The following article was published in the Missionary Gospel Fellowship Bulletin (Summer 2008 issue) and is reprinted by permission
WHY AMERICA NEEDS MORE MISSIONARIES
By Dollie Harvey
In this Brave New World of tolerance, relativism, and skepticism, “missions” has gained a negative connotation. Many of us at MGF, when asked what we do, are met with shocked expressions when we explain we are a “missionary” to the Hindus, Sikhs, Mormons, Buddhists . . . or any other false religion to which God has called us to minister.
“But they have their own religion,” often comes the argument. “What gives you the right to convert them?” Mormons seem to think it is perfectly normal for them to send out 60,000 young missionaries to convert Christians to Mormonism, but for us to do the reverse is simply unimaginable to them. Likewise, Islam has over 35,000 active missionaries in the US winning people to their religion (and thousands more in Europe), but Christians are not allowed to even speak of Christianity in their homelands.
In obeying Christ’s Great Commission to go and teach all nations, we are not trying to “tear down someone else’s religion”. We are pointing people to Jesus Christ, who we believe to be “the way, the truth, and the life,” - the only Savior.
Sadly, even people who claim to be born again Christians often share this belief that truth is relative; if a person believes deeply enough in his religion, God will somehow make a way for him. Missionaries who ask pastors for opportunities to teach their congregations how to witness to people of other religions are often met with a negative response: “Some of our people are married to Mormons (or Muslims, or Buddhists) and we don’t want to rock the boat. We’ll just present the Gospel and leave the other religions be . . .”
When one pastor made a similar statement to Jack Harvey, Jack exclaimed, “Pastor, I don’t want to ROCK the boat, I want to SINK it!”
According to a recent Barna Research Group study, it’s time American Christians got serious about reaching the world for Jesus Christ, beginning with teaching people in the pews that truth is not relative. For instance, the study reports that 46% of born again Christians think that Satan is “not a living being but is merely a symbol of evil.” Shockingly, 37% of those born again believe that if a person is good enough they can earn a place in Heaven. Is it any wonder America has lost her missionary zeal?
Only 36% of those in the Barna study said they believe in moral absolutes, and 26% of them felt that Jesus committed sins while he was on earth. Remember, these respondents were all Christians who said they had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that was still important in their life. A follow-up question about life after death was answered by these people: “When I die, I will go to Heaven because I have confessed my sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior.” Only people who answered the two questions as indicated were listed in the “born again” category!
If we are uncertain that Satan is real, that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, or that people are eternally lost without Christ, is it any wonder we’ve lost our vision for souls? With Christianity’s trumpet giving off such an uncertain sound, we see a significant shift in the declining reputation of Christianity, especially among young Americans. Another study by The Barna Group conducted among 16 to 29 year-olds shows that a new generation is more skeptical of and resistant to Christianity than were people of the same age just a decade ago.
The study reports: “Currently just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a ‘good impression’ of Christianity.” One of the groups hit hardest by the criticism is evangelicals. Such believers have always been viewed with skepticism in the broader culture. However, those negative views are crystallizing and intensifying among young non-Christians. The study shows that only 3% of 16 to 29 year-old non- Christians express favorable views of evangelicals.
This means that today’s young non-Christians are eight times less likely to experience positive associations toward evangelicals than were non-Christians of the Boomer generation (25%). When these statistics are projected across the aggregate adult population, the numbers are staggering. An estimated 73 million adults are presently unchurched. When teens and children are added, the total swells to roughly 100 million Americans.”
Christians in other countries are awakening to America’s needs for missionaries. Korea, for example, is recruiting and sending hundreds of vibrant young Christians to bring the Gospel here. Wheaton College will host a large Korean missionary conference in July. A number of Christian Mexicans minister on the U.S. side of the border and born again former Hindus are reaching Indians for Christ in North America.
America desperately needs the Gospel, she desperately needs missionaries, and she desperately needs Christians who will stand up and proclaim God’s unshakeable truth.
Will you do your part?