This will not be a typical blog in the form of a “theological nugget” or “word of encouragement” but rather a blunt challenge from your pastor. This past week, tears have flowed liberally from my eyes. I have sensed the Lord afresh say to my soul, “What risks are you taking? What risks are you leading your church family to take?”
I have recently returned from a conference of 600 representatives from missions’ agencies, local churches and numerous denominations, all of whom were focusing on focus the remaining 1,347 Unreached & Unengaged People Groups (UUPG’s) around the world. Simply put, these UPPG’s have ZERO known believers, ZERO Christian workers and the majority do not even have a portion of the Scriptures in a language that they can understand. They are the “last frontier of missions.” Some of these people groups number in the hundreds, some the tens of thousands, all the way up to millions in places like Afghanistan, Brunei and the Hindu belt of India.
I want you to try to picture with me a scene that I witnessed in Uttar Pradesh, India years ago, which will help paint the reason for the urgency of this challenge. For a few short weeks every 6 years Hindus stream from all over the world to get in the waters in the hope of washing away their sins. Now imagine, you are in the crowd of 30 to 40 million people, pressing your way into a city the size of Seattle to get to the edge of the Ganges River. You are confronted with the smell of open sewers mixed with smoke from the burning sandalwood and the sounds of motorcycle horns intermixed with the roar of chatter. On every face is the same somber expression as if each were about to be commanded to rush into enemy lines while war raged. The crowd never seems to dissipate but is continuously jostling you to stay in step to get to the desired destination. Your path is strewed with humanity of all shapes and castes, all straining to find a remedy for the unbearable pain sin has inflicted on them. You get to the water’s edge, but unlike the others, you stay on of the riverbank to watch. Hordes of people wade into the water and dip themselves; all drink deeply of the muddy waters; some scatter the ashes of loved ones, while many openly weep. You look, filled with questions on this scene and wonder aloud, “Will any of this satisfy the longings of the soul? Will it wash away sin? Will these worshipers emerge at peace with the spiritual world?” At that moment, the Spirit of God will remind you that, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). It is summoning all to repent and return, so that their sins may be wiped out and a time of refreshing come from the Lord (Acts 3:19), for there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Deeply convicted, you realize that ritual, no matter how revered or even trusted in, will or ever can be the remedy for sin. You witness the masses, one by one, leaving the water each with that same sullen face. How can they have a hopeful disposition, when they realize that their sin remains? Then the Spirit of God brings to your remembrance, “How will they believe if they have not heard? How will they hear if they don’t have someone to share with them? How will they share if they are not sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)
The vast majority of these people have never met a single Christian, heard the four historical events that form the core of our Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) or been given the opportunity to join the family of faith whose head is Christ. There is no church that they can go to, no Scripture they can hear or read, and not one among them can confidently stare death in the face and say, “you have no power over me.”
In the coming weeks, our church will enter our annual season of Prayer & Fasting. I implore you to join me on a fresh adventure as we start 2018. We will be partnering with other churches and organizations in adopting at least one UUPG. I will ask each saint that calls Seattle Foursquare Church home to personally sacrifice. After the initial “Door of Faith” we step through, I am sure I will in future ask for another sacrifice, and then another, till the Lord declares our work is completed.
Let me also state clearly that this new assignment will not deter us from reaching our city, Seattle in even greater measure. Let it never be said of us that we, “cast our seed there and not here.” We have been assigned to reach our neighbors, our co-workers and even our enemies, to model the love and power of the risen Savior. We will continue to strive to win the lost in north Seattle, raise up leaders full of the Spirit at our Foursquare church and help churches in our North Seattle Church network flourish. In the coming weeks a huge map of Seattle will be installed on the wall in the back of the sanctuary where the water dispenser currently stands. We will be encouraging people throughout the year to insert push-pins where you shared the Gospel. Over the year, we will see the spread of the Gospel in the city we have been placed in to reach with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
On Sunday, Gene Chakos prophetic word to our church started with a seed going into the ground to die. Chose today to place the Kingdom of God first. After that the word spoke of expanding/reaching to other nations (“There”) and then worked its way back to our city, our neighborhood, our church and our homes (“Here”). Thus, we are committed to “There & Here.”
What I am asking of you who read this is that you open your hearts to prayerfully consider participating in the following:
1.Praying that the Lord would “Open a Door of Faith” for us (Acts 14:27).
2. Dedicating yourself afresh to sharing the message of salvation with the lost in Seattle and supporting our outreaches around the globe.
3. Joining our leaders in praying which UUPG(s)we are to adopt?
4. Seeking the Lord’s will concerning what specifically He would require of you in 2018.