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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Anointed for Action

By Greg Mundis
Jan. 6, 2013

One of the great attributes of the Pentecostal movement is its emphasis on action. Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street early in the 20th century, Pentecostals have been known as people who do the work of the gospel.

When the first Assemblies of God missionaries went to “regions beyond,” they faced overwhelming needs, opportunities and challenges. They didn’t respond by saying, “Let’s do an in-depth study on the situation so we understand everything.” Instead, they immediately went into action, saying, “Let’s do something about this need.” As a result, at the foundation of Assemblies of God World Missions is a commitment to meeting needs, both spiritual and physical.

Decades later, church leaders reflected on why we do what we do. They went back to the foundation of our Fellowship and articulated practices that were inherent to our purpose and put into action around the world. These practices — reaching, planting, training and touching — form our fourfold mission.

For nearly 100 years, reaching the lost with the message of the gospel has been at the forefront of what we do. Our early missionaries risked physical harm and intense prejudice because of the boldness of their verbal proclamation. Reaching the lost was the primary reason they went overseas. They knew people needed to hear and understand the gospel.

Evangelism must always be accompanied by church planting, and missionaries have made this a strategic focus. As a result, the Assemblies of God worldwide has grown from 300 people meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April 1914, to approximately 65 million who worship in 358,000 churches today.

If the gospel message is preached and people are reached, churches must be planted to conserve the harvest. Without the church, the spread of the gospel remains minimal. A believing community is needed in a specific place and context so the gospel is lived out before others.

Along with planting the church comes the aspect of training. In those early days, our Pentecostal forefathers were often described in the same way Peter and John were in Acts 4:13: “unschooled, ordinary men” (NIV). However, they realized that if people were to be reached and churches planted, then believers had to be trained.

Today 2,015 Assemblies of God training institutions have been established around the world. They range from a discipleship school meeting under a tree in Africa to fully accredited seminaries offering doctoral degrees. That’s quite an accomplishment from “unschooled, ordinary men.”

Touching — demonstrating the compassion of Christ to poor and suffering people — completes our fourfold mission. Our missionaries have always seen the desperate physical needs around them and have been moved by the Spirit to reach out and help. Whether feeding children, caring for orphans, establishing leper colonies or starting schools to educate poor children, they have touched the lives of people in need. For our missionaries, a significant and vital part of our touching ministry is not only meeting people’s physical needs, but also sharing a witness of the gospel and connecting them to a local body of believers.

Like a circle, each aspect of our mission flows together seamlessly. All the elements interact with each other.

Our mission is clear, but challenges remain. Every generation of missionaries has faced difficulties that had to be overcome. Today’s generation is no different. Their challenges are multiple and include raising ever-growing budgets and dealing with governments that will not issue visas to missionaries. Because of increased technology and transportation, we have the opportunity to identify people whose access to the gospel is limited, restricted or even nonexistent. After these people are identified, we have a geopolitical challenge of getting people in place to live among them. 

These challenges neither override our mission nor negate the Great Commission. They will not force us to give up and stop our efforts to share the gospel. Each generation must find ways to meet the challenges of its time because one fact remains unchanged: Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

Once the challenges are identified, we must find ways to meet them. We create platforms and methodologies that are equal to the challenges. We partner with powerful national churches that relate to governments and understand the cultures of the unreached.

In the providence of God, AGWM now has more than 2,700 missionaries. Our partnering fellowships have sent out more than 4,800 missionaries. And the world needs more. Together we are addressing the challenge to reach these limited-access areas where the gospel has not been heard and local communities of believers are unknown.

God is opening doors of opportunity like never before, if only we will hear the Spirit’s voice. We have more resources at our disposal than at any time in our history. We partner with fellowships around the world. We have a generation of young missionaries coming forward that is passionate about reaching the lost and understands the importance of teamwork. Assemblies of God churches in the United States have not lost their burden for the lost and for sending out missionaries. They play a key role in our mission’s effectiveness through their faithful prayer and financial support.

All these elements, when combined, produce a mission that is crystal clear: reaching, planting, training, touching — so all can hear. With this powerful focus before us, we can do more for God than our forefathers dreamed possible.

Our greatest challenge is not identifying and leveraging resources. Rather, it is leveraging those resources under the anointing and covering of the Holy Spirit. The power of Pentecost has taken our mission to incredible lengths during the past 99 years. We must continue — and increase — our dependence on the Spirit’s power as we face the future. The effectiveness of our mission depends on it.

GREG MUNDIS is executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions.

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