Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Righteous Are You?

How righteous are you today? Now before you answer that take a good hard look at the question again. I’m not asking you how righteous you feel today. I just want to know if you know how righteous you are right now if you are in Christ Jesus.

In Christ and by that phrase I mean in a personal relationship with Christ in which you are completely identified with and in Him and His saving work on your behalf you are completely righteous, whether you feel righteous or not. In fact, the Bible teaches that if you are in Christ you possess a righteousness, not of your works derived from obedience to God’s law but rather a righteousness derived from God Himself through the person of Christ (Philippians 3:8-9). This righteousness obtained from God is very interesting in that it is the very righteousness of God. This is exactly what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Paul writes: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Therefore, if you are in Christ you possess the very righteousness of God. In other words, in Christ and because of Christ, you are as righteous as God is right now. Now I know that this sounds radical and some of you are probably wondering if I haven’t gone a bit too far in making the claim that the true child of God, the person who is “in Christ” is as righteous as God is. But, isn’t this what Jesus said was required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated rather emphatically to his audience that unless their righteousness surpassed that of the scribes and Pharisees they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20) Then in verses 21- 47 of Matthew 5, Jesus gave several examples of the Pharisee’s righteousness and showed the huge difference between theirs’ and God’s righteousness. And then in verse 48, He made His point by saying: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If you missed His point—keep reading Jesus’ words until they sink in. Jesus, in no uncertain terms, told His audience and us by extension that the righteousness needed to enter Heaven is a much greater righteousness than man can produce as evidenced by the religious Pharisees. The righteousness required to get into Heaven is perfect righteousness—God’s righteousness. To be perfectly blunt and clear—you and I need to be as perfect (righteous) as God is if we plan on taking up residence in that celestial city some day.

The good news of the gospel is that in Christ you not only possess perfect righteousness—you possess His righteousness. Thus, you are, in Christ, as righteous as God is Himself. And that’s why you’ll be able to go to Heaven when you die.

So, again, let me ask you, just how righteous are you today?

Monday, November 15, 2010

William Carey--Father of Modern Missions

by Fred Barlow
Copied with permission from Profiles in Evangelism, ©1976*
William Carey

"Shoemaker by trade, but scholar, linguist and missionary by God's training," William Carey was one of God's giants in the history of evangelism! One of his biographers, F. Dealville Walker, wrote of Carey: "He, with a few contemporaries, was almost singlehanded in conquering the prevailing indifference and hostility to missionary effort; Carey developed a plan for missions, and printed his amazing Enquiry; he influenced timid and hesitating men to take steps to the evangelizing of the world." Another wrote of him, "Taking his life as a whole, it is not too much to say that he was the greatest and most versatile Christian missionary sent out in modern times."

Carey was born in a small thatched cottage in Paulerspury, a typical Northamptonshire village in England, August 17, 1761, of a weaver's family. When about eighteen he left the Church of England to "follow Christ" and to "...go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." At first he joined the Congregational church at Hackleton where he was an apprentice shoemaker. It was there he married in 1781. And it was in Hackleton he began making five-mile walks to Olney in his quest for more spiritual truth. Olney was a stronghold of the Particular Baptists, the group that Carey cast his lot with after his baptism, October 5, 1783. Two years later he moved to Moulton to become a schoolmaster — and a year later he became pastor of the small Baptist congregation there.

It was in Moulton that Carey heard the missionary call. In his own words he cried, "My attention to missions was first awakened after I was at Moulton, by reading the Last Voyage of Captain Cook." To many, Cook's Journal was a thrilling story of adventure, but to Carey it was a revelation of human need! He then began to read every book that had any bearing on the subject. (This, along with his language study — for at twenty-one years of age Carey had mastered Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Italian, and was turning to Dutch and French. One well called his shoemaker's cottage "Carey's College," for as he cobbled shoes along with his preaching he never sat at his bench without some kind of a book before him.)

The more he read and studied, the more convinced he was "the peoples of the world need Christ." He read, he made notes, he made a great leather globe of the world and, one day, in the quietness of his cobbler's shop — not in some enthusiastic missionary conference — Carey heard the call: "If it be the duty of all men to believe the Gospel ... then it be the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavor to make it known among all nations." And Carey sobbed out, "Here am I; send me!"

To surrender was one thing — to get to the field was quite another problem. There were no missionary societies and there was no real missionary interest. When Carey propounded this subject for discussion at a ministers' meeting, "Whether the command given to the apostles to teach all nations was not obligatory on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent," Dr. Ryland shouted, "Young man, sit down: when God pleases to covert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine." Andrew Fuller added his feelings as resembling the unbelieving captain of Israel, who said, "If the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be!"

But Carey persisted. he later said of his ministry, "I can plod!" And he was a man who "always resolutely determined never to give up on any point or particle of anything on which his mind was set until he had arrived at a clear knowledge of his subject."

Thus Carey wrote his famed Enquiry Into the Obligations of the Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. In this masterpiece on missions Carey answered arguments, surveyed the history of missions from apostolic times, surveyed the entire known world as to countries, size, population and religions, and dealt with the practical application of how to reach the world for Christ!

And he prayed. And he pled. And he plodded. And he persisted. And he preached — especially his epoch-producing message, "EXPECT GREAT THINGS FROM GOD. ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS FOR GOD." The result of that message preached at Nottingham, May 30, 1792 — and all the other missionary ministries of Carey — produced the particular Baptist Missionary Society, formed that Fall at Kettering on October 2, 1792. A subscription was started and, ironically, Carey could not contribute any money toward it except the pledge of the profit from his book, The Enquiry.

It was in 1793 that Carey went to India. At first his wife was reluctant to go — so Carey set off to go nevertheless, but after two returns from the docks to persuade her again, Dorothy and his children accompanied him. They arrived with a Dr. Thomas at the mouth of the Hooghly in India in November, 1793. There were years of discouragement (no Indian convert for seven years), debt, disease, deterioration of his wife's mind, death, but by the grace of God — and by the power of the Word — Carey continued and conquered for Christ!

