Finish

Dr. Neil Gilliland

Finish

Mark your calendars: January 12, 2020. It will prove an important date for many people. Research suggests 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on them by that date. About half of all New Year’s resolutions revolve around health issues (eating less, getting more exercise, etc.). Our goals are seldom reached simply because we lack personal discipline. I am not trying to be critical or harsh, just truthful. Anyone who has ever made a resolution can identify with those who “give up.” What we began with great enthusiasm now lies in the heap of the unfinished.

The disciples gathered around as the Lord shared some last instructions just before His Ascension. A few simple words, and He was gone and a new era began. 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (Acts1:8-9, ESV)

I wonder if Peter turned to his companions and said, “Boys, we’ve got a job to do.” Nearly 2000 years later, we are still about the task. Why? The answer is simple, the task is unfinished. As long as there are those who need our witness in Jerusalem we can’t quit. As long inhabitants of our Judea remain in darkness the task is unfinished. As long as the people of Samaria have not heard a clear presentation of the gospel the mission is uncompleted. And as long as men, women, boys and girls in the ends of the earth do not proclaim Him as Lord and Savior, the task rests unfinished.

That small band of men grew exponentially in the ensuing years as the Church put its shoulder to the task. Undaunted through the winds of adversity and persecution, the flame of the gospel spread across the known world and to the ends of the earth. They did not quit. The flaming arrows of the evil one came to naught as the Church moved forward.

The gospel moved from Asia Minor to Europe, and its flame became a mere flicker. Then a monk in Germany tacked his theses to a monastery door and the gospel’s flame once more burned bright. It was transported to the new world and was the basis for the foundations of the new country, eventually called the United States of America.

And in 1935, a small fledgling denomination sent out its first missionary to the ends of the earth and we have not turned back. We have not quit. Many January 12s have come and gone and we are still about the task. Why? It is simple…the task is unfinished. As long as it is unfinished, we will keep on praying, sending, and going.

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Working in Unity

Clint Morgan

Working in Unity

When I think of Brother David Crowe and the NAM (North American Ministries) staff, one verse comes to mind: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

Few things are as detrimental to the advancement of His Kingdom than disunity among believers. God desires His people live and work in harmony. I sense, as never before, NAM and IM are living this out.

Few people exude the spirit of unity and collaboration like Brother David. He travels throughout our Free Will Baptist churches and leaves people knowing he loves them and cares for all Kingdom people.  This is the man God has chosen to lead NAM at this time in our history.  Having David Crowe at the helm makes it easy and joyful to work with him.  Not only is he willing to work with IM, but with all departments of the National Association and its personnel.

He encourages NAM church planters to open their doors to IM missionaries, to back them with prayers and support. I was at a NAM church plant a couple of months ago. They were right in the middle of a building program, but they invited me specifically to challenge the church to get involved in world outreach.

Of course, this church planter is passionate about reaching the lost people in his city, but he clearly let his congregation know missions for every believer includes a Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and uttermost parts of the world. He wants the church to have a large view of the world and its needs…not just their city.

Sunday, November 24, is designated as North American Ministries offering day. I urge you to dig deep in your pockets and not miss an opportunity to give an exceptionally generous offering to assist our church planters and NAM efforts.

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United in Prayer and Fasting: Day 3

Clint Morgan

United in Prayer and Fasting: Day 3

Prayer Focus 

Pray for every country where IM missionaries serve.

  

Bible Study—Jonah 3:5-7

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:”

God used Jonah’s preaching, although done reluctantly, to strongly convict the people of Nineveh of their sins. They were so convicted they believed in God and “called a great fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. … By the decree of the king.” They would “not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing.” Unlike Jonah, they did not deal with a bad attitude. They turned to God and sought His forgiveness and mercy.

 

Informing Our Prayer

What country where IM missionaries serve do you find most intriguing? How much do you know about it? Will you set aside time to learn at least three things about each country where we have missionaries?

How many fields can you name without looking them up? Please write those down, then go find the others. This information can be gathered from the missionary maps/posters, prayer cards, our website (iminc.org/missionaries/countries), and directories.

