Arise and Go!
When Holy Spirit is in the room, we know it! He inspires and moves us, and our passion for God and his purposes is rekindled and renewed. That’s what happened during the Unreached ’22 online conference. Zoom is no barrier to Holy Spirit! As contributors spoke and shared, there were times when we felt as though we had been hit in the solar plexus – that ‘ooooffff’ moment when the prophetic word hits you with its power and truth and opens your eyes and heart to what our High and Holy God is saying in these days!
‘My head is challenged and my heart has softened. It has been amazing to be surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ all united in one mission – to Arise and Go to the nations across the globe and on our doorstep.’ (Lucy, UK)
A bustling silk-road city
The conference was ‘like a bustling silk-road city where dusty travellers from diverse, far-flung places re-connect, swap stories, trade goods and re-supply, ready to hit the road.’ Friends gathered together from the Middle East, South Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa, the UK and the States – a mix of seasoned cross-cultural workers and those just beginning to explore mission to the unreached. New friendships were forged, and others deepened. There was a sumptuous feast of excellent teaching in seminars on topics ranging from How to Start a Disciple Making Movement, Cultivating Cultural Awareness, Serving Refugees (UK) and many more.
Experienced workers who are faithfully serving with their boots well and truly on the ground in tough, unreached contexts shared inspiring, sometimes painful stories and experiences of all that God is doing in his zeal to reach the unreached with his saving love.
‘J.’ serves in a nation in South Asia. Over the past couple of years, he and his team have been following in the steps of Holy Spirit to love and serve those who are persecutors of Christ followers in highly dangerous regions. Our hearts raced as we heard how God overcame the natural fear and reluctance of ‘J’ and his team and took them to a camp in a far-away city to heal the sick, liberate the oppressed from demons and express his love and compassion to those who are spiritually dead.
‘We prayed for a boy who was dumb. The next day his father ran to us and kissed our feet – his son has said his first word, ‘Father’. (J.)
Mission to the unreached is God’s initiative – Fusi Mokoena
‘God is on a mission, and we are just playing catch up,’ said Fusi Mokoena, one of the conference key-note speakers who lives in the United Arab Emirates and is apostolic leader in Regions Beyond’s global churches. Teaching powerfully from the story of Cornelius and Peter in Acts 10, Fusi showed how the Holy Spirit will always go ahead of us and is already working among the unreached before we even go to them. Fusi illustrated how the nations of the world are knocking on the doors of Europe. ‘Some of these nations have been the hardest nations to reach, and now God is bringing you these nations like steak on a plate.’ Exhorted Fusi, ‘God is bringing the nations to your doorstep for a greater purpose. The next 10 – 20 years could see rapid explosion amongst the unreached or a missed opportunity, according to how we respond to the unreached.’
We could almost hear Holy Spirit saying, ‘C’mon Church. I’ve opened the doors – what are you waiting for?!’
‘I loved how we were reminded of how God is on a mission and we should partner with him…
My favourite quote was, “For us to reach the unreached, there is a lot of learning and unlearning for us.” ‘(H. who lives & works in the ME)
Avoiding White Saviourism – Susie Howe
‘So many people have come to fix us that, O’ Lord, please don’t bring another person to fix us. We have been fixed so many times, we are in a real mess now.’ (Oscar Muriu, Kenyan Pastor)
In our mission and development work amongst the unreached, do we seek to export ‘The West to the Rest’ and act as white saviours who seek to fix the problems of others, or do we go in all humility to learn from and serve those we are seeking to reach, enabling them to find their own solutions and to take the lead in creating communities of Christ followers in their local context? Are we ready to share with them our vulnerabilities and inadequacies and our need for their help and to be touched and changed by them? These were some of the questions that keynote speaker Susie Howe challenged us with. From her significant experience as a development worker into different African nations, Susie shared several key principles of how to avoid white saviourism, so that in our cross-cultural work, we minimise harm and can be used by God to impart and receive fullness of life.
‘They are looking to see if we have a scar where they have a wound.’ (Steve Saint)
Arise and Go! – Andy McCullough
It’s easy to just talk about mission. But Andy McCullough, leader of the Unreached Network, finished the conference with a passionate exhortation to ‘Arise and Go!’ Andy brilliantly took three examples of God’s call to Philip the evangelist, Ananias the disciple and Peter the Apostle to ‘Arise and Go!’ to specific individuals – the Ethiopian Eunuch, to Saul and to Cornelius – showing that as a result, the gospel was able to explode far and wide across the Gentile world and in a way that still impacts the world today.
To the ends of the earth…
Many in the Newfrontiers family of churches have obediently responded to God’s call to ‘Arise and Go.’ Those who are serving in or getting ready to go and work amongst the unreached in the UK, Central Asia, the MENA region and the Eastern Mediterranean shared about the call that God has put on their hearts and invited others to join them on God’s mission in those regions. Hearts were united as we prayed for them and shared prophetic words. These are extraordinary days of opportunity to join God in his mission to the unreached both in the UK and globally. As Fusi said, let’s not miss it!