It's interesting that we are commanded 365 times in the Bible to ‘Fear not'. That's one for each day. God must have known we'd need them all. There have always been things to fear, perhaps never more than there are today, though. My wife and I were talking about the world that our grandchildren are growing up in. This is not the one we were raised in. There's plenty of peril, plenty of things to go wrong. However, God says, ‘Fear not'.
I came across a quote recently that says, ‘Why don't you stop worrying about the things that could go wrong and get excited about the things that could go right'. This guy agrees with God. The trouble seems to be with where our eyes and our heart are. If our attention is set in this world, then we have plenty to fear. However, in Luke 21:28 Jesus says, ‘When you see these things come to pass, look up, for your redemption draws near'. ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also'.
Election years consistently seem to catch Christians like a deer in the headlights. We see it in the income for our ministry. It drops significantly each election year. And believe me, I've tracked this through 6 election cycles now. This past January was our worst one in all of the years that Amy has been doing the books. We're doing a lot of looking up right now.
We, as believers all have good reason to need to look up. Who will be our next leader? Who will appoint the next justice to the Supreme Court? What will happen to the economy, my job, etc.? Look up, because there's a court waiting to sit that trumps (no pun intended) any and all courts on the earth put together. And He has not forgotten you, nor have the things going on around you escaped His notice. Remember, you are worth more than many sparrows. If every faith opportunity possesses a measure of fear, and we're due to walk through difficult times, wouldn't it be better to walk through them in faith with our focus on Him and His desires, rather than on our fears?
What are His desires? That everyone down here gets a chance to hear what we've heard: Hope in Him. That Message is for us to share. You are His missionary everywhere you go. You are His witness. Don't let the lack of a theological degree make you afraid. We're just witnesses. Witnesses just tell what they've seen. When we finish that task we get to go home, Mt.24:14.
Finally, while you're concentrating on looking up, don't forget us either. We've got our most exciting days right before us! Together, we're part of the fulfillment of Mt.24:14 for Muslims everywhere. Yes, you're our partner in that venture. So remember to pray for us too and please help us to walk through this next year with joy, into His plan to reach Muslims worldwide! Thank you!
While everybody here is cheerful and excited in their expression of Christmas, Shia Muslims have a different way of celebrating their sacred feasts these days. I have seen Fatima, a Bahraini Shia Muslim move from a Western sophisticated lady (translating a lot of the writings of Charles Bukowski into Arabic) into a mourning, grief stricken Muslim. The more grieved she looked the more pious of a Muslim she is seen as, the more appreciated by her Shia people in Bahrain and elsewhere. Literally millions of Shia Muslims have been flocking into the city of Karbala, South of Iraq, in order to celebrate the end of a 40-day period of self-imposed mourning for Mohammad's grandson, Hussein. It is grief and death that they seek to celebrate and commemorate. Death to them is sought after as it prepares them for Jenna, Muslim Paradise, in reward for how many good works they have done, how many good points they might have earned. Works, works, grief, grief could sum up the theology and the general spirit of Islamic piety. They need grace. They need Emmanuel. Their grief at the shrine of Hussein cries out to us: come and send the light of the gospel, the gospel of Good News, God has come into the world in order to save the world. He is going to send more than books to talk about how people get saved but God Himself will come in the person of Christ and through His perfect atonement in the cross all these Shia Muslims can get saved and their morbid grief will turn to joy. It is not Western sophistication that will save our sister Fatima from her bondage; she has been well-versed in refined American literature. She does need something more than intellectual sophistication; she needs her heart set free through the Son of God. Yes, she has been reading Bukowski but her heart is still the same because it takes the person of Christ to set her heart free. Then, and only then, can she sing with Charles Wesley:
And can it be that I should gain; An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain— For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Yes, her chains will fall off and the anointing of the Holy Spirit will abolish the yoke placed by the darkness and morbidity of Islam. For that reason we labor with enthusiasm to see each and every Muslim getting saved, and it is through this that task is being accomplished as we humbly write these lines. We just want to say a big thank you to you this Christmas for joining hearts and minds with us to bring all these precious souls of Muslims into the Kingdom of God. May you overflow and abound in every blessing of God.
