The Reveille Shofar

in this issue November/December 2000, Vol. 4 No. 6

Unity and Purpose Come from the Commander in Chief
by Bruce T. Sidebotham

Peace and Purpose from Unity of Command Although great racial, social, and theological diversity marks the church today, there is only one Commander in Chief. The apostle Paul says "We will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:15-16 NIV)

Army Field Manual 100-5 says, "The decisive application of full combat power requires unity of command." Harry G. Summers, Jr., in analyzing the failed Vietnam war effort in his book, On Strategy, notes that unity of command requires the following elements:

1. A single commander
2. Mutually supportive military and political objectives
3. Service to public policy
4. Public policy that is suited to the means available for war

These four elements ensure subunit missions neither conflict with political reality nor each other.

Disunity of command commonly characterizes church, missionary, and mission agency interactions. Ministry agendas frequently serve self rather than Christ. Ministry objectives and methods sometimes conflict in nature with what God wants accomplished.

In the spiritual realm there is a principle on unity of command. It says, "The decisive application of full spiritual power requires unity under the headship of Jesus Christ." This principle contains two implications:

1. Reaching spiritual objectives through suitable means depends on following the one Commander.
2. Every part of our lives needs to be under Christ's Lordship.
3. All believers need to play their part.

Jesus prayed, "Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:21 NIV) This prayer request underscores two spiritual principles.

1. Unity in the Church is driven by unity of command under Christ.
2. Unity in the Church is necessary for ministry success.

As long as Christ holds our primary allegiance, diversity in the body of Christ gives it strength. If, however, we identify primarily with theological and cultural distinctives, then we have lost sight of our commander, and nothing for building unity remains.

As the Church crosses inter-cultural barriers by incarnating itself in various cultural identities, the Church is united by finding its primary identity in the headship of Christ.

The unity of command principle not only addresses who we are following, but it also addresses why we are following him.

Geographic Progression
The 10/40 Window contains:

This region also contains most of the world's physical suffering. Here are annual figures for 1998 from relief agencies on the world's lame, blind, motherless, childless, and homeless.

Guilt over the needs of so many people in physical pain and spiritual darkness can motivate us to compassion, but is guilt a healthy motivation?

Jesus said in response to an extravagance shown to him, "The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me." (Mark 14:7 NIV)

Taking care of the poor and saving human souls must flow from our allegiance to Christ as our Commander in Chief. Human need, as a primary motivation, leads to frustration and discouragement. If our purpose is to rid the world of sin and suffering, then we will always be disappointed. Even Jesus, though he overcame sin, defeated Satan, and conquered death, did not eliminate sin and suffering.

After about six months working among Muslims in Indonesia, I became depressed over how dark the situation was and how little impact I, as one person, could make. Then I realized the bleakness of the situation and need to overcome it was not my responsibility. It was God's. I was not called to make a difference. God was the one working to make a difference, and I was privileged to be called to partner with him. Changing the world was God's job. My responsibility was to be faithful to him.

I learned from experience that being motivated by needs out of guilt leads to frustration and depression, but being motivated by privilege and responsibility leads to peace and fulfillment.

We are called to "co-mission." Jesus told his disciples, "As long as it is day WE must do the work of him who sent me." (John 9:3-4 NIV) Like the apostles, we are called to partner with Jesus.

Paul wrote, "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (Ephesians 1:9-10 NIV)

The "mystery of his will" is to bring all things under the lordship of Christ. We can see this happening today. Geographically, the Church of Jesus Christ is filling the earth. Numerically, believers in Jesus Christ are multiplying faster than world population. Culturally unreached people groups are disappearing.

Whether or not the world is getting better, Jesus Christ's dominion is growing. The privilege and responsibility of serving our supreme commander is the most fulfilling motivation, peace, and security.

Statistical Progression

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Asians Are the Church's Biggest Challenge
People Profile
Source: "Persecution in Asia! An Overview of Four Zones, by Alex Buchan in Compass Direct, August 18, 2000

Asia is today's biggest challenge to Christianity and world peace. A cauldron of civilizational diversity where ethnicity steers local conflicts and cultural identity facilitates alliances, it could make Europe's stormy past look serene.

