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Partnerships That Help Emerging Third World Missions Penetrate Unreached Peoples
by Allen Finley
It is not good enough to say that the "who" is "we," the worldwide Body of Christ, believers from around the world who hear Christ's commandment to "make disciples." We all must participate, but who, specifically, will do what?
For many, participation means they will "go." But the Christians today who hear God's call to go are not necessarily the same as those who went in the past. Today they include people like Felix Maafo, a dedicated Christian from Ghana in West Africa.
Felix has led a three-year survey in which Ghanaian Christians went to every village in every district of their country. A review of the data revealed that while the church is well planted in the south of Ghana, 15,000 villages in the north have no church at all!
The Christians who did the survey have now committed themselves, together with other evangelical churches and missions, to take the gospel and plant the church among all the 37 language groups who populate those unreached villages. They feel they can finish the task by the year 2000.
Evangelism teams are now going into these northern villages. They are withstanding the pressures of the Muslim environment. They are living in unpleasant conditions. There are many times that they fear for their lives. But they keep going. They continue to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. And, slowly but surely, the church is being planted.
Felix is an example of what is happening all over Africa, Asia and Latin America. Third World church leaders are going to the front lines of evangelism and reaching people for Christ. They are moving from being just a mission "field" to being a vital part of the world mission "force."
Anand Chaudhari is reaching people in northern India where Christian witness is becoming more difficult every day. Anand trains evangelists who "go" door-to-door to share Christ with the people. As they go, they cross language, cultural and custom barriers. More than 89 churches have been planted (27 just last year) as a result of this powerful ministry.
But evangelism in India is dangerous. Hindu and Muslim aggression is growing at an unprecedented rate. The challenges are escalating . . . but the believers are answering Christ's call to "go" no matter what the cost. They have joined with others who declare that India's unreached can be presented with the Gospel in this generation.
The Third World mission force is now more than 25,000 strong. These people are on the front lines. They have recognized that they are part of God's plan for reaching all nations and they have responded to Christ's call on their lives to "go and make disciples of all men."
Felix Maafo and Anand Chaudhari are just two among hundreds of thousands of national evangelists who lead ministries in fellowship with Western evangelical missions. Maafo and Chaudhari happen to work with Partners International, formerly known as Christian Nationals Evangelism Commission (CNEC). Their church planting efforts are part of unreached peoples focus which Partners International has developed and calls PROJECT 2000.
PROJECT 2000's objective is to plant the church in 2,000 communities of unreached people by the year 2000. PROJECT 2000 is also Partner's contribution to the rapidly developing efforts in the body of Christ for world evangelization by the year 2000. It's a plan that grew out of the mission's 45 years of experience of supporting national church planters and evangelists who feel called to reach their own people with the Gospel.
The first experience began in China in 1943. At that time, trained Chinese Christians who knew how to evangelize and disciple their own people were given encouragement and support. Little did we know that China's Bamboo Curtain would fall in 1950 and all Western missionaries would be forced to leave.
But God had come before us. He had guided us to concentrate on preparing the nationals who could remain. And while China's government tried to banish Christ from the land, the fire of the Gospel remained alive in the hearts of the people. During the following years, the Christian believers in China increased 500-fold.
Over the years, Partners International expanded its partnership ministry to other parts of Asia, then Africa, Latin America and Europe. Today, we have partner ministries in 43 countries throughout the world. And through our ministry and the ministries of others, we have witnessed an unprecedented growth in the worldwide Body of Christ.
We also watched the reality of world evangelization come into focus. Every indication points us to believe that the church can be planted among all nations (peoples) in this century.
Thomas Wang, international chairman for Lausanne II, put it so aptly:
All of a sudden, it seems many of God's servants all over the world have begun to take the end of this century, not as a magical number, but as a target, a goal, a stimulation for world evangelization.
Is something happening? What is God trying to say to us? There has never been an age in the history of the church that is more qualified to tackle this task of world evangelization in terms of manpower, resources, technology, communication and transportation.
But world evangelization will require more than strategists and evangelists. If we are to see the church planted in every people group, it will also require the commitment and involvement of pastors, churches and individuals throughout the world. It will require sharing the vast material resources which we have in the West with our much poorer brethren in the developing countries. This is where the "who" becomes " we." Who will do the job? We will do it--- by using our gifts, our skills, our faith, and yes, our resources--- to let the whole world know about Jesus Christ.
PROJECT 2000 is a ministry that helps North American churches and Christians join forces with emerging national ministries. Its success depends on participation from Christians throughout the world.
The first step of PROJECT 2000 is to identify and select a community of unreached people. The primary responsibility for this function lies with key nationals--- people like Felix Maafo or Anand Chaudhari. They are assisted by our area coordinators (who are also nationals) and our international coordinating staff, who join with them in faith as target communities are selected.
The second step is to agree upon a specific strategy for planting a church in this community. Some can be entered within months, though the average time is about two years from the time a people group is first penetrated.
The third step is to recruit North American partners who will adopt this community of unreached people and provide the prayer and financial support to help complete the task; people who will demonstrate a vibrant commitment and involvement through their faith and gifts.
The fourth step is implementation--- or engaging in the work of evangelism. Workers from emerging national missions "go" into the community and begin ministering to the people. The workers provide their North American partners with update reports, prayer requests, and subjects of praise. They also keep their sponsors appraised of the upcoming plans and any changes in strategy.
As we, the worldwide Body of Christ, work together, we can see the completion of the Great Commission. But it will require all believers to open their hearts, hear God's call, and then join in by becoming partners with ministries on the field. We must all respond to Christ's commission to us to "make disciples of all men."
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