Luke chapter 21 speaks of a time of signs in the heavens, trouble on the earth, but then in verse 28 it says, ‘Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.’ In light of the trouble of our days, this is a comforting verse. It’s encouraging to think that Jesus’ return and the setting right of all these troubles is at hand. And we are right to be encouraged by this.
However, in contrast, Jesus said, ‘Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest’ (John 4:35). So where is our focus to be? To me, the answer is simple. The fact that our redemption is nearing should calm us, but the command to look at the harvest field should motivate us. This is particularly true when we consider His words in Matthew 24:14, ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.’ I quote this verse often and without apology. In light of Matthew 24, might we actually see our redemption sooner if we more seriously engage the command to reach the world with the Gospel?
There seems to be in the last few decades a tendency (probably throughout Church history) to try to figure out when He is going to return. Do you remember the book, ‘88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988’? Well, 1988 has passed... So have many other proposed dates. Harold Camping made many such predictions. I believe that this preoccupation with His second coming can, and does, take our focus from the task at hand, and could actually be lengthening our wait. In the process of gazing up, might we be looking away from the harvest?
I recently heard a pastor/missionary say, ‘If we would spend more time in obeying the Great Commission than in trying to figure out when the rapture will be, we might get there sooner.’ I’m not sure what your theology of the last days is, but please receive the point. We should embrace the comfort that our redemption nears, but we should also obey His Commission. Like Jesus, let us be about our Father’s business.
You may recall that my last article was entitled, "Help Wanted". We asked you to pray and God answered your prayers! We needed people with several skills, including; website builder, radio program processor, audio engineer, computer code writer. Well, the Lord has given us two people with all those skills. Granted, their time is limited. We could use more of their time, but things are moving forward! That’s important because many of the innovative ideas God has given us, like of the Internet ministry, are still on the drawing board, or at least embryonic. Now, however, it is taking shape. Those new ideas are nearly ready to minister to Muslims! We have six new websites up in six languages and each one has a 24/7 Internet radio station playing on the website!
So now, since God answers your prayers, please keep praying! Pray that we’ll make the best of the new workforce blessings that we’ve received, especially in light of their limited hours. Pray that we’ll be able to keep them paid. We’ve been blessed with help for that, but pray that the need might continue to be met.
However, here are a few more key areas where your prayers are needed. One need is for space for everyone to work. It should be north of Seattle, in the Everett area where most of our workers live, and have enough space for everyone. With our growth, our current space is getting cramped. Please pray that it includes an area for a recording studio. We have a studio in boxes for lack of space, and often have opportunities to record material for ministry. As an example, we currently have an Ethiopian woman who sings beautifully in her native Amharic language, but we are unable to record her. Another prayer need is for people to blog on each website in their language. Only one site now has a blogger to minister to seekers. Pray too, for someone to manage the radio station on each site.
Thank you for your prayers and support. In a year those six websites could grow to many more, and be effective. You are our partners in ministry. God has answered your prayers. So please keep praying!
When I write ‘help wanted’ I’m doing so in hope that you’ll engage us in several ways, which I’ll talk about in a minute.
We do need some additional help here at the ministry, though. The Lord has opened doors for us to begin to create websites for ministering to Muslims in their own languages. We’re developing several of them right now in Uighur, Punjabi, Arabic, Sorani Kurdish and others.
We’re also making great strides toward launching Internet Radio Stations to reach these languages of people and others. We’re really excited about this because we’ve now developed the capability to broadcast those stations from our own servers, cutting out the middle man and saving money.
The websites are based on blogging, which allows the national operator of that website to engage seekers, disciples and people at all levels of openness; to engage them for Christ in their own language. Of course the websites are designed to have Scriptures to read and listen to, sometimes for download. They have teaching videos, recorded lessons, music, a link to the Internet Radio Station for that language. Then, as mentioned, the blogger to answer their questions and to disciple them.
The bottom line is that all of this is labor intensive. It requires IT help for the servers (we currently have someone helping us with that), helpers to handle all the kinds of computer files (radio programs, all of the files for the music, lessons, Bibles, videos, etc.) that need to be processed for the various parts of the ministry.
