Suffering

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

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What Will We Suffer if We Refuse to Suffer for Christ?

In the time it takes to read this page, another Christian will be killed because of his or her faith in Jesus Christ.  160,000 believers around the world will be slaughtered this year alone… simply because they love Jesus.

This is not a news flash.  The physical risk of “going public with the glory of God” (John Piper) among satanically dominated peoples is obvious.  Jesus predicted that you will probably be chugged (disposed of quickly and without pause) like a lion eats a lamb (Matthew 10:16; 1 Peter 5:8).  That’s the risk of identifying with Jesus in this world; and too many shrivel up at the thought.

Scripture describes the butchering of missionaries as horrifically beautiful.  Horrible because of the indescribable torment endured by so many; but stunningly beautiful in their humble Christ-likeness as they are afflicted, persecuted, struck down; but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4).  When believers are crushed by suffering, the aroma of Christ stretches out even more widely and rapidly among the peoples.

This is biblical boldness: to plow through hostile resistance with the gentleness of Christ and “loving the hate” out of those fierce enemies of the cross.

I dread a greater danger than death.  I dread the consequences of not risk-taking for the gospel.  What will I suffer if I refuse to suffer for ChristWhat will I lose if I refuse to lose my life with Jesus for the nations?  What “glory” (Paul’s word – Romans 8:18) will I miss out on if I shirk suffering for the gospel?

There is something in suffering for the gospel that produces supernatural affection and compassion within you towards those who are harming you.  At the same time, when one can praise God instead of denying him in the midst of suffering, unbelievers take notice.  Some are inevitably saved, which generates more persecution, which in turn, fuels an even more passionate scattering of the gospel.  The result is that whole new regions are quickly populated with believers and churches.  This is how suffering and persecution nearly always advances both personal sanctification in the sufferer and the speedier, wide-ranging expansion of the gospel among the persecutors.

There is nothing more powerful in evangelism than a life humbly laid down for Christ and the gospel.  These gospel risk-takers are missionary madmen (2 Cor. 11:23).  But God is glorified by them.  The world’s unharvested fields need many more like them.

Memo from the Moravians: “Don’t be Cowards with the Gospel!”

Opposition to the evangelical gospel was fierce in 18th century Germany.  Christians were on the run for their lives and carried the gospel in every   direction they went.  One small group of persecuted   believers ended up on the estate of a wealthy German governor, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf.

Zinzendorf was an influential plantation owner who loved the gospel and offered the battered believers a safe place of refuge in Herrnhut.  Denominational allegiances seemed less important in the heat of hardship, and for that moment, this smattering of Lutheran, Anabaptist, Moravian and a few converted Catholic believers eagerly huddled together for fellowship, prayer, and encouragement on Zinzendorf’s expansive estate.

Within five years, that small handful quickly grew to several hundred, and the theological squabbles among them multiplied just as quickly.  In May 1727, after days of prayer, fasting, and public teaching from the Scriptures, Zinzendorf challenged the community to lay aside their “theological guns.”  It was time to stop the divisive bickering.  Through Zinzendorf’s persuasion, the people were convinced of the danger of disruptive non-essentials, and resolved to stop grinding one another to dust  by fussing over peripheral issues.

During the next three months, an amazing spiritual renewal gradually began to overwhelm them. Everyone sensed a steadily stronger presence of the Holy Spirit in their gatherings, with repentance and the love of Christ for one another  becoming a primary emphasis.  These theologically-divided brethren began passionately praying unified and joyful prayers.

Remarkably, on August 13, 1727, a powerful presence of God unexpectedly overtook them during a Wednesday   evening communion service.  What had been steady, spiritual renewal now became a rapid, full-blown revival which was characterized by intense intercessory prayer for the spiritual maturing of their community and for the speedy spread of the gospel to the far-flung places.

The Moravians began to pray and they didn’t stop.  Twenty-four men and twenty-four women  began praying one hour each day.  They scheduled themselves so prayer would be on-going every minute of every day. That intercessory prayer group evolved into an around-the-clock, around-the-world prayer movement — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year — which continued without interruption for more than 100 years!

This around-the-clock prayer watch was not limited to just the Moravians living on the Zinzendorf estate in Germany.  Wherever a church was established in a new land, the new believers were immediately taught to intercede with the same sort of 24-hour-a-day praying.  There were literally tens of thousands of Moravian believers, including the missionaries themselves, in those 100 years who constantly prayed for God to prosper the spread of the gospel, save souls, plant churches, and hinder the power of the enemy.

This was warfare prayer, and it wasn’t easy to sustain.  One account tells of a small band of Moravian missionaries who were traveling by ship.  All were suffering from malaria, dysentery, and dehydration.  Yet, they tag-teamed between one another to keep the prayers going even as they took turns in the galley outhouse!

