Episode 213 | 20th Century Mission | TBN

Episode 213 | 20th Century Mission

Watch Episode 213 | 20th Century Mission
December 5, 2019
26:37

Jesus the Game Changer

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Episode 213 | 20th Century Mission

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  • The center of the church is changing, shifting to the Southern Hemisphere,
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  • and I think our brothers and sisters in the West are struggling.
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  • This is our time to stand up and take the Gospel from everywhere to everywhere.
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  • In 1910, the World Missionary Conference was held here in Edinburgh.
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  • It was held in the Assembly Hall of the United Free Church in the shadow of the Edinburgh Castle.
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  • It was a remarkable event, in fact Mark Noll calls it, 'the high tide of the Western missionary movement'.
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  • The conference had 1200 people and it's very telling the people that were at the conference.
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  • Eighty percent of them actually came from Britain and North America.
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  • Only 170 from Europe and 18 from the rest of the world.
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  • Very few could have understood what the next hundred years would be like and the remarkable changes the world would see.
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  • As they gathered here in Edinburgh, there was a great sense of optimism of the future.
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  • And yet in the next hundred years, we would see two world wars and numerous other conflicts.
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  • There was the sexual and social revolution of the 1960s.
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  • There were theological changes through that whole period of time.
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  • Added to that, you had the Church moving from the Global North to the South, and moving from the West to the East.
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  • Mission was now going to become from everywhere to everywhere.
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  • And in the next hundred years, more Christians would lose their lives than any time before.
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  • It was a remarkable period that no one could have predicted.
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  • The Great Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910 was, to that point in time,
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  • the world's most general gathering of Protestant Christian missionaries.
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  • The mission historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette called the 19th century,
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  • 'The Great Century', because the world population of Christians had gone
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  • from about 20 percent of the world to 30 percent of the world.
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  • The 1910 Conference was a desire to think hard and seriously and scientifically,
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  • as they put it, about the whole business of bringing the Gospel of Jesus to the world.
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  • What were the issues? What were the challenges? What were the problems?
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  • Let's survey the whole world using the techniques of modern social science
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  • which were developing and put our heads together and really seek
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  • to produce a concerted Protestant campaign for the evangelization of the
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  • world in this generation as they understood it.
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  • It was only Protestant, so there were no Catholics, no Orthodox, no Pentecostals there either.
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  • So it was mainline, more traditional Protestants getting together.
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  • Looking back to try to harvest an informational conclusion about how missionary work had been going.
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  • The irony has to do with the date 1910, four years before the start of the First World War,
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  • and then the expectation that what had characterized the 19th century expansion of Christianity
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  • would characterize the century that followed 1910, which is just not at all what happened.
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  • They felt that the next century would see the triumph of Christianity on a broadly Western model,
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  • that Western missions were eventually going to sweep the board, particularly in Asia.
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  • They felt that the educated elites of Asia were on the brink of adopting Christianity
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  • because of its associations with Western education, Western modernity.
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  • On the other hand, they were a bit pessimistic about Africa
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  • because they felt that Africa was in danger of becoming an Islamic continent.
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  • In a sense, maybe they were right.
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  • But what they didn't actually foresee was the extent to which Africa, south of the Sahara,
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  • was actually going to become one of the most Christian parts of the world.
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  • If we were to take one of the people from that gathering and drop them
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  • into the Christian world of today, what would surprise them the most, do you think?
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  • Well, they were all white people. So, I mean, they gathered together,
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  • very few people from the rest of the world, the most of the world, were there.
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  • So, it was basically an evangelization project from the West to the rest.
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  • Well today, come to a global summit about global missions, it's dominated by the Global South.
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  • And thank God for it because we can learn from our sisters and brothers in Africa and South America and Asia and more.
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  • But that didn't happen then.
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  • So if you look at a chart from 1910 to 2010, the percentage of Christians in the world,
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  • it used to be there were all in the west and the north. Now they're in the south and diversified really,
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  • but Global Christianity is headquartered actually probably somewhere in the west of Africa.
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  • They would be delighted that Christianity has grown as much as it has.
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  • They might be more sober when they realize that actually, compared to world population, it's not grown.
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  • Christianity has not even kept pace with the expansion of population.
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  • As a male observer, they might well be surprised as to how strongly the women's presence and women's voice is now
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  • shaping many of the agendas in the World Church, and I think they would be quite taken aback by how
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  • influential broadly Pentecostal strands of Christianity are, which in 1910 were very small,
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  • not yet really figuring on their radar and not being taken seriously.
