Christian category stretches its arms so wide as to surround and include Catholics, far-fringe syncretistic cargo cults and sometimes even the Mormons, it completely confuses the true situation of the urgent need for mission in the remote and still unreached places.

Romans 15:17-24 has greatly affected the way I think about the remaining task of mission.  Paul explains that he is leaving the region from “Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum (modern day Albania)” because his aim is to preach the gospel, not where Christ is already named.  Paul justifies his departure by quoting Isaiah 52:15 – so that “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

Paul says “there is no more place for me to work in these regions”, and so, he turns his attention to Spain which Paul considered to be an “uttermost” region where Christ was still not known.

How could Paul say there was “no more work for him in these regions?”  Certainly there were lost people all over that huge swath of territory that still needed to be evangelized.  But for the pioneer church planter, Paul’s
job in the region was finished, and he turned his attention to less reached places.

Paul wasn’t saying by his departure that there was no more need for evangelization.  He was saying that this territory was now sufficiently reached so that the remaining work of evangelism could be completed by the local believers in the churches he had established.

This is what I understand from Romans 15:

Unreached Peoples are places where Christ has not been named; where people have never been told of him; where there are those who have never heard of him.

Reached (but not completely evangelized) Peoples are places where Christ is already named; the people have been told of him; they have heard of him; Churches are planted; and the remaining need to evangelize the unsaved, within that now reached region, falls to the local believers.

Reaching Peoples are those that, with their own national manpower and local resources, are completing the job of evangelization and missionary mobilization (and sending) themselves.

And the church planting missionary moves on to other unreached places where Christ is still unknown (unreached) to repeat the process.

I want to say clearly, again, much of the difference, I think, among missiologists comes from our having slightly differing definitions.  But we all agree on the distressing spiritual condition of the remaining unreached peoples of the world.

I hope that’s not overly tedious, but I wanted to explain why I have come to use these words and definitions.

I was wondering if we could tackle a couple of exegetical questions.  How do you understand Matthew 24:14 (“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”) in light of the widespread belief in the imminent return of Christ?

I believe the Lord wants every generation of believers to live under the expectation on an imminent return of Christ.  Paul himself, I think, was looking for the return of Jesus in his lifetime (I Thess. 4-5) and even encouraged believers to live in a way that would “speed” its coming (2 Peter 3:12).

As for Matthew 24:14, I take it at its literal face value.  It means exactly what it says.  When every one of the 17,000 ethnicities (people groups) in the world has the gospel established among them, then Christ will return.  The Lord will not have an incomplete crop!  Heaven will be gloriously populated with the elect from “every nation, tribe and language group” (Rev. 5:9; 7:9).

Do I live in expectance of an imminent return of Jesus Christ?  I do.  Jesus is coming soon.  And it’s certainly a lot nearer now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11-12).  However, humanly speaking, I know there are thousands of places around the world where the peoples are still desperately unreached and groping around like blind men in the strongholds of hostile spiritual darkness.  So from that stand point, I don’t expect Christ to return tonight.  But here’s the thing for me; Jesus said three times in Revelation 22 “Surely I am coming soon”; the last prayer of the bible is the church saying in response – “Amen, come Lord Jesus.”  So when I pray – “Come, Lord Jesus”, I’m praying that the gospel would speedily go to the ends of the earth; I’m praying for the rapid success of the gospel among unreached peoples; I’m praying for the elect to be quickly drawn in.  And when the Lord has gathered in the last portions of his purchased Bride from among the earths peoples, the Lord will split the skies and come for her.  And the Lord could make that happen in an instant if he so chooses.

How do you understand Colossians 1:24 (“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”)?  Specifically, how does our suffering relate to the extending of Christ’s kingdom?

I tip my hat to John Piper in helping me understand this one.  His message a few years ago entitled “Doing Mission when Dying is Gain” is a must listen.

There are two questions that scream out of the Colossians 1:24 text.

Question 1: What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?
Answer: Absolutely nothing is lacking in its accomplishment of salvation for his people.  Salvation is full and free and completely purchased and secured by Christ through his death and resurrection.

