The Great Commission Point of View
Recently, I bought a new pair of glasses. I obtained my first pair 50 years ago. In a physical sense, vision improvement has been a lifelong quest for me due to various vision changes and challenges I've experienced since early childhood. I've had farsightedness, blurred vision, and even double vision at times. When I went to school wearing that first pair of dark rimmed glasses, I immediately began to absorb the playground remarks from other children around me. I've worn most every style of glasses in an attempt to "dress up" and bring "style" to my vision problem without making a "spectacle" of myself. I've bent them, broken them, and lost them. I've often worn contacts to outwardly mask and hide my vision problem. Yes, I've spent a lot of money trying to gain, retain, and maintain 20/20 vision. I've tried most everything in an effort to adjust my vision.
In another sense and in another way, much time has been given to the development of a life and ministry vision, as well. In the early days, I was plagued with nearsightedness. Sometimes, it was farsightedness. As with my natural sight, occasionally my life-vision was blurred, dimmed, and challenged by diplopia, as well. On those occasions, a corrective prescription became urgently necessary.
A date night with Paula or a well-spent day at home with the kids usually helped with farsightedness—those occasions when I was seeing the "far away things" better than the blessings God had placed near to me. A missions trip usually took care of a bad case of nearsightedness, when life had become self-centered and I was only concerned about "my" needs and wishes. Blurred and double vision could typically be corrected by spending more time in God's Word. I discovered that reading God's Word brought me around to more clearly seeing God's will.
New Point of View
I have to admit though, nothing has ever adjusted my personal perspective on ministry and even life as much as working with World Missions. After spending time with missionaries, working with orphanages, visiting disaster-ridden areas, and having worship experiences in amazing churches in multiple cultures, I see things with a perspective for which I am now most thankful. Quoting the Prophet Jeremiah, I have to confess that "My eyes have affected my heart."
When I went into a World Missions leadership role and now also as General Overseer, my daily prayer was then and is now that that I would be granted a "Great Commission Point of View." As that has been developing, I have noticed several important vision enhancements.
First, there's been an effect on my Kingdom perspective. I thought I always had a broad Kingdom perspective. I said I did and I even preached some energetic sermons about it, but as never before, I'm aware that God's Kingdom is populated by an amazing and diverse citizenship. Throughout the various regions of the world, I have found men and women of every race and culture whose spiritual acumen, intellectual insight, and visionary foresight have been used of the Lord to help firmly establish a place for the church on the global platform for generations to come.
Throughout the various regions of the world, I have found men and women of every race and culture whose spiritual acumen, intellectual insight, and visionary foresight have been used of the Lord to help firmly establish a place for the church on the global platform for generations to come.
Unreached People Groups
Second, an awakened awareness of Unreached People Groups in the world has greatly affected my perception. To be classified as an Unreached People Group is to have a 2 percent or less Christian influence among a particular population. There are around 7,000 UPGs. Such abounding hopelessness will continue to clutch these human lives and precious souls until we utilize our resources and energies to find, encounter, and engage them with the Gospel of Jesus. UPGs are found throughout the world, largely in the 10-40 Window. As never before, the church must become mobilized to engage in a mission process that is effective in reaching the unreached. In the past year, Church of God World Missions has identified and engaged with just over 800 People Groups we have never had ministry with previously. Oswald Chambers is quoted as saying: “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” What a motivating thought that should drive everyone to reach the Unreached. It is terrible to be lost, but worse to be lost without anyone searching for you. May we never forget that Jesus came to seek and save all who are lost.
It is terrible to be lost, but worse to be lost without anyone searching for you. May we never forget that Jesus came to seek and save all who are lost.
Contributions of Women In Ministry
Third, I've been privileged to witness the significant role and exponential contribution of women in global ministry. All over the world, I have witnessed called and anointed women assume places of ministry and leadership to help forge new paths of an even more dynamic future of Kingdom expansion. For example, Anna Ruth Diaz has grown a congregation of well over 6,000 members while educating children and feeding the masses in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I'm also reminded of 39-year-old pastor and mother of three, Maria Sevilla, who was slain in her church for refusing to give in to the drug lord's attempts at extortion. Women such as these are powerfully preaching and bravely leading with great insight while also directing ministries that are nothing short of life-changing. While in Cambodia, Julie Martinez has reared two children as a single mom, completing her PhD, and at the same time given regional oversight as a regional leader in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Volumes could be written about other Great Commission women leaders, called and qualified to impact the harvest.
