Who is the Ideal B4T Worker?

Picture the ideal B4T professional. What are you picturing? Is it someone young? Is it someone retired? Is it a male or female? What if I told you that there was no wrong answer. In this week’s blog we’re going to cover a few of the perfect candidates for B4T work. If you’re just joining us, B4T work is when you use your profession or business as a transforming agent in the community to reach the least-reached with the gospel.

College Students: When Jeremiah was called to become a profit of the Lord, his response was slightly less than enthusiastic:

 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.”

Jeremiah 1:6-7

You may still be learning your future profession, but plenty of internship and apprenticeship experiences are available to help ease you into the B4T world. 

Retirees: Think your career is done and so is using your professional skills? Wrong! You have accumulated a lifetime’s worth of wisdom and experience. Maybe you’re done working full time, but doing a short term training (2-8) in your area of expertise may be a perfect fit. 

Couples and Families: It takes two! B4T isn’t just for the single folks. In fact, having a partner alongside you for the experience of becoming part of a new community and culture is invaluable. If you have small kids, you know how effortlessly they make friends. Their friend’s parents then become new friends for you. A family can be an incredible asset not only to each other but also to the community you’re transforming!

Singles: Being single allows you to apply maximum focus to your work or business. Lots of focus yields a thriving business, and a thriving business attracts people. You can be incredibly effective for the Kingdom even if you’re flying solo. It makes reaching out and developing those friendships in the community even more crucial, so many times these individuals find themselves plugged into their communities faster. 

Man/Woman: Who is more successful in B4T; man or woman? Both! Men tend to have an easier time connecting to the foreign male populations, while women are naturally welcomed to connect with the other females. Either way, you’re reaching half the population!

People who already have a full time job: You may be thinking, “I’d love to go overseas, but I work full time in the states.” How feasible is it for you to take off two weeks a year? You could devote your vacation time to transforming an area through teacher training, business training, ag training, or whatever skillset you have to offer. Training is an asset people are hungry for in the nations we reach, and it doesn’t take a full time worker to give those trainings. Maybe it’s you they’re waiting for!

These are just a few examples, but hopefully you’re getting the jist. The perfect B4T worker is YOU! Not sure what opportunity is right? Reach out to us at www.gomandate.org/contact.

Because of You

Sitting on a couch in Lima, we waited for our busses to navigate the impossible traffic. I chatted with our translator as the strong smell of diesel and distant honks filtered in through the lobby. We were part of an outreach coordinated by the local Peruvian church to preach Jesus in the public schools (a rare permission given). Working with Mandate, this was a very different climate than the restricted sites I was used to frequenting for work.

I asked our translator what had been the best part of the week for her. Without hesitation, she immediately responded, “That you all came. You love us before you know us. You pray for us before you know us. That to me is amazing.”

Those words since have echoed in my thoughts. Rarely do we get to glimpse the real people living real lives who reside on the other side of our prayers. Whatever country you’re praying for, whatever people group has your heart, whatever nation you have or will consider going to, hear her words. Thank you for loving that place before you came. Thank you for praying for those people before you ever met them face to face. Though you may not get to see it and may not have the joy of hearing those heavily accented words spoken directly to you in broken English, the truth behind them is no less real. 

As we boarded the bus and set off driving to our first site, the team member next to me shared an incredible testimony. Years ago she had felt called to stop and help a young single mom sitting by a RedBox kiosk with a cardboard sign. This was right here in our small American town. After a few days of taking her in, discipling her, getting her back on her feet, and sending her off on a plane to the family she desired to reconnect with, she drove off from the airport wondering “does it even matter?”.

Right then at the traffic light to get back on the interstate she saw a vision. She saw the young woman coming towards her out of a piercing white light. She hugged her neck and said, “I’m here because of what you did”. After her was a sea of Latin American people who one by one came towards her, hugging her neck as she squinted in the bright light, and said, “I’m here because of you”. Immediately the vision ended. Confused, she kept driving and tucked it away in her heart.

Years later when her feet hit Central American soil on her first mission trip, the vision came back to her. Now as she entered her second Latin American country for ministry, it became a precious promise. The unseen effects of prayer and obedience. If you’re wondering, “Does it even matter?”, know that you too will see nations stumble towards you in the light of eternity, saying, “I’m here because of you”.