We also really need website facilitators to take original English ‘templates’ of the websites and work with the national operator and guide them through the process of adapting and translating them into the language of the people to whom they will minister.
Finally, we need helpers to daily log into the ‘dashboards’ of those Internet Radio Stations and line-up fresh programs to play each day.
For most of these jobs there is no one lined up at our door, and if they did, we would lack the funds to hire them. I feel a bit like the Scripture that says, “This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth .”, Isaiah 37:3 (KJV).
We’ve got feelers out for some of these people, but if the lost are to be reached, we need to find them, the right ones and get them on board. So, first, we require your prayers for these needs. Second, if you think you might happen to be one of these people we need to hear from you. Third, if you can help us, financially, to hire some of them, that would be huge! Millions of souls are at stake!
So, when I say, ‘Help Wanted!’, the first thing we need you to do is pray. And if you are praying for this, please let us know - an email, a note back in the envelope, a call! Help Wanted! Help us! Thank you!
It is interesting that at banquet time this should come up again, but you may remember that last year our banquet speaker was Taysir (Tass) Saada. He the book wrote, “Once an Arafat Man”. That’s because that is what he was. He was a sniper in the early days of the intifada, the resistance of the PLO against Israel. He’d been a bad guy, an angry young man. He was so angry that he carried his work out with a vengeance, worked overtime snuffing out the lives of Israeli soldiers and officers. He was so bad that he was getting even Yassir Arafat a bad name, so much so that Arafat made him his personal driver in order to keep him close. When that wasn’t enough, even Arafat had to get rid of him lest he bring the power of the Israeli Defense Force on the heads of the PLO. Now that was something!
Well, they shipped him off to the U.S. where he studied, married and got into business. Eighteen years later God gripped his heart through a Christian who treated him like an equal when he could have been cruel, and Tass got saved! Praise God for His work of grace and forgiveness in the life of a former killer.
Eventually, the Lord called him into the ministry. As that ministry developed, God took him back to Israel, back to Palestine. And the Lord opened the door for him to again visit with Yassir Arafat. Tass shared his faith with Arafat, invited him to trust in Christ just 6 weeks before Arafat died. He didn’t trust Christ that day, but later another man came along and also shared and Arafat prayed the sinner’s prayer! Incredible! Was he sincere? I don’t know, but there’s a possibility that we may someday be greeted by Yassir Arafat in heaven.
My question is, ‘How do you feel about that?’ For me, as I sit here writing that, tears of joy come to my eyes at the possibility. Did he deserve it? No, but did we? ‘Yes, but we’re talking about Arafat!’ Yes, I know that, but what about the Apostle Paul? He was a persecutor and a murderer! And God saved him! What about the thief on the cross next to Jesus? No time for works, just receiving grace at the last possible minute.
How do we feel about that? The answer determines whether we really believe the Gospel or not! Christ plus what? The Cross plus what? And who is so bad that there is no hope? Apparently no one unless they refuse until it’s too late!
So I ask again, ‘How do you feel about that?’ Again, I don’t know if he was sincere, but do you hope so? I do. And that’s why I’ll give the rest of my life finding ways to get the Gospel to Muslims throughout the Muslim world. I love what God does with a hopeless, evil life. After all, that’s the kind of life I was living. No, I didn’t kill anyone that I know of, but sin is sin. And salvation is salvation! Are you with me? Then decide how you’re going to feel about that and let’s get going!
As you reflect during this Christmas season, and think about what Jesus came to do, does it inspire you to make a difference in your world? A real difference? A big difference? Or do you take a look at yourself and everything you know about you, and say, ‘no way!’? I personally live with this everyday. And so should you. Does that mean that we give up on God’s dreams for us and settle? (Did you notice I said, God’s dreams, and not your dreams, or mine?)
No, we should not give up on God’s dreams for us because of what we see in us. How do I know that? Because He said so. I realized it recently in a prayer meeting when someone quoted 1Cor. 1:27-29, which says, ‘But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence’!
