Tuesday, 7 November 2017

GO!

By David Pam McQuel

A lot has changed about Christianity today from its initial conception. In as much as diversity and differences of understanding is a good thing and biblical, unity of the faith is ultimate.

Paul said ministry gifts placed in church are for our edification and growth. 

Ephesians 4:11 "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
And when we get matured to tne measure of the stature of Christ, it will show in "14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

The Church has basically relaxed and change focus from Going in to all the world, to "Go into all the church" mentality. So a lot of fighting on doctrinal dogmatism and the main focus is ignored.
The last instructions of the Lord Jesus before He ascended to the Father reveals to us the heart of the assignment of the church.

Mark 16:15 "And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

There was no reference to doctrinal squabbles, no reference to methods and styles, no room for prejudices. The instructions was to go and win the world.

Mark 16:19 "So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen."

The Church that started in Jerusalem at  the advent of the Holy Spirit had but one purpose - Go.
It was a going church because all her programmes and projects were geared towards going to win the world. They were sold out. They were wholesomely dedicated. All human and material resources where for her spread. As far as they were concerned the primary goal of the church's existence was to spread the gospel, build disciples and win the world for God.

On the first day, which was the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and won 3000 new believers. In chapter 5, the church had grown to 5000. The tail end of Acts 2 tells us how they fellowshipped together, showed compassion, shared love and communion from house to house and " the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

It was a daily conversion. It was a daily addition.

In Acts 6, rapid growth exposed leadership deficiency. And the apostles quickly dealt with the issue, so that nothing will hinder the spread of the Word. 3 "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

If only we can remove our likes and dislikes, our pride, the building project, the gossips, the politics and just allowed the Word God spread.

If only just a tenth of the Church, a quarter or half of the Church just take their eyes off denominational politics, church politics, material and wealth pursuit and the pursuit for personal comfort, for pleasure, for influence and human recognition!

Then in chapter 8 the Lord was impatient with His new church. Instead of spreading the word they started laying the foundation for a mega Church. God had to scatter them and bring their plans to nothing. 

He raised an arrogant  pharisee, Saul of Tarsus. A violent man, a merciless man who was just unemotional. He ravaged the Church. He scattered them so much that the nearly 10,000 member congregation were all dispersed. 

Only the twelve apostles were left, to start the church from  scratch again.

The most amazing thing was that those who were scattered were rejoicing instead of being bitter.
Acts 8:4 "Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city."

Any Church or Christian gathering that brags on material things rather than their obedience to Mark 16:15 and acts 1:8, is doing something else other than following Jesus.
 
We needs to rise up and follow His instructions.

Go!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

IN THE LINE OF FIRE

By David Pam McQuel

"According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor..." Philippians 1:20-22 NKJV

In mid 1991 I was 20 years and a few months old, already two years in full time ministry, serving in a small church holding in a primary school. It was quiet a great moment in my life. The future was unsure but the hunger for God in my heart was beyond boiling point.

My Senior Pastor then, was a great evangelist. He went to minister in a crusade and came back with some new friends for me, they were on fire for God. This three girls were in Junior high school and aged between 15 and 16. A revival had broken in their village, Where behind the famous Shere Hills Tourist site, through the three and the whole village, was on fire for God.

I have not to this day seen young kids on fire for God as these girls and many who found Jesus through them.

Just one example, an elder sister of one of these girls had received Christ and received the baptism with the Holy Spirit as well. She visited us in town with her 5 months old baby. On Sunday evening I was seated with her and suddenly she said to me the Lord just sent her to Rukuba Barracks, to a Colonel in the Nigeria Army.

Rukuba Barracks is the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigeria Army based in Jos my home town.
Such messages were no longer new to me and I was not surprised. I told her I didn't have money and it was 5:00PM. Can't it wait? I gasped. This 17 year old looked at me and smiled, and say my pastor do you want to help God? I looked stupid. I have just been teaching her about God 5 minutes ago!
She got dressed, backed her baby and I saw her off. Believe me, I tell the truth and I lie not, God bears me witness. We got to the roadside, a nice clean car stopped without us flagging it down. The driver asked where she was going, he told her to get in. She told him she had no money but God sent her. The gentleman replied her with "Did I ask you about money"?

That's how she went to military base and came back paying nothing. The colonel who she had never seen, in fact, she had never been to the barrack, didn't even know where it was located. Yet God gave the colonel's name, his house number and the particular message.

The officer and a few colleagues had stolen money from the office and God told her to warn them to refund, she got there and delivered the message to this dreaded officer. By the time she left, he was broken, scared and trembling. Needless to say, the money was refunded. She refused his persuasion to spend the night and be treated well, she even refused to take money to transport herself back to my house.

Such was the manifestation of the power of God. And her younger sisters crisscrossed Nigeria, delivering accurate life transforming messages from the Lord. Its been over ten years we lost contact.
The girls invited my colleague and I to their village to witness the revival going on. There is no space enough to put into words what we witnessed. God sacking those villagers and filling them with the Holy Spirit.

