II Timothy 3:16-17 characterizes God’s word as a set of inspired texts and documents. The importance of this verse needs to be underscored. Coupled with Jesus’ Great Commission, it is understandable why multitudes have taken upon themselves the tedious but time-consuming task of learning languages that are not native to them. Not a few persons have died in pursuit of the goal of translating and teaching Bible texts to small and large groups of people. Island after island had seen visitors reach their shore in order to announce the Gospel. Some of them were killed quickly; others did not set foot in their homelands again. The countless testimonies of these daring acts are startling.
When Jesus said Go, his main concern was the evangelism of all the various ethnic groups around the world. The knowledge of God’s plan of salvation must overspread the earth. As this occurs, then shall the end come (Mat. 24:14). The account of the history of redemption is given often in short messages preached in the Acts of the Apostles. These folk preached passionately about the death of Jesus and of his resurrection. Even then the recipients needed much more than a sermon to continue their Christian growth. So the apostles wrote letters and inscribed words of exhortations for the believers they led to the Lord. For generations Holy men and women of the Lord were moved by God to speak. For generations their historical and prophetic statements were preserved for future believers. The canon of scripture reveals and safeguards God’s eternal mind, his will, his mighty works and his wisdom. So we should do our best to spread the word about his power, and to support those who smuggle Bibles into closed countries.
Knowing beforehand that His words would be recorded and read, Jesus empowered his followers with the Holy Ghost to persist in their missionary witness despite the hardships incurred. They hazarded their lives to go to people who spoke different idioms (Acts 14:11). What the locals heard from these strangers changed them forever: the miracles they saw were real: a crippled man leaped and walk as he heard the story of Jesus. Surely something of Jesus’ remarkable power was told to them. The faith the apostles had in the indwelling Christ was authentic: it was founded on the word that dwelt richly in their heart in all wisdom. Had they not known the texts of Genesis-Malachi and more, there would have been no way to tell of all the passages that Christ’s life, death and resurrection fulfilled.
Peter’s sermons are proof of this point. Paul also was able to communicate these truths in more than one language (cf. Acts 21:37-40; 22:1ff.). The Roman captain of the guard was startled that Paul knew his dialect; but when you learn someone’s language you are able to touch his or heart. Holy Scripture in the mother tongue of any host-country national can say in far better ways what any non-native speakers may attempt to utter. I have seen this first-hand. Over a decade ago I was in Canada, and I watched the mouths of some Chaldean folks drop to the floor as I began to share the story (in Syriac) of Nicodemus meeting Jesus. None of them ever had met a black guy who knew Syriac. All my conversations with them were easier after than brief devotional. Again, years ago in South America I sat in a meeting where some Bible translators were celebrating the publication of the New Testament in an Amerindian language it had taken the translators 14 years to learn BEFORE they could initiate the translation process. My heart broke as I listened to the hardships they endured. They bore it all patiently for the Gospel’s sake.
Let’s hope that in WMF missions that we, too, can remember those who translate texts in far away districts and who transport scripture to regions where hardships and privations are great. Here at the office, aiding those who do such exploits is of importance and should not be ignored. So please make every effort to facilitate our activities in WMF missions even as we strive to strengthen the hands of those who have made their calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10).
Brother Darrell Sutton
Jesus’ Appearances in Missionary Work
With the annual ‘Easter/Resurrection Day behind us, it is good to remember that the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is a weekly reminder for us, too, that Jesus lives. It is easy to forget that vital point when we get caught up in all the holiday bliss. The fact that he lives still needs to be told outside of the sanctuary. Each of the gospels provide information of Jesus’ indoor and outdoor evangelism within Israel; each of them also explain in great detail his death and resurrection from the dead. In addition to the Gospel portraits, The Acts of the Apostles offer accounts of post-ascension appearances of the King of Kings: Stephen saw Jesus just before his stone-stricken death (7:56); but Christ appeared to Paul in a vision to inform Paul that he was not alone (18:9-10). Of course manifestations like these are helpful in missionary efforts. They certainly are encouraging to all those who learn of them. Each appearance proves that the Lord continues to labor in harvest fields around the world, even if/when we are unaware of his covert operations.