Try to answer three questions to prepare you to pray specifically for each country:

  1. What is the major religion? You might want to add a few more in this category so you pray with understanding about the resistance this religion has, or does not have, toward Christianity.
  2. What percentage of the population is Christian? It might do well to find out the percentage of “evangelical” Christians in particular. Joshuaproject.com is a good resource for this information and the question below.
  3. How many unreached people groups are in this country? Pray God will call missionaries to go to this (these) group(s).

As you gather this information, allow God’s Spirit to help you uncover the most important elements of each of these areas. Then spend an extensive amount of time praying about what you have discovered.

IM missionaries serve in:

  • Brazil
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Bulgaria
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • France
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • India
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Japan
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Kenya
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Spain
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • Uruguay
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
  • USA
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________

 

 

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STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Accountability and Reporting

Clint Morgan

STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Accountability and Reporting

As field missionaries work through the process outlined earlier in the series, they can track their progress each step of the way. Some lean more to extensive record keeping while others prefer the less detailed, broad stroke picture.

Advancement through this strategic process can be marked by keeping records of pertinent information, as people move from one step to another. However, it should be understood it is not obligatory to keep copious records because the real focus is on people, relationships, and bringing a message of hope to the lost.

Can you picture it unfolding? As missionaries develop a meeting place (for example, an English class) and 20 people show up, they build strong relationships with 12. They find ways to minister to their needs and develop opportunities to witness to eight of the 20. Six of these accept Christ and are discipled. These six gather to form the basis of a new church.

For many people, one of the primary arguments against strategy development is it appears to eliminate the direction of the Holy Spirit. I totally disagree with that premise. I can clearly see the Holy Spirit leading the missionary every step along the way, as well as preparing the hearts of unbelievers to receive the Good News of salvation.

It should cause no confusion to think the Holy Spirit does direct His people, even in the development and execution of a good strategy. The fact is, only under the leadership of the Holy Spirit do we at IM dare undertake the enormous task of preparing a strategy to “labor with the Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission.“

This is part five in a series of five posts. Begin at the beginning here.

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STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Simplified Strategy, Part 2

Clint Morgan

STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Simplified Strategy, Part 2

In the last blog, we looked at the launching point of our simplified strategy: finding those places where people already meet or creating a reason for people to come together.

If we have many meeting places but do not move to the next step, we have not accomplished our mission. Let’s move on to the other elements of the simplified strategy.

            RELATIONSHIPS: Meeting people is never meant to be an end in itself. We will seek to build relationships with people we meet through the various programs, activities, and meeting points. Some relationships will grow deeper and open other opportunities. At times, these relationships may appear to be the end within themselves. Loving and caring for people is right, even if the person never accepts Christ.

            MINISTERING: Through our relationships, we will discover the real and felt needs of people. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and in consultation with our team members, we will minister to the people to whom God has called us by meeting their needs. Our acts of kindness with humility and joy will be a shining and real example of God’s love and care for those lives we touch.

            WITNESSING: We know that every relationship will not develop into a witnessing opportunity. However, we are convinced through deep relationships we can find a means to minister to the real needs of people. We want all witnessing to be completely Spirit led. Through ministering, we often earn the privilege of sharing our faith. Ministering without witnessing is a half accomplished task and vice versa.

            DISCIPLING: The goal of witnessing is to see people come to Christ. Once a person has committed to following Him, we engage in an ongoing discipleship to ensure they are founded in the Word and their life is a reflection of Christ through daily obedience to the direction of the Holy Spirit. This part of the process

            GATHERING: We believe a gathering of believers will emerge as they are properly discipled. The context in which the ‘gathering’ takes place will greatly determine the practical application of biblical truths. We do not see it is necessary to push believers into western patterns of worship and service. We will set up structures that will allow them to gather and express their faith in a contextualized manner without compromising biblical principles.

Part four in a series of five posts

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STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Simplified Strategy, Part 1

Clint Morgan

STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Simplified Strategy, Part 1

sixptstrategyAfter prayer and discussion, we came up with six strategic tasks to which to commit (demonstrated in the graph).

