1)We are in a world of constant change: Global events/ natural disasters/ diversity within the SBC . . . 20 years ago 95% of churches in SBC were what we call “traditional churches” today, 50% are what we call “traditional churches” within 5 years only 30% are what we call “traditional churches.”
-Political polarization of our country.
-declining values in U.S. (homosexual marriage, abortion)
-Explosion in technology which becomes irrelevant in only a few years after introduction.
In this world of constant change, Jesus Christ is the Solid Rock!
2) Intensified Spiritual Warfare
-Financially . . . The Euro is so strong against the $ that it cost us $20 million more than we anticipated for our missionaries on the field
-religious opposition . . . more SBC missionaries died as martyrs in the last 10 years than in the previous 150 years put together.
-In one country we are seeing record numbers of people come to faith in Christ. The amazing thing is, that every new believer is martyred within three weeks of their baptism.
-In another country the new converts are taught at baptism, “You do not take my life, I freely give it to you so that you might come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
-Government restrictions- Since 1990 we are averaging 3 countries per year closed to missionaries
-Muslim terrorists- bombs blowing up. If something happens around the world, you can count on the fact that our brothers and sisters representing the SBC are there. When several hotels were blown up a few years ago, our personnel got a funny feeling and checked out hours before the bomb went off. We had a missionary knocked down by a blast in an airport, a MK hurt with shrapnel on a bus bombing.
God is greater than these and many other problems and He is working things for our good.
-An example is in Rwanda (I shouldn’t tell the name of the country). Our missionaries were caught in the midst of militias fighting. One missionary had been beaten up. Our missionaries contacted the IMB stating they were all huddled in one house and they could hear gunshot all around them. People were being killed right and left. The U.S. Embassy was shot up. We got on the phone with the U.S. Embassy, and they told us they couldn’t even get their workers out of the country. Not much they could do . . .hang on. Contacted the French and they said they were being held at bay by fighting, they couldn’t help us. Called U.S. again, and told them U.S. citizens were trapped in the midst of this fighting and needed to get out. We were told, “you are on your own.” Our IMB were watching the house via a satellite and could see the fighting going on street to street. Finally, Gordon Fort (VP) called the Pentagon and talked with a man. The situation was explained. He said, I know two of the three militia leaders. I will call them and see if they will agree to a two hour cease fire so that we can get you out of here before you are all killed. A short time later, the Pentagon official called and said there was an agreed two hour cease fire and one of the militia trucks would pick up our IMB workers and take them to the airport to get them out of the country. As we were flying out of the country, the U.S. government called and stated “what are y’all doing flying out of the country, it is dangerous?” We are getting out while there is a two-hour cease fire. What? We haven’t heard of a cease fire. Y’all are on your own too!
The Pentagon official who helped was a MK who had grown up in that country and used to play with those militia leaders when they were little. God is working all things for good.
3) Global Advance
-Former Soviet Union/We are partnering with Romania and Moldova with the Mission Torch that we heard presented. RAM has been invited to join in the conversations in October of reaching Western Europe again using indigenous missionaries.
-East Asia- Jerry Rankin said, “How many workers do we have in this region, I’m the president . . .we can’t tell you, you go to churches, get excited and blab.” What we do know is in this area we are having unprecedented growth in the Church of Jesus Christ.
-South Asia- 1992 we had 10 missionaries at SAGM, 2 years ago we had 400 missionaries
-Central Asia- 15 years ago not 1 IMB missionary, now over 300 in this area
-Highest % of church growth is in areas “closed” to missionaries. We had 50% of our baptisms in these closed areas.
4) Explosive growth
43,205 churches overseas 157,890 churches
4 million church membership 9.9 million
308,000 baptisms 610,000 baptisms
245,076 in discipleship 1.8 million in discip
3,352 churches started 25,497 started
34,437 leadership training 222, 604 leader train
4,28 IMB personnel 5,271 IMB personnel
5) God will use our efforts to make His name known
A lady walked across the stage to receive Missionary Emeritus. The husband and wife went as a team, but only one came home. Her husband was martyred for his faith. With tears streaming down her face, she gave glory to God as she received a standing ovation. What happened? They received little rewards for their prayers and works in the area. But, after her husband was killed a revival broke out and now 80 churches have been started. We heard you say you live for Christ, but now we have seen you die for Him.
We must go. Gordon Fort told about going into a small hut in Africa. Figure on the mat . . . ashen in color, the color one gets when dying. “How old is she? The most we can gather is she is 86 years old. In those 86 years, has anyone every been to your village to tell you about Jesus? No. Gordon said his heart was broken. Here was someone who was about to die to spend an eternity separated from God who had never heard. Not knowing if the dying woman could hear, Gordon began to explain to the daughter about Jesus. About that moment, the lady began to cry our “I hear, I hear . . .” and she gave her life to Christ and lived as a Christian two hours.