John Stumbo Video Blog No. 67

February 12, 2019

11:44

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This month John is speaking from Guinea, where the Alliance national church is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. In 1919, the year Alliance founder A. B. Simpson died, the first Alliance church in West Africa was established in a Guinean village—37 years after Simpson had sent missionaries to Africa, of whom 30 died during that timeframe. Scores of missionaries followed to serve in Guinea and several other West African countries where some of our strongest Alliance churches are today. Simpson didn’t live to see it. “Will we invest our lives in that which outlives us?” John asks. If our work is “gospel-centered, biblically based, church-focused ministry as we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, our work is going to last . . . this is the Alliance story; it doesn’t end with Simpson because it started in the heart of God.”

Transcript

Hey, Alliance family. Welcome to another video blog. This month I have a story to tell and a question to ask. But first, I need to thank those of you who have participated in our Year-End Offering. You’ve heard that we have nearly 60 new workers that are ready to go and serve Christ to some of the most least- reached places on the planet, and yet that we started the fiscal year a million dollars behind. So, we’ve got this challenge before us right now, and many of you are rising to it. Some people to send, not enough money to send them—but you’re stepping forward and you participated in the Year-End. And so, I want to thank you for that and ask you that that would continue, because we still have some distance to travel in that need that we have. So, however you would promote that in your own prayers, pulpits, and own personal giving—much gratitude from us for that.

I should share with you the setting in which this video blog comes from. I am in the beautiful country of Guinea, West Africa, because this is the 100-year celebration of the national church of Guinea. This is a beautiful expression of the Body of Christ. Nearly 100,000 people strong with a passion for reaching more of their own nation for Jesus. They’re having three anniversary celebrations in various cities. We’ve participated in all of them, going from city to city, actually driving across the entire width of this country to do so, and it’s been joyful to be with our IWs [international workers], get to know national church leaders. And you haven’t heard “Send the Light” sung until you’ve heard it from a Guinean youth choir with great joy and enthusiasm.

So, we’re here in Guinea to celebrate with the national church. But while we are here, I have learned better the Alliance story, which I want to tell you now. Many of you can guess where it begins—1881. Dr. Simpson resigns from his very prestigious position and lucrative salary in New York City and walks into the great unknown. And you may remember that one of the very first things that he does is launch a magazine called The Word, The Work and The World that still exists today as the Alliance Life. In the very first issue of The Word, The Work and The World, January 1882, Simpson writes of this vast region from West to East Africa where the gospel has still not been taken. He’s aware that there’s some work on the coastal regions of Africa, but the vast interior is still completely unevangelized, and he writes with passion. He writes with good demographics. He writes with zeal and vision—January 1882.

Within eight years he was able to send . . . The newly formed Christian and Missionary Alliance was able to send missionaries to what is known as Sierra Leone. The dream was that this would be the entry point into what is French-speaking Africa. The mission station was established in Sierra Leone. Eight missionaries established that station, but three died within the first three months of their arrival. Yet, the goal continued to use that as their beginning place to get into West Africa. And the dream was called the Niger Vision. If Simpson and the early Alliance missionaries could find the headwaters of the Niger River, we could use that as our access point to much of the interior of West Africa and establish lighthouses along the Niger and many of its tributary rivers. This was the dream—the Niger Vision.

One problem—the French government wouldn’t allow us access. Numerous times, teams went from Sierra Leone into Guinea and to try to get permission from the French government, and time after time they were refused. On at least one occasion, they went all the way to Paris and pursued governmental position from there, and each time they were rejected. That jumps our story all the way to 1918, the end of World War I—the political winds changed, and there was now an openness to the work of The Alliance by some members of the French government. And so, seizing the opportunity, two of our missionaries in 1918 made a trek across the mountains, walked into Guinea and went to 20 villages in 15 days preaching the gospel from town to town. One of those villages, Baro, seemed to be marked by men of peace that welcomed them into the village. And so, our first mission station in French-speaking Africa was the village of Baro. And by 1919, our first church in West Africa was established right there in that village of Baro.

