I am currently traveling to different nations and after a short visit I am getting ready to leave Great Britain. I also have cause for new praise. Thanks to the efforts of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Youth for Christ in the UK, an “Emerging Evangelists Training Program” is making a difference in churches and ministry groups throughout Britain. Nearly twenty-five men and women aged 20-35 are giving two years of time to “think and train” to be more skilled and dedicated evangelism leaders. These people love Jesus, love the scriptures, love the lost and believe wholeheartedly that the gospel is a matter of both word and deed. They remind me in microcosm of the Lausanne banner phrase, “The whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.”
As a by-product of my teaching here this week, I visited with Roy Crowne, head of the YFC ministries in Great Britain. YFC in Great Britain includes more than three hundred staff who work with nearly 200,000 students each month. It is an amazing ministry. Roy spoke with me about “Hope 2008,” a joint effort of churches and ministries throughout Britain (England primarily) which focuses on bringing the whole gospel to the land in 2008. YFC, Soul Survivor ministries, the Baptist Union, Churches Together, the Church of England and other networks have agreed to work together in this initiative.
Their plan is to take advantage of four key times of the year to do ministry:
1. Easter. Every group will work diligently to invite lost and loved people to consider Christ during the season of Lent and Easter. Special Lenten studies are being written to use with neighbors and friends.
2. Pentecost Season. From Easter Sunday to Pentecost, the groups will ask every local church and local youth ministry to make a commitment to care for their community with “acts of kindness.” The goal is to have one million “hours of kindness” in Britain in fifty days. This will be displayed through caring for the poor, helping the victims of injustice, doing environmental clean-up and more. A local church might commit to fifty hours, a neighboring church to twenty-five hours and a youth ministry to twenty-five hours.
3. Pentecost to September. On Pentecost Sunday leaders will ask their members to begin regularly praying for three to five people to come to faith in Christ. In a special service in September every participating group will prepare a meeting to invite all of the people who were lifted up regularly in prayer. The gospel message will be given at the meeting.
4. Advent Season. The work of caring for and sharing Christ with local communities will be included in all Advent preparations.
The organizing leadership is preparing materials to be posted on a website which will help participating agencies in this effort. Every resource will be offered free. Lausanne World Pulse will continue to provide updates on Hope 2008 as it develops. What a fine way to bring Christ to a nation!
My plane is ready to depart. I leave London for Manila, where I will be helping to train twenty-five emerging evangelism leaders from Southeast Asia who are under the leadership of Sri Lankan Kumar Abraham and American Jim Craig. Wow, what a day to be alive as a gospel agent!