The Focus of MISSIONS

Training pastors

Training pastors

What I have observed and concluded to be the greatest need in world missions is the training of native pastors and leaders (men and women) in the Word of God. There are far more pastors than there are opportunities for formal training in many countries. The fact is that most pastors have not been trained in the Word of God. They have not been taught how to study the Bible and then take what they have learned and teach it to the flock among which the Holy Spirit made them overseers.

Add to this need the myriad of false gospels, cults and false teachers/prophets/apostles that are distorting the truth of the Word of God, tempting the undiscerning with gimmicks and tricks and entertainment to grow large “churches” and giving the appearance of God’s favor by the “success” that is seen (oh how western). AND add to this the many (the majority?) Christian missions and ministries today focused on social work in the name of the Gospel. Few focus on feeding the “Bread of Life” which gives eternal life. The Gospel ministry is viewed as a “result” of social ministry, or a secondary event, rather than the primary cause of people “hearing” the Word of truth. “Faith comes by HEARING” the Word of truth. The Gospel is powerful, all by itself, to save anyone who will believe it, that is, Jesus Christ. We cannot add anything to the Gospel to enable it to work. To do so is to dilute it and in fact make it into “a different gospel” which cannot save. (Galatians 1:6-9) Remember that I am talking about “missions” here. I am not talking about what a local church is doing in its local context/culture as it demonstrates the love of Christ and share the Gospel of Christ.

Native Leaders Leading the Mission

Native Leaders Leading the Mission

Concerning the issue of world missions (in the classical sense) I have asked the Lord as I read the Word, “How did Paul and the others effectively establish the Gospel, plant churches and make disciples throughout their world without building buildings, digging wells and establishing social institutions for the betterment of material life?” What was done in the early days of the gospel by the church that so changed their world and OURS?

What was done then is the foundation that we should continue to build upon today. It was not social work. It was by the foolishness of preaching the Gospel and making disciples (maturing believers).  Once the local church was established they were challenged to take care of their own poor and needy. And they die because they had a change of heart and obeyed the Apostle’s teaching from the Word. No longer being self-focused they focused on Christ and others. They cared for their own and lived out the Gospel of Christ in their communities. The Apostles and other missionaries brought the life-changing Word of Jesus Christ.

We should be broken over the poverty of the world which reflects the poverty of the soul without God.

We should be broken over the poverty of the world which reflects the poverty of the soul without God.

Obviously social work has its benefits, but have we gotten the cart before the horse, so to speak? Are we putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable? Have we substituted the powerful Gospel that gives eternal life for a social gospel that only has temporal benefits, if that? Are we prioritizing things that will not last? In the face of horrific poverty around the world many Christian ministries have become NGO’s along with the United Nations and other NGOs .  Though well intentioned, they are terribly inefficient, like most bureaucracies, benefiting the benefactors more than those needing the physical help they are supposed to be helping, spending multiplied millions, even billions and accomplishing little. There is a tremendous transfer of wealth, but the overall social benefit is minimal.

This is a harsh statement but a sad reality I have witnessed in Africa. NGOs (including Christian missions) driving big SUVs, living in nice homes, staying in nice guest houses, eating well, dressing well, basically living large while the poverty and misery increases all around. Christian missions can profoundly distort the Gospel with this kind of picture. Poverty stricken desperate people misunderstand the gospel and project onto it what is not true… health, wealth and comfort, instead of “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and your sins will be forgiven and God will no longer be your enemy but will in fact usher you into His eternal glory.” BUT until then it is toil and trouble and even death for His Name sake. Or have we forgot this? Or did we even know this was part of the equation? Sadly, most of us do not.

What are we to do? In spite of Christianity shrinking in the West (because of our idolatry of “me” and my comfort), it is growing in much of the rest of the world. Africa, China, India, Asia, Central and South America in general continue to see tremendous growth in the number of converts. But many never grow spiritually because they have no shepherds and many misunderstand the true nature of the gospel because of the “foreign” picture portrayed by well meaning “missionaries.” And few are lifted out of poverty, but instead become dependent as social ministry replaces Gospel ministry.