Do you know what else happened in 1919? Many of you do. Dr. Simpson passed away. He breathed his last, went home to glory. The year that the church is planted in West Africa is the year that Dr. Simpson passes—37 years after he first made the cry and the appeal for taking the gospel to the interior, 37 years of praying, 37 years of sending, 37 years of fundraising, 37 years of perseverance, 37 years of missionaries dying—30 of our missionaries would die during that timeframe.

Yes, work was done in the meantime. They weren’t just waiting. There were churches that were established throughout Sierra Leone that we eventually actually passed off to another mission as our focus went to West, French-speaking Africa. And from that village of Baro, in the 20 years that followed, 27 missionary stations would be established by The Alliance. Dozens and dozens of missionaries would rise for the challenge all the way, not only throughout much of Guinea but into Mali, Burkina Faso, and Cote d’Ivoire. And you know how the rest of that story is developed. Some of our strongest Christian and Missionary Alliance churches now are within those countries, and Simpson didn’t live to see a day of it.

That leads me to my question: Will we invest our lives in that which outlives us? Will we give ourselves to those things that it doesn’t matter if we’re around or not? What we’re doing is so biblically based, church-based, gospel-centric that it’s going to continue. See, this is The Alliance story, isn’t it? It doesn’t end with Simpson, because it didn’t start with Simpson. It started in the heart of God, who has said very clear that His gospel was to be taken to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. And in this particular story, to be taken to all nations, beginning at Baro. And so it is that I am here celebrating with the national church this 100-year story.

But in that story, I’m also witnessing the continued work of our Alliance family. National church [and] international workers partnering together to reach the still-to-be-reached people groups in this country of Guinea. There’re 10 unreached people groups that the national church is now sending missionaries to with some encouragement and aid from our team. We have been here during the Ebola crisis, ministered to families after that crisis, stayed with CAMA Services, and now we’re involved in AG kind of work—agriculture work—and also ministering to the national church in conferences and other ways through CAMA. We have a team working with some of the least-reached people groups of West Africa at our young adult and student English center. We have Bible translation taking place among a still-to-be-reached people group that doesn’t have the full Bible in their language. The book of Psalms is just about ready to come out through the work of our Bible translating missionary.

On the list goes of discipleship, evangelism, the encouragement of the church through our international worker team that you continue to support that I am proud of and I’m getting to know this week. So, the work continues. It continues, actually, very strongly here in Guinea.

And I’m coming to ask us—what are we investing in today that will outlive us? If it’s gospel-centered, biblically based, church-focused ministry as we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, I’m not hoping that everything that we invest in right now will have a 100-year history. Some of it has a shorter lifespan and should, but I am believing that as we give ourselves to Kingdom work, that our work is going to last, because it is Christ Himself who said, “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

So, all too soon, our time in Guinea comes to a close. It’s been full of rich experiences, fascinating conversations, some opportunities to share my own story. And, for me, to wrap up this video blog would be wrong without giving a word of testimonial, that over 30 years ago when my wife and I were a young couple and preparing for ministry, we thought that God might be calling us to Guinea, West Africa—that this would be the place that we would spend our lifetime of service. I wrote my area study on Guinea. We had done all the missions preparations. We’re approved candidates. We’re ready to go when a variety of things happen, including our daughter being born with a medically fragile condition that kept us from being able to come to this land. And over three decades later, the first time I set foot on Guinean soil, I found this to be a personal experience of getting to live out a longtime dream.

But the bigger story is the story of this whole video blog, that in the end God is at work in this world building His Church. Sometimes we get to be part of that on the front end, sometimes we get to be part of that on the midstream, sometimes late in the story. Simpson, 37 years of praying, sending, giving . . . And then the reality begins to unfold for us coming in very late into the story and just joining in at this moment in time.

But friends, wherever you are in the storyline that God is writing in your life, would you offer yourself to Him anew today and trust Him that His Kingdom is being built through you in your ministry situation as we give ourselves to those things that outlast us? God bless you, Alliance family.

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