Tuesday, February 23, 2010

IBC Newsletter Article for March

Below is my newsletter article for the March Messenger, the monthly newsletter from Immanuel Baptist Church.

Last year, you approved the establishment of a Strategic Mission Team that would lead IBC in the development of mission efforts globally and locally that would unite the church in our strategic mission involvement. The key word we have used in our discussions is "impact." Our aim is not to see how busy we can be or how many places and people and projects we can discover, but rather that we would make an impact for the gospel and the glory of God in whatever we do. With this in view, we began meeting immediately to discuss the adoption of one of the world's 6,000 unreached people groups who have little or no access to the Gospel. After months of discussion, prayer, and correspondence with missionaries in various regions, we have decided upon the Tharu people of Nepal. Initially, our focus will be on the Dangaura Tharu (so-called because they speak the Dangali language), but this may broaden over time to include all the Tharu people. Nepal's most familiar landmark is the world's tallest mountain, Everest. But more foreboding than the heights of Everest is the mountainous proportion of spiritual lostness in the country. The country was completely closed to outsiders (including missionaries) for over 130 years (1816-1951). Even after being open to outsiders for nearly 60 years, Christian missionaries have seen little harvest in this country. Most of the people of Nepal are Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, or a confusing combination of all three. The Tharu people are devoted to a blend of animism and Hinduism, worshiping animals, deceased ancestors, and deities of the Hindu pantheon, represented by household idols to which they make regular sacrifices as the village shamans direct.

The Bible makes it clear that the Church has a mission to take the Gospel to all nations (ethne, peoples). Acts 1:8 tells us that we are Christ's witnesses to the ends of the earth, and Matthew 28:19 commissions us to make disciples of all nations. When John saw the multitudes of worshiping believers in heaven, he saw those from "every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" and they cried out, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." It is that eternal vision that fuels a passion for reaching the nations for Christ. God is worthy of the worship of all peoples. Presently, He is not receiving that worship from many of these people groups, including the Tharu. So His worship is the goal of missions, and it is the fuel of missions. We long to see Him receive the worship He is due, and this thrusts us into the harvest field. We would not ask everyone to travel to Nepal, but some will undoubtedly feel the call to go with us as we begin to plan a short term mission trip there within the next year. We would, however, ask everyone at IBC to make prayer for the Tharu of Nepal a regular, if not daily, habit. If you do not feel led to go, perhaps you will be able to send those who will go. As we plan, you will hear more about this. In the meantime, we hope you will learn all you can about Nepal and the Tharu people, and join us as we ask God to bring this people to Himself through the Gospel, and to use IBC to accomplish His task. To Him be the glory from all the peoples of the earth forever!

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