It was however the first place and time I will come face to face with death in my line of calling.
That weekend, in July 1991, my colleague and friend preached in the local church, God's word was clear, emphatic and life transforming. There was an open air preaching planned and I was to speak. Sundays were equally the market day. Villagers gathered from other smaller villages to buy groceries from this big village.

From the church, we didn't even have time for lunch. We went straight to the market square accompanied by our fine three sisters and many others who were basking the aura of their salvation. We sang a song as we moved along. As we got to the market centre, I raised my voice and began to cry, "As it was in the days of Noah", "As it was in the days of Lot", I repeated it a few times more.
Unknown to us, the traditional idol worshippers had been angered by the spread of the kingdom of God in just six months. They had gathered that same Sunday for whatever reason, armed with bows and arrows, machetes, spears, cultlasses and knives.

Suddenly as I began to declare God's Word, there was a shout and they rushed in from different directions. They had a drummer drumming while they chanted war songs. They seized me alone dragging me eastward away from the village square. 

One of our three friends after a few minutes rushed through them and hugged me holding me close. And she shouted, I want to die too with you today. And as they dragged us they threatened to hack us down to pieces. Later she explained that the moment the came to grab me, she saw a spiritual vision of huge tabernacle above my head with a giant golden cross above it. And she knew God was with me.

When I had been dragged about a hundred and fifty metres, they began to beat the two of us with batons and sticks. It was amazing that I did not panic or feared for my life. Things happened so fast. I rather smiled singing a song of praise to God.

As suddenly as it started, so suddenly did it end.

I don't know what happened, I guess it was the power of God or God sent His angels to shield us. I can't explain. They simply just stopped. And none of the axes, machetes, spears, cutlasses or knives was used on me. 

I came out without a scratch! Praise God!

We went home to the house where we lodged and multitudes immediately gathered and everyone was in the mood of prayer.

On the mission field, I have had moments to fear danger, this was the fiercest. Here i am alive, serving God without looking back.

God bless you all.

Photo: Courtesy of Israel Military Archives

Sunday, 22 October 2017

FUNDING THE CAUSE WE BELIEVE IN

By IDOABASI IKPO

“Whoever goes to war at his own expense” 1 Corinthians 9:7a)

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent” (Romans 10:13-15a Emphasis mine).

According to All Nation English Dictionary, cause is defined as an aim for which a person or a group works. A cause is an aim or principle which a group of people supports or is fighting for. If you say that something is in a good cause or for a good cause, you mean that it is worth doing or giving to.
Funding is money which a government or organization or an individual provides for a particular purpose. A fund is an amount of money that is collected or saved for a particular purpose. When a person or organization funds something, they provide money for it.

As followers of Jesus, do we believe in His cause, or let me ask, do we really understand the cause of Jesus Christ? What did He come to accomplish on earth. What is God doing on earth, what is He pursuing? If we know, do we believe in it and how can we be part of achieving that cause, what will it cost us and how can it be funded. The eternal purpose of God is Christ and the church. It is the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth under Christ who reigns as Lord over all. It is the gathering from all nations, all those who have surrendered to Christ, as his children to fellowship with Him forever (Eph. 1:9, 10; Gen. 12:1-3; Gal. 3:16-19; 2 Pet. 3:0; Rev. 7:9). 

God wants to be truly known, passionately loved, faithfully followed and ardently worshipped through His son, by all people all around the world. He wants to be the only object of worship, affection, devotion and desire of all human. God wants worshippers from every people group before His throne. The Bible says in Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, you are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you redeemed people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation”.

From his greater mission, God has appointed a mission for his people. The church- you and I. The mission of God’s people refers primarily to the ministry of reconciling all peoples and people to God in Christ. It is expressed in both cross cultural and same cultural ministry, and is known by various terms such as the Great commission, soul wining, world Mission, the world Christian movement etc. In one phrase, it is making disciples out of all nations for the Lord. This is the cause we believe in.
You may be a Pastor, Prophet, Apostle, Teacher, Evangelist, a follower of Christ, this is why you exist. Your church or ministry, fellowship, whatever you do in the name of God, if you miss this point, you are off-course. 

The Bible speaks “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ… we plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God…As you sent me into the world, I also have to send them into the world. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness. But you will receive power when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witness both in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth…” (Matt 28:19; 2 Cor. 5:17-20; Jn. 17:18; 1Pet 2:9; Acts 1:8).

Jesus taught His disciples that they should understand and interpret scriptures in the context of this cause. Failure to do so is to misinterpret both the letter and the spirit behind the written word. The Bible exist by missions, because of missions and for missions. It has been forged on the anvil of mission and formed through Gods’ quest to reconcile all things to himself. “Then He told them, these are my words that I spoke to you… that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and Psalms must be fulfilled. 