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  • Colonialism and mission goes right back to the early Christian centuries.
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  • Once the Emperor Constantine is converted, there is a kind of Roman Christian imperialism.
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  • Charlemagne was probably the greatest Christian imperialist of his day.
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  • Spring would come around and Charlemagne's armies would go into the field
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  • and come to a city and say, 'You need to accept my rule and Christianity or we'll kill you'.
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  • And then, of course, with the expansion of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, we have modern colonialism.
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  • And Europe, North America are the bearers of Christian faith.
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  • How do you differentiate colonialism and mission?
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  • Well, colonialism was the great scourge of missions.
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  • So we go back a hundred years ago, we lived in a colonial world.
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  • Africa was divided up by colonial powers. Much of the rest of the world was as well.
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  • But the idea was that you would own this area, you could also exploit its natural resources,
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  • you would make it a better place hopefully in some ways, although, that generally didn't happen.
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  • Self-rule is so key to a people's attainment of who they are and what they want to do.
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  • So what happened was, at the same time the colonial era was, the Great Century of Missions was.
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  • It is true that at times during the 18th and 19th centuries,
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  • mission did tie up with colonialism, but that was at one point in history.
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  • You're talking about a two thousand year old movement.
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  • And to take one bit of mission from one part of the world and to typify the whole mission in that way just doesn't work.
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  • Even if you look at modern mission, William Carey is often seen as the, 'father of modern missions'.
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  • He worked in Serampore in India, which was a Danish settlement because the British East India Company wouldn't have him.
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  • The colonial authorities didn't want this missionary around.
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  • And, you know, that's the sort of illustration that there was always tensions between the two.
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  • Yeah, there were times when missionaries worked too closely to the colonial authorities.
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  • You can't deny that. But you can't typify a two thousand year old movement just on that one thing.
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  • Often the missionaries came on the back of colonialism
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  • and there are people today that talk about mission is just Western colonialism.
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  • As an African, how do you see that?
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  • For me, I think we have to have a balanced approach.
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  • In those days, they had no choice.
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  • What else can they do? I mean, the indigenous governments, they don't recognize them.
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  • They need help. They don't have guns and things that they will take care of themselves
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  • They are people who are coming with their Bibles.
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  • And I think getting the protection of the colonialists, I think was, it was a necessity, not a choice.
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  • But despite all that, they preached the Gospel.
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  • Some of them went against colonialists.
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  • There was a very strong African Christian movement before the end of colonialism
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  • but once you took Western colonialism out of the picture,
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  • Africans were free to embrace Christianity in many different forms without being connected to the Western colonialists.
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  • So the growth has occurred since the end of colonialism.
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  • We're in Battery Park. It's the lower end of Manhattan.
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  • Just over here is where the Staten Island ferry leaves from.
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  • This statue is called "The Immigrants". It was created by Luis Sanguino in 1973.
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  • In the middle 1980s, it was moved here to be next to Castle Clinton.
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  • Between 1855 and 1890, all the immigrants coming to America
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  • through New York came through Castle Clinton. That was seven million people.
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  • New York now is a city of 8.6 million people. It is the most linguistically diverse city in the world.
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  • Over 800 different languages are spoken in this city and yet New York just represents
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  • all the large metropolitan cities of the world. People have come from every nation,
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  • culture and country to be in the large metropolitan cities around the globe,
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  • whether it's London or Paris, Madrid or Milan, Sydney or Singapore.
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  • The world has come to those cities.
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  • You know, in the past, missionaries used to get onto boats and planes to go to the ends of the earth.
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  • But now the ends of the earth have come to our large cities.
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  • Going to the ends of the earth may mean simply crossing the street.
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  • Back, of course, over 150 years ago, mission was from the West to the rest I suppose,
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  • but now it is very much from everywhere to everyone.
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  • And you can just cross the street here today, Karl, and you will meet people from all of the nations.
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  • And we are receiving missionaries to the UK.
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  • We have people coming and ministering here in the UK and they're being sent
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  • from churches in lands which used to be the receiving context of missionaries.
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  • A lot of people are talking about the center of gravity in Christianity has moved to the South.
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  • And then the churches in the West are shrinking.
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  • And there is explosive growth of Global Christianity in the South.
