Focus – A covenant for the Church
by Ted Horwood, Captain –
When God commissioned Abram 4,000 years ago, he put into motion his expressed will of world evangelism. It’s recorded in Genesis 12:1-3. Although this is spoken to one man, it was through Abram (later called Abraham) that God’s mission to all mankind would be accomplished. One man of faith, believing that God wanted all the people on earth to be reached with his glory and blessed by his goodness, obediently set out to be a “blessing to all the nations.”
The covenant between God and Abraham was not for one man only, however. According to Paul (Gal. 3:14), that same blessing comes to each of us who are in Christ. We—as the Church—have the commission “to be a blessing . . . that all the nations would be blessed through us.” The responsibility of reaching the nations falls on the shoulders of the Church. We (the Church) are the vehicle by which God has ordained the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Bearing in mind the goal of world evangelism, it is helpful to understand the task yet to be completed.
The concept of a “10/40 Window” has brought new awareness to the plight of 2.7 billion “unreached” people. These are people who do not have an evangelical indigenous body of believers in their country. The “window” is an imaginary box drawn between 10 and 40 degrees latitude, north of the equator. It encompasses part or all of 62 countries in Africa, Asia and a portion of Europe. Eighty-two percent of the world’s poorest live there. Twenty-three countries there have a per-capita gross national income of under $500. And, 29 countries with the lowest quality of life (commonly ranked on the United Nation’s Misery Index) are located in the 10/40 Window.
The challenge for Salvationists in the Western Territory is to determine how we can be relevant in God’s mission to the world. How can we be a “blessing to all the nations?” Fortunately, we have a variety of options open to us.
Within our own structure, we have Army ministries in almost half the countries of the world. As an organization, we are unique, because we function on the two primary levels of missionary activities. We do traditional evangelistic work such as church planting, open-air ministries and Bible teaching.
And the Army is very effective at transformational development work. These are ministry activities that take the form of hospitals, schools, HIV/AIDS programs and the like. The two levels of ministry are critically important, because many territories operate in countries that do not have the freedom of expression or assembly we enjoy here, and are constrained by Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist laws or traditions. Many territories are terribly affected by civil wars within their borders and function under extreme hardships. Prayer and financial support to any of these countries have innumerable value. Also, this territory has new and very generous guidelines for sending lay missionaries abroad. People willing to commit between 6 and 24 months have more opportunities than ever before—over 66 jobs in 40 countries are immediately available. Out-side our organizational structures there are hundreds of organizations willing to send people to countries where the gospel has never penetrated.
The primary challenge, however, is not getting people to go; rather it is getting people to sense God’s heart for those without him. More particularly, God’s heart for people who have the least opportunity to know him, glorify him, and be blessed by him. I sense God expressing his heart in Luke 6:20-26 (NKJV). “Blessed are you poor . . . Blessed are you who hunger . . . Blessed are you who weep.” Referring to a nation needing to be re-directed toward him, God asked, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Referring to those who had yet to hear the gospel, Paul asked, “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach if no one is sent?”
The covenant with Abraham is the covenant God has maintained throughout history with people of faith. The blessing God has given to us is intended to be shared. I believe William Booth captured this truth in The Founder’s Song (#298):
“The whole world redeeming, so rich and so free.
Now flowing for all men, come roll over me.”
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