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We Will Reach

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“As a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family, together we will Love, Proclaim, Reach, and Launch.” This sentence captures my focus and priorities as I lead The Christian and Missionary Alliance family at this critical moment in our history.

I realize that I’m not calling us to something new. It could be argued that the C&MA has always been about loving, proclaiming, reaching, and launching. However, I am calling us to a greater level of clarity and engagement in what we do.

The C&MA has long been motivated by Jesus’ promise that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matt. 24:14). As the 12th president of the U. S. C&MA, I desire that together we’ll press even further toward completing this mission.

To consider this third section, Reach, may God grant us eyes to see people on the move, people of all ages, and people lacking access.

People on the Move

In these latter times, the world is experiencing an upheaval among the human race. A reshuffling of the planet’s populations is taking place. How is it that so many people find themselves so far from home and all that is familiar?

The United Nations Relief Agency estimates that 1 out of every 122 persons living today is classified as a refugee or internally displaced person (IDP), having fled his or her home but without crossing a national border. Throughout human history, people have had to escape their homes or their homelands. The ancient children of Israel, more than once, were among these. And today, despite all the supposed advances in technology and in society, the tumultuous world we live in only seems to create more chaos and reasons for people to become uprooted.

Groups of people who have had to flee from one region or country to another are often referred to as “diaspora” (which comes from the idea of “being dispersed”). Our message to people of the diaspora is: God has moved you that you might find Him. (See Acts 17:24–28.)

Reach is a people-based view of the world rather than a border-based view. We’re moving into an era in Alliance thought when we’ll focus less on geographical borders and boundaries and more on groups of people—wherever they are to be found. This will shape much of our strategy in the years to come.

Last fall my wife and I had the privilege of visiting our team in southern France that is supported by the Great Commission Fund. There, we were honored to meet Syrian refugees who had just arrived in Europe after a difficult multi-year, multi-national journey. The refugees received us graciously, but undercurrents of suspicion and weariness couldn’t be hidden. Gently and respectfully, our team has befriended these war-ravaged families.

Months of relational investment have led to a growing trust. This past Christmas our team in France planned an outreach event for these families, unsure if any of them would be willing to come to a Christian church. One of our Alliance churches in France served as host. To our team’s delight, more than 70 people came, and others desired to come who could not get transportation. Food was shared, as was the gospel.

One of the attendees was overheard marveling, “Look how those Christians welcome us, take care of us, and how they love us!”

Please don’t see people on the move through international eyes only. Our own nation continues to be shaped by the movements of people. As new residents arrive in your town or region, please have eyes to see them. Please hear God’s heart in passages like Deuteronomy 10:19—“And you are to love those who are aliens.”

The prophet Zechariah was given an interesting assignment one day. Religiously faithful people wondered if they should continue an annual fast they had honored since the destruction of the holy temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah let them know that their religious devotion wasn’t worth much because they had missed the greater expressions of what God desired. Specifically, they were to administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien [the stranger, sojourner, or immigrant] or the poor (Zech. 7:9–10).

May we not hide behind our religious expressions—well intended though they be—while neglecting that which is close to His heart. Instead, may God increasingly use the Alliance family to reach people on the move.

People of All Ages

I fear that too often in The Christian and Missionary Alliance we have looked right over those in wheelchairs and anyone under four-and-a-half feet tall.

Certain sectors of any society can become invisible; the disabled and children are two of them.

You could add to that list of “the invisibles” among us: immigrants, international students, the incarcerated, “returning citizens” (inmates just released—for some, their sentence starts when they get out of prison), the deaf community, etc. I’m calling this sub point “people of all ages” for the sake of simplicity, but in so doing, I’m challenging us to lift our eyes and lower our eyes to truly see who is around us.

The 4/14 Window is a phrase used to describe children between the ages of 4 and 14. Our children’s ministry specialist, Melissa (Mel) McDonald, author of Missing: An Urgent Call for the Church to Rescue Kids, will tell you that nearly 85 percent of Americans who make a decision for Christ do so between the ages of 4 and 14.

