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Category: Archive

Where Isn’t the Thai Church?

Man’s List or God’s List

In Matthew 24:14 Jesus said “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  Most Christians understand that when Jesus said this, the word nations is not referring to countries or nation-states. Instead Jesus is referring to different ethnicities (from the Greek word ethne).  However, what Jesus did not do was give us a list of who these people are and where they are located.

Because Jesus did not provide a list, mission organizations have created their own.  These lists attempt to classify every group in the world. When you focus on a specific country, it is not difficult to identify problems with its data.  Some of it is incorrect or incomplete and at times very old.   However, the biggest problem arising from these lists is that millions of unreached people are ignored.   A missionary will drive by unreached villages to arrive at a village that is on their list of unreached peoples.  In the process they bypass thousands of other lost peoples to reach that one group.

In Thailand there are many different peoples and the goal of the national church is to reach every one of them, both those on a mission organization’s list, and those on God’s list, and those we don’t know about yet.  The goal of the Thai church is to plant a church in every province, district, sub-district, and village in Thailand.  By reaching every village the opportunity is much greater that every ethne will have heard the “gospel of the kingdom.”

Though the gospel has been in Thailand for 188 years, 75% percent of the sub-districts still have no church.  Sixty Percent of the country’s population lives in these sub-districts. The accompanying map shows the situation clearly.  The green indicates there is at least one church in that sub-district and red means there is no church.   The three northernmost provinces have only 5% of the population in Thailand yet 51% of the Christians.   For decades missionaries have bypassed millions of lost people to reach those on their list.  This needs to change if every ethne in Thailand is to be reached.

If they don’t have a church how are they going to know who God is?  Who will teach them?

Thailand Infographic-01

 

This article was taken from Issue 2 of the coMISSION Magazine. You can download a free copy of the magazine, by clicking here.

coMISSION Magazine – Issue 2

Our second issue of coMISSION Magazine is out and should be hitting a number of mailboxes now.

The coMISSION magazine is a biannual publication if Bethany International that seeks to help others see the need and hear the call of world missions. The great commission is not a task for a select few, but an assignment to work together on as the body of Christ. The magazine seeks to illustrate the current state of missions and the current needs on the field. It’s articles also provide real examples of how others are taking action to meet these needs to inspire readers to do the same.

In this issue:

  • “All Nations Blessed”—Still Not a Reality by Kerry Olson
  • Off the Couch and Into the World by Tim Freeman
  • Where Isn’t the Thai Church by Dwight Martin
  • Rethinking the American Dream by Dan Sanchez
  • The Old Story in a New Tongue by Andrew Hood
  • The Kingdom Impact of Your Prayers by David Entler
  • The Power of Short Term Mission Trips by Mary Edwards
  • Strategically Engaged for Long-Term Impact by Doug Goodmunson

Click here to download a digital copy of issue 2.

 

Let’s Set the Record Straight on Missions in Europe

Okay, so the Lord has burdened my heart to write about this subject that is so close to my heart. For those of you just joining us, I did a missionary internship in Marseille, France last year, and I’m going to Belfast, Northern Ireland next year as a missionary. So clearly, God has given me a heart for Europe. But I need to address something I have found very disheartening within the church: the lack of support I have received in these endeavors to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Europe that so desperately need it.

europe

Now when I say this I am not just talking about financial support, and for the sake of the rest of this post, support will not mean financial support. I am talking about prayerful, spiritual, and encouraging support. That is not to say I haven’t received any support, I have, and I am so thankful for those of you that have been supportive, and agreed with me in prayer as the Lord leads me to these amazing people. But we need to talk about the people who haven’t supported, the leaders that I had to fight tooth and nail to get on board with me, and even then it’s with much reluctance. This needs to be addressed, and I’m not going to stay quiet about this anymore, because my heart is weeping for Europe, and I know that it is a reflection of how God’s heart weeps for the lost that still reject Him.

The Great Commission Reinterpreted

We all know the great commission:

“Go into the unreached parts of the world, in Asia, Africa, and parts of South America, with the most poverty, that have the best pictures for your slideshows, and tell them about Me so I can come back sooner. But do not worry about those that have television, radios, and access to bibles, they’ve chosen to reject Christ, and that’s their problem, not yours. And I will be with you always.”

No?

Yeah, that’s not the great commission I remember either.

Here’s the real one:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:18-20, emphasis mine

Huh, that’s odd… I missed the part where all Jesus cared about were the unreached? Oh, maybe because that’s not all He cared about! Now, I have to say this, and it is one hundred percent true: I absolutely care about the unreached. I long to see them know Christ and make Him known in their nation. I believe that there are many people called to them, and I myself am called to one day go to the unreached. If you’ve known me for any amount of time you know I feel called to go to Iraq one day, and be a missionary there.

