Author - Peter Maiden, International Director Emeritus, OM
Peter is married to Win. They have four children and ten grandchildren, He has served for 45 years with Operation Mobilisation. He is now the International Director Emeritus, OM. He served as an elder of Hebron Evangelical Church in Carlisle for many years before moving to Kendal. He has served on the council of many Christian organisations including chairing the council of the Keswick Convention for nine years. He is the author of four books.
It’s all testimony to the mercy and power of our God, and to the devotion and courage of missionaries and their supporting churches over the years. But please don’t get the wrong idea. If you believe the task of mission is complete or almost complete you have got the wrong idea. If you believe there is no further place in this task for missionaries form the UK, apart from sending funds you have got the wrong idea.
“The mission of the church is missions.” – Oswald J Smith
The modern mission’s movement was born as the church saw a world lost without Christ. A burning passion which resulted initially in prayer was born. For example, the small Moravian community in Herrnhut in Saxony commenced a round-the -clock ‘prayer watch’ that continued nonstop for over a hundred years.By 1791, 65 years after the commencement of that prayer vigil, that small community had sent three hundred missionaries to the ends of the earth.
Where is that enthusiasm and passion for mission in our churches today?
When I was a child I remember missionary prayer meetings in many churches, missionary conferences where the passion for mission was encouraged. Today it is difficult to find churches with any prayer meetings, and missionary prayer meetings are virtually non-existent. If we understood all that our gracious God is doing around his world we should be flocking to prayer meetings to worship him for his grace and goodness.
What has gone wrong? Do we think mission was something for the previous century? The job is now virtually complete. Or do we feel the responsibility has been passed to this growing church in other parts of the world?
The reality is that we need a new missionary movement from the global church to see the job we were given by our master completed. He was very clear, the last words on his lips before he left this earth were that ‘all peoples’ must hear the good news.
There are various ways of defining people groups but according to the Joshua project their definition and research leads to the conclusion that there are still 7,035 unreached groups, and with 16,956 people groups in the world that means 42.1% remain unreached. We can only conclude from these figures that the Church of which of course I am a part has been disobedient to our Lord.
It is time for a new obedience and a new commitment to get the job done.
This is going to take strategic decision making for us both as individuals and as churches. We still need missionaries among people groups which may not appear on the unreached people’s group list, but the estimate is that less than 10% of today’s missionaries work among the unreached peoples and far less than 10% of missionary giving is focussed on these groups.
My challenge today is that as individuals, and if you can influence church programmes, also in our churches we need to make strategic changes. It may not sound sufficient in the light of our Lord’s command and the present situation, but I am asking that we begin to concentrate a minimum of 20% of our mission praying and giving on the unreached people groups of the world. It is a small percentage, but even this would make a huge difference.
You may wonder how to do that. A good start would be to look at the Joshua Project website, but if you are still struggling after that, write to me at [email protected] and I would be happy to share with you suggestions of how you might get involved.
‘It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known…’ Romans 15:20
The apostle Paul
‘Someone asked will the heathen who have never heard the gospel be saved? It is more a question with me whether we – who have the gospel and fail to give it to those who have not – can be saved.’ Charles Spurgeon.
Most healthy local churches I come across are those committed to mission. That is because ‘the mission of the church is missions.’ – Oswald J Smith