On another occasion, a missionary was so delirious with fever that he couldn’t remember what he had done five minutes before.  When the ship landed, he was offered medical care and an opportunity to  return to Germany, but he   refused to go.  He said, “Just let me die here, this is good!”  The value of the   gospel and the privilege of carrying it were so great that risk, danger, the most grisly of sufferings, and martyrdom were not considered to be  significant.

The First Two Moravian Missionaries

In 1732, just five years into the 100 year prayer, the Lord stirred the hearts of two Moravian men for the suffering slaves of St. Thomas in the West Indies.  Leonard Dober was a potter and David Nitschman was a carpenter.  They decided the best way to win the slaves of St. Thomas for Christ was to voluntarily sell   themselves into slavery.  Leonard and David eagerly volunteered for this “open door” of ministry for the gospel.  They boarded a Dutch ship on October 8, 1732.  As the ship left the harbor, their friends and     relatives onshore could hear them shouting from the lower deck over and over again:  “May the Lamb that was slain   receive the reward of His suffering . . . May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his   suffering.”  Those were the last words heard from these brothers as the ship disappeared over the horizon.  They simply believed the Lamb Jesus had purchased elect men for God with his blood from among every nation, tribe, and language group.  Leonard and David recklessly went  after some of them for Jesus.  This became the rallying cry of the Moravians for more than a century as they led the way in the radical evangelization of hostile peoples, often      enduring unbelievable hardship and horrific martyrdoms for the name of Christ.

The Moravian missionaries were fearless in their gospel exploits and suffered a tremendous loss of life.  As quickly   as they were killed off, others stepped forward to take their place.  They really did not care if they were killed, and even prayed for the privilege of dying!

The Moravian View of Missionary Calling

Do you know how the Moravians decided who got to go as missionaries when new opportunities arose?  They cast lots for it . . . for it . . . not to avoid it!  The attitude of the whole community was that they were all called to go and send.  They might be called upon at any moment, so everyone lived in constant readiness.  When the lots were thrown down, they eagerly gathered around, hoping for their name to be called out.  It was like winning the lottery!  When twelve missionaries died from disease on St. Thomas, the Moravian leadership in Herrnhut gathered the community together, threw down the lots, and chose twelve more to replace the ones who had died!

These people took the Great Commission seriously and personally.  In just the first 15 years of the prayer revival, churches were established in the Virgin Islands, Greenland, Turkey, the Gold Coast of Africa, South Africa, Suriname, the Arctic, Algiers, Sri Lanka, Persia, Ethiopia, and among the Eskimos and Indians of North America.

Even John and Charles Wesley were converted, in part, through their contact with the Moravians. George Whitefield hotly debated some of the Moravian theology, but came to love and respect their zeal to get Christ known in places where no one else would even consider going.

Count Nikolaus Zinzendorf, with all of his personal flaws and theological deficiencies – and there were many – passionately loved Christ, the gospel, and the nations.  Zinzendorf did much, and suffered much, to enlist missionary martyrs for the truly tough places of the world.  He deservedly is considered one of the most influential leaders in mission history.  Zinzendorf laid a foundation for cross-cultural, protestant    mission that pioneered the way for what is called “The Great Century of Mission” which followed in the 1800’s.  Sixty years before William Carey set out for India and one-hundred fifty years before Hudson Taylor sailed for China, God had already selected a rag-tag, rough-and- tumble group of radical believers to demonstrate what he will do when a few sell-out to Christ and simply do what he tells them to do.

I’ve scribbled the name of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians into the margin of Hebrews 11 in my bible alongside the other gospel champions listed there.  Like those biblical examples, the Moravians’ lives demonstrated  outrageous faith and extreme risk for the gospel.  They lived by faith, and they died by faith.  It is appropriate to remember the Moravians among God’s flock of fools who went to the far nations to gather a chosen, ransomed people for the glory of his name.

The Privilege of Suffering: Jesus Is Worth It!

Spearheading the gospel into unreached regions is risky.

In the time it takes to read this article, another Christian will be killed because of his or her faith in Jesus Christ. 160,000 believers around the world will be slaughtered this year alone… simply because they love Jesus.

The butchering of missionaries is horrifically beautiful. Horrible because of the indescribable torment endured by so many; but stunningly beautiful in their humble Christ-likeness as they are afflicted, persecuted, struck down; but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4). As one Chinese Christian martyr confidently testified to his tormentors, “You can kill me, but you can’t hurt me!”

This is biblical boldness: to plow through hostile resistance with the gentleness of Christ and loving the hate out of those fierce enemies of the cross. God is glorified by these gospel risk-takers. The world’s unharvested fields need many more like them.

God calls all believers to be imitators of Christ and to live lives worthy of his Name. There is nothing more powerful in evangelism than a life humbly laid down for Christ.