November 8-21 of this year, eight of us traveled from Guayaquil to a major Islamic country in Asia. We had several specific objectives for the trip, all of which were accomplished, but not at liberty to openly share (though I'd love to!) It was truly one of the most rewarding and eye-opening trips that I have experienced.
What instigated the investigative/vision trip was a conviction that after 60 years of Baptist work and 100 years of evangelical work in Ecuador, between 5-7% of the Ecuadorian population profess to be Christ followers. It is now time for Ecuadorian believers to take their place alongside other evangelized Latin nations as viable mission forces in reaching the nations for Christ. It is our conviction that Ecuadorians must engage not only their Jerusalems, but also their Judeas, Samarias, and nations of the earth.
This past week, the investigative/vision team was able to sit down and share with one another what each of us felt God had revealed collectively to us as a group from our recent trip. Here are some of the things we dialogued with one another well into the night.
1) There is a major need to give serious attention to stirring up the "sleeping giant" Church in Ecuador and make her aware of the global implications of the Great Commission. We are now in the missions "Major Leagues" and need to see ourselves in that light.
2) We need to look at sending missionaries out in teams, rather than individuals.
3) Before sending workers out in teams, they need to be tested together by sending them first to work in areas here in-country to live together and work, before sending them overseas.
4) Similar to #3 above, if going overseas with a platform, they must prove first they can be effective locally with their chosen platform, before moving overseas and attempting to do so in a different culture and language.
5) Living and working together in community is the best way for Ecuadorians to accomplish the Great Commission task. Individuals working together is not the same as communities of disciples engaging communities of non-disciples.
6) Latins are natural missions workers and can adapt easier to other third world cultures which are similar to their own. Can make do with a lot less than required by missionary workers from places like the USA.
7) The overwhelming lostness of the 10/40 window and what might be done to begin to make the Church in Ecuador aware of her Great Commission responsibility for engaging the 1.5 billion who have had little-to-no access to the Gospel message. Well produced missions videos is an effective way to begin to accomplish this awareness.
8) Identified obstacles for Ecuadorian missionary workers: identity (what are they doing there?), support (churches aren't up to giving levels to sustain more than a handful of cross-cultural workers; therefore, what other support mechanisms must be explored?), and on-going care of workers once they are overseas.
9) The need to expose local believers in becoming personally involved in local national missions efforts. As people begin to engage in local and national missions opportunities, they will be more disposed to hearing God's call to the nations.
10) The need to investigate unique areas where Ecuadorians (Latins) might bring in something desirable or original to their host countries. This would also facilitate their entry to the country.
11) This is definitely the time to actively mobilize Ecuadorians into global missions. While we need to move ahead in sync with the Holy Spirit, we must not wait until we have everything figured out.
12) The need to raise awareness in our churches of the peoples from around the world living in our midst. These need to be adopted and actively engaged by our churches (Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Haitian, etc.)
13) Even though we have taken seriously Christ's command to "beseech the Lord of the harvest for laborers..." this is something that we must take to the next level in regards to a nation-wide emphasis and begin to really importune the Lord for Him to send out the workers.
14) There is a huge need for a more outspoken (prophetic voice) to raise awareness in the churches of how financial resources are being hoarded for exclusive local use, rather than seeking first the Kingdom (which includes Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.)
While each of these points could easily inspire several pages of commentary, what we concluded is that God himself is bringing together many of the missing puzzle pieces. We must in earnest examine each piece and see how it fits with the others. What is it that needs to be done today to mobilize Latin Americans into becoming major players in the Great Commission task?