Reconciliation Is It the Missing Key to Revival And World Evangelization?
Whether it be between Native Americans and White Americans or Armenians and Turks, past sins have placed barriers to witnessing between thousands of peoples. This has limited the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. These barriers cannot be ignored. In fact, the ministry of reconciliation may be the missing element necessary for world revival and the completion of the Great Commission. This topic is still controversial but all barriers to the spread of the Gospel must be overcome and solutions found. We present the following article for your examination of this important topic.
One of the most powerful forces unleashed at the recent Global Consultation on World Evangelization (GCOWE '95) was the power of reconciliation which broke out like a wildfire, spreading from one meeting to another as various groups forgave each other for the past sins of the people or group they represented. The following account, taken from the May 24th edition of the GCOWE Today newspaper and reported by Debra Wood, illustrates the tremendous impact that efforts at reconciliation can have.
"As participants looked on and prayed under their breath, the Rev. Dr. Paul Ariga, representing Japan, knelt down on the floor before Isaac Lee, a Korean delegate. "'Your grandfather was killed by the Japanese in the name of the Emperor,' he declared empathetically. 'They named this World War II as a holy war. [But] it was a sin! I am repenting before God. Only through the blood of Jesus Christ, I ask you to forgive me and Japan. We have killed your grandfather.'"
"The tone of Mr. Lee's response was equally remorseful. He said, 'We forgive you and your nation. Please forgive me also. We have hated you.'"
"With applause ringing in their ears, the two men then embraced each other warmly. Cindy Jacobs, a leader in intercession, came to stand by them and explained to the audience that many Koreans have Japanese blood in their veins, the result of years of contact, much of it unhappy, between the two countries. (In fact, as Ariga himself pointed out, some 82 percent of the Korean people hate the Japanese for the cruelty they inflicted upon Korea during World War II and the five decades of colonial rule before 1945).
"Jacobs joined the two men's hands. 'The Lord,' she said, 'wants to make the Japanese and Koreans one in the hand of the Lord for world evangelization.' There was more loud applause."
This was, however, just one among several incidents of cross-national and cross- denominational reconciliation that occurred among the GCOWE '95 delegates. At the Choong Hyun Presbyterian Church, an Arab- Jewish reconciliation scene had delegates jumping out of their seats with joy and applause. The totally diverse members of the Israeli delegation representing Palestinian and Israeli Arab Christians and Messianic Jews were seen holding hands and hugging each other as they pledged to work together.
Ashur Intrator, secretary of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Israel, had brought this group with him to Seoul. He explained, "We've managed to come to love one another through Jesus. When we love each other, we allow ourselves to be who we are."
This kind of reconciliation makes it possible for these Arab and Israeli Christians to jointly host the next GCOWE meeting, which is now scheduled to be held in Jerusalem in the year 2000.
The Reality of Our World Our world has experienced at least 6,000 years of murder, prejudice, hatred, genocide, and sin of every description. This bloodshed and sin have created wounds that have broken and shattered the relationships between countries, peoples, individuals, and between us and God.
As the Soviet empire has crumbled we have seen the broken and festering relationships between peoples coming to the surface. The war in Bosnia is a good example. The Serbs hate the Croats and both hate the Muslims-- all because open wounds from past injustices have not been healed.
John Dawson says in his recent book, Healing America's Wounds,[copyright 1994, John Dawson, Regal Books, Ventura CA] "Injustice opens the door for demonic oppression, an oppression that people are powerless to deal with outside of the cleansing, healing grace of God...Unless interrupted by healing grace, the atrocities of the past become ghosts within the memory of a people crying out for justice. Bitterness deepens and the victims often become tyrants, and so it multiplies." Each time an injustice is left unresolved, barriers to the spread of the Gospel are created.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:19, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."
Dawson adds, "Satan's greatest empowerment comes when some moral outrage is committed by those who invoke the name of Jesus." A good example of this were the Crusades of the Middle Ages, which Muslims hold against Christians to this day. The satanic stronghold created by these offenses is one reason why Muslims have been resistant to receiving the Gospel. Unfortunately, Christians-- in many cases--have been more willing to kill Muslims than in humility to take the Gospel to them.
Some Christians want to break this pattern through Reconciliation Walks. These are specific marches designed to spread repentance and love along the route of the Crusades. Planners believe this will be another strategic move on enemy-held territory in the 10/40 window that will help open up Muslim peoples to the Gospel.
Christian Peoples Failing to Fulfill Their Divine Destiny One of the main reasons Christianized peoples do not reach out to the unreached peoples in their midst is the hatred and bitterness that has resulted from past offenses where Christians have been both the instigators and victims of terrible atrocities.
