Monday, November 30, 2009

The Church is Growing

To being with, over 2.2 billion people now call themselves Christian, more than any other religious group in the world. Since the days of the disciples, the growth has never stopped. Christianity adds more than 28 million people to the church worldwide each year.

A significant part of what’s happening today in the Christian world is happening China. In China, it is estimated that over 100 million people are Christians. They are already fourth on the list of countries with the most Christians in the world. It doesn’t make the evening news, but every day, at least 10,000 new believers are added to the church. [Johnson, “World Christian Trends 2005.”]

In Afghanistan, before 2002, researchers counted about 75 believers. Just two years later, in mid-2004, there were over 8000, with believers in every single one of the 34 provinces. One year later, the Christian population had tripled!

In Kenya, so many churches have been planted that I heard one Kenyan pastor say, “If you stand on any street corner in Nairobi and throw a stone, you will hit a church.” The buildings are everywhere! [Pages 57, 58]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where Are We Going?

Researchers count over 16,000 distinct people groups. Nearly 10,000 are considered “reached,” with the gospel available for people to encounter. This does not mean every person has responded to receive Christ, but rather that the gospel is available to them. And unreached people group is one with no visible indigenous witness (church) of Jesus Christ and where the gospel is therefore unavailable or inaccessible. Currently, there are about 6,500 unreached groups. [“Global Progress,” Joshua Project.] The task is far from finished. [Page 47]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So, why focus on ministry to kids?

As we consider how to reach the 4 billion people on our planet who do not know Jesus (yet), it is essential that we consider ministry to kids, not just adults. Let’s review the reasons:

Kids are everywhere! There are 2.2 billion children under 18 (33% of our world). In many of the developing countries, where we find the greatest population of unreached people, kids are at least 50% of the population. Although they do not fit the exact definition of a “people group,” because they belong to so many different cultural backgrounds, together their numbers make them the largest unreached group on our planet.

Kids are unreachable: They have the time to listen, the availability, and the interest. They are not afraid to respond when they feel the Holy Spirit drawing them to Christ. In several Campus Crusade trainings I’ve been part of, we learned that 25% of people will likely respond to receive the gospel when it is presented personally, fully. In my over 20 years of evangelism experience, I find that nearly 50% of kids are likely to respond. Not a small thing. In some ways, kids are like the guests in the parable of the banquet in Luke 14. They are invited last to the celebration, yet are the most available to attend and to respond to the generous gifts of the King.

The powers of this world know kids are reachable, too. In the Muslim world, strong emphasis is placed on teaching the way of Islam to children before the age of five. We’ve heard stories of eight-year-old children so committed to their faith they were willing and ready to become suicide bombers.

Alternately, media and marketing gurus know that they need to capture the hearts of children early with brand names…then keep them for life. Kids are targeted around the world.

The harvest is ripe; children are ready for the gospel.

Kids are needy and poor: The UN estimates that nearly half of the world’s population of children live in poverty. With other risk factors added in, nearly 2/3 of our planet’s children love in “at risk” situations. Again, most of these children are unreached. Considering the work of Christ outlined in Isaiah 61, to “preach good news to the poor,” to “bind up the brokenhearted,” to “free the captive,” etc., we easily see that this entire passage could be a call to ministry to children. God’s heart is to rescue children, the most vulnerable group of people on our planet.

Kids are teachable: Unlike adults, kids have much less to “unlearn” when they come to Christ. They are eager to understand what it means to follow Jesus, and to obey. People who come to Christ as children are most likely to follow Jesus for a lifetime. Kids are ready and waiting.

In addition, kids are the key to transformation. When we pour the love of Christ into their lives, teaching them to follow Christ wholeheartedly, they will not only change personally, but they will impact their families, their communities, and their nations.

Kids are connected to families: As children come to Christ, they often open doors for the gospel to be shared with their families. In Muslim areas, this opportunity must be handled with great prayer and respect. But kids often bring their entire families to Christ shortly after believing in him.

Kids have great potential – to reach more kids – and others! Children can also learn to share the gospel with their friends. Their friends are also reachable, teachable and connected to families. Kids can be part of reaching future generations for Christ if we get with the program. Kids have amazing potential to not only be tomorrow’s church, but the church of today.

Mission leaders are beginning to catch the vision. Dan Brewster of Compassion International and Patrick McDonald of VIVA Network in their booklet, Children—The Great Omission?, say, “We believe that children and young people should be the single greatest priority for Christian work in the coming decade.” [Brewster and McDonald, Great Omission, 3.] [Pages 32-34]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do Hard Hearts Glorify God?

God says in Exodus 7:3, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.”Sometimes God will do things that seem “not quite right” to glorify His Name.

Even though it is difficult, we can trust God in these days of disease, financial depression, and a US Congress and administration running “amuck.”

It is hard to understand why leaders seem to have turned a blind eye to common sense and wickedness.

Slavery ended in this country in 18665. Why then is our government putting the whole nation in slavery again but this time to extreme indebtedness? Common economic sense teaches that one does not continually borrow and spend money that one does not have!

Even though people do not believe the Bible any longer, common sense and morality teaches that you do steal. It is against the law and yet the President and Congress continue to take money which is not theirs and spend it in projects that continue to add to the unemployment and debt. They are putting future generations into the slavery of debt!

Even though health care can be improved in this country, it is still the best in the world. One need not destroy it in order to build something which puts the country further into debt and which ends up not helping the people it was designed to help, especially the sick!

With the present leadership in the US, it seems as if the country is going from bad to worse with “real” unemployment between 17% and 22%. Yet, the government continues to spend, spend, spend. This also hurts the poor throughout the world and causes a terrible plight on missions.

