What Does it Mean to Take the Church to Where it’s Not? The Future of Bethany International

Posted July 3, 2017 by Dan Brokke in News

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The original vision to “train, send, and support 100 missionaries” captured the heart of Bethany’s founding generation. It was fulfilled in 1975. In 2010, Bethany embraced the mission to “take the church to where it is not…and help others do the same.”

THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GLORY OF THE LORD WILL COVER THE EARTH AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA.” Habakkuk 2:14

One of the saddest stories in the Bible is when the Israelites refused to enter Canaan because of fear. In Numbers 14:21, God passed judgment, “Truly, as I live, and all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs…shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers.” God’s heart was (and is) to reveal his glory through his people.

 An Audacious Mission Goal: Engage 500

In 1974, Ralph Winter introduced the concept of reaching every “ethne” or people group with the Gospel—16,000 people groups. In recent years this has focused on “finishing the task” of sending workers to the remaining people groups with no known workers.

In 2015, Bethany embraced the Engage500 mission goal of systematically engaging 231 new unreached people groups along with the 269 people groups with whom we currently work. This is research driven. Unreached people groups are identified, adopted, and plans are implemented to evangelize, establish gatherings of believers (the church), and disciple them to be Great Commission Christians. Pursuing our mission and this goal is shaping Bethany for decades to come.

Building a Global Mission Force

The first strategy is to train and send thousands of Kingdom workers worldwide to impact the least reached people groups for Christ.

Bethany Global University students do missions while they train for missions in places such as Kenya, France, Indonesia, Thailand, China, and other countries being opened up. They encounter God, gain frontline missions experience, along with academic intercultural knowledge (and an accredited degree), and serve to reach unreached peoples.

In addition, our dream is that God’s people everywhere in the world have access to mission training relative to their culture. A global network of 300 mission training schools in many countries effectively equips and sends cross-cultural missionaries. From these schools more than 10,000 workers have been fielded, helping mission fields become mission forces!

Thousands of churches among unreached people groups have been planted in 67 countries. Just this past week I learned that 70 MBBs (Muslim Background Believers) completed their mission training in Ethiopia. And, that in the last two months 870 Muslims came to Christ. These MBB students have taken responsibility to serve the Lord in Muslim dominated areas of Ethiopia.

Bethany’s missionaries facilitate leadership development; support the distribution of Scripture, evangelism, and discipleship resources; empower those with whom they work; and promote partnership. The western missionary’s role is similar to that of Barnabas in the book of Acts—he gave from his resources, advocated the Apostle Paul to the leaders in Jerusalem, led out with Paul on the first missionary journey, recognized Paul’s leadership, and then invested in another young leader, John Mark. He was catalytic in promoting new leaders.

Building Gateway Platforms for Access

We are developing 15-20 Gateway Access Platforms (GAP sites) to serve as strategically placed regional “basecamps” for launching workers from many nations to many nations. Most unengaged peoples cannot be reached by a westerner. But we can (and must) help. These GAP sites build shared vision, recognize diverse gifting, and encourage collaborative action. They are incubators for accelerating training leaders and cross-cultural workers.

Gateway Access Platforms become ongoing support and supply depots for workers. We bring mission training, 24/7 intercessory prayer, and ongoing spiritual encouragement. As individuals, churches and organizations are awakened to the need, see what God is doing, and hear his call, we help them thrive.

 Building Partnerships and Collaboration

Bethany is already known to effectively partner worldwide. We seek to accelerate the spread of the gospel to the entire world. We identify specific challenges and opportunities that warrant collaborative efforts, and address root causes rather than just symptoms. Workers deployed by Bethany bring great value to international partners and facilitate collaboration in strategic regions.

We are developing new business initiatives that foster sustainable enterprise, and have direct kingdom impact. Publish4All is one example as ministry partners in 57 countries are now printing their own books through the print on demand equipment developed and supported by Bethany. These partnerships take hard work and a willingness to “lose our lives” for the sake of the Gospel.

Finally, we love and work with the church and the church knows it. The extended Bethany family provides encouragement, God-sized vision and motivation, serving and empowering the church globally and locally. The church is mobilized to strategically reach where the church is not. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

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