Explaining SM Part One Era 2

So then we came into Era 2, and Era 2 was between 1992 and 2015. And that was the focus on mobilization for cross-cultural mission. But we had this transitional period, and there’s always a transition time between one era and the next era, as the Lord says in Isaiah there, “The former things have come to pass, new things I declare, and before they come to pass, I reveal them to you.” So that’s what God was doing between the end of the first era and beginning of the second era. There was this time when God was showing us new things. That all started when we had a visit from our international director of our mission at that time. His name was Bill Molenkamp, and he challenged us when he came to the Philippines and came to Butuan here. He challenged us, he said “Max, what are you doing to reach the unreached?” And he was referring to the five million Muslims we had on our island of Mindanao, and the thirteen distinct people groups that those Muslims fit into. And I said, “Oh Bill.” I said, “That’s not our ministry. Our ministry is to build up the Body of Christ.” And he said, “Oh, okay.” And when I went to bed that night, I didn’t sleep very well. And I began thinking about that. Building up the body of Christ. So, so. But what are we building up the body of Christ for? If it was not to be involved in the world Christian movement, and to be on mission with God, then what’s the purpose of all this? And so I said to him the next morning, I said “You know Bill, I think you’re on to something here. And I think God’s speaking. But our ministry is not in church planting, so we ourselves wouldn’t be going to the Muslims to plant churches. Our ministry has always been with the body of Christ, challenging the body of Christ to something new in God. Something higher in God. So we’ve been conducting leadership seminars for church growth, why don’t we—because we have all this contact with pastors and leaders—why don’t we have a mission awareness conference, and bring pastors together and talk about this need for the Church to begin to reach out and connect with Muslims and see Muslims come to faith in Christ on our island of Mindanao.” So he said okay, and he got behind that, he was very encouraging. And so we had, in 1989, we had the first of two Mission Awareness Conferences. We called the first one MAC 1, and then we had the MAC 2 after that the following year in 1990. So we sent out the invitations. We were not really expecting a lot of people to come along because we knew of the rivalry, the prejudice that existed between Filipino Muslims and Filipino Christians. And in fact, there had been some major skirmishes on our island of Mindanao, and the army was involved, and some of the pastors even took up arms and joined militias to fight against the Muslims. So there was no love lost between the two groups. And so we weren’t really expecting a lot of response. But we were quite amazed when 600 pastors and leaders turned up. They turned up. Our guest speakers from Pakistan turned up. We turned up. And God turned up. This conference turned really into a prophetic conference, and God was moving and speaking and pastors and leaders were coming to us and saying, “This is great, we really feel God is speaking to us. So what do we do now?” And we had no idea what to do now, so we just said, “Well, let’s have another conference next year.” That’s all we really knew what to do at that time, just to have conferences. And so we did, and the following year, we had about 800 turn up, so God was really into this and speaking – and pastors and leaders were really catching the vision for cross-cultural ministry and outreach to the Muslim peoples in Mindanao. But between ’89 and 1990, we’d done some research and our research brought up to us the fact that you know, Protestant missionaries like ourselves had been in the country then for about eighty plus years. We had taught every subject in the Bible, except mission. And in a sense, it’s like that was our job, the job of the church we planted was to reach their own people, and we would go on to reach other unreached peoples. We never considered the fact that this vision for cross-cultural ministry actually should be transferred to the very churches that were planted. And as I began to do more research, I realized this was not just a problem in the Philippines, but wherever Protestant missionaries had gone in the 200 years of the modern missionary movement, basically the same result – Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe – same situation. And so, in our Bible schools, we were teaching everything except cross-cultural mission, and if someone, the subject was brought in at some stage, then it was always an elective, not a main part of the curriculum. So, we thought, what we don’t want to do was to put up a missionary training school, and have young people come and get trained to be cross-cultural missionaries and then go back to churches that really were not interested because they simply didn’t know. And so we thought, right. We have to really make up for lost time. We have really got to get this education into the churches, so that there’s a platform there, there’s a context for God to really see something, to do something quite amazing in the churches in the Southern Philippines in reaching out to the Muslims. So what happened was that our other ministry really was put to one side, and some of those ministries were struggling anyway, because as I mentioned that season was passing. And