When he died at 73 (1834), he had seen the Scriptures translated and printed into forty languages, he had been a college professor, and had founded a college at Serampore. He had seen India open its doors to missionaries, he had seen the edict passed prohibiting sati (burning widows on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands), and he had seen converts for Christ.

On his deathbed Carey called out to a missionary friend, "Dr. Duff! You have been speaking about Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey — speak about Dr. Carey's God." That charge was symbolic of Carey, considered by many to be a "unique figure, towering above both contemporaries and successors" in the ministry of missions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Fulani (Fulbe) People of West Central Africa

Wandering the vast deserts, mountains, and savannahs of West and Central Africa, the Fulani are the largest unreached nomadic tribal people group in the world. Forced to convert to Islam in the 13th century, they have become known as the missionaries of Sunni Islam in Central and Western Africa. In fact, the Fulani have seen themselves as the propagators and preservers of the Islamic faith in West Africa for almost 700 years. They were instrumental in facilitating the spread of Islam across West Africa through evangelism and conquest. At times they would wage "holy wars" or jihad in order to extend and purify Islam. Today it is difficult to find any Fulani who admits to not being Muslim, no matter how lax his or her practice may be. To a Fulani person: to be Fulani is to be a Muslim.

Most sources list the Fulani population as 17 million. However, Fulani leaders and scholars believe the more realistic number of Fulani people to be somewhere between 30 to 70 million.

There are only a few believers among this strongly resistant tribe. Because Fulani society is very structured and closed to outsiders, mission work among them is very dangerous. Persecution and death are always imminent threats for believers.

In the first 30 years of attempted evangelization, not one Fulani is known to have become a committed Christian. This has begun to change slowly as some Fulani have, in the last few years, been brought to Christ through such resources as the Jesus film, radio broadcasts and Bible story cassettes which are available to the Fulani in their language. Continued radio broadcasting, effective scripture translations, especially in oral forms such as radio, tape, and easily learned Bible stories oriented to a shepherd/nomadic culture, may be effective strategies in winning some Fulani to Christ.

There is also a great need for missionaries to go to the Fulani as the number of Christian workers actively engaged in evangelism among the Fulani is extremely small in comparison to the vast numbers of peoples to be reached. This is, in part, due to the hardships that come to missionaries living in Africa and especially in areas where the Fulani live. As was stated above, mission work among the Fulani is also a very dangerous undertaking and combined with the other hardships involved, few Western Christians have the heart for it.

Indigenous Fulani missionaries have the best access to the tribe and well understand the risks. Therefore, one of the more effective strategies in reaching the Fulani is for non-indigenous missionaries to come alongside Fulani believers to train, encourage, and support them as they assume the primary responsibility of reaching their people with the Gospel. While some missionaries join the nomadic life of the targeted group others place themselves in strategic stopping places where Fulani trade and pick up needed supplies, taking every opportunity to present Christ. Others work among Fulani who have settled in towns and cities, despite their danger to Christians.

Many bloody tribal clashes have resulted from the Fulani understanding that they can graze their cattle wherever they desire. One tribesman, Sule, was watching his beloved cows destroy the fields of a farmer whose land he crossed. Expecting a fight, he was shocked when the man was warm, loving and forgiving to him. The farmer happened to also be an indigenous missionary and he, by the grace of God, led Sule to Christ.

Sule’s tribal elders commanded him to recant his faith, and when he refused, he was imprisoned for three years. During that time, Sule and his wife and children who also became Christians were tortured and threatened. In an attempt to force his denial of Christ, three of his children were killed. Yet despite the ordeal, Sule continued to stand true to the Lord. Sule has since been released. He evangelizes Fulani people and has a training center where converts receive shelter and training as they mature in their faith.

Opportunities abound to help support both indigenous and non-indigenous Fulani mission work throughout Africa. Here is how you can help:

  • Pray for and financially support African and non-African missionaries willing to go and live among the Fulani people for the express purpose of sharing the Gospel with them.
  • Pray that the Lord will send missionaries to provide biblical & theological training to the few Fulani believers to better equip them to reach their own people.
  • Pray for the persecuted believers among the Fulani people like Sule and his family.
  • Pray that God will raise up a church-planting movement among the Fulani people that will spread throughout all of West, Central and North Africa.
  • Pray for us as we plan to leave the U.S. next September to move to Cameroon in West Africa to minister among the Fulani (Fulbe) people.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sprinting The Final Lap To Glory

I am finding that the longer I live the more respect I have for old guys. I mean, I never used to give a thought to jumping into my running shorts, throwing on a pair of running shoes and taking off down the road for a 5 or, if I was especially energetic, 8 mile run. Activities like playing catch with my boys never used to require two extra strength Tylenol and I actually stayed awake while watching a two hour movie after dinner. But, as hard as it is to admit, things have changed a bit since passing 50 almost two years ago. I am now wearing tri-focals and have a feeling that my struggle to hear what people are saying the first time they say it is not a figment of my imagination. I'm not alone in recognizing this new phase of life as even my doctor is trying to get me to be much more intentional about getting an under the hood checkup for such parts as my prostrate and colon. It appears that I have now entered a "higher risk" category for problems stemming from such things. And lo and behold, when I was in Africa where age is respected much more than it is here--they wouldn't let me carry my own bags or sit in the backseat of the car as that would be demeaning for an "older man". This is their version of McDonald's "senior coffee".

All this to say, I am coming to see that age is not as much a figment of my imagination as I once thought it would be. I really am seeing changes in my body that tell me I really am the guy the AARP thinks I am. Now, many of you reading this who know me will say that this has been as obvious as my growing bald spot has been over the last few years. So, as hard as it is for a guy who never thought he'd have to start thinking about the possibility of what comes after tri-focals--I must admit my body is getting older and appears to be headed in the general direction for the same graveyard that contains the bones of my ancestors.

