Daily Devotional for Wednesday May 10, 2006
The Greatest Mission Field in the World in 2006 is the United States of America
Mark 16:15; 2 Timothy 4:2; Isaiah 43:10)
I am grateful daily for the dedicated and faithful men and women of God, the tremendous organizations God has raised up, to take the Gospel into the far corners of the world. Never before in human history have we had such a tremendous effort to reach every human soul in the world with the hope of Christ, not just with traditional missionary efforts of sending people into each town and village on the planet, but also through the use of modern communications like satellite television, radio, and the Internet.
I am grateful for the small part Liveprayer plays each day with over 20%, or approx. 400,000 of our subscribers being outside the United States without ever having had any real strategy to reach people in foreign lands. That is one of our agenda items by the end of the year to have a more strategic plan to reach people in other nations by having the Daily Devotional available each day on the Liveprayer.com website in many foreign languages.
Last year, my wife and I spent a day and a half in Atlanta, Georgia. Metropolitan Atlanta currently has over 4 million people living there and is the home of nearly 10,000 Christian churches and many great ministries touching lives for Christ worldwide. As I was taking a quiet walk late on Saturday night, just chatting with the Lord and enjoying a time of fellowship, God was speaking to my heart how the greatest mission field in 2006 is not in some far off country but right here in the United States. The reality is, despite all the churches, all of the Christian ministries in Greater Atlanta, if the world ceases to exist today the vast majority of the 4 million souls living in and around that great city will be eternally lost.
I am certain many people reading this are going to be puzzled how the United States of all places could be the greatest mission field in the world today. It doesn't make sense. After all, so much of the history of this nation is tied directly to God and His Word. The message of Christ and His love has been declared here for nearly 400 years like no other place ever before. This nation has produced more missionaries and missionary efforts to the world than any other in the history of Christendom. There are more Christian churches, more para-church ministries of every kind, as well as Christian television, radio, music and publishing entities than ever. So how could the United States be the greatest missionary field in the world in 2006?
Despite all of the churches and all of the Christian organizations, the vast majority of the 300 million people living in the United States in 2006 do NOT know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. The largest percentage of the last 2 generations have never even been to church. There is obviously a major paradox here that must be understood since the eternal souls of people are at stake. The church used to set the tone for the culture we lived in. That is no longer the case. The church has very little influence on our culture today. A great battle for the hearts and souls of men took place in earnest in the '60s. Instead of standing firm and fighting, the church gave up. The church retreated to a corner and simply became a piece of our culture instead of being the dominant influence of our culture.
It was due to the church's lack of effectiveness that gave rise over these past 40 years to what never existed before, para church ministries and entire industries created solely for Christians. All of the various specialized ministries that exist today were once ministries of the local church. Most churches quit visiting those who were in prison which gave rise to prison ministries like Prison Fellowship. Most churches quit ministering to their men which gave rise to men's ministries like Promise Keepers. Most churches quit praying for the needs of their people which gave rise to ministries like Liveprayer!
There have been Christians on television since the beginning of TV, just like there have been Christians on radio since radio started, just like there have always been Christian books, magazines, and music. It has only been in the past 40 years or so that we have set up our own TV stations and networks, our own radio stations and networks, our own music labels, our own book and publishing companies, literally abandoning the mainstream secular vehicles that reach the masses daily to market directly to people who are already Christians.
Why? There is only one reason, MONEY. It became financially profitable to abandon the masses of lost and hurting people who needed the message of Christ the most and focus instead on marketing directly to those who already were Christians. If you are a business man who sells tires, you aren't going to spend your time and money trying to sell them to people who don't have a car. Rather than competing with the message the world was sending out to the masses each day, Christians abandoned the lost and hurting in the marketplace and set up their own industries to reach people who already were Christians because it was good "business."
For the church to take back its rightful place as the dominant influence on our culture instead of simply being part of our culture, it has to do two things. First is evangelism. The church has got to get out of the maintenance mode it is in and start reaching the lost and hurting with the Gospel. Practically speaking, the old saints are dying and for the church to survive it has got to start reaching out to the lost and getting them saved. The other thing the church must do is get back to the BIBLE. The Bible is God's inspired, inerrant Word, representing absolute truth and our final authority in all matters. The reason you have churches that embrace sins like homosexuality and killing babies and many others is that they have abandoned the authority of God's Word. Pastors don't need to come up with clever sermons on Sunday morning to tickle the ears of the people, they simply need to preach the uncompromised truth of God's Word!
I love you and care about you so much. The fact is, God has called each of His children to share Christ with the lost. Each person reading this today has people in your life that God has placed there for you to speak to about the Lord. They are not there by accident. I want to encourage you today to step up to the plate and fulfill that responsibility God has given you to share His love with others. The greatest way to witness to a person is simply to tell them what Jesus has done in your life. People may argue with you about the Bible and about who God is and many other things, but they can't argue with you about what the Lord has done in your life.
You don't need to be a theologian to witness to someone. Two facts nobody will dispute is that one day we will all die and that each of us sins. Through Christ their sins can be forgiven and they can have the assurance that when they die they will be forever with Him. All of the rest will fall into place over time as they grow in their faith and in the knowledge of God and His Word. It is a growth process but you can't start that process until you are "born again." That is the starting point. I will be praying for you as God gives you the boldness and words to share Christ with others in your life.
As I walked with the Lord in the quiet of the Atlanta night that Saturday, God spoke to me about the 4-million souls in that metropolitan area, the vast majority that did not know Christ as their Savior. He then spoke to me about the over 300 million who live in the United States, again, the vast majority living their lives without Christ. The Bible is clear that the person who dies without Jesus will be lost for all eternity. Without a doubt, to get to the greatest mission field in the world today you don't need to pack your suitcase and get on a plane to go to some far away land, simply walk out your front door.
"Then He said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." (Matthew 9:37 NIV)