Most of the time when people think of missions they simply think foreign countries, but it is really not that simple. Throughout the scriptures we see a missional thread of God’s heart to be glorified among all the “nations” of the earth. While the English word nations refers to geopolitical countries, this is not the biblical meaning of the word nations in the Old and New Testaments. “Nations” in the New Testament is actually the word “ethnos” from which we get the word ethnic. The Old Testament words for nation carry the same idea referring to ethno/linguistic groupings of people and not countries. Therefore when the bible says go to the nations, God is saying go to the ethnic groups. The focus in the bible has never been countries because countries change over time. Where is the country of Yugoslavia today?
From Genesis 12 all the way to Revelation, God’s plan has been that all ethnic groups are represented around the throne in heaven. ( See Genesis 12:1-3, Ps. 67:1-4, Matt. 24:14, Matt. 28:19-20, Rev. 5:9 & 7:9 )
Yet in today’s world there are 6000+ ethnic people groups that are still without a viable gospel witness. They are called unreached people groups or UPG’s. Since God’s focus is on Unreached People groups, our main focus group in international missions should also be on reaching into these lost ethnic people groups. These are people that have little to no access to the saving message of the gospel. For further study on this idea we would suggest reading John Piper’s book “Let the Nations Be Glad” or you can read this paper by Dr. Jim Slack of the International Mission Board. You can also check out our info graphic for a simpler explanation.
At Liberty we believe that international missions is important and a mandate the Lord places upon every local church. International missions is not something we hand off to agencies to do on our behalf. For us there are several key elements we look at in developing our partnerships:
- Unreached – We look for places that have little to no access to the gospel. Many churches and missionaries go to places that, while poor, have access to the gospel. Many of those are located in our hemisphere. Since so few churches and missionaries are willing to go to places with little gospel access, we feel we should. 90% of the world’s missionaries go to places that have the gospel. Only 10% go to the unreached, which are usually difficult places on our planet.
- LTSE or Long Term Strategic Engagement – In our key partnerships, we look to be more than just a financial partner. We understand and know missional strategies and desire to work with our missionaries. We also desire to be in it for the long haul. Our goal is to develop long lasting relationships that bring the gospel to an entire people group.
- Relationship – Having a healthy relationship with our missionaries is vitally important. Partnerships to us mean more than the church supplying money. It is means we work with our partners in developing and implementing strategies that are effective in reaching the particular people group or area.
- Church Planting – We believe that Church planting is God’s plan to take the gospel into a culture. Ultimately the local church is the one who cares for local orphans, disciples new believers, and carries out effective evangelism.
These key elements are not exhaustive or exclusive. They are guidelines to help us direct the ministry in the direction we believe God is leading us.
We hope that you will take the time to study this issue within the scriptures and see how God has always had a passion to be worshipped among all the ethnic groups that He created.
We also invite you to join us in one of our partnership trips . You can find those trips listed here.
Additionally here is a link to an older strategy manual. While we do not do all the ministries listed, the first few pages can give you an idea of who we are and what we value.
CONNECTIONS : For those looking to connect with Liberty International Missions let me point you to several priorities we value:
- Theological – We value those with similar and like minded theology of missions.
- Relational – We value those who are sent from our church, understand our mission ideas, and hold to similar missional strategies.
- Strategic – See above
- SBC/IMB Connections – Since we are an SBC church, and we work heavily with the IMB ( International Mission Board) we value those with who are connected to our denominational missions.
While we applaud anyone seeking to plant evangelical, biblical, missional churches, we are limited in our funding and our ability to partner in a meaningful and strategic way. Therefore we seek to focus our connections on those who exemplify one or all of the criteria above.