PART 1

 

INTRODUCTORY MATTERS

12/19/16

INTRODUCTION TO PART 1

A Biblical precedent for national missions can be found in the account recorded in John 4, where Jesus began to evangelize in Samaria. He and His disciples were returning to Galilee, north of Judea. Between those two provinces of Palestine were couched the Samaritans, who for historic reasons had been refused the gospel.

Jews had intermarried with non-Jews; therefore, they were deemed unworthy of the promises of Israel, and the ‘pure’ Jews would have nothing to do with them (John 4:9). In the language of the missiologist, they became a "Hidden People" -- hidden from the truth and in need of evangelism. To the north and south were those who could have reached them with the truth -- but who refused to do so. Jesus, aware of their need and the malignant neglect of His disciples to break from the traditional refusal of the Jewish people to "see the spiritual plight of the Samaritans in their midst," decided to set a good example. He and His disciples went to Samaria, where He evangelized the Samaritan woman who in turn brought her whole village to hear also (John 4:29-30).

Why is this national missions and not just evangelism? Although there was a witness in Judea and Galilee, Samaria was geographically removed from both testimonies. There was no reasonable way either would be able to carry out an effective witness in their midst. It would clearly call for a special ministry. Therefore, Jesus ordered it to be done in each of the gospel accounts: Matthew 28:19; Mark 1615; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21. Finally, in Acts 1:8 it was spelled out geographically: Jerusalem, Judea, and SAMARIA.

There are numerous "Samaritans" in the United States -- those who, for whatever reason in the midst of what was once Christian America, have been virtually unreached by the gospel outreach of the churches. It is those "Samaritans" that this study primarily addresses. I was personally amazed at the plethora of mission opportunities America presents to the vibrant Christian who recognizes that the Great Commission is not an option, but a command of our Commander. It is amazing that he said, "Go" or better, since it is a passive participle, "Having Gone", that is "wherever you are" the command is to "Make Disciples"... even in Samaria.

This study of North America's Hidden Peoples reveals the full orbed responsibility of the commited Christian to understand the Lord's heart in the Great Commission to evangelize all peoples regardless where they are. He is not willing that any should perish in the jungles of our inner cities as well as the jungles of the world. Is it not amazing that in our day, the Lord is sending many to the US from the 10/40 window of 'resistant peoples' where the governments are not especially enamored with the idea of US missionary activity in their country. Missiionary activity can take place among Somalis living in Minneapolis and not in Mogadishu, where missions ceased in 1972. Consider the one million internationals studing in our universities from many countries where visas will be difficult or unobtainable.

I am impressed that the Early Christians really believed the Gt. Commandment to make disciples. They really did impact their world. Here in America, our early, history wich we will look at, is replete with that same spirit of obedience. As missionaries looked to the 'ends of the earth', foreign mission organizations proliferated to give oversight to those going off to foreign fields of radically different cultures, and to encourage cultural relavancy to their presentation. The leaders of these proliferating mission organizations felt the need to form Associations for the sharing of information and fellowhip. Two of these Associations are: 1. the IFMA or Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association [1917]. These were non-denominational, independent missions. It changed its name to Cross Global Link. 2. EFMA or Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies, the mission arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. These two mission associations merged in 2011 to become Missio Nexus, making it the largest Evangelical Network of missions in North America: 35,000 missionaries in 200 missions. At the inaugeration of this merger, Doug Birdsall of the Lausanne Movement said "There may be those who question the future of missionary activity in North America. We are in the twilight years but it is not yet the sunset". He concluded in the words of Adonirum Judson, "The future is as bright as the promises of God". May I suggest that Missio Nexus certainly has a commanding position in missionary activity, but there are other associations of missions which are alive and well sensing a bright future far from a sunset such as: FOM or Fellowship of Missions as well as ANAM the Association of North American Missions. ANAM is the association accrediting ministries concentrating on National Missions.