As Bryan (our Missions Pastor) and I were riding through the high jungle of Peru last May, the missionary that was with us turned and said, “Satan has had his grip on these jungles for a thousand years, and he isn’t letting go easily”. I’m reminded of these words as we have another team in the same area working to spread the Gospel this week. Our church has adopted a specific unreached people group in Peru (an unreached people group is a people united by culture or linguistics that is less than 2% evangelical Christian) and is dreaming big about what God may do among them. But as a church plant with just over a year under our belts, are we biting off more than we can chew? Is it wise to get started in international church planting when our own church plant is so young?
For us the answer to both questions is yes! Adopting an unreached people group is a huge commitment. Training our folks, sharing vision with other churches, staying in contact with the people we meet, and going on multiple trips a year (two trips in 2013 and four scheduled for 2014) is a pretty high bar for us. But while the commitment is high, we believe that being meaningfully involved in planting churches overseas is something we had do from the very start.
We believe the Bible is clear in calling every believer to be involved with unreached peoples in hopes of sharing the love of Christ with them, Revelation 5 is the go to text for understanding this point. As God progressively reveals Himself and His mission to us in the Bible we get the picture that He is working towards having a people for His glory, made up of all the people’s of the earth. It was in seminary that I realized that the mission isn’t so much about the masses, though God desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), its about the people groups of the World. Jesus calls all believers to join God in working to see Revelation 5 become a reality.
The second reason we’re engaging an unreached people group stems from our DNA as a church. During the training I completed prior to plating Mercy Hill there was a common thread that wove through every topic we covered: Plant with all your DNA from the start. While everything the church will eventually be isn’t up and running from the beginning, the DNA for those things should be there. In other words, you shouldn’t wait till a certain age or growth statistic before you cast vision for something that is integral to who you are. We’ve been talking about unreached peoples at Mercy Hill since day one so when the opportunity came up to go, we jumped on it.
Andrew Hopper (@andrewphopper) is the lead pastor of Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, N.C. a Summit Network partner church.