September 16, 2009
As part of Bison Hill's Global Outreach Week, guest speaker Nathan Shank challenged Oklahoma Baptist University students to heed the New Testament's directive that Christians be messengers of God's grace with people who have never heard about it. He spoke during a student chapel service Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Jesus Christ left his heavenly glory to see man's sinful condition through human eyes, said Shank, an International Mission Board representative who lives and works in South Asia. He said Christians also should be willing to leave their comfort zones to share the good news of Jesus Christ outside the United States.
Shank based his message on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship." The book is the foundation of the year's chapel theme, "Costly Illumination: Counting Everything Loss in Light of the Surpassing Worth of Knowing Christ." Shank referred to the third portion of the book, "The Messengers," and specifically Chapter 22, "The Apostles."
In Matthew 9:35-38, Shank said the Scripture tells about Jesus speaking in the synagogue, teaching and healing. He said Jesus limited himself in his omnipotence to see humans as sheep without a shepherd who have gone astray, who are harassed and helpless.
"So we get the motive right from the beginning, so we understand: Godly compassion is not just the physical, not just the spiritual realm of beating back the enemy," Shank said. "But ultimately - and rightly said by Bonhoeffer - it is about an introduction to the Shepherd. The source of our apostleship is the Shepherd sending us out to introduce the flock to him."
Shank shared statistics from the International Mission Board which tracks the status of global evangelization, following people group populations with less than 2 percent evangelical Christians. Seventy percent of those populations, which have never heard a gospel message and with no one to share it, are in the region of the world where Shank works.
When Bonhoeffer refers to apostles, Shank said, he is referring to messengers - people sent out for a specific purpose, a specific message and a specific audience. Shank said in the Southern Baptist Convention, there are about 43,000 churches and easily 100,000 full-time paid ministers. Based on the geography of their assignments, these ministers are assigned to about 5 percent of the world's population. On the other hand, finances are tight to send 5,600 International Mission Board personnel to reach the other 95 percent of the world, he said.
"It is not wrong to commit our lives to shepherding," Shank said. "It is not wrong ... that we would be the elders, that we would be the overseers or the pastors. Many of us are called out for that purpose.
"But what is happening? Where is it we have lost track of the Ďapostolos' - the sent ones - because there are many sheep outside this pen ... sheep that, as of now, have not even heard the gospel. ... What about the 95 percent of the world that exists outside our borders?
"Brothers and sisters, you want to follow Christ, I tell you His calling is to go outside the camp."
GO Week will conclude with a campus chapel service at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, and a local mission project for students at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19.
For more information about OBU Global Outreach, call (405) 878-2372 or go online to www.okbu.edu/go.