Missionary statesman Dr George Forbes boldly declares: Anyone who is moving forward is moving into new territory, new experiences, new challenges and new opportunities.
This is applicable in all areas of life, including world evangelisation. If ever there was a time to move forward, it is now!
Obedience is the key word as we consider the world situation of the growth of the church of Jesus Christ. There has been much moving forward over the centuries as his church has grown. When David Livingstone, the great missionary to Africa, said, ‘I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward,’ he was expressing a heart of faith and commitment.
He was prepared to face change, uncertainty and unlimited opportunity, to reach people who had never heard the gospel.
Passion, vision, dream, mission, inspiration
Livingston had set his heart on China, however the opium war blocked his plans to leave England and go to that nation. Then, in the providence of God, he attended a meeting at the great Albert Hall in London, where he heard Robert Moffat speak with passion of, ‘Looking inland each morning, at the smoke of a thousand fires rising from villages, where no gospel had ever been heard.’
Dr David Livingstone ‘moved forward’ that day in a giant step when he offered to go to Africa. When he had said from his heart, ‘I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward’ he meant it. His vision, his heart and his life were united in one direction. It was ‘forward’ to where people without Christ lived and died, without the knowledge of God’s love and Christ’s death for their eternal salvation.
Livingstone became the greatest ever explorer of inland Africa. Driven by a dream to go forward where no missionary had ever been, he became a man of God with a mission. Apart from his own life and testimony, he showed the way for thousands to follow him into the heart of Africa to preach Christ and plant churches.
A great number have followed him in this commitment. They have taken their steps of faith and obedience too, as they have heard the cry of the lost and the call of God to them as individuals.
Exploring new opportunities, touching and impacting lives
I think of my friends Jossy and Jenny Chacko and their co-workers who have answered the call of God to North India and beyond where they have seen more than 13,000 new churches planted in the last fifteen years. They are of the same mould, who in the will of God have pushed forward to ‘explore’ new opportunities for the church of Jesus Christ, to touch and impact people groups where there has been no witness and no gospel. Jossy as the founder-director of Empart has virtually declared, ‘Anywhere, as long as it is forward.’
Empart’s major God-given goal is to plant 100,000 new churches by the year 2030. They are moving forward at the rate of 12-13 new churches each day! ‘Moving Forward’ has captured the heart and spirit of Jossy Chacko. This is because the heart of God is toward all nations. The word and the will of God identify all nations as the focus of God’s love and eternal purpose.
As Empart moves forward as a ‘cutting edge’ mission, developing a national team with this same spirit of faith as their founder, and reaching forward in obedience to the command of Christ, they will move mountains as they bring the good news to millions. We can join them in this great forward move through daily prayer at the least and as God leads, partner with them in this big task.
Cutting edge mission indeed
Thank God, there are others too who have this same kind of vision, this same desire to move forward. They are people of many nationalities, who have the overwhelming desire to ‘move forward’ as the Holy Spirit leads and empowers them.
The Holy Spirit is stirring many hearts to ‘look on the field,’ to ‘go into all the world.’ To reach the unreached peoples of the world who have no gospel and no one yet among them who will tell them the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is cutting edge mission. It is greatly lacking in all the activity that we call ‘mission’ and must again become central to our purpose and to our moving forward. If God is speaking to you about involvement in this greatest task on earth, I urge you to become informed, to become involved. We must move forward if we are to do the will of God in this 21st century.
Dr George Forbes is the former General Director of Assemblies of God World Missions in Australia. He served as head of this dynamic mission for thirty years, during which it grew from one field to thirty countries.(1969-1999). Internationally recognised as a missionary statesman with a heart for the lost of the nations, George Forbes is an able mission communicator with a wealth of missionary knowledge and the ability to communicate the global picture. He is widely known as the ‘story-teller.’ Contact: georgeforbes2 AT gmail.com
MISSIONS IS PERSONAL
Former missionary Erica Grace asks: ‘What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Missions”?’
You’ll probably say: the ‘lost’ – and you would be right.
I think this way…
A prodigal, so lost
There was a young man who was totally lost.
He had lost his career, his home, his future, his dreams. He was so lost people had given up on him. He drank himself to oblivion every day. Friends would bring him to his desperate, frustrated wife each night. There she would endure his beating her.
One night he met a humble missionary. He was reading the story of the Prodigal Son with a very heavy accent. In spite of the missionary’s inadequacies, the Holy Spirit reached into that miserable man’s heart and on the earthen floor this wretched man wept. He wept a long time and asked God the Father to forgive him. When he got up he was a different man.
That man was my father!
Another searcher, also so lost
There was another young man who also was totally lost!
He didn’t think he was; he thought he had it altogether. He was a world traveller and found life and people interesting. Along his travels he had tried a bit of every religion on offer and then some. He had dabbled in yoga, eastern religions, a bit of drugs: the lot!
Then one day he ran into a simple missionary living in the middle of a jungle area. The missionaries were very hospitable and welcomed him to stay for a while. One night as they were talking the missionary challenged him with these simple words: ‘You’ve been in so many places, and you’ve done so many things, but son, you’re still searching!’
This young man went to his room indignant at the missionary’s remarks. But something about the challenge made him cry out: ‘God, if you are real, then show me.’
In a blink of an eye, he was on his knees weeping his heart out. He realised that all this time he had been searching for God and now his search would be over.
That man became my husband!
The lost transformed
What do I think of when I hear the word ‘Missions’? I think of something very personal.
I think of two godly men who by earthly standards would be considered fools, weak and worthless.
But their faithfulness to God’s calling, being at their posts at the right time, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through them – changed not just the lives of the two most important men in my life, but through them, the lives of many.
Erica Grace and her husband Chris are ordained pastors with the Assemblies of God (ACC) and missionaries for 20 years; serving in Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile. Erica developed a teaching ministry for women and Foundations for the Family, a biblical teaching for families. Itinerant ministers, mainly with ethnic churches in Melbourne, they minister in a variety of churches including African, Asian, Indian, Filipino, Spanish and Italian. The mission calling is still there: their passion is reaching nations. Link: sevengraces AT bigpond.com