10 Things You Can Do for B4T in 10 Minutes a Day

Busy? Join the club! One of the most powerful pieces of advice I’ve heard during my lifetime was about goal setting. The advice was that if you set a goal- whether or not you reach it- you are significantly more likely to at least take actions towards it. Without goals, there’s little motivation to action. If you’re like me, a busy schedule can be a huge goal-deterrent. Why set them if you know you’re too busy to achieve them, right? Wrong!

Here are 10 B4T-related activities that can be done in as little as 10 minutes per day that will change your life and, by proxy, your world.

  1. Read- Reading is the best way to become a lifelong learner. Spending even just ten minutes per day reading B4T related books can allow you to take your business- or your profession- to the next level. You’ll get new tips and inspiration on how to build your business on principles that bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. Need ideas on what to read? Mandate’s weekly recommended resources are a great place to start!

  2. Join an Online Group- In this day and age community is high-tech. People across the globe are a click away. Take advantage of this! Find a B4T-related group- preferably in your area. Get connected with other individuals and take 10 minutes a day just to read the content and posts they share. This is a great way to gain resources, but it’s also a way to meet like-minded people who may be in your own backyard!

  3. Pray- Spend ten minutes on your commute or at the end of the day before bed specifically praying for the least reached. This doesn’t take any “extra” time, but it does take being intentional. Set an alarm to remind you! It may only be ten minutes, but ten minutes of prayer can move mountains.

  4. Meet a New People Group- It’s far less likely that you’ll get attached to a people group that you don’t know. Emotionally, we’re just not wired to care about that which we don’t have relevant information about. Go out of your way to learn about a people group for ten minutes. The Joshua Project website is a great way to do this. Once you read their stats, watch a short video (youtube is a great resource) on that people group or that part of the world. Not only will it inform your prayers, but you’ll start developing a soft spot for them too.

  5. Connect with a Mentor- Do you know a more experienced/older believer who is in the same profession as you? Make an effort to seek out someone who is both mature in his or her spiritual life as well as knowledgeable about your profession. Take ten minutes a day and ask ONE question. Send an e-mail or do some texting. Ask how he or she navigates his or her faith and profession. Ask how that person blends the two. Ask what he or she has learned that they didn’t know at your age/level. The Bible values wisdom, counsel, and elders for a reason.

  6. Make a Cross-Cultural Friend- In many communities today in our globally enmeshed world, someone who came from another culture originally is not hard to find. Maybe it’s an international student in your program. Maybe it’s an immigrant in your community. Maybe it’s someone you make a connection with online. Find this person for no other motivation or agenda then to love and understand them. This person must also want an intentional friendship with you. No relationship works well one-sided. The lessons you can learn from relating to someone that has a culture so different from your own are invaluable.

  7. Get Continuing Education- Are you a therapist? Find some online readings! Are you a teacher? Find some online trainings that you can work on for ten minutes per day. Believe it or not, getting better at your job is akin to getting better at your ministry. When anyone does well in his or her field, that person becomes a “go to” person professionally. As people “go to” you in your place of work, you can send them on to Him. Be good at your job and give God the glory.

  8. Listen to the Lord- Have you listened to the author of your life recently? He likely has some good ideas about how you could make those next career moves or what kinds of ministries He has in store for you. Spend time just listening. This may be a harder task for my type A folks, but it’s well worth the quiet, agenda-less time.

  9. Share a relevant post- How long does it take to click “share” on Facebook? Less than a second. This beat ten minutes by a long shot! Everyone has a second. If you don’t then something is seriously wrong with your schedule. Find a post about engaging the unreached. Find a post about using your profession for God. Find a post about Christian witnessing in your community. Then SHARE it! The more who hear, the more who will be able to help you scatter seed.

