All Dressed Up & Nowhere To Go?
Staff member Phil Bogosian attended this massive meeting and here shares his personal observations. He felt led to elaborate a detailed admonition as well, which we felt worthy to append. Not everyone would refer to it as a "prophecy." --RDW
"Evangelize the world, Now!" was the stirring watchword of an exciting congress but some serious questions remain to be addressed.
From August 15-19 the second largest gathering in world history focused on world evangelization met in Indianapolis. The stated goal of the conveners of the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelization was "to bring the majority of the human race to Jesus Christ by the end of the century." There were about 25,000 in attendance.
The largest such gathering in history with 40,000 in attendance was held in New Orleans, July 22-26, 1987. However, even though the 1987 conference had the same name and goal, clear references to world evangelization were difficult to discern. The teaching either focused on local evangelism in America or on other charismatic topics such as worship or signs and wonders that could have implications for world evangelization but usually little such application was made.
There was a noticeable and heartening change in this conference. The focus on world evangelization was much more pronounced both in the evening plenary sessions and during the denominational sessions during the day. There were faith-building reports about what God is doing by His Spirit through those who obey His Son to go to the ends of the earth.
Bob Weiner, founder of Maranatha Campus Ministries, gave powerful testimonies of what has happened through international students receiving Christ. One young Indonesian who received Christ has led 40,000 to Christ in Indonesia.
Floyd McClung and Loren Cunningham presented encouraging reports of YWAM musical teams sharing in the Soviet Union and Albania with other extraordinary reports of evangelism around the world resulting in multiplied thousands coming to Christ daily from Africa to China.
Both congresses were convened by the North American Renewal Service Committee (NARSC). NARSC is made up of about 50 leaders, well known in charismatic circles, from Protestant, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and independent churches and ministries. Vinson Synan, who is from the Pentecostal Holiness denomination with an unswerving commitment to world evangelization, is the chairman of NARSC and a leading spokesman.
All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go?
I am thankful to the Lord that charismatics are beginning to respond to His command to disciple the nations. However, it is heartbreaking that such a marvelous congress could be so well promoted, organized and financed, by men of God who truly want to see the world evangelized, all to leave those who attended very inspired and motivated about world evangelization, but without a clear understanding as to how to achieve it.
Anyone who attended could not help being stirred by reports that 20,000 a day are coming to Christ in Africa and over 20,000 a day in China. They did not hear that the reason this was happening was because of a very careful foundation laid down by cross-cultural missionaries sent out by mission agencies over decades to plant churches among previously unreached people groups. Rather, one got the impression that all these good things were just happening by random evangelism.
Beyond how missions is conducted, there was no clear exposition of what the remaining task was. There was no notion that Christ Himself had given a definite command that His church was to go and make disciples of panta ta ethne--all the peoples of the world. Nor was there any statement of how many of these ethne remain to be reached or where they are. There was no description of what their cultures are like or how they may best be reached in terms of strategy or the resources needed in terms of personnel, money and prayer. It was very much as though the Congress was taking place before Lausanne '74.
There was very little one could take home to their church to help a missions committee plan out what a congregation's focus should be, how they might educate their congregation and get involved in reaching the unreached peoples in terms of prayer, finances, and sending their members out as missionaries. There was training in personal evangelism, but this would not help reach the vast number of people in unreached groups who need someone to cross cultural boundaries to win souls.
Perhaps the reason for the lack of clarity as to what remains to be done to complete world evangelization stems from the fact that the steering committee of Indianapolis 1990 as well as the speakers, used Barrett and Johnson 's new book, Our Globe and How to Reach It, as their official data resource. The book was also recommended to all those who attended the Congress. I studied the book for many hours and it was very hard for me to see the priority of reaching the unreached peoples in the book.
Is It Sheepstealing to Evangelize Catholics?
Another serious issue at the Congress is the status of nominal Christians, especially Catholics. While most evangelicals recognize that there are hundreds of millions of nominal Christians who are not yet born again, Barrett and Johnson's book does not recognize the category of the nominal Christian.
