Some of you may not know this, but just this past year I started a new job at the missions organization, World Mission. It’s amazing to me how quickly your focus can change depending on the environment you’re saturated in.
After carefully watching award show nominees for five and half years while working at a film school, this past year I couldn’t tell you which films were nominated for the Oscars. I could however tell you about the crazy military coup that was taking place in Myanmar or the humanitarian crisis in Bangui, Central African Republic when rebel groups were choking off their supply chain.
This blog series has been titled “On My Heart,” and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you what God’s been revealing to me during this time of transition.
The Great Commission
Did you know 50% of Christians don’t know what the Great Commission is? And honestly, before starting my new job, I don’t think I would’ve had the best answer either.
The Great Commission is Jesus’ last words to his followers. They were his final instructions. You may be thinking of his last words on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). But the Great Commission refers to Jesus’ last words before ascending into heaven, commonly referred to in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
One of the questions we’ve been asking a lot at work is how can we assess our role in the Great Commission? As a follower of Christ, His instructions still apply to us today. What am I doing to fulfill Jesus’ last words?
To preface this conversation, I need to take a quick detour…
Something I’ve been learning more about myself recently is how I experience empathy. One of the best prayers I’ve ever prayed is, “Lord, show me how much you love this person.” (Although I wouldn’t suggest praying it while you’re driving down the freeway.) I was going through a rough patch with a friend and just felt this overwhelming wave of emotion flood over me after praying that prayer. It gave me so much clarity and a renewed strength to love and cherish this person.
But over the years, experiencing empathy has also been quite frustrating. I don’t particularly enjoy wearing my emotions on my sleeve, especially when people are around. Not being able to “shut it off” or control when it comes or goes.
I’m so grateful that God has been opening my eyes to seeing empathy as a gift. To feel or experience even a snapshot of our Father’s love towards another person. Even for a group of people I never knew existed.
Ends of the Earth
At the ministry where I work, the focus and passion of everything we do is on the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Specifically oral learners living in unreached people groups.
What is a people group you may ask? Let me introduce you!
In our Matthew verse Jesus is calling us to nations. Many of us can get this confused with countries, but one country can be filled with many distinct cultures, each with their own language.
For example, let’s look at the country of Bangladesh. This country is the size of Michigan’s lower peninsula and has a total population of 165,550,000 people. For reference, Michigan’s population is just over 10 million. WOW! While Bangladesh represents only one country, it has 310 unique people groups living within its borders, and 276 of these groups are still considered unreached.
They are one of those people groups.
I was first introduced to the Rohingya when I started at World Mission and was asked to sort through photos of them for a project we were working on. They are originally from Myanmar (Burma) and have faced what the UN has described as “textbook examples of genocide and ethnic cleansing.” Today there are approximately 1 million Rohingya refugees living in tent cities in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
This people group is roughly 100% Muslim.
As I looked through the heartbreaking images of these men, women, and children going through unimaginable situations, the Lord was laying them heavily on my heart. I’ve had the privilege of learning more about their story, researching ways to pray for them, and even helped raise money to replace one family’s instruments after they were destroyed in a fire that swept through the camp.
We have two house churches in the Rohingya refugee camp and the Good News is spreading!
Engaging the Call
It has been such a blessing being a part of a ministry that is making a profound impact for the Kingdom. Taking a stand in the Great Commission to help fulfill Jesus’ last words. And intimately encountering the “ends of the earth” as the gospel message is reaching those without access.
As I’m wrapping up my thoughts, the song Hosanna by Hillsong United comes to mind.
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
We have such a beautiful opportunity as a body of believers to actively pursue our role in fulfilling the Great Commission. God is doing incredible things around the world, here at home in our “Jerusalem,” and to the “ends of the earth.” I’m beyond grateful to be a part of His remarkable story.