When I heard the numbers, I could hardly believe my ears!
I was at Insight for Living Ministries international headquarters, meeting
with a delegation of pastors from Jiangsu in the People’s Republic of
China. They told me that as many as 109,000 people in their province are trusting Christ as their Savior each year!
Don’t let those figures fly by you. On average, about 300 people hear
the gospel and say “Yes!” to new life in Christ . . . every day . . . in just one province! Weekly, new
churches form. As soon as their doors open, the seats are filled with new,
first-generation Christians. Many have never stepped inside a church! In
fact, it wasn’t so long ago that being a Christian in China
In the late 1960s, Jiang Qing, the powerful wife of Communist leader Mao
Tse-tung, brashly announced she would destroy Christianity in China in
three months. A systematic program to erase the name of Christ in China
Mobs of people who had devoted their lives to Mao burned Bibles and
hymnals. Police arrested church leaders and sentenced them to labor camps.
Christians were forced to denounce Christ and vow loyalty to Mao. Old women
who clung to their faith were publicly humiliated, some beaten to death.
Posters were hung bearing the names of Christians who resisted. They were
shunned or forced out of their homes to live in the fields like animals.
Flames of persecution spread across China, charring the spiritual
landscape. Eventually, Mao’s wife announced to the world that the
Christian movement in China was finished. The only place for the church was
the history museum.
Mao and his wife didn’t win.
Rather than destroy Christianity, the persecution fortified the church. Up
from the ashes grew a lovelier, more fragrant flower of Christian witness.
Today, in a land where Bibles were virtually nonexistent forty years ago,
Christian churches are sending missionaries to proclaim the gospel
along “The Silk Road,” reaching Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists
in China, the Middle East, Africa, and India. Other courageous missionaries
are crossing into North Korea!
When I think of the growth, I often remember China’s national flower:
the Chinese plum blossom. Because it blooms in the harshest of winters, the
plum blossom has become a symbol for perseverance and resilience. The
gospel is blooming in China and spreading in pursuit of the Great
Remember those final marching orders Jesus gave His disciples?
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey
all the commands I have given you.
And be sure of this: I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.”
Our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ are doing their part! Are you?
Let’s look closer at Christ’s last words to find out exactly
what He meant.
Jesus Spoke to Ordinary People
Who was Jesus speaking to? Ordinary people who knew Him personally. The
disciples had no kits that they could reach into, pull out the right tool,
and do a miracle. They had no halos, wore no uniforms. They hadn’t
gone to Bible schools, but most had grown up attending synagogues that had
their religious schools. Not until the Holy Spirit came on them, did they
have any power.
Want to know what they looked like? Look in the mirror! They were folks
like us. They were sinful, unsophisticated, fearful, and uncertain what to
do next. They were ordinary.
Jesus Presented a Brief, Simple, and Clear Plan
The main verb in the Great Commission is make. Make what?
Disciples. How? By going, baptizing, and teaching. Please observe: it is
NOT a casual suggestion. The Great Commission is a firm command, and Jesus
left no room for doubt regarding the scope—all the nations.
Jesus Was Intense about the Mission but Flexible
about the Method
Jesus specified where the mission was to be accomplished, but not how. He
knew the world and its cultures would be constantly growing and changing .
. . as would the tools available to His followers. Without the help of the
printing press, radio, Internet, or even a microphone, those disciples
turned the world upside down. Just imagine if all believers today took
Jesus’ final words as seriously as the early disciples did!
I can assure you that Insight for Living Ministries does. We are intense
about our mission of communicating biblical truth and its application
around the world, because at its heart is Jesus’ mission of making
disciples through teaching.
Our mission will not change. Vision 195—our strategy to make disciples in all 195 countries by
teaching Christians how to study and share the Bible—is
clear. But our method will stay flexible, bending to meet people in
different cultures and using new technology as the Lord provides and
At the center of our strategy is a book I wrote called Searching the Scriptures: Find the Nourishment Your Soul Needs.
This book exists solely to help believers learn to prepare spiritually
nourishing meals from God’s Word as I do . . . and once they’ve
mastered the skill, to teach it to others. My goal has never been to
spoon-feed anyone! It has always been to help you become spiritually
self-sustaining. I long for others to dig into God’s Word for themselves and find the same joy, hope, help, and satisfaction
I have found.
Did you know there are 6,875 heart languages in our world? Every year, the
Scriptures become available in more of them. As new translations are
completed, we will translate Searching the Scriptures for those
language groups as soon as the Lord opens the doors. When that happens, Searching the Scriptures will become the “textbook”
used within those groups to disciple believers and train indigenous pastors
to study and deliver God’s Truth to their congregations. In that way,
we will make disciples of all the nations.
But it begins right here at home.
Jesus Expected Obedient Action from All
I’m going to say it straight: If you are a believer and you are not
actively participating in fulfilling the Great Commission, you are not
obeying the Lord’s calling on your life. Nobody gets a pass!
Jesus’ marching orders are clear, they are not negotiable, and He
expects obedient action from each of us.
I can be this bold because the Great Commission compels me to be so. Every
day of my week, I dwell on this command from Christ. I’m driven by it
day and night. Looking back, that was true even before I went into
ministry. Looking ahead, His Great Commission will keep me from ever
retiring. I’m going to do this as long as I can do it effectively.
That’s what Christ expects me to do!
I will never give up! Thankfully, I’m not on a solo journey.
We’re in this together! Best of all, Christ is with us all the way.
Do you remember His last statement just before He ascended?
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Isn’t that great? Christ was not with me more when I was a younger
man, and He is not with me now more than He will be ten years from now. He
is ever present, consistently engaged, constantly making Himself available,
and faithfully empowering us to do what we’re meant to do.
The question is, “Are we doing it?”
The astonishing numbers of new believers in China encourage us . . . and challenge us. God is opening the door for Insight for Living
Ministries throughout China to disciple and train lay pastors and church
leaders there. We want to work with those pastors who met with us recently
and are part of a government-sanctioned entity called the China Christian
Council. But our plans are expanding—God is opening
similar doors for us in many other places around the world! Young believers
and new pastors are hungry to discover the riches of God’s Word . . .
and we are ready to teach them how to do so effectively.
God IS fulfilling the Great Commission . . . and we get to be a vital part
of it! Won’t you join us?
Again, I’ll say this straight: Without your faithful prayers and
financial involvement, Vision 195 will not happen. Only together
can we obey our Lord’s marching orders and reach the nations who long
to know Him! Please pray fervently! Please participate generously!