The experiences of the Christian Armenians given by John Dawson in his book dramatically illustrates this problem.
"The twentieth century's first holocaust took place, not in Nazi Germany, but in Turkish Armenia, where the government of the Ottoman Empire ordered a campaign of genocide against Armenian Christians.
"In Armenian towns, the men were led away by the police, executed by a firing squad and thrown into mass graves or rivers. At the Kemakh Gorge, Kurds and troops of the Turkish 86th Cavalry butchered more than 20,000 women and children. In Margada, in what is now the Syrian desert, 50,000 Armenians were killed over a period of several days. Starving, sick, and naked families were roped together and pushed off a hill into the river. One person was shot so that the dead body would carry the others down and drown them. The killing reached its
height in 1915 when more than one million men, women, and children died.
"The Armenian people have sought recognition for their holocaust for 70 years, but Turkey has never admitted its responsibility.
"Today our television newscasts are showing us film of the corpses of Turkish Azeris: men, women and children allegedly massacred by Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, an autonomous region just east of Armenia. For these two peoples, the satanic stronghold of vengeful hatred lives on."
Dawson explains that these strongholds are the places of unresolved guilt and wounding. Because of this continual wounding, the Armenians are not fulfilling the redemptive purposes God intends for them as ambassadors for Christ to the Turks, Kurds, and Azeris--all unreached peoples.
The American Church Has Also Failed The Christians in America are no less to blame for not fulfilling God's redemptive purposes for the American Church among the many unreached peoples in our midst. As mentioned in the May-June 94 issue of Mission Frontiers, we have also been a part of terrible atrocities toward the Native Americans. We could add many more ethnic people groups to this list as well.
Dawson makes the point in his book that all of the peoples of the earth--what Scripture refers to as the ethne--have a redemptive purpose in God's plan to reveal Himself to the world. "The churches of the nations, when combined, bring us a picture of God's character and personality that cannot be accommodated in one language or represented adequately through one people."
Satan wants to encourage this unending pattern of "Armenian Style" atrocities because it slows the spread of the Gospel to all peoples and prevents the world from seeing an accurate picture of who God is in all His glory. As we can see in Revelation 5:9, where Jesus is given the glory He deserves from all peoples, Satan ultimately fails in his efforts.
So what is the solution to this unending human tragedy? Can these barriers be overcome so the Gospel can go forth unhindered and God can receive the worship and glory He deserves from all peoples?
The Solution All Bible-believing Christians agree that Jesus has provided the solution to the broken relationship between man and God. But how can thousands of very different peoples be reconciled to each other and thus enable the Gospel to go forth more easily to the unreached peoples? Dawson says in his book,
"All successful relationships are trinitarian in nature. You and your spouse, plus Jesus; two nations plus Jesus; then it will work. If there are just two of you, prepare for pain. 'Apart from Me you can do nothing,' Jesus said. Least of all love."
"This brings us back to the unique role of God's people in bringing reconciliation. We can bring healing because Jesus has freed us to be honest. We were reconciled to God through honest confession and we reconcile people to people in the same way.
"The greatest wounds in human history, the greatest injustices, have not happened through individual crimes, but rather through the institutions, systems, philosophies, cultures, religions, and governments of mankind. Because of this, we are tempted to excuse ourselves from all individual responsibility.
"Unless individuals identify themselves with corporate entities such as their nation of citizenship or the subculture of their ancestors, the act of honest confession can never take place. Without this confession, we will be left in a world of injury and offense in which no corporate sin is ever acknowledged, reconciliation never begins, and old hatreds deepen and are handed down to the next generation.
"The followers of Jesus must step into this deadlock as agents of healing. Within our ranks are representatives of every category of humanity. Trembling in our heavenly Father's presence, we see clearly the sins of humankind and have no inclination to cover them up. Thus, we are called to live out the Biblical practice of identificational repentance, a neglected truth that opens the floodgates of revival and brings healing to the nations."
Dawson makes the point that, "At present the world is filthy in its unresolved guilt and is desperate for cleansing." There have even been cases where secular politicians have attempted reconciliation through open confession. Gorbachev asked forgiveness, as a Russian, for the massacre of captive Polish officers during World War II.
Dawson says, "this acknowledgment is unleashing pent-up anger rather than bringing true healing. The power of Jesus to enable forgiveness and reconciliation between peoples remains totally unique. Without Jesus, it's impossible."
"America is a small picture of the larger world. Our cities are now the greatest gathering of ethnic and cultural diversity the world has ever seen. We have inherited the wounds of the world, the clash of ancient rivalries."
