When I heard the numbers, I could hardly believe my ears!
I was at Insight for Living Ministries international headquarters, meeting with a delegation of pastors from Jiangsu in the People’s Republic of China. They told me that as many as 109,000 people in their province are trusting Christ as their Saviour each year!
Don’t let those figures fly by you. On average, about 300 people hear the Gospel and say “Yes!” to new life in Christ...every day...in just one province! Weekly, new churches form. As soon as their doors open, the seats are filled with new, first-generation Christians. Many have never stepped inside a church! In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that being a Christian in China wasn’t safe.
In the late 1960s, Jiang Qing, the powerful wife of Communist leader Mao Tse-tung, brashly announced she would destroy Christianity in China in three months. A systematic program to erase the name of Christ in China followed.
Mobs of people who had devoted their lives to Mao burned Bibles and hymnals. Police arrested church leaders and sentenced them to labour camps. Christians were forced to denounce Christ and vow loyalty to Mao. Old women who clung to their faith were publicly humiliated, some beaten to death. Posters were hung bearing the names of Christians who resisted. They were shunned or forced out of their homes to live in the fields like animals.
Flames of persecution spread across China, charring the spiritual landscape. Eventually, Mao’s wife announced to the world that the Christian movement in China was finished. The only place for the church was the history museum.
However, Mao and his wife didn’t win.
Rather than destroy Christianity, the persecution fortified the church. Up from the ashes grew a lovelier, more fragrant flower of Christian witness. Today, in a land where Bibles were virtually non-existent 40 years ago, Christian churches are sending missionaries to proclaim the Gospel along “The Silk Road,” reaching Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists in China, the Middle East, Africa, and India. Other courageous missionaries are crossing into North Korea!
When I think of the growth, I often remember China’s national flower: the Chinese plum blossom. Because it blooms in the harshest of winters, the plum blossom has become a symbol for perseverance and resilience. Against fierce winds of hate, the Gospel is blooming in China and spreading in pursuit of the Great Commission!
Remember those final marching orders Jesus gave His disciples?
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
Our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ are doing their part! Are you?
Let’s look closer at Christ’s last words to find out exactly what He meant.
Jesus Spoke to Ordinary People
Who was Jesus speaking to? Ordinary people who knew Him personally. The disciples had no kits that they could reach into, pull out the right tool, and do a miracle. They had no halos, wore no uniforms. They hadn’t gone to Bible schools, but most had grown up attending synagogues that had their religious schools. Not until the Holy Spirit came on them, did they have any power.
Want to know what they looked like? Look in the mirror! They were folks like us. They were sinful, unsophisticated, fearful, and uncertain what to do next. They were ordinary.
Jesus Presented a Brief, Simple, and Clear Plan
The main verb in the Great Commission is make. What? Disciples. How? By going, baptizing, and teaching. Please observe: it is NOT a casual suggestion. The Great Commission is a firm command, and Jesus left no room for doubt regarding the scope—all the nations.
Jesus Was Intense about the Mission but Flexible about the Method
Jesus specified where the mission was to be accomplished, but not how. He knew the world and its cultures would be constantly growing and changing...as would the tools available to His followers. Without the help of the printing press, radio, Internet, or even a microphone, those disciples turned the world upside down. Just imagine if all believers today took Jesus’ final words as seriously as the early disciples did!
I can assure you that Insight for Living Ministries does. We are intense about our mission of communicating biblical truth and its application around the world, because at its heart is Jesus’ mission of making disciples through teaching.
Our mission will not change. Vision 195—our strategy to make disciples in all 195 countries by teaching Christians how to study and share the Bible—is clear. But our method will stay flexible, bending to meet people in different cultures and using new technology as the Lord provides and directs.
At the centre of our strategy is a book I wrote called Searching the Scriptures: Find the Nourishment Your Soul Needs. This book exists solely to help believers learn to prepare spiritually nourishing meals from God’s Word as I do...and once they’ve mastered the skill, to teach it to others. My goal has never been to spoon-feed anyone! It has always been to help you become spiritually self-sustaining. I long for others to dig into God’s Word for themselves and find the same joy, hope, help, and satisfaction I have found.
Did you know there are 6,875 heart languages in our world? Every year, the Scriptures become available in more of them. As new translations are completed, we will translate Searching the Scriptures for those language groups as soon as the Lord opens the doors. When that happens, Searching the Scriptures will become the “textbook” used within those groups to disciple believers and train indigenous pastors to study and deliver God’s Truth to their congregations. In that way, we will make disciples of all the nations.
But it begins right here at home.
Jesus Expected Obedient Action from All His Followers
I’m going to say it straight: If you are a believer and you are not actively participating in fulfilling the Great Commission, you are not obeying the Lord’s calling on your life. Nobody gets a pass! Jesus’ marching orders are clear, they are not negotiable, and He expects obedient action from each of us.
I can be this bold because the Great Commission compels me to do so. Every day of my week, I dwell on this command from Christ. I’m driven by it day and night. Looking back, that was true even before I went into ministry. Looking ahead, His Great Commission will keep me from ever retiring. I’m going to do this as long as I can do it effectively. That’s what Christ expects me to do!
I will never give up! Thankfully, I’m not on a solo journey. We’re in this together! Best of all, Christ is with us all the way. Do you remember His last statement just before He ascended?
I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
Isn’t that great? Christ was not with me more when I was a younger man, and He is not with me now more than He will be 10 years from now. He is ever present, consistently engaged, constantly making Himself available, and faithfully empowering us to do what we’re meant to do.
The question is, “Are we doing it?”
The astonishing numbers of new believers in China encourage us...and challenge us. God is opening the door for Insight for Living Ministries throughout China to disciple and train lay pastors and church leaders there. We want to work with those pastors who met with us recently and are part of a government-sanctioned entity called the China Christian Council. But our plans are expanding—God is opening similar doors for us in many other places around the world! Young believers and new pastors are hungry to discover the riches of God’s Word . . . and we are ready to teach them how to do so effectively.
God IS fulfilling the Great Commission...and we get to be a vital part of it! Won’t you join us?
Again, I’ll say this straight: Without your faithful prayers and financial involvement, Vision 195 will not happen. Only together can we obey our Lord’s marching orders and reach the nations who long to know Him! Please pray fervently! Please participate generously!