Question 2:  If there is nothing lacking in the accomplishment of Christ’s afflictions to acquire salvation for his people, then what is lacking (because the verse clearly says that Paul was filling up the lack)?  And how can we provide what is lacking?
Answer:  The lack in Christ’s afflictions is not in its accomplishment, but in its, personal, specific application to the nations.

Josef T’son has said – “The nations will be won by his (Christ’s) cross and through our crosses.”

I understand that to mean that it’s the cross of Christ that accomplished salvation – But it’s our cross; that is, it’s our joyful enduring of hardship, suffering and martyrdom (maybe) that proves the truth of the cross to hostile nations.

It’s a difficult dynamic to understand at first.  But the Ecuador 5 is a great example of how this works.  The cross of Christ was proven to be the power of God for salvation for the Auca tribe.  The truth of the gospel was confirmed through 5 human crosses when they were slaughtered by the Auca spears.

When a missionary speaks the gospel in love, then meets violent death in joy for this gospel, a miracle sometimes occurs.  The eyes of unbelievers are opened.  God enables them to understand the significance of the death of Christ, as demonstrated by the missionaries they just killed – And many of them eventually believe in Christ.  This is the consistent testimony from the stoning of Stephen to this present day explosion of gospel advance in the most heavily persecuted areas of the world.  Persecution and suffering is not a set-back to mission; it’s an incentive for more aggressive gospel witnessing.

I believe that suffering, hardship, persecution and missionary martyrdom is a divine strategy that God intentionally uses – To advance the fame of his name to all nations.  Persecutions always advance the gospel more quickly.

Not to belabor the point, but isn’t it interesting that God has a predetermined number of martyrs (Rev 6:11-14) that he has appointed for the ingathering of his predetermined number of lost sheep (John 6:35-40; 44 and John 10:15)?

We talked about “panta ta ethne” (to all the nations – ethnicities) a bit last time.  One of the facts that impressed me when I took the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course was that the last 50 years seem to have brought us much closer to the goal.  Can you comment on that?  [For example: At this rate, when might we finish the task?]

We are, of course, closer to the goal.  But the remaining part of the task is the hardest part.  We often say at To Every Tribe that the easy-to-reach places have already been reached.  The remaining unreached peoples are (often) geographically remote, culturally and linguistically confusing and oftentimes physically hostile to those carrying the gospel.

When could we finish the task?  It could happen quickly if a few thousand martyr missionaries would rise up to go; a few thousand financial martyrs would rise up to sacrificially support them and a few thousand Moravian-like prayer martyrs would rise up to intercede for them.  This is the kind of revival I’m praying and believing for.  The problem is not essentially a manpower or money shortage.  The shortage is in the number of missionaries who are willing to “fall into the earth and die” for the greater harvest (John 12:23-25).  A lot of seed needs to be buried in order to reap the remaining crop.

Mark Noll and others have noted that world Christianity has taken on a new shape with large sending bases now in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. What effects might this have on pioneer missions of the sort To Every Tribe does?  Are you recruiting at all from outside the USA?

The missionary task is not an American effort; and these days, missionaries from the West are among the least effective in the remaining rough and tough places of the world.  Pioneer church planting is grueling work and it will not be accomplished over the long haul by soft, fearful, risk-avoiding missionaries.  I praise God that he is raising up fully abandoned, martyr witnesses from 2nd and 3rd world peoples; and we want to work with them.

The effect of this cross-cultural work force will only have a positive effect on To Every Tribe.  We want to learn how to maximize multi-cultural church planting teams with our brothers from other countries.  We want to be on the aggressive front-line of helping them to organize and mobilize for the nations.  In our own Center For Pioneer Church Planting, I see near-future multi-cultural partnerships and church planting teams consisting of American, Canadian, Australian, Mexican and Papua New Guinean believers.  Part of our vision is to establish missionary training bases in PNG and Mexico in order to launch these church planting teams in the fastest, most contextually relevant and cost effective ways that we can.

Thanks again for your time and your important work.

Thank you, brother, for your interest in our ministry.  I pray God’s best blessings on your family and your good work for the gospel.  Let’s reconvene for a third conversation sometime.

« Older Entries