“We are under orders: The Gospel to every creature!” Jim Elliott wrote those words in his diary in January of 1956 before he and four other missionaries were speared to death by the Waodani in the jungle of Ecuador. It would be his last and final entry.
It appeared that Operation Auca had been a failure. Five talented and consecrated men (husbands and fathers) had foolishly wasted their lives in a noble attempt to preach the Gospel to what anthropologists now call the most violent people group ever recorded in history. They had a homicide rate of 54% for men and 39 % for women dying violently at the hands of their own tribesman.
In a few short years after the death of those five committed men the gospel light penetrated the darkness of that Ecuadorian rainforest. The first chapter of Operation Auca was not the last chapter. Through the witness of Elisabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint (wife and sister of the martyred dead, respectively) the superstitious fears and heathen ignorance of this Amazonian tribe were conquered. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ prevailed!
The success of their mission was rooted in the strength of their conviction that Jesus really meant what He said in Mark 16:15. It was as binding in 1956 as it was in the first century. Two millennia had not eroded the authority of the Great Commission. The Church was and still is Under ‘Holy’ Orders!
The gospel ‘to every creature’ certainly includes the heathen and the unreached people groups living in the 10-40 window. It includes the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and every other false religion in the whole world. But we must NOT forget that it also includes the domesticated heathen here on our own soil. America has become a post-Christian nation. The homeland has become a mission field.
I believe the local Church is America’s last best hope. I wonder how many communities from sea to shining sea have Zero Churches – No Gospel Light? Without a doubt there are thousands that do not have a Holiness Church.
In March of 2021 as I was preparing for my third-quarter meeting with the home missions board I found myself reading through II Kings. I came to the death-bed story of Elisha the prophet in chapter 13. Joash, the King of Israel, came down to the famed prophet’s home to mourn over him before he died. The dying prophet told the weeping king to do something rather strange.
And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.
And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.
As I read these verses, I felt my heart convicted. Am I limiting what God wants to do for His people because I lack zeal in the work of the Lord? What if I were more definite in articulating how many churches, we were going to plant in the next 10 years. As I prayed and meditated on these things, I began to believe that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through this story.
In our board meeting a couple of days later I presented these thoughts to the board and asked them to adopt this new vision – 10 new churches in 10 years! One brand new God’s Missionary Church every single year. Our goal is to graduate new churches to conference status five years after they have begun. So, this plan is not presumptuous if we are able to achieve that noble objective as from experience, we know that our conference of churches is able to support 4 to 5 pioneer churches at a time.
By the grace of God and the heroic efforts of the Pastor Shane Hunter Family and many others we were able to launch a brand-new church in Starlake, New York on December 5, 2021. Seventy people attended the first Sunday morning service – To God be the glory!
I had the privilege of preaching the inaugural sermon. I choose for a theme “the Love of Christ”! Three times in the New Testament we find this beautiful expression. We had a very diverse congregation that cold winter Lord’s Day morning and I enjoyed the help of the Spirit in declaring the Word of the Lord.
The Love of Christ is:
- Titanic in its Dimensions (Ephesians 3:19)
- Transformational in its Design (II Corinthians 5:14)
- Tenacious in its Durability (Romans 8:35)
There are many chapters to be written in the history of this infant church. We are praying for God to call a pastoral family to assist the Hunters in planting this new church. There is still much work to be done on the building itself. We need more work teams to volunteer time and talent to finish the lady’s restroom and nursery. There is work to be done in the basement of the Church and also the Sunday School room behind the platform needs painted and carpet installed. Not to mention the parsonage next door. Please contact me if you are interested in more information about how you can be a blessing to this pioneer work.
Where will the next Church spring up? If we are to stay on schedule with our newly minted ambition we must plant or revitalize a brand-new church in 2022. We are planning and praying. Please pray with us and continue to give in your monthly offerings for the advancement and expansion of God’s Missionary Church. And never forget – We are Under Orders: the Gospel to every Creature!