But, having said all this--I also have to tell you that I don't feel old. I mean, whereas I am getting older and my body feels older--I don't feel old. I still feel as young and as strong and as vigorous as I did back when I was in my prime. I still enjoy challenges, risks, and yes, even change. I still want to run another ultra-marathon, climb some more mountains, do some more backpacking, hunt a few more elk, keep playing ball, and continue wrestling with my three boys even though the only one I can whup now is Peter and that is because he is only four and I outweigh him by about 200 lbs. You see, I'm not interested in slowing down even though I realize I am slower than I used to be. I'm not interested in taking it easy or finding some relaxing patch of green pasture to spend the rest of my days. Rather, what I am thinking about these days is taking on the challenge of my life--the challenge for which all the others were training--the challenge of pursuing God hard in the last lap of my life as a missionary in a remote orphanage in a remote village in Northwest Cameroon using this ministry as a platform by which to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a Muslim people group who are as of yet still unreached and whose language I do not know--yet.

Now, where would I get such a hair-brained scheme like this? Actually, I found it in the Bible in the Book of Joshua chapter 14 and verse 12. In this verse, Caleb, an 85 year old man who because of his faithfulness to the Lord was in line to receive some land in the Land of Canaan. When it came time to receive his allotment he had one request. At 85, you could easily imagine that he'd be wanting land already developed and easy for the taking. Perhaps something with a beautiful view of the mountains within easy access to his doctors, a Canaanite golf course, and of course a full-compliment of Philistine restaurants nearby would be nice. But believe it or not, this was not what Caleb had in mind. He wanted the hill country--the land yet to be fought for and more significantly the land still possessed by a strange, powerful, ferocious, and ungodly people known as the Anakim. Not only was this Caleb's desire--he was willing to fight for it as well.

At 85 years old Caleb wasn't ready for greener pastures--he was preparing for bigger battles and greater risks. He wasn't presumptuous either. This is why he makes the point that "perhaps the LORD will be with me and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken". This is the kind of man I want to be--the kind who instead of slowing down to rest as the finish line is approaching kicks it into high gear even if it appears to be 4WD Low to those looking on and runs for all he's worth to the finish line. I want to tackle bigger challenges, far more dangerous spiritual foes, and climb higher mountains as I get closer to Heaven for once I am there the day for fighting sin, challenging the spiritual status quo, making much of Jesus before unbelievers, and giving my mortal life for the glory of God in seeing unbelievers drawn to Christ through the proclamation of the Gospel will be over.

As I approach those years some call "golden" which, qualify you for a discounted cup of coffee and cheap food, I, like Caleb, would rather have the hill country where the Anakim live. Perhaps, God will find this more pleasing and more glorifying to Himself than resting in greener pastures and thus will be with me so as to give me the adventure of a lifetime.

And if you have read this far--why not skip down a couple more lines in the blog and check out our videos highlighting our call to head to Cameroon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You'll Never Guess What Happened On Our Way To CTEN

** Last Monday my wife Nancy and I left Edgewood on a road trip in the direction of Kerrville, Texas, the home of Commission To Every Nation (CTEN). We were eagerly looking forward to our three-day orientation with CTEN which, was to begin on Tuesday. But, on our way about 350 miles from Edgewood and with another 300 miles to go to get to CTEN, our 1992 Jeep Cherokee with almost 270,000 miles gave up the ghost. Actually, it blew a head gasket leaving us stranded at McDonalds in Ft. Stockton, Texas. As we sat in the parking lot wondering who we knew in Ft. Stockton it dawned on us that we might have a bit of a challenge or an adventure on our hands as we had never even heard of Ft. Stockton until making our treks down to I-10 about a year ago.
**So, with no one to call in Ft. Stockton for help we called our son Mark who is stationed at Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas. The Army graciously agreed to give him the day off to come and rescue us but not until the next day when we were supposed to be in Kerrville at CTEN's orientation. To make a long story a bit more manageable, since we knew we would not make it to CTEN, we decided to take Mark up on his generous offer to catch a ride with him to his apartment outside Ft. Hood in a town called Copperas Cove and stay there through the next Sunday when he could drive us back to Ft. Stockton to meet my brother who was going to meet us and help us get the Jeep back home. Mark made the six hour drive from Ft. Hood to Ft. Stockton the next day and after stripping the Jeep of all our essentials we headed back to his home in Copperas Cove. It was there in that little town that is nowhere near a body of water resembling a cove that God began revealing to us why He chose to break our jeep in the middle of nowhere (my apologies to Ft. Stockton).
** It all started with a retired couple named Gary and Barbara who belong to Southern Hills Baptist Church who prepared us dinner after our long drive to Copperas Cove. While visiting with them we discovered that one of Barbara's passions is quilting. I mentioned that the orphanage in Cameroon needed quilts and she asked me how many. She didn't even bat an eye when I told her we needed 37 quilts. And by the time we left Copperas Cove Barbara and Gary had put together 27 quilts and promised the remaining 10 by the time Mark comes back home in October. But, not only did they provide for our quilt needs, they also brought us 40 pairs of flip-flops for the kids in Cameroon. What a wonderful, godly, and still energetic for the Lord couple!
** While in Copperas Cove we were contacted by several couples and families who were interested in our future work in Cameroon. What a joy it was to sit down whether in a park, at a lake, or in their church and have the opportunity to share our passion for missions and in particular our passion for the Fulbe people with these brothers and sisters in Christ. Besides being overjoyed we were simply amazed at the interest this small church of about 100 people was showing in our ministry especially since we had never contacted it previous to coming to Copperas Cove on this unscheduled trip. We also enjoyed a wonderful lunch with Pastor Preston, his wife Karna, and one of their four precious children. They too, wanted to know what we were up to and how they could help. Finally, Sunday came and I was invited to share for a few minutes during Sunday School about how God is leading us in regard to Cameroon and the response from the church was overwhelming to us.
** Before we left to return to Ft. Stockton, we were asked by many of the members of Southern Hills Baptist Church how much personal support we lacked and what our other financial and material needs are in getting to Cameroon. When I, in an off-handed manner, mentioned that we will need to purchase a 125cc motorcycle trail bike once we get there I was asked how much that would cost and lo and behold Barbara told me it was covered and then asked what else we needed. I promised to send them a list.
** Nancy and I cannot remember in recent years a church with such a heart for missions and missionaries that was so willing to take us in and treat us as royalty. Like our home church they are a church that loves the doctrines of grace and has a deep-seated passion to see the Gospel preached to all the nations for the glory of God and the eternal joy of those He has called to Himself. They are also a church that knows how to love missionaries. What a blessing they were to us--so much so--that when we are on our way to CTEN again--it will be via Southern Hills Baptist Church and Copperas Cove which, truly was a "cove" for us.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Initial Report Re: Our Recent Trip To Cameroon