  10. Give Intentionally- With PayPal and Stripe, giving can happen in less than ten minutes. Can you give every day? Probably not. But giving is not a one-and-done process. Contrary to popular belief when you “sow” financially, you need to water that seed. It’s an ongoing process of prayer. I encourage you to sow the first day of the month. Choose an organization that reaches the least reached or otherwise accomplishes the Great Commission that you feel God calling you to. After you donate that first day, take ten minutes each day after to PRAY for that gift to be multiplied, for God’s will to be done with it, and for that organization’s work to be accomplishing the Great Commission. Imagine in a year what could happen!

There you have it. Ten things in ten minutes per day. Try one- or all- of them this month! This small investment of time will multiply your fruitfulness in B4T.

When in Doubt, Try it Out

If you’re anything like Carla, she thought B4T (business for transformation) wasn’t really for her. Her heart was pulled by the idea of reaching the least reached. She loved the thought of doing something that would have such a great impact in the scope of eternity. Laughing she’d explain that you wouldn’t want her trying to do business. Leave that for the people who knew what they were talking about. Plus, she adored her job as a 1st grade ESL teacher. She couldn’t imagine leaving those sticky hands and smiles missing teeth to go live in a foreign country. In the evenings she would curl up on her couch, eyes glued to her phone. She’d scroll her Facebook feed, reading stories of incredible missionary experiences and ads calling for those who wanted to go.

Finally, one of the ads caught her eye. A short term opportunity calling for teachers to come and do teacher trainings. “B4T can be short term?”, she wondered. The dates fit perfectly into her school break, so she began to pray about the opportunity. Doubt flooded her mind as to whether this was the right thing to do. Was she good enough of a teacher to do a training? Was she going to have what it took?

Before she knew it, the tires of her plane were skidding down the tarmac. As she watched out the plane window, nothing about this new land seemed familiar. Her heart raced with excitement. She remembered how each time she had prayed the Lord had been faithful to send a confirmation that YES this was an opportunity for her. When she looked into the bright eyes of these children half a world away from her own, she smiled and as realized that she knew how to do this! This was all she had studied and all she had done professionally for years! New continent, sure, but the basics were the same. She began to teach with confidence as the local teachers watched and learned from her techniques. Later, during a private teachers’ workshop, she answered questions from local teachers who were hungry for more creative fuel for their curriculums.

One teacher raised her hand with a very different question. As the translator translated her question, Carla’s eyes filled with tears. She had asked, “Why do you come here to help us or our kids? There’s something different about you”. Taking the teacher aside after the workshop, Carla explained the call God had placed in her heart. Fascinated, the teacher asked Carla to pray with her to receive Christ. In this restricted nation these moments are precious and few and far between. She- of all people- had found a place in B4T.

Are you a Carla? Do you think that you couldn’t possibly fit the B4T lifestyle or skillset? I encourage you this week with this: when in doubt, try it out. Contact us about the many short term opportunities we have for professionals interested in conducting training in a variety of subjects and trades. You may be surprised at what a perfect fit the opportunity waiting for you is.

When the Holy Spirit Meets your Entrepreneurial Spirit

What happens when the entrepreneurial spirit and the Holy Spirit collide? Perhaps you’ve always been an “idea guy”. Maybe you’ve had a knack for problem solving. Possibly you’ve been the object of criticism that you “just don’t know when to give up”. If any of these are true, see this morning how those things are not mere coincidence.

Just one woman followed the Holy Spirit to a new country. She had nothing but the Holy Spirit and an entrepreneurial spirit. We were blessed as a team to get to connect with her and hear her story. It all began when she started a B4T organization in her new home. She provided a service greatly needed by the community and used her business know-how to be able to operate not just a viable operation but one that surpassed what was currently available. But she didn’t stop there.

The old saying goes, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Entrepreneurship is contagious. A large percentage of the global population, if asked, could tell you about God-given dreams or desires he or she has for helping his or her community or for using the talents and skills he or she has in a greater way. The hardest step in the journey from dream to reality is the first one. This woman- we’ll call her Star- took a community and got to know its people. These people are a least-reached people, but she didn’t see them as a “project” but as individuals with potential.

