This Generation! Every Nation?
Matt and Julie Beemer have been living and ministering overseas since 1994. During that time, they have ministered to 6 million people in 3500 services, pioneered 11 training centers in 5 countries, established a city-leading church in the UK, mobilized more than 600 participants toward a missionary experience to over 40 nations and are very much involved with Rhema’s expansion into the Middle East.
They are the founders and directors of CLUB1040, which provides free missionary services to dozens of short term and long term missionaries. CLUB1040, under Matt and Julie’s leadership, has printed and distributed tens of thousands of life-giving books to Africa and Middle East and provided thousands of digital bibles in local dialects (primarily Arabic) in the Middle East.
Matt and Julie travel extensively in the USA, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to release faith in the global church to bring “closure” to the Great Commission. In the past twenty-five years of ministry, they have leveraged more than 12 million dollars and millions of volunteer hours through global dream teams toward the Great commission.
The Beemers have been married since 1992 and have two children: Jonathan, who is serving in the US military with his wife Michelle, and Elisabeth, who is attending Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia.
“In every age, God has given the Church the resources and ability to evangelize the whole world, if they would just do it.”
– Leonard Ravenhill
Is it possible that our generation will finally be the generation that brings completion to the Great Commission? If we commit to key strategic choices, we can, and we will!
“We can if we want to!” That was the conclusion five William College students came too as they sheltered under the cover of a haystack in the middle a Western Massachusetts farm. It was the summer of 1806 and as they were praying, they were caught in a sudden downpour. Huddled together they began discussing what God was doing around the world.
One of the five, Sam Mills, shared some challenging ideas from a little booklet written by William Carey, at the time a little-known British minister. As the students discussed Carey’s ideas, they concluded he was right! It wasn’t a lack of ability, but rather a lack of willingness that left the world unreached. This realization set their hearts ablaze and that fire burned brighter still as they discussed Carey’s proposition that the Church has an obligation to use every means possible to reach the unreached in their generation.
This impromptu “haystack prayer” meeting eventually sparked a student missionary movement leading to more than 100,000 students pledging to, “…If God permit, become a foreign missionary.” In just one generation more than 20,000 of those who made this solemn pledge, sailed knowing they would likely never return home. The remaining 80,000 realized their responsibility was to ensure the success of those who sailed.
These brave young men and women sailed to Africa, China and other unreached regions at a time when the average lifespan of a missionary in West Africa was less than two years! Why? The clarion call of their generation had become, “The evangelization of the world, in our generation!” They knew they could do it, if they really wanted to!
Research shows every generation since the time of Jesus has had the ability to reach its own generation—but until now, every generation has fallen short. According to missionary statesman and founder of AIMS.org, Dr Howard Foltz, today, “the Global Church has more than twenty-two times the ability—money and personnel—to reach the unreached of our generation”. Further still, the Bible is filled with scripture promising that there will be a generation that fulfills the Great Commission.
Scriptures like, Habakkuk 2:14 (NKJV)…
“the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”
And Acts 28:28, when Paul says to the Jews that refused to listen to his message…
“Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (NKJV)
In fact, Paul quotes so many scriptures in Romans 15, you can hear his faith-filled heart filled that the Great Commission is, at least from a faith perspective, a finished work!
And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, but as it is written:
“To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand” (NKJV).
There will be a generation that fulfills the Great Commission, why not ours?
If we have so much ability, why has every generation failed until now? The reasons the Church fails to finish the task remain strikingly similar from generation to generation. In the case of the Student Volunteer Movement, as powerful as it was, it eventually gave way to doctrinal, political and societal pressures and the missionary flame that mobilized so many was all but extinguished in by 1970.
Even though the Student Volunteer Movement failed to complete the task, the fact they mobilized so many proves the power of a focused strategic approach. We see this same thing in the early Church. The Apostle Paul was committed to reach every nation in his generation and the first generation of the Church came close to finishing the task.
Paul’s declaration in Romans 15 proves the progress the early Church was making. He notes that even though his aim was to tell the untold, and he prioritized his time, money and resources toward that aim, “now… there is no place for me to work in these regions…” Explaining further he reports, “…from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ…” Paul was seeing the Gospel spread to every nation in his lifetime.
When he came to Ephesus (Acts 19) he, “…had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” Paul was seeing entire regions reached in amazingly short amount of time! He was seeing every nation reached in his generation!
Historical tradition supports these bible accounts by adding that the early church leaders, who at first resisted the missionary mandate, eventually realized their responsibility to use every means possible to reach the unreached of their generation. For example, at the beginning of Book 3 of his History of the Church, Eusebius says that ‘the inhabited world’ was divided into zones of influence among the Apostles: Thomas in the region of the Parthians, John in Asia, Peter in Pontes and Rome, Andrew in Scythia. This idea is affirmed in the Foxes Book of Martyrs which carefully records how many of the first-generation Apostles gave their lives among cultures and regions not their own.
So effective was the early Church’s commitment to strategically reach every nation in their generation, church historians note that if the missionary zeal of the early Church leaders would have continued into the third generation, they would have completed the Great Commission!
However, as with other generations, doctrinal disputes, politics, and societal pressures resulted in the Church taking its eye off the harvest and turning inward. So instead of fulfilling the Great Commission in their generation, the spiritual light of the Church began fail and we enter a 1200-year period referred to as the Dark Ages! Fifteen generations with almost no missionary light!
