On presidential inauguration day January 20th, 2021 (I confess that I was glued to the TV), I could not help myself but wonder over the passing of the baton from one administration to the next. Numbers were invoked numerous times: the 59th inauguration, the 46th president, since 1789, more than two centuries … etc. Counting dates, years and number of events that are important to a group of people.
Numbers were also important in this year of a pandemic that has ravaged the world. The numbers as of January 20th, 2021 are 24.3 million infected and 402 thousand dead in the USA; 96.2 million infected and 2.06 million deaths in the world. The numbers are staggering. This pandemic is a health crisis I have never witnessed in my life before. There is no denying that the fear, distress, political and economic impacts we feel are intense.
However, this kind of counting is overlooking one fact that is so true and more critical. The fact that the mortality rate is 100 percent. Because of sin, physical death is a natural passage of earthly life; therefore, death is not if but when for all of us. We believe that, unless Jesus comes before we do, we shall all die, and ashes to ashes and earth to earth our remains will see decay. Putting all this into perspective, if 402 thousand is a staggering number, how about 100 percent—all will die?
The Gospel of John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This verse is quoted so many times without realizing that the most important counting is embedded in the statement. “Whoever believes in Him …” is the counting statement that also implies that someone must tell them the story for them to believe. In Romans 10:14-15, St Paul writes, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?”
The fruit of the proclamation of the Good News by the sent ones is stated in Rev. 7:9, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
There are two groups of people that we need to remember in the Rev. 7:9 verse: those who are numbered with those clothed with white robes, and those who are missing. While those clothed in white robes are destined for eternal life, those who are not numbered with this group are dying the most tragic death that leads to eternal damnation. Therefore, what is the church of the 21st century to do?
This is how the Texas District is answering the call – through church planting and an evangelistic movement. The sending must continue – and who do we send?
1. All of us;
2. The evangelists, apostles (missionaries);
3. The pastors to disciple the faithful and care for all;
4. The teachers, to instruct the young disciple the old and equip all of us for works of ministry; and
5. The prophets, to keep us asking the right questions.
Moreover, we in the Texas District are and will be intentional about identifying, training, and sending evangelists to a world that is so troubled to proclaim the message of hope and life: The Gospel of our Lord. We have developed the curriculum and have begun the training. Please refer to our website on the Evangelist page for more information.
By Rev. Dr. Yohannes Mengsteab
Mission & Ministry Facilitator, Area B