AND THE END WILL COME
In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus what the sign of his coming and of the end of the age would be. Jesus goes on to describe events that will take place before the end, but he is clear that none of these things are either definitive nor conclusive. In verse 14, Jesus gives a definitive sign of the end, “And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” The progress of the Gospel in the world is the definitive indicator about how close we are to the end of the age. So how are we doing with the gospel? To answer that, let’s classify the 7 billion people on the earth today into three groups.
Group 1: The Christians
About 33% of the world’s population identifies itself as Christian. We call this segment of the population, World C. C for Christian.
It’s important to remember that not all of the people that fall into World C are true believers in Christ, they merely identify themselves as Christian because of nominal belief in Jesus or because they live in a country where everyone is considered Christian, so they would do the same.
Group 2: The Nonbelievers
This is the group where the people have access to the Gospel but have chosen not to follow Jesus. This group makes up 38% of the world. They have Bibles in their language, churches nearby, friends or co-workers who are potentially Christians, and have access to other Christian resources in their language. These people have access to the good news, but haven’t acted on it yet. This segment of the population is called World B.
Group 3: The Unreached
That leaves us with 29% of the world. Just over 1 out of every 4 people on this planet who not only have never heard of Jesus, they have no chance of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. They have no access to the Gospel - no Bibles, no churches, no believers nearby… no chance to learn about Jesus. They are the unreached people and we call them World A.
1 out of 4 people have not heard of Jesus".
How Are We Helping
About 1 out of every 1800 Christians in World C decides to serve as a missionary. So, we can pull 400,000 missionaries out of that World C population. That’s our total cross-cultural missionary force worldwide. The majority of these missionaries (72%%) are being sent to the people of World C, the world that have Bibles and established churches!
25% of missionaries are being sent to World B where there is already some access to the church and to the Bible.
That leaves only 3% of the total missionary force to handle all of World A - the section of the population without any chance of hearing about Jesus. 29% of the world has no way to hear the Gospel, but we’re sending only a tiny portion of our Christian workers to them.
What about finances? Annually, all those Christians in World C earn a total of 42 trillion dollars. And, together they give about 700 billion dollars to Christian causes each year – that includes everything: Christian non-profits, churches, youth programs, missions, etc. Can you do the math? Less than 2% of Christian income is being given to Christ’s causes.
Out of that 700 billion given to all Christian causes, only 45 billion is given to missions. That’s a little over 6%. In fact, there is more money reported stolen from the church each year than what is given to missions.
So, we have 45 billion dollars to support 400,000 missionaries and their cross-cultural work. But how exactly is this allocated?
Well, 39 billion dollars goes to World C every year. Yep, 87% of that missions money is being spent in areas of the world that have Bibles and churches available and have largely already been evangelized.
5.4 billion (or 12%) goes to World B each year.
That leaves only 450 million dollars or 1% of all missions money going to World A, the least reached people of the world. To put that into perspective, Americans spend more money on Halloween costumes for their pets than what gets sent to World A. A little sad, don’t you think?
So, to summarize, out of 7 billion people in the world today only 3% of those people are going as missionaries with the help of only 1% of funds given to missions. This small group has the job of reaching over 2 billion people who don’t have access to the Gospel. So what are doing to help? Not a lot really. A lot more needs to be done if we want to see the end of the age. We need to give more funds to our missionaries and we need more Christians called and willing to go. We need to increase those percentages and decrease the percent of unreached people! So what are you going to do to help change those numbers?
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
OMS CANADA: THE FIRST 20 YEARS
OMS was birthed in a storefront building in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. In 1901 American missionaries Charles and Lettie (the author of the best-selling devotional, ‘Streams in the Desert’) Cowman partnered with a Japanese minister, Juji Nakada, holding Christian evangelistic meetings for 2,000 consecutive nights. Before long, Japanese churches were organized, and the new association, the Japan Holiness Church (JHC), grew rapidly.
Originally known as the Oriental Missionary Society, OMS today, is engaged in ministry in over 75 countries on six continents. Partnership remains key to the effectiveness of OMS‘ endeavours to – “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19)
Working with and alongside like-minded Christian groups, organizations and indigenous churches, OMS seeks to communicate the love of God, establish Christian churches, and train and equip a nation’s people to lead and multiply their own churches.
But OMS Canada had to start somewhere, and we would like to share a bit of our history with you. We want to share the first 20 years of OMS Canada in the eyes of Dr. Stan Dyer as he has written in his book, From the Northland to the Nations.