Dawson reports an exciting new move of God's Spirit through reconciliation. He says, "I have personally attended and spoken at united prayer gatherings in over 70 American cities in the last three years and have observed the healing grace of God as believers have gathered to repent and confess sin in places such as a slave-auction site or the location of an Indian massacre.
"Intercessors are finding that their most powerful tools are found within their own identity. You, too, can take the opportunity of confession, with identification, when you find it. Look at the circle of influence that God has given you."
What Can Missionaries Do? Missionaries seeking to reach an unreached people should know and understand the history of the relationship between the people they come from and the people they are going to. The missionary may need to be the one asking forgiveness for the sins of his own people. The missionary should also research the history of the people he is going to in regards to their relationship with their neighbors. Ways may be found to reconcile this people to its neighbors and allow for the free flow of the Gospel to them.
George Otis Jr., of the Sentinel Group is working to "spiritually map" various areas of the world. One aspect of this process involves researching the history of a people to determine if there are strongholds of national bitterness or lack of repentance for evil. The Sentinel Group is currently working on a field guide and is now sending out multinational teams to conduct spiritual mapping seminars. (For more information. See the address at the end of this article.) Reconciliation in the Church
Certainly there is also a need for this kind of reconciliation and repentance on the part of many denominations and ministries towards each other. Unfortunately, the attitude of many denominations and ministries has been one of competition and empire building. There is even the unspoken belief that they have more truth than other denominations or ministries. Each believes they must make sure that as many converts as possible become part of their church. Many ministries have too often been unwilling to cooperate with one another.
This kind of needed repentance was also seen at GCOWE '95, as reported by David Aikman. "Doctor Avery Willis nodded his head and the audience broke into applause. He had just apologized on behalf of the Southern Baptist denomination. He had discovered that the best efforts of his denomination, even if all the goals were attained, were not good enough to reach the world by the year 2000.
"'We want to ask forgiveness from you,' he said meekly, 'for thinking we could do that kind of job without you. We recognize that it's going to take the whole body of Christ to reach the people of this world.'
"As a sign of his change of heart, he offered to any delegate who requested it, the databases of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board.
"'Business as usual will not get the job done,' he concluded." Willis' remarks were made in the large sanctuary of Seoul's Choong Hyun Presbyterian Church, which was the venue for a number of GCOWE events.
On June 20, 1995, the Southern Baptist denomination took a major step in reconciling itself to the black community in the United States. During their annual convention the delegates declared in a resolution, "We lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest." They issued a formal apology and request for forgiveness to all black americans for their past involvement in slavery. At the convention where the apology was issued, a black Southern-Baptist pastor officially accepted the apology and offered forgiveness.
This kind of reconciliation has also been seen with great demonstrations of the Holy Spirit's healing grace in the prayer summits that Multnomah Bible College in Portland Oregon has sponsored which bring pastors of many backgrounds together.
Reconciliation may be the missing key both to breaking down the spiritual barriers to the unreached peoples receiving the Gospel and to seeing Christians working together to reach them. It is, therefore, very appropriate that powerful acts of reconciliation were so abundantly present at GCOWE '95. For if the tremendous goals of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement are to be achieved, we will all need to work together.
For more information on Spiritual Mapping contact George Otis Jr. The Sentinel Group P.O. Box 6334 Lynnwood, WA 98036.
For more information on the Reconciliation Walks planned for 1997- 1999, write to P.O. Box 61 Harpenden, Herts. AL5 4JJ England.
To order John Dawson's book, Healing America's Wounds, see page 44 for order information and page 46 for the order form.
Rick Wood has been the managing editor for Mission Frontiers since 1990 and is a graduate of Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Bill Bright Calls 10,000 Americans to Join Him in Los Angeles to Fast and Pray this November 15-18,1995
Dr. Bill Bright, founder and director of Campus Crusade for Christ, while attending GCOWE '95--the Global Consultation on World Evangelization in Seoul, Korea, issued a dramatic call for 10,000 Americans to join him in Los Angeles for 3 days of fasting and prayer this coming November 15-18, 1995 at the Los Angeles Convention Center
In December 1994, 600 Christian leaders joined Dr. Bright for three days of fasting and prayer in Orlando, Florida. According to Dr. Bright, this time of fasting had a major impact on his spiritual life. He now believes that many of America's problems will only be solved as the Church regains a vision for fasting and prayer.
The call was issued during an address given to the delegates from the United States that were meeting at GCOWE to develop plans to mobilize the Church in the United States to establish a church for every people and the Gospel for every person in the U.S. by the year 2000.
This effort in the U.S. has been named Mission America 2000. It is the national expression of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement in the U.S.
For more information on the Los Angeles event you may contact: Tim Smith, Campus Crusade for Christ, Dept. 2100, Sunport Lane, Orlando FL 32809.