Changing world, altering missions

An early group of Echoes missionaries.(Photo: Echoes International)

Since 1872, Echoes International has been sending missionaries out into the mission discipline to share the Good News and convey folks right into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

In that point, over 6,000 women and men have been supported as mission companions, amongst them Stuart Okay Hine, who wrote the hymn, How Great Thou Art.

In 2018 Echoes of Service, because it was previously recognized, merged with Interlink to turn out to be Echoes International.

This 12 months, Echoes is celebrating its a hundred and fiftieth anniversary with particular initiatives, exhibitions and Footsteps Worth Following, a particular guide of pictures and tales charting the mission company’s historical past.

The world has modified because the company’s founding and so too has the character of missions. Christian Today speaks to Jim Armstrong, General Director of Echoes International, about a few of these adjustments and the legacy he needs the company to depart for the following era.

CT: How do you’re feeling reaching such a milestone?

Jim: It’s nice to have the ability to look again and see what God has executed over the past 150 years, nevertheless it’s much less about celebrating and taking satisfaction in ourselves, and extra about celebrating God’s arms within the lives of 1000’s of women and men, and the legacy he has achieved. In that sense, it is a time of reward and worship in addition to a time of problem and searching ahead. If you assume again to 200 years in the past, our ancestors responded to the decision to exit to a world that wanted the Gospel. Fast ahead to 2022 and the inhabitants of the world is now virtually 8 billion, and 42 per cent dont know Jesus and do not have entry to the Gospel. The problem to our era is: what’s going to our response be?

CT: What stands out as some highlights for you over the past 150 years?

Jim: In the course of the final 150 years, round 6,200-plus women and men have given up every little thing and gone and adopted, dwelling by religion. Within that group there have been docs, academics, nurses and all kinds of pros who may have earned a number of cash working within the UK however they gave it as much as comply with the command from their Saviour, typically sacrificing so much and dwelling in difficult nations.

The second spotlight is seeing God’s faithfulness. Over the final 150 years, Echoes has by no means campaigned or appealed for cash. It’s simply not in our DNA. Yet the trustees have been capable of assist mission companions every month with a present. In that method Echoes is exclusive as a result of different mission businesses usually require their missionaries to fundraise their prices. We do not work like that and it is simply due to God’s faithfulness.

Sharing a meal in Japan.(Photo: Echoes International)

CT: Looking again over the 150 years since Echoes International began, how do you assume international missions has modified since these early years?

Jim: It’s a extremely good query and it is in all probability a query that the Church is discovering arduous to get its head round. Around 150 to 200 years in the past, when the trendy missionary motion began, folks simply accepted God’s name and went wherever they have been despatched. Anthony Norris Groves, for instance, left the south-west of England, sailed to Baghdad and began preaching. He misplaced his spouse and daughter in that course of so there was an enormous price, however there was nothing stopping him from doing it.

With the rise of humanism and non secular fundamentalism post-9/11, the world at present is rather more complicated. It was once that the West despatched missionaries out however missions is definitely in every single place now. For instance, one in all our missionaries was sitting in a park in Europe and met a refugee from Afghanistan who had by no means heard of Jesus and by no means held a Bible in his hand. He had by no means heard the message of the cross and now he cannot get sufficient of it. Some 42 per cent of the world is unreached by the Gospel however they’re all around the globe.

Studies additionally counsel that within the subsequent 20 to 30 years, 84 per cent of the world will probably be dwelling in a metropolis so there’s an actual alternative to be concerned in city mission. Cities are hotspots for various nationalities so the alternatives for mission and to succeed in out cross culturally are large. In the previous missionaries would land on the coast and work their method inland, nevertheless it’s completely different now. If you concentrate on it, Christianity began in Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth, so in some methods it is simply going again to fundamentals.

CT: What about arduous to succeed in areas?

Jim: If you concentrate on the stereotypical picture of a missionary it may be somebody in khakis in a jungle dwelling by religion, however for arduous to succeed in locations, that mannequin is not actually sustainable. Models of mission have modified and the enterprise as mission mannequin, for instance, has made it potential for folks to go to a troublesome nation and begin a enterprise however with a coronary heart for mission. The enterprise offers them legitimacy and entry to a visa which then permits them to succeed in unreached folks teams. Another mannequin is to go to a different nation in knowledgeable capability and work as a instructor or engineer or physician. We have two buddies, for instance, who’ve structured their profession in order that they will have 10 weeks off a 12 months which they use to go and do missions.