My nephew Aaron Waite and I (Mark) just returned Sunday evening from an exciting 18 day scouting trip to Cameroon where we traveled hundreds of miles via slow moving vehicles, on motorcycle taxis, and by train in order to minister the Gospel and gather the necessary information to select the place where my family and I will move to next September (2011). We traveled, visited, and lived exclusively with Africans on this trip in order to get a first hand indigenous perspective of what the needs really are and how to best meet them in a way that honors the Word of God, makes much of our Great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and best benefits the people we are going to serve in Cameroon.

Our trip was successful in many ways as God revealed opportunities of service and avenues by which to engage the Fulbe people. We were able to get into the North which the churches in Cameroon call "the regions beyond" due to the scarcity of Gospel witness and the overwhelming Muslim population. We were able to stay with a small church in Ngaoundere and experience as close as I think I have ever come to seeing the NT lived out in a culture hostile to the Gospel. To be in a church where as many of the people as possible gather between 5 and 6 am to gather strength from the Scriptures, prayer, and singing hymns before they go out into a Muslim city where mosques outnumber churches probably 25 to 1 is impressive. To encounter college age believers who besides going to class from 8am to 8pm (yes--there system of education is quite a bit more strenuous than ours) are also reading through there Bibles--some at a rate of 14 times per year is almost unbelievable. We also met believers who had converted from Islam as well as some who were demon-possessed and serving evil spirits before being rescued by Christ. The demonic world is very much evident as well as alive and well in Cameroon.

From Ngaoundere, we hired a truck and a driver who took us further North to the town of Tignere (pop. 20,000) which is west of Ngaoundere and closer to Nigeria. We saw hundreds of Fulbe camps and in talking to a pastor in the town heard of hundreds more in the bush--all of which are without a Gospel witness. We tried to reach the town of Kontcha but couldn't due to the road being completely washed out. To get there we would have had to go through Nigeria which would have been impossible without visas. The appealing thing about Kontcha is that according to the church in Tignere (like the church in Ngaoundere--surrounded by Muslims) Kontcha has not even been engaged with the Gospel. On the way back to Ngaoundere (a 7 hour drive to cover about 70 miles) we had two flat tires and ended up stranded on the road for about 5 hrs. after dark which is not a good situation for Americans on roads that are patrolled by bandits rather than police. God protected us and we eventually got back to our home base in Ngoundere. On another day our vehicle was hit by a small bus and again God protected us and our vehicle so we could get back to Ngoundere.

We spent a couple days and nights at an orphanage near the village of Bossa (30 miles west of Bamenda) and saw much potential for ministry there as well as using it for a means of taking the Gospel to the Fulbe. Known as the Grace Tait Children's Shelter, this orphanage is home to 37 children ranging in age from 4 months to 16. It was started four years ago by Grace Tait a retired Chicago school teacher. Grace is now 82 years old and no longer able to provide leadership to the home. Her teacher's pension is the shelter's sole means of support. We have committed to going to the orphanage next September/October and beginning the work there of providing leadership and working to help it become self-sustaining. We will also be coming alongside the current small staff of five Cameroonian adults to help them in caring for and nurturing the children. The big challenge is to not Americanize the kids as we minister to them and help provide for their needs. In essence, the orphanage is in need of continued visionary leadership that will move it to being a true self-sustaining and safe home for orphaned children which will provide them with a Bible-centered, God-prizing, Christ-magnifying, spiritually vibrant and loving place to grow up and be developed into the adults God will use to positively affect their culture for the glory of God.

Another major challenge we have this year is raising more funds to help pay for some of the projects that need to be started once we get there as well as to replace Grandma Grace's pension as the sole support of the orphanage. We hope to visit more churches and interested individuals this year even as we try finishing the task of raising our own personal support.

As it stands now, our plan is to finish raising our support this year (ca. about $1000 more per month is needed) and then ship our things including a vehicle to Cameroon in mid to late summer. We will then hop on a plane in early September if God permits and begin our work in the orphanage soon thereafter. While at the orphanage we will also begin the work of establishing relationships with some of the Fulbe camps nearby so as to learn Fulfulde, better understand their culture, and ultimately to share the Gospel with them. We will also take trips into the North in order to establish a beachhead to work from in the future as our desire is to ultimately move into the North (the regions beyond) to share the Gospel with those Fulbe people who have never been engaged with the Gospel.

I had the opportunity to do a great deal of preaching while in Cameroon and finished the last week preaching twice a day. God blessed with many professions of faith in the town of Buea and Ngoundere. Over 200 committed their lives to a deeper and more intentional walk with the Lord in one place and in Ngoundere many believers committed their lives to missions and reaching many of the unreached people groups around the world and in their own country. For two days I counseled with people (mostly college students and young working people) from morning until late in the evening who were seeking God's will in regard to future missionary service. I was also asked if I would consider becoming an adjunct professor at a Bible college in Bamenda about 30 miles away from the orphanage to teach expository preaching and other subjects relating to biblical studies.