When I heard that, I blurted out, ‘I qualify for that’. And I was right! Now, that’s humbling, because that’s quite a laundry list of weaknesses and failings and shortcomings. All that’s true, too. However, it’s also encouraging because it means that God can still use me. It’s not only that He really wants to use me, but I’m just what He’s looking for! On the other hand it also makes it clear that I’m not qualified to choose my own way, to set my own direction, to make my own plans. It’s God’s choosing and it’s His plan, not a rubber stamp for me to run ahead with my ideas and plans, to be carried out for my own self gratification. It’s all about Him, it’s all from Him.
Now this applies to us all. Look at the list, do you qualify or not? If you do, then take heart. And if you’re already walking in what you know is God’s plan for your life then walk it out with humility and in obedience. But if you’re not walking in that, take encouragement and seek Him for what He’s got for you to do. In the end you’ll be able to look back with satisfaction on your life knowing that you made a big difference in the world, in your world, the world around you, the world Jesus came to save. Go for it! After all, you qualify for that!
They’re simple words. They’re also humbling words because they acknowledge gratitude to another for a kindness done for you by someone out of their largess, their kindness, their generosity. It’s an acknowledgment of a gift. The words often come hard, partly because it almost carries with it something of condescension on the part of the receiver (condescension in a good way, of course). Almost as a gift given by someone greater to someone more humble. And humility is a good thing for believers (even if we don’t like it).
It’s in this context that I want to extend my sincere thanks to you for being our partners in this ministry. Sometimes we’re tempted to look up to others because of the ‘great ministry’ that they perceive God has given that other person. I assure you, we are all merely servants of God. I once had a friend, now with Jesus, who wondered why God had called me to such a great worldwide ministry when he merely visited the nursing home weekly. Are you kidding? He was weekly praying with folks who were nearer to eternity than most of us and leading them to Christ, sometimes right at death’s door. Who had the greater ministry? Besides, our ministries are not supposed to be all about us anyway, are they?
In regards to your partnership with us, which took more spiritual sensitivity? Did it take more for me to hear from God about this ministry (about which I am often undeservedly lauded)? Or did it take more for you to sacrifice things you could have spent on yourself instead, in order that our vision succeeds?
Furthermore, we’re not just talking about monetary gifts. While those are important and vital to our success, it’s not the only thing that many of you give. Many of you give your time in prayer that we will succeed in the many things needed in order to reach Muslims. Some of you live close enough to volunteer here on a regular basis. Volunteers have recently accelerated our ministry unbelievably. On the other hand, you might be the pastor that gives up your pulpit so that we can share our ministry with your congregation, with the added risk that some of your members might put their gift in our offering instead of the church’s.
You could be that person who opens their home when we come for a service or for your church’s missions conference. Perhaps you’re that child who has had to give up their room for us when we’ve come. I even had one child who sacrificed his room for me right after his family had moved into the parsonage. The home and his room was all so new to him that he ended up calling it, ‘Mike’s Room’, instead of his room for the entire time they lived there.
In our years of ministry we’ve had many sacrifices made by many on our behalf for the sake of this ministry. Your sacrifices haven’t been in vain. And with a heart of humility, we want to say a profound, ‘thank you’. We’ve given our lives for Muslims to be reached and you’ve sacrificed with us for the same end. For that we call you partners. Thank you, Partners. Great is your reward in heaven.
It’s an awkward moment for many of us. Someone complements us on a job well done or an action that shows God’s work in our life. That’s when we get all shy, look down, maybe scrape the dirt with our shoe and say something like, “Aw, shucks, twernt nuthin”. Or we might even look embarrassed and say, ‘Praise God”, but where does that reaction come from? In all likelihood it comes from a tendency to want to own the responsibility for that success, while we know better. So while we deflect the praise to God, still, we’re uncomfortable. And it shows. It’s a kind of false humility.
Worse yet, we might beam, saying, ‘Thanks!’, and behaving like that trait is intrinsically ours. We’ve forgotten who it was that changed us, and failed to glorify Him.
A better understanding, coupled with some real humility, will lead us to a better response. The fact is that God’s work in our lives, and it is His work, really does lead to a changed life for us. And though we are changed by Him, we are really becoming new creatures in Him. We really are becoming more like Him, a mirror image! We’re new. And even though it is His work in us that does that, it is a gift from Him to us and now it is ‘ours’ to live out for Him. We’ll never forget where it came from, but now we can ‘own’ that gift and glorify Him with it.