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  • And then we also saw that traditionally the West is the place or the source where missionaries were sent from.
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  • And now you are seeing that different places, different parts of the world are sending missionaries to the West.
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  • What is happening is there is a spiritual vacuum which is being filled,
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  • not by Christianity per say, but by other expressions of spirituality,
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  • new ageism, interests in Eastern religions and so forth.
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  • But at the same time, the immigration patterns have shaped the landscape, the religious landscape of the West.
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  • Many Western countries speak about the growth of Christianity,
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  • not within the long term populations there but amongst the African immigrants,
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  • Asian immigrants, Latin American immigrants going into Europe and North America,
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  • and so Christianity is being reinfused in a different way through these immigrant populations.
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  • The center of the Church is changing, shifting to the Southern Hemisphere.
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  • Nowadays, in a global age, the world is coming to be the same village.
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  • And yet, there are pockets where, for one reason or another, are ignored or neglected.
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  • I think increasingly a lot of people from the majority world or Global South
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  • see Europe as a mission field, whereas before no one sees Europe as a mission field.
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  • It's kind of like, 'No, we send missionaries, not the other way around'.
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  • But now UK is receiving a lot of missionaries and people have been coming since the 60's.
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  • This is why it is actually interesting that it's not necessarily a new phenomenon.
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  • But since the 90's, there's been attention drawn to it.
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  • There are others, things that people are doing coming from different places,
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  • whether it's Central Asia or South Asia, coming to the UK as missionaries, coming as pastors.
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  • Places that are yet to be evangelized because of the war on terror
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  • has become a no-go area for the traditional missionary who would have come from America
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  • or Europe, but an African has easy access to go to these places and to do work there.
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  • And the churches in Europe, they are sleeping.
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  • The church in Ethiopia is nowadays, especially for the last 4-5 years, their vision is becoming very big.
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  • Even my own denomination have sent a number of missionaries all over the world;
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  • to India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, to Chad in Africa.
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  • So we have quite a lot of missionaries worldwide.
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  • The churches are highly revived in terms of sending out.
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  • The growth in the Global South, the church growth, it's amazing.
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  • So it's a time for the Global South to send out missionaries.
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  • Do you feel that sense that this is Africa's time? This is Ethiopia's time?
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  • It is. It is. Now, for example, one of the things people ask me, how do people support missionaries?
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  • We have a thing where every month, people, besides their tithes and gifts,
  • 00:17:43.150 --> 00:17:46.260
  • commit 100 birr that goes directly to the missionaries.
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  • So I think it is possible to support, I mean we shouldn't expect the church to be wealthy
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  • and to have many things, but it is where your heart is.
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  • That 100 birr would still be quite a sacrifice because
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  • Ethiopians don't exactly make alot of money, do they?
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  • No, no. It is a sacrifice. Because it is how you prioritize your life matters.
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  • That is why people sacrifice and say, 'I am saved because someone preach the Gospel to me'.
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  • Like my story. What would have happened if that lady would have decided, 'No, maybe, I'm just a new believer.
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  • Why should I talk about Jesus?' Probably I wouldn't be here.
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  • But because she stepped out and she shared what little she knew about Christ, I'm here,
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  • standing and speaking about the grace and the gift of God.
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  • It says in Revelations 7, the last book of the New Testament,
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  • that, 'There'll be men and women from every tongue, tribe and nation'.
  • 00:19:24.210 --> 00:19:27.210
  • When you're in heaven forever, you can still be identified from where you came from.
  • 00:19:27.230 --> 00:19:31.100
  • So there's something about that, that God designs and desires
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  • His eternal worship to be made up of every tongue, tribe and nation.
  • 00:19:36.030 --> 00:19:39.040
  • Right now, every tongue, tribe and nation won't be present around the throne forever
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  • because they have not heard the good news of the Gospel.
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  • The ends of the earth is Jesus' way of saying, 'no one is exempt'.
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  • This is meant for everyone.
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  • Why should anyone on this planet suffer without the beauty and the freedom of these ideas?
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  • It's not right. If you've been given a gift and you know that there are people who don't have that,
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  • if you care about those people, you'd want to share it with them.
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  • When you know that Jesus loves you and your sins are forgiven, you can't help but share it.
  • 00:20:08.080 --> 00:20:13.030
  • And so whether that means that you go to another country or you learn another language
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  • or you're just talking to your neighbor over the fence in the backyard,
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  • there's something compelling about the story that makes you want to share it.
