I'm going to break a rule with this letter. If you know me, then that may not surprise you.
The "experts" say just tell people one thing and ask them for help in one area. But, my heart is tremendously excited and deeply burdened at the same time. So, I'm going to take a chance that you'll read this whole letter, understand my heart and respond in any way the Lord leads.
THE TREMENDOUS EXCITEMENT
We just concluded our Worldlink June Board Meeting and I was able to report that we have 325 Indigenous Missionary Partners bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to their neighbors in 32 of the world's most difficult countries. As a result of their ministry in the past 12 months, 42,577 people indicated that they made a faith decision to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. That excites me!
These results are only because God moved. He moved in the hearts of people, inspiring them to pray. He moved in the hearts of people, leading them to serve. He moved in the hearts of people, drawing them to respond to the message of the Gospel. He moved in the hearts of people, compelling them to sacrificially support this work. It has been our joy and privilege to be a link in the chain of God's movement.
I will tell you in a moment about my excitement concerning our 2016–17 Ministry Year that starts on July 1, but first let me tell you about some of the new believers.
Many of these new Christians are from tribes or religions that persecute them when they profess faith in Jesus. Such is the case with a group of young men from a South Asian country that has less than 1/2 of 1% Christians. I spent several days with these young men a few months ago and have been in touch with their mentor who is one of our partners named Suman.
A number of years ago, Suman left his tribe for education and heard, for the first time, about Jesus. Over a short time, he learned more and ultimately accepted Jesus as his Savior. He knew that nobody in his tribe in the forested villages had ever heard of Christ, so he got a Bible education before going back to his people with the message that had saved him and could save them.
Suman and New Christians
The fruit of his ministry over the past several years includes the 30 or so young men I met and an equal number of young women who have come to faith but must remain “secret believers” because of the persecution. In addition, six of these young people have become the next generation of Indigenous Missionaries reaching their tribal villages. They are passionately in love with and committed to Jesus. They want others to be the same. I am humbled to be their friend and partner.
The experience of these frontline first-generation Christians parallels the experience of the early New Testament church as they brought the Good News to people who had never heard.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were seized by the religious/cultural officials because they were teaching people about Jesus. Peter and John were put in prison and, the next day, given a chance to explain their teaching. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they gave clear defense of their faith in Christ.
It was at that point that we read, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)
The simple and courageous faith of uneducated and ordinary people so confounded the learned leaders that it gave clear evidence that they had been with Jesus.
That same thing is happening today.
On May 26, 2016, five of the remarkable young Christian men that I had met were hauled before their village leaders, with many people watching, to give a defense of their new Christian faith that they were sharing in the villages. It could have gone horribly wrong and led to great persecution.
I received an urgent prayer request from Suman when he heard that the boys were summoned. He wrote (I will share his exact words although English is not his native language), "we are all praying for these five that, they may able to stand with the power of the Holy Spirit to their village people and praying for God's glory to reveal among that village people."
We all prayed and God answered.
After the meeting, Suman wrote to me,
"The meeting was good. Their discussion was also good, though the villages people don't want to adopt Christianity right now, still some people was positive in Christianity and as well our five Christian brother has spoked by humility with them... I believe that God is working and helping us. These are happening because of your kindness prayer. Thank you so much for your loving kindness prayer."
The simple and courageous faith of uneducated and ordinary people so confounded the leaders that it gave clear evidence that they had been with Jesus. Simple Christians living with Jesus and serving him is what Worldlink is all about.
Did you notice what Suman said about the villagers? They "don't want to adopt Christianity right now”. That is a hope-filled and faith-filled statement echoed by so many of our frontline missionaries. They believe that the day will come when their tribe will not only hear the truth and not only realize that others have been with Jesus but will know and experience the truth of what Peter shared at his hearing in Acts 4:12,” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved".
In fact, one of the young missionaries in that group told me that his prayer is that his tribe would be 100% Christian. That is my prayer, too! That's what we are working toward. Would you join us to pray for that and work together toward that end?
THE DEEP BURDEN
That is where one of my deep burdens comes in. As I travel and as I read our missionaries’ reports, I am reminded that there are thousands of people groups like Suman’s who have no believers and no one to bring them the Good News. And I am both heartbroken by that and compelled by that to do what I can to change that fact. I, our team and our Board (just simple Christians living with and serving Jesus) want to reach as many hurting and helpless people as possible with God's amazing gospel and incredible love.
That's why we are executing a rather audacious plan for the 2016-17 ministry year. It involves reaching many new people through many new missionaries, and requires a few new staff and new programs.
If the Lord moves and this is successful then we will see hundreds of unreached tribes brought the Good News this year and many more tens of thousands saved from futility in this life and separation from God in the next.
We are busily laying in place the foundation for next year. The one last thing that needs to happen is for God to move people to give sacrificially as we end this Ministry Year and begin our next. We need about $55,000 extra this month to end this year and launch strongly into the next one.
If you feel the same tremendous excitement that I do over so many people coming to Christ and if you feel the same deep burden that I do that so many more need to be reached, would you, as the Lord leads, give a monstrously generous ministry year end the gift?
My other burden is this; with 325 (and soon to be more) indigenous missionaries on our team, I am very often confronted by true emergency needs. In the past two months, we have had a partner who needed $2000 for emergency brain surgery, a village church that needed $500 to replace a cyclone damaged roof before the heavy rains, a newly-believing family that needed $500 to rebuild their hut/home that was burned to the ground after they became Christians, and many more. These each are not huge dollar amounts in the West, but they are unreachable sums to our brothers and sisters in the context of deep poverty in Asia, Africa or Latin America.
I want to establish an “Emergency Relief Fund” to allow us to respond immediately to truly desperate needs like these. If you are led to give toward that, please let me know.
So, you can see why I am excited and burdened. Those things drive me to pray and to share these things with you. Would you join me in prayer and in sacrificial giving this month so that we can see many tribes like Suman’s reached by simple indigenous Christian missionaries who know Christ and make him known in places that you and I could not live and serve.
Simply for Jesus,
P.S. Your sacrificial Ministry Year-end gift will mean that Worldlink’s indigenous missionaries can reach out to hundreds of unreached people groups this year. I pray that you are led to help.