Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back to Jerusalem

Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17 NIV)

I recently learned of a movement called “Back to Jerusalem.”

It’s composed of Chinese Christians who intend to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of people between China and Jerusalem.

It began in the 1920’s with a group of students at Northwest Bible Institute in China and slowly grew. Eventually, the Communist government clamped down on it, persecuting, torturing, and imprisoning its members. Its leader was imprisoned for 40 years.

The movement went underground, but it would not die.

Since 2003, exiled Chinese house church leader Liu Zhenying (“Brother Yun”) has been leading Back to Jerusalem in an effort to send 100,000 missionaries along the “Silk Road,” the ancient trade route from China to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Silk Road passes through the heart of “The 10/40 Window.”  It is so named because it includes the countries between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator and includes northern Africa, the Middle East, India, China and southeast Asia.

Back to Jerusalem says, “More than 90% of the unreached people groups in the world today are located within the “10/40 window” more than 5,100 tribes and ethno-linguistic groups with little or no gospel witness. Of the world’s 50 least-Christian and least-evangelized countries, all 50 are located within this region!”

Most of the people living in the “10/40 Window” are Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. And many of the governments within this area are opposed to any king of Christian work within their borders—with penalties for “proselytizing” that can and do include death.
Approximately one-third of the earth’s population lives within this window and it is estimated the over 70% have never heard the name of Jesus.

It’s also the area of some of the greatest poverty and poorest living conditions on the planet. Over 80% of the world’s poorest people live in this region and 84% of the people living here have the world’s lowest quality of life. (As measured by life-expectancy, infant mortality, and literacy rates.)

Oh, and did I mention that the Back to Jerusalem missionaries in the field carry out their work anonymously and make no appeals for money?

As an American Christian, I am humbled by the courage and faith of these people who willingly put themselves at great risk for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their efforts certainly make my contribution to the Kingdom of God seem pretty insignificant.

As Byron D. Klaus, President of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary wrote in his blog of the Back to Jerusalem members:

“When asked if they fear for their lives, they will respond with the observation that where they came from in China, they already faced persecution for their faith. They had suffered violent persecution, imprisonment and, at times, death. Their experience in obeying Jesus' command to take the gospel to all nations is only the latest version of their similar experience "back home in China."”

Its members are at work throughout the 10/40 window, bringing Bibles to Iran and China, relief to earthquake victims in Nepal, starting a tour in the U.S. later this year called “Bless Our Enemies,” partnering with Amish and Mennonite Americans to bring the Gospel to Muslim extremists in Iraq, and taking the Gospel directly to Islamic militants in Ethiopia and Kenya.

They also intend to evangelize the ISIS terrorists in Syria, saying they are “launching a spiritual offensive.” They say they are “not armed with a sentence of death but with a message of life, and ISIS jihadists are in their crosshairs.”

Lord, help me to remember Back to Jerusalem next time I feel a little “socially uncomfortable” about witnessing for Jesus. 

Today’s Praise
Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses--is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock--not one!"( Isaiah 44:8 NLT)

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