As of mid-November (2011), around 25,000 people have visited thecontroversyofzion.com from different IP addresses around the world since the official launch of the site in September when the book was released. The majority of readers who visit the site are from one of these 10 countries: USA, NZ, UK, Israel, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Japan. These are among the wealthiest and materially privileged nations on earth. With that said, I want to address you as someone who is most likely from one of them in what I consider to be one of the most important articles I’ve written in 2011 (if not the most important). But first, allow me to give some context.
OUR CORPORATE MANDATE
Bestowed upon the international Body of Christ at the end of the age is the sublime task of engaging the remaining unreached people groups that have been avoided or forgotten for the last 2,000 years of Church history. Most of these people groups abide in some of the most hostile regions on earth and are known for the seemingly impenetrable cultural and religious wall of Islam that surrounds them. According to the New Testament, the task will be completed on the threshold of “the end” (Mt. 24:9, 14) and in the thick of “the great tribulation” as believers in “every tribe, tongue, and nation” are “slain” (Rev. 7:9-14; 6:9-11) because of their Christ-like witness to all men.
As the nations rage, the saints bleed, and the Gospel penetrates nations and people that have still never heard the precious name of Jesus, the Church will find herself faced with another task that will be just as costly as loving the least, the last, and the lost in the Islamic world. We will be called to identify with and minister to the Jewish people in their final and unequaled persecution and suffering; both in the Land and in flight among the nations. This future “time of Jacob’s trouble” will threaten their very survival far eclipsing the suffering of European Jewry in the 1930′s and 1940′s (Jer. 30:5-7; Dan. 12:1-7; Mt. 24:15-31).
While the call to engage the unreached with the Gospel and the mandate to stand with the Jewish people in their future suffering receives little “air time” in the 10 nations mentioned above, these messages are profoundly Biblical and will be the great issues our children will face in the next generation.
To say it succinctly, I believe that the final frontier of global missions will be Islam and Israel. Among the Church’s highest callings in the generation of the Lord’s return is the calling to be a faithful witness to Isaac and Ishmael, the estranged brothers who we have long forgotten, avoided, or openly sinned against.
AN APPEAL IN LIGHT OF THIS URGENT HOUR: “THE ISAAC AND ISHMAEL MANDATE”
On my desk to my right hand is a list of men and women that I personally know “of whom the world is not worthy” (Heb. 11:38). They are currently on the ground in Israel or an Islamic nation faithfully laboring to declare and demonstrate the riches of Christ to those around them who have long believed that “God has no Son.”
They all have four things in common: (1) they are pioneering ministries among the indigenous, (2) they are struggling financially, (3) they deserve our fullest attention, and (4) they don’t receive much attention.
It’s relatively easy for organizations with a high profile or individuals with an appealing and inspiring public ministry to attract attention and as a result financial support. But for pioneers and background laborers who are on the ground in “closed” nations, it’s a different story. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult. When your ministry requires you to “fly under the radar” you aren’t able to promote your work for the sake of raising awareness and funding. I know of many cases where it is the great crisis that has derailed projects and cut the life of certain ministry endeavors short. Therefore, I want to acknowledge them, commend them to you, and request financial support on their behalf.
It grieves me that some of the most courageous people doing some of the most important jobs on the planet are struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills. My own personal grief over this predicament in the lives of so many on the ground has given birth to what we’re calling “The Isaac and Ishmael Mandate.” It’s a “seed” of an idea right now. And we’re planting it in faith believing that it will grow in the coming months and years and bless many.
The Isaac and Ishmael Mandate is not a funding agency or a trust. While we intend to form a trust in time through which we can raise money and send it to the field, that is not our primary aim. The Isaac and Ishmael Mandate is driven by a vision to see laborers funded through the interweaving of lives. I believe that the most effective and sustainable way of funding the critical work of ministry to these people groups is through the fostering of affectionate relationships and the sharing of each others labors. It is then that we are compelled to personally invest into the lives and ministries of those serving Isaac and Ishmael.
HERE’S WHERE IT GETS REAL AND PERSONAL
I want YOU to give monthly support to an individual who is pioneering on the field in Israel (among Israeli’s and Palestinians) or/and an Islamic nation. I don’t want to take your money and pass it on. I want to pass along the contact information of people I personally know who need help and who are worthy of serious financial assistance.
The initial “start-up” strategy for this mandate is simple. After reading this, you email me (the address can be found below) and say “I want to give.” I will personally respond with the names and contact information of an individual or a family on the field in Israel or an Islamic nation. You will then contact them personally to (1) find out who they are and what they do and (2) to tell them you want to stand with them and invest financially into their lives and labors.
I am unapologetically asking you to support personal friends of mine and acquaintances who are on the ground toiling among the unreached. Some may find this to be an unprofessional way of going about it. Some will feel much more comfortable giving to their local Church or an organization to distribute finances to those on the field. While I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that, I’m saying that I personally don’t believe this should be our only (or even primary) way of giving as it is not relational and because (according to statistics) most money given through Churches and organizations doesn’t make it to the family pioneering in Turkey or Yemen. So with that said, my guarantee is that the individuals that I’m commending to you are some of the most genuine, godly, and admirable people I have ever met. While they would never say it, I will say it for them: they need and deserve your money!
Some of them are Messianic Jews in Israel. Some are New Zealanders in Turkey. Some are Americans in Syria. Some are Australians in Pakistan. Some are indigenous. Email me. Connect with them. Get to know them. And invest into their lives. Because few people are.
I truly believe that there is no cause more worthy of your investment than Christ-exalting, Gospel-centered ministry to Isaac and Ishmael. I urge you to embrace this mandate and to give.
PRACTICALS AND APPEALS
Below are some practical tips and some appeals to you in different situations (some drawn from my own experience of sowing my finances).
My family has taken this mandate very seriously. And we are missionaries. Though we raise our own support and often struggle to make ends meet, we sow finances monthly into individuals and families on 3 different continents. I say that to say this: You can do it. It’s not about how much you give. It’s about living with an open hand, a free-spirit, and a commitment to that which burns on the heart of the Lord. One of the healthiest things you can do as a missionary is give monthly to a missionary. If you are on the field, I urge you to do it.
Individuals and Families
The day we get our check each month we deposit money into the accounts of missionaries. It’s a priority to us. And we LOVE doing it. You can love it too. Regardless of your income. If you have limited finances, start at $25 a month to a family in the Middle East. You have no idea how precious and moving it is to a family on the field to receive $25 a month from someone. It’s HUGE. It’s more than money. It’s solidarity. It’s support. It’s affection. It’s encouragement. So if you are a family or an individual and you can only give a small amount, do it.
Friends, Small Groups and Home Churches
For those of you who have a close circle of friends, are a part of a small group, or attend a house Church, once a week throw a couple of bucks into a hat and send it each month to someone on the field. It adds up and can have a significant impact. Every Wednesday we have a small group Bible study in our home with a dozen or so friends. As a group we give to a missionary on a weekly basis. The whole group loves the person we support and are all a part of it. It’s actually a great way to unite a small group or a house Church. So if this is you, I beseech you to invest.
Organizations, Churches, and Leaders
You may be part of an organization or a Church and possibly a leader of one in some capacity. I would strongly encourage you to discuss with your leadership team about taking on a missionary in Israel or an Islamic nation. If you’re a pastor, a YWAM base leader, a pioneering a House of Prayer, or faculty at a Bible school, please consider taking this on.
Getting involved is simple. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you’d like to sow your finances. I will respond shortly with the contact information of an individual or a family. And then you can begin investing as soon as possible (Disclaimer: it is up to the missionaries on the ground to decide how much information they want to divulge about their whereabouts due to the security risk in some nations).
I would love to get bogged down with emails over the next month connecting saints with saints. Since most of us will end up spending $20 bucks on something eternally worthless after reading this, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to say that if you live in one of the 10 nations mentioned at the beginning you have no legitimate reason not to respond to this . . . unless of course you’re already sowing your finances. And if that is the case, I salute you and request that you pass this article on to as many people as possible.
As I said at the start, I believe that this is possibly the most important article that I’ve written this year. Here’s why: with the cool of the Arab Spring behind us and the heat of the Sharia Summer soon upon us it’s critical that we not forget what is required to reach Isaac and Ishmael with the Gospel. With economies on the brink of collapse, nations on the brink of war, and the western Church in an profound identity crisis, let us not succumb to the spirit of the age embracing fear, stinginess, and anxiety. Instead let us embrace courage as we contend earnestly for the advance of the Gospel in the most turbulent regions on earth in whatever capacity we can.
Some of you reading this are actually called to go. But all of us are called to sow.
From the ends of the earth, at the end of the age, and for His fame among the nations,
Tauranga, New Zealand
14 November, 2011
photos by Sarah Racine (contact here at SRacine86@gmail.com)