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  • Sometimes we believe that the true missionary activity is not to find people who have never heard of Christ,
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  • but to go to the places where people have known and forgotten, or have no use for the Gospel.
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  • And often that's even in our own neighborhoods or back in our own communities.
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  • For me, it's breaking the barriers. We tend to stay in our comfort zone.
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  • There are lots of problems, a lot of hurting people outside Church and outside our comfort zone.
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  • If you think about the spread of the Christian faith, it has to spread horizontally
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  • from place to place, but it also has to reach across generations.
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  • And in every generation, people reframe Christianity according to their own culture.
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  • The Christianity of my parents is not the same Christianity as that of my children.
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  • So one way of thinking of going to the ends of the earth is a deliberate work to bridge generations.
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  • The ends of the earth for most people is right across the kitchen table.
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  • How are we going to speak our message to these populations that just don't want to know?
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  • Because they're raised in a very different culture.
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  • And to me, that is going to be the challenge of our time.
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  • It's to be understood not simply geographically, but perhaps in social, cultural and economic terms.
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  • They don't have to be away from us. They may be very near geographically,
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  • but there are still minority people groups and they feel neglected.
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  • Traditional paradigm of missions being, 'out there somewhere'
  • 00:22:12.290 --> 00:22:17.000
  • needs to be broken down and we need to realize that actually
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  • missions begins on our very doorstep, which actually is very exciting because we can mobilize the whole church.
  • 00:22:21.090 --> 00:22:26.010
  • Back in Hudson Taylor's day, it was only the few that could go to China,
  • 00:22:27.260 --> 00:22:31.160
  • whereas now God has brought China to England, so everybody
  • 00:22:31.180 --> 00:22:35.070
  • actually can be involved in missions right on our very doorstep.
  • 00:22:35.090 --> 00:22:39.090
  • Not to forget, you know, about those people who do not enjoy this freedom.
  • 00:22:39.110 --> 00:22:43.070
  • We live in freedom but we cannot just enjoy it and forget about those who do not have this freedom.
  • 00:22:43.090 --> 00:22:48.010
  • It starts and it finishes with Him.
  • 00:22:49.170 --> 00:22:51.210
  • There is nothing other than the name of Jesus that is to be held above everything.
  • 00:22:51.230 --> 00:22:55.160
  • He offers hope and salvation to people.
  • 00:22:55.180 --> 00:22:57.220
  • We're seeing people come to faith in Him and lose everything because of it but find joy.
  • 00:22:57.240 --> 00:23:02.190
  • I still think there's a really important line between faith and unbelief.
  • 00:23:02.210 --> 00:23:06.100
  • And crossing that boundary is still a boundary I think Jesus invites all of us to be part of.
  • 00:23:06.120 --> 00:23:11.100
  • And taking that Good News into new territory in that sense is critical.
  • 00:23:13.150 --> 00:23:16.290
  • It's all about people. It's not about the globe. It's not about the geography.
  • 00:23:17.010 --> 00:23:21.250
  • It is all about a person who lives in a very remote, or it could be even at the middle of a town.
  • 00:23:24.150 --> 00:23:27.130
  • When he listens to the Gospel in a language that he understands best, the end of the world has started.
  • 00:23:31.140 --> 00:23:36.050
  • It's not completed yet, but it has started there.
  • 00:23:39.070 --> 00:23:43.120
  • Well, for me personally, if what Jesus says is true
  • 00:23:43.140 --> 00:23:48.110
  • and what the Scriptures say about Jesus is true, it changes everything
  • 00:23:50.060 --> 00:23:54.290
  • because it means that there is a God who cares enough about me
  • 00:23:55.010 --> 00:23:59.280
  • and about everyone that He was willing to die.
  • 00:24:04.030 --> 00:24:09.000
  • It means that at the heart of the universe is love.
  • 00:24:12.160 --> 00:24:17.140
  • It also means that the universe isn't about me, so my ego,
  • 00:24:18.240 --> 00:24:22.280
  • whether something good or bad happens to me doesn't really matter that much.
  • 00:24:25.050 --> 00:24:29.130
  • My job is to love. And my job is to do the best work that I can do,
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  • on something that I would do that someone else wouldn't.
  • 00:24:40.130 --> 00:24:45.100
  • And then I have to let the results be in God's hands.
  • 00:24:49.190 --> 00:24:54.170