Published Feb. 19, 2013
Two hundred years ago, five young men were ordained as Congregational missionaries at a church on the New England coast. Soon they set sail on Cargo ships to become one of the first organized groups of American missionaries sent overseas headed for India.
Thus began a long tradition of American Christians sending missionaries overseas a tradition which continues to this day. In fact, a recent study by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts found that, in 2010, almost of third of all of the Christian missionaries dispatched overseas in the world come from the USA. That's 127,000 of the world's estimated 400,000 missionaries.
I've read of those who firmly believe that God blessed the formation of the United States for just this purpose. He blessed the formation of this nation with the faith and the resources to take His word and spread it across the globe.
I have tremendous respect for these missionaries for, in a very real way, sacrificing their personal lives to honor the call God has placed in their hearts to spread the Gospel in this way. Their love for those they serve in these foreign lands is truly God-breathed.
But something I read recently makes me wonder if perhaps we need a new generation of missionaries right here at home.
J. Lee Grady is a former editor of Charisma magazine and is now director of the Mordecai Project. Recently he blogged about something he saw last month while visiting churches in Nigeria. During a service in Port Harcourt, a speaker Mosy Madugba reminded the Nigerians how both the British (starting in the 1700s) and the Americans (starting in the 1800s) sent missionaries to Nigeria to spread the Gospel.
Then, in the service, attended by about 5,000, something truly amazing happened. Here's how Grady describes it in his blog:
"...the Holy Spirit took over. The Nigerians ran to the front of the building and got on their faces. Some of them were wailing. Nothing about this prayer meeting was dignified it was noisy and raw and messy, as if several hundred women were giving birth at the same time.
"The Nigerians were crying their guts out because they were so grateful for the mercy of God. They could not accept the fact that the two countries that invested so much to bring the salvation of Jesus to Africa are now turning away from the Christian faith. They were weeping over our worldliness, our rebellion and our flagrant rejection of the biblical values that were once our roots. They were mourning our backslidden condition.
"The Nigerians stayed on their faces for at least half an hour, asking God to sweep England and the United States with a spiritual awakening..."
American friend, if this doesn't shame and humble you on behalf of our nation, I don't know what would.
We certainly need that "spiritual awakening" the Nigerians were seeking for us. The American Religious Identification Survey, released in 2009, found that those claiming "no" religious affiliation nearly doubled since the previous survey from 8 to 15 percent. That makes the "nones" the third largest group behind Catholics and Baptists.
Spearheaded by secularist government misleaders, a humanist education establishment, an anti-Christ media and, perhaps worst of all, rapidly growing liberalism within the church itself, America as a society has turned its back on God. And, as bad as it is, the trend is still worsening. You need look no farther than today's headlines to find evidence of that.
When I was growing up, I'd hear visiting missionaries tell of their work overseas. And, I confess, I prayed, "Lord, I really don't think that's what you have for me." God was gracious. He gave me a "mission" right here where I am reaching many thousands each week through radio and this newsletter yes, around the world , even, ironically, reaching missionaries overseas.
How about you?
Have you ever thought of yourself as a missionary? You are even if you've never set foot outside your homeland. A missionary is a representative of Christ and that's exactly what you, as a Christian, are. You represent Christ to those around you. You might still live in the hometown you grew up in, but you are living in your mission field.
If so many thousands of missionaries over the centuries have perilously traveled around the world and sacrificed so much for the cause of Christ (even their very lives), shouldn't you be willing, at least, to tell others about Christ right where you are? You would be helping answer the prayers of thousands of Spirit-filled Nigerians for your nation.
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