so we began to focus very much on this new ministry of cross-cultural mission and mobilization -prophetic mobilization for cross-cultural mission. So one of our team and his wife, a couple on our team, were actually going back to New Zealand on a furlough, Trevor and Kay Weavers. And Trevor said to us, “Max we know two people, some people in New Zealand who actually are trained to run the Perspectives course” —which is a course full of understanding of cross-cultural mission. He said, “We’ll talk to them, maybe they’ll come up and run the course with us.” I said, “That’s a great idea. Let’s go for that.” And so they talked to them and they agreed and they came up, and in 1992 we went through the Perspectives course, or as I would often say, actually the Perspectives course went through us. I mean, it just turned us upside down, inside out. We looked at the Biblical aspect of mission (and mission didn’t begin with the first book of the New Testament, it began in the first book of the Old Testament – never saw that before), all the way though the Historical (how God’s been moving throughout the ages to fulfill His mission purpose), the Cultural side (the complexities of crossing into different cultures with the gospel), and the Strategic side (how we can best reach unreached peoples today). And so this was just, we did it over a month so, four weeks. And we ate, lived, drank, slept, talked, prayed, discussed this for a whole month and it just radically, radically transformed us. Plus, we had some key Filipino leaders come and do that course with us, and their response to the course, their response to the material encouraged us, we realized we were onto something here. This material was what was needed. However, the size of the material was not what the Philippines needed at that time, because God had laid upon our heart to see a movement of churches coming into this knowledge. And we had thousands of churches on the island of Mindanao, and so that big volume and the difficulty, the arduousness of conducting that and getting pastors through it was too great, and we realized this was not going to produce a movement. So we managed to get hold of Dr. Jonathan Lewis’ three-volume reformatted version of Perspectives, called the World Mission Book. And we got that from Manila, Dr. Larry Caldwell had come from the States. He was ministering in ATS, Asian Theological Seminary, and he had printed these books, and he very graciously made them available to us. So we put a three-week course together with videos, growth points, worksheets and all of that, and I guess we advertised it once, I can’t remember, but we just had full courses after full courses after full courses of pastors. Not church members. This was pastors coming and doing the World Mission Course, and really it was quite astounding. This was a God movement, a God time, and we often used the term like, I think, you know it’s like we just had “a tiger by the tail dragging us” and this was something quite amazing or “the Holy Spirit is blowing in our sails”. And it just seemed there was something amazing that was going and happening at that particular time. And we were just trying to catch up with what God was doing. So in one sense, let me illustrate it this way. Our understanding of mission in the first era was possibly like that. So we understood that, yeah, mission’s in the Bible. Go into all the world, make disciples of all nations, scriptures like that, Great Commission scriptures, but sort of scattered fairly liberally, I suppose, throughout the New Testament. So if people got involved in that type of ministry, we understood why they did it, and we gave support for it and praise God, we applauded their efforts. But look there’s so much else in scripture as well, and so let’s not get too excited about mission, okay? That was the first era. And I’d been through a Bible school, I’ve been a Christian for many years, I’d been a missionary for many years, but that was still my understanding of mission. So then, and when we did the Perspectives course, and Dr Ralph Winter in particular, he really filled our cup, or our glass, right to the top. And he said, “You know, mission is not only based in the Bible.” He said, “Actually mission is the basis of the Bible.” He said, “Mission didn’t begin in the first book of the New Testament, it began in the first book of the Old Testament. Mission began when God chose Abraham, one man, one family, one nation, and said ‘I’m going to bless you, and through you all the nations on the earth will be blessed or redeemed or gathered to Me.” And so that really changed our whole perspective of the Bible. We began to read the Bible differently, and that was the beginning of our journey, really, into a fuller understanding of mission. So then in 1994, after a couple of years of running the World Mission Course and having just so many pastors and leaders come, Lecille Garcia, on our team, got a burden for the professional people and the business people in our city, because she realized that they couldn’t come to a three-week course, so she said, can we condense it down? Can we take these three volumes and put them into one volume, so I can run it during the evenings for the businessmen and professionals? And then we started getting some pressure from pastors who were going through the course, the three-week course, saying “We really want our churches to be Great Commission churches, but we can’t take these three volumes back. Can you condense it down? Can you make