Good stuff we learn on the apostolic road...

Jesus is calling people to go to the unreached. Is he giving you the desire to:

Embrace and relish change: Want to grow in your trust in God, seeing how he provides for you even if you get ripped away from relationships, family, and community that you know and trust?

Let go: Diving into life among the unreached means surrendering places and positions where you are competent, respected, and comfortable.

Grow your tolerance for the unpredictable: As you step outside of your established and predictable world, you grow your capacity to live in a land where ambiguity, risk, and suspicion lurk.

Strengthen your commitment to the Lord: As you lose confidence in your own ability, plans, and methods, you get learn to know and trust the Lord more.

Get a light, joyful heart: The Father teaches us to live joyfully in the face of challenges. You’ll have to learn to gladly splash buckets of grace over your own failings and on others.

Have a great time with the lost: When you enjoy these fascinating people made in God’s image, you’ll be spurred on to work hard at learning their language, understanding their social cues, and figuring out how to connect and hang out with them. Most of all, you’ll be motivated and envigourated as you taste the sweet fragrance of the good news flowing out in conversation.

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What is apostolic ability?

Apostolic ability is largely the ability to be moved. It’s the ability and availability a person has to be ripped away from the relationships they know and trust, and thrust into new areas, new circles, with new co-workers and community. It’s the ability to let go of or abandon family. It’s the ability to let go of places and positions where you’re competent, comfortable and respected and go into new territory where your incompetent, uncomfortable and viewed with suspicion.

The more people are settled, successful, and set in life, the harder they are to move.

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6 Reasons To Send Younger Single Men

Why should we send younger, single men overseas? Shouldn’t we wait until they get married, get more educated, and become more stable?

Here’s an answer from an older, married missionary who’s seen a lot of people come and go in 32 years of working in pioneer situations.

Why should guys go young and single?

  1. Men who come young and single last longer. On our field, 15 out of 16 of the men who joined us young and single have not quit. But 60% of all married men who come “for life” were gone before the end of the 3rd year. Such statistics speak for themselves.

  2. Young singles can learn language better. The ability to learn a foreign language decreases after age 25. One huge challenge to every missionary today is that he must teach the first believer(s) to obey Jesus and all His commands in a completely foreign language. Learning a foreign language takes 2-3 years of intensive full-time study. It takes endless hours hanging out with locals. This is incredibly hard for older, married people to do. Without real proficiency in the local language, a missionary’s impact as disciple-makers is minimal.

    Vocationally speaking, every year before the age of 25 is of vital strategic importance! (Note: Failure to become fluent in the foreign language is one of the biggest reasons why older new workers quit.)

  3. Young people aren’t as crushed by feeling ineffective. The bigger reason why men who come out a little older go home sooner is quite surprising. One would think that having a couple years of effective ministry back home before coming out would be an advantage. The opposite is true! And the problem is personal fulfillment. When any new worker arrives he forsakes all effectiveness. For a lengthy time (with no language) he has no impact. Years of no measurable impact, no contribution and no effectiveness are tough! This is not nearly so demoralizing for young men who have not had that much fulfillment (and have no misplaced sense of their own effectiveness) in ministry. We’ve seen this many times over.

  4. Young people have less to unlearn. Along this same line: Trees in a forest can grow straight and tall but a tree in more difficult terrain must adapt. Men who gain experience in ministry and even training for ministry in the West must undo much of what they learned. By contrast, younger men who do their earliest years of ministry overseas are especially “hardy” and have developed a ministry style especially adapted to these difficult places. Inexperienced is better!

    straight and wind-blown tree

  5. Most young guys do get married. If they’re out on the field they can choose from the young women who have already proven their calling, proven their commitment, and proven their ability to endure out on a difficult foreign field. The biggest reason why young men (and young women whom God has called overseas) fail to go is that they choose a spouse who may well be “passionate about missions” but is unproven out on the field and fails to persevere.

    Note: Not surprisingly, for this very reason, most of all young recruits are lost at Bible colleges where marriage is encouraged and people are marrying with little regard for the sanctity of a missionary calling and the pitfalls of premature marriage when it comes to serving overseas. Please, help the young men to come sooner!

  6. Young guys are less attached to making money. Resisting the deceptivity of money gets harder with age. If they delay in North America young men are often encouraged (even by Evangelical colleges!) to enslave themselves to debtors. They are lured into a higher standard of living by the paychecks they earn. And they become “self-sufficient” and unwilling (or unable to muster the faith) to lean on God to supply all their financial needs. (He will!)

In conclusion: The first “talents” / “real gold” that every young single man has to offer for the cause of the Gospel in places where Christ is not yet known are his very limited years of youth and singleness, all of which are fleeting! And when the men come earlier they are more successful.

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The Serampore Agreement TL;DR

In 1805 William Carey and some friends signed an agreement about what they wanted to focus on while reaching the unreached.

Here is a really rough and quick summary for the TL;DR generation.

The Serampore Agreement TL;DR

  1. Care about the state of the lost.
  2. Learn what we can about them, by talking to them and studying.
  3. Be culturally sensitive and avoid unnecessary offence.
  4. Work hard at meeting and talking with the lost as much as possible, day in, day out, not just in a couple of events or programs a week.
  5. Tell them about the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is our main message.
  6. Be humble and available to the locals.
  7. Work hard at strengthening and caring for the ones that believe. This takes lots of time and patience.
  8. Encourage the gifts and ministry of the local believers. They are the ones that will carry on the work in their own culture, not us.
  9. Work hard at learning the language, translating the scripture, and distributing it.
  10. Above all, maintain a vibrant personal prayer life.

