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This past year I (Charlton) had the awesome opportunity to take a trip to Uganda. I visited many different villages and islands that had been heavily evangelized. Many people professed to be Christians, and some areas had a church building right around the corner.
I also visited villages that had not been heavily evangelized and there wasn't a church building anywhere to be seen. But sadly they all had one thing in common... they looked no different physically or spiritually. As I looked around they all continued living in sin, even those who said they believed. Their neighbor was going hungry, children where laying in the streets with no home, no food, and little clothing. Why is that? I understand why for the unreached areas, but not for those areas that have been "Churched" or "Christianized."
Mission team after mission team have been in these areas to evangelize. To me that sends up red flags, and I can't help but ask the question, “What are we doing wrong?” This does not line up with what scripture says. Are we giving people the gospel according to Jesus? The message of the kingdom? Are we living that ourselves?
Jesus is not being planted. Sure, church buildings are being planted, people are being told about Jesus, and are told that if they say a certain prayer and believe it in their heart that’s all it takes. The discipleship process stops there; with the exception of what time church is on Sunday.
What does Jesus say? And where is the discipleship? It's not happening. We expect the discipleship to happen at church, we think that's where they will learn what being a Christian means. We have the system backwards. Where does counting the cost, no longer conforming to the patterns of this world, and taking up your cross to follow after Jesus play a part? Doesn’t Jesus tell us to obey everything that He has commanded? Not only that, Jesus tells us all through scripture to GO. He gives us multiple examples of how we are to go to the lost; not expecting them to come and find us. This is not only happening in some parts of Africa, look around, are we living in manor worthy of the gospel? It's happening there, because for the most part, that is what is being taught in America. We acknowledge Jesus with our lips, but walk out the door and deny Him by our lifestyle.
“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.”
Think about any of the examples in scripture when someone says, “Lord I want to follow you...I want to be your disciple.” How did Jesus answer? When Jesus is speaking to the crowds, what does he say about the kingdom of God and what one must do to enter the kingdom of God?
Is simply believing in Jesus enough? I think the question we need to ask instead is what does it mean to believe? Jesus himself says in Matthew 7 “Not everyone who says to me Lore Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” The road and gate are narrow that lead to life and FEW will find it. So why do we think we can broaden that narrow way that Jesus paves out so clearly in scripture.
The answer to the orphan crisis and hunger along with many other issues worldwide is simple. JESUS and His kingdom. He is the answer, when we plant Jesus in the hearts of men, lives change! Neighborhoods change, villages change, the orphan is housed, the widows are cared for, and those who are hungry get fed. When people start to truly count the cost and see what it really means to call yourself a Christian then the body of Christ does what scripture says. We walk as Jesus walked, we share in each other’s burdens, and we meet widows and orphans in their afflictions. As a result of Jesus being planted and the above happening, Church happens, and the body of Christ becomes mobile. Not even the gates of Hades will hold God's church back! Now that's power, that's Church! When persecution comes we embrace it and shout to the heavens with out stretched arms praising God and saying, “I see Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father. Lord forgive them for they know not what they do.” It all starts with discipleship and most importantly the spiritual needs will be met and God will be glorified.
Many in Asia, India, and Africa are counting the cost, and following anyway because they truly believe. They don't put their hand to the plow and look back. For many, when they claim the name of Christian and make Jesus the Lord of their life, they realize that their family will probably hate them, they could lose everything they own, and most of all that they will be hated, tortured, and possibly executed... all for the name of Jesus. But you know what they say,
“He's worth it.”