By Lovell R. Cary, General Director of the Church of God World Missions Department
FROM THE TIME our first missionaries sailed from the shores of America, global evangelization has been a primary focus for the Church of God. World Missions is still focused on that global harvest. More than 1,800 souls are added to the kingdom of God daily through the witness of national workers, missionaries and laity. Yet the task looms large.
Reaping the Harvest
Reaching this harvest demands urgency on our part. All of us must labor faithfully together if we are to reach every nation and people group with the gospel before Christ returns for His church. Recent world events confirm that the end-time harvest must be brought in before it is lost. For this General Assembly period, World Missions has set a goal of 1.5 million souls saved with 1 million of those added to the membership of the Church of God. Stories reach us daily of God’s move. In a recent e-mail, missionary Tommy Smith in Indonesia wrote: The nearly 15,000-member Church o f God in Medan has 23 Sunday services in this city of 3 million people (Indonesia’s third largest city). Five of them are in a seven-floor mall. The church uses floor six, which seats about 3,000, for worship and floor seven as a prayer center in the Medan Plaza Mall. Four services are also held in the Lake Toba International Hotel ballroom; and two special services, conducted in the Mandarin Chinese language, not Bahasa Indonesia, are held at other locations. The miracle is that the Medan Plaza Mall was about to go out o f business. Stores were closing down and moving out. But after the church moved in, life was given back to this mall and people started to shop here again. Rental rates for shops in this mall have now increased to four times what they were prior to the churches moving in. It reminds us o f the story o f Joseph; wherever he went, God was with him, and others were blessed because of it. The Medan Plaza Mall was blessed because the David’s Tabernacle-Bethel Church o f God congregation moved into the building.
Where we have trained our national leaders, the Church of God flourishes and souls are saved every day. Tommy Smith’s story confirms the effectiveness of the Bethel Theological Seminary in Jakarta, Indonesia, where hundreds of pastors have been trained. These pastors in turn mobilize their laity to reach the harvest. This mobilization has now grown to nearly 3 million Church of God members. We have 107 schools and training ministries around the world preparing more than 21,233 workers for the harvest. Our national leaders, missionaries and laity in 161 countries outside the United States and Canada have a passion for global evangelization. Daily they touch millions of lives spiritually and physically through the gospel and life enhancing humanitarian outreaches.
A Part to Play
Every Church of God congregation here in America is also a vital part of reaching the global harvest. Through prayer, financial support and personal involvement, each one impacts the harvest. Stateside churches and individuals have made possible the Eurasian Theological Seminary in Moscow, the Asian Center for Christian Ministries in Manila, and churches in the Ukraine and India, to name just a few. The building for the Eurasian Theological Seminary in Moscow is now complete and equipped. Dozens of students are trained in this new facility to reach the expanding harvest across the former Eastern European and Soviet Union nations. From 16 nations, 230 students gather at the Asian Seminary for Christian Ministries in Manila, preparing to reach the greatest harvest field of souls across Asia. China and a majority of the 10/40 nations, plus most of the unreached people groups of the – world, are located in Asia. Churches reaching their local harvest around the world are so numerous it would take several large books to describe them all. Two examples are the church of Pastor Alex Demidovich in the Ukraine and the church in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India. Pastor Alex Demidovich’s vision of a thriving church in the city of Slavjansk in his native Ukraine, formerly controlled by the communists, has blossomed into a congregation numbering between 700 and 1,000 members. Their new church building not only houses a worship center and the Ukrainian national offices, it is also the site of a training ministry for reaching their local and national harvest. In the city of Mumbai, India, Overseer A. Mathai has his division offices in the new multistory youth center on the old site of the YWEA center in the city once known as Bombay. Within this building, a growing local congregation meets for worship and another of our 107 Bible schools trains workers for the harvest across India. God works around the world through dedicated, passionate individuals and congregations called and empowered to reap His harvest. Where do you fit in His plan of global evangelization?