As she began to teach them how to fish- each according to his or her own skills- new businesses began to pop up all over the area. If your goal is to see the gospel reach the ends of the earth, you may say, “So what? More businesses. Why does that matter?”. When the Holy Spirit meets the entrepreneurial spirit, we see how the process of training an individual is very similar to the process of discipling an individual. There is intentional time spent. There are life experience and lessons passed on. There is a life-giving and sustaining style of living that is established. In this time of intentional training in business, there is intermingled a time of intentional discipling and sharing testimony. As business owners are created, hearts are captured for Jesus. Most importantly, this process is set up to multiply. Imagine as Star, through her discipleship, creates B4T business owners who have a heart to see their people reached. Imagine if each of them become a “Star” with his or her own network of people being trained. The Great Commission suddenly seems much more possible.

My challenge this week is this: Examine the talents you’ve been given. Do you have business skills? What area is your professional experience in? Is that entrepreneurial spirit something you possess? If so, have these things been being used to their full potential? What could you do in your community? What could you do in the world? Begin to pray about what your role is in this movement. Are you meant to go short term and train people for a few weeks? Are you meant to take your business overseas? Are you meant to start a movement for Jesus in your own community through your professional skills? I don’t know your answer, but I do know there is something more for you. Time to ask God what that is.

What If This Was Your Story?

Imagine this. God calls you to a country you that you are so unfamiliar with that you have to look it up on the map. You obediently dive in with your family. In addition to picking up and new language and culture, you’re also learning an industry with which you’re completely unfamiliar. Talk about a learning curve! You know, however, that God has called you to this place to change lives for His kingdom.

As your mud-steeped feet trod the perimeter of the facilities, you silently pray. Each day, rain or shine, you circle this little piece of uncharted territory God in which God has placed you. In this area to evangelize would mean certain consequence; the loss of your job and removal from the nation. You ache for these people to know Him, so you trudge on, praying through your lunch break.

As your days turn into weeks and your weeks into the first few years, one by one your staff become your friends. Questions over meals at your home become opportunities to share the gospel discreetly. One believes. Then another. A third believer decides to take her message into rural areas where foreigners like you are not allowed. Finally! Then you get word that the local underground church, started by an old employee, has grown from two to over two hundred. Encouraged by the first fruits, you take that same walk around the grounds, praising God for His goodness.

Then a blow. The market takes a plunge. To make it in this industry, you’ll have to alter your whole business style and learn and entirely new skillset. As you’re navigating this unexpected turn in the road, you find out you’re expecting another baby! You could really use some prayer and encouragement but with attending church meetings being illegal and holding Bible studies being too risky, the opportunities for getting “refilled” are few and far between.

Imagining this, how special would it be for you to have the prayers and support of hundreds across the world? This life is the real story of one of our partner organizations in a restricted area. Without needing to even know their names or locations, you can be the encouragement they need to keep going. Lift them up in prayer this week. Make a donation on our website (www.gomandate.org/donate) to help this operation and others like it through Mandate’s services and designate the donation “encouragement”.

Church in Action

“If the Great Commission is true, our plans are not too big; they are too small”. Pat Morely spoke these encouraging words that change our perspective to one of “everything is missions”. As we approach the day for the unreached, our focus shifts to a critical player in the movement to reach every nation, tribe, and tongue: the church.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re part of a church, so this is for you. What is the role of the church in reaching the unreached? And is your church doing these things?

Prayer is the first way in which the church is vital in efforts to reach the unreached. As a church, adopt a people group to focus your prayers on. Speaking to a pastor of a large church at recent conference, I was struck by his particular passion for two specific unreached groups. When I asked where this passion stemmed from, he told me that it wasn’t until his church decided to “adopt” these groups in prayer that his heart started being deeply moved to see them reached. We all, as relational beings, long to see our prayers answered. Seeing answers to prayer is a visible reminder that God is listening and responding and interacting with us. We have a relational God. Beginning as a congregation to pray for a people group and then watching the updates from their area of the world is like directly plugging into the heavenly “radio transmissions” for a mission of the Kingdom of God.

Finances are another way the church can further the mission of the gospel to unreached nations. Matthew 6:21 tells us “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. We naturally are “invested” in what we invest in. If your congregation has missionaries that are in these areas, back them financially as individuals or- better yet- as a church. If your church doesn’t have any personal ties to missionaries to the unreached, find organizations that further this mission. Mandate and others like it can use those resources in ways that directly affect those in unreached areas.

