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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. ...

Our Mission, the Great Commission

By Greg Mundis
Aug. 10, 2014

The Great Commission was encapsulated in Jesus’ words to His closest followers after His resurrection: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15, NIV). At His ascension, Christ rephrased the mandate with the addition of a promise: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Paul’s missionary journeys exemplified how the Great Commission would be carried out, and this example has been perpetuated throughout church history. Followers of Christ have taken and continue to take the gospel throughout our world.

But it is not merely the spiritual “giants” — Paul and the other apostles, the Church Fathers, the great missionaries, evangelists and pastors of the ages — who were called by the Savior to carry the news of salvation to the lost. From the earliest days of the Church, Christ’s call was taken to heart by His humble, everyday followers.

Believers in Antioch and Crete and Corinth began to shake the Roman Empire with the gospel. They filled unpretentious churches and touched their communities with their message. The witness of believers — both well-known and unknown — shook this planet and established churches throughout the world.

This heritage of evangelism has continued in our own Movement. From the Azusa Street outpouring of the Holy Spirit, men and women and young people from every walk of life have pursued the quest of taking the gospel to everyone everywhere.

Our forefathers who formed the Assemblies of God were not missiological experts, but they were theologically wise. That theological wisdom manifested itself in a clear focus on the biblical call to take the gospel “so all can hear” — the purpose statement of AG World Missions.

May we never forget our declaration in 1921, when General Council delegates formulated one of the most powerful proclamations of our need to take the gospel to the neglected regions of the world: “The Pauline example will be followed, so far as possible, by seeking out neglected regions where the gospel has not been preached, lest we build upon another’s foundation.” That statement continues to shape who we are today at the beginning of our second century.

Taking the gospel where people have not heard is a central strand of our DNA. This expression of the Great Commission is woven through generations of Assemblies of God missionaries, pastors and leaders to the present day. Every believer identifying with the Fellowship shares in this continued call.

We are unashamedly Pentecostal, and a sense of the Holy Spirit’s direction and empowerment propel us as we go beyond borders with our Savior’s truth. We press beyond geographical borders as well as borders of religion, worldviews and personal perceptions. At every turn, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we use every creative means to reach the lost around the world.

Our forefathers gave us a solid missiological foundation upon which a growing missiological creativity rests. We hold to our values as we stretch ourselves to minister to people where they are and in their unique life contexts.

Our AGWM regional directors, area directors, and missionary family continue to creatively push the edges of 21st-century outreach. New ideas from young missionaries coupled with the experience of our veterans — all under the dynamic empowerment of the Holy Spirit — are creating unprecedented opportunities and synergy to minister to unreached people groups.

This reality urges all of us to engage in other levels of outreach. What is Christ calling us to pursue in fulfilling His Great Commission for the future?

Our forefathers understood and clearly expressed the vital role the indigenous church plays in the spread of the gospel.

They refused to sacrifice on the altar of expediency the biblical theology of a self-propagating, self-supporting and self-governing church. They were not interested in sensational stories and quick results. They determined to build a strong church and guide it into the work of evangelism to its own people and beyond. They intentionally rejected paternalism, a concept that fosters a parent/child relationship rather than recognizing the inherent value of new believers becoming vibrant participants in the Great Commission wherever our missionaries were sent.

They also rejected parallelism, which fosters similar, yet separate, ministries. Instead, they embraced partnership, deliberately interfacing and integrating with partners around the world.

An enormous amount of energy has been expended because church development around the world is in a constant state of change with different leaderships, varying worldviews, and unique visions. Through every change, the Great Commission remains our constant.

God has given us wonderful indigenous partners around the world. Our partnerships within the World Assemblies of God Fellowship are setting a new precedent in the history of the Church.

We are called to undertake a twofold work. First, we are to model an undying commitment to reach the neglected regions of the world with every available resource. Second, God has called us to be an example to the Pentecostal world as we pursue continued unified fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Preaching the gospel among unreached peoples around the world requires all of us to work together. Missionaries working with established church fellowships and those serving among developing and growing Pentecostal churches must unite and cooperate to fulfill this vision. Whether through Bible schools, church planting, Global University curricula, or other media, the goal is the same: to share the gospel with neglected areas of the world.

In 1914, there were roughly 220 million Muslims, 140 million Buddhists, and 226 million Hindus around the world. Today there are approximately a billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists, and 1.6 billion Muslims. Our task has not become easier. It has grown even greater.

In order to reach neglected regions, Assemblies of God World Missions will continue to rely on the universal relevance of the Great Commission. Without our partners and without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we cannot move forward. But as the life-giving Spirit continues to call workers and create a variety of opportunities and platforms to do the work of evangelism, the future is bright.

In our strength, we are not up to the task. All of us together are not up to the task. But with the Spirit’s power and enablement to proclaim the gospel and steward every available means to reach the lost, a harvest awaits on a scale we have never seen in church history.

That must be our prayer. That must be our call to action.

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



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