With the current worldwide pandemic appearing as yet another sign of the very Last Days, few believers are seriously considering what Jesus declared MUST TAKE PLACE before the end. Most of us rather are praying for an end to the pandemic or praying for revival in the nation where we live. But Jesus declared that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony TO ALL NATIONS, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
On the basis of Scripture, what should be the Church’s primary concern during these very Last Days? Perhaps it should not be praying for an end to the plague or for revival, as worthy as these may appear to be. The book of Revelation actually does not teach—as much as we might desire it—revival taking place during the very Last Days, nor does it say that there will be peace. But Jesus did say that the Church will preach the gospel to ALL nations—that is, to ALL people groups, tribes, and languages—ONLY after which the end will come. According to missiologists, there might be as many as several thousand such people groups which must hear the gospel before the end.
We are talking about what is commonly referred to in the Church as “missions”.
Missions does not have priority in the eyes of the Church. Even among those in Western countries who have a noble burden for reaching the lost, the focus is on preaching the gospel to the needy in their own communities. According to missiologists, such communities are already “reached” for the gospel since it is readily available to anyone in that community through the churches found on every street corner, through radio, TV, and Christian bookstores. As worthwhile and pleasing to the Lord as it may be to preach the gospel to one’s neighbors, it nevertheless does not “move the needle” in the task of fulfilling the Great Commission.
If we want to “move the needle” of the Great Commission and hasten the return of Jesus Christ during these very Last Days, we must take the gospel to the totally unreached billions on the mission field who have never heard the gospel even once. Not that we should not share the gospel or minister locally…but why do we for all practical purposes IGNORE the GREAT Commission?
It is because for us it’s something not visible, not in the forefront, something way in the back of our minds. It’s an unknown quantity, something reserved only for a few specially-called missionaries who are willing to sacrifice their comfortable lives to venture to the ends of the earth to share Jesus with hardened Muslims, resistant Hindus, fanatic Buddhists, and tree-dwelling cannibals in the untamed jungles of the Third World. Besides that, it’s often discouraging to hear news from our missionaries. We usually hear about their daily struggles, various challenges, and inability to bear serious fruit for the gospel—as we see done so effectively by the early disciples in the book of Acts. And we don’t wonder why missions today contrasts day-and-night from what we see recorded in Acts. “That’s just how it is,” we are told. And we accept it.
And so on some days we shoot up a 45-second prayer for our overseas missionaries, and once a month remember to send in our pledged financial support for them.
BUT JESUS CHRIST WILL NOT RETURN UNTIL THEY COMPLETE THEIR JOB AND FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION.
So why are we totally focused on ourselves—on personal safety from the virus and on revival at home? There is one cogent reason.
THE CHURCH IS NOT AWARE that Jesus’ solemn promise in John 14:11-12 that believers will do the miraculous works that he did as evidence of the gospel to the unreached IS NOW BEING FULFILLED. We can now fulfill what Jesus commanded us to pray in Luke 10:2.
Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
We are now sending local workers to totally unreached harvest fields just as Jesus sent his seventy-two disciples. They are now doing what Jesus commanded the seventy-two disciples to do.
…9 “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
They are now witnessing what the seventy-two witnessed as they went out.
…17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
Our local workers in India have planted over 450 house churches within the span of two and a half years.
The four “sadlys”
SADLY, the Church is not yet aware of what is now happening especially in the unreached harvest fields of India. Even more SADLY, mission leaders around the world are not aware of it. Even more SADLY than that, mission leaders do not know that ANY local harvest worker can be trained to heal the sick and cast out demons—just as the early disciples did—as irrefutable and compelling evidence to gospel-resistant Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and animists that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the only way to the One True God who created the heavens and the earth. ANY local harvest worker in the Third World can be trained to witness the results we are now seeing in India.
Perhaps MOST SADLY, however, mission leaders are mostly NOT OPEN to having their harvest workers trained as Jesus trained his disciples. They have learned to feel comfortable with the tradition of their church or denomination. The risk involved in “stepping out of the boat” for most is simply not worth it—even for an extraordinary opportunity to “move the needle” of the Great Commission during these very Last Days.