A Christian since the age of 10 years, mine is the typical middle class American story. Born and raised in Tennessee, my new wife Cindy and I moved to Texas after finishing college in the early 90’s. The past twenty-four years involved starting a family, pouring myself into a career of management and leadership within corporate America as we chased the American dream, and a lot of marginal living when it came to living for Christ.
Literally a storybook life into my early 40’s, God used several negative setbacks to humble me and get my attention and get me to look up and acknowledge Him. The last occurred in late 2010 and He drove me to my knees and completely broke me. It was at this time that I completely submitted my life to His will, whatever that meant, and fell completely in love with Him.
Forced to commute 3 hours to Dallas every week for the past two years for business purposes, God began an amazing work without me even realizing what He was doing. He began to expose me to Christian ministries in 3rd world nations and the vast difference in my middle class lifestyle and theirs. Soon a new friend David and I found ourselves educating western Christians as to the needs in these areas and people began coming behind us to do what we could to make a difference by helping to meet these needs. A small missions ministry was born while we both continued to work 50 hour weeks in our chosen fields. In its first two years, About Face Missions has met needs among 18 different 3rd world ministries and raised over $100,000 to do so. Our little group firmly believes the quote by John Piper that “When it comes to missions, there are three types of Christians. Those who go, those who send, and those who are disobedient”. By engaging the heart of God, we have seen thousands and thousands people come to Christ with our small groups financial investments and 4 mission trips to partner with our indigenous pastors in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, The Philippines, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Over the past two years, I began to learn more about missions and became aware of something called unreached people groups. These are groups of people around the world who are literally unreached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, I learned that there are over 2 billion people alive today who have not even heard the name of Jesus come from someone’s lips. This still amazes me.
For over a year, I have been feeling that God was about to do something with me. In late 2012, God burned a call into my heart and made it clear that I am to follow Him and allow Him to work through me to get the gospel message to those who have not heard. He has shown me that The Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) is a mandate, not an option. It is not enough to make sure every nation knows about Christ, we are called to carry the message to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. That is what the greek word “ethnos” means in the Great Commission in place of the word “nations”. It goes much deeper than nations. As of this moment, there are nearly 16,000 people groups (ethnos) in the world and 7,100 are currently considered unreached. More disturbingly, over 3,100 of these are considered unengaged, meaning there is no active presence of the church and, in many cases, no effort is underway to change that. I find this completely unacceptable and not something I want to shy away from. I feel both called and compelled to go.
I personally believe our time is short and that this world is shaping up for the end times. I believe we are very close. I have learned is that a strong case can be made for the fact that these people groups must be reached before Christ returns. Matthew 24:14 states, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations (ethnos), and then the end will come. I believe God is raising up everyday people like me as we speak with a vision to do whatever is necessary to bring this about. Revelation 7:9 tells us that a great multitude will gather around the throne in Heaven from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.”
God has also burdened me with the current status of giving to missions among the American church. Do you realize over 97% of church giving each year stays within the US, never escaping our borders to make a difference among those who need it most. Of the approximately 3% that is designated for foreign missions, over 2% of that is used in existing projects. Less than 1% is designated or used to impact the 7,100 people groups which represent 2.87 billion people who are in unreached areas. This is 42% of the world’s population which we are virtually ignoring. If we truly believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven and if we believe those without Him are perishing, what is more important than investing our time and energy into making sure everyone hears?
AS you can tell, I believe God is calling for a foundational overhaul in our missions strategy . This becomes part of my message to the leaders of the western church. In addition, my message to the average church member is that they gave 6 cents a day to missions last year, approximately $21.90 annually. My family of four spent more than that on dinner tonight. If missions is a mandate and not an option and if we need to reach every people group before Christ returns, American Christians must be informed and challenged that our materialistic lifestyle is absolutely sinful and we have absolutely bought a lie in embracing the American Dream, consuming untold wealth upon comfort upon comfort while people starve and die without ever hearing the good news of the gospel, the only thing that separates them from heaven and hell. In short, speaking on the whole, the American church, leadership and members alike, each have incredibly distorted priorities to what we are called to be about, making His name great among the nations.
I will travel to these hard to reach, sometimes dangerous areas 5-6 times each year for 3 weeks at a time to work with the national pastors we are already involved with in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Over half of the UPG’s in the world exist in India. I will also continue to develop and cultivate additional relationships as well. The work will sometimes be dangerous and come with a high level of risk but I am convinced that He is with me and there is no other way. I believe God is raising up numerous Jesus followers willing to forsake everything if necessary to finish the task. There is no price that He can ask that is too high based upon what He has done for me and you. When I not traveling and am back home in the States, I will seek to speak often to increase exposure to the gospel mandate and the vast needs existing that I am observing in these nations. God has already shown me He will open eyes and hearts and increased engagement and resources from those who understand will result, in order that we may increase efforts in making His glory known among the nations.
The other thing we will continue to do is to lead short-term mission teams into appropriate areas. Churches are beginning to come alongside of us and are beginning to partner with these 3rd world ministries. Many desire for us to lead teams from the church into these 3rd world nations. One thing I see without fail is that once one goes and experiences how these people live, their lives are impacted forever.
In summary, I am thrilled to be associated with AFM and MLE ministries and need both Christians who embrace this message and believe there is still much work to be done to prayerfully consider coming alongside me on a monthly basis as they are able. I have met many people the past few years who believe they aren’t in a position to “give big” so they don’t give at all. Through AFM, God has taught me that numerous people consistently doing a little for Him makes a big impact. I need both support and prayer partners in order to follow this call. I refer to you as potential “partners” because it takes all of us, the body of Christ, working together for His glory, to get the job done. I will not be going alone, my partners will go with me for if not for them, it will not happen. I would be honored if the Lord leads you to partner with me. If He does not, please find another to partner with for there are other reputable ministries doing great work. For in the end, it is He and He alone who deserves and will receive the praise and glory and honor anyway. I am but a humble servant who wants to be used in any and every way possible to make His name known. I wasted many years but now that He has my attention, my heart beats to make much of Him!