As I set my goals for 2011 I am keeping the 5x5x5 principle in mind for the work that God has called our team to here in Middle Earth. The three fives stand for the following: We are to be praying for
5 lost people
5 national believers
5 unengaged unreached people groups
The first 5 is an obvious one. We should be praying for the lost and striving to find ways to engaged them with the Gospel. I have been praying for ‘my 5′ for several years now. The number 5 is a bit artificial but it is a good number to shoot for. Obviously, we want to see many more than just five people come to faith this year, but these five are the guys that I am close to and have regular opportunities to share with.
The second 5 is one that I am most passionate about. We are to be praying for five fruitful believers. These are men and women who have ministries that are bearing fruit in their community. I am firmly convinced that this is an area we all need to do better in. Every time a team member comes to me with a job request my first response is, ‘Is there anyway that this position could be taken by a trained national?’ I believe that my main job is to empower nationals to do the work that God has called them to so that their people will be reached with the Gospel. I have said it before and I will say it again, I love John 4:1-2 where it says that Jesus was baptizing people by the Jordan but in verse two it says, ‘although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples.’ That is so fantastic! This was the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry and his disciples knew next to nothing but Jesus began his training of them by having them ‘do’ ministry. This concept has had a huge impact on my ministry. I remember when I was a pastor back in the West that a young man came to me for help. He had a porn addiction problem and he wanted free of it. I counseled with him a little and prayed with him and told him I would see him on Wednesday night. He thanked me and said, ‘ok, but what I really needed from you was something to do at 2:30 in the afternoon when I get off work!’ I am sure he never got free when I was there. I hope he found someone who knew better later. If I had it to do again…. man, don’t we say that too often! I would have grabbed that guy and taken him visiting in hospitals and nursing homes and found ministry for him to do to fill up those few empty hours between the time when he got off work and his wife came home. Now, I know better. I pray for my 5 and I empower them to do the ministry God has called them to. I make sure they get to the people they are supposed to reach and I make sure they know what they are supposed to do when they get there. It is hands down the funnest and most rewarding part of my job.
It sounds kinda funny to say but I am equally excited about finding and engaging unengaged unreached people groups (UUPGs is the new term in missiology). If that phrase is new to you what it means is a people group who are not only ‘unreached’( there are thousands of these) but an unreached people for whom there is no one even making plans to reach. It is one thing to be lost, it is another thing for no one to be looking for you! And you and I both know that the Good Shepherd is looking for them so we must be about his business. So I am praying for the five largest UUPGs in Middle Earth and guess what? Already we have the possibility of engaging one this year. I will be hosting a volunteer team of nationals from a country to the north of us to go and see about reaching one of these groups where there are no churches and no known believers. We also have a new long term person who has come to reach a small UUPG in the mountains above our city here in Gondor. Two down maybe but still way too many to go. God is on the move though and we are striving to keep up with him here in Middle Earth.
There are truckloads of issues in the IMB today. We still don’t have a president. We have an administrative reorganization that has been an unmitigated disaster. We are way short of funds still even though we have cut personnel by the hundreds from the totals two years ago. But I am not going to focus on any of that. It’s not my job. The thing that God has called me to are the things I just outlined and I am sticking with that. What about you? What are you focusing on as you go into 2011?