it shorter?” So eventually we decided, well we have to do this because God is speaking to us about a movement, and we’ve got to make that happen if we’re going to see a movement of leaders, a movement of churches coming into this critical, critical understanding of mission and the world Christian movement. So the team, we got around a table, and we said, “Okay, here we have three volumes, fifteen chapters, how can we bring it down to one volume?” So, when we conducted the world mission course, because we were a team, we’ve always believed in team ministry, and we would present our particular chapters and, you know, we loved our chapters so after several hours of discussing which ones we could take out or, you know, we all defended our particular chapters that we liked. And so we still had fifteen chapters and three volumes. And so I thought, “Well we’re getting nowhere here.” So I took the three volumes and I gave them to my wife Dorothy, and she has a great skill in editing. And I said, “Dorothy why don’t you just go away with these and just work on them on your own, and then come back with one volume.” So for several months she did that, and then after several months, she came and just presented us with one volume, and we all looked at it, and we said, “So what did you leave out?” It really was that good. She’d done an amazing job. And then of course we packaged what we call the Condensed World Mission Course because it was from the three-volume one, we condensed it down and we called it the CWMC, Condensed World Mission Course. And then we packaged it and then we started providing some training and empowering pastors and leaders to go out and run it in their churches. And then, it was at that time it was decentralized from our Center, and began to go throughout Mindanao and the various provinces of Mindanao. So, in terms of our vision, it changed from the first era into the second era. And the vision became to see the Filipino Church reaching unreached people groups —that was the Muslims—in the Philippines, and that primarily was the southern part of the Philippines, Mindanao. Our ministry purpose, well that never changed. It was still prophetic mobilization, and through teaching. And you know, we passionately believe in the teaching of a prophetic message that God is wanting to bring to the Church, and the importance of teaching. So then our audience was the Filipino Church, primarily the local church, and local church leadership. This is a carry-on from Era 1. Era 2, church leadership, local church again was our primary audience. And then we changed our name from Philippine Aid Ministries to Living Springs International, or we became known as LSI for short. So let me show you something here. I think you’ll find this very interesting, how era 2 mission mobilization in the Philippines really impacted the unreached peoples, and then the lessons that we learned through this whole mobilization effort. So if we look at the Philippines in 1980, we see there were about five Filipino missionaries who are reaching out to Filipino Muslims. We had about 30 foreign missionaries from the States, from the UK, from Australia, from Canada, etc. reaching out to Muslims in the Philippines, and living in the Muslim communities. So thirty. Then we had ten MBBs, Muslim Background Believers, or Muslims, who had found faith in Christ through their efforts. Now some of those were a bit suspect, I’m led to believe. But anyway, we’ll be generous, and we’ll put ten. Then, mission mobilization took place, and the World Mission Course, and then the Condensed World Mission Course, then other conferences came up, and other initiatives as well, round about 1994, and then things began to change. God was moving in an amazing way. And therefore, by 2003 we find the number of Filipino missionaries having increased from five to over a hundred. And then we had about a dip in foreign missionaries living in the Muslim communities as they began to see the effectiveness of Filipino missionaries in reaching out to Muslims, and then the number of Muslim Background Believers increased considerably from ten to over a hundred. Now, the person who did the research and got these figures said to me, he said “Max, you know, that a hundred and ten is actually a very conservative figure. ‘Cause there are a number of workers working among Muslims that just wouldn’t give me their figures; they felt they needed to protect the work.” So that’s a very conservative figure. Fast forward another six years, we see the number of Filipino missionaries actually dipping from a hundred down to ninety. The number of foreign missionaries living in Muslim communities and doing mission work had actually disappeared. The number of Muslim Background Believers, however, had risen to well over a thousand. Again, a very conservative figure. You say, Max that doesn’t make sense. If Filipino missionaries dip, foreign missionaries disappear, how come we’ve got this amazing growth and Muslims coming to faith in Christ? Well, the answer’s very simple, isn’t it? We have now a new category of workers – it’s Muslim Background Believer workers. So Muslims who have found faith in Christ are now reaching out to their fellow Muslims. So when we look at that, what do we find? Those who’ve done the Kairos course, we understand what’s going on here, don’t we? If we go back to 1980, that primarily is —what sort of outreach? —It is E3 mission, isn’t it? E3, which is, the cultural distance is very, very large, and the barriers are very