Then He opened their minds to understand the scripture… this is what is written, the messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:44-47.” Since I have obtained help that comes from God, to this day I stand and testify to both small and great saying nothing else than what the Prophet and Moses said would take place that the Messiah must suffer and that as the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light to our people and the Gentiles”. Acts 26:22-23. 

This cause-Mission defines the church’s existence on earth. Every expression of the church and every member of the church exist because of mission and therefore exist for mission. The church is a missionary community on earth.

Having seen God’s primary focus now on earth, the cause He is pursuing, how will God accomplish this purpose of world evangelism? The answer is simple – the church – the seed of Abraham. Who is the church? You and I. How will this great, noble cause be financed? Through the World Bank, MF, earthly government or the church? God primarily will go to His people, yes. Sometimes His people may be working in the bank, politics, or business, academic, military, but God will use his people and His people must realize this. Does the church have sufficient funds to finance world evangelization? The answer is capital yes. I believe. 

The church of Jesus is rich and blessed enough to get the gospel to all the peoples, tribes, tongues and families of the earth. This is not about expanding our denomination but building the kingdom of God.
According to Joshua Project out of the 7.47 billion people on earth 3.6 billion are classified  unreached, 236 million minimally reached, 535 million superficially reached, 2.08 billion are partially reached and 1.47 billion significantly reached, translating to just 33.34% of the world population as Christians. Out of the total of 16,835 peoples group in the world, operation world shows that at least 6,945 people are totally unreached and 1,123 people groups are minimally reached. In all a total of about 3.16 billion individuals (42.2%) of the world population are counted as unreached with the gospel of Jesus Christ as at June 2017. Think of the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu, Tribal, Atheists. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”.

According to David Ogunshola, giving is a critical element of missions that cannot be ignored and cannot be overemphasized. As much as most missionaries do not like to talk about finance, money plays a critical role in missions and the money that will finance the Gospel has been placed in the hands of believers you and me. Statistics have it that Christians globally earn a total of 42 trillion US Dollars yearly, and less than 2% of that (700 B.I Dollar) is given to Christian cause worldwide yearly – this includes everything done in the name of the church including buildings welfare, NGOs, programmes, trainings, publications etc. of this portion of money given to the church about 6% actually goes to missions and even more worrisome about this is the fact that of this 6% given for missions, 99% of it is spent on ministry in the places where the church is already established. The bulk of missions spending still revolve around the church, only 1% is actually sent to really reach the unreached. To confirm this, check the annual budget of an average church, denomination or Christian organization. Check your own giving to God or Christian cause.  It leaves us wondering how we really expect to finance the Great commission with only a tiny fraction of our income and the church’s income. 

This is why God is calling individual believers, families, Christian businesses into the ministry of intentional and strategic giving- people who will understand that God pushes resources through their hands for the purpose of financing His mission. May I suggest a number of innovative ways to give that will be both intentional and strategic. Put aside a fraction of your income, solely for missions, could be any percentage you decide – 2%, 5%, 10%, 20% as led by the Lord anytime you have an income. Corporate giving (for Christian Companies & Business) leading brand around  the world have been known to have a cause that they advocate for as a business – a percentage of your company profit can be dedicated to missions work among the unreached, a very meagre amount can be dedicated from the sale of a particular product. 

Praying - This may be your most critical role. 

Mobilization and advocacy – this involves helping to create awareness
 
Encouraging and support - with the mind that sending involves anything that makes it possible for missionaries to get to the field and remain there.

I strongly want to advocate that church-you and I need to adopt a wartime lifestyle in order to effectively fund the cause we so believe. As churches, believers, we need to bring missions back to the front burner, its our PRIORITY. Time is running out “And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations then shall the end come”Matt. 24:14.

*This article excerpt from the LABORERS’ VOICE VOL. 4 NO. 14 NOVEMBER 2017, written by Idoabasi Ikpo, published with full permission of the writer.

Idoabasi Ikpo is Founder and Director of LABORERS - TOGETHER, based in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria. For over a decade he has laboured in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Bénin  Republic, promoting Christian missions and connecting the Church with the mission field. He actually oversees among pro-missions conferences, mission fields among the BRIFOURS, CHALLA, HO, SOFORKROM and FISE

Sunday, 15 October 2017

THE LAST STEPS

By David Pam McQuel

Physical death is probably the worst effect of the curse. We will love to just live together forever with loved ones.

Death comes to all, the times and methods may vary but it eventually comes. Somehow the body gets tired of fighting, gets worn out and just can't support the inner man anymore. So man returns to his Maker.

In my 29 years of ministry, I have had a few occasions to officiate over burial ceremonies. Most of them people I pastored other times, total strangers. Every home going ceremony differs from the other. It is called home going because man returns to his eternal home.

2Corinthians 5:5 'For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord."

The path to the end for our brother was long.

First it was the time of suffering. At different times, my wife and I visited and prayed with him and his family. He told me how happy he was to make peace with God and make his way right. We prayed, we believed God, we looked forward to healing and long life as God promised us in Genesis 6:3. 