So then the response when we are complemented changes. We can then confidently, warmly and genuinely say, ‘Thank you’! However, we don’t stop there. We can say, ‘Thank you. God does good work, doesn’t He?’. And we really mean it. Now we’re not merely deflecting praise, or absorbing it. Our response is to reflect His glory for what He’s done in our lives! So go out and as He polishes you, reflect Him without shame!
There’s a title I bet you never thought you’d see! Long before I ever coined that phrase the pastor of a church in the Midwest U.S. said about me, “Mike Bond gets more done for less than any missionary we have”. That’s because of the tools we use to get it done. And as true as that was then, it’s about to become even more so as we move forward.
It’s been true because we’ve been equipping one person to record radio programs that are then broadcast to tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of his own people in their own language. This led us to the point where we have a daily potential audience of half a billion. And we’re getting responses from listeners in 54 countries! However, we wanted to do more. We wanted to penetrate even more deeply into the culture. We wanted to make sure that even more of those potential half a billion were actually listening. And we wanted to expand that half a billion number to even more, as many as there are Muslims in our world.
Of course that means even more new radio programs in our current languages and in new languages. But how do we do that in a shrinking economy? We’re currently receiving about half of the help we would have normally received at this time without the recession. So the question is, how do we do that?
The first thing that the Lord showed us is to build Internet radio stations for listeners AND to send the programs overseas to radio stations close to their countries. If you want to know more about that you can ask us for the Bisharat-Issa (Gospel of Jesus) video. If you’d like to hear it, visit www.bisharat-issa.org and click, ‘Listen Live”. We’re now adding, not only our own broadcasts, but we’re finding others who are recording in their language to reach their people, and we’re adding those broadcasts to our daily schedule! It’s growing!
In order to make it even bigger we’ve had to go one step further and begin to equip even more people to record radio programs. And to make that possible the Lord has shown us many ‘off the shelf’ solutions which allow us to teach those people how to record high quality radio programs right on their computer. He’s shown us solutions enabling them to send their programs right to us by dragging the files into a folder on their computer and they appear in our server ready to play on the station!
Now we’re taking all of these bits and pieces that we’re learning, and putting them together like a Tinker Toy set – Tinker Toy Missions. All this is beginning to streamline the task of reaching the Muslim world until it’s (dare I say?) like child’s play! Please pray for us that the Lord will meet the needs (financial, staffing and volunteer), help us deal with the masses of information, and ‘market’ the stations to a lost world in order to reach them! Thank you!
The first thing I need to say is that this is the most important summer letter that I've ever sent! Second, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your help, whether it's financial support or prayers for us and our work. Your partnership is very important to us.
I say that this is the most important letter because in the 21 years of this ministry, this is the toughest season we've ever been in. The effects of the economy have dragged on a long time and hurt many of our supporters. We've lost a large number of them in the last year and a half. Now we're in the midst of summer and to top it all off, it's an election year, a time when we often get stressed and lose track of giving. All of this has come together to create for us the 'perfect storm'.
We're thankful that we had a successful banquet. It put us right briefly and carried us for a few more months. However, now the shortfall and the summer have caught up to us and we need your help.
The bottom line is that I'm asking you to please consider a special offering, anytime now through September to help us accomplish our goal. It can be any kind or size of gift. It's up to you, but your help is really needed in order to keep the Gospel going to Muslims uninterrupted.
At stake are broadcasts reaching out to over a half billion Muslims in their own languages, with responses coming from 53 countries and growing. Our Internet Radio Station and Network are also at risk as we drone through the summer. We currently have 8 hours per day for Iran and 8 hours for Uighurs as well as others. We need your help to make sure that this work continues to be developed. We’re making progress, but it's in its infancy. Please help us so that it doesn't die there!
So, please consider an extra gift of any size to help us to keep the Word going out to these hundreds of millions of Muslims. An envelope and slip are enclosed, or visit www.globalradiooutreach.org. Thank you!
