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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. ...




Beyond

Oct. 7, 2012

Seeking ways to reach the lost in the world’s neglected areas is an intensified focus of Assemblies of God World Missions. Randy Hurst, AGWM communications director, spoke with Executive Director Greg Mundis recently about his vision for taking the gospel to the unreached in spiritually hard places.

Hurst: How has your perception of the unreached changed since you began serving as AGWM executive director last November?

Mundis: Since I became executive director, I have found that I can go to sleep very easily but I don’t sleep long. I wake up early with an intense burden to pray and intercede for the lost. This burden has increased because of my growing awareness of what is going on in the world. When I was Europe regional director, I had a regional view, but I also tried to keep a world perspective. As executive director, my vision has expanded, and my burden has grown exponentially for the lost who have never had an opportunity to hear about Jesus.

Hurst: How has that expanded burden affected your missions vision?

Mundis: I saw a statement that 86 percent of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have never met a Bible-believing Christian. That breaks my heart. How can I be comfortable in my lifestyle when I know such a vast number have never heard of Christ? Billions of people around the world have never met a Bible-believing Christian, let alone a preacher or a missionary.

Through His incarnational model, Jesus gave us an important example that shapes our missiology and our understanding of sharing the gospel. It is vital to have Christ followers in places where there are none. Digital media and the Internet are God-given tools for us to use, but the incarnational model — an actual physical presence in a particular place among a particular people group — is absolutely essential for the kingdom of God to break through in its fullness within any context or cultural background.

I have a passion to marshal our resources, renew our focus, and reignite the kind of fervor for the lost that our forefathers had in the early days of the Assemblies of God. They had a worldview that was Holy Spirit-inspired. They did not have the advanced technology or rapid access to information that we have, yet I believe they had a more passionate view of the lost than most of us have. My prayer is that I will wake up early with the same God-given passion for the lost that our early leaders had.

Hurst: What does an intensified focus on unreached peoples mean for us in practice?

Mundis: In 1921, our early missionary leadership resolved that we would follow the apostle Paul’s example of “seeking out neglected regions where the gospel has not been preached.” We must share this same resolve, which was clearly also that of the apostle Paul. Then, our fourfold mission — reaching, planting, training and touching — means it is our priority to proclaim Christ to those who have no access to the gospel, establish the Church where it doesn’t exist, train believers to evangelize unreached peoples, and touch the unreached poor and suffering with Christ’s compassion.

Hurst: Why do you think many believers aren’t more passionate about the spiritually lost?

Mundis: With all of the theological fads that spread around the world and all the books on various topics, the fact that people are going to hell is not discussed widely enough. We are hardly ever reminded that people are lost without Christ.

Hurst: What is Assemblies of God World Missions doing to reach those who have never heard the gospel?

Mundis: Last fall the AGWM Executive Committee took the important step of assessing what we are doing in regard to unreached people groups. Figures and statistics don’t tell the whole story, but they do provide indicators. According to our research office, in the last year 39 percent of our missionary candidates have gone to countries with less than 2 percent evangelical populations. They are living in the neighborhoods of those who have never heard the gospel. This increase is not because of man-made strategies; it’s because of the Holy Spirit’s drawing and specific callings to individuals.

In one of his sermons, former AGWM Executive Director J. Philip Hogan made this striking statement: “Make no mistake; the missionary venture of the Church, no matter how well-planned, how finely administered and finely supported, would fail like every other vast human enterprise, were it not that where human instrumentality leaves off, a blessed ally takes over. It is the Holy Spirit that calls; it is the Holy Spirit that inspires; it is the Holy Spirit that reveals; and it is the Holy Spirit that administers.”

There is harmony between strategy and Spirit, but strategy follows what the Spirit is doing. Thus we are gearing up as a mission with strategic initiatives from the different regions to go to neglected areas.

Hurst: How has that assessment made an impact on our missions priorities for the future?

Mundis: Because we are in 252 nations, territories and provinces, it is sometimes difficult to keep an accurate assessment of where we are regarding our efforts in remote, neglected areas. We know that there are 6,000+ unreached people groups in the world. After doing some detailed research, we found that AGWM personnel are working or preparing to work among 158 different unreached people groups. In fact, 34 percent of our finances are committed to these neglected regions. This information has given us a benchmark, a starting point from which to move forward.

We affirm the leading of the Spirit in our mission to follow the Pauline imperative to seek out the “regions beyond,” where the message of Christ is not known. To help us respond to the Spirit’s leading, we have formed a center called BEYOND — the unreached peoples imperative. This center will help us keep in clear focus what we’re doing, both so we don’t duplicate our efforts and to synergize with others.

As former AGWM Executive Director Loren Triplett said, “You don’t measure yourself by your success; you measure yourself against the unfinished task.” We’ve got to keep that task in front of us all the time. We don’t move forward by neglecting what we are already doing around the world. We move forward by following the Spirit, implementing strategy and expanding what we are doing.

Hurst: What role does prayer have in expanding our burden for the lost?

Mundis: An important facet of our Pentecostal theology is seeking God. In Acts 10, Luke tells of Peter praying on Simon’s rooftop. Many miles away, Cornelius is also praying. Cornelius is a God-fearing person, but he has no knowledge of Jesus. As Peter seeks God on the rooftop, God gives him a vision of animals that are unclean and tells him, What I created is clean. Immediately afterward, someone knocks at the door in search of Peter.

As Pentecostals, we seek God in prayer and intercede in the Spirit. We can be at an altar, in our closet or in our car. We can be anywhere and begin to pray in the Spirit because the burden of intercession comes upon us. As we seek God, we gain an awareness of unreached people around the world. God can put specific burdens on us for distinct regions, nations, people groups and even people within people groups. He can burden us to pray for people in a certain country, or for a government leader. He also uses the research at our disposal to direct our thinking and touch our hearts with a burden.

All of us have personal burdens for our families, friends and colleagues who don’t know Christ. We carry those burdens because they are personal. But God also places burdens on us for countries and people groups.

We trust the Lord to work in the hearts of the lost, but He trusts us too. He entrusts us not only with the prophetic messages, spiritual truths and revelations that He whispers in our hearts, but also with the burdens He carries. The Lord gives us a calling, but He also gives us a burden that expands and grows with our calling.

Hurst: What can AG believers do to help carry the burden of lost people who have never heard the gospel?

Mundis: Our primary motivation is not the needs of people; it’s obedience to Christ. And somewhere in the process of understanding obedience is the idea of tremendous need. Scripture says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17, NIV). We know we ought to do good. But we need to actually do good. We have to do good or we’re in rebellion against God. We need to rally together and do whatever we can to continue reaching out to all peoples everywhere, understanding that this will require the same kind of focus and passion for the regions beyond that our forefathers had. My predecessor, John Bueno, wrote, “We can’t wait for everyone in a city or nation to be reached before we extend ourselves to those who have never heard.”

I believe that the greatest days of evangelism, church planting, discipleship and ministries of compassion lie before us. God has positioned us to do more than we have ever done. The 98-year history of the Assemblies of God and more than 100 years of Pentecostal and charismatic outpourings have brought us to the crest of a wave. We are committed to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as He commissions and empowers the Church to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person on earth.

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.