Into all the world
By Randy Hurst
Making life count
God designed us and made us. He has given us the gift of
life and has a purpose and specific plan for each of us.
The apostle Paul wrote, “It is by grace you have been saved,
through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us
to do" (Ephesians 2:8-10,NIV).
Paul clearly says that we are not saved by good works, but
we are created for good works — works that God has already prepared for
There are two great moments in life: when you are born and
when you discover why you were born. It is important to discover how God wants you to be personally involved
in His mission in the world through praying, giving, going —or all three.
You need to know not only what you should be doing, but where and with whom.
God has a plan for you. But, your destiny is not your fate.
It is your choice.
The DNA of a global mission
The Assemblies of God was birthed almost 100 years ago when
a fresh move of the Holy Spirit resulted in an immediate concern for a lost
Unlike many missions organizations that focused only on
certain parts of the world, early AG leaders were compelled by the Spirit to
obey our Lord’s command to “go into all the world and preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15,
Their boldness was astounding.
How could such a small group of Christians even consider
attempting to preach the gospel in all the world? They accepted Jesus’ command
to reach the whole world. They also believed His promise of the Holy Spirit’s
enablement to do it (Acts 1:8).
Our early leaders were actually against organization, but
they knew they could not attempt to reach the whole world unless they worked
together. As a result, they founded a fellowship of local churches to
accomplish a global mission.
The priorities and methods of our mission are not ideas
formed by a strategy committee. The four facets of our mission —
reaching, planting, training and touching — are not separate objectives
but an integrated and comprehensive plan. They are biblical mandates we strive
to obey — evangelizing, establishing churches, training national church
leaders, and demonstrating Christ’s compassion to poor and suffering people.
Each facet of our mission is important, but what is
distinctive is how all four work together to achieve our primary objective. The
heart of our mission is to establish indigenous churches around the world that
develop and multiply to reach the lost. Our strategy is to cooperate with the
Lord of the harvest as He fulfills His promise to build His Church.
We are proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ to the
spiritually lost in all the world through every available means.
Evangelism — penetrating spiritual darkness with the
light of the gospel — has always been the first priority of our mission.
Jesus’ Great Commission to His followers is, “Go into all the world and preach
the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15, NIV). This requires us to reach people with the
message of Christ in every possible way.
The essence of the gospel is Jesus — our Savior,
Healer, Baptizer and coming King. He has called us to proclaim the good news of
God’s forgiveness and His gift of everlasting life wherever His name is not yet
We are establishing churches in 212 countries and
territories, following the New Testament pattern.
The Great Commission involves more than proclamation. Jesus
commanded, “Go and make disciples of all nations … teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19,20, NIV).
His command to make disciples includes establishing
churches. We are called not only to reap a worldwide harvest, but also to help
Since the 1920s, Assemblies of God missionaries have planted
indigenous churches that support and govern themselves. These local bodies of
believers can live and grow without dependency on the church that sent the
We are training leaders throughout the world to proclaim the
message of Jesus Christ to their own people and to other nations.
The apostle Paul told Timothy, “What you have heard from me
through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach
others as well" (2 Timothy 2:2, NRSV).
From its beginning, the Assemblies of God has focused on
training national believers. Currently, more than 98,000 students attend 896
Bible schools and 1,237 extensions in 141 nations. Because the heart of our
mission is to establish churches that will endure, pastors need training in
God’s Word so they can care for those who are reached through evangelism.
We are touching poor and suffering people with the
compassion of Christ and inviting them to become His followers.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one
of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40, NIV).
Our most effective means of ministering to physical need is
the network of more than 300,000 local Assemblies of God churches around the
world. By touching the hungry, sick and broken with the compassion of Christ,
they can share the gospel of eternal life and offer them a church — a
spiritual family where they can grow in the Lord.
Reaching the unreached
More than two-thirds of the world’s population has never
been given the opportunity to hear the message of Christ. Entire groups of
people either do not have a Christian neighbor or anyone willing to become one
to share the gospel with them. Any serious contemplation of the billions of
unreached must address the reasons why.
While modern missionaries do not face the same
time-consuming transportation issues that missionaries did many decades ago,
they still deal with daunting challenges in reaching remote places.
Remoteness can apply to age groups as well as physical
distance. The chasms that must be bridged to reach the lost relate not only to
space but also to time. Every new generation is an unreached people group, yet
in many places the church remains distant to the culture’s spiritually lost
Some people groups today are unreached because of rejection
by the major populations of their country. They are marginalized because of
prejudice and long-standing intercultural hostilities.
Many groups of people today are deprived of the gospel
simply because the church nearest them does not care about their spiritual need
or lostness. Without the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts of God’s people that
moves them to reach out with His love and compassion, even the lost nearby will
Spiritually resistant people groups have brought great
discouragement and even heartbreak to missionaries. Though God uses the arduous
toil of faithful missionaries, a breakthrough of God’s Spirit is needed before
a spiritual harvest can begin.
The spiritual climate of cultures is a significant factor in
why people are unreached. A sovereign work of the Holy Spirit penetrates even
the most spiritually resistant culture.
Worldwide, the most significant barrier to reaching the more
than 4 billion unreached is government restrictions to missionary activity.
Still, restricted access can be transformed to creative access as God opens
doors of ministry opportunity. Testimonies of how this is taking place today
are numerous, but often they can’t be told because of risk to missionaries and
the people they are working to reach.
Neither remoteness, rejection, resistance nor restriction
presents an impossible task. Each circumstance can be overcome. But each
requires a level of commitment and sacrifice equal to the challenge, and a dependence
on the Holy Spirit.
At the core of the issue is individual obedience.
Christ’s directive to His first followers applies to us as
well: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his
cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24, NIV). Each messenger who carries the gospel of Christ must
make a personal sacrifice. Whatever holds us back from accomplishing the mission
to which the Master has called us must be overcome.
Denial of “self” can mean sacrificing life goals, personal
ambitions and even friendships. It requires a deep work of the Spirit to move
us to a passion and compassion for the lost that reflects the heart of our
Savior. For some it will mean placing careers and life dreams on the altar of
consecration to the mission of Christ.
May the Spirit search our hearts and help us follow our
Master’s commitment, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
More than 4 billion people wait for our response.
RANDY HURST is communications director for AG World
E-mail your comments to email@example.com.