huge. Then in 2003, we find the predominant outreach there is E2. It’s Filipino missionaries reaching out to Filipino Muslims, so it’s a lesser barrier and E2. And then we come to 2009, and what do we find? E1. It’s Muslims who have found faith in Christ reaching their fellow Muslims. The most effective outreach is always E1. Always, E1. But E1’s not always possible, because there are some people groups that are unreached. That indigenous Church simply doesn’t yet exist. And so, either E2 or E3 has to take place in order to get E1 happening. So that’s our story in the Philippines. So insights gained as we engaged in that particular era, was firstly, missionary receiving countries of the past can and should become missionary sending. And so it was wrong on the part of foreign missionaries —and this is a generalization —not to actually transfer that cross-cultural ministry calling to the churches they planted. And so we are seeing all over Africa now, Asia, and Latin America, churches that have been missionary receiving in the modern missionary era, actually now becoming missionary sending, and in quite spectacular ways at that. Secondly, E2 is a far better strategy in general, as opposed to E3. E3, the distance is huge, and it’s very difficult for E3 ministry in today’s world. And E2, where the distance is less—cultural distance, linguistic distance is less—is far better. So we’re in a context now in world mission where, really, E2 mission, cross-cultural mission can be exploited, if I can use that word, in a far greater way and that’s what we should be doing. Thirdly there, the reached and the unreached are in the closest proximity, geographically, ethnically, and culturally than ever before. This did not happen two hundred years ago when William Carey started, or when Hudson Taylor got underway. But today, through their amazing efforts, we now have the Church in the closest proximity. And so E2 near-neighbor outreach should be what we should be focusing on. And finally, and this is very important, that the barriers of prejudice and rivalry can be overcome with good mobilization. So when we first got underway, so many foreign missionaries and others would say to me, “Max, you’re wasting your time. You can never get Filipino Christians to go to Filipino Muslims. The rivalry, the prejudice is too great, they’ll never do it. And anyway, you’ll never get Filipino Christians to stop eating pork, which is an important thing if you’re going to reach out to Muslims in the Philippines.” And I said, “Well, maybe you’re right, but God is so leading us in this direction. We really have got to keep moving forward. We can’t not move in this direction, it would be to disobey God and I’m not into that.” So we moved forward, we kept on running courses, and talking about this. You know, we had—Early on in the World Mission Course, we established a policy, that in every Growth Point Group, we had to have a box of tissues, because God would be touching hearts, and these Filipino pastors and leaders and Christians would be weeping as they realized they had been hating the very people that God loved, that Jesus died for them as much as He died for Filipino non-Muslims. And they had had this prejudice against the very people that Jesus died for and God loved, and they would just break down. And some of them found it very hard because some would say, “You know, Max, you’re expecting me to go to the people that killed my uncle, that did this and did that.” Some very serious things took place, I’m not minimizing that. But God was working, God was moving, God was breaking their hearts. And these are the very people who ended up going to the Muslims. And they weren’t going to them as lions, you know, with anger, or bitterness, they were going as lambs, humbly, and to serve, and often they would apologize for the attitudes and the situations of the past when that attitude has not been there. And it was with this attitude, and this E2 context, where we saw the breakthroughs come in the Philippines. So, the Kairos course quickly became a Kairos course movement of global proportions. Now, we never planned for that. We’re not bright enough, intelligent enough. We’re not gifted enough to even have thought of that possibility. So we never thought of putting Kairos together, or CWMC together, to go globally. For us, it was just Mindanao. But people came from different countries, or were in the Philippines and heard about the course, came and did it. And they would go through the course and say, “You know, this is exactly what we need in our country. This is what we need.” And so they would then take the course into their country and it would just get the reception that it got here in Mindanao, here in the Philippines. So very quickly, it became a movement of global proportions. So by 2012, we were in 60 countries and 20 languages around the world. I mean, the growth was just so rapid, so fast, we really were struggling to keep up with it. In fact, we weren’t. We were breathless for how many years, trying to meet the demand for these needs for the course. So quickly going on to important developments in that second era: development of a structural nature for a sustainable, global mobilization movement. That was very important, so our structure for the course developed slowly as the need arose. So we put training when we realized that the course, the quality of the course was not as great as it could be. We put procedures in place, so that people in majority world countries, in