“You have one business on earth – to save souls.” ~ John Wesley
It was near Itigi, in central Tanzania, that I encountered a young pastor with a distinctive scar which traversed its way from his hairline through the pit of where his right eye had been. When I asked him about it, he shared with me a story which profoundly impacted my view on Christian leadership, church missions and the purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
His story began with the phrase “When I became a man, I wanted to see how big the world was…” As a young man in his tribe, never having attended any form of formalized schooling, the “world” was as far as he could see or as distant as he had ever traveled. He set out on a journey to find out just how big the world really was. Several weeks into his walkabout, he found a man – Bishop Williams Yindi, Founder of Unreached People’s Mission (UPM). Bishop Yindi shared the gospel with the young man and invited him to his home and ministry school. The young man stayed with UPM for one year. At the conclusion of his time there, he knew the gospel needed to get back to his village.
He proceeded to retrace his path back to his community and upon arrival, he immediately visited the witch doctor’s hut. When he shared the “good news” of Jesus with the shaman, the witch doctor swiftly grabbed a spear and jabbed it into his right eye. When he slumped to the ground, the witch doctor proclaimed, “his body is not worthy to be burned nor buried, take him and feed him to the animals.” The young man’s family was then left with the responsibility of carrying his lifeless body to an area where lions were known to feed. They left him to be consumed.
Sometime later, he miraculously awakened, got up, dusted himself off and returned to the witch doctor’s hut and proclaimed, “You have killed me, but my God has raised me again!”
This young pastor looked at me with his one eye, with a depth of conviction I’ve rarely witnessed, and stated “And now, Praise God, there are 34 people in my village who are saved and going to heaven and it only cost me one eye!”
“We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” ~ Oswald J. Smith
It was in this moment that my faith was shaken to the core. The “good news” to this young pastor meant something entirely different than it did for me. He was willing, and he was grateful. He placed a value on 34 souls that was greater than half his vision. His desperation and urgency for the salvation of his people created a boldness that belied his youth and ushered in a miracle of healing that was of Biblical proportions.
Shortly after returning home from this trip, I was invited to a discussion which bantered about the semantics of faith. Much of the discussion was focused on the innovative ways that churches can disciple the churched, which is a vital subject matter, however, it lacked the passion and fervency of hearing from the frontlines of faith. I thank God for those on the frontlines of faith, where Christianity is argued for, stood for, sacrificed for and is riding on the backs of modern-day heroes of the faith. Still, these saints need the innovative models and plans of discipleship many American churches have developed to accompany their already developed zeal for soul winning.
Currently on earth there are approximately 2+ billion Christians and 5+ billion people which are not. There is a field ripe for the harvest, and there are those whose call is to labor among the 5 billion, to present a timeless gospel, in culturally relevant ways, and to serve as the vanguard of our faith.
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”~ John Piper
This is how your church can participate in missions: Pray, Give & Go.
Missionaries on the frontlines of faith need your prayers! In my experience, the greatest missionaries value your prayer over your dollar. There are missionaries everywhere: In your Community – get to know them and pray for them. In your Region and Nation – develop relationships and pray for them. Globally – develop partnerships and pray for them.
Your financial gifts make it possible for missionaries to create new locales daily, from where the aroma of worship is filling heaven. The giving of financial resources, containers of supplies, teaching materials and more, equip, empower and release these men and women of God to win for the Kingdom of God.
Go! Go to your community, get out of the church and go. Go regionally and participate. Go globally, work alongside world-changers for a week and allow your heart to be challenged and renewed with passion for the Great Commission of Christ. Bring your anointing and systems of ministry to help the Church in developing areas disciple new believers most effectively.
“If you take missions out of the Bible, you won’t have anything left but the covers.”~Nina Gunter
The Bible is much more than a self-help manual or history book. It is God’s plan for humanity; it is the expressed love of Jesus for mankind. It is the irrevocable truth for eternal salvation. It is to be shared externally by people whose lives have been changed internally. Today it is being smuggled over mountain passes into closed countries, being written on prison walls by persecuted Christians, and shared in cramped, hushed house churches around the world. My challenge to you is to take some time this week and evaluate your efforts to deploy the greatest piece of information any human will ever hear to your community, our nation and around the world.
**For more information about ImagineNations and how you can get involved, please visit the website imaginenations.world
*ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 2019 DESTINY MAGAZINE, SPRING
As the Executive Director of ImagineNations, Pastor Mike Acosta works to equip and empower Christian leaders globally and develop the next generation of faith through education and engagement. Serving as the Executive Pastor of Ministries for Grace Church in Northeast Houston, Pastor Mike oversees the ministries of all campuses.