Making disciples of people in every nation is the mandate of individual Christians and of the Church as a whole. Reaching out and sharing the message of the Gospel is the way this mandate is fulfilled. This book contains the heartbeat of the author concerning this vital responsibility. He has developed a well defined plan for making the Gospel of Christ relevant to our world today.
As he draws from everyday living to illustrate the points he makes, readers will find the author's personal experiences very refreshing. Here is a practical guide to becoming a "world Christian." The author challenges us to discard cultural barriers and other self-induced limiting factors that often silence the timid would-be disciple.
I heartily recommend this book to all who take seriously the great commission delivered by the Master during His earthly ministry. Sunder Krishnan is a godly man who is well aware that he along with the rest of us is on a pilgrimage of service to Christ. This book, adapted from a series of sermons that stirred one congregation into action, will now reach far beyond the walls of the local Church to inspire many others to make disciples of all people.
J. Donald Scott
World Vision Canada
14 April, 1989
In his book, Working the Angles, author Eugene Peterson draws attention to Kafka's words:
If the book we are reading does not wake us as with a first hammering on our skull, why then do we read? So that it shall make us happy? Such books we could if need be, write ourselves. But what we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune and distress us deeply. . . . A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.1
The first book that affected me thus was Ronald Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger2. The most recent book to do so was David Bryant's classic In the Gap3, which led me to other books that continued the hammering on the skull. Though personally challenged, I couldn't help feeling that most of these books were likely to be read almost predominantly by (though not aimed exclusively at) a somewhat select audience: the university student still in his or her "radical" years, or the young college couple with most of their important career decisions still ahead of them. I feared that the majority of evangelical church folk (and even pastors) would not normally pick up these books.
I have since confirmed this intuitive fear by spot surveys of my own. In one informal brown-bag lunch gathering of 21 ministers in an Ontario city, only three had read In the Gap. Another survey amongst a group of students and missions representatives gathered for a one-day missions conference in an evangelical seminary produced similar results. If this was the situation among pastors present and future, what of their congregations?
For the proportionately few who did read such books, I couldn't help feeling that the journey into the application of, and obedience to, the principles it advocated would be too onerous a task. Something simpler, less awesome and less voluminous was needed; most of all, something more readily applicable to those who would never be radicals and who were well settled into careers, homes and neighborhoods. That was the first impetus for the series of sermons which form the essence of this book.
A second impetus came from the particular status of my own denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Mission has long been noted as its raison d' etre. However, the CMA is just entering its second century, a time when the feared plague of "historical drift" has eaten up many an enterprising organization. At least one indication that it's already on the down side of the drift curve is the drop in the percentage of its congregations' giving to missions (from about 40 percent in 1950 to barely 11 percent today). CMA denominational leaders are well aware of this trend and are taking vigorous steps to halt and reverse it. But nothing will be accomplished unless individual congregations catch the same urgency and are taught the practical implications of reversing drift.
More specifically, my objective was to help people see that every Christian has only one of two options when it comes to the Great Commission: either serve Christ cross-culturally (the traditional missionary role) or they live here counter-culturally to enable and co-operate with those who do serve cross-culturally. Deciding not to go "overseas" is to automatically choose the second option. A third way does not exist for the believer.
I owe a debt of gratitude to several authors whose writings form much of the backbone of this book. Originally presented as sermons, this material was not intended to impress but to educate, confront and explain to my congregations the practical significance of the excellent "World Christian" material already on the shelves of Christian bookstores. Chapter 1 ("God's Unchanging Purpose") reflects material I gleaned at a seminar by Don Richardson at a mission-fest at First Baptist Church in Calgary in November 1986. The central thesis of Chapter 2 ("God's View of the Nations") and chapters 6 and 7 on prayer are essentially those of David Bryant. I am indebted to Gordon Aeschliman and Sam Wilson4 for the cross-cultural service/countercultural living concept and also for the excellent analysis of "Jonahitis" reflected in Chapter 3. Finally, I found Peter Wagner5 and Gary Friesen6 very thought-provoking in their analyses of the "call." My adaptations of their material is reflected in Chapter 5.
As a result of this series of messages, my church has begun some encouraging activities. We have formed a World Christian team in our church. About 40 people gather once a month for the express purpose of stimulating and maintaining "Global Vision," and increasing obedience to that vision in one another. We now have a weekly prayer meeting every Sunday evening in addition to the regular mid-week prayer meeting. There are only two items on the agenda: prayer for revival and for penetration of a few specific hidden people groups we have adopted. Finally, we have added a five-minute slot entitled "Missions Moment" to our weekly Sunday morning service, during which we present and pray about a specific global need. I hope and pray these are only the mercy drops and that the showers are around the corner!
As this book became closer to a reality, there was much bantering around the dinner table as to whom I was going to dedicate this (my first) book. As do most all authors, I owe much to many people. At the risk of forgetting some, I mention a few by name. I thank God for Rev. ("Bud") Downey, my senior pastor, who for eight years has committed himself to being a true developer of leadership in our church. By jealously guarding my time for study and prayer, he has allowed me to do justice to the pulpit ministry. Also, words cannot express my appreciation for the congregation of Rex-dale Alliance Church, who first heard these messages. Their constant encouragement and words of appreciation have often kept me going during long hours in the study when inspiration would not come and sermon preparation seemed an onerous task. Their willingness to release me for considerable periods of time every year for overseas ministries has also made a major contribution to the development of my Global Vision. Two members in particular played a significant role in the completion of this book. Frank Buchanan, an elder, and Janice Frick took care of the tedium of transcribing taped sermons onto a computer disk. Finally, I praise God for my two children, Sheila and Vijay, whose lives continue to be a living confirmation of truths I preach Sunday after Sunday. Sheila also helped in editing several chapters of this book. As for my wife Shyamala's contribution to my ministry, I can best put it this way: I could have continued to be a nuclear engineer (my former profession) without my wife being pro-nuclear, but I never could have survived the ministry without her being whole-heartedly pro-ministry. That she is. I have learned much about loving people from her, and, measured by Paul's criterion that knowledge puffs up but love builds up, perhaps she is much further along in her commitment to Jesus Christ than I am.
In grateful acknowledgement to all mentioned, and many others, I dedicate this book to those 3.5 billion unnamed people who have yet to hear the good news about Jesus Christ. By labelling them "unreached people," it's easy to forget that they are individuals with hopes, dreams and aspirations. If one person somewhere is influenced by reading this book to do something that will lead to even one of these hidden people hearing about, and responding to, the claims of Jesus, it will all have been worthwhile. For "I tell you," said Jesus, "there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
March 13, 1989
1. Eugene Petersen, Working the Angles (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987), p. 91.
2. Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1977).
3. David Bryant, In the Gap (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1979).
4. Sam Wilson and Gordon Aeschliman, The Hidden Half (California: MARC, World Vision, International, n.d).
5. C. Peter Wagner, On The Crest of a Wave (California: Regal Books, 1983).
6. Garry Friesen and Robin Maxson, Decision Making and the Will of God (Oregon, Multnomah Press, 1980).