So yes, reaching the unreached is so important, and is very much on God’s heart, but is it supposed to be at the expense of other nations as well? Europe needs Jesus, and I will touch on that in the next section, but should we be making it difficult for people, like me, and many friends of mine, that are called to Europe to actually get there? When Christ has specifically said to go to all nations? I think there is something seriously wrong with a picture where other nations, that need Jesus, are being rejected and passed over because we want Jesus to come back sooner? Is it fair for us to pass judgement and say: “Well they had their chance, too bad, so sad…”?

“Europe Doesn’t Need Missionaries” And Other Lies I’ve Heard

“Europe doesn’t need missionaries.” This is one of the biggest lies I’ve heard. Here are a few others I have heard:

“Why are you going there?”

“Sounds like a vacation to me…”

“That’s too expensive, why don’t you go somewhere else that has a lower cost of living?”

All of them are arguments that have their root in the lie that Europe does not need missionaries.

So let’s have a little history lesson, shall we?

Since Christianity became a major player in world religions, and even before, there have been countless wars over religion. But let’s focus on the part Christianity played in religious wars… To name the major conflicts, there were the Crusades, where European “Christians” invaded the Middle East and North Africa to force Christianity upon the “heathens”… And yes, there was much more at play than just that going on, but it was all done in the name of Christ.

Many died, there was much bloodshed, and death. Then there’s the Inquisition, can’t forget our buddies involved in that one. Many were tortured, burned, and killed in the most brutal way for “not complying with the Holy Church”. Oh, and of course, the slaughter of Protestants during the Reformation. This is the conflict that has carried the longest… There is still fear amongst Protestants in France because of what was done to their grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the way back to the beginning of the Reformation.

Northern Ireland is still just coming out of the fog of war between Protestants and Catholics. Many times, if we’re being honest, there is much behind just Protestant and Catholic, Christian and Muslim that brings about these wars and killing, but it’s more often than not wrapped in the label of religion in order to justify it.

Okay, so what’s up with this history lesson? Well, now you understand the utter distaste many Europeans have for religion. Jesus has become this bloodthirsty tyrant to so many, that the true gospel of Christ has been lost in the shuffle of idolatry and war. He no longer is the loving, merciful God full of grace, but a man that has had so much blood shed because of His name. I don’t know how to put it in simpler terms other than this: The Jesus we know is not the Jesus the majority of Europeans know. At best He is a distant deity, at worst He’s a man that has been the cause of conflict ending in blood. So is it really any wonder they want nothing to do with Him?

Europe, the Missionary Grave Yard?

So why am I writing this?

Well, we, as a church have greatly forsaken Europe. Many look at Europe and see a warning, not a mission field. Before I went to France I was told it was “The missionary graveyard.”

I believe that is due, not just to the spiritual darkness there, but also because of the lack of support missionaries have when going to Europe. I, as well as many missionary friends, have been shot down and questioned when we tell people we are going to Europe as missionaries. Maybe it’s because we don’t have pictures of poverty and need, because you can’t always capture brokenness on camera.

There is such brokenness in Europe. Suicide, depression, broken families, broken homes, are so common there. But as I said, that can’t always be captured in pictures for me to show. All this to say: we need you church. I am pleading with you, to step up, and recognize that the lost are not just in Africa, Asia, and parts of South America, but they are in Europe, North America, Australia, they are everywhere.

They are not just the unreached, but they are those that have rejected God, they are those that have heard of Jesus, in passing, as a man that caused war and strife in their country’s past. I have had to fight to have this recognized, I have had to work hard to show people why I am going where God has called me, and I’m not complaining, because it has given me more passion, drive, and more of a heart for these people.

But I am saying this: stop making us fight for this!

We should not have to fight for your prayers, for your encouragement, for your spiritual support! God has called us to these amazing places, to these amazing people, not so we can be on vacation, or so we can “have it easy”, because being a missionary in Europe is not as easy as you might think it is, but because HE has a heart for these people. Because He has created them, He loves them, and He wants them to know that. His love and desire for them is no more, no less than the love He has for those who have not been “reached”.

My Challenge To You

So here is my challenge for you:

  • Start praying for missionaries in Europe.
  • Start talking to God about His heart for the people of Europe
  • Ask Him if there is anything He wants you to do for European missionaries.

If you feel the Lord lay it on your heart to write an encouraging note to a missionary there, do it! If you feel the Lord prompting your heart to pray or do something for a specific country, do it! Maybe you feel prompted to pray every day for a country in Europe: do it!

Whatever God prompts you to do, do it! Please do not forget us, do not forget what God is doing there, and recognize that as God moves through Europe He is raising up more missionaries to reach the unreached and the lost in this world. He loves them, and church, it’s time we stepped up and loved them too.

Blessings and Love,

Chrissy

Building a Global Mission Force: On the Homefront and Abroad

Bethany Global University (BGU) is now more than ever focused on preparing students to extend God’s kingdom to where it is not.  As a strategy of Bethany International, we strive to see students transformed by the cross, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and prepared with intercultural educational experience so that they can lead, serve, and extend the kingdom.