Even though we do not understand the hardness of heart of the President and many in Congress, we can trust God that He will glorify His Name through their wickedness.

Children and the Lost Sheep

At least 67 out of 100 kids in our world are lost, outside the fold. That’s 1.4 billion kids who are waiting to know Jesus for themselves. Every minute, at least 168 new kids are born into families that do not know Jesus. In addition, those “in the fold” face serious challenges keeping them from growing to love Jesus for a lifetime. The heart of Christ himself compels us to do something about it. [Page 32]

Taken from Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

What Does God Think About Children?

Children Are a Gift from God: Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children are a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Psalm 127:3-5 NIV). 

Become Like Little Children: He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4 NIV).  

Welcome a Child: He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:36-37 NIV). 

Jesus Calls for the Children: People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…and he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10:13-16 NIV).

Taken from Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Global Challenges Are Also On The Rise

Taken from: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Disease Threatens: Nearly 39 million people live with HIV/AIDS and the number is still on the rise. More than 6800 people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS every day.

Over 2.1 million people die each year of AIDS. This trend has left entire nations without enough adults to harvest crops, conduct commerce or raise children. It is estimated that 15 million children have lost one or both parents as a result of AIDS since 1981. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007.]

As sobering as these statistics are, the reality is that other preventable diseases cause even more deaths. Every three seconds, a child dies from the effects of unclean drinking water, malaria, or other preventable diseases. [UNICEF, World’s Children, 8.] With new strains of bacteria and new virus threats discovered regularly, basic health care and health education elude many.

Poverty: Eighty percent of the world’s population lives on under $10 per day. Over half of the world’s children suffer from poverty. As these children grow older, they often find themselves trapped inside a system that gives them little opportunity to escape the cycle. How will they survive? How will they grow?

War and Conflict: War is no longer only for the grown men of the world’s nations. Nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in conflict during the 1990s were children. [UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2004 (New York, December 2004).] At least 250,000 kids are forced to work as child soldiers. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007.] At least 14 million children and their families fled their countries because of nearby fighting and live as refugees. War impacts women, children, and entire populations. [Pages 22, 23]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Did Someone Forget the Kids?

Is There Really A Problem Here?

Global population is 6.7 billion and growing. At least 28% are under the age of 15. If we extend the age to 25, half our planet is youth. And half of these, according to the UN, are living in poverty. [CIA World Fact Book, s.v. “World;” Associated Press, “Half of Kids Suffer War, Poverty, AIDS.”] [Page 28]

…Christian children represent ten percent of the world’s total population. [“Tabel C,” IBMR, p. 30.] Patrick McDonald and Dan Brewster say, “Most people who make significant faith decisions do so before the age of 18, but less than fifteen percent of our efforts are directed to ministry amongst children. [Brewster and McDonald, Great Omission, 3.] [Page 28]

In a recent poll by the World Evangelical Association, two-thirds of the churches reporting from around the world indicated they had little or no ministry to children. One-third indicated a desire to make this a priority. [Kathleen J. Graham, World Evangelical Alliance, email to author.] [Page 28]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Corporate Powers

Global trade is booming. Not only does this mean that people across the globe are familiar with brands like McDonalds, Starbucks, Toyota and Coca-Cola, but it is changing the balance of economic power. In fact, 40 of the world’s 100 largest economies are not nations, but corporations. Exxon is bigger than Sweden; AT&T is bigger than Hungary; Home Depot is bigger than Egypt. Wal-Mart by itself is larger than the economies of over 200 different nations of the world! [CIA World Fact Book, world economies; “Our Annual Ranking of America’s Largest Corporations, 2008,” Fortune Magazine, (accessed October 24, 2008).] [Page 21]

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Global Power is Shifting

China: Chinese citizens have just recently been allowed to participate in a market economy by starting private businesses. Already there are at least 85 million businesses in China. The US has only 26 million, and we have hundreds of years of history in a free-market system. [Ted C. Fishman, “Waking to China,” World Almanac 2006, 10.] [Page 19]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Home, but not alone

Sick, but cared for, but not street children …

“…always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people” (1 Thessalonians 5:15, nasb).

Recently my wife talked me into staying home to work from the house. It seems that a cold has hit me with a vengeance. Perhaps the cold is a result of my excessive travel and work schedules these last several weeks. I have had difficulty sleeping because of jet lag, but when I lay down after lunch, I immediately drifted off.

As I lay on the bed, there was fresh air blowing in from the window, the smell of homemade bread, the sheets were warm and clean. Margaret made sure I was eating well and drinking fluids, and to top it off, she brought me chicken noodle soup and bread that you could smell for a block! To say the least, I was well taken care of.

As I closed my eyes, I couldn’t help but see the street children I have come to love. What do they do when they are ill? Where do they sleep? Who cares for them? Believe me, there is no fresh water to drink, no smell of homemade bread, and no chicken noodle soup. There may be scraps from a garbage dump, but they have no energy to forage for it. There is no place for them to sleep in safety, no soft bed, no toilet or fresh air—only the polluted filthy smell of an unfriendly alley.

There are 160 million street children throughout the world. In the major cities in which we work – Lusaka, Lilongwe, Kampala, São Paulo, Bogotá, Mexico City, Phom Penh, Manila–street children simply exist by animal instinct.

Would you pray for ACTION and other ministries which are reaching out to street and underprivileged children with the glorious Gospel of Christ and compassionate care. We are praying for 100 additional missionaries from age 21 to 70 to work on the street with children. Perhaps you sense God’s calling to serve with our team among 160 million street children of the world. If so, just write or call any of us in ACTION. It will mean more to us than homemade soup!

by Doug Nichols