Aaron was a huge help and encouragement on this trip. He took over 3000 pictures and much video footage. He was also able to encourage many young people as they saw him devoting his time to serve and minister to them.

Well, there is more--much more to tell but this gives you a sense of what we did and are looking to do in the future.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

So......What do missionary appointees do?

Have you ever wondered what those people who have been commissioned by their church and appointed by a mission agency to go to a certain country or people group do?

Well, I can't speak for all the "missionary appointees" in the world but my guess is that much of what my family and I are doing right now is pretty much par for the course for many of the other Christians who are working toward moving to another part of the world as cross-cultural missionaries. Besides the obvious pursuit of raising our financial support for such a move we spend a lot of time just waiting. We also spend a great deal of time learning about the culture and ways of the people we desire to share the Gospel with and then we wait. In addition, we put in a bunch of time learning French or in my case trying to learn French because it is the trade language of the people we desire to reach with the Gospel and then we wait.

Besides all the stuff we are doing to get ready to be in Cameroon--we also have much to do to get ready to leave the United States--stuff like getting rid of all our excess accumulated baggage that has been stored up for 24 some years of marriage, getting our house ready to sell, making arrangements for the care of our animals which is no simple undertaking when that includes a horse, 4 dogs, 2 cats, 2 goats, and a handful of chickens, and working through all the logistics of actually moving from the U.S. to a third world country where dial-up internet is a luxury and it takes a month or longer to get snail mail or at least the envelope or torn open box the mail was in. And as we work through all this we keep waiting.

In essence, being a missionary appointee means doing alot of things all the while simply waiting--waiting for a church to call asking you to come and share your burden, waiting for the news that a new supporter has come on-board, waiting for people to really understand you're serious about leaving, waiting for your tongue to get used to the twists and turns of a brand new language, waiting for visas, waiting for the price of airline tickets to go down, waiting for God to bring all the loose ends together so you can finally go, and then finally waiting to say that dreaded "good-bye" to your loved ones (in our case this includes our three older children--and that's tough--really tough) so you can say that greatly anticipated "hello" to a bunch of people you don't even know.

So....what do missionary appointees do? They wait and while waiting, they learn to wait some more because it is in the waiting that the true missionary is created. You see, it is in the waiting, the waiting upon the Lord that anyone of us derives his or her spiritual strength and power to fulfill whatever God has called us to do for His glory. And while learning language, culture, and working through all the logistical hurdles of moving from being a missionary appointee to a real live "on-the-field missionary" is important--the most essential thing is learning how to wait upon the Lord.

As the Bible teaches us, ". . . those who wait upon the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." And as we continue to move through this process of leaving home to arrive in our new and adopted home it is His strength and His might that we need and since it only comes to those who wait--that is what we are learning to do--whether we like it or not.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why Would An American Pastor & His Family Leave Home and A Great Church To Go To A Third-World Country and An Unreached People Group As Missionaries?

This is a great question and let me tell you--we have been asked it many a time. To answer it, let me break it down into three smaller bite-size questions...Why Missions?, Why Us?, and Why Now?

Pondering these three questions are what God really used to help Nancy, myself, and our family come to the decision to leave the pastorate to pursue overseas missions in Cameroon for the purpose of reaching an unreached people group with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The first question--Why Missions? is pretty cut and dry. Missions is near and dear to the heart of God and because we love God whatever is near and dear to His heart is near and dear to ours as well. As John Piper puts so well, "Missions exists because worship doesn't." So, if we want to see God worshipped in all the people groups of the earth we will be interested in missions because that is what the great task of missions is all about--engaging unreached people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ so God gets the glory and they get eternal joy.

But what about the second question--Why Us? I mean, why leave a successful pastorate, a church that we love and loves us, people who are growing under our ministry, and the place we call home within 15 years of when most people in the U.S. retire to go to a place that many have never heard of? What in the world would possess a middle-aged couple with four kids still at home to leave all that they know, are comfortable with, and enjoy, not to mention their three older kids who are out on their own to go to an unreached and really unengaged people group to tell them about Jesus, see people come to Christ, disciple them, and start a church multiplication movement among them?

Well, I think the answer is in the question. We wouldn't be asked the question if we didn't want to go and that's the answer--we want to go! Listen, if you want to do something that not very many people want to do and in fact would not give a second thought to--maybe you should. Maybe the fact that you want to do it is indicative that God has given you a desire that is not, for lack of a better word, "natural" or "normal". Our desire to go to Cameroon and give ourselves to this challenge of reaching an unreached people group with the Gospel for the glory of The NAME is the driving force behind our going.

Secondly, we have the ability to go. Many people at our age are saddled with any number of encumbrances that prevent them from considering missions. We aren't. We are not in debt. We are not caring for aging parents. We are in excellent health and we have no binding commitments that would tie us here. All-in-all, we are free to go.

So, we have the desire to go, the ability to go, and finally--the tools to go.
We have ministry training, education, skills, experience, and the battle scars to prove it. Whereas, we have a great deal to learn about Cameroon, missions, and the unreached people group we want to live among--we are not novices when it comes to ministry. Therefore, who better to go than a couple who have taken a few laps around the block?

The last question--Why Now?--is not hard to answer when you consider that I just turned 50 last January. What that practically means is that the time we have to invest in missions is realistically between 15 to 20 years. Given the fact that it can take anywhere from one to three years to raise support and at least a year to pursue language school and hopefully pass I am looking at being almost 55 years old by the time we would get to Cameroon. While Nancy and I are hopefully getting "better", we sure aren't getting younger and thus the reason why now.