In the 1500’s God blew upon the cold-coals of the Church through reformers like Calvin and Luther and the flame of the church began to flicker again. However, due in large part to the doctrine of the reformers, there was very little missionary efforts during this time. Then in the 1800’s a missionary flame began to burn bright through sparked by men like William Carey, now referred to as the Father of Modern Missions. Though Carey, and others like him, were ridiculed for their position that God needed the Church to reach the unreached, they stood on the solid ground of Scripture until the Church recognized it has an obligation to reach the unreached in their generation.
Building on the progress of the last two hundred years, a new impetus to strategically focus on Unreached People Groups (UPG). A significant catalyst for this missional awakening was Lausanne 1974 (www.lausanne.org). Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and other like-minded missional groups organized the world’s most representative global gathering of ministers up until that time for the purpose of discussing what it means to bring completion to the Great Commission.
Presenters like Dr. Ralph Winters, the founder of the US Center for World Missions, and others from around the world introduced new biblical understanding. They tapped into God’s heart and together asked and answered important questions that resulted in a new clarity concerning the mission Jesus committed to the Global Church—to reach world!
From that historical gathering, strategic efforts were birthed that have resulted in astonishing progress over the past 40 years. However, the leaders who pioneered this missional awakening are now finding their own way home to eternity. Therefore, the task of completing the Great Commission is falling to a new generation of leaders. Will this generation be the generation that finally reaches every nation?
Not unlike that those gathering in the “haystack prayer” meeting, this new generation is willing and able to carry this cause to completion! Just this month (November 2018), a former ORU student gave his life attempting to make contact with the North Sentinel Island people, a completely unreached people group. Anytime a young man like John Allen Chau loses his life, it is extremely sad. Even though our hearts break for his family, we can celebrate a love so strong it led a him to give his life for those who have never heard.
John Allen Chau is an example of the kind of spirit I have seen in this new generation—a generation willing to go and do things previous generations were not. As Tertullian, a 2nd century Church father said, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Recognizing that one man’s willing sacrifice leads to many others finding the Love of Jesus, it’s certain that John Allen’s Chau’s martyrdom will inspire others to go to the unreached! With the wisdom of the previous generation and the zeal of this new generation, his blood will become an inspiration to do whatever it takes to bring Jesus to every nation in our generation!
Not only is this generation willing and able, but this generation of the Church is culturally closer to the unreached than any previous generation. For most of the past 300 years the missionary efforts have been driven by a predominantly Northern Hemisphere and Western Church. However, this generation of the Church is markedly different. Now the largest churches in the world are located in the Southern Hemisphere and the East. In places like Brazil, Nigeria, China and Singapore missionary movements are targeting the unreached in their regions and beyond. The continents, regions and countries that in the past have been missionary receiving, have awakened themselves to their responsibility to go to those who haven’t heard.
An example being recently Rhema Bible Training Center in Nigeria. In 2008, my wife and I turned over our church in the UK to our British associate pastors and moved to Abuja, Nigeria. Our vision was to see thousands of leaders raised up to go to the unreached in Northern Nigeria, and beyond.
After laying a foundation we started our first class in October 2010 with 80 eager students. Eight years later, there are six training center campuses in 4 cities and close to 2000 students! Pictured above: Three graduations in three cities (Abuja, Kaduna, Port Harcourt). A list of the regions and distances students travel to the Hausa campus. Julie with a Fulani student who attends the Hausa campus.
These students are not just learning about the Bible, they are being trained as church planters, and especially encouraged to pray about planting churches among the unreached.
One year ago, CLUB1040 partnered with AIMS.org and Rhema Nigeria to pioneer an initiative that identified the top twenty most strategic UPG’s for adoption. As a result, more than 700 leaders from a wide verity of denominational backgrounds agreed to work together in adoption groups centered on one of the UPG’s. The aim of adoption is four-fold:
- Research: Indigenous fact-finding that informs strategic planning for that UPG.
- Prayer: Raise up indigenous prayer movements targeting the UPG.
- Resources: Raise indigenous funding to fund the evangelization of the UPG.
- Mobilization: Mobilize indigenous missionary’s and effective mission projects among the UPG.
In just one year, with 100% volunteer efforts, the 700 who have adopted the 20 UPG’s are making significant strides. They already have 15 mission posts in 6 of the adopted groups, and dozens of indigenous cross-cultural missionaries, some of whom have seen entire villages influenced by the Gospel. In this new generation, we have many more times the ability than any previous generation. We have a more knowledge about the unreached of our generation than at any time with resources like www.joshuaproject.net helping form strategic actionable plans that are bearing fruit! We have more ‘close-culture’ missionaries than ever before with a Southern Hemisphere church that has awakened to its missionary responsibility. In the USA and Europe there is a new generation of students whose zeal is equal to that of previous generations—they are willing and able!
Can we be the generation that finally reaches every nation? Yes! We can if we want to!
Matt Beemer • www.club1040.com
Recent Video Message
Therefore, it’s not lack of ability that keeps us from reaching our generation. So then is it our “want to”? Even though our desire must be aligned with God’s desire, it is my position that generally speaking most believers ‘want’ the unreached to be reached. It is true that we don’t always prioritize our actions to reflect our ‘want to’. But maybe there is another reason?
if it’s not lack of ability or lack of desire, Why has each generation fallen short in the evangelizing of its generation? More importantly, what must we change to ensure that our generation is the one that finally finishes the mission Jesus delegated to His Church?
There are two important considerations which will position our generation as the generation that closes this Church Age. First, we don’t know how; and secondly, we do have a real revelation of what happens to those who have never heard. Digging deep into the Biblical position for both of these areas will provide the motivation and methods to add to our ability and desire and if actioned, will result in our generation finally being the generation that turns the Great Commission into the ‘Great Completion’!