Now that the excitement of the banquet is over we’ve got serious work to get on with recording more Chinese Uighur broadcasts for those 12,000,000 people. We’re in the middle of a series and we need just over $2,000 to fund the first half so that we can begin recording the second half. It’s less than $50 to record a new one-half hour broadcast. And it gets used dozens of times, and more when you consider the downloads that will be available. If you can help us with a gift to enable us to trigger that next round of recording, please do it. Maybe you could send $50 for a broadcast, or maybe the Lord has blessed you to be able to fund the entire $2,000 to finish it. Thanks for whatever you do!
"And He [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds [pastors], and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children...", Eph. 4:11-14 ESV.
Boy, those are wonderful promises of a wonderful future and ministry for the Church! And I know that, for me, I want and need it all! I need all that I can get from God in order to become all that He wants me to be. This is true, not only because I have so far to go, but also because I started so far back! And isn't it true for all of us?
Now this talk today might sound a bit Pentecostal for some of us, but, hey, we're talking right from the Scriptures. And we all have a high view of the Scriptures as being the Word of God. So let's talk about the Scriptures.
Getting back to the passage, we all want to be equipped for the ministry. We want to be built (not puffed) up. We all want to attain unity in the faith, knowledge of the Son of God, maturity, up to Christ's measure, no longer children.
We all want this! So to get it all, don't we need all of the gifts He gives in order to attain it? Have some of the gifts ended? Do we now not need them? Some say that apostles, for instance, went away with the completion of the Scriptures, or with the end of the first century. I've heard the arguments, but most of them seem to contain more logic than Scripture.
Speaking of Pentecostals, this is especially frustrating for those who call themselves Pentecostals because we believe that the gifts of the Spirit still function in spite of references that point to the end of those gifts. We believe that they will end when, 'we see Him face to face'. Well and good.
So then why do we accept that some part of God's plan to develop us into the fullness of the faith has expired when there's not even a reference!?! Now, if you have a valid reference, please interact with me. I'd love to see your Biblical references and pursue your logic.
However, let's stick to the Scriptures. It does no good to argue that something disappeared at a certain time. Let's face it, many things disappeared over the next centuries. And if we had to operate the Church here on only what was left us by the end of the Dark Ages... Well, we're in trouble with that.
Yes, I know that there are whack jobs out there calling themselves apostles. There are well meaning people calling themselves apostles and with all other manner of titles, but just because there are fakers does that license us to throw out the true, if it still exists?
Let's face it, we've all known men of God whose lives qualified them for this title. Most of them would not accept the title. However, what it it's true? What if these were and are really men that have been given as gifts by Christ to bring about the results seen above? Dare we even consider to believe that this might be at least one reason that so few of us ever get to measure up to the stature of Christ?
Now, I don't pretend to alone have the answers to this question, but I do have the question. And I want to attain to all that God wants me to become for him on this earth. So don't we owe it to Him to at least open the door to discussion on this subject?
I want to discuss it with you. So connect with me. Happy? Angry? Agree? Disagree? Bewildered? Let's talk about it. Otherwise we can continue at our current level of disfunction, individually and corporately!
One of the frustrations with life is that over time the definitions of words change. If you’re a Christian living in the United States you can see this in comparing the way modern judges and lawyers tend to interpret the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents compared to the way the writers interpreted it. Part of the problem is that the definitions of some words have changed with use throughout the years and the meaning is distorted. The same is true in the Scriptures. For instance, the King James Bible sometimes used the word, ‘let’ in places where it actually meant ‘hinder’. Since then the definition of that word, ‘let’ has changed to mean, ‘allow’. It’s a 180 degree turn!
In some circles the use of the word ‘missions’ has suffered a similar fate. Admittedly, it’s an extra-biblical word. It didn’t actually appear in the texts of many early English translations. It’s a word that many adopted to refer to the Apostle Paul’s journeys where he turned many to Christ and established churches throughout the world of his day. So eventually, the word came to be applied to our obedience to the ‘Great Commission’ (another extra-biblical word). However, the command of the Great Commission is described in detail great in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and Acts 1. It can also be seen by example in the actions of the Apostle Paul throughout Acts and in his epistles and he carried out his mission.