So with all this in mind, the real question we were left with was not Why Missions, Why Us, and Why Now? but rather "Why Not Missions, Why Not Us, and Why Not Now?"

REACHING THE FULBE~A Vision of The Possible

The Situation In Africa Among The Fulbe:

Well over Thirty-million unreached Fulbe people live in north-west Africa. They, for the most part, have never been engaged with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These thirty-million people live in thousands of villages and small towns scattered throughout the “bush” in countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Mali, Senegal, and the Central African Republic. These are thirty-million unreached Muslim people who because of geographic, cultural, logistical, and climatic challenges as well as the fear of religious persecution have been neglected and left without a Gospel witness. These thirty-million Fulbe people make up one of the largest blocks of unreached and unengaged people groups in the world.

The Situation In Cameroon Among The Fulbe:

There are over 1.6 million Fulbe people living in Cameroon--most of whom have never been engaged with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are no churches or pastors among the Fulbe in Cameroon. However, since Cameroon is presently not a closed country, there is a huge opportunity to engage these people with the Gospel, see people brought to faith in Christ, discipled, and a church-planting movement begun among them. Thus, there is a need for pioneer church-planters to go to Cameroon to engage the Fulbe people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be the workers God's Spirit uses to establish a church-planting movement among the Fulbe people that extends from Cameroon to Northwest Africa.

My family and I believe God is calling us to go and become one of these pioneer church planting families who will go to Cameroon and live among the Fulbe so as to engage them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During our first term, we are planning to start or oversee an existing orphanage in a small Fulbe town or village in the midst of a high concentration of Fulbe villages. We will use the orphanage as a means of being a blessing to the people as well as a platform by which to engage them with the Gospel and ultimately plant indigenous Bible churches among the Fulbe people of Cameroon.

In order for us to live, serve, and provide for the orphanage's needs in Cameroon we need to raise monthly financial support. Some of this support will also be used to start a school for the orphans as well as in community development projects such as digging wells to provide fresh water to the villages. Presently, God has provided us with about 68% of our support needs through the generous giving of our home church, Covenant of Grace Bible Church, and individuals who have a vision for pioneer church planting among the unreached. Once our monthly support and outgoing expenses* are raised and we complete our French studies, Fulfulde language & culture acquisition studies as well as tie up our loose ends here in the States (ie: selling or renting our house, finishing our ministry at COGBC, etc.)we will board a plane for our new home and ministry in Cameroon. We are hoping to leave for Cameroon by the Fall of 2011.

*Outgoing expenses are those funds needed for flying us all to Cameroon as well as for moving, shipping a vehicle, purchasing equipment and supplies to live and minister in the "bush" of Cameroon, and to build or refurbish a place to live.

How You Can Be Involved:

1.Pray-Pray-Pray. Unless God opens the eyes of the Fulbe people to their need of Christ no one will be saved. This is His sovereign work and unless His Spirit gives the Fulbe people eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe our work will accomplish nothing in terms of their salvation. Please pray for our safety, health, strength, endurance, patience, wisdom, love, and for our last remaining support to be raised. Finally, pray for the Fulbe people to receive us as we care for their orphans and that God would use us to see a church-planting movement begun among them that extends beyond the 1.6 million Fulbe of Cameroon to the 30 million Fulbe of Northwest Africa.

2.Give if you are able and sense God calling you to be involved as a “sender” in this great work of engaging and reaching the Fulbe people with the Gospel. If you do decide to give—you can go to our mission agency's website at to find out how you can do this on line or you can call Commission To Every Nation at 1-800-872-5404. As an extra blessing, your gifts are tax-deductible. Please make sure to designate your gifts for Mark & Nancy Waite/Cameroon.

3.Come and join us. If God plants this desire within your heart and you are a hearty sort who likes a challenge and lots of elbow room with more than enough people to yourself to reach for Christ (1.6 million goes a long way)then prayerfully consider this as a worthy endeavor for your life or a portion of your life.

If you would like to know more please contact us at

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From Mexico To Africa With Love

Eight years ago, Mark & I stood on a vacant lot with Julian & Beatriz Roblez in Mexico, and joined hands with them to pray for God to bless their "ministry dream" and fill that empty lot with a church, Bible Institute, and an orphanage to minister to the people of Anapra, just outside of Juarez, Mexico.

This past weekend, our family had the privilege of visiting our dear friends in Mexico and saw how God has blessed and multiplied the service of these faithful servants. Today there is not only one church, but 8 churches, 3 Bible Institutes, and one orphanage spread throughout Juarez and other parts of Mexico as a result of that original dream. They also have sent out and support 5 missionaries that are reproducing similar works throughout Mexico! In essence, they have begun a "church-planting movement" that is extending from Anapra throughout Mexico.

Our friends invited us to come down and share with their churches about our "ministry dream" of seeing a "church-planting movement" begin among the Fulbe people in Cameroon, West Africa. It was so special to us to meet with them, this time surrounded by their church, Bible Institute classrooms, dorms, their home and the orphanage...seeing the reality of God's blessing upon their ministry. Their prayers for us as we embark upon our calling, touched our hearts greatly. If that wasn't enough, we were surprised when they presented us with a "love gift" and expressed their intent to partner with us in getting us to Africa. Their outpouring of love overwhelmed our hearts greatly, and reminded us of the Macedonian churches, who "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity...They gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability...entirely on their own, urgently pleading with us for the privilege of sharing in this service..." II Corinthians 8:1-4

What an encouragement they were to us and a reminder to us that God WILL provide for us in some very special and unexpected ways!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Goers, Senders, & Those Who Pray

A quick perusal of much of what is written about missions, including my own stuff, would give the casual and even more particular reader alike the idea that the main characters in fulfilling God's great commission to make disciples of all the nations are the "goers". That is, those people who actually leave home to go to a new and different people group with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Certainly, it goes without saying that without the people who go--missions would not happen. That is why God specifically calls people to go and take the Gospel to faraway places and peoples.

