Today we want to feature an article written by one of GMHC's partners, Scatter Global. This article by Jonathan Thiessen will challenge your assumptions about traditional missions and encourage you to step out in faith. Enjoy!
Imagine this: The church is experiencing explosive growth across the globe. The number of unreached groups is shrinking as far, near and same culture followers of Jesus penetrate new districts and neighborhoods. It seems inevitable that within a few years there will be a vibrant community following Jesus within walking distance of every person on the planet.
This is the future we dream and pray for.
The truth is much more sobering. When most modern mission agencies were founded in the mid 20th century, leaders spoke about 1.6 billion who would live and die without hearing the Gospel once. Today, according to the Joshua Project we are facing a staggering 3.14 billion (https://joshuaproject.net) who are considered unreached. All of this points to the fact that we are going backward at the rate of 57,000 people per day, who are being added to the number of the Unreached (CSGC - Gordon-Conwell University).
One of the most telling statistics, reported by Lausanne, is that observing the life of a Jesus-follower is the primary reason a person decides to follow Christ. 86% of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists worldwide do not know a Christian, and likely never will. (https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2018-03/can-finally-reach-unreached) What this tells us is that our mission efforts are still largely present on the fringes of society. We are not in the neighborhoods, the workplaces, the communities where people live.
Proximity is a major challenge to the mission strategy of today. How will we access 80% of the world’s population who live in countries where overt missionary activity is severely restricted or illegal? Today governments are increasing their demands that foreign nationals demonstrate a clear value-add to society, ensuring that communities understand who they are.
Rather than seeing this as a threat, we believe it represents one of the greatest opportunities in mission history. According to ManPower Group’s Talent Shortage Survey (https://go.manpowergroup.com/talent-shortage-2018) more employers than ever are struggling to fill open jobs — 45% globally say they can't find the skills they need, up from 40% in 2017 and the highest in over a decade.
Many of these companies represent developing countries, or areas of the world where the masses of least reached live and work. We don’t believe this is a coincidence. Places like Saudi Arabia that have been closed to any Christian influence for 1300 years are throwing their doors open for professionals to live and work across every sector of society.
Is it possible to see hundreds of Jesus-followers penetrating the world’s neighborhoods and workplaces, demonstrating the Gospel through an authentic lifestyle of excellence, integrity, and faith?
We believe that for the first time in history it is possible to dream of a vibrant expression of Jesus within walking distance of every person on the planet.
Would you consider taking the very things that God has placed inside of you: the skills, passion, talent, experience you have; and put these to work in another part of the world where Jesus is less known? Would you be that first Christian someone meets?
Today we want to feature a story shared by Didi Okorozo, where she learned that even when our physical self isn't enough, God comes through in ways we don't expect. We hope you enjoy this story as much as we did!
Andrew and Alisa Geers serve as Christian Health Service Corps missionaries in Honduras. He is a Physician Assistant, and she is a Nurse Practitioner. They shared this story that demonstrates how God's power is made perfect in weakness.
What comes to mind when you see the word “intussusception”? If you are not at all medically inclined then you may not have even known that it was a thing, let alone how to pronounce it. For those of you who want to win at jeopardy it’s pronounced in·tus·sus·cep·tion. It is a condition whose cause is not well understood but it is always fatal if left untreated within 5 days of its occurrence. So what exactly is intussusception and why am I spending so much time talking about it?
To keep it simple, intussusception is the process by which part of the intestine telescopes within itself and usually occurs where the small intestine meets the colon or large intestine (see photo representation). This leads to an intestinal obstruction, bowel death and eventual perforation of the intestines. It is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in children 5 months to 3 years. Now that you are an expert on intussusception let me tell you about my 3 month old patient who came in the ER about 2 weeks ago around 10 pm…
The patient had a 2 day history of fever, vomiting and blood in his stools. He had been seen at a clinic near his home earlier that morning, about 9 hours from our hospital, where he was given fluids and his mother was told they needed to see a specialist. To this mother, whose father had neck surgery at our hospital some time ago, it made perfect sense that Hospital Loma de Luz would have the “specialists” her son needed to see. In case you were wondering, (and you may not have considered this since I threw a bunch of fancy terms and statistics at you to begin with) I am NOT a specialist in pediatrics.
I immediately radioed Alisa (cause I have learned that when you don’t know what to do you ask your wife) and ran the patient by her. It was clear from his distended abdomen and x-ray that this infant had an intestinal obstruction and now we had to determine why (although you can probably guess why if I have not completely lost you with my ramblings). Usually in the states this child would have had access to a variety of tests and tools to help quickly narrow down the diagnosis, to determine which specialist needed to be consulted and to determine the best approach for treatment. Here in Honduras we are deficient in our diagnostic testing with our most advanced imaging being x-ray.
The doctor “on call” with me was none other than our General Surgeon, Dr. Alexander, who does not usually operate on children, let alone 3 month olds. We admitted the infant, gave him IV antibiotics and had a nasogastric tube placed to try to decompress his stomach but he continued to have fevers and more distention of his abdomen. We all had been praying for a miraculous healing but it was rapidly becoming apparent that we were losing the battle and needed to use more invasive measures. Having no experience in this type of pediatric abdominal surgery our general surgeon skyped with the pediatric surgeon back in the states to get his input and to get a crash course on what needed to happen with the surgery. Lacking onsite experience we were definitely at a disadvantage when it came to attempting surgical intervention.
During the operation we found that part of the small intestine had telescoped into the large intestine and Dr. Alexander worked to meticulously and delicately pull it back out. We could see evidence that the trapped bowel was beginning to show signs of dying and it would have only been a matter of hours before the damage would have been irreversible. By the grace of God this child made it through surgery without complications and one week after coming to our hospital he was discharged eating and pooping like a normal 3 month old should. Our medical staff worked diligently, trusting God to provide the strength and guidance we needed to give the best care possible despite our weaknesses. And just like the 5 loaves and 2 fish, God performed a miracle through our limited experiences and resources and all we can say is, to God be the glory!
When is the last time you boasted about your weaknesses? The word weakness can be more accurately defined by words like disadvantage, defect, deficiency, and imperfection. We all have weaknesses and yet we usually don’t go around broadcasting them to the rest of the world. Yet that is what the Apostle Paul encourages followers of Christ to do, to boast to the world about weaknesses. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. We have seen and testify to the power of Christ working in our weaknesses. The next time you and I encounter difficult circumstances I pray that we would be reminded of His sufficient grace!
Over the past few months, we have highlighted a few outstanding sessions, stories, and articles that are featured on MedicalMissions.com. We want to do that again this morning, highlighting one of last year's (2018) breakout sessions. But if you went to this year's conference, and you are anxious to listen to a session you missed, don't worry! The sessions from the 2019 conference will begin releasing on the website (https://www.medicalmissions.com/resources) and the podcast (https://www.medicalmissions.com/podcast) in January.
For now, check out this very interesting session on Christian Thought in the Development of Western Scientific Medicine by Dr. John Patrick