On account of these acts, short-term and long-term missionaries have reason to rejoice. I often hear of stories similar to the ones noted above. Several years ago I was in Ankara, Turkey preaching at a fellowship filled with missionaries. During the trip my host and I spent an evening with a number of the workers in that country. Always wanting information on what God is up to on foreign soil, I pulled one worker aside privately and inquired of him, ‘what are some of the supernatural things you have heard of recently there in Turkey?’ This question was a delicate matter. I was in a prominent international church, which often includes some missionary personnel sent out by denominations who yet teach ‘cessationism’: i.e., the idea that miracles ceased with the death of the last apostle. However, the man to whom I was speaking rattled off one story after another regarding appearances of the Lord to Muslim people in dreams and visions. Divine help, oh what a blessing!
I praised God at what I had heard because two decades prior, when I lived in Istanbul for 16 months, the overseer of our fellowship was a Turk who had been formerly a Muslim, until Jesus appeared to him in his small village home and told him to go and purchase a Bible and to read the Gospel of John. The gentleman had never met or seen a Christian. He definitely had no idea that a Christian bookstore was anywhere in the vicinity.
These notes are merely another form of encouragement to all WMF members who are involved with missions of any sort. My exhortation is simple: keep praying and believing. Press on; do not be discouraged. Do not let burdensome monetary concerns and health matters frustrate the grace of God now at work in you. Quite naturally one may think ‘it is easy to write these things when you are not facing my predicaments’. True, but Apostles and Pastors face various issues in their attempts to raise funds for missionary projects. Monies that are needed may or may not be available to them when the ‘need’ is greatest; traveling ministers too feel constrained by budgets often. Still, believers are commanded by God not to fret, and to remember that they are not alone. The Lord of Hosts is on their side, actively working behind the scenes and as stated in scripture, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Use your faith!
Director of International Missions
P.S. For correspondence specifically related to WMF missions, you may email me directly at email@example.com.
In recent decades, leaders of world-outreaches throughout the United States have reevaluated the way they ‘do’ missions. Amid discussion and a great amount of prayer a biblical organizing principle became visible again. In regard to missionary support, many denominations and independent ministerial fellowships have returned to a scriptural base and have dispensed with “official” procedures of selecting and appointing missionaries. The reason for the change should not go without notice. The action removes the burden of ever-increasing budgetary concerns. In addition, several Spirit-filled organizations presently want to avoid being placed in the position of informing eager persons that they are not qualified or suitable candidates for missionary service, when in fact these individuals believe they are called by God to go, who may very well be of great use to God in his Kingdom.
The obvious antidote to the development of a pompous attitude within a missionary selection committee is to nurture an atmosphere in which pastoral officers can cultivate and equip ministries under their care. The local church is the most practical place for training and for sending forth missionaries into the world. This template is the one Bible readers will find in scripture (see Acts
13:1-4). The role a perceptive pastor plays in identifying gifted persons in his or her congregation, who then labors on their behalf to secure their funding as they venture to the uttermost parts of the earth, should not be underemphasized.
Let us not forget that the word “go” comprises 2/3rds of the word “GOD”. Going
is fundamental to being godly
. Yet there needs to be a place from which a missionary-evangelist is sent. Antioch and Jerusalem are representative types. From those two cities/villages multitudes in nearby and far-away districts learned powerful principles of the Gospel as believers were scattered because of persecution and through their desires to fulfill The Great Commission. Similarly local churches today form the bases of operations for contemporary outreaches. What then is the role of WMF missions
? Understandably, all local churches do not make missions a priority and all are not suited to widening the horizons of some of their parishioners. So our role first and foremost is to facilitate some of the work in which our members would like to engage and to support projects already underway. Helping individuals who perceive that they have a call on their life to prepare to do the work of the ministry is of utmost importance. Much can be done through simple discipleship, by means of one-on-one contact. Undesignated funds given to the office are monetary tools for reinforcing the vision of the Director of International Missions, whose desire is to bless ministers who occasionally go abroad to fields of service and to strengthen those workers (native and non-native) now residing in the field.