This idea was reflected at a news conference where Father Tom Forrest spoke strongly that we need to stop sheepstealing and cooperate together to help people know Christ. He was particularly disturbed about the large number of Protestant missionaries in the Philippines, a country which he said had been Christian for 400 years, stating instead that they should go to unreached people.
I made the observation at the news conference that there were multitudes of former Latin American Catholics who are now Protestant who would say that when they were Catholics they didn't know Christ but now they do. Father Forrest indicated that he didn't have any trouble with the idea of a Protestant leading a Catholic to Christ if he truly didn't know Him but indicated that it would be a rare event.
Is Revival Necessary for Obedience to the Great Commission?
The idea often expressed at this meeting that we need a massive spiritual revival first before we can evangelize the world and the resulting preoccupation with revival is a serious distraction that keeps us from obeying Christ 's Great Commission. Revival depends on obedience as well as the opposite.
I felt the Lord gave me the following prophecy concerning this matter. As with the New Orleans Congress there was a pre-selected group of prophets who were allowed to prophesy spontaneously. This prophecy was submitted to Congress leaders but they made the decision not to communicate it to the Congress. I appreciate the invitation to publish it here for the readers of Mission Frontiers.
Prophecy at Indianapolis 1990
This people cries out to me year after year for revival as though I were somehow responsible for withholding revival.
But I tell you, I stand ready at any moment to fill any person or any church with all the fullness of My love and power the moment they begin to fully obey the command of My word to disciple all the nations.
Have not I said in My Word that if you draw near to Me, I will draw near to you? Have not I said that if you abide in Me, I will abide in you? But this will only happen as you obey Me and keep My commands.
For I have said if you obey My commands, you will abide in My love. I have said if anyone loves Me he will obey My Word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him; for My Word says that I give the Holy Spirit to those who obey Me.
No, I am not responsible for the lack of revival, you are--by your disobedience to My commands. I have commanded that you pray earnestly that laborers go out to the harvest, and that the strong man over each tribe and nation be bound, and that there be open doors for the Gospel, but you spend hours watching nonsense on TV, and on many other of your own pleasures while millions perish year after year among the thousands of unreached tribes, nations, tongues and peoples.
I have commanded that you give your finances to reach the nations, but you weary yourselves to fill your homes with the finest of furnishings, clothes and foods, contrary to My commands.
I have commanded that you live the way My Son did. He used all His strength, wisdom, time, and money to reach out to a lost and dying world. His life was totally focused on reaching the nations. Your life is so filled with your own pursuits and pleasures that the perishing nations seldom come into your mind. When will you begin to have His mind in you, as I have commanded?
But you will say, "Revive us, Lord, and we will obey." I say to you, I have poured out My Spirit on you many times and you have taken your fill of My power, My love and My joy and simply gone off to pursue your own desires. I will no longer do this. There is power, love and joy in My Spirit, but have you not read that, in this present time, I give My Spirit that you may have power to be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth?
I tell you surely, I will not continue to pour out My Spirit on those who are disobedient to My purpose. This is why so many no longer enjoy the fullness of My Spirit.
Others of you will say, "Lord, we want to see America saved!"
I tell you the truth, you do not want to see America saved because you are interested in righteousness or for compassion for the lost. You only want to have a crime-free, drug-free, immorality-free, prosperous, beautiful country to pursue your own pleasures. But this is not what I intended for this land. I intended this land to be a platform to plant My Church among every tribe, nation, tongue and people.
Unless My Church obeys Me, America will not be saved. She is even now at the threshold of judgement. As My Word declares, the axe is already laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. As was true of many other nations before America, the Kingdom of God is already being taken away from her and being given to nations producing the fruit of it.
So I say to you, do not continue to cry out to Me for revival year after year, decade after decade. I am weary of hearing it. I am weary of your using it as an excuse not to get busy and obey My command to disciple the nations. Begin, now, to earnestly obey Me, and pray that My Church will obey Me sacrificially with its time, its prayer, its finances. And I will fill all who do obey Me with My Spirit, My love, My joy, My power and My blessing to overflowing that all peoples would have a chance to know My Son's love.
I long to intimately and powerfully partner with those who have ears to hear so that I may soon return to a bride made up of those redeemed by My blood from every tribe, tongue, nation and people.