GO!

Mark 16:15 New International Version (NIV)

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

The Great Commission (above and also in Matthew 28:18-20) is not a suggestion.  It is a command.  In the nearly two millenia since Jesus gave this command, the world has grown smaller in many ways– it no longer takes months to sail across oceans or travel over hazardous mountain passes; it no longer takes weeks for letters to arrive.   The Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages, and can be downloaded onto phones and other hand-held devices.  We don’t even have to physically travel somewhere in order to talk “face-to-face”– we can Skype!

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We live in a global society that was unthinkable even one hundred years ago– but there is no less urgency about the Great Commission.  God is still sending people out of their comfort zones, away from home and family, to spread His word, to awaken revival, and to bring news of peace and salvation.  Not everyone is called to travel, but all are called to go–how can that be?

Prayer is, of course, one element– we can pray for nations, people groups, mission organizations, and individuals around the world.  We can also give– money, time, materials–we can commit to being partners and team members “on the home front” or volunteer to visit or do short-term mission work.

I highly recommend both– but I want to issue a challenge to a greater involvement.

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Several years ago, I stumbled across a used book (it was already out-of-date when I found it) called Operation World: a day-to-day guide to praying for the world, by Patrick Johnstone.  For each day of the year, there was a specific part of the world/people group/nation to pray for, with maps, statistics, the names of national leaders, information or estimates about literacy rates and religious affiliation.  Later, I found a yearly calendar/prayer diary that did much the same thing– I assume it is no longer being published as I haven’t been able to find one for many years, and it was a great loss.

In the years since, I have tried to use almanacs, online sources (including the CIA Factbook), “Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It…” Proactive Prayer Points  and lists in my prayer journal to broaden my outlook.  Even more than that, I have found it useful to “GO” to other countries by bringing them into our home– international cookbooks, maps, newsletters from missionaries and mission groups, music, photos, foreign language Bibles or testaments, “adopting” a child through Kids Alive (https://www.kidsalive.org/)  or World Vision ( https://www.worldvision.org/)or Compassion International ( https://www.compassion.com/)(either through financial support or prayer support or both).

God so loved the WORLD–He is a global God, who wants so very much for us to love one another, understand one another better, and learn from one another.  But He also wants the world to love HIM– not a pantheistic, watered down, homogenized version of a god, but the God of Creation; the God of Salvation and Reconciliation; the Messiah; the Ruler of All.

This doesn’t mean ignoring people close to home– pray for your neighbors, your family and friends, your community, and home nation…but often, we get so involved in our own burdens, our own drama, and our own concerns, that we get cut off and isolated from other children of God– and those who are longing to hear some Good News.

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Go–whether on a plane or on your knees; at your church or at your kitchen table– GO!

Passport Prayers

I get to travel every day.  I journal my prayers in a daily notebook.  Prayer Journal  (click here to get ideas or learn more)  Each day has a heading and four sections– one for birthdays or other “memory days”; one for thematic prayers (generalized themes like “family”, “community”, “global concerns”, “culture”, etc.); one for urgent requests, and one for a region of the world–nations, major cities, local communities.  On busy days, I send a short prayer and try to remember what I know, or imagine what I’d like to know, about that area.  Some days, I have the luxury of time to look up information or history about that area– what is the language, capital city, literacy rate, average age, major religion, geography, economy, etc.

Our world is full of wonder, variety, crisis, and opportunity–I want to add all of this to my pursuit of prayer. It reminds me of several things:

  • I am not the center of the universe– my issues and problems are not unique or exceptional.
  • God has placed me here to interact with others–I can’t reach out and connect with 6 billion others, but I can become more aware of their needs and way of life.
  • The world is a big place–seeing it on the screen via the internet sometimes causes me to forget that.  And as I see how big the world is, I also need to remember that God is even bigger!
  • The world is full of variety.  Not everyone lives or thinks or worships as I do.  Not everyone faces the same circumstances, the same temptations, the same struggles.  Yet God sees and hears each one who calls on him.  He doesn’t have trouble understanding languages and dialects– he doesn’t get culture shock.  He is not an American Jesus, or a Brazilian Jesus, or a Korean Jesus.  He’s not an urban Jesus or a remote mountain village Jesus, or a gated community Jesus.  When we enter eternity, we will share it with amazing brothers and sisters from every corner of creation.  He’s got the whole world in his hands!

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  • Many millions of people around the globe have never heard the Gospel– or they’ve heard lies and misrepresentations.  Millions of other believers are being persecuted for believing in Jesus or for sharing the good news of Salvation in His Name. People in every nation, every community, are suffering.
  • We are commanded, as Christians, to “go into all the world” and preach the gospel.  I may not be able to travel to “all the world”, but I can “go” in prayer, sharing on-line, and  learning about needs, as well as in sending out and praying for those who can travel.
  • I am grateful for the opportunities God has given me– to learn about him and worship him in freedom; to travel and participate on short-term mission opportunities; to meet and share with missionaries, travelers, students, foreign workers, and others who share their culture and knowledge and perspectives; and for the global work of the Savior, and my privilege to share in it.

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Time to pack my bags– I’m heading to Germany tomorrow!

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