Training evangelists in Ethiopia.(Photo: Echoes International)

Interestingly, the world is transferring. The inhabitants of Europe is predicted to extend by tens of millions and tens of millions of individuals, with most of these coming from arduous to succeed in areas just like the Middle East and components of Asia and Africa. I believe God is bringing a few of these unreached folks teams to Europe the place they will entry the Gospel.

Just a few years in the past there was a revival of Afghan church buildings in Germany. Things have modified a bit now however what they have been saying at the moment after they bought saved was that they may take the Gospel again to Afghanistan and doubtless be more practical than any person from the UK making an attempt to take the Gospel to Afghanistan.

So, the technique of how we go can also be altering. In the previous, when missionaries went to locations like Africa or South America, they have been sort of dictating and main the cost. There’s an actual want now for Western missionaries to work alongside indigenous leaders, work in partnership, and be topic to elders in numerous nations relatively than making an attempt to dictate every little thing.

CT: Do you assume the daybreak of the digital period has modified missions in current many years?

Jim: Places which can be hostile to the Gospel may not let a missionary in however they cannot cease the web or somebody from utilizing a VPN. There are a number of tales popping out of the Middle East and Asia of individuals simply determined to listen to the Gospel. Just a few months in the past, I met a pair who’ve been posting apologetics movies on Facebook reaching North Africa and the Middle East. They began two years in the past and now have round 160,000 followers. They run discipleship courses each week on Zoom and the evening I joined, there have been round 70 folks wanting to listen to extra concerning the Lord Jesus they usually have been from the likes of Syria, Iraq and Iran. From that, this couple are connecting these converts with native church buildings of their nations.

Satellite TV can also be permitting folks in arduous to succeed in locations to entry Christian content material as a result of the federal government cannot cease it. And I do know of a pair who have been missionaries in a rustic that may be very closed and aggressive to the Gospel. They needed to depart and are primarily based in England however now they’re on Facebook and Zoom and are doing coaching with believers in that nation. There are alternatives with social media that we would not have been capable of do 15 years in the past and that has led to mission organisations in search of technical individuals who perceive social media and the way that can be utilized to unfold the Gospel.

CT: Has the pandemic had any impact on mission work?

Jim: Certainly within the UK, the pandemic has compelled loads of people to query their mortality and we have seen folks going to church for the primary time. It’s helped folks to start out accessing content material and Zoom and issues they’ve by no means used earlier than. It’s woke up folks to understand that there are different methods of doing issues. Of course which means there are all kinds of issues on the market on YouTube, so you’ll want to test your supply and ensure it is primarily based within the Word and Scripture.

CT: What are a number of the precedence areas for Echoes International as you sit up for the following 150 years?

Jim: Some of those can be mission in city areas, digital communications, and reaching out to migrants in different nations and within the UK. For instance, in Angola, Zambia and DRC there are massive numbers of Chinese folks working there and so there’s a actual alternative for outreach to Chinese people who find themselves not in China however dwelling in components of the world the place it is safer to try this.

The migration of individuals is a big alternative, and that features migrants coming to the UK. Most church buildings within the UK may have no less than one ethnic group inside a ten mile radius. And what’s superb about ethnic communities is that they are very joyful to speak about their religion! Maybe God has introduced a few of these folks right here to listen to the Gospel.

The different factor we’re beginning to do is accomplice up with bigger Christian mission businesses which have the identical strategic goals as us. We are seconding a number of the folks coming to us to work with these businesses as a part of a group and that offers us entry to components of closed nations that we would not have had entry to.

CT: What legacy would you like Echoes to depart for the following era?

Jim: It’s not about Echoes International; it is about mission. When Echoes began 150 years in the past it was for 2 causes. One was to advertise prayer for mission within the UK and the second was to facilitate cash transferring from the UK church to the missionaries within the discipline. That want hasn’t modified.

But the legacy I might actually like to see is the Church getting enthusiastic about mission once more and rediscovering the decision and the command to go, and for women and men and younger folks to have a coronary heart to comply with the Saviour.

There are so many distractions and idols in our world however Jesus instructions us to disclaim ourselves and take up our cross day by day and comply with him. We need to have a complete era of people who see the worth in following the Saviour as an alternative of a profession. There are all kinds of issues that may get in the best way, however the command of our Lord is to like the Lord our God with all our coronary heart, soul and thoughts and our neighbour as ourselves, and if we get that in perspective, we have now a view of eternity. That’s the legacy we wish to depart.

Footsteps Worth Following is out now priced £19.99



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