Bruce Sidebotham <firstname.lastname@example.org>, director of Operation Reveille, is focusing on mobilizing Christians in the military for missions. Source of this article is Bruce's January 1997 issue of The Operation Reveille Shofar.
Jesus indicates he is coming back after his kingdom has penetrated every tribe, language, and culture. The Joshua Project of the AD 2000 and Beyond Movement has identified over two billion people in 1739 unpermeated people groups. Yet of the 332,000 missionaries in the world today only, 4000 of them are working among these ethnic groups. Ours is the first generation with the information and resources to take the kingdom of God across these remaining ethnic boundaries. You can be a part of preparing the way for our Lord's return. If you want to be a "world Christian" but are unsure how, choose one or more of these practical ideas.
Start a missions council on your installation or in the chapel where you worship. Most mobilization of resources for missions today is done by church missions committees. Clear vision and dynamic leadership in a missions committee can energize a local church for worldwide impact through prayer and giving in spite of competition from internal ministries, building projects, staff salaries, and electric bills. Unfortunately, most churches are either maxed out in the attention they can give to missions or they aren't interested. But what about the potential in military chapels to arouse interest for missions prayer and giving, especially when nearly all of the 1739 unpenetrated groups are in places where servicemen are prepared to fight?
Adopt one of the unreached people groups in your family, chapel, home Bible study, or Sunday school class. The Adopt-a-People Clearing House, Windows International Network, or AD 2000 and Beyond Movement can match you with a people group most needy or suitable to you. Adoption can be for an indefinite or specific period of time. As you learn about your adopted people you can then pray intelligently and aggressively, and you can watch the Lord do his work among them in answer to your prayers!
Plan a missions conference for your chapel or installation. Most churches that are active in missions hold an annual week or weekend focus on missions. They invite in special speakers and even drama teams, they show multimedia programs, have potluck dinners with ethnic food, expose children in Sunday school to real live missionaries, and obtain a global perspective on the kingdom of God. Chapel groups hold retreats, and family life conferences; why not have a week or weekend of missions focus?
Put up a missions display in your home, chapel, community center, and/or processing point for separations and releases from active duty. Most missions minded churches and many college and university student centers have a bulletin board or table or both where prayer requests, issues, statistics and announcements can be visually displayed. Literature recruiting for key ministries can be laid out and may influence the direction of someone fighting off the corporate "headhunters" as his military commitment comes to a close. Global Mapping Inc. distributes some great maps and the US Center for World Mission sells some fantastic posters. Every mission agency prints colorful brochures. There is no lack of graphic and visual material out there.
Obtain missionary biographies and books on missions history for your chapel or ministry center's lending library, and promote these books by announcements and word of mouth. There are few stories as inspiring and life changing as those of the men and women who have introduced Christ to whole ethnic "nations." Of these it may be said, "They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated -- the world was not worthy of them (Hebrews 11:37-38)." These books are great to read aloud at the dinner table or on a family trip.
Devote a semester or quarter of Sunday school classes to study missions. Many good missions curricula for children and adults are available. Operation Reveille can recommend some of them.
Support a missionary family or project (like Bible translation, radio broadcasts, or medical relief) for a given period of time with regular contributions. This mild sacrifice is one of the most practical ways to participate in what God is doing and invest for an eternal blessing. Just as the Army is powerless without "beans and bullets" and logistics conduits, so front line cross-cultural missionaries need more than vision, prayer and sentiment. Among many valuable Christian ministries a few are making dents among the people groups with no indigenous church. As the situation paragraph of an operations order precedes the mission paragraph, educate yourself on the situation in world wide missions so that you can commit your resources wisely and effectively.
Write a missions section for your chapel's Sunday worship bulletin or the newsletter of your fellowship. Missions news, prayer requests, and tips are usually a regular in the bulletins of missions minded churches. Besides the benefit of the text itself, the demonstration of unselfish priorities stimulates additional enthusiasm and commitment to your fellowship.
Organize and participate in a short term missions trip for survey, prayer, or some kind of technical or logistical assistance. No other missions involvement is more engaging, rewarding and life changing. No other vacation is more productive spiritually. In countries closed to traditional missionaries, the most you can do may be survey and on site prayer, but when that is a thousand percent more than anything that has ever been done before, then it is a major contribution. Books are written and courses are taught on making your vacation count in ways you may have never dreamed of. Missions agencies would love to use you and one to two weeks of your leave. Subsequent issues of this newsletter will review some of the resources, organizations, and opportunities.
Finally and most importantly, organize and participate in some kind of regular corporate prayer for missions. It could be five minutes at the beginning of your OCF Bible Study or at a women's tea or men's breakfast. Whatever it is, the sacrifice and discipline will mysteriously move the course of spiritual history towards the fulfillment of God's will and Christ's return and will nurture your own faith and maturity. As Joshua's followers marching in what must have seemed to be foolish obedience and blind faith around Jericho brought down the walls of that "unconquerable" city, so Jesus' followers united and praying in seemingly inconsequential obedience and faith will destroy the barriers around the remaining cultures, preparing the way for his second coming.