I am currently on a five-week-long, prayer filled, missions speaking tour of twenty-five cities on the US east coast trying to motivate God’s people to get involved in worldwide Bible translation. It is a task that reminds me of the old black backwoods philosopher’s saying, “Dey ain’t nobody kin make nobody do nuddin.”
One reason that I am doing this traveling and speaking is that I believe God is able to move people.
I know this because every night a few people come up to me and say things like this: “Thank you for coming. Tonight I learned things about missions and Bible translation that I never heard in all my years of going to church.” Some go on to tell me they have committed themselves to pray, or to give, or to get personally involved in translating the Word of God into every last language spoken on earth. A few even buy my books.
The other reason I travel and speak to Christians is that in I am doing exactly what Jesus told his disciples to do when they saw the great need of the lost. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Mat 9:28 (NIV).
Notice that Jesus did not tell His disciples to start harvesting. Instead He told them to focus on the One who could mobilize the needed harvesters.
Jesus in effect told his disciples, “Don’t rush out and start evangelizing the world. Stop and ask God to mobilize His world-wide Church to evangelize the world. Stop and ask God to give His people a passion for the lost so that many will give up their current lifestyles and go.”
Missions starts with the prayer, “Please God, get Your people moving. Mobilize Your Church! You love the whole world. Widen the vision of every pastor from their congregation to the whole world. Expand the vision of every congregation from their own community to the whole world. Move huge numbers of Your people to volunteer for service and to give, not of their excess, but sacrificing to provide the needed financial support.”
That is my prayer, and the prayer of others who have a passion for the lost around the world. Some of us not only pray but we put shoes to our prayers. During these five weeks, for instance, six teams are traveling to 150 cities all across the USA to share our passion with potential harvesters. We go to inform God’s people about Bible translation so the Holy Spirit can lead them into the most foundational ministry any church or missionary can be involved in. Not even the Holy Spirit can lead people into a ministry they know nothing about!
I have spoken at hundreds of special events and in dozens of churches about the need for translating God’s Word into every one of the world’s seven thousand languages. When I mention that Christianity thrives only where the Bible is translated into the language of the local population, my hearers are surprised. When I tell them that the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the first translators and that only a few of Jesus’ words were preserved in the language in which He spoke them, they are astonished.
And yet, Jesus clearly told His Church to go and evangelize the whole world and disciple all the nations. At the end of time God will be worshiped by people from every tribe, every language, and every nation. How can that happen while there are still 1,800 languages spoken on earth in which not even one verse of Scripture has been translated?
“Great Boss in heaven, please move Your people to get to work in this desperately needy world.”