We have been blessed at Refuge in the past year, with a bounty of workers ready for the harvest the Lord has put before them. This is a piece from a missionary heading overseas soon. For the safety of the ministry and those laboring in the work of the gospel, names and locations have not been included. Refuge City Church kindly asks that if you choose to share this blog post on social media or with your friends, to refrain from sharing any names or specific locations that you may be privy to.
“Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions because God is ultimate, not man. When the age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions.”– John Piper
By now, many of you know my story, but I am excited to share it again! I graduated high school in 2015 and have been walking with the Lord since 7th grade. All throughout high school the Lord has been growing my passion for worship and missions. Last September I stepped down the path to walking out the calling I believe the Lord has on my life: to be a worshiper in a country and region where there are few others. Last September I moved out to Colorado Springs, CO and took part in a missionary training program with the ACTS School of Frontier Missions. The Antioch Center for Training and Sending (ACTS) exists to train and equip young people to go into the hardest and darkest places on the earth and be a light for Christ and a bold witness of the Gospel. That first portion of training was a total of 5 months. It included three months in a classroom and prayer room learning about various aspects of frontier missions. Then the following two months were spent in one of these countries with little access to the Gospel. During this time I made a commitment to come back to the country I was in (in the region of East Asia) with a team of four. My initial commitment is to the next two years, but I know the Lord is beckoning me to live out my life in the unreached nations of the world. We will be going back in just a few weeks to start learning the language, to pray and worship, disciple and train young people, and help aid the local church in a multiplying church planting movement.
The quote above from John Piper is often reiterated by the leaders of ACTS. This quote has shaken me and stuck with me over the past year in such a cool way! As we all live out the mission of God we must remember that the mission is not the ultimate. As we have been learning at our Sunday worship gatherings, worshiping Jesus is the prize our hearts are to be set on. The two go hand in hand and this is why I was so drawn to ACTS as my sending organization and also why I have been so drawn to Refuge to be my covenant community! I am so excited to see how the Lord is moving in the nations and how YOU and I are invited to be a part. I have gotten to share some of the details of what we will be doing there in East Asia, but I want to explain further the WHY I am going and the vital ways the body here at Refuge plays a part.
Over the past year the Lord has really been transforming my heart and mindset about the Great Commission. I learned is that it is not a suggestion or an option, but actually a vital part of the body of Christ and each believers walk. We know that Jesus is worthy of an inheritance in the nations. Revelation 7 says that there will be a great multitude including peoples from every tribe and nation; that in every language the Lamb will be worshiped as He sits on the throne. However, Jesus gives us a picture of how this will come to pass in Matthew 24. We have been given a commission to go to the ends of the earth as a witness for the Gospel. This commission will not be completed on the wheels of inevitability. God has chosen to use us, His bride, to finish this task by the power of His Spirit living inside us. We are to go to every people group on earth with the Good News of the Gospel that we have been sent out to share.
With the reality of the great task set before us in mind, I want to remind us of the state of the globe. There are over 14,000 people groups in the world today. Of these, nearly 7,000 are still considered unreached. This means that 2% or less of their population is believers and therefore they do not have a growing, reproducing church body. 98% of these people groups are located within a region of the world called the 10/40 window. This contains the countries in North Africa, the Middle East, Eurasia, and Southern Asia. This is the final frontier of missions and there is a great imbalance happening here. Only 10% of missionaries are laboring in the 10/40 currently. I believe this is the greatest injustice happening in the world. That millions upon millions have never heard the name of Jesus, let alone a meaningful Gospel presentation.
In the Bible prayer and worship of the saints is often described as incense to the Lord. If we picture this image then it would seem that places where there is more worship and prayer there will be more incense to the Lord; in places where there is less prayer and worship there will be less incense to the Lord. I think we can all agree He alone is worthy of not only our worship and adoration, but that of the whole world! Matthew 9 tells of Jesus looking out on a crowd of people and He sees that they are lost and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. He then turns to His disciples and out of an overflow of His compassion on the lost, moves them to action. First He calls the disciples to pray for laborers to be sent to the harvest field. Today we see the same thing happening. Millions of people are lost and dying in the darkness while we enjoy the beauty of the Man Jesus in the light. The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. I believe God is calling us to this place of intercessional prayer for laborers to be sent out to the unreached. After all, how will these precious souls believe in whom they’ve never heard? How will they hear without a messenger?
I am so blessed to belong to two communities so committed to changing the great imbalance and worshiping the Living God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. At ACTS we are committed to going to those who have never heard the good news, but we are also committed to the place of prayer and worship. As a community we do 20 hours of worship and prayer a week. We first and foremost love Jesus where He isn’t loved. We are being that presence of incense and praise where there are few others doing so. Jesus prays in Luke 17 that we be with Him where He is. I am not suggesting that everyone pack up and move to the 10/40! He is in fact working in all places as we speak, but there is something that happens when we step out in faith and say “yes” to partnering with Him, whatever that looks like. We have the opportunity to count all as loss and give ourselves to Him and His dreams and desires for the nations through prayer, worship, and living out the Gospel. I have been so blessed by my time at Refuge, especially by the timing of the teaching we have been going through!
I feel as if I am often living in this tension. A tension between my family here and my family overseas in this foreign land the Lord is calling me to. After my first visit to Refuge I knew that the Lord was calling me here as well. At first I was confused and reminded Him that I was soon moving to the other side of the planet. I didn’t understand why He would be stirring my heart to commit to membership and building relationships with a group of people I would then have to say goodbye to. He has made it abundantly clear that what He is doing at Refuge and what He is doing in East Asia is the same. He has given me a greater perspective on the global church body and the importance of covenant community in the local church. I’m so excited to co-labor alongside everyone at Refuge even if it is from across the globe. As bittersweet as it is, I want to exhort and challenge each of you to stay engaged in God’s dreams and desires for the nations. I give myself the same challenge for what He is doing here as well!
As we run toward the day when He alone is exalted on the earth let us do it with our whole lives. I pray we would be passionate and fully given to worshiping Him and making Him known. That we would give Him the adoration and praise He so deserves and not keep it to ourselves. Although I have made this big decision I do not think of it as a radical thing. In fact, it wasn’t this big, spiritual moment when I realized my calling. It was a collection of little moments spent alone with Him and wrestling with the simplicity of the calling I saw in His Word. After seeing His beauty and worthiness in such a real way and the lack of laborers in the Harvest I couldn’t help but say yes to Him! It is not just the big “yes”’s we say that move His heart, but the everyday, mundane moments where we choose to be faithful to Him. This is worship. He is calling His church to prayer and to action! He is inviting us to partner with Him and join the storyline He has written. There is no more glorious task or ambition then to be with Him where He is. It fills my heart with great joy to be able to run alongside all of you and I pray He uses us mightily in our weakness.
The next time we gather for worship, think in this context: Consider your heart posture as we sing songs of praise to Him. Take a moment to meditate and ponder WHO He is and not just the things He does for us. Consider His worth and beauty and how you might magnify Him more? Your neighbors and the people He places on your path are a part of the nations! Be sensitive to listening to His voice and bold to talk about the One that you love. Let us run the race with endurance and make MUCH of Him and less of ourselves. I love how intentional the worship team is about the songs we sing on Sundays. The heart posture of repentance and the laying down of the idols we have made in our lives and the great shout of joy that comes by simply proclaiming the glory and majesty of who He is. Let’s lay aside the things keeping us from wholeheartedness and seek to be fully given and fully in love with Him. He alone is worthy and I pray we do not pass up opportunities to worship Him as we join the song of His inheritance.