October 10, 2011

Get the Big Picture of the World Harvest

On page 14 of Missions in the Third millennium by Stan Guthrie in a chapter about national workers, he is quoting Lewis Codington of CLC International to point out a problem of national workers.
"For one thing, local workers have a different perspective. 'The most serious problem we encounter is a lack of world vision ... When people are going back and forth to work in their own country and their entire world consists of what they see on their trip back and forth to work, they can lose sight of the bigger picture, and we find that there is a lack of awareness of the world harvest, which foreign missionaries tend to see much more clearly.'"
I'm glad this point was brought up, because it is a very valid point. Unfortunately, most Christians, even those involved in ministry, do lack a horizon that gives them an understanding of God's global plan. Let's say there is a pastor of a church in south India and he notices that only about half of his congregants have a Bible of their own. He may want to request more Bibles for them, because he sees the need. However, little does he know, there's a similar church in China that only has 3 Bibles for all 100 congregants. This pastor also requests the extra Bibles. Who do you think the Bibles should go to? Now, the pastor in south India was only doing what he knew was right, because all he knew was that in the area he was ministering, he saw a need. Hopefully, if he was told about the need in China, he would gracefully revoke his request, because his horizon would be expanded.
It would be a wonderful world if when Christians are made aware of all the needs in the world, they are willing to adjust their own needs to meet the biggest needs worldwide. 2 Corinthians 8:14 "At the present time your plenty will supply what they need so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality." Also, Acts 4:35 "and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." This concept doesn't only apply to money distribution, but worker distribution.
I recently heard an American missionary report to his home church about his work in Tanzania. I would say that he did a good job of doing research ahead of time and finding an unreached area. He proceeded to reach out in that area and plant a small church there. Wonderful. Now he has his eye set on a few surrounding villages. Good as well. But then, he was asking at his home church that if anyone was wanting to get involved in missions, this is a great opportunity to come to the mission field and help reach out to these other villages. Problem. First of all, he should be making disciples of the new converts. Perhaps some of them could be trained to go as missionaries. Or, he could hook up with other ministries in the area that have national missionaries ready to go reach them. But even if those options weren't available, the missionary recruit from the home church probably shouldn't pack up and move to Africa. Chances are, there's a more needy location elsewhere in the world where the missionary recruit could go. In Tanzania the ratio for the original missionary to unreached villages would be 1 missionary for 3 unreached villages. That's not a bad ratio.  Perhaps it could be a good training ground for the missionary recruit, but for the long term, the new recruit would be better off going to a place where there's 20 unreached villages he can reach out to. Although, again, in that situation, you need to assess to see if there are national believers that can reach out to them.
Ayy, missions can get a little complicated and formulaic can't it?
One last good point I wanted to bring up was a story I heard of an American woman who is in Nigeria, not as a missionary, but as a teacher of the Perspectives course. Nigeria has a strong Christian population with the ability to do great things in the Great Commission. So, she's over there teaching leaders and missionaries to have a better perspective on God's global plan. After the course, they will surely have a better world vision if they didn't already have it. They will be more ready than ever to reach out to the Muslim tribes of northern Nigeria and nearby lands as well.
If you are involved in missions or even ministry in any capacity, please, take the horse blinders off.

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