But above all, we submit to God's ultimate will. He knows what we don't know and he can never be wrong.

Then came the moment his wife told me our brother had gone to be with God. Disbelief, shock, emptiness and sorrow came. I remembered my mum's home going, how I felt. I imagine what our brother's wife is going through. I pray for her for comfort and strength.

Reality dawned more last weekend as we drove into the village for burial. Seeing the crowd, the festive Ghanaian funeral dress code and practice reemphasized the end of life on earth. It was incredible that the people we share precious moments with can go. Everything becomes temporal.
We then matched passed the corpse as displayed for family and friends for the last time. Seeing his remains well suited up spoke of how vain life is. Relatives and friends get so emotionally shaken that some had to be helped out.

The last stage was the brief graveside ceremony which I did alone. Dust to dust, ashes to  ashes. Pronouncing these words was such a responsibility. Then the song, "it is well with my soul" by traditionally sang sought to reassure us that no matter what, our hope is in God.

One of the greatest thing about been at the grave side is the sober and broken status of everyone present. Everone finds the most soft, soothing and comforting.

Last weekend, with all honesty and sincerity I delivered my own testimony of a brother in Christ, someone I pastored and a great partner of my life and ministry. And here was my tribute:

"Tribute to the Memory of the Selfless Life ---------
Whenever a man dies people cry for two reasons:
1. What a help the person has been
 
2. What help he carried along with him to the grave

But the Christian way to look at a man is to emulate the virtues that made him truly influential and cherish the good end of his life.

Our Brother had a few:
1. Selfless Sacrifice
 
2. Hard work
 
3. Forgiveness
 
4. Transparent
 
5. Loved God
One of the many times we had a deep conversation, he told me one of his biggest weaknesses was that he cannot say "NO" to anyone who needs help. And truly, even when he didn't have the means, he will rather find the means than say no. Sometimes that cost him a lot of pain but he had the pleasure to serve and to help every time.

As his pastor, I can confidently testify that ----- never ignored God's work. Rather he spent lavishly to further the kingdom whenever he had. And he has had so many pastors as close friends. He fully participated in church activities and worked hard to promote God's work in Nigeria and here in Ghana.

The world is a harsh place. Life is tough. Luminaries that ease people's burden are very few. Our Brother was one and he is going to be really missed by us and the world. We are confident that he is finally with Jesus whom he loved.

May God grant his wife and their children the courage to move on and all the help that they need in life even beyond what our Brother would have done."

No matter how incredibly frank or flowery we express ourselves, certain realities remain:
1. That man has only this lifetime to make his way right with God.

2. That God does not judge a man's life according to people's applause.

3. That a lot of things we worry about are really irrelevant.

4. That pleasing God is the greatest pursuit of the believe.

On the path of the last steps of man, it becomes most important to remember the Preacher's last thoughts in Ecclesiates 12:13 "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil."
NIV

From this, let's learn and live better.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

THE CHURCH AND MISSIONS

By David Pam McQuel

The central goal of the church is missions. Judging from the last instructions of Jesus in Acts 1:8 coupled with the corresponding activities of the Church in Jerusalem, there was an absolute accord between Jesus and His followers.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

It is imperative to note that the church in Jerusalem exploded as soon as it took off. 3000 additional members in just the first day service commenced! That is a super phenomenal growth, unequalled in history. Within a short time, the church had hit 5,000 committed members whose commitment showed in selling landed properties and giving all the proceeds for the work of the kingdom.

5,000 committed believers that’s a very strong economic block!

And yet the neither thought, planned nor tried to build a massive cathedral! They didn't use their money to buy 100 hectares of landed property or buy off the biggest theatre in town. WHY DIDN'T THEY?

They instead, met continually from house to house in a powerful network of small cells, focusing on spiritual growth only.

The focus of the church in Jerusalem was evangelism, discipleship and missions. Our priorities have gone far from there. Today's church wants authenticity through owning property and public recognition.

How sad!

Concurrent aspects of the church
Growth through discipleship
The primary priority of the resources of any local church should be for growing the kingdom of God. Every effort in a church should end up in winning sinners to Christ. Winning people to Christ is not just evangelism but it continues in discipling them.

There is a huge difference between making converts and making disciples. Introducing a person to Christ can happen in just a few minutes  or a long period of time but when the person accepts Christ it takes longer period to convert him to a committed follower of Jesus.

 Let me give this simple example. It takes nine months of gestation for a woman to bring forth a new human being, but the process of really making that new born an independent human being takes decades.
 
Any new convert to Christ who is not turned into a disciple may either fall back into the world or grow up grotesquely. To avoid this, the apostles Paul and Peter addressed  this issue sternly.

In 1Peter 2, , Peter emphasized this subject saying, 1 "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Baby's milk which runs naturally from the mum is pure and unadulterated. It is the purest form of food as long as the lactating mum is healthy or not a drug abuser or alcoholic. Likewise, when we bring someone to Christ we must introduce them to the pure word of God.

