Missionary Ishmael Lim (InterCP International HQ Ministry Coordinator)
On May 3rd–5th 2017, more than 4,700 people from 65 ethnic groups gathered at the BTJ Center for All Nations in Korea for the 4th International Global Alliance Conference to partner for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Pastors, leaders, and faithful believers of the global church came together through miraculous provisions of God. When they began to share the mighty salvation works of our God and victories over persecution by faith, we were able to experience the joy of the heavenly celebration. In addition, as ethnic churches shared testimonies of how they are rising up for a global mission revival, the heavenly gates were opened wide, and we were flooded with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Along with the completion of the Great Commission, we discussed the reality of the spiritual warfare that the church must face to fulfill the mission in these end times. When we came together in a time of corporate prayer, the sovereign power and authority of our King, who is the author of history and the fulfiller of his prophecies, was poured upon the church. At the sound of our prayers and in the presence of our God, the powers of darkness were broken. This conference has been held every two years after the completion of the BTJ Center facility in 2011. It is amazing to see not only the increase in number of participants and participating nations in each conference but also how quickly and fiercely the history of our God is heading towards its completion all around the world. We can’t help but tremble and bow to worship the great God that we serve.
“God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” (Romans 11:2-5)
Just like when all the prophets were killed during the time of Elijah, the global anti-Christian movement grows stronger today, through phenomena like the legalization of same-sex marriage and global Islamic terrorism. Through the global rule of the market, which is like the Adulterous Women in the book of Revelation, love continues to grow cold as everyone lies in suffering. In the midst of all this, we feel as if the church is unable to do anything in response, which leads us to even deeper despair. However, through this conference we understood that God is fulfilling his prophecies through the remnants of the global church who have not knelt before the world.
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:1-3)
As the archangel Michael rises in the end times, the history of darkness and God’s salvation will both see their greatest revivals. During this time of the last spiritual warfare, there is a ministry that the church must prioritize. It is the ministry of leading many to righteousness. It’s not how to be happy, how to love, nor how to establish peace. It is leading people to righteousness. This is because in the end times, no one will be interested in what is righteous. Not only that, those who speak of righteousness will be persecuted.
Before the 20th century, the biggest issue in the world was the existence of ‘nations.’ Because of nations, the world fought, and young people spilled blood and gave their lives. Then from the end of WWII (1945) until the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), ‘ideology’ became the greatest issue. Everyone in the world was interested in what the ‘right thing to do’ was. For the western powers of Europe, invading and conquering the weak countries of Asia and Africa for the glory of their nations was the right thing to do. But on the other hand, for those who were being conquered, this was not the right thing to do. For them, fighting for the liberation of their country until death was the right thing to do. They did not need any other reason to give up their lives. After WWII, the right thing to do was to protect and advance your ideology around the world. It was something that applied to everyone. Because there was an absolute ideology, people committed their lives. During that time, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States became famous for his speech when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Even in Korea, every day at 6PM, the national anthem was played throughout the country, and everyone had to stop what they were doing and pledge allegiance to the nation. During this time when everyone desired to do the right thing, people pursued after that path in full commitment. When the church preached the gospel, saying it was the righteous way, many accepted the good news and praised the Christians for being so committed.
However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, people became skeptical about living and fighting for the absolutely right ideology. The results of arguing the absolutely right ideology universally were conflicts, wars, deaths, and suffering. People began to prioritize accepting what is subjectively the right thing to do in order to maintain peace. Everyone’s feelings became the most important thing. This is why same-sex marriage, which was not considered right and thus was never accepted, is now being acknowledged all around the world; the feelings of homosexual individuals and their definition of love have become priority. As IS argues that Islam is the only absolute truth and commits acts of terrorism and brutality, the argument that the pursuit of absolute truth is dangerous and ignorant is further strengthened. This is why proclaiming that only the gospel is the truth and Jesus alone is the savior has become a shameful thing. Opposing the act of homosexuality according to the Bible has become an act against time. It has become hard to talk about commitment to the gospel, even within the church. We are living in a time where everyone wants to live their own lives without any disturbance from another.
