August - Power of Mobilization
One of the main goals of our ministry is to leave pockets of mobilizers on each college campus we visit. By mobilizer, I mean those who are raising awareness in their campus ministries and among their Christian friends about God’