(Have you ever contemplated/calculated the cost of a short-term mission project to travel to a foreign country to build a building and conduct a VBS, for example? We are talking about thousands of dollars in airfare alone. How many “long term” native missionaries could be helped/supported/trained with the kind of money do a better job knowing their language and culture. HBMZambia (all Zambian plus 1 American “ambassador”)  is presently training 2000 native missionary-pastors who will in turn disciple their churches and other pastors with an annual budget under $100,000. About half of this budget helps 25 indigenous disciple making missionaries (overseeing the 2000 in training) and the other half buys and distributes training materials and Bibles.)

What is the answer? What should be the focus of Missions from a western perspective? How can the western church, the American church, make the greatest impact for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the waning days of western civilization and a post-Christian culture? How can we best use the wealth of resources (dollars) and knowledge we have been blessed with to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world?

Local missionaries know the Language and the culture because it is theirs.

Local missionaries know the Language/s and the culture because it is theirs.

“In a nutshell” the answer is for the western church to focus on equipping the local indigenous church around the world to spread the Gospel. That means entrusting the local leaders whom God has appointed to shepherd their churches with training and material so they can be better equipped to equip their flocks to do the work of the ministry and reproduce more sheep! And this can be done with efficiency both in time and money.

Grassroots, indigenous, biblical discipleship is the key. Equipping indigenous leaders in the Word of God is crucial. Mature leaders develop (disciple) mature Christians. The local church is the foundation of Christ’s gospel ministry around the world. The equipping of indigenous leaders in the Word of God grows the Church and by extension grows the witness of the Gospel around it.

HIMAfrica and HIMIndia, working in association with Hope Builders Ministries, focus on indigenous discipleship (maturing believers) and because of this a huge army is being equipped to “do the work of the ministry.” Local Christians become the source of local ministry living out and speaking out the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ in their communities. They demonstrate the love of Christ as they live sacrificially for the Lord in their own context and culture. As they love God they love people. The people see, as well as, hear the Gospel and they are responding by the thousands.

Mozambique Christians sharing the Gospel with their neighbors

Mozambique Christians sharing the Gospel with their neighbors

Using the “HUB” model of discipleship HIMAfrica and HIMIndia train and equip key leaders to train others who in turn train others.  One man discipling three other men is the model we use. (Or one woman discipling three other women. We encourage pastors to make their wife their FIRST and most important disciple.) Jesus had 3 disciples who were his “inner circle.” Can we see the other 9 disciples as being discipled or led by Peter, James and John?  If we follow 2 Timothy 2:2 and make disciples to the 4th generation (Paul, Timothy, faithful men and others) the discipleship model grows very rapidly. As the Church makes disciples instead of converts the society around them will be affected for the better. As the community becomes Christian and matures they will take better care of themselves, their families and those around them.

Evangelism cannot make the profound difference in the lives of people that disciple making can. Converts rarely become mature Christians without intentional discipleship. In fact, many converts fall away as the devil steals the seed or troubles and cares discourage the new believer because they have not been discipled in the Word of God.

In fact, if ONE Christian would make three disciples this year who in turn make three disciples each next year etc… The world could be totally evangelized in a very short amount of time. Disciple making is multiplication whereas evangelism is addition. If I win 100 people to Christ every year for the next six years there will be 600 souls saved and going to heaven! Praise the LORD! That is great but it is not BEST. However, if I make JUST 3 disciples this year pouring my life into them the rest of my life, teaching them and modeling the ways of Christ from the Word of God, challenging them to follow me as I follow Christ and to make disciples also what would the impact be?

My three disciples could become over 1000 disciples who are making other disciples within 6 years! YOU + 3 + 9 +27+ 84 +252 + 756 = 1231! Imagine that kind of Christ-honoring, God glorifying, life changing, world impacting ministry that would be!