Cauldron of Civilizations
While the median age of Western societies keeps rising, half of Asia's population is under 25 years old. Already, Asia holds 75% of the world's population. Most of it is either Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Communist. Hence, Asia contains 85% of all the world's non-Christians.

Buddhism predominates in Burma, Bhutan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and parts of China. Burma and Sri Lanka have sizeable persecuted Christian minorities (6.3% of 42 million and 7.6% of 19 million respectively), but in the other countries Christians are less than one percent.

Hinduism boasts one billion followers in India and Nepal. Among them, 25 million Christians face discrimination and increasing persecution as extremists seeking to make Hinduism the state religion gain political control by propagating hate.

Muslims number more in Asia than in all the Middle East (85% of 205 million in Indonesia, 87% of 140 million in Bangladesh, 6% of 1 billion in India, 55% of 20 million in Malaysia, 71% of 300,000 in Brunei, and 100% of 250,000 in the Maldives).

Finally, Communism still reigns supreme in China, Vietnam, Laos, and North Korea where Christian minorities also face discrimination and persecution.

Asia's impregnability to the Christian faith puzzles many observers. Despite entering India in the first century and China in the seventh and despite five centuries of Catholic missions and two centuries of Protestant work, less than seven percent of the population is Christian. In Africa Christians number one in three. In North America they are three of four. In Asia, except for the Philippines and South Korea, Christians are a lonely one in thirteen.

Many have speculated on why Christianity has done so poorly in Asia. Some contend it is the Christian scandal of exclusivity among people who like to think that there are many ways to eternal bliss. Others claim the gospel's appeal was constrained by its association with imperialistic colonial powers. A few say Christianity overlooks the poor who, in Asia, comprise 99% of all the people.

Percent of Believers in Asia But each excuse has shortcomings. Islam, as an exclusive religion, has done quite well in parts of Asia. Communism, as imperialistic as the European powers ever were, has done well in other places. Finally, few systems do less for poor people than those already popular in Asia.

Maybe it's just a matter of timing. Europe was evangelized in the first millennium, Africa and the Americas were reached in the second. Now, it should be Asia's turn. Of the 50,000 people who come to Christ every day, half of them live in Asia. While today Asian Christians are one in thirteen (7%), twenty years ago they were one in 28 (3.5%), and twenty years before that they were one in 65 (1.5%). Although the absolute numbers remain proportionately small, the trend is clearly exponential. Since the beginning of this century, the percent of Asian Christians has been doubling every twenty years. Perhaps that is why persecution of Christians is most endemic in Asia.

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Operation Reveille Wakes Up Military Christians to Seize Ministry Objectives
agency profile

Operation LordOverAll In 1991, when thousands were sent to the Gulf War, Bruce Sidebotham was teaching English among an unreached people group in West Sumatra, Indonesia. As a former soldier, he was riveted to short wave radio accounts of the conflict, and he was struck that, for the first time, significant numbers of committed Christians were standing on Saudi sand right in the heart of Islam. That is when God impressed him with what military Christians could accomplish in cross-cultural ministry.

In 1996, the Sidebothams moved back to the United States, and Operation Reveille was born. It was based on Bruce's insight that military Christian have a unique opportunity to partner with what God is doing in regions where they have a professional concern. It is an opportunity that cannot be duplicated by missionaries or civilian workers.

Five years later, Operation Reveille is a small but flourishing ministry resting firmly on three legs of activity for mobilizing military Christians to cross-cultural effectiveness. The legs of this tripod are publishing, training, and consulting.