Sometimes, the local church is more concerned about membership and denominational identity rather than kingdom identity. Therefore, instead of growing the faith of the new convert into Christ, they concentrate on indoctrination into their petty doctrines. The goal is to make him bear the denominational mark. The convert grows and looks like the Church but not like Christ.

At the end of a simple discussion of five minutes you will find out that he is up his sleeves defending the "my church syndrome." 

Paul a believer wrote the Hebrews, said 6:1 "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so."

By elementary, Paul meant those are the foundational teachings, doctrines and ways of kingdom living that a new convert to Christ should master and practice.

Building the saints to maturity
In building capacity for growth and training of workers and support ministry, the church through the 5 fold ministry is built to maturity.

While a church grows in number, it should be growing spiritually. The goal of a church should never be large membership. It should be maturity for missions.

We see that in the ministry of Jesus our Lord. The essence of grooming His disciples and followers was no other reason than to grow them, equip them and mature them for missions.

The primary labour and activities in the local church is not the building projects, the social programmes, the group special days or the leadership tussles. It is the growing of the saints.

In Ephesians 4, Paul by the Spirit wrote 11 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

The goal here we see is "...to be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature!" That's were the effort of the local church should be. That's where the emphasis of vision and our diligence of leadership and commitment should stress.

Then the local church will "...attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

Otherwise, we will build an unhealthy Church. We will have a big church, well polished edifices, yet the people inside are no different from the unbelievers out there. Then, members of the church will be buried in conflicts, individual battles for the protection of personal ego and self-importance and class.

Maturity of believers is the focus of the local church.

Welfare of the weak and poor
Throughout the Bible, from the First Testament to the New Testament, compassion towards the needy is God's desire and instructions. In fact, in Proverbs Solomon wrote, 17:1 "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done."

There are 4 people God warned the Israelites about against either abandonment or molestation:
1. The poor who are less fortunate in life.
 
2. The orphan who has lost either father or both parents.

3. The widow who has lost her husbands and is emotionally, psychologically and economically disadvantaged,

4. The stranger, who could be on transit or an immigrant who is not a criminal but genuinely fleeing hardship and violence looking for peace and happiness.

These groups of people were to be welcomed, cared for and supported until they can stand on their own.

Samaria and ends of the earth focus
Every local church should be labouring in their neighborhood, showing kindness and the goodness of Christ to all in goal of winning the lost. That is the first line of effectiveness. If a local church is not doing this, then, she hasn't began living her purpose yet in its very nursery stage.

For a church that has been effective in her neighborhood, she has to step forward and begin to engage the world. Jesus in His last instructions said they will go on to be witness from Jerusalem to Judea, from Judea to reach Samaria and then the ends of the earth.

Some churches don't get involved if their effort will not benefit their "own" church directly. This is not what Christ said.

Therefore, every local church should send out both human and financial resources to foreign lands and nations where only Christ benefits.

If every local church in the world was involved with foreign missions, the world would have been completely evangelized.
God bless you.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

THE WORLD IN DESPERATE NEED

By David Pam McQuel

This week, I made a post on Facebook stating that instead of praying that Jesus should come back now, let's take the gospel to those who never heard it. And in response, a gentleman wrote these words expressing his personal opinion:
 
"He'll be here soon. Because of satellite communications. We have reached all nations. All prophecies have been fulfilled. Now we wait and pray!"

He added, "I've seen a lot of Pastors who have talked about how they and many other people have been doing missionary work in the country's you speak of. Many are installing wells, feeding and giving medicine to these villages. At the same time Gods word is being shared. Many will tell you that almost all the world has been reached. So not sure where you have been or who you get your information from, but just because you have been doing this for 22 years. Doesn't mean you are totally informed. I've been a follower of our Lord for over 50 years. I've seen the work being done."

He concluded by asking me "what have you done to help? David, to spread the gospel to all the people is impossible. Think about it. It is literally impossible to reach every single person on the planet. Just like a baby. They are given a pass for their innocence. So are the people who are deep in the jungles. You'll never reach the people who are still so primitive, people who shut the outside world out...So all we can do is continue to love one another, help each other and spread his word. But to reach every single human being on earth is impossible. Only God can do it."

I was perplexed.

I reflected a lot on these things and in search fell on these resources compiled by David B. Banner and Todd M. Johnson, of World Christian Trends AD30 - AD2200, published on www.aboutmissions.org.

