We first began teaching what was to become known as The Elijah Challenge Training in 2000 while on a mission trip to India. Since then we have taught in well over forty countries around the world on six continents. Often the venue has been in a local host church.
A church which hosts the Training will usually be blessed in various ways. During the training sessions there will be demonstrations during which people with physical infirmities will actually be healed as believers lay hands on them. As a result there will be excitement, praise and thanksgiving to God in the church.
Following the Training the believers will have a fresh boldness to minister to the sick with the Lord’s authority and power. Souls will be added to the local church as unbelievers witness the healing power of Jesus Christ as evidence of the gospel. In Brazil, after the Training believers typically go from door-to-door (or to the local marketplace) healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God. In this way local churches can be built up through The Elijah Challenge Training. There might even break out a “revival” of sorts in a host church. In Uganda one church planted four daughter churches following the Training.
But how long and how great is this effect for the majority of host churches? We have not done the follow up, but our suspicion is that in the majority of cases the Training will have little long-term effect on the life of the church in terms of reaching the lost. Any “revival”—as all revivals in Church history turn out to be—will by its very nature be temporary. The reason is all pastors are primarily involved in the care and feeding the sheep entrusted to them by the Lord. Practically speaking, a typical pastor’s direct focus cannot be the Great Commission: preaching the gospel in the whole world as a testimony to all nations after which the end will come (Luke 24:14).
But that is precisely the ultimate purpose of The Elijah Challenge Training. It is far more than simply “revival” in the Church.
During these Last Days in fulfillment of the Great Commission, The Elijah Challenge trains indigenous workers to preach the gospel to the billions of unreached people living in rural areas around the world—peoples who are very resistant to the gospel and will believe only when the gospel is presented to them with supernatural power & authority as the early disciples did in Acts.
Churches which host The Elijah Challenge will generally not have such a focused mission statement. Their primary concern and focus of course will be feeding the Lord’s sheep and preaching the gospel locally resulting in the growth of their local congregation. Their support for “foreign missions”—which will have very little if any visible effect on their local ministry—will typically be far less.
Churches which host The Elijah Challenge moreover will typically be in a region which has already been “reached” for the gospel—areas where the gospel is already available to the people whether through local churches, local believers, and media such as TV and radio.
Our burden is not primarily to train disciples to preach the gospel for reaching “christianized” regions where the Church already has taken root, or in areas where the gospel is already available. Rather we are called to train and send out workers in answer to the prayer the Lord commanded his disciples to pray in Luke 10:2.
“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.”
The Lord has called The Elijah Challenge to train and send workers in particular to sow and reap in harvest fields which are resistant to the gospel—in regions where the gospel has never been preached and where the people do not know who Jesus Christ is.
We are now doing this very effectively and fruitfully in India. We are training disciples just as Jesus trained his disciples, and then with financial support sending them to unreached regions to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God to those who never heard the gospel even once. These disciples will in time train still other disciples as they themselves were trained. We will support and send these newly-trained disciples to still other unreached regions. This pattern will be repeated ad infinitum until Christ returns. In this way there will be an exponential increase in trained workers for the Lord’s vast harvest field. Our ultimate goal is to train, support, and send out one million (1,000,000) workers into the harvest field during these Last Days to fulfill what Jesus promised in Matthew 24:14.
Matthew 24:14 “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Billions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and idol-worshipers live in huge swaths of our planet where the gospel has never been heard. Such peoples are typically resistant to the gospel and difficult to reach. While we will of course continue to teach The Elijah Challenge for local churches in regions where the gospel has already taken root, the ultimate purpose of The Elijah Challenge is to train and send workers to such unreached and resistant people groups for an acceleration in the Great Commission during these Last Days when the time is very short. Missions as it is recorded in the Book of Acts for reaching the Gentiles with great power and effectiveness is now being restored to the Church.