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Wait, Has That Always Been There?

Why We Should Be Involved In Our Canaan Project

Yesterday’s entry gave persuasive reasons why our congregation has no business being as deeply involved in the missions work we call our Canaan Project as we are. We’ve sent some very dear friends into an astonishingly dangerous and violent place. We’ve spent huge sums of money that could have done SOOOO much good right here around us. And most missions efforts would be abandoned if they showed such paltry obvious results as we see, especially given the combination of the danger involved and the money spent.

So why do we do it?

1) It’s dark

That’s why it’s dangerous. Our friends are working in one of the spiritually darkest places on earth. The nation and the culture are openly hostile toward Christianity. Nationals who convert to the Christian faith are socially ostracized, treated as though they were dead by their families and friends and employers, and often physically harmed or killed for leaving the religion of their upbringing.

Is there any hope for the danger to be lessened over time? I only see one way – – to bring the country and culture to Christ. How do you do that? You bring the Light to the darkness.

God made promises about people who dwell in spiritual darkness. For instance:

Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future He will bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.  You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. For You have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian. For the trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this. [Isaiah 9:1-7 (HCSB)]

God has the only thing that can and will transform such a dark and dangerous place — His truth, His justice, His healing, His grace. He has promised, repeatedly, that He will bring it wherever it’s needed.

How will He accomplish that? He has a plan:

This is what God, Yahweh, says — who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and life to those who walk on it — “I, Yahweh, have called You for a righteous purpose, and I will hold You by Your hand. I will keep You and appoint You to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness from the prison house. (Isaiah 42:5-7 [HCSB])

God’s plan is God’s people. The call to take the news of God’s truth, justice, healing and grace — given in the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus — is the reason to face the danger, to plunge into the darkness. The darker it is, the more eager we should be to go.

2) Souls are priceless

Yes, it’s expensive. Any international endeavor is. But we believe it’s worth it.

Most of the “unreached people groups” in the world are located geographically in what missiologists call “The 10/40 Window” – from West Africa across Asia between 10 and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator. Also within this 10/40 window are:

•    two-thirds of the world’s population, although only one-third of the earth’s land area.

•    the heart of the Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist religions.

•    eight out of ten of the poorest of the world’s poor enduring the world’s lowest quality of living.

•    only 8% of the world’s missionary force and 0.01% of the income of the world’s Christians.

Worldwide Christian churches devote more than 85% of their resources on our own development. That is, only 15% of this arsenal of personnel, finance, prayer, and tools goes to bless unreached people groups.

In the U.S., the picture is even bleaker. According to the Bibles for All World Prayer Map, American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministry, 4.5% on cross-cultural efforts in already-reached people groups, and 0.5% to reach the unreached.

There are 430,000 Missionaries from all branches of Christendom. Only between 2 and 3% of these missionaries work among unreached peoples.

Global Church Member Finance (in US Dollars)

  • 12.3 Trillion – Total Annual Income
  • 213 Billion – Giving to Christian Causes (1.73% of total income)
  • 11.4 Billion – To Foreign Missions (5.4% of giving to Christian causes)
  • 87% of foreign mission money goes for work among those already Christian
  • 12% for work among evangelized non-Christians
  • 1% for work among the unevangelized.

[Most of this info borrowed from statistics gathered by “Café 1040”. Verification may be found in the sources listed there.]

We choose to focus our missions work in being part of that astonishingly small percentage of churches who pursue the most unreached souls on earth, rather than on those who are already being reached out to by so many others. So, yes, it’s expensive, relative to the easier ways we could be taking. We agree with God that the people we are trying to reach are worth every penny we spend — and even more so given the tiny number of Christians trying to reach them. Thus far, through His people, God has provided financially for us to do what needed to be done to work toward our goal. We will continue in it until He stops making it possible.

And even more, He has provided for us to do some of the local outreach and benevolence we want to do around here. Because the people of our congregation are mightily generous, we have been able to help a goodly number of people, within the church and without it, in times of pressing need. And we’ve been able to support some of our favorite stateside ministries. God is good, and has provided for us to do good work here at home as well.

3) God measures success differently than men do

For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. [1Cor. 3:4-9 (HCSB)] 

We are planting seed where it needs to be planted. We are watering seed that was planted by our co-workers. We have seen the beginnings — the very small beginnings — of the spiritual harvest of that work. But we may never see the bountiful harvest we might find in another field.

But that’s ok. It’s not our job to make sure we’re around when the harvest comes through. That’s God’s job. We’re focused on being faithful to the work that we believe God has called us to.

Your comments are welcome below.

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