* There are 7.3 billion people in the world. (Joshua Project)

* 2.3 billion are Christian (748 million are Evangelical Christian). (Joshua Project; Barrett and Johnson 2001, 20)

* 1.7 billion are Muslim. (Joshua Project)

* 1.1 billion are Hindu. (Joshua Project)

* 979 million are Non-Religious. (Joshua Project)

* 488 million are Buddhist. (Joshua Project)

* 671 million are of Ethnic Religions including Chinese Religion. (Joshua Project)

* 103 million other/unknown. (Joshua Project)
 
* Of the 7.3 billion people in the world, 3 billion live among unreached people groups of the world and 1.6 billion are completely unevangelized. (Joshua Project; Barrett and Johnson 2001, 427)

* There are 6,510 languages in the world. (Joshua Project)
People groups are what Bible scholars believe are referred to in many mission oriented verses, such as Matthew 28:19, 24:14, and Revelations 7:9. According to one database, there are 16,562 people groups in the world. Of these people groups, 9,715 have been reached with the Gospel message. 6,847 people groups are still unreached with the Gospel. To be unreached means less than 2% Evangelical Christian, the sizable proportion thought to be needed to reach their own people. (Joshua Project)

* 86% of all unreached people groups lie within the region called the 10/40 window, which is between 10 and 40 degrees north and from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of Asia. (Joshua Project)

* In AD 100 there were 360 people for every believer. Now there are 7.3 people for every believer. (Winter et al., 1)

* In AD 100 there were 12 unreached people groups for every congregation of believers. Now there is 1 unreached people group for every 1000 congregations. (Winter et al., 3)
90% of foreign missionaries work among already reached people groups. 10% work among unreached people groups. (Winter and Koch, 543)

* Despite Christ's command to evangelize, 67% of all humans from AD 30 to the present day have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ. (Baxter 2007, 12)
91% of all Christian outreach/evangelism does not target non-Christians, but targets other Christians. (Baxter 2007, 12)

* In the last 40 years, over 1 billion people have died who have never heard of Jesus, and around 30 million people this year will perish without hearing the message of salvation. (Baxter 2007, 12)

* 70,000+ people die everyday in the unreached world without Jesus. (Baxter 2007, 12)
Of foreign mission funding: 87% goes for work among those already Christian. 12% for work among already evangelized, but Non-Christian. 1% for work among the unevangelized and unreached people. (Baxter 2007, 12)

*Christians make up 33% of the world's population, but receive 53% of the world's annual income and spend 98% of it on themselves. (Barrett and Johnson 2001, 656)
North American and European Christians spend $12.5 trillion on themselves and their families each year. (Barrett and Johnson 2001, 656)

* Only .1% of all Christian giving is directed toward mission efforts in the 38 most unevangelized countries in the world. (Barrett and Johnson 2001, 656)
60% of unreached people groups live in countries closed to missionaries from North America. (The Traveling Team)

* 22 million internationals visit the US each year. Of these, some 630,000 are university students from 220 countries, 25% of which prohibit Christian missionaries. 80% of those students will return to their countries having never been invited to an American home. (The Traveling Team)

* 40% of the world's 220 Heads of State once studied in the US. (The Traveling Team)
60% of international students come from the 10/40 window. (The Traveling Team)
90% of international students are unreached by ministries while in the United States. (The Traveling Team)

* American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministry, 4.5% on cross-cultural efforts in already reached people groups, and .5% to reach the unreached. (The Traveling Team)

* There are 430,000 missionaries from all branches of Christendom. Only between 2 and 3% of these missionaries work among unreached peoples. (The Traveling Team)
There are 140,000 recorded protestant missionaries serving in the world, with 64,000 from the US. (The Traveling Team)

* Of the 140,000 Protestant missionaries, 74% work among nominal Christians, 8% among tribal peoples, 6% Muslims, 4% Non-religious/atheists, 3% among Buddhists, 2% Hindus, 1% Jews. (The Traveling Team)

* Christians' annual income is $12.3 trillion. $213 billion is given to Christian causes. $11.4 billion is given to foreign missions, 87% of which goes to work being done among the already Christian, 12% goes to work among the evangelized non-Christians, 1% among the unevangelized. (The Traveling Team)

* Over 160,000 believers will be martyred this year. (The Traveling Team)

* 5 Christian vocations have over a 3% murder rate: bishop, evangelist, catechist, colporteur, foreign missionary. (World Evangelization Research Center)
Christians spend more on the annual audits of their churches and agencies ($810 million) than on all their workers in the non-Christian world. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* The total cost of Christian outreach averages $330,000 for each and every newly baptized person. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* 54% of evangelical Christians are non-whites. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* The country with the fastest Christian expansion ever is China, now at 10,000 new converts every day. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* 818 unevangelized ethnolinguistic peoples have never been targeted by any Christian agency ever. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* 40% of the church's entire global foreign mission resources are being deployed to just 10 oversaturated countries. (World Evangelization Research Center)

*Over 20 centuries, Christians have announced 1,500 global plans to evangelize the world. Most have failed. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* It costs Christians 700 times more money to baptize converts in rich Christian countries, such as Switzerland, than in poor unevangelized countries, such as Nepal. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* Annual church embezzlements by top custodians exceed the entire cost of all foreign missions worldwide. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* In 1900, there were only 1 million Pentecostals/Charismatics/Newcharismatics and now there are 602 million world-wide. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* Each year, 180 million Bibles and New Testaments are wasted (lost, destroyed, or disintegrated) due to incompetence, hostility, bad planning, or inadequate manufacture. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* Some 250 of the 300 largest international Christian organizations regularly mislead the Christian public by publishing demonstrably incorrect or falsified progress statistics. (World Evangelization Research Center)

