As most of you know, our family is moving to the mission field. In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be moving to China. Here's a little glimpse at why we're going. We hope that you will grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the journey with us. I want to talk about the call, the need and the mission.
1. The Call
The obvious question is: Why would anyone in their right mind do this? Not just us, but anyone. Why go to a place with a different language and a different culture and try to tell them about Jesus? We could live out our days doing what we’re doing now and be the happiest people on earth!
Here’s some reasons we’re NOT going to the mission field:
- We’re certainly not going to China because we like the food or the culture
- We’re not going because we want an adventure
- We’re not going because we like to travel (flying is not my favorite thing to do)
We’re not going because we necessarily want to go. We know it’s what we’re supposed to do, but it’s not easy. Why do we have missionaries all around the world today? Why would anyone go to the mission field?
In the summer of 2014, we felt God begin to call us to the mission field. I believe it was God, because just a few months earlier I remember saying, "I’m not ready. I don’t think it’s time for us to go to the mission field." When we got married, we had an interest in missions. I spent two years on the mission field in China with my family. April’s grandparents and family had been involved in ministry in Cuba and Mexico for many years. We had an affinity for missions, but not a calling.
But over a period of several weeks, we felt God strongly telling us that it was time to go. There was no audible voice. There were no smoke signals. There was an unshakeable tug in our heart that left us with no other option. It’s been a year and a half since God called us. That calling has not gone away.
Our call is first to the Great Commission. We are commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We strongly feel that our part in the Great Commission starts in China. And that’s where I want to talk about The Great Need.
2. The Need
Why China? Is there still work that needs to be done? China has 1.4 billion people. America has about 300 million people. The land mass is about the same size as the U.S. There are people EVERYWHERE. Less than 7% of Chinese are Christians. China has 550 people groups, and 456 of them are unreached. Chinese people make up the largest unreached people group in the world.
When we go to China, we’re moving to a a beautiful city called XuZhou. The city we’ll be going to is a tiny little town of 10 million people! There are millions of people in China that need to hear about Jesus for the first time. When you think of China, think of people. I don’t know if you’ve seen those youtube videos where they try to cram people on trains in China, but they literally have professional train stuffers to fit as many people as they can onto the trains. It’s madness! I’ve experienced that (here's a link to check it out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpF9Cf8CCA8)! I’ve been in the middle of those crowds! If you can just imagine the masses of people. There are hundreds of cities like Xuzhou all over the world that need Jesus.
To me, China is very similar to America. A lot of times when we think of another country we might as well be talking about Mars or Pluto. Chinese are just like Americans. They’re kind of loud and fun like Americans tend to be. You have your country people and your city people. China has deserts and jungles and mountains. It’s as diverse as our country is. People are the same everywhere. People need Jesus. The people we'll be reaching have never heard the name of Jesus. Unless someone goes to tell them, millions will die without the Gospel. Everyday, around the world, 80,000 people die having had no chance to hear the Gospel. There’s a great need. What are we going to do about it?
3. The Mission
How can we begin to meet this HUGE need? The majority of people in China have never heard the name of Jesus. We want to give them that opportunity. Our mission is to tell about Jesus, disciple them and get them plugged in to the body of Christ.
The 1st way we'll be doing this is by teaching English in our city of 10+ million. In China, this is one of the most effective ways to spread the Gospel. In China, you learn English starting in Kindergarten. Can you imagine learning Chinese starting in kindergarten? Chinese people know English in theory, but they’ve never practiced it or used it. So when we walk down the street in China, people flock to us. They want to talk to us. They want to practice their English and learn about American culture. Our goal is to start “English corners” where students can come together to learn English, but really they’ll be learning about someone named JESUS. English Corners provide the perfect atmosphere for the Bible to be discussed.
Why teach English? You can’t go into China and start planting churches. The only churches allowed are state-run churches. State-run churches have a video camera in the back of every church. They don’t have the freedom to worship like we do. Now, we love the state church. There are true believers in these churches. Many of them have donated rice and food to my parents’ orphanage. There is good and bad in these churches. One of the problems we're confronted with is the animosity between the state run churches and the unregistered churches. We want to see the church come together in a new way!
In China, there’s much leadership training that needs to be done. The pastors in China have little to no training. The average American church member would be more equipped to be a pastor in China - by far. So while the churches are growing, without some solid teaching and understanding of the Bible, it’s not going to last.
Also, going along with our mission, we will be working with the Home of Hope orphanage that my parents started in the city of XuZhou. We will be using my parents’ orphanage as a launching pad for our ministry. We’ll be helping them at the Home of Hope as well - discipling and mentoring the children, helping them with homework, whatever they need! These kids are truly reaching their country in a way that we never could. These kids will be the future leaders China. We will be working with the Home of Hope as we also launch out into our own ministry - taking it to new people who need to hear about Jesus.
The need is great! Matthew 9:36-38 says, “36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
When we hear about the need are we moved with compassion or are we callous? Do we have the heart of Jesus? Do we love people that way he does? This is Jesus’ heartbeat. He says in Mark 1:38, “But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” It’s not just XuZhou, there are other places that need to hear about Jesus too! Who will go to them? The heart of Jesus is for everyone - the next town, the next people.
The world population is about 7 billion. 3 billion of those are unreached. That’s 40% of the world that’s unreached. In Matthew 18:18-20, Jesus frames the mission of the church - these are Jesus’ last words on earth. A person’s last words carry a lot of weight. This is called The Great Commission. This is our mission. This is the mission of every believer. Our commitment is not just to China, it’s to the Great Commission. EVERYONE needs to hear about Jesus.
The amen at the end of the verse means so be it! That’s interjected by the author. This should be our cry! What will your response be to the Great Commission in 2016? Will you answer it? Will you ignore it? Will you say “so be it?” Let’s go for it! Let’s do it together!