Rachel Wood, a long-term cross-cultural worker in East Asia with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, directed a message of strategy to OBU students during a weekly chapel service Wednesday, April 24.
Wood spoke during OBU's Women's Mission and Ministry Day, an annual emphasis to recognize the role of Oklahoma Baptist women for their valued contributions to OBU and the Southern Baptist Convention. Continuing OBU's 2012-13 chapel theme on "The Psalms," Wood based her message in Psalm 67.
Along with her family, Wood has served cross-culturally with the IMB since 1997. She and her husband were involved in overseeing strategy for church planting and discipleship among a remote unreached people group. Most recently, they supervised mission personnel across five countries. This year, Wood and her husband have served as the East Asian Peoples Stateside Strategy Liaisons for the IMB, based in Richmond, Va.
A psalm of thanksgiving, Psalm 67 "has been a huge springboard to everything we do in our life and in our ministry with the IMB," Wood said. The passage begins with the writer imploring, "May God be gracious to us and bless us; look on us with favor so that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations" (Psalm 67:1-2, HCSB).
Wood said people living in America embrace the idea of wanting to be blessed by God and receive his favor.
"I'm kind of an example of someone who came to American and enjoyed the benefits and blessings," said Wood, whose family immigrated to the United States in the early 1970s from South Korea. "I enjoyed the comforts of life in America -- clean water, food, education -- all the comforts, but for what? 'Will God bless me so I can have a better job? Will God bless me so I can have the perfect car, the perfect house, the perfect hair, the perfect clothes? God bless me so I can be rich. God bless me so I can have the perfect spouse.' Is that what we are praying for and asking for in Psalm 67?"
Wood said the idea of the "American Dream" conveys a pursuit of success for oneself and one's family. She said the "American Dream" has been referred to as a nightmare for the American Church because of the self-centered nature of the drive for personal success.
But the Bible provides the answer for why American Christians are blessed, Wood said, in verse 2: "that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations." Christians are blessed to be a blessing to others: to use resources to share the knowledge of Jesus Christ with people all around the world.
When Wood was a college student in Michigan, she befriended an international classmate and asked her during a conversation if she had ever heard of Jesus. Her friend thought for a moment and responded, "Is that a drink, like Coke?" Wood was amazed.
"I realized there are still people who have not heard of the name of Jesus Christ," Wood said.
Yet the Bible indicates God intends for all people to know his name. Psalm 67:3 -- repeated in Psalm 67:5 -- says, "Let the peoples praise You, God; let all the peoples praise you."
"Those identical refrains echo that God wants all peoples of the earth to praise him and glorify him," Wood said. "God has a heart for the nations."
The vision of the International Mission Board is for every language, people, tribe and nation to know and worship the Lord Jesus Christ, Wood said. In East Asia, Wood serves on the "Finishing the Task" team, which seeks to reach the Western parts of China with more than 200 people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus and who have no evangelical work among their people. Those groups are called "unengaged unreached people groups."
The psalm concludes with a reminder that God will bless his people and that one day, all peoples of the earth will have a reverent awe of him. The promise that all peoples will learn about God's love drives Wood and her team forward as they train Chinese Christians now eager to share the Gospel with their own people and with others around the world.
"God has blessed the Han Chinese church -- God has blessed Christians -- so that we can finish the task so that every language, people, tribe and nation will have the opportunity to hear the Good News and come to saving faith in Jesus Christ," Wood said. "God has blessed us so we can be a blessing to those who don't know him yet."
Wood reminded OBU students that as God blesses them, they should be conduits, not sponges, with the knowledge and other blessings they receive. When training Chinese church leaders, Wood said strategists use a toy bow and arrow and ask the leaders to shoot things in the room. Then, the strategists display a bulls-eye, and they encourage the leaders to aim for the intended target.
"God has blessed OBU, God has blessed (the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma), God has blessed our churches here in America," Wood said. "I want to challenge you: Where is the Lord aiming you? Where is the target that he has placed before you that he wants you to aim for?
"(There are) so many talents here in this room, such wonderful gifting, such wonderful hearts to build relationships, to go out and be a blessing to the nations -- to take what you have received here from OBU, from the Lord, from your family, from your peers and fellow students, and then to go out and release that to the nations, to the praise of God's glory."
Wood urged students to consider joining the grand and adventurous endeavor of sharing God's love with all peoples.
To learn more about cross-cultural engagement, visit the International Mission Board website.
Visit the People Groups website to gain real-time information about unengaged unreached people groups.