Education is another way church can involve themselves in the movement. Our involvement tends to be limited in that which we know little about. Consider offering a Bible study specifically focused on reaching the unreached. Take the Perspectives course as a congregation. Read books on tentmaking as a church. Choose an area as a congregation to research, and each month educate yourselves on the spiritual needs of the unreached area. There are many creative ways to get involved, and by spreading the passion for the unreached to your congregation, you multiply the results.

Love is the final way a church can become involved. For those on the field working alongside the unreached day after day, burn out is a real threat. Church support is like a lifeline to these families and individuals. Get connected with a missionary or overseas worker. Read their prayer letters...and actually pray for them! Contact them with encouragement. There are even services through organizations such as Shepherd’s Staff or OPEN USA that offer training for churches in how to support people on the field.

How many of these is your church currently doing? I challenge you as a church member or maybe even church leader to pray about which one of these you would like to introduce to your church leadership as a congregational endeavor. The effects of that one decision could forever alter the lives of a people group across the world from you.

Preparing the Soil

Scripture is rife with farming analogies. The parable of the sower, the metaphor of “bearing fruit”, and the list goes on and on. Using this age old analogy of planting, we look at missions in the modern world.

A man closes a purchase on a new plot of land. As he signs, his hand shakes with the excitement of years of dreaming of saving coming to fruition. That night he can barely sleep because visions of overflowing crops and a fixed-up farmhouse flood his mind. The next day, in his eagerness to make his new land fruitful, he wakes up before the sun and shoulders a burlap sack of seed. As he walks his new land with pride, he slings generous fistfuls of seeds out onto the field.

Like any good farmer, he diligently waters and monitors his crops. But nothing grows. What did he do wrong? Many missionaries are finding themselves in the same situation asking the same question. They moved to a new land to which they were called. They made efforts to sow seeds. They even watered and monitored their ministry. No results. What happened?

The crucial was missed step of preparing the soil. It’s mundane work, breaking up tough ground and pulling up weeds. In fact, weeding is never a one-and-done process. Pulling up weeds disturbs the soil which then brings new weed seeds to the surface. These weed seeds could have been dormant for years, but if now exposed to sunlight, they will begin to grow. This is why it seems that when one weed is pulled, three others pop up to take its place. Preparing the soil is an ongoing process. This is why when planting a lawn from seed, to get a well-establish root network it takes at least two years.

How, in missions, do you prepare the soil? You’ve moved to a new place. You’re ready to begin. Patrick Lai, author of Tentmaking, suggests the the best ingredients for preparing the spiritual soil are prayer and love. Before you ever sow the gospel, these two prepare the soil to receive and effectively grow and nourish the seeds.

Preparing soil in the natural mostly involves two things: breaking up what needs to be softened, and keeping “weeds” from stealing the nutrients for our fruit. Ask God to open your eyes to specific things that need to be softened in your hearers. Pray for these things then to be softened. Ask God what competition the gospel has in the hearts of your hearers. Pray that the “weeds” that would prevent it taking hold be removed. This isn’t a process that happens just once, but prayer and love may make up the majority of your initial time abroad. Then, after much preparation, the opportunity will present itself and the time to sow will arrive.

The great thing about both of these soil-preparers is that they don’t require proximity. You can begin even before you go. You can also help prepare the soil of missionaries around the world without ever setting foot in the countries in which they tread. Adopt a country or people group this week to pray for. Ask God to break up the spiritual soil in this place. Ask that the weeds be removed. Pray for those sowing to be effective and well-received. This step is crucial. Without it, all else can be done by the book, yet without love and prayer, the seeds will stay seeds until the soil is prepared.

Ministry in the Marketplace

This month we’ve been building up to the International Day For the Unreached, so it only makes sense we talk about strategies to reach them. You’ve taken that plane ride that’s so long that by the time it lands, you almost feel you’ve forgotten how to walk. You’ve found a place to live, a job or business to contribute to the community, and schools for your children. How do you actually then begin reaching those around you?