However, without people who assume the roles of senders and encouragers, there would be very few, if any, goers. And if the truth be known, the unsung hero's of God's great plan to bring people from every people group to Himself as joyful worshipers of His glory are the people whose faces are never seen on missionary prayer cards or DVDs but without whose faithful, consistent, and sacrificially generous support there would be no prayer cards, DVDs, or missionaries sharing the Gospel with those who have never heard it.

So, a big thank you to those of you who so graciously and generously support, encourage and pray for missions and missionaries. Without you, there would be neither. Your work in supporting those who go and those who want to go is the work of the Great Commission. In fact, your work is on two fronts, in the sense that while you are sending and supporting those who go to faraway places to share the Gospel--you stay home to do the same in places just as needy and oftentimes harder to reach.

Thanks for your work and for making much of Jesus at home and abroad.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Retirement & Missions

Retirement, while a relatively new phenomenon in terms of world economic history, was known and even desired as far back as the early 19th century in Great Britain. Back then it was called "A Sabbath Evening". This term betrays the fact that at this time in England's history, biblical terms were still used and applied to the cycle of human life. In the case of retirement, it was felt that after a man had lived 60 years, having worked the vast majority of them, he was due a Sabbath rest just as God after taking six days to create the universe also rested on the seventh day.

However, as is true today, many of those who took this "Sabbath Rest" or retirement at age 60 found life so empty and utterly boring that they either got sick and died or wished they were dead. One such man was Charles Simeon, the pastor of Trinity Church in Cambridge. He, like many others of his generation had planned a very busy and challenging work life up until he turned 60. After that, he promised himself a Sabbath evening [retirement] in which he would relax and simply enjoy a life of leisure. Well, God had other plans for Simeon. In 1807, after twenty-five years of hard work and at the age of forty-seven, still thirteen years from his planned retirement, he became ill and had to leave his post. During these thirteen years of exile from his work and ministry Simeon repented of his desire to turn in his divine commission in order to sleep in and and enjoy a life free of challenges that benefited others.

Then, the miraculous happened. At age 60, when he had planned to retire his health was restored and Simeon went on to enjoy sixteen more years at his post at Trinity Church in Cambridge. According to Simeon, these were the most productive, enjoyable, and satisfying years of his entire work life.

Many of you reading this may be wondering why I would be taking a shot at this whole concept of retirement. Let me clarify for you that what I am taking a shot at is the mind-set that the vast majority of Christians have, which is that we must reward ourselves in this life with twenty or so years of leisure and relaxation in the last lap of our lives. Now, if this life was all there is and if God had not given us a race to run, a task to complete, and a commission to accomplish--I'd agree that rewarding ourselves for all our days on the job isn't a bad idea. But, knowing that God has given us a race to run (Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) in which we have been given the responsibility of having some part in seeing disciples made from among all the nations (people groups), it seems to me that just walking off the track and out of the race after lap three with one more to go is a waste of our lives as well as a pretty poor statement regarding how much we value Jesus.

As John Piper writes in his excellent book, Let The Nations Be Glad: "What a strange reward for a Christian to set his sights on! Twenty years of leisure while living in the midst of the last days of infinite consequence for millions of unreached people. What a tragic way to finish the last lap before entering the presence of the King who finished so differently."

I wonder, if the reason why most Christians have this mindset is because they really don't believe that their reward is on the other side of the grave. In fact, if the truth be known, for unbelievers, retirement is simply their substitute for heaven. Isn't it a shame that so many believers have bought into this and because they have done so are wasting the last and in many cases, the very best chapter of their lives?

You see, I am not suggesting that at age 65, we all keep on working at our careers. What I am suggesting is that at age 65, we change gears and invest our resources, newly obtained and enjoyed time, and our seasoned experience and wisdom in God's great cause to make His Great Name known among all the peoples of the earth. Perhaps, the greatest missionary force upon the earth, which has the potential of doing more to finish the work of world evangelism than any other is made up of Christians who only have to pay .59 for a cup of coffee at McDonalds when they ask for the "senior discount".

My own thoughts about my last lap, which is approaching faster than I ever imagined is that as in any race I have ever run, the last couple miles are for closing the gap between where I am and the place I want to be when I cross the finish line. Life should NOT be a play-it-safe journey to the grave with the intention of leaving behind a hefty bank account, lots of toys and no broken bones but rather a skid in sideways--an empty wallet in one hand--God's Word in the other--body thoroughly used up, totally worn out making much of Jesus and screaming, "Wow, What a Ride."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The "In-Grown Church" & Missions

According to the Center For The Study of Global Christianity based out of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary there are approximately 30,700 full-time Christian workers serving in ministry capacities within the unevangelized world made up of 38 countries where less than half the population has heard of Jesus. The total number of people in these countries who have not been engaged with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a tangible way number almost 2 billion people (1,629,375,000 people). But, of the 30,700 full-time Christian workers serving in these countries only 10,200 are church planting missionaries involved in trying to engage and reach the 6,600 unreached people groups that make us this almost 2 billion people with the Gospel so as to make disciples and start indigenous reproducing fellowships of believers who can evangelize their own people groups.

In other words, the other 20,500 Christian workers are involved in medical work, education, orphanages, community development, business development, and crisis intervention and rebuilding projects. Whereas, all of these works are valuable, necessary, and often provide viable means for church planting frontier missionaries to share the Gospel the disparity between the number of support workers and those workers directly involved in making disciples and planting churches is incredible.

But, as wide a gap as these statistics present consider this. The number of full-time Christian workers serving throughout the world is 419 million. Of these 419 million full-time Christian workers throughout the world only 10,200 are presently involved in working among the 6,600 unreached people groups of the world as disciple makers and church planters. This means that 0.02% of the total number of full-time Christian workers in the world are working among the unreached people groups of the world as frontier disciple making and church planting missionaries.