Jesus has called us to make disciples. He saves people and makes them into HIS disciples but we are a crucial part in all of this. He uses our mouths to share the good news and he uses our godly, obedient and holy lives to disciple them. All of it done by the grace of God working in and through us in obedience to the Great Commission in the context of the local church. That should be our personal mission. Matthew 28:18-20 teaches each of us to “Go” in the authority of Jesus Christ with His Gospel to everybody, everywhere, all the time until Jesus Comes. Those who believe this Gospel, trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life, are incorporated into the local church (water baptism is a reflection of the spiritual baptism the new convert has just received), where they are then intentionally taught “all that Jesus commanded, i.e. the Word of God. This is what Jesus has promised to help us do until He returns.

I know that some will take offense at my description of much of modern missions today. For this I am sorry. But without a doubt we know that the Word of God teaches us to declare the Gospel. It must be understood to be believed. Therefore people have to hear it. And we should live in a manner that adorns the Gospel. Yes we should be selfless and sacrificing and caring, but oh let us be careful to not build idols that lead the very ones whom Christ would save away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t let sentimentality and good intentions replace or overshadow the Gospel which is the ONLY way a person can be saved. When you give someone a drink of Water or a piece of bread do it in “Jesus Name.” Make sure they know where the blessing is coming from. Be sure to share the Water of life, the Bread of life who gives eternal life.

My prayer is that our ministries and missions will bring great glory to our Lord Jesus Christ and encourage His people around the world to make many disciples of Jesus Christ. That is, people who love God supremely and love others selflessly as they share the Gospel that saves eternally.

Blessings,
Jeff Hawkins.

Jeff Hawkins/HIMAfrica is an independent missionary networking with Hope Builders Ministries in Zambia. He founded HIMIndia (Helping Indigenous Missions in India). Through the generous gifts of scores of Christians and several churches in the USA over 2500 men are being trained as pastors in Zambia and India. It is projected that over 4000 will be in training in 2015. By God’s grace thousands of Bibles have been distributed to the Church in Zambia and India, as well as scores of bicycles to indigenous missionaries. HBM Zambia also supports several indigenous orphan projects operated by native Christians in Zambia.

Zambia Pastor Training

Pastor Titus Shampande and rural Solwezi HUB

Pastor Titus Shampande and rural Solwezi HUB

In June Pastor Jeff Hawkins, Pastor Steven Slater and Travis Milner will be joining the HBMZambia team training pastors in 6 conferences in the Central, Copperbelt and Northwestern Provinces. We are expecting 400 to 600 rural pastors to attend. The teachings will focus on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, His life and ministry from His birth to His ascension and what it means to our salvation and our daily lives.

This will be a 4 week trip and cover about 2000 miles. The teaching team will live with the pastors during each of the 6 conferences.

Zambia is a developing country that continues to struggle with the averse effects of poverty and corruption. 86% of the population of over 13 million souls live below the poverty line. Over a third of the children are malnourished and 40% do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation. This is especially true in the rural areas. Education is improving but it is thought that upwards of 90% of the rural population (65% of the people) are illiterate. Many sicknesses still plague the country from malaria and cholera to AIDS.

HUB Conference and Bible DistributionZambia is also a very “Christian” country. It is strategically located in the center of Sub-Sahara Africa and landlocked between 8 other countries. Some reports have Zambia listed as 87% Christian. From my personal experience I do not see this, but Christianity does have a huge impact on this country. 25% of the Christians are considered to be evangelical. BUT the great need is Bible training. “Christian” cults like the New Apostolic Church abound. False teaching is prevalent with most congregations being influence by the “Prosperity Gospel.” Many are preaching false gospels and motivate by money and selfishness.

Because of the lack of good Bible training superficiality and ignorance abound in the church. “Too few know the Word of God and how to live the Christian life.”