At a very early age, Blanche Crider had felt a clear call to missionary service in China. However, health factors restricted her from ministry overseas. While employed in a newspaper office in Toronto, Blanche was given a copy of the OMS magazine, The Missionary Standard. The call to service that was referred to in the magazine, either on the foreign field or in the homeland, developed deep longings in her heart. She immediately began talking about missions, praying for missions and enlisting others to help in this intercession. Blanche opened her home for missionary prayer groups and contacted churches for OMS speakers who would drive up from the USA.
In 1938, Blanche married Bill Frith who took her to Chicago, the location of his employment. But a part of her heart remained back in Toronto with the missionary prayer ministry she had begun. A chance meeting with Mrs. Cowman began an important change in plans and assignment. Mrs. Cowman asked the Friths if they would consider opening a Canadian OMS office in Toronto. The couple sensed this was, indeed, God’s leading, and travelled back to Canada to start laying the foundation of the Canadian mission. Blanche became the official Canadian secretary in 1939 and soon after the mission was incorporated in Canada in 1944, Bill took on the full assignment as OMS Canada director and continued in this role until 1964.
As a team, the Friths and other believers whom they had rallied around them, prayed for OMS across Canada. Although the Friths never claimed to be great preachers or eloquent speakers, their godly influence and missionary fervour impacted every early OMS missionary from Canada.
Bill and Blanche laid solid plans with prayer and consecrated vision. Every new candidate was prayed through the orientation and funding process and into the field of God’s choosing. This couple left a special legacy of dedicated, humble service and compassionate labour. Gordon Coles once said of the Friths, “I shall never forget their love and concern for people, and the burden they shared with us for a lost world.”
It is upon this foundation that we continue to experience God’s faithfulness.
And so we continue with the four purposes of intentional evangelism, church planting, leadership training through theological education and strategic partnerships.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of OMS Canada. We have been blessed immensely by God in these 75 years and we pray that God will continue to bless OMS Canada and what we do. To celebrate, OMS Canada is hosting the missions conference called unFinished. We will be digging deeper into the task God has not just given to OMS but to all disciples. The reason OMS still exists today is because this task is unfinished.
If you would like to know more about this conference or would like to take part please click here.
THE GOAL OF DISCIPLESHIP
What is the goal of discipleship? Why is it so important in the church? In our lives? Why do we have and need it? These are some of the questions that we will be looking at answering today. Being involved in discipleship is one thing, but truly understanding why we do it, brings you to a whole other level of discipleship.
What is Discipleship
Discipleship is the teaching of Biblical theology and lessons while modeling a righteous, Christ filled life style. It equips Christians with the Word of God, fellowship and positive relationships, encouragement, accountability prayer, and discipline. Discipleship isn’t something that is meant to be easy, or meant to end. It is an ongoing process that takes time, commitment, energy, effort, and patience. It is something that can’t be done on our own but must take place in community. It should take place in all of our relationships. If discipleship is teaching and modeling, we need someone to teach and model to; but, it is also about learning and growing ourselves, and for that we need someone to teach us and be a model to us as well.
The Goal of Discipleship
So what is the goal of it all? Is it to make converts? Plant more churches? What is the point of discipleship? The goal of discipleship isn’t about making converts or even disciples; it is about making disciplemakers. What do I mean by disciplemakers? A disciple is a follower of Christ, while a disciplemaker is a follower of Christ who turns and goes and makes more disciples. They don’t just settle with being a disciple. But that’s not the ultimate goal; the ultimate goal of discipleship is helping others become more like Christ. This can in turn lead to more churches being planted, but ultimately the goal of discipleship is to be in fellowship with other disciples helping one another become more like Christ.
Why is it Important
Discipleship plays a very important role in the church as well as in our individual lives. Can a church without discipleship truly be a church? Would you go to a church where there is no fellowship, or teaching of the Bible or encouragement or prayer? I wouldn’t, and that is why discipleship is important for churches. It helps the congregation of the church grow and flourish in their faith lives. Discipleship is important in our lives because it is important in the church. Discipleship brings things like positive relationships, encouragement, support, prayer, love and new lessons to learn. All of these things are things that we need; not because we are Christians but because we are human. We need love, support and relationships in our life and, because we are disciples, we need these to come from other disciples. When we get these from other people who understand our faith, the encouragement and support that we receive will be agreeable with Scripture and with God.
