But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. ~ Acts 1:8 (NIV)
These words of our Lord, coupled with His Great Commission mandate of Matthew 28:18-20 (also delivered just before His ascension into heaven), frame the missionary task of the New Testament church. They are very familiar to us, but we often neglect the order in which they are delivered. Only as we are empowered by His Spirit will we be His witnesses, or, as the King James Version translates Acts 1:8, "after that" the Spirit has come upon us. Similarly, before issuing the "Go ye" command of Matthew 28:19, Jesus first emphasizes: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth" (v. 18).
We may experience God's passion for the world and know His purpose, but without His power we are useless to Him. Thus, simply "going" to the nations and engaging in mission activity is not enough; it may even be counterproductive to God's purposes. That's a hard lesson for activist Americans to learn. Is prayerwalking on mission fields a waste of time and money? Our fleshly minds may say yes, but more and more missionaries tell us it's perhaps the most powerful strategy we have to bring light to darkness.
Going in God's power is the key. It puts all our energy and material resources in proper perspective. Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have more people, more money, more knowledge and technology than ever before to devote to the unfinished task of missions. At the same moment, more doors than ever before have opened to enable us to proclaim Jesus Christ to the lost of the earth.
Reaching all peoples with the gospel remains a huge task, yet entirely possible. But only the Spirit of God can start a church-planting movement among an unreached people. Only He can nourish it into an unstoppable wave that sweeps across a people and even washes over into the peoples who surround them.
Southern Baptists, however, are riding such waves as they join God wherever He is working. In East Asia, for example, both ancient and modern obstacles to the gospel are toppling as masses of hungry souls embrace the Master.
With a little help and encouragement from us, they are ready, willing, and able to take the Good News to their own peoples — whatever the cost. No amount of money or technology can produce that kind of zeal. It's a sign that God's Spirit has come upon them, and now they are ready to go in God's power too!
IMB Fast Facts
Field Personnel under appointment (7/22/04): 5,403
Field Personnel appointed 2003: 943
Two-year ISC/Journeymen/Masters: 550
Volunteers 2003: 25,099
Overseas baptisms 2003: 510,357
Overseas churches 2003: 87,419
Overseas church membership 2003: 7.04 million
New churches 2003: 16,721
People groups engaged (2/04): 1,317
People groups of the Last Frontier: 4,992
Population of the Last Frontier peoples: 1.6 billion
World Population 2004: 6.3 billion
LMCO receipts for Christmas 2003: $136.2 million
LMCO goal for Christmas 2004: $150 million
IMB budget for 2004: $258.9 million
World Hunger/Disaster Relief 2003 receipts: $6.2 million
Costs to support a missionary: for a year – $36,238; for a day – $99.28; for an hour – $4.14; for a minute – $.07
Percentage of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering used in the overseas budget for missionaries and their ministries: 100
More at http://ime.imb.org/offering