Zambia District LeadersThis is why Hope Builders Ministries has partnered with indigenous pastors to form Hope Builders Ministries Zambia. This indigenous led ministry has a vision to “saturate Zambia with Bible believing churches who have trained pastors.” Since 2007 HBM has shepherded the training of thousands of pastors and helped plant over 2000 new churches. HBMZambia has now taken the lead in training more pastors and planting more churches. Over 1500 pastors are being trained in a discipleship model by fellow pastors who have received the 3 year bible training from HBM.

Teaching the Word

Teaching the Word

HIMAfrica/Jeff Hawkins has partnered with HBMZ to provide the resources their pastors need for Bible training and ministry. The Bible Conferences are supplemental training and an encouragement to the brothers who are thankful for the help from their American brothers and sisters.

We are asking God to provide $15,000 to fund the pastor conferences in June and purchase 600 study Bibles for the attendees.  Give here or mail to Hope Builders Ministries, POBox 317, Greenwood, VA 22943

You can contact Jeff@HIMAfrica.com for more information. Jeff is available to speak in your church or small group by appointment.

Testimony from Zambia!

Titus Shampande - District Leader HBM Zambia

Titus Shampande – District Leader HBM Zambia

On Saturday the 2nd of February 2014, I went to Kansununu Church started last year with my wife. It is 60 KM away. We reached at 1 PM and after we had rested for a while, we went visiting at the nearest villages. A church leader and his wife accompanied us.

At one of the villages, we found many people sitting and we greeted them. One of the villagers told us that they had a 12 year old boy who was very sick and they were all waiting for him to die. In this village only 2 people are members of our church and the rest are Jehovah’s witnesses.

Titus and fellow pastors

Titus and fellow pastors

Titus New Motor

District Leader Titus Shampande and wife

Titus and wife

When the Father of the sick boy saw us, he invited us to go in the house and see the sick boy. As we entered the house, many close relatives were seated by the sick boy who lay on his bed and he could not even speak nor take a cup of water. The boy’s father told us that his son had been in the village hospital for 3 weeks and they said to take him to Solwezi but they were unable to do so and so discouraged that they decided to take the boy back to the village as they had now lost all hope. They did this because all the people in this village suspected that this boy was bewitched by an old woman.

When the boy’s father and the sick child arrived at the village from the village hospital, people grabbed the old woman and started beating her because of the boy’s illness. The Boy’s father pleaded with us to help him because if the boy dies, then the people would also kill the old lady.

I calmed the people and opened my Bible. I spoke the word of God on what the Bible says about sickness and death. After I preached the word, the people who were in the house went outside and only the parents and the church leader who accompanied me were left in the house. We prayed for the boy and sang songs of praises to our Lord Jesus Christ. After the prayers and singing, we went back to the village where we had to spend the night. It was now about 8 PM.

At around 3 AM, the father of the boy knocked on the door were we were sleeping. I thought that he has now come to tell us about the news of the boy’s death. The man told me to go to his house as the boy was now speaking and asking for some food to eat. We went there and found the boy eating porridge. We gave glory to our God for the healing of the boy. Even the many people that mocked at us when we were singing believed in God.

On Sunday, 7 people from that village and the suspected old lady came to church and they gave their lives to the Lord. The boy also he is well and the parents are praising God for the healing.

Reporting, Titus Shampande
HBM Zambia District Leader

ETERNAL LIFE!

YOU CAN HAVE ETERNAL LIFE!

Each One will Give an Account

Each One will Give an Account

The message of Christianity is about Eternal Life. And it is universal, because everyone is under the condemnation of sin. This Gospel of Eternal life is available to ALL, regardless of race, gender, education, or status. Eternal life for all is through the one and only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ and should be “good news” to the ears of any person who wants to make things right with the God who made him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO one comes to the Father, except through Me.” The Gospel is Jesus Christ. He is God’s only begotten Son.  That is He is God made human. This good news is God’s Story of saving grace to sinful man. It is HIS STORY.