But we need to remember that discipleship also brings accountability and discipline. If we don’t have people, other disciples, keeping us accountable to living like Christ, the chances of us straying are greater. Accountability from other disciples will help us stay aware of our life style and keep us from straying from living a righteous life. And with accountability comes discipline. From childhood, discipline has been important in our lives. When we wanted to do something bad, our parents disciplined us to teach us not to do it, and we still need this. When we do something that goes against what Scripture says, we need someone to discipline us. Not in the sense that we judge and punish them but we help them see the wrong in their actions and walk with them as they work to fix the issue. When discipleship takes place in our own lives and we are able to grow in our faith and continue to be more like Christ, the church will also grow with us.
How Do We Do It
Like I said, discipleship takes time, commitment, energy, effort and patience. It is a process that never ends. It should start the moment we decide to follow Christ, and it should never end. That is why it is important to make disciplemakers and not just disciples. Making disciplemakers will secure the ongoing process of discipleship as it is used to make more disciples.
But what does it look like to do discipleship other than just giving our time and energy to others? Discipleship is all about teaching and fellowship. It starts with disciples. These disciples than create a community (e.g. a church) with other disciples, they are in fellowship with others who believe in Christ and want to live like Him. Once this fellowship is built you can work on building discipleship programs like Bible Studies and Kids clubs and continue to make disciplemakers. It is important to realize that discipleship starts with disciples. It can’t work if it goes backwards starting with an organization, then programs hoping to make disciples. How can disciples be made if there are no disciples to help teach and walk along the new disciples?
In summary, discipleship is teaching and fellowship among disciples with the goal of helping each other become more like Christ. It is important that we have discipleship in our lives as, without it, we can’t grow in our faith walk and help build a positive community. Discipleship is about giving a reason for your faith. Through teachings, encouragement, prayer, support and good modeling we are able to show others why we have faith and how we live like Christ which can help them do the same. We all need discipleship, no matter where we are in our faith walk. If you are not involved in discipleship already I encourage you to go and get involved. Find a discipleship group to join or start one yourself with a few friends. Not sure how to start one? Take a look at the resources and blog posts at omscanada.org, or leave a comment and I would love to help you get started! Remember discipleship starts with you being a disciple that is in fellowship with other disciples.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters."
Then people are considering missions and being involved they will express an interest to their church and hopefully to a missions agency. By expressing their interest, they are making their first step on the journey to becoming a missionary, but, they cannot do the journey alone. They need our help! We need to be encouraging and praying for these individuals. But how do we pray for someone we don’t even know? How do you pray for such individuals? Well, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to pray for someone, but there are suggestions on how we can pray for those interested in becoming a missionary.
1. Focus on God.
Begin by focusing on God. Thank God for his good will toward all people and his love for the world. Thank Him for His intensely personal love for this person and for the plan He has for their life. Thank God that Jesus’ death on the cross has cleansed this person of unrighteousness. And thank Him for the work of the Holy Spirit in this person’s life, and giving this person an interest in the missions field.
2. Thank God for the Person
Thank God for their gifts, potential, abilities, and skills. Thank God for the grace that is evident, and that the Holy Spirit is already at work in this person. Thank God for His promise to answer prayer.
3. Ask of God
Ask God to block the plans of Satan against this person. Ask Him to bless the person and to make clear to them His goodness in such ways that there can be no doubt that it is God and not coincidence or chance. Ask God to strengthen every good personality trait, every good desire and every right decision of this person. Ask God to make this person open and receptive to His voice and sensitive to His leading. Ask Him to release this person from any prejudice, to break any chain of sin or habit that may block God’s purpose. And ask God to surround this person with His presence and melt away any hesitation with His great love.
4. Claim God’s Promise.
Claim God’s promise to guide this person. Claim God’s promise to gather for Himself a people from every people, tongue, tribe and nation. And pray that God would send this person into the harvest to do His work.
Prayer is an important and powerful tool. Many things can be done through prayer. When we pray for those we may not know, it is our way of encouraging them. We are bringing them up to God so that through God we may join them on their journey of God’s call on their lives.
Each year, OMS spends time at different Mission Events where individuals express an interest in mission work. These individuals need our help and our encouragement. Please join us in praying for these individuals and that God will send more labourers into the harvest. If you would like to receive a list of names of individuals to pray for you can contact the office.
This content was adapted from Wesley Duewel’s book “Touch the World through Prayer” . It is used by permission of the Duewel Literature Trust, Inc. Greenwood, Indiana.