THE STATE OF THE GOSPEL
by Dr. David Robbins
What Could Be More Newsworthy?
The situation or position of the Gospel in the world today is quite surprising. Contrary to what we see in North America, the Evangelical church is growing rapidly in many parts of the world. In his article, "The State of the Gospel," in Perspectives 2009, Jason Mandryk highlights a critical truth: the unreached people groups are largely concentrated in five countries, wherein grinding poverty and unjust political systems are rooted in an overall lack of the Gospel.
Over the past ten years, as leader of Advancing Indigenous Missions (AIM), I have served in three of the five countries that Mandryk highlights - India, Nepal, and Bangladesh (the other two are China and Pakistan) - where Evangelical growth and development is unprecedented. This transforming revival may not be aired on mainstream news. Yet, to Christians, what could be more newsworthy?
Reflections From Three Countries
Here are a few reflections on the progress of the Gospel in these unreached, needy countries:
India. One-third of the entire population (1.2 billion) is accurately described as either lower caste or tribal. Many of these disregarded and overlooked millions have been responding to the claims of Jesus Christ. God has sent them missionaries. Many of these missionaries were, ironically, converted from the upper-caste priestly segment - and have poured their lives into this fruitful missionary work.
Nepal. As in India, a vast percentage of Nepal's population lives in remote and out-of-the-way places. Nonetheless, missionaries are multiplying here, too. Considerable percentages in Nepal now name Christ as their Saviour. Rapid growth, thousands of indigenous missionaries, and increasing political favour, are setting Nepal apart as an ideal example of effective native missionary activity.
Bangladesh. Bangladesh is home to a growing but small number of "Muslim Background Believers" (MBBs), who are mobilizing to reach their own country. A Bible school has emerged to train such MBBs, villages are providing sites for MBB Churches, and converted Imams, or priests, are joining the growing army of indigenous ministers(!)
Reaching The Lost
What can we do? What part can we play in reaching these waiting masses, desperately and utterly lost without the Gospel?
Gleaning from the conclusion of Mandryk's article, there are four ways we can be a part of bringing the Gospel to these unreached peoples. First, in order to get the job done, we must make it a priority. We must determine to meaningfully take hold of the Great Commission, and do what we can to help reach these people groups, who, until now, have largely been neglected.
Second, we must be willing to pay the price necessary to reach them. Working with indigenous missions challenges us to hold nothing back, because, for example, when Muslims come to Christ, they face persecution and relentless opposition. How can we do anything but stand with these believers, as well as such believers from many other backgrounds? Our cheque books need to reflect our willingness to sacrifice. Our prayer lives must be characterized by persistent intercession for these unreached people groups, and for the army of missionaries God has enlisted to reach them.
Third, we must collaborate in Biblically based, strategic initiatives. Responsible planning includes both indigenous and expatriate perspectives; but, indigenous voices often go unheard. Yet India is seeing such a dramatic response to the Gospel, that there are numerous and intricate issues to contend with. Serious, deep consideration and collaboration are required to avoid catastrophic collapses from heresy and false doctrine. It is dangerous, even potentially lethal, to prescribe overly simplistic solutions to such complex matters.
Fourth, it is critical for us to encourage the indigenous missions in their more visible, lead role. The internationalization of the Evangelical movement is so thrilling because we as Canadians can fit into the movement humbly, yet strategically, in countless support roles. Without our confirmation and encouragement the growth and progress of the indigenous church will be impeded and restricted. Therefore, we need to promptly assume our roles in helping our National brothers and sisters to turn their corner of the world upside down (and, by all means, we need them to provoke us to do what we can here at home).
God is Working
The magnitude of what God is doing around the world is breathtaking. Our part is (yet again) to assist, humbly, through the means at our disposal, in providing depth and sustainability; and, by the Spirit's power, through fervent prayer, to help break down the towering spiritual strongholds in the unreached nations.
posted Summer 2009