Numerous ministries are linked to World Ministry Fellowship. Across the earth the power of the Gospel is faithfully preached by our people. The newsletters and testimonies which find their way into my inbox each month are encouraging. Sinners are surrendering to Jesus, supernatural healings manifest across the nation and around the world, and the craving new believers have to be filled with the Holy Ghost is heartening. God is on the move! The Executive Board and the personnel directing the main office covet your prayers. Over the next 60 days a review of our current fiscal support system for missionaries and evangelists will be conducted. The desire is to update the manner in which ministries are especially selected for short and for long-term support.
Meanwhile, this month too includes five Sundays, and we pray that the Lord would touch your hearts to remember WMF missions in your 5th Sunday missions’ offerings. The harvest before us is great; but the work is ongoing. Recently I preached a Missions and Prophecy conference on the Nebraska/South Dakota border in which the glory of the Lord fell in a Saturday night service. Hungry hearts, tear-filled eyes and contrition burst forth once again like rays of sunlight at daybreak. Such are a few characteristics in a meeting where Christ comes and lays his nail-scarred hands on broken spirits and mends them one by one. Folks, it’s a great day to be alive, if you are alive. Be encouraged, things are looking up, and may God bless all of you, our WMF ministers, and cause his face to smile upon all your endeavors!
Darrell Sutton - International Missions Director
The Great Commission of Jesus was taken seriously in ancient times. Subsequent generations, too, have taken up this divine charge. Untold stories exist in abundance. Church history is full of them.
From the late 1880s well into the first decade of the 20th century several places around the globe became sites of outpourings of the Holy Spirit. A few of the places had global effects: several persons felt led to go the nations. In years past, an old style of ‘faith-missions’, the pay-as-you-go method, was employed, a venture in which one trusted that daily provision from here to there would be given directly from God’s hand to the missionary’s mouth. A handful of countries benefited from the divine call of these anointed persons.
At the close of World War I the region of Central America was targeted by early Pentecostals. Open-air meetings were held, churches established, and natives (or host-country nationals) were empowered to fan the flames of revival through their preaching. The termination of World War II saw the initial rise of the Latter Rain and Voice of Healing movements. Again Central America became an area of interest. Many were healed and filled with the Holy Ghost as men and women ploughed the ground of new spiritual territories. The bulk of those who had gone forth until that time had been sent forth by their denominations.
The 1970s and 1980s saw national independence come to many islands. Citizens, freed from the yoke of stronger political powers, enjoyed a new-found liberty. Encouraged by the surging joys of freedom, non-denominational fellowships were born and thrived. Honduras was not left out of the moves of God sweeping the regions. The Spirit-filled message touched thousands of folk. It is for this reason that I am writing.
This month we would like to draw attention to the work being done by WMF member Jeremiah ‘Jerry’ Hardwick. Full of the Holy Ghost, he served as WMF’s first military Chaplain. His ministry and assignments have taken him all round the world. And through a series of divine providences while ministering in Israel the Lord opened a door for him to launch new efforts in Honduras, supporting pastors and aiding them in their efforts to reach their people. Anyone familiar with that region of the world understands the hardships, all too common also to other localities of the world, which rural ministers face. Traveling ministers understand that thousands of people can be reached simply by blessing those men and women who faithfully shepherd them. Effective national pastors and evangelists who sow in fertile fields reaped by the poorest of the poor still see God’s power and glory in various ways. This truth I know from first-hand experience.
One time I was ministering in the interior of Mexico. My wife and I were in an area where no nearby houses could be seen. I wondered if anyone would show up for the meeting. That night, while the stars shined overhead, people came from all directions: this church in the badlands was packed with hundreds of people. It was easy to preach to people so enthusiastic about Christ: they were earnest; afterwards, some were filled and others cried out from a keen sense of God’s healing power on them. Altar services like those kinds usually provoke questions. So I asked the pastor, ‘what is the greatest miracle that you ever have seen?’ He replied: ‘as far as anyone could search, on either side of his or his wife’s family, everyone had been won to the Lord.’ I never have met another human who could confess so plainly something we all long for so earnestly. However, this Mexican Apostle’s life was radically changed by one foreigner whose heart God had touched on his behalf (see Acts 16:14). The foreigner believed that this God-called minister serving quietly in his own wilderness was worthy of a few gifts to support his vision of ministering in rural districts.
