News and Views

2bobcraft2We have our fingers on the pulse of modern missions. Mission work is changing rapidly as the world's cultures and global conditions are changing. Ease of travel and communication impact how the Gospel is spread. But at the heart of missions, there is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the obedience of the Church to carry out Jesus' command to go into all the earth.

We want to present challenging biblical truths, insights into today's missions environment, and progress reports on reaching the entire world with the Gospel. Please keep checking our blog regularly for updates, stories and challenging thoughts from Scripture! 

The Unreached Are Not Unreachable

Luke 15:4-7 (NLT)
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

John 10:16 (NIV)
“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

I love the fact that Jesus used such simple, real-life illustrations to show His love and His purpose. These two stories both speak of those who need to be reached.

The first is about one lost sheep, separated and alone while the rest of the flock is well-fed and safe. Picture a little lamb, hanging off the edge of a rocky crag, bleating and most likely bleeding from its perilous wandering. Then Jesus comes to the rescue, carries the sheep upon His shoulders to safety. This parable speaks of salvation, assurance and love.

We most often apply this parable to ourselves. We are helpless sheep, and we know it. Jesus said that, “when he has found it,” he will joyfully carry the lost sheep back. “When he has found it” expresses the confidence of Jesus that He will reach and find the lost sheep. There is no “if” in this story. The lost can be found. The unreached can be reached. The unreached are in no way unreachable.

Near the end of His life on earth, just before He entered Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus told another story to his disciples about sheep. “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” This time it is not just a single lost sheep.

There are entire flocks of sheep outside the reach of the shepherd. They are not just lost, they are in danger from thieves and robbers who intend to kill and destroy them. Who will reach and rescue those very real “sheep” for the Great Shepherd? That duty, as the disciples soon learned, would fall on them. Jesus said that if these sheep could but hear His voice, they would listen and become part of His one flock. Again, Jesus speaks with assurance that these sheep will listen.

There are an estimated 1 million villages and communities that have yet to hear and respond to the voice of Jesus the Shepherd. No one has reached them with the Good News of rescue and redemption. The little lambs continue to fall prey to the sex traffickers and abuse. Sometimes their own parents or relatives will sell them into slavery. Drugs and alcohol will rob these sheep of their hope and continue to cause death and destruction of families. It is all because these sheep remain unreached and un-rescued.

When will we reach them? They are reachable, especially today with our resources and technology. The question is when. How much longer must they continue to wait to hear His voice and follow?

Love and Sacrifice

We all look to Jesus this week as we remember His love and sacrifice for us. In that final week, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies from centuries before and the eternal will of His Father from before the creation of the world. What was rushing through His mind and heart as He hung on the cross that day?

We have hints, glimpses as He struggled to utter just a few phrases that those standing near Him captured for us:

  • Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
  • Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
  • Behold your son! ... Behold your mother! John 19:26,27
  • My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46
  • I thirst. John 19:28
  • It is finished. John 19:29,30
  • Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Luke 23:46

The first thing on His heart was forgiveness and love for those who had condemned, cruelly beaten, mocked, tortured, and finally crucified Him. He thought of the promise of paradise, even for the penitent criminal being punished at His side. He thought of His mother, who would need immediate and special comfort and care. He felt the weight of the sin of humanity and the separation from God that it brings. He felt the full agony of His pain and humanity as His body cried for water and relief. He felt the sting of death and a sense of fulfillment as He breathed His last and entered into the arms of His heavenly Father.

But the central cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” gives us much more than a hint of His heart. He was quoting the first verse of Psalm 22. He was giving us a glimpse into history, into the present, and into the future.

Even in that hour, when He was hanging on the cross, Jesus could see those for whom He was dying. He could see the millions living in unreached villages who would respond to the Gospel when they finally hear His message. He knew that they would love and obey Him.

Serving the Savior,

Bob Craft

Psalm 22:22-31 (NIV)

“I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him – may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him – those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”

Please consider an Easter gift to help the Gospel message reach the nations. Christ died for them and we work daily to see them reached.

Who Really Wins?

Look up the word “love” in your Bible’s concordance, and you may be surprised to see just how many times throughout the New Testament we are told by Jesus and His disciples to: “love one another,” “love your enemies,” “love your neighbor as yourself,” and so on.

In fact, Jesus not only told us to love one another, He commanded it: “‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’” John 13:34 (NIV)

In the days leading up to the U.S. presidential inauguration, we have been bombarded on all sides by television newscasts and social media newsfeeds overrun with people representing different political sides tearing one another apart. What is the most heart-breaking, though, is the way the rhetoric of this election has even caused division within the Body of Christ.

Anytime that Satan can divide us as brothers and sisters in Christ and pit us against one another, he wins. If we are fighting and tearing each other down, we are doing his work for him.

A quote written by John Wesley in a 1774 journal entry serves as excellent advice for us over two centuries later. He urged Methodist Society members: “(1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy (2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and (3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

Christian brothers and sisters voted on both sides. We may have differing viewpoints, but we are still called to love one another as Christ loved us.

John 13:35 goes on to say, “‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’” As Christians, we always have those who are not yet believers watching us to see if our actions line up with what we say we believe – if we “walk the talk.” If we are attacking or speaking ill of others, our witness may be irreparably damaged.

Additionally, division within the Body of Christ can hinder us from completing the Great Commission. In countries where Reach A Village and other international ministries serve, Christians and non-believers alike are observing how we, as Christians, respond to changing political situations. We need to ask ourselves if we are reflecting the image of Christ or if we are stumbling blocks to others.

The apostle Paul said, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” Romans 14:19 (NIV) We, as Christians, need to lead the way in loving one another. May Jesus be the one who really gets the victory in the way we live our lives.

By Holly Lawton

Reach A Village writer

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