The problem is that through the years the definition of our specialized use of the word ‘missions’ has changed to include relief efforts and many other good works that believers do throughout the world in the name of Christ. So, you ask, ‘Why is that a problem?’. It is a problem because in some cases, and perhaps in our thinking we’ve now inadvertently come to substitute many of those good works for what Jesus commanded in the ‘Great Commission’. And as a result we may not be fulfilling the ‘Great Commission’ itself.
Don’t get me wrong, those are good things, ‘even necessary good works’ as they’re described in one version of the Bible. Go for it! However, if we go drill a well in a needy village of Africa and don’t tell them whose love motivated us to do that, then we haven’t fulfilled the ‘Great Commission’ to tell every creature, everywhere that Christ died for them. You might ask, is that really necessary? Well, we’re commanded to!
We might see its importance better in an illustration which might also help us prioritize our efforts. Let’s say that you have a passion to help people caught up in human trafficking. That is a wonderful cause! You could spend your life rescuing people and changing their lives for good! However, what if you never told them about Christ? Through your efforts they might have a wonderful life only to die and have a ‘hell’ of an eternity! I say that reverently. Now, what if we could only do one thing or the other? Would it be better to rescue them from a horrible life, or better to rescue them from an awful eternity? I think you get the point.
Fortunately we don’t have to choose! We can offer both. We can deliver people from a bad life and offer them a wonderful eternity at the same time. Now that fulfills the Great Commission!
I’m not raising an argument for the sake of semantics here. However, what I am saying is that the commands of the Great Commission taken together with the example of the obedience of the Apostle Paul in Scripture paint a clear, graphic picture of what God meant when he commanded us to go. And if we only go and do good works without telling people in who’s name we do them, we could be giving people a nice life, but condemning those same people to a ‘hell’ of an eternity when we only meant them good.
Why not make your life’s mission to fulfill the Great Commission?
From 1984 through 1990 my family and I were missionaries in Papua New Guinea. We went there officially to do missions support work. We actually supplied communication to the outside world and other technical backup for about 1,000 missionaries working mostly in isolated jungle locations. We also saw spiritual needs in the villages around us and ended up as church planters, too.
It was a wonderful time for my family. However one of the things that we noticed was that we had no fellowship with others of our own 'denomination'. We couldn't find our own brand. We pretty quickly found out that we had great brothers and sisters in Christ from many different denominational, doctrinal and 'worship style' backgrounds.
It was incredible what a blessing this became because we learned so much from believers of other backgrounds. They became our best friends, confidants, fellow-worshipers and even comforters when the bottom sometimes fell out of our worlds.
Our community, which is what it was, because we lived on a jungle-based missions station, was made up of believers from many different churches. And the city near our base offered an even more diverse group of people. I eventually came to see the advantage that this was because whatever you needed seemed to be represented in someone who lived near you. We became a happy 'band of brothers'.
As we came back to the U.S. to launch this ministry I was able to appreciate the many co-laborers that we have in the mission field which is reaching Muslims. And it's becoming an even greater advantage with the launch of our new ministry to Muslims, the Bisharat-Issa Internet Radio Network.
Bisharat-Issa is Arabic for the Gospel of Jesus, and the network will consist of two Internet radio stations. One is a basic 24/7 streaming of radio programs in the languages of Muslims who need Jesus. It's just for listening. The other station will carry the same programs, but will be a 'broadband' station, CD quality. This one will exist for the purpose of streaming all that programing to radio stations and satellite stations ll over the world which are either in, or are on the edge of Muslim countries broadcasting in to them. We want to supply 24/7 radio for them so they don't have to produce it and be forced to 'reinvent the wheel'.
So why is our discovery of believers from other backgrounds such an advantage for this. Well, it taught us to be open to all born-again believers and to look to them for material that they're recording to reach Muslims.Many were recording a little here and a little here. However when we put that all together it's a lot of programming to reach the lost. Imagine a tiny fire here and another there, but if we put them all together it creates a huge flame for Jesus wherever they Muslims live - delivered!
On top of that, they get the benefit of the perspectives of many backgrounds just like we did when we were in Papua New Guinea. After all, the Bible presents the image on one Body. And that's just what we need in these 'last days' as we endeavor to reach the lost for Christ. We need to be one Body.