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)
These current times can be compared to the time of the Judges. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. The Bible tells us that people became like this because there was no king. At the same time these words give a strong foreshadowing of a coming king. There were people who lived in these evil days and prepared the way of the coming king. A Moabite woman, Ruth, who was a widow along with her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, became the great grandmother of King David. Hannah, who was barren and disgraced before her enemies, prayed with tears and became the mother of Samuel, who anointed King David. David faithfully protected the sheep of his father from lions and bears even though his own father did not acknowledge him, and he became a king who would end the darkness of the time of the judges. When everyone was living according to his own desires in times of darkness, there were people who endured the weight of the world with their faith and remained nameless and faceless in love and humility. Though the world despised them, God’s full attention was upon them. Today, we see the same qualities in the churches who will overcome these dark end times to prepare the way for the King’s return.
In Beirut Lebanon, when you see a family together, whether in restaurants, shopping malls, or airports, there is always a foreigner who is traveling with them. Some of these foreigners are English-speaking Filipinos, while some are Arabic-speaking individuals from Africa. They are the family’s maid who takes care of the house and the children. In the 80s, it was common for teenage girls to live in someone else’s house while working for them as a maid. This is a reality you can still find happening in most wealthy countries of the Arabian Peninsula, like Lebanon. Jobs that people do not usually want in this part of the world are taken by workers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. 30% of Saudi Arabia’s population are foreign workers. What is astounding is that among these people, God is raising up a global mission movement, gospel movement, and revival movement.
Many of these workers’ working conditions are not good. Many maids are victims of violence and even sexual abuse from their employers. They go for many months without pay and sometimes are framed as thieves, put into prison, and never receive their wages. When the workers come into these countries, they make a contract to receive visas, and their passports are kept with their employers. As a result, even though they want to go back to their home country, they need the permission of their employer, and their contracts can be extended according to the desire of the employer. The reality is that they are living out a modern version of slavery. In many cases, entire families back home depend financially on these workers. Because of this, there is nothing that they can do, and some even give up marriage. In these hopeless situations, some give up everything and throw their lives into sin, while others run away and become illegal only to find that their only way of survival is prostitution.
But as God has always done, he hears their pains and saves them from their sins and despair. These workers have amazing testimonies that you can’t hear anywhere in the Korean and the western churches. When you sit down to listen to what God has done in their lives, tears never stop flowing, and there is never enough time. The churches of these foreign workers in the Middle East has life, desperate prayers, and commitment that shakes our hearts. Most of these workers were non-believers when they first came to these foreign nations, but in the midst of despair, they heard the gospel and accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Their hearts burn with love for Christ. When they came to Christ, they immediately began to pray for and share the gospel to their employers who persecuted them.
At a Filipino church in Beirut, about 150 people gather every Sunday. The sound of their worship and joy fills the streets. This church was planted by an ordinary Filipino sister. She is a lay person who has been in Lebanon for more than 20 years. In the first 5 years, she was brutally abused and forbidden to ever go outside of the house. During these times, all she could do was to call out to Jesus who faithfully answered her every time. On the 5th year, the employer became terminally ill with cancer, and she began to pray fervently for him. By God’s miracle, the employer’s life was spared. Because it was undeniable that it was her prayers that rescued him, he allowed her to freely leave the house on Sundays. She used this one day of freedom every week solely to preach the gospel to the souls who were in similar situations of despair. Through this, she brought 150 maid workers to Christ. This is why the entire church is made up entirely of female maids. During service, after passionate worship, they always call forward the newcomers and share the gospel with them before the message. As the entire congregation prays wholeheartedly, most accept Christ with tears on the spot. This kind of joy of salvation overflows abundantly during their Sunday worship.
These are the works that the Lord has silently done in the past 30 years in the Middle East. These diaspora churches of the Middle East that the Lord himself prepared are now being called for the end time global mission work. When we visit them to introduce Vision School, five minutes into the conversation, they respond immediately saying, “Let’s open Vision School. We came here as workers, but God will raise us up as missionaries,” “Until now, no one has offered mission training to us. We waited for this day for so long.” In every Vision School session, tears never stopped. They repented for having been afraid to preach the gospel to the Muslims. When they began to go out for street evangelism and saw Muslims coming to Christ, they were overjoyed. They sob every day for the Syrian refugees and the Islamic nations of the Middle East. God is writing a new revival history in the Islamic nations of the Middle East.