Approximately 1 in 5 Americans is under age 15 (63 million)—that’s a lot of future drivers and a lot of ministry opportunity. Meanwhile, the global numbers are staggering, with 2.3 billion people under the age of 18 on the planet.

I hope that someone reading this will commit to do a Backyard Bible Club this summer or provide a scholarship to a neighborhood youth to attend one of our Alliance camps. Our camps provide fantastic ministry, and it saddens me to think of an empty bunk that could have housed a child from your community who may have missed a chance for an eternity-changing experience.

Clubs and camps are only two examples of ministry to kids. Have Mel come to your region, and she’ll help you strategize. And, kids are only one example of this call to reach people of all ages.

World demographics indicate that we’d better get serious about engaging the senior population. People are living longer and thereby have more opportunities for Kingdom service.

Our four Alliance retirement centers provide excellent physical and spiritual care for those under their watch. But it’s not enough. May we be a family of churches that reaches every age group and all the “invisibles” of our society.

People Lacking Access

Harry Turner served as the C&MA president starting in 1954. He astutely observed in his first Council Report, “In our foreign work, we have too long and too often measured our success in missionary endeavor by a statistical record of converts and baptisms. The proper criterion of success is: what have we done to plant an indigenous church?”

This is us. This is what we do. The C&MA builds the Church. And we have a 129-year history of being willing to do so in hard places. Time after time, God has used us to build the Church where it had never before existed.

It doesn’t always have The Christian and Missionary Alliance name on it, and that’s fine. Our goal isn’t to extend the name of The Alliance but the name of Jesus and to do so by establishing the Church. The Church is Christ’s idea, His creation. The Church is the New Testament method. It has proven endurance. We’re committed to establishing the Church—here in the United States and wherever our Lord sends us.

There are still more than 4,000 peoples with little or no access to the gospel and few, if any, churches among them. We’re currently working among 70 of these peoples, and we have a heart—not the resources, yet—but a heart to do more. It agonizes me to know that we are in proximity to approximately 20 more of the world’s least-reached peoples, but we don’t have the funds to send the team needed to reach them.

Here’s the simplest way I can explain lack of access: In the United States, to find someone who could tell you about a relationship with the Savior, you’d have to knock on a half dozen doors—depending on your region of the country. So, if you knocked on a door every 15 minutes, within an hour and a half or so, statistically you should be able to find someone who knows Jesus.

In post-Christian Europe, you’d have to knock on a door every 15 minutes for a day and a half.

However, in places like North Africa where we have teammates supported by the Great Commission Fund, you’d have to knock on a door every 15 minutes, 8 hours a day, 365 days a year for 3 years before you could find a Christ follower.

This is what we mean when we talk about people lacking access. Quite likely there is no church in their city, the Bible has not yet been translated or is banned, and the opportunity to hear of Christ is almost nonexistent unless someone—Romans-10 style—comes from the outside to share. Unless they meet a foreigner who knows Jesus, they won’t meet anyone who knows Jesus.

As our team in Gabon championed for years: the gospel for every person, a church for every people!

Reach: people on the move, people of all ages, people lacking access—Dr. Simpson, our founder and first president, didn’t use these exact words. But in his first issue of this magazine (then called The Word, the Work, and the World), he did issue this kind of a call. He noted that “half a million emigrants will reach Castle Garden this year . . . within reach of our religious influence.” He painfully observed that “there are armies of young men brought up by godly parents who never go to church.” He, with the voice of a prophet, decried that “the church has lost her motherhood and her care for the lost; the bride has ceased to say COME in any way that reaches these . . . wandering ones.”

Reach. It’s what The Christian and Missionary Alliance has always been called to do. This remains our call. This is our privilege. Let’s rise to this privileged call with increasing passion.

1 response to We Will Reach

  1. Please, please consider reaching the Jewish people in the US and abroad as an unreached people group as A B Simpson considered them a priority.

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