So, please pray for us as work begins in earnest at the end of December 2010 on the Bisharat-Issa Inrernet Radio Network. We're expecting it to be used to reach many trapped in Islam. And we want them to get the whole counsel of God. Thank you.
About thirty years ago I was attending SeattleBibleCollege, located at the other end of the block from PhiladelphiaChurch. Pastor Paul Cornish (known as Brother Cornish), a Canadian, was the Dean at that point. I still remember him saying in a lecture once, that there were two things that he'd said years ago, he'd never do. One was ministering in the U.S. The other was that he'd never go into BibleCollege work. Well, there he was, the Dean and a lecturer at a BibleCollege in the U.S. You just never know!
I can also remember that one of my own chief objectives during those four years was to stay out of the Dean's office. I only failed in that objective once. Brother Cornish was a serious man (or so he led us to believe). So you didn't want to be on the "Dean's List" (his other list). This made so serious an impression on me that it lasts even to this day. Stay out of the Dean's office, at all cost. Times have changed, and SeattleBibleCollege is now in Everett, Washington. The old BibleCollege building is now called "The Center". PhiladelphiaChurch has several ministries operating out of there. Until recently Global Radio Outreach was located in the upstairs of PhiladelphiaChurch's office building. Well, their preschool was growing. It needed room to expand. We had to move to make room.
You guessed it! Global Radio Outreach is now located in the old BibleCollege building. One of our offices is now in what was once the Dean's office. I did manage to dodge the bullet a little. My office is next door to the Dean's. Amy, our daughter, is in that one. However, I’ll still spend quite a lot of time in there. That old lesson from Brother Cornish rings in my ears. God is in control. He has a sense of humor. And... you just never know!
Please tell me about your "You just never know" experience.
It's hard to imagine that a faith that was started by a man who said that, 'God is love' would have enemies. However, that doesn't seem to have changed the fact that there are those bent on keeping the message of God's love out of their territory. So it seems we're in an unwilling war. The stakes of which are both temporal and eternal.
Such was the situation for the Allies in WWII. They were trying to penetrate a world behind enemy lines which had been drawn by those wishing to keep freedom from those trapped inside. Their weapons were primarily military. Ours, on the other hand, are verbal, based on the Truth, aided by the Spirit.
However, the Allies also used verbal tactics in their struggle to free the captives. One was the use of bootleg radio transmitters. Those stations, based at the lines, were used to convey the message of hope and freedom into besieged countries. The purpose of those broadcasts was to create 'pockets of sympathizers' within hostile areas. They were then used to encourage the sympathizers and even to coordinate the actions of those sympathizers in order to open the way for eventual freedom everywhere behind the enemy lines.
With your help, Global Radio Outreach today uses these same verbal tactics to convey the message of freedom behind the lines to those caught in darkness. We use the message of the Gospel, broadcast by radio, satellite, the Internet and direct distribution to 'pockets of sympathizers' behind the lines. These people live on the hope of the message we're broadcasting to them. Further, as it was for the Allies, these pockets of help will be an important tool that God will use as the front for freedom advances.
We hear from these sympathizers, too! One early listener wrote, 'I regularly listen. Yet I am in a difficult position for I am married and have a daughter. I am a farmer and own nothing but the house and a piece of land. There are few Christians in my village and no churches. M's. are a majority and I can't tell anybody I have converted. I don't know anything about the Christian faith and I need you to teach me about Jesus. Can you teach me to pray like you do?' - Egypt.
One caretaker of a Mosque in Pakistan told us that the entire village wanted to become Christians, but they were afraid. We supplied them Bibles and literature.
Another from Sudan wrote thanking us for, 'what you have had to share about Jesus... and how you seek to explain God's work of salvation for us. We desperately need to hear that during these critical times in the Sudan'.
A Saudi woman wrote, 'The Christian books you have made available for me played an instrumental part in my seeking after God, books that we would not have been able to get in the country. Everything is severely strict here and the Internet came as God's avenue of intervention. Please pray for me'.
These serve as only a few examples of the communication which we receive from the 'pockets of sympathizers' living behind the lines. Please consider becoming a partner with us in prayer, through support or as a volunteer. To find out how to help please visit our website www.globalradiooutreach.org.
Thank you for reading. God bless you.