Publications help service people understand what God is doing in the unreached world and how they can be a part. The Reveille Shofar newsletter highlights news, needs, resources and opportunities. By reading it regularly, one becomes informed about the ministry situation in regions of strategic interest and learns about the tools available to be applied in those areas. Area Intelligence Packets provide in-depth information about the spiritual situation and resources available in areas where troops are stationed. A Handbook for Deployment prepares service people to maximize cross-cultural ministry opportunities without compromising their integrity in their profession. The Naaman Initiative Prayer Guide for Ramadan facilitates understanding and prayer for the Muslim world. Finally, the web site links people worldwide to the Operation Reveille vision, its publications, and a multitude of related ministry organizations.

Training prepares servicemen and women for effectiveness in the cross-cultural situations, equips ministry leaders to disciple in this area, and promotes the vision of Operation Reveille to churches and Christian organizations. In these seminars, workshops, and presentations, using cutting edge audiovisuals, Bruce draws upon life experiences as a military dependent, an Army officer, and an expatriate.

Consulting gives Operation Reveille its third dimension. Mission agency leaders need to know what military Christians can do for them, and military ministry leaders need to know how missions agencies work in theaters of operations. Servicemen and women need to see how they fit into more than just national interest.

Mission to Unreached Peoples, which places "tentmakers" in ministry all around the world, supervises the work of Operation Reveille. In order to minimize red tape for working on military installations which have sensitive church and state separation issues, Operation Reveille does not charge for any of its publications and services. All of the funding for this ministry comes from charitable contributions which are tax deductible.

As military personnel serve our country by peacekeeping, Operation Reveille wants to help military Christians serve God too by peacemaking. Affecting the balance of spiritual power in the world with the gospel will not only reduce suffering and bring blessing to the nations but it will bless our own country and troops as well.

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Strategic World Impact Targets "Hot Spots"
agency profile

SWI Founder The Red Cross and the United Nations respond to wars and disasters, but they do not preach the gospel or offer eternal hope.

Recently, Kevin Turner founded Strategic World Impact (SWI) specifically to do just that, to spread the gospel while simultaneously responding with compassion to human need in the most dangerous parts of the world.

SWI uses the key of strategic response to suffering to unlock the door to closed and war-torn nations.

SWI's work takes Kevin and Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DART) to places like Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Indonesia. Additionally, SWI trains members of the body of Christ in disaster assistance response and urban search and rescue (USAR), so that men and women of God will be prepared for spiritual and physical ministry on DART and USAR teams.

SWI Logo DART and USAR training includes disaster assessment, threat analysis, movement under fire, hostage survival, trauma counseling, purchasing and shipping, working with the UN, and much more.

To attend a training session or schedule one in your area, contact SWI.

Strategic World Impact
P.O. Box 3037
Bartlesville, OK 74006
toll free: 1-877-RUN-TELL
web site: www.swi.net

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Celebrate Christmas Giving with Partners International
Partners Christmas Catalog

Gift wrapping a goat or a glass of milk may seem impossible, but with Partners International's Harvest of Hope Christmas Gift Catalog, not only is this possible, it can be the beginning of a new church!

Providing these much-needed items opens doors for indigenous Christian brothers and sisters to witness creatively in areas like China, India, and North Africa places often closed to public Christian witness.

Since 1943, Partners International has worked with indigenous believers to establish the Church in the world's least evangelized regions. Every year they start approximately 1000 new churches through their network of 4,200 workers in more than fifty countries where over 140,000 people are coming to faith in Christ every year.

Many of these new believers were first introduced to the hope of Christ through items like clean water and radio programs presented in the Christmas gift catalog.

Card & Gift Certificate Christmas Gift Cards announce to friends and family gifts sent on their behalf. Gift certificates allow loved ones to make their own choice from the catalog.


Partners International Christmas Harvest of Hope
phone: 1-888-887-2786
internet: www.harvestofhope.org

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Asia Center For World Missions in Thailand Is Looking for Retired Military for Travel Team Staff

Phuket Location

Phuket Beach Picture

Located on the beautiful island of Phuket in Thailand, the Asia Center for World Missions is open for business, and it is offering the following services:

The Asia Center, which is a ministry of Mission to Unreached Peoples, presents an outstanding second career opportunity for retired military featuring