Sometimes we find ourselves both delighted and dismayed about an event or experience. That’s how I felt today reading a Christianity Today article written by Sarah Zylstra (Jan/Feb 2016).
Here’s the great part about it: China’s persecuted evangelical Church is preparing to send out 20,000 missionaries by 2030. There’s no doubt that churches must send people out to start local and international churches in order to win the lost at home and among the nations. It is an imperative being recognized more and more. This is going to be a sending generation, and they’re already about the task. Just think, 20,000 missionaries called out from a persecuted Church!
That’s wonderful, but what does it say about the American Church? I’m dismayed by one truth that cannot be missed. We are neglecting our own. In fact, many churches and missions organizations are struggling financially and are reducing their missions budgets. But churches must keep sending out missionaries.
Recently we sent a young couple to start a church in the San Jose, California, area. Why there? Because this area qualifies as an unreached people group. Yes, one of the greatest American metropolitan areas is unreached with the gospel. We also helped plant a church in Phoenix a few years ago because it too had an area with no gospel witness and very few Christians.
Allen Rice, one of our elders, is in Wales working with the handful of evangelical pastors there who are trying to reach their famine-struck population. So many there have not heard the truth about Jesus. Wales is indeed in a famine, not of bread or milk but of the nourishment of God’s Word.
Here we are in the so-called Bible Belt. It’s almost assumed that everyone knows about Jesus and that the vast majority have been saved. But that’s not the fact. According to an April 15, 2015, article in the Tulsa World, a Gallup poll found that “39 percent of Sooners are in a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue at least once a week, putting Oklahoma at No. 10 in a three-way tie with Texas and Georgia.” This, however, doesn’t mean that 39 percent know Christ—only that they attend a place of worship with some regularity.
It’s happening all around us. Family members, friends, and acquaintances are slipping into Christless eternities. People are trying to navigate the pain and trials of this life without God and without hope. Look around you. Have compassion for the lost and share the hope of Christ with them. Be sent, my friends, be sent! Go to them. Don’t waste your life through self-centered conformity to the easy life. Be a missionary here through the way you live and the way you share the gospel. Invite people to church, and invest your life in them. They need the Lord. Help send others by praying for those who go out and giving sacrificially to your church so that they can be funded. Consider going yourself. There’s so much to do and so little time.
Let’s pray for the thousands of Chinese brothers and sisters who are going out as missionaries. And let’s partner with them for the call of the gospel.
DENNIS NEWKIRK | LEAD PASTOR | HENDERSON HILLS BAPTIST CHURCH