Throughout in the history of missions the ‘silver and gold have I none…’ conviction has spurred on some of our most anointed ministers. Some construe ‘lack’ to be an impediment; others take it to be a stepping stone, thrusting one upward into greater blessings. At present, we simply want to encourage WMF membership to extend a liberal hand in assisting brother Hardwick not only with prayer, but as well with monetary gifts as he works to expand the borders of the Kingdom of God in Honduras, a Central American nation. Here at the office he has our full support, and offerings designated to him will be dispersed to him. In giving to the work of God, let us remember that anything is better than nothing. Still, let us not forget the words of Christ in Paul’s admonition: “it is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35. Last of all, as Jerry presses onwards during this mighty trial with his health, as described in the prayer request section of this email, let us believe with him that he is healed in Jesus’ Name, Amen!
- Brother Darrell Sutton
Acts 14:7-15 contains an amazing story of healing at Lystra. The written account is clear: the customs, language and superstitions of people played a prominent role in how God's power was interpreted in ancient times. Obviously misunderstanding abounded. Misinterpretations are no less a problem today. Whenever the Gospel is announced in regions where citizens are unfamiliar with Christ the living God, either the Sun of righteousness will become visible or real to them or they may come to believe erroneously that a demon or native god is manifesting itself in a new way. I've seen it all before. Awareness of native traditions is helpful to any missionary endeavor. Two months ago my wife and I participated in a city-wide campaign among the Kikuyu people, the largest tribe in Kenya. Islam had made inroads there years ago. A pastor wanted some help. I wanted to be of some assistance to him. So a few years ago, I preached at night in Arabic on the local radio station there in order to aid the Christians in their resistance of Islamic proselytism.
The place is rife with other odd beliefs and practices. Cults of all kinds are overspreading the area. Ancestral religions, too, remain strong within some influential families. One Kenyan Pastor, who oversees a Full Gospel a movement along the Kenya/Uganda border, traveled a long distance to request repeatedly that I come to minister in his territory: a region where curses still are performed by witch-doctors, holding those who are fearful of them in bondage; a place where children often are kidnapped and sacrificed to evil spirits; an area where a few wives continue to copulate with their deceased husbands' corpses long after they have died. Of course the light of Christ is needed in such places. Over the years we have conducted various meetings in the Middle East and in Kenya, all of which have been extremely fruitful. So again we returned.
In the city-center of Nyeri, Kenya, our host church had established an upper room from which a mass of downtown city workers could hear God's word preached. Each afternoon the loudspeakers covered the area with African praise and worship. One by one people from all segments of society made their way to these hallowed grounds, drawn by the lively music, and at times by our preaching. Praise the Lord for the power of God unto salvation! One young man comes to mind. He was in desperate straits. His immediate family was a mess: family members had burned down his mothers' business twice, and his father's life was being destroyed through alcohol etc.
Indeed his story was not unlike that of thousands of others; but having lost everything, and while wandering through the streets, he heard me preaching from Habakkuk 3:2. He then came into the meeting and fell under deep conviction. Later my wife and I and our host pastor led him to the Lord as he knelt on the floor. We observed how tears of repentance gave way to tears of joy immediately as the fist of God beat back the clouds of despair in his life. Youth discover a marvelous thing when they find hope. In my final service an invitation to come forward to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was extended. Oh what a joy it was to see these souls filled to overflowing. Languages inspired by the Holy Ghost suddenly burst forth from their lips. Its a great day to be alive, and to God be the glory for furnishing another Day of Pentecost among the Kikuyu!
In the next installment we will share testimonies (and some needs) from some of WMF's dynamic workers in the mission field. Please pray for them. So press in and pull hard folks because Jesus is coming soon!