How does this work out in day-to-day ministry on the mission field? Let’s take a brief look at each of the tasks.

MEETING PLACES: One of the fundamental steps in missions is meeting people. To do this, we must do one of two things: go where people meet or create a reason for people to come together. Our programs, ministries, and daily activities serve as a means to encounter as many people as possible.

Simply going to a restaurant, café, shop, community center, etc. is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The primary reason for meeting people at their established meeting places is to seek to develop an ongoing relationship with them.

Christ and the Apostles provided clear, biblical examples this strategy. I doubt they sat down and drew up a strategy, simple or complex, but we can learn from their actions. One study indicates that of Jesus’ 132 public appearances, 122 were in places people gathered. Of the 52 parables He told, 45 had a workplace context. We see this practice continued by the Apostles—they performed 39 miracles performed in places frequented by the public. We should feel the liberty to continue this pattern of meeting people in public places today.

Part three in a series of five posts

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STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Plans/Strategies

Clint Morgan

STRATEGY AND MISSIONS: Plans/Strategies

I had just finished years of preparation and, all along the way, was told just how important strategies were in mission work. In our last phase of training, Missionary Internship in Detroit, Michigan, we received multiple lessons on strategy development. Why in the world would missionaries not want to talk about strategy?

After some in-depth discussions with missionaries who had been on the field for several terms, I began to understand the issue. Young missionaries were coming out with talk about strategy as if it was a new invention and older staff members were left feeling they knew nothing.

I hope I did not come across as arrogant, but I probably did. Sometimes our best intentions get sideswiped by previous experiences and preconceived ideas. This meant we had to slow down, have in-depth discussions, and proceed with unity of spirit.

I asked a straightforward question of one of the missionaries I knew had an aversion to strategies. I asked simply, “Do you have a plan for reaching the villages in this area with the gospel?” He responded, “Of course I do.” At that moment I realized one of the main obstacles in this discussion was terminology. Both groups were saying the same thing, but using different words. Did we really need to insist on using the word strategy? Should we not be willing to contextualize (another missiological principle) and go with the word plan?

In all honesty, it took another 10 years before the word strategy became acceptable nomenclature. But, until that time, we did just fine talking about our plans to reach the unreached.

No matter what term you choose to use, the essential point is to have a plan or strategy to complete your role in fulfilling the Great Commission.

First of five in a series

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Is There a Cause?

Danny Williams

Is There a Cause?

The year was 1836. Inside the small, Spanish mission we know as the Alamo was a group of fewer than 200 men. For 12 days, they had been under siege by a 5,000-strong force of Mexican soldiers led by Dictator/General Santa Anna. According to legend, on the night before the Alamo would fall Lt. Colonel William Travis removed his sword from its sheath and drew a line in the sand. He challenged all who were willing to fight to the death to step across the line with him. Almost every man did, and almost every one of them died in the attack. They chose to die—for the cause of Texas independence, some out of loyalty for their leader. They believed the cause was worth the ultimate sacrifice.

In 1 Samuel 17, David demonstrated the same concept. Having heard the blasphemous mockery of Goliath, David questioned why no Israelite soldier had stepped up to fight the giant who defied the living God. When chided and criticized by his own brother, David asked, “Is there not a cause?” He believed the name and reputation of the Lord was a cause worth risking his life.

Do we have such a cause today? I suggest the New Testament makes it abundantly clear we do. Mark 16:15 commands believers to “go into all the world and preach the gospel….” The Great Commission is repeated four other times. The Lord’s final command is to be our foremost cause. Nothing should unify and rally our people, our churches, and our denomination more than the cause of world evangelism.

During my tenure on the FWBIM Board, I have prayed that we as Free Will Baptists would become focused on reaching our dark world with the light of the gospel. I have asked the Lord to stir our hearts for a lost world to the point where our energy and resources are used for declaring the truth rather than debating our preferences. Oh, how I long for our denomination to demonstrate the Great Commission is our priority! What are we willing to sacrifice, commit, or risk to make it so? Is there not a cause?

