“Live Dead”? What does that mean? Global Initiative? UPG?  What does the Arab World and East Africa have to do with ACLAME, or with me, an LAC missionary educator? Why would I, a Bible School teacher and professor of ISUM, want to look up these internet sites and study about teams going out to pioneer missions among those that have never heard of Jesus? Does God still call some to renounce their lives and go, no matter what the cost? In other words, to “Live Dead”? What does LAC have to do with missionaries that are willing to die for Jesus in lands where the church does not exist? What is my involvement with those who will go where “the conditions are harsh, fierce and lonely”?
Yesterday, after a pastor´s meeting in Bogotá, Colombia, I talked with Lydia*. Her eyes filled with tears as she shared about her missionary call and her longing to go to a very dangerous country in Africa that is torn by civil war. She is raising her budget and hopes to leave soon. Débora*, as well as Gonzalo*, Esilda*, Jaime*, and other young Colombian missionaries have also stepped up to the call of “taking up their cross” and following Jesus even if it means putting their own lives on the line. They are scattered around the world, going out to unreached people groups, both in their own country and other nations, as well.
With joy, I realized that there is another common denominator among all those mentioned above. Each of them, at one time or another has been my student in Bible School or ISUM.
How exciting is that? Perhaps, we don´t feel personally called to pioneer a ministry among the UPG. Perhaps our main ministerial gift is teaching, not pioneer evangelism. Yet, we DO fit into God’s dream for missions’ renewal for this time! We are a vital link in raising up an army of missionaries that will go to the ends of the earth – from all nations to all nations. We, the ACLAME body, can revolutionize the national AG missionary outreach from the base camps of our classrooms. Through our teaching and mentoring we hold the key for one of the most effective means of reproducing missionaries who will go to the UPG of the world. We have experience and training in cross-cultural ministry and can partner with the national church and especially our Bible Schools to teach what we have learned. Our objective is to inspire leaders and students to be a part of fulfilling the desire of God´s heart for a lost world.
My late husband, Steve Graner, had a dream to witness to people who were hearing about Jesus for the first time. His dream came true in a remote desert community of Wayúu in northeastern Colombia. He had challenged a Bible School student from that area to win her people to the Lord and she took us there. That was years ago. Today, that first little Wayúu group is part of a wonderful church in the “ranchería” ethnic community of La Paz, Guajira, Colombia. With the help of other USA missionaries and the national church, there are now several congregations and an LACC school. Members of the tribe lead the church and direct the school. No longer do USA missionaries regularly visit La Paz, but, the seed that Steve planted years before through his Bible School classes and his travels is bearing fruit. Another former student and travel-companion, now an ordained minister, goes to the Wayúu about once a month to give catechism classes, baptize believers, serve communion, and officiate at special church ceremonies. He has said, “To honor Steve´s memory is to follow in his footsteps,” and he surely is honoring the memory of his beloved mentor! Steve´s passion for the unreached people groups of Colombia and the world, did not die when the Lord took him home last summer. That passion was part of every Bible School class he taught and of every missions message he preached. It permeated his daily conversations with Colombian fellow-ministers and friends. His motto was, “That all may know, love and serve Him!” His zeal was contagious and now his students are reaching out not only to the Wayúu, but to the Kogi, the Kankuamo, the Wiwa and to the “uttermost”.
If we understand and take to heart what still needs to be done to fulfill the Great Commission, we, too, will challenge our students in similar ways. It is estimated that there are 253 clusters of unreached people groups. The study, done by the Joshua project, says that those distinct ethnolinguistic clusters are made up of thousands of diverse and separate sub-groups. This translates into 2.8 billion people that have no indigenous, viable Christian witness that can reproduce itself without cross-cultural help! What a task! Our leaders at AGWM are hearing the Lord´s mandate to prioritize and refocus our missionary efforts toward the unreached people´s groups of the world. We, the educators of LAC, must be a part of that renewal.
Do we understand the sacredness of those few hours we have with our students? Do we realize that our enthusiasm and commitment to witness and to make disciples can be woven into every subject we teach? Can we ask God to plow and revitalize the soil of our hearts, so that the passion for the lost and the eagerness to fulfill the Great Commission will once again take root, and blossom, and bear fruit that will nourish our students and inspire them to go out and do the same?
Let´s refocus our priorities. We can choose to be proactive. We, the AGWM educators of Latin America and the Caribbean can take several important steps:
1. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He will renew our first love. Have we recently wept over lost souls, have we allowed the Holy Spirit to break our hearts over those that have never heard? Would our national partners and students characterize us as men and women of strong moral fiber and conviction, of enthusiasm to see the lost come to Christ, and of fervor in discipleship?
2. Rewrite our syllabi to include studies, discussions and activities that impassion our students to reach out to those who have never heard. We can weave into every subject from Principles of Teaching to Pastoral Counseling to Prison Epistles, the Great Commission and God´s heart for the “ethne” of the world.
3. Daily ask God to use us to inspire, empower, and teach skills that give our students the tools for ministry among the unreached people of their own nation and internationally, too. Every LAC missionary can be an advocate to train and support the future missionaries of their national church. Let´s “intentionally mentor and develop potential leaders and team members” that will say “Yes!” to God´s call to reach the least reached.
Mat 28:18 -20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
We have the command. We have the tools. Joyfully we share the passion and the call.
And they (the elders around the throne) sang a new song (of Jesus, the Risen Lamb) with these words:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 And you have caused them to become
a Kingdom of priests for our God.
And they will reign on the earth.”
Rev 5:9-10 NLT and paraphrase