Finally: Let’s give ourselves fully and waste our lives for this cause. We can never think that our lives, skills, families or possessions are our own. We have to give all that up for Jesus. Let’s forget about saving up for ourselves or our children. Let’s drop any petty quarrels, and live together for Him!

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What's scarier, marriage or missions?

When people think about giving up their career, future plans, friends and family and heading overseas to live for Jesus, they can get a bit nervous. It can feel like standing on the edge of a dark cliff, not knowing what might await them if they jump off. They’re terrified. Will I die? Will my life be ruined? Will I have anything to make me happy ever again? Is this a good idea?

But people take much more terrifying risks all the time. They get married, for instance.

People decide to sign away the rest of their personal freedom until the day they or their spouse dies. They choose to subject themselves to years of sleepless nights and trying days raising children. They choose to put themselves under a whole new host of financial responsibilities and liabilities. They choose to trust their entire futures with another fallen human, not knowing how they might act in years to come. When we think of the logic and the risks involved, this is terrifying.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to get married, or that marriage is a bad thing. I’m just saying it’s crazy. Terrifyingly crazy.

But people do it all the time. They meet someone, fall in love, and decide that it’s worth it to take the jump. They decide that marriage is a good idea. They decide that they want to do this. People encourage them towards it. They feel God leading them towards it. And they go for it.

Now back to the terrifying jump towards a life in missions. Is it anywhere near as risky, terrifying, and illogical as the decision to get married?

Let’s have a look at a little comparison of God’s promises and the realities surrounding these two decisions.

comparison chart

Deciding to live for Jesus in the nations shouldn’t be anywhere near as scary as deciding to get married. It’s not anywhere near as dangerous or risky. So why are people so terrified of it? Why can so few people make the leap?

If people can somehow decide that the decision of marriage is worth it, they can easily make the leap to waste their lives in some unreached part of the world.

People can fall in love with Jesus and decide he’s worth it. They can decide that it’s a good and worthwhile thing to do. They can decide that they want to do it. They can be encouraged to go for it. They can feel God leading them towards it.

What if people in the church encouraged people towards missions just as much as they encouraged them towards marriage? Why don’t they?

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Your 20s - The Defining Decade for Missionaries?

“In almost all areas of development, there is what is called a critical period, a time when we are primed for growth and change, when simple exposure can lead to dramatic transformation…. Afterward, things are not so easy.
The twenties are that critical period of adulthood.”

Meg Jay, PhD - The Defining Decade

There is something very special about the twenties. It’s a time of massive growth and vocational development. I got to the field when I was 23, and those first seven years were hugely formational for me. I learned to get comfortable in a different culture, get encouraged and strengthened in prayer, talk to people very different than me, and live a life of explaining Jesus to people who never got to hear about him before.

Many of my friends who have flourished in evangelism and discipleship in unreached places also cut their teeth in their twenties. Most moved overseas in the 21-24 range. Before they got married or settled down, they had a lot of time and freedom to get out and about with the local people. They travelled to different villages and saw God do wonderful things. They gained a faith and an appetite for miraculous connections and opportunities to share Christ. Their young brains were imprinted with the ability to interface with lost people in a different language, and they gained a natural rapport (“identity capital” as some would say) that laid a foundation for deep relationships and dicipleship for the years ahead.

It’s not impossible for people to learn some of these things in their thirites, forties, or even sixties, but it can be a lot harder. I do know amazing people who went to the field and were used in much later years, and I praise God for calling and using people at all ages. But I still do believe there’s something so special about spending the twenties on the field. For Jesus’ sake we should strive and fight to get them out there with him.

Young potential missionaries don’t need good jobs, seminary degrees, or families of three. They need to get out there and be exposed and transformed during these especially formative years. As Meg Jay said, “simple exposure can lead to dramatic transformation”. They just need some community, encouragement, and above all a vibrant relationship with Jesus.

From what I’ve seen, a 23 year old with two years of experience on the field will have exponentially more missiological knowledge and wisdom than a 32 year old with four years of seminary training.

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How Hard Can it be To Find Someone Who Knows Jesus?

There are lost people everywhere, and the mission field is all around us. But still, not all places are the same.

In some places it’s almost impossible to find anyone who knows Jesus.

In the following infographics each red person represents one Christian for every x people in the population.

How hard would it be to find someone who knew Jesus if you lived in each of the following places?

Try to find the one believer in each sample of the population.

In a small town in Canada, speaking English

In a Toronto area suburb, speaking English

In Quebec, speaking French

In Iran, speaking Farsi

In Germany, speaking German

In Thailand, speaking Thai

In Tajikistan, speaking Tajik

In Turkey, speaking Turkish

Among the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan, speaking Pashto

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to ever hear about Jesus in these places?

That’s why we send out missionaries, so that people living in places with such little witness can get a chance to hear the good news.

But there’s another problem we have to come to terms with. Only 3% of missionaries go to these darker “unreached” places. 97% go to places where there are already a lot of Christians.

But this doesn’t show the missionary/population ratio.

Brazil is an example of a “reached country” that lots of missionaries go to. In 2010, it received 20,000 missionaries, meaning that each missionary was reaching a population like this.

But what about all the 1.7 billion Muslims that don’t know Christ? They don’t even get a quarter of the number of missionaries that go to Brazil.

Sadly, there’s only 1 missionary for every 400,000 Muslims.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:36-37)

Note: These infographics represent rough estimates based on The Joshua Project, The Travelling Team, personal observation, and interviews with people living in these different places.

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