* Out of 648 million evangelical Christians, 70% have never been told about the 1.6 billion unevangelized individuals in the world. (World Evangelization Research Center)
Of all missionaries employed by US mission agencies, about 2/3 are non-US citizen native missionaries working in their own country. Only 1/3 are American missionaries. (80,834 vs 44,384) (Weber and Welliver 2007, 13)

* US ministries send out over 144,000 short-term missionaries each year. (Weber and Welliver 2007, 13)

* US mission agencies have an annual budget of over $5.2 billion. (Weber and Welliver 2007, 13)

* About 2,000 tentmaker missionaries from US organizations are on the mission field. (Weber and Welliver 2007, 20)

* The average American Christian gives only 1 penny a day to global missions. (Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions, 142)

* Approximately 85% of all missionary finances are being used by Western missionaries who are working among the established churches on the field rather than being used for pioneer evangelism to the lost. (Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions, 143)

*Of the more than 70,000 North American missionaries, only 5,000 are working among the totally unreached people. (Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions, 154)

* There are around 285,000 indigenous (aka national, native, home) missionaries serving in the world. They make up 2/3 of the world's missionary force. (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 23)

* 86 countries prohibit or restrict Western missionaries. (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 31)

* The average Western missionary spends only 3% of his time involved in direct evangelism. (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 35)

* Only 10 to 33 percent of Western missionaries are involved in evangelism and church planting. (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 35)

* In 1998, 450,000 short-term missionaries were sent out from North America. (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 38)

* Up to 1/2 of all new missionaries do not last beyond their first term on the mission field. (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 45)

* Only 1/4 of North American cross-cultural missionaries are involved in evangelism activities (such as preaching, translation, church planting, and teaching), while 3/4 are involved in administration and support work (such as agriculture, aviation, community development, literacy, medicine, and relief efforts). (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 63)

* Christian organizations spend $8 billion a year on conferences. (Yohannan, Come Let's Reach the World, 126)

* There are over 3,000 indigenous mission boards in India that have a combined total of 100,000 missionaries. (Finley 2004, 47)

*Indigenous missionaries do 90% of pioneer mission work, but only receive 10% of mission funding. Meanwhile foreign missionaries do 10% of pioneer mission work, but receive 90% of mission funding. (Finley 2004, 178 & 244)

* One indigenous ministry surveyed the believers in the churches they planted and found that 80% had come to faith in Christ because they had seen a miraculous act of God or experienced an answer to prayer. (Chacko 2008, 138)

* That same indigenous ministry holds that their average missionary will plant 3 churches within the first 5 years on the field. (Chacko 2008, 138)

* The New Testament is translated into the languages of 94% of the world's population. (Johnstone and Mandryk 2005, 7)

* The potential audience for Christian radio programming is 99% of the world's population, assuming good reception, availability of a radio, and a desire to find the programs. (Johnstone and Mandryk 2005, 7)

* Two of the largest Gospel radio broadcasters, Far East Broadcasting Company and Gospel for Asia, both receive around 1,000,000 listener responses each year. (Far East Broadcasting Company, 15; Gospel for Asia)

* There have been 4.1 billion viewings of the Jesus Film, representing about 3 billion individuals. More than 99% of the world's population could view the film in a language they know. (Johnstone and Mandryk 2005, 7)

* In 2009 alone, Global Media Outreach, the internet outreach branch of Campus Crusade for Christ, reported over 10 million internet users came to faith in Christ through their websites. They also received close to 4 million emails. (Global Media Outreach)
In one month alone, Trans World Radio saw over 500,000 downloads in China of their online broadcasts. (Libby, 2)