The unique advantage of working professionally among those you’re trying to reach is time. People spend a majority of their work week...well...at work. If limited to time outside of work, you would be relying on a long, friendship-building process in the hopes to even set up time to get together. While the relationship and trust-building process has no shortcuts, having the built in time all day every week at work is certainly a faster track.

There are so many unique people groups with countless unique people in them. How does someone go about reaching them? The answer is a lot of questions.

First, ask God. If God gave you this mission, He will not leave you without a strategy to fulfill it. Taking it not once, not twice, but daily to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to show you what His steps for you are for that DAY alone. Look, as a response, to answers in Scripture, notice divine opportunities that open up, and listen for His voice.

Second, ask them! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can be about innocuous things such as the weather, their hobbies, their family. Share about your own as well! The more exchange there is, the more relationship is built. By asking progressively deeper questions, their openness (or lack thereof) can be sensed. This gives you a good idea of how to proceed and if they are ready.

Third, ask the most important question of all. When it comes to the point of the salvation question (which may be soon or may take ten years of sowing into relationship), don’t forget to ASK if they would like to receive Jesus into their hearts.

Fourth, ask “what would you like to do next?”. Give them next steps. Do they want to study the Bible together? Do they want to get rid of old charms from previous religions? Do they want to share with their family or someone they know? That point of salvation is beautiful, but it’s not the goal. The goal is discipleship up to the point in which that person can disciple others. What does he or she need to learn next? Maybe offer a starting place of books of the Bible to study. What parts of his or her relationship with God need to be nurtured? Maybe talk about prayer life habits or things that individual can do to further their direct connection with the Lord. The less they “need” you for this time, the better. The focus should be on directly connecting them to the Lord. Who would be their first goal for sharing the gospel with someone? It’s important that from the beginning the mindset is not that the gospel comes into their life and stays there. Instead, they must see that they are a vital part of its continuation.

If you’re not in an area with unreached people groups, adopt a group to pray for. Support individuals or ministries that reach the unreached. Inform those around you about the unreached so that they too can partner in reaching them. No matter who you are or where you are, there is something you can do that will change someone’s life forever.

For the mothers who will not celebrate this weekend

Visiting an Asian country a few years ago, I met a prominent national Christian family and heard, first-hand, their story. This is a true story about people in a country where Christianity is an unwanted minority religion, so I cannot name the people or country. This couple and their two grown sons were all committed to openly following Christ in this hostile environment. Worse, for them, they were actively engaged in open Christian ministry.

 Their first son was brutally killed by a local mob during an anti-Christian riot in another part of the country. It could well have been a targeted killing.

 Their second son was traveling in the Middle East. One day his parents received word he had died and his body was being returned for burial. They were never told and were never able to determine the cause of death.

 When I heard this from the father, my first reaction, as head of a Christian ministry myself, was somewhat intellectual. My mind went to thoughts of protecting ministers and missionaries. Then, ashamed of myself, I identified with the father and how well he was dealing with the loss.

 Then I thought of the mother of these two slain men. How she must have said “Good-bye” to them as they each went out the door on separate days, never to hear their voices, never to see their smiles, never to put her arms around them again in this world.

 I thought of the prophet Jeremiah’s words, quoted in Matthew 2:18, “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” I know there’s no direct correlation between these verses and this modern tragedy, but I thought about how many mothers have been forced to re-live an event like this, only because they were living their faith among those who did not.

 Unfortunately, this is one story I know, among so many others. A recent report from the British government states that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. 80% of those persecuted for religious faith today are Christians!  We’re only shocked by that because we’ve forgotten words of Scripture such as “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10) and “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

 And I think of all the mothers mourning for their children.

 It would be only human to be angry, to hate those who do things like this. We might expect our government to do something, anything. Some among us might even want to personally lash out to punish or kill our persecutors.

 And then I think, wouldn’t it be better to focus our pain and attention on winning our persecutors to Christ? These are the lost, the unreached peoples of the world. They persecute our family-in-Christ out of ignorance. We can’t ignore this persecution, but we can use it, instead, as impetus to overcome ignorance, hate, and violence with the saving and life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.