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:1-3)
Though at times they are treated as if they are slaves, through their humility and faithfulness for the past 30 years, these diaspora churches have earned the trust of the Arabs. Many of them not only care for the family’s children, but are in charge of all the finances of the household. If a Filipino breaks a traffic law in Lebanon by mistake, the police let them go. Sometimes it seems as though Arabs trust the Filipinos more than their own people. Just like Joseph in Potiphar’s house, these Filipinos have earned the trust of the people that they work for. At the core of this trust lies strong and absolute lordship before God. Though they are abused and harmed, they never ask others to pray for them. They do not hate their employers but actually bless them. They confess that this employer is someone that God has appointed their lives. As the Scripture commands, they bless their masters and serve them as if they were God. As I listened to their stories, there were so many times when I just bowed my head out of humility because of their lordship. Just like the little girl in the house of Naaman, God has prepared the diaspora church to bring life to all of the Middle East. There are close to 100,000 Christian laborers in Saudi Arabia that are just like Joseph and the little girl.
As published in Operation World, led by Patrick Johnston, the country experiencing the greatest revival today is Iran. As a result, 100,000 Iranian Christian refugees fled from persecution and entered into Turkey. The Turkish government, afraid that they will settle in one city, scattered all the refugees all over Turkey. Turkey still remains the country in the Middle East that most strongly rejects the gospel. Among its population of 80 million people, there are less than 7,000 known Christians. However, God has allowed 100,000 Iranian Christian refugees to preach the gospel in Turkey.
A radical mission movement among the young people is rising up from Egypt. The repentance of the Arab churches broke the 1,400 year stronghold of fear that stopped them from preaching the gospel. They began to commission missionaries all over the Middle East. In February of 2015, 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were brutally beheaded by the IS on the shores of Libya. They were ordinary workers who came to make a living for their families. In response to the beheading, the Egyptian church declared that they will not take revenge on IS but instead follow in the same path of martyrdom that their brothers chose. The terror attacks continue upon the churches, but there are revivals of millions of Muslims returning to Christ in Egypt.
The vision of the two largest churches in the world, China and India, to send out 1 million missionaries each is sprinting towards its completion. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, is rising as a leader in the global church as they experience more than 2 million Muslims coming to Christ in a year.
After 2011, the Middle East was trapped in a whirlwind of wars. Even if the IS is ousted, the peace of the Middle East will not come. The falling economy and issues of social structure still remain. The economy of Saudi Arabia is crumbling after intervening in the Yemen civil war. Some experts even predict that Saudi Arabia as a whole will collapse within a few years. Due to improved diplomacy between America and Iran, the Iranian government boldly uses its freedom to expand its influence into the Middle East through military interventions in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. The Kurds seek a chance for liberation through the military experience gained through fighting the IS and are seeking to establish their own state. As Turkey still recovers from the instability that came from the coup last year, they have dispatched military beyond their borders out of fear that the Kurdish liberation may come to a reality and cause an even worse instability. For Syria and Iraq, war seems inevitable. Though their civil war may come to an end, they will suffer through never-ending terrorism. Russia and America are at a stand-off, and the conflict of Israel and Palestine remains unpredictable. The peace of the Middle East will not come; instead, more turmoil is ahead. The turmoil of the Middle East and Jerusalem, the center of all human history, will lead to the turmoil of the entire world and its collapse. Through this, the anti-Christ world system will be completed, and the Great Tribulation of the global church will begin.
Amidst all this, God’s history will never stop. We can only come in humility as God fulfills his most glorious history through the remnants. All the strategies that the Korean and the western churches came up with for missions in the Islamic world have become useless in the context of the end time turmoil. The 100,000 missionary vision of the Korean church, which was the very reason for its revival and blessings, can’t be heard anywhere anymore after a single martyrdom in an Islamic country. The number of missionaries commissioned by the Korea church in recent years is too embarrassing to even state officially. But God is raising up the remnants who will prepare the way of the King’s return. While we are clinging onto our own lives saying that it’s too dangerous and impossible, and come up with a list of complaints, the history of God will never stop. God has allowed the Korean church the privilege to serve the global church through this conference. The Korean church must repent of all of our arrogance and rise up in humility. We must send out the 100,000 missionaries that we promised before God. Through this we must greet our King with shouts of victory, along with rest of the global church. Our God is the greatest God. His church will be victorious. Maranatha! Lord Jesus, come quickly!