May 2018
From Pastor to Pasture

A Turtle on a Fence Post

 

What is the first thing you think about when you see this picture? It surely is an uncommon sight and may require a little bit of thought, but one thing we know for certain is: This turtle didn’t get where it is on its own!

I have to say that I have often felt just like this turtle must have felt! "Where am I? How did I get here? What am I supposed to do here? How in the world do I get down?"

Sometimes we find ourselves in places and situations that are our own doing, but other times, just like this turtle, we are there only because someone placed us there!

If we are honest with ourselves as individuals, families, farmers, ranchers, businesses, ministries, churches or even as a country for that matter, the truth is we are where we are because someone else put us here. Hard work, long hours, dedication, education, endurance, perseverance and the many sacrifices we and others have made have all had an impact, but even all these things combined could not get us where we are today. Somebody had to help us – somebody put us where we are! Unlike the turtle, we were put where we are for a purpose – a global and eternal purpose!

To whom do we give credit for our position – not only in life but in our knowledge and relationship with Christ? God told the prophet Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah1:5, New International Version). "’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’" (Jeremiah 29:11).

In Luke 12:7, Jesus tells us the very hairs on our heads are numbered. Imagine that! At any given time, whenever a strand of hair falls out while washing or pulls out during brushing – it does not escape the notice of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. He always knows exactly how many hairs are left!

Psalms 94:11 tells us God knows our thoughts. Luke 16:15 teaches us God knows our hearts. 1 John 3:20 assures us God knows ALL things! Hebrews 4:13 tells us, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Ephesians 1:4 says, "He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.

Acts 17:26 goes even further to tell us it was He who decided the exact time in history when we should live, and He decided the exact place on this earth we would be born and live. Think about it … you and I had nothing to do with when we were born or what race and nationality we would be. God in His infinite wisdom decided these things.

Just in these few verses, we learned: God has always known us, even before birth. He has always had a plan for our lives. He has always desired, initiated and made provision to have a personal relationship with us. There is nothing about us He doesn’t know or care about. He created us for a purpose and with works for us to do.

But what and where is that work? Why were we born and/or given the opportunity to live in the greatest country on Earth where we have freedom, resources and opportunity to know God, to worship Him, to serve Him, and to pursue and reach virtually any goal we set for ourselves? Why did God choose to make Himself known to us? Why did He place us here? Why now?

The Bible says it was so we could know and have a relationship with Him and glorify Him by making His love known to all the world. Think about it. He came to us (the world) through His son Jesus, so we (and the world) could know Him, could be reconciled to Him and have an everlasting relationship with Him. He tells us He sent His son Jesus to die because He loved all people and wanted everyone to know Him and to be reconciled to Him.

He did not place us here just to live "the American dream," as some would describe it. He did not place us here just so we could know Him or have church and minister to the people around us. He placed us here and blessed us so we could do all these things, but also so we would fulfill His command to take the Gospel and the love of Christ to all the nations!

Jesus told the Father in John 17:4, "I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do." Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all of His commands. If Jesus glorified God through His obedience, how do we think (biblically) we really glorify God if we don’t do the work He commanded us to do?

Let’s look at just one area of the world where Cattle for Christ is and has been working for several years – and where the church has been absent. This area is referred to in missionary terms as the "10/40 window." This is an area approximately 10 to 40 degrees north latitude, encompassing a rectangular geographical area from West Africa through the Middle East, India and almost all of Asia.

Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population live in this window. It has the highest socioeconomic challenges and the least amount of exposure to the Gospel’s message than anywhere else

Approximately 4.9 billion of Earth’s 7.1 billion people live within the 10/40 window where poverty, oppression, disease, malnutrition, childhood deaths, human trafficking and terrorism are at their highest. The majority of the people in these 74 countries are followers of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or other gods.

 

The 10/40 window

Of the poorest of the world’s poor, over 85 percent live in the 10/40 window. Ninety percent of the people who live there are what we refer to as "the unreached or unevangelized" because they have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, and could not even if they wanted to without our help. Only 2 percent of the world’s unreached people live in North and South America.

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, of all the money designated for missions in the United States, only 5.4 percent is used for foreign missions. Of that 5.4 percent, only 1 percent is used to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the unreached. That is about one cent out of every hundred dollars given to missions.

This equates to approximately $450 million – the same amount Americans spend annually on Halloween costumes for their pets!

It has been said, "The poor are the lost and the lost are the poor." The majority of the unreached live in the poorest countries of the world! If we are going to minister to the needs of the "real" poor (physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically or spiritually), let us invest where the needs are the greatest and the workers are the fewest. What seems small in our culture can lead to giant, life-saving transformations in theirs.

This is why Cattle for Christ is focusing most of our international efforts to minister to the needs of people in the 10/40 window; simply because it is where the needs are the greatest and our investments can have the greatest return. That is also why we are asking for the help of individuals, churches, farmers and corporations. It is good ministry sense and good business sense!

The challenge is that most of these countries are either closed or hostile to Christianity or to the Christian witness. The only way we can work in these areas is through strategies where we can meet perceived needs. As we go, it costs us a little more financially to gradually and strategically introduce the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, while also equipping others to do the same.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance."

That proves true in our global strategies for advancing God’s kingdom. We must take the time to educate ourselves on what the world looks like and evaluate our efforts in line with God’s command to make disciples of all people.

You and I are not just turtles on a fence post. God has blessed us and placed us here – at this time – because He intends for us to have a global impact. If we individually and corporately align our will with His, our lives will glorify Him as He accomplishes His will through us.

 

Glenn Crumpler is is president of Cattle for Christ International, Inc. He can be contacted at 334-393-4700 (home), 333-4400 (mobile) or www.CattleforChrist.com.