 For the sake of mothers everyone, let’s get on to the with the last command of Jesus Christ, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Every tribe, every language, every people, every nation

A few years ago I attended a missions conference in a local Detroit-area church. Proudly, the church leaders introduced one of their own families, newly appointed missionaries, and invited them to share their call to missions. I, along with most in that church building, immediately fell in love with that family. They were young, wholesome, eager to get out there.

 Then they spoke. To summarize, they were going to an over-evangelized country in Africa, where more than half the population were already evangelical Christians. Yes, there was a small Muslim minority in the country, but this family was not going to them. It seems they had visited this country. They noticed the church there did not look like their home church in Detroit. They had dedicated themselves to fixing the national church in that country. I felt like crying! Instead of reaching those who did not know Christ, they were going with the intention of turning African Christians into American fundamentalists.

 You’ve heard terms like unevangelized, unreached, least-reached, unengaged.

 These terms, and the mission strategies behind them, were developed in recent decades to help the Western church better focus people and resources in areas where the need was greatest. Along with these definitions came strategies such as the 10/40 Window, 40/60 Window, and specialized strategies for Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists.

 It worked! No, these strategies did not bring universal evangelism, but we did see more work being done in these areas. And not just more work, but great results in terms of people coming to faith in Christ and new churches being established within those groups.

 Isn’t that what it’s all about?

 Consider these few passages from the New Testament (underlining and emphasis added by this writer).

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:36)

 The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:13-14)

 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

 You [Jesus] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9-10)

 What’s the bottom line?

 Definitions and strategies are tools we use to accomplish a task. That task, as identified in the above passage from Matthew, is to take the message of God’s salvation in Christ to every identifiable group of people around the world. The results of that task are described in the Revelation passage, where we’re told that Jesus died for every tribe and language group, and people group, and national group.

 It makes additional sense to direct the bulk of our efforts towards those who need it most, that is, the unreached, under-reached, least-reached, etc.

 Call them unreached or just plain lost, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about words. It’s about us, the church, focusing our resources on those groups of people who will not be reached with the gospel unless someone crosses those ethnic, linguistic, geographical, religious, and/or political boundaries and communicates God’s word in ways they can understand and to which they can make a valid response Jesus Christ.

 ‘Nuff said!

On the Road Again

It’s butterfly season! And I don’t just mean because it’s spring. We have butterflies in our stomachs as one of the Mandate team steps out into literally unknown territory this week. Most can relate to a sense of irritation or feeling flustered when plans change at the last minute. The trip that begins tomorrow has been a change of plans from the start. A divine interruption.

It all began when Mandate was invited to visit local businesses in restricted areas in two countries. Our excitement multiplied when plans changed and Mandate was asked to lead a training for local professionals. This training then evolved into a nine-days-on-a-bus tour in a whirlwind attempt to cover as much ground as possible. The final twist came only days before departure. A meeting had been arranged for members of the persecuted church in the area! Upon hearing about the development, all of us on staff were hit with a wave of awe and humility.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself there. A packed bus on rough roads making slow progress through meandering mountain paths. You make another stop, see another piece of this untouched area, get connected with its leaders, plant seeds for future partnerships, and load back onto the bus for the remaining nine days aboard. The last day you’re exhausted. Your legs have gone numb from the bumps and hours of the rough ride. But then you see it. One after another, people are assembling. People who have been persecuted for their faith. Just imagining the stories behind their wearied faces is too much to wrap one’s mind around. Yet there is still a joy. They hunger for even more of this God for whom they have risked everything. Their hungry eyes wait for what you’ll say…

Like a cliffhanger in a story, you’ll have to wait for the actual accounts of this amazing trip. We seized this open door, but more and more are opening each day. It’s our prayer and firm belief that God will supply our ministry fund with precisely what we need for doing the business He has called us to do in the places that He calls us to go. You may not be on a two week bus trip through the backroads of Asia, but you too can be a part of this. By donating any amount, like planting a seed, you’ll get to watch it grow. This is not a donation where the money disappears and you wonder what happened with it. This specific project is going to be reported on beginning at the end of next month. Ask God if you’re being called to sow into this trip. Then WATCH our blog to SEE what He will do with your obedience.

(To donate go to www.gomandate.org/donate)