The Acronym H I S T O R Y explains the Gospel

H – holy

God the Father is holy or set apart from man in His character. He has never done anything wrong, nor can He be tempted to do wrong. (James 1:13)

I – sin

In contrast to God, all mankind has sinned. (Romans 3:23) Sin means to miss the mark, or fail to hit the target of God’s righteous standard. God’s standard is perfection and is revealed in His moral Law (The Ten Commandments). (Romans 3:19) All men have failed to meet this perfect standard in two ways:

By doing what we should not do. Gal. 5:19-21

By not doing the good things we should do. James 4:17

S – saved

In order for any man to stand in the presence of the Holy Heavenly Father when he dies without fear of rejection, one must be saved or delivered from the Wrath of God which is death. Romans 6:23 says that the price or wages of sin is death. There are two kinds of death resulting from sin.

1st Death – when the human spirit departs the body which then corrupts and returns to dust.

2nd Death – when the body is resurrected and reunited with its spirit and is judged for the sin committed against God in this life. This Judgment results in the sinner’s body and soul being cast into the Eternal Lake of Fire where he suffers eternal torment. (Rev. 14:10-11, 20:11-15). Jesus said this death is worse than the 1st Death and is to be feared. (Matthew 10:28) This judgment will be impartial. All sinners will be judged. (Romans 1:18)

T – truth

The truth is that God wants all men to be saved and have eternal life. While God wants all men to be saved, they will not be saved from God’s wrath unless they know and believe the Truth. Paul tells us that God desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) What is the truth that one must know to be saved from God’s wrath and have eternal life?

O – one

The truth one must know is that God the Father cannot save us unless we seek to be reconciled to Him through the One Mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). God has appointed Him to represent us in His divine court in heaven. This one and only mediator who can stand between sinful man and Holy God is the Eternal God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. ( Philippians 2:5-8)

There is only one price to pay that is acceptable to God the Father for sin. The price is death. (Romans 6:23) For the Holy God to be just in saving sinners the price must be paid.  The wages of sin is death, and the life of our flesh is in the blood according to the Law of God. Someone must die in our place and shed blood that is acceptable (holy) in the eyes of the Father so that He can forgive us of our sin forever.

R – ransom

Jesus paid the ransom price to redeem us, or set us free from the curse of God’s holy Law which is eternal death for sin. (1 Timothy 2:6; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-20)

Since God wants all men to be saved and has provided a way to save all men, why is it that all men are not saved?

Just as in earthly courts one needs a qualified lawyer, so too in heaven sinners need a lawyer, or advocate, someone qualified to represent us before the Holy God. Jesus Christ is qualified because He lived a perfect Life and was thus able to die for all sin. Jesus rose from the dead proving He is acceptable to God. To retain this Heavenly Qualified Lawyer you must ask Him to take your case. He will represent you if you will call on Him.

Y – yes

Yes must be your response in obedience to the Gospel, in obeying God’s command to change your mind about God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)

The way to say yes to Jesus is by trusting in Him to save you.  By simple faith in the Truth of the Gospel (Jesus Christ) He will represent you before God and save you from His just wrath against you. Jesus always says YES to those who turn to Him for eternal life. Whoever calls upon the Name of the LORD Jesus Christ will be saved. (Romans 10:13)

“It is appointed unto all men to die (physically) once, and after this comes the Judgment.” Are you ready to be judged by God?  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved from God’s Wrath on that Judgment Day and escape the 2nd Death.

If you have believed on Jesus take a moment right now and thank Him for saving you.

“Lord Jesus, I want to say thank you for saving me! You died for my sin and rose again to give me eternal life. Thank you. I believe in You for eternal life.”

If you have BELIEVED this good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ or desire more information contact Jeff by email at HIMAfrica@gmail.com or message him on Facebook @ HIMAfrica.

ALL who accept who Jesus Christ is (the God-Man) and what He has done for them (died for their sin), to these He gives the right to become children of God, that is to those who BELIEVE in Him.