Written by: Erwin van Laar
Director of Donor Engagement
It is not good enough to say that the “who” is “we,” the worldwide Body of Christ, believers from around the world who hear Christ’s commandment to “make disciples.” We all must participate, but who, specifically, will do what?
For many, participation means they will “go.” But the Christians today who hear God’s call to go and make disciples are not necessarily the same as those who went in the past. Today they include people like Rev. Dr. David Umune who serves in Nigeria.
David is responsible for twelve workers in 23 communities. Through their ministry efforts over the last six months, 80 people have come to faith in Christ and 25 have been baptized. We praise God for this. His team are engaged in evangelism, follow up and discipleship in the various communities where they are residing and doing ministry full time.
Lots of people have found relief through their ministry of prayer, as some have received their healings and other delivered from demon possession. In some of these communities they have been acknowledged as beacons of truth and integrity.
That notwithstanding, they have also been on the receiving end of some jealous and evil men and women, who often see them as hindrances to their personal enrichment which they achieve by enslaving people with lies and instilling fear in their lives. Sometimes, they are instantly and openly recognized by the evil one who tries to eliminate their lives.
A case in point was one of his workers who went to visit an older lady who has been looking to him for prayers. As he arrived at the woman’s house in the company of two of his church members, he noticed a young man at the front of the house who neither greeted them nor acknowledged their pleasantries. He asked the woman who the young man was and learnt he was the son of the old woman, but was mentally deranged. Just as the Evangelist began to encourage the woman from the scripture and pronounce the name of Jesus, I learnt the young man attacked them with a machete and they all fled in different directions, but the deranged man left all others and pursued our evangelist. The evangelist tripped and fell and the man got to him and cut him twice with his machete before people ran to his rescue. He was taken to a mini first aid place where the wounds were locally stitched and treated. Though the wound and scars are still there, he has healed. We need to keep praying for them in the face of diverse and often dangerous situations they face in the field.
David Umune and his team of evangelists is an example of what is happening all over Africa, Asia and Latin America. Developing World church leaders are going to the front lines of evangelism and reaching people for Christ. They are moving from being just a mission “field” to being a vital part of the world mission “force.”
In India, a different kind of mission work is taking place under the leadership of Dr. Singh. She tells of the story of one young girl that had been rescued from being sex trafficked – “It took a lot of courage and strength for Sree* to step out of her nightmare associated with her past, her fears, her inhibitions with just one desire in her heart, to bring her friend out of the darkest corners of a brothel where she was enslaved too – to be able to show her the life that she deserves in ‘freedom’.
Sree* accompanied by investigation officers, police as well as social workers from International Justice Mission was able to raid brothels in Silcar, Assam in November to help rescue her friend as well as other young women held captive in some of the brothels there.
Born in Nepal, duped and sold off in a brothel in Sonagachi, Sree* had her share of struggles. She was rescued and placed in Mahima in February and has battled with life like a brave heart. Now undergoing vocational training in Touch Nature, Sree* is learning how to make candles, soaps and aromatic oils since March. It took a lot of valour for Sree* to leave the security and safety of Mahima and stand up to fight for her friend. A lot of strength to set foot into the same brothel where she was tortured for years and determination to face the unknown to make a difference in the lives of these young women.
Her repatriation back to Nepal had to be postponed as well so that she could bring about change in the life of the one she cared for. She stands tall and smilingly says, “If I can bring out one girl out of the brothels that would mean a lot to me. To be able to show her that there is more to life than the bondages. I have come to know a Lord who is ever mighty and loving and that He loves them too.” The raid helped in the rescue of 4 Nepali minor girls but Sree* friend was nowhere to be found and it seemed that she was moved to some other place. Sree* is not ready to give up and is gearing up for another raid with the police.
Leaders like Dr. Umune and Dr. Singh are on the front lines. They have recognized that they are part of God’s plan for reaching all nations and they have responded to Christ’s call on their lives to “go and make disciples of all.”
They are just two among hundreds of thousands of national evangelists who lead ministries in fellowship with Western evangelical missions. Both Dr. Umune and Dr. Singh happen to work with us at Partners International. Their church planting efforts and their call to serve those lost in the human trafficking nightmare are part of our unreached peoples focus.
The first experience began in China in 1943. At that time, trained Chinese Christians who knew how to evangelize and disciple their own people were given encouragement and support. Little did we know that China’s Bamboo Curtain would fall in 1950 and all Western missionaries would be forced to leave.
But God had come before us. He had guided us to concentrate on preparing the nationals who could remain. And while China’s government tried to banish Christ from the land, the fire of the Gospel remained alive in the hearts of the people. During the following years, the Christian believers in China increased 500-fold.
Over the years, Partners International expanded its partnership ministry to other parts of Asia, then Africa, Latin America and Europe. Today, we have partner ministries in 43 countries throughout the world. And through our ministry and the ministries of others, we have witnessed an unprecedented growth in the worldwide Body of Christ.
We also watched the reality of world evangelization come into focus. Every indication points us to believe that the church can be planted among all nations (peoples) in this century.
Thomas Wang, international chairman for Lausanne II, put it so aptly: “All of a sudden, it seems many of God’s servants all over the world have begun to take the end of this century, not as a magical number, but as a target, a goal, stimulation for world evangelization.”
Is something happening? What is God trying to say to us? There has never been an age in the history of the church that is more qualified to tackle this task of world evangelization in terms of manpower, resources, technology, communication and transportation.
But world evangelization will require more than strategists and evangelists. If we are to see the church planted in every people group, it will also require the commitment and involvement of pastors, churches and individuals throughout the world. It will require sharing the vast material resources which we have in the West with our much poorer Church in the developing countries. This is where the “who” becomes “we.” Who will do the job? We will do it— by using our gifts, our skills, our faith, and yes, our resources— to let the whole world know about Jesus Christ.
We are a ministry that helps Canadian churches and Christians join forces with emerging national ministries. Its success depends on participation from Christians throughout the world.
As we, the worldwide Body of Christ, work together, we can see the completion of the Great Commission. But it will require all believers to open their hearts, hear God’s call, and then join in by becoming partners with ministries on the field. We must all respond to Christ’s commission to us to “make disciples of all.”