 

Danny Williams concluded 14 years on the Board of International Missions In July 2016.

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The Spirit of “Yes”

Danny Williams

The Spirit of “Yes”

One of the great “missions” verses in the Bible is Isaiah 6:8. God asked, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I, send me.”

We all have heard or even preached the verse ourselves as a challenge to say “yes” to missionary service. The challenge is appropriate, but is the spirit of Isaiah’s response accurate? His “yes” is often presented as one of confidence, courage, and eagerness; like a soldier volunteering for a special assignment for his commanding officer.

Upon a closer look at the context of the chapter, I think we find a different spirit; one which is rare but valuable in impacting an unsaved world. Isaiah had just seen the holy, sovereign God on the heavenly throne. That vision enabled Isaiah to see himself as the undone and unclean man he was. With a refreshing honesty, he found cleansing through contrition and repentance.

It is at this point in the account God, seeking someone to go, asked His question. Knowing the events of the chapter, I am sure Isaiah’s reply was with a humble and broken spirit. He recognized his inadequacy and felt his unworthiness.

Yet, without pretense or arrogance, Isaiah said “yes” because he was honored to go on behalf of the Holy One who cleansed and called him. Evidently, this is exactly the kind of messenger the Lord wanted because the very next word from God is, “Go…”

As a member of the FWBIM Board for the last 14 years, I have had the blessed privilege to interview numerous missionary candidates and observe many career missionaries. Some understandably demonstrate excitement, eagerness, and confidence. These attributes, however, do not necessarily guarantee success. God wants to use those who say “yes” with meekness, as servants obeying the Master to whom they owe so much. They are often the ones who persevere despite the difficulties and the dry, lean times.

A “yes” from a broken, humble, clean, and grateful heart is just what is needed to impact this dark world.

Danny Williams concluded 14 years on the Board of International Missions in July 2016.

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Moving Forward…In His Time

Clint Morgan

Moving Forward…In His Time

THEME VIII: PRAYING FOR A VISION FOR THE FUTURE 
(NOT OF THE FUTURE)

DAY 30: Moving Forward…in His Time

Have you ever wondered how Jesus felt at the end of His 40-day fast? Did He think, “Whew, I am glad that is over?" I really don’t think so. I lean more to the possibility that He was pulled by a deep desire to continue. What changes did He experience in His relationship with His Father during that period of time? Did He walk away from that place looking back over His shoulder with a longing to never forget that experience? (Of course, He never would.) 

As we look back to the reasons for this extended period of concentrating on our relationship with Him we must ask ourselves, “was it worth it?” I am quite certain the answer to that is a resounding “yes,” both now and in the future.

Do you remember the objectives for this effort? We must move forward believing…

  1. God has planted in the hearts of our FWB people His view of the world.
  2. God has and will continue to raise our level of commitment to reaching the lost to the point that full obedience will mark our lives.
  3. God will call more workers and each one will respond in the affirmative.                     
  4. We will know precisely where God wants us to send workers.
  5. We will be the kind of mission agency that truly responds to the needs of the world in which we live. 
  6. We will know the collaborative role we must have with our maturing national churches.
  7. We will acquire the necessary personnel, materials, and funding to properly resource our ministries.
  8. We have a clear vision for the future of mission work for FWB and prepare for it .

As we come to the end of this special time I hope…

  • It was a spiritually uplifting period in your life. 
  • You are looking back over your shoulder and longing to never forget this experience. 
  • Free Will Baptists will rise up and see a mighty movement of God’s hand among us and among all those to whom He sends us. 
  • We will have a clear and concise vision of His plans for us.
  • We will embrace this vision and rise to the challenge of seeing it come to fruition. 

May God grant that these days linger in our memories as a milestone for us personally, for International Missions, our national churches, and the advancement of His Kingdom. Eternity will reveal the lasting results of the 30 Days of Prayer and Fasting. 

Pray we will follow Christ’s call to “go into all the world” in total obedience to His leading and timing.

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