Women such as these are powerfully preaching and bravely leading with great insight while also directing ministries that are nothing short of life-changing.
Millennium Generation Leaders
Fourth, there is the impact of the new millennium generation of leaders and pastors devoted both to scriptural integrity and doctrinal purity. They are delivering the gospel to the streets. Refusing to be isolated or contained within four walls of brick and mortar or even systems and ideology, these leaders have taken literally the Great Commission mandate to "Go" into all the world. Those whom I've met are not running from opportunities that require "self-sacrifice" and they are certainly not enamored by anything that promotes "self-preservation." Most recent, I've been blessed by the ministry of A.J. Velasco from The Philippines. Following in the footsteps of his father and mother, Anthony and Gigi Velasco, A.J. is reaching a generation of students as a national leader in his mid-twenties. Already a phenomenal minister, he is helping to generate a church planting movement in Asia that will grow the Kingdom exponentially.
Refusing to be isolated or contained within four walls of brick and mortar or even systems and ideology, these leaders have taken literally the Great Commission mandate to "Go" into all the world.
Fifth, I could write about the impression made upon me as well, by men and women in the mission field of retirement age, yet they're not retiring. For many of them, there is no such thing. Do they deserve to? Absolutely. But everywhere I've been, I find people in their late seventies and early eighties who are still very active in ministry. Most have moved on from positions and titles, but they have not lost their passion to witness, preach, build, care, and just "be there." I'll always carry in my heart the memory of Guatemalan Pastor Juan Guachiac. No, I never met him, but when I heard the story of his death, I wept. Killed by gangsters in the very community where he had brought the Gospel. Drug addicts, prostitutes, and thieves were being saved and Pastor Juan was making too big a dent in their gang-related businesses … and he was murdered! How can anybody just pass that off? That my friend, affects how I see things. Martyrdom is still very real among the old and the young, and it happens more frequently on the field of World Missions than many realize.
...Most have moved on from positions and titles, but they have not lost their passion to witness, preach, build, care, and just "be there."
A Mission Threatened
Sixth, I also see the Great Commission a little more acutely in the light of the presence of terrorism in the world. Among the demonic-inspired motives of every terrorist act, is Satan's desire to hinder the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Intimidation and fear can be a gripping hold on those who would allow it. However, looking into the Scripture, I'm reminded of how the Gospel always spread when persecution was most intense. It is the same now. The Kingdom of God is enlarging exponentially in spite of every attempt to stop it. Jesus meant every word when He proclaimed, "The gates of Hell shall not prevail." The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will complete the mandate of the Great Commission, even in the face of horrific terror.
The Kingdom of God is enlarging exponentially in spite of every attempt to stop it. Jesus meant every word when He proclaimed, "The gates of Hell shall not prevail."
An Urgency To FINISH
Seventh, I see an urgency to complete The Great Commission. Someone once said that "Until the Great Co-Mission becomes the Great Go-Mission, we have committed the Great O-Mission." Forgive me for using what may first appear as a mere cliche', but the truth is "Time is too short to wait too long." Harvest is now. World events verify it. The spiritual hunger of men and women validate it. I have become more keenly aware that we must "Work while it yet day for night comes when no one can work at all."
...the truth is "Time is too short to wait too long." Harvest is now.
Renewed by Revival
Finally, my perception has been renewed by a "Nations Revival" that is authentic, life-giving, and undeniable. The moving power of the Holy Spirit is not abated but rather, accelerated in the earth today. What once took years now only takes days. I embrace the promise of Amos 9:13 for Church of God: "This is God's decree; Things will happen so fast your head will swim. One thing fast on the heels of the next. You won't be able to keep up and everywhere you look blessings."
The moving power of the Holy Spirit is not abated but rather, accelerated in the earth today.
I could go on and on, but the point is that while it is certainly not perfect, my sight has definitely has been adjusted. Yes, often I see through teary eyes, yet they're hopeful eyes. No place for pessimism, but bright-eyed and wide-eyed optimism for the harvest.