REFERENCES
Barrett, David B., and Todd M. Johnson. 2001. World Christian Trends AD 30 - AD 2200: Interpreting the annual Christian Megacensus. Associate ed. Christopher R. Guidry and Peter F. Crossing. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.
Baxter, Mark R. 2007. The Coming Revolution: Because Status Quo Missions Won't Finish the Job. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing.
Chacko, Jossy. 2008. Madness. Croydon, Australia: Empart.
Far East Broadcasting Company. FEBC 2010-2011 Gift Catalog.
Finley, Bob. 2005. Reformation in Foreign Missions. USA: Xulon Press.
Global Media Outreach. About Us. http://www.globalmediaoutreach.com/about_us.html.
Gospel for Asia. Reach Millions with your Radio Ministry. http://www.gfa.org/radio/radio-impact/.
Johnstone, Patrick, and Jason Mandryk. 2005. Operation World. Tyrone, GA: Authentic Media.
Joshua Project. http://www.joshuaproject.net/
Libby, Lauren. 2010. President's Column. 2010 Annual Ministry Progress Report 31, no. 2, http://www.twr.org/resources/progress_report.html.
The Traveling Team. State of the World. http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stateworld.
Weber, Linda J., and Dotsey Welliver, ed. 2007. Mission Handbook 2007-2009: U.S. and Canadian Protestant Ministries Overseas. Wheaton, IL: Evangelism and Missions Information Service.
Winter, Ralph D., and Bruce A. Koch. 2009. Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge. In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, ed. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, 531-46. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.
Winter, Ralph D., Phil Bogosian, Larry Boggan, Frank Markow, and Wendell Hyde. The Amazing Countdown Facts. Pasadena, CA: US Center for World Mission. http://www.uscwm.org/uploads/pdf/adoptapeople/amazingcountdown.pdf.
World Evangelization Research Center. An AD 2001 Reality Check. http://gem-werc.org/gd/findings.htm.
Yohannan, K.P. 2004. Come Let's Reach the World. Carrollton, TX: GFA Books.
Yohannan, K.P. 2004. Revolution in World Missions. Carrollton, TX: GFA Books.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

OPEN THE DOOR

By David Pam McQuel

We live in exciting times! Its overwhelming that God left the treasures of the kingdom in fallible mortal hands.

Luke 11:52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” NLT

There is such a profound truth in this rebuke as Jesus lashed out at the Pharisees who were considered in their day, the trustees of God's revelation.

First, their action and practice attracts God's highest disapproval. In fact, the exclamation point reveals emotional reaction. Which means that these leaders stirred wrath and disgust.

Second, althought they held the key to knowledge, they won't enter the kingdom, and won't let those who want to. It is sobering that although we are mere human beings, with frailties God chose us to entrust us with such loft responsibility.

Lastly, the pain in Jesus' words is for the fact that these guys stand at the door to the kingdom, they won't enter and they won't let others enter. They hold the truth in contempt. The hold divine treasures but take them lightly.

In the First Covenant, the knowledge of God was entrusted to the Priest, the Prophet and the Levite. However, in the Second Covenant, the reservoir of knowledge is open to open to all. Putting us in position of responsibility.

All of us who profess to know the Lord, become guardians of kingdom knowledge. As sort, we should not falter as the Pharisees.

It is in this light, Jesus sent His disciples, in Matthew 10.
1 Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness...5 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. 7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!"*

Today, as true Christians we hold the key to righteousness. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. That in presenting the gospel to many, we open the door to for them to find Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord and find the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ.

Today, we hold the key to forgiveness. The wrath of God is read. Man ways are continually evil. And worse more, man is so passionate on his ambitions and skilful in creating new ways to defy God. But in His mercy we can find forgiveness. We as believers hold the key to the door.

Today, we hold the key to the kingdom. Jesus told Peter that He has given the Church, the keys to the kingdom. Matthew 16:17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
A lot more that goes down here could be altered if we took His words more seriously.

Today, we have the key to salvation. Romans 10:14 "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
How are they going to believe in Christ and be saved if they don't hear about His free gift of Salvation?

Philip was sent by the Spirit on the way to Azotus where he found the Finance Minister and Treasury Secretary of the Queen of Ethiopia, Candace. The Spirit said to him, "Join this chariot.'
He join himself to this dignitary, and found out the man was hanging around the gates of the kingdom of God. But didn't understand.

As he listened to what the man read, he found out the man was reading Isaiah's prophetical schematic of the Sacrifice of Christ 700 years before it happened.

It didn't take long, the man was baptized by the roadside and went back full of joy! The rest is history as the Ethiopian Coptic Church is millenia old enduring testimony of that encounter.

What would have happened if Philip never opened the door to salvation?

Today, we hold to eternal life. Gods love brings us to eternal life. It is for this reason that Christ came. He came that all mankind may fine life, life that is everlasting.

Even though not everyone may be save, God has commanded us that we must witnesses to every living soul. Jesus Himself said, 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."

How will those destined for eternal receive unless we open that door to them?
Today we hold the key to healing. Mankind is hurting. As in the days of Jesus, diseases and sickness abound everywhere. Advancement in medicine has not reduced sickness, rather we keep discovering more daily.

Jesus sent his disciples to teach, preach and heal. The gospel has never changed. We should teach, preach and heal otherwise our gospel is incomplete.

Today we hold the key to God's compassion and his unending mercy. The overall disposition of God towards man is his mercy and compassion. His judgement will destroy us. We can't stand his holiness. His purity is intimidating. His faithfulness is incomprehensible. His wisdom is past finding.
But his love and compassion makes the way for us to enjoy His judgement, His holiness, His purity, His faithfulness and His wisdom.

As a child of God, you hold the key to many people finding God. Don't just stand at the door. Come on in, into the kingdom and help others come in.

That's the pleasure of the Father.
 
God bless you.

*Unless indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version