Missionary Training On The Homefront

This preparation and transformation happens in a variety of ways on-campus and through the off-campus Global Internship in the junior and senior years. BGU’s staff is highly committed to seeing the Kingdom expanded beyond the edges through the lives of those we are training. Abigail, a sophomore at BGU, said it this way recently:

“Taking the church to where it is not seems complex in its essence, and carries a high order. As a believer, I understand that God has equipped me to be able to do just this because He has given the command to go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28). In my own life, God has given me a heart for simply loving people. At BGU I have been placed in positions where working with people and learning to love others has become a way of life for me. I intend to implement those skills and gifts on an intercultural level. My desire is to take what I have learned about God, His word, myself, and others, and combine that knowledge with the love of Christ. I would like to be sent to the hardest and darkest places where there is not only a lack of ‘the church’, but a lack of God’s love and light as well. By simply meeting people where they are at and never compromising my love for God, I hope to be His hands and feet to lost souls.”

Those of us on staff at Bethany Global University consider it a great privilege and responsibility to be a part of a training program that has been in existence for 67 years. We are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and look forward to continuing to build a fantastic place for those who want their lives to be used in fulfilling the Great Commission, to come for training and eventual sending.

Missionary Training Abroad

In 2002 through a period of prayer Bethany leaders and national partners embraced the goal of starting 100 missionary training schools.  This 10 year goal, called “GO100,” was fulfilled in five years reaching 122 new missionary training schools.  Today there are a total of 280 missionary training schools.  Some of our recent training projects have taken place in Ethiopia where hundreds of students have been equipped for cross-cultural mission ministry to a number of unreached people groups inside the country. Bethany mission training consults assist these and other schools as requests present themselves.

Asian Network in Missions

“What does a missionary need to know?  What character qualities does he need to possess? What skills does she need in order to be an effective cross-cultural missionary?”  Bethany’s “know-be-do” philosophy of missionary training has helped prepare missionaries in many nations.  One major Asian country asked us to help develop a comprehensive missionary training program for their developing missions movement.  This resulted in the creation of almost 700 hours of video instruction in 32 courses, which are now widely used by a number of their church networks to train missionaries. We are conducting training of trainers and training of senders programs outside of their country. These consist of 6 to 11 months of experiential cross-cultural and missiological training.  Finally, Bethany has begun to help mentor their missionary teams once they land in their country of service.

The GlobeServe Network

For decades Bethany “daughter” ministries and training programs successfully placed graduates in service within their own countries.  Then God began to stir a vision to take the Gospel to other countries – mission fields becoming mission forces! They wanted to join Bethany International’s mission agency, but we felt the Lord speaking that our role would be to assist them in starting their own mission sending capacity.  This led to the formation of GlobeServe, which today is an association of 280 missionary training and sending agencies that now work in 66 countries of the globe.  GlobeServe partners disciple more than 25,000 new believers per year among 269 different people groups.  It continues to grow as it celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015.

Some years back, most Ethiopian Christians thought that conversion of Muslims to the Christian faith was impossible.  Then 15 years ago we began working closely with the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC) to train their evangelists to reach Muslims. Based on the results, their perception has completely changed!  So far 34,000 Muslims have come to the Christian faith; and 298 churches have been planted in Muslim majority areas. They have sent missionaries to Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Kenya, and are targeting even more difficult Muslim regions. GlobeServe is helping other national mission movements make an eternal difference!

coMISSION Magazine: Bethany International’s New Publication

June 21st was Bethany’s 70th anniversary. Through the last seven decades, thousands of graduates have served as Great Commission Christians in US ministries, in their local churches, and in the marketplace. More than 900 missionaries have been sent through 90 mission agencies to 69 countries. Today, I can say without hesitation, “Hitherto has the Lord brought us.”

presidentOn December 20th, 2014, the last of the founding members, Halvard Strand, left this earth for his eternal reward. Four days earlier I thanked Halvard for his life and example.  Our brief meeting ended with Halvard saying, “Dig with the shovel in your hand, God will do the rest.” This kind of simple faith produced an amazing legacy of Kingdom impact around the world. Eternity will reveal what God has accomplished through the Bethany family these past 70 years. And, He is not done with us!

In 2010 we adopted the mission statement, “Take the Church to where it is not.” Frankly, these are the hardest places. In March, while meeting with global partners in Batam, Indonesia, we embraced a God-sized goal of engaging 500 unreached people groups in the next 5 years. Most of these are in the 10/40 Window across Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu countries.

So, what shovel do we have in our hand? Bethany’s reputation for mission training has opened doors to come alongside global leaders to initiate mission training programs building a global mission force. To facilitate this expansion, mission “basecamps” or Gateway Access Platforms support reaching the most difficult unreached peoples and places.  Our commission is to move with God’s Spirit in these last days to take the Church to where it is not … yet!

I trust that as you read the coMISSION Magazine you will be encouraged that Bethany is staying the course and by what God is doing as we move with Him. You are part of the Bethany Family … and part of the future.

—Dan Brokke, President of Bethany International

Download the 1st issue of coMISSION Magazine »

coMISSION-photo

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