particular, could actually do the printing and do the training, some policies in place to give some guidelines. And so as I’ve got there, we wanted to see a sustainable mobilization movement, and we weren’t wanting just to bless with the course in a new country, we were wanting to build. And Linda Harding gave us that beautiful phrase: “building, not just blessing”. And it really helped us to say, “Yeah we can’t just go into a new country and bless by running a course, we’ve got to think ‘building’. How can we develop a sustainable mobilization movement with Kairos in this particular country?” And therefore it demanded training, and policies, and procedures to come along as well. So in coming to an end, and to bring a conclusion to Era 2, this has been quite long, hasn’t it? We cannot underestimate the importance of Era 2, and what God was doing in us, well through us, but in us as a result, as what God was doing through us as well. So in terms of Era 1, we’ve looked at those discoveries, those ancient landmarks, those foundation stones that were laid, that the Body of Christ, indigenous church, prophetic teaching, etc etc —that became apparent in Era 1. Looking back now, they were strengthened in Era 2. But in addition to those foundational stones, we find there are other aspects as well, other foundational stones, other landmarks that God was putting in place. Least reached peoples, unreached peoples. The world Christian movement begins by reaching unreached peoples. You can’t do anything else, no other aspect of God’s agenda for the New Testament age can even begin without people groups being reached. So that really became so, so important for us. Secondly, near-neighbor cross-cultural E2. The previous eras of the world Christian movement with Hudson Taylor, William Carey, etc, they were predominantly E3. That has run its course, as the main way that cross-cultural mission will be done to bring closure to the Great Commission and to reach those final frontiers. It will still be happening, of course. But the predominant focus now on reaching unreached peoples must be in the E2 approach. And then the majority world. God used the Western world in that first era, and second era, and third era of the world Christian movement. We’re now really in a new age and new day. And yes, the Western church will still be used, praise God, but the majority world, this is their moment, their time, their opportunity to spearhead the advance into the final frontiers. Then, the focus on movement. Movement, movement, movement. This is what God had in mind from the beginning, that the world Christian movement, there would be a movement in each and every generation, until Christ returns. We’ve got to keep movement in mind. And movement is not just the fact of, we’ve got be doing stuff and doing stuff, activity for the sake of activity. Movement means unreached peoples being reached, unsaved people being saved in each and every generation. And then management, structure, so franchise. How can these products, how can prophetic mobilization take place in each and every country where the church exists? You’ve got to have structure, management. You’ve got to have a franchise for it to happen. We don’t apologize for that. We celebrate that. And then growth through relationships. Our growth as a movement has not been because we’ve had a strong headquarters somewhere, and done all these amazing plans. It’s just been relational. And someone has done the Kairos course have had a connection somewhere else and they’ve thought “I’d love for them to do this course” and they’ve gone in different parts of the country, and to different denominations in the different countries of the world, or one denomination in one country takes it to their same denomination in another country. It’s been relational. And we celebrate that, and we never want to lose that relational flow of the movement. And then belief in the two structures of local church and agency, and we will defend this as being incredibly Biblical. We need the local church. We need the mission agencies. We need the synagogues. We need the khevras. We need the modality. We need the sodalities. And unless—I think what God is doing in these last days is just bringing these two structures together to work beautifully and harmoniously to see the final frontiers reached for Christ. And finally, it’s got to be the leading of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “I only do those things I see the Father doing.” How can we not work the same? This is the age of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is leading, guiding, doing amazing things. We’ve got to see what He’s doing, hear what He’s saying, and flow with Him. “Unless the Lord build the house, we labor in vain that build it.” Unless we see what the Holy Spirit’s doing, unless we capture what He’s doing, unless we follow Him, follow His leading, then it’s just not going to happen. Whatever God gives us is far, far greater than we can do in our own strength. But we can do it in His strength. So, following His lead and doing what He wants us to do is the key to seeing success in ministry. So that’s our Era 2. A heady era. An amazing era. An incredibly busy era. A great learning era. But it set the scene, set the stage, really for our third era. And that’s what God has brought us into now. It will be the most exciting, the most fruitful, the most glorious era ever, and we’ll talk about that in our next session.

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