By Lovell R. Cary, General Director of World Missions
WHERE WE HAVE COME FROM
On Thursday, August 19, 1886 eight believers met in Monroe County, TN and formed what became known as the Christian Union. From this humble beginning in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Christian Union, which became the Holiness Church at Camp Creek and later known as the Church of God, has expanded to more than 160 countries of the world.
R. M. Evans, our first North American missionary, arrived in Nassau, Bahamas on January 4, 1910. Evans, a retired Methodist minister had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the Pleasant Grove Camp Ground in Durant, Florida. Edmond Barr, a native of the Bahamas also received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same camp meeting and was called of the Lord to return there and share this new and wonderful experience with his people. Evans helped Barr raise funds to return to his native country and in the process felt called of God to go also.
Barr preceded Evans in arriving in Nassau. After a long trip from central Florida to Miami by horse and wagon Evans departed by boat to Nassau a trip of three days journey. (Note: Today it takes only thirty-five minutes to make the same trip by jet.)
On Saturday, January 7, 1911 the General Assembly of the Church of God took the first offering for missions amounting to $21.05. The second missions’ offering was taken at the 1912 General Assembly on January 9 and totaled $22.55.
Because of a lack of funds Evans, his wife and his son had to return to the USA where, from information I have been able to gather, Evans died a pauper. James Cossey found Evan’s grave at the local cemetery in Live Oak, Florida. Immediately World Missions placed a lovely monument on Evans’ grave identifying him as the first North American missionary for the Church of God. Let me urge you to visit the grave of R. M. Evans should you make a trip to Florida. Take the Live Oak exit off I-75. It is just a few miles to the cemetery which will be on your right and his grave is on your right just inside the entrance.
World Missions membership grew slowly until in 1970 it had grown to 272,937. In 1980 membership was 868,709. In 1990 membership was 1,500.747. Now, in 2004 membership is 5,700,000, a gain of 4,189,000 in just fourteen years.
WHERE WE ARE GOING
First, let us take a look at where the world is going.
By 2050 the population of the world is expected to increase to over 14 billion. Today, two of the largest cities in the world are 97 percent non-Christian. By 2050 4 of the 5 largest cities may be hostile to Christianity. (Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai [Bombay] and Calcutta.) It is also estimated that by 2050 there may be as many as 160,000 new non-Christians born every day in the world’s great cities.
Today Christianity makes up 34.2 percent of the more than 6 billion people on planet earth.
Where is the world going politically?
Presently 3 states in India have passed a no conversion law. Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Other states in India are considering passing the same law. Malaysia has a law that forbids converting a bumi putra, son of the soil, but does allow the conversion of Indians from India and Chinese who make up a considerable population in that country.
India will be holding elections the latter part of April and the first part of May, 2003. If the BJP party wins the elections, there will continue to be persecution against Christians as the BJP is a strong militant Hindu party that has been ruling India now for several years.
Western Europe is a secular society and the churches that dot their landscape are for the most part historic relics for tourists.
Very few countries in Africa have stable governments. Look at the history of the Sudan, Libya, Angola, D. R. Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and many others where civil war and other problems have been the norm rather than the exception. Columbia and Peru are classic examples of what can go wrong politically. The drug lords in Columbia have been responsible for thousands of deaths.
USA, Western Europe, and Japan control the wealth of the world. One western child consumes eight times more of the earths resources than one child from the 2 thirds world.
WHERE WORLD MISSIONS IS GOING
Since the Assembly of 2000 we have focused on the children of the world. Orphanages have been built on every continent. This year World Missions will dedicate the largest orphanage we have built anywhere in the world. This will be the Kibera Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Kibera is the second largest slum in Africa with more than a million people. They have one toilet for every 62 people. The new orphanage is being built adjacent to this slum. Today hundreds of children are being ministered to physically and spiritually around the world.
We will continue to send missionaries where needed around the world. We cannot turn down men and women whom God has truly called to go to the nations of the world. Several of our churches in other countries are now sending missionaries. Argentina, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala are among these, just to name a few.
Education: We have 105 Bible Schools, Bible Colleges and Seminaries around the world with almost 25,000 students enrolled. Wherever we have trained the nationals, in country after country, we have developed a strong and healthy church.
Evangelism: We must remember that Christ’s last command, “to go into all the world,” is our mandate. This command is not debatable.
The 10/40 Window – (10 degrees north to 40 degrees north of the equator.) 95 percent of all unreached people groups live in this window.
Women: Eighty per cent of the world’s unreached people—and eighty percent of all refugees are women and children. As many as 4 million women and children are trafficked each year. Women and girls suffer disproportionately as the least valued, least fed, least educated, the most often abandoned, abused, abducted and aborted. We must do something to give women and children status and also meaning.
Prayer: We must become a part of the World prayer movement. Jonathan Edwards predicted in 1748 that an explosive prayer movement would occur around the year 2000. (Example: World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs now connected to 5,000 churches in the USA and 50 million praying Christians around the world. The goal is to have 160 million people praying for the unsaved of the world. Can you imagine or visualize the impact this will have on our world?) The Church of God must be a part of this prayer movement. Lamar Vest, our General Overseer is working to have 50 prayer centers around the world praying for the unsaved in every tribe and language which will be manned by COG ministers and members. (Example: North Cleveland Church of God Prayer Tower.) This will bring revival, renewal, meaningful worship and praise. It will also impact the calling and sending of missionaries.
God has blessed us and raised us up in these times for a purpose. The purpose is for us to hear the call to go, to teach and preach and to make disciples for Christ. We must be focused in our calling and strategic in our going. We must have more people involved in world evangelization. The spiritual principle of if one can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand to flight must be applied because of an exploding world population. We need people who see the harvest field and who break the bondage of sin through prayer. We need people who will give their best, their life, their all. We are our brother’s keeper. We are debtors to the whole world and to Christ.
Come and go with us to reap the field of World Evangelization.