More incredulous than this is the fact that of these 419 million full-time Christian workers in the world--418,693,000 are serving in what is known as the Reached Christian World. In other words, 99.98% of all the full-time Christian workers in the world are serving in nations and people groups that have already heard and are hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and who already have churches and other organizations in place which are capable of evangelizing the lost.

And thus, as incredibly unbelievable as it sounds, less than 1% of all the full-time Christian workers in the world are engaged in taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unengaged and unreached peoples of the world.

In case you are wondering how well the Church in the United States is doing--there are about 1 million full-time Christian workers serving throughout the world and in the United States that hail from the Untied States. Out of this number only 9000 are involved in direct disciple making and church planting work among unengaged and unreached people groups. Thus, again slightly less than 1% of all the full-time Christian workers in the world that are from the United States are directly involved in the work of fulfilling our Lord's Great Commission to "make disciples of all the nations".

Perhaps, the more direct application of Matthew 9:37-38 to the church of the 21st century is not so much that the need is for more workers as much as for more workers to leave the comforts of the farmhouse and get out into the fields. Missionary leaders have estimated that if they had a minimum of 90,000 more workers to go as pioneer disciple making church planters to the unengaged and unreached people groups of the world that they would have the means of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making disciples and planting enough churches that then would be able to reach their own people for Jesus Christ.

Perhaps, instead of praying for more workers, the Church needs to rethink Missions and what "Great Commission Missions" is all about and begin to encourage and send its workers out of the farmhouse and barnyard and into the fields that are already white unto harvest.

By the way, over 163 billion dollars per year is spent on Christian ministries to Christians throughout the world. 13 billion is spent on missions. Thus, only about 8% of all the money collected by churches and other Christian ministries per year is used to fulfill Christ's Great Commission.

Does anyone else see a problem here?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

BOOK REVIEW - Apostolic Function in 21st Century Missions by Alan R. Johnson (William Carey Publishers)

This a book review by Trevor Johnson, a friend of mine who is left last week with his pregnant wife (Teresa) and two toddlers for their second term in the jungle of Papua. I agree wholeheartedly with him that this is a great read--but since I can't improve on his review--I have printed his for your reading pleasure.

Not that I want to review his review but I do want to make a point of emphasizing his point that whereas, a church's involvement in local food pantries, pregnancy centers, and even relief for the suffering in Haiti is biblically warranted, necessary, and deserving of our involvement and support--it does not replace the missionary mandate to that church to go to all the people groups and make know the Gospel of Christ. These ministries as wonderful as they are do not replace the Great Commission, which requires the church "to find the darkest holes of the world and stick ourselves in them. All barriers to the Gospel must be crossed and every dark region lit with a Gospel witness".


Church historian Stephen Neill once remarked, “When everything is mission, nothing is mission.” Alan R. Johnson heartily agrees. Johnson, a missionary in Thailand, advocates a renewed focus on the “where” question of missions, and a renewed prioritization of frontier missions among the least-reached.

Don’t let the term “apostolic” fool you. Johnson is not advocating the return to the office of Apostle, using the term, instead, in a functional sense. Being “apostolic” means to “function in the manner of the Apostles” in our ever-outward, pioneering compulsion. As God’s “sent out ones,” we drive forward, intent on crossing every ethno-linguistic boundary with the Gospel. While pastoring existing churches might be needed until indigenous leadership can be raised up, the great need in missions consists of going to where the church has not yet been established and planting – for the first time – local manifestations of Christ’s universal Church within unreached “nations” -ethne - mentioned in our Lord’s Commission.

The apostolic role of the missionary is reflected in the very term itself, the Latin missio being derived from the Greek apostello, denoting a “sent-out one.” Missionaries, thus, are not merely those who go. They are those who are sent, emissaries of the Gospel, sent out for a special cause, the outward and propulsive impulse towards the uttermost parts of the earth.

While canned food drives and local crisis pregnancy centers deserve our help, too, these serve as poor replacements for our primary drive towards the ends of the earth and to all the nations. Our task is to find the darkest holes and to stick ourselves in them. All barriers to the Gospel must be crossed and every dark region lit with a Gospel witness.

While many US churches are advocating becoming more “missional” those churches most closely aligning themselves with this newly coined adjective are often the last to send workers overseas to the least-reached, instead, preferring local missions and – in consequence – failing to have anything but a local mindset, enslaved to the winds of culture.

While many opportunities exist for Western pastors to play roles in established Third World Churches, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of viewing missions through the lens of the pastoral ministry, white Anglo pastors pastoring brown Third World Churches. We must strive always to be passing the baton, in the manner of II Timothy 2:2, to faithful local men in a replicational, multiplicational way – making disciples that can make disciples, reaching the lost to reach the lost..

For this reason, We must prioritize frontier missions and we must also value the principle of indigeneity, attempting, in all that we do, to equip local believers, pass the baton, and see the Gospel blossom on native soil.. What we need in missions is not exported pastorates among already “churched” areas, but apostolic pioneers to the very edges of Gospel accessibility.

I love this book, The Apostolic Function, and I give it away to many pastor friends. If you don’t read this book, but merely study the articles mentioned in Johnson’s footnotes, this by itself would be a mini-course in missiology.

From a Papuan tribal ministry context, I highly suggest studying Johnson’s interaction with the people-group concept and the phrase panta ta ethne (all the nations) contained in the Great Commission (pages 121-126). Are we to prioritize reaching merely the maximum number of individuals with the Gospel, or is there also a warrant for reaching the maximum number of peoples (note the plural) with the Gospel, such that we desire to plant a beachhead of Truth across every geographical and ethno-linguistic boundary where Christ is not known? Read the book and decide for yourself.

This is a book well worth its price ($ 14.39 at the William Carey Library,, and well worth the cost of gifting this volume to your key supporting pastors.