This Prayer Guide for Universities is part of a series of posts. Be sure to catch all of them.
Most church-goers will occasionally see a missionary when they return for a home visit. And many churches remind us to “pray for the missionaries.” When churches do not present the Great Commission accurately, church members are confused about missions. For example, signs above the doors as members exit their churches often read: “Now entering the mission field.” If everywhere is the mission field, then how does the Church measure progress in accomplishing the Great Commission task Jesus gave us? What might remedy the problem is to look at the end of the story, when God celebrates the fulfillment of his vision. In two places in the book of Revelation (Rev. 5:9 & 7:9), it says that “every nation, tribe, and tongue” will be gathered at the throne of God. This is the goal of missions: All nations, cultures, and ethnic groups will worship God. Is there more?
Turning the light on to see the Great Commission is going to show much more; God wants us to see His Vision, His Mission. The Great Commission has both a quantity and a quality, to reach the “Every” and the “All.” Missions must involve reaching every creature, every nation, every people group (Mark 16:15). However, Matthew’s gospel says we are to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).
This is God’s vision of His Mission. The missions we send to plant churches among every people are only part of God’s grand vision. The Mission of God is the transformation of whole nations. God’s Mission is to saturate every square inch of the earth with his glory. The prophet Habakkuk writes, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). But what will that look like?
If we can’t see God’s Mission to the whole world, every nation, and every sphere of influence of every society, including the powerful institution of the university, then we will only see in part. We will only experience a limited participation in God’s Mission through a committee, a financial commitment, or the sending of some of our church members to a foreign field. A limited participation is due to a limited vision of our role in God’s Mission. Jesus said the Temple in Jerusalem was to be a “House of Prayer for All Nations” (Mark 11:17). And the prophet Isaiah repeatedly declared that the Israelites were to be a “Light to the Gentiles” (Isa. 42:6, 49:6). The Early Church understood they were to carry God’s Light; it was so that they “may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47). That word, salvation, appears over 150 times in the Scriptures. It means, “deliverance, preservation, safety,” and “the sum of benefits and blessings,” and redemption “from all earthly ills” (Strong’s Concordance).
With God’s Light, we can fully embrace this vision of God’s Mission for every creature and all nations. Certainly Philip embraced this call and the Holy Spirit swept him up from a massive evangelistic campaign among a mostly homogeneous Jewish culture, and placed him in front of a single Ethiopian man to take the message of the gospel across cultural and geographic boundaries. Are missions ever local? Yes, first we go to our “Jerusalem,” our local community, which is just as cross-cultural today as it was in the first century. And local missions are to be done simultaneously with global missions. In other words, there is no priority of one over the other. Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, AND in all Judea AND Samaria, AND to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). One influences and informs the other. For the Church to develop this kind of multi-tiered mission vision and participation, it will require a holistic perspective. When we truly see God’s Mission, we will fully participate as witnesses in every influential sphere, especially the most powerful institution of the university.
On September 9, YWAM International has our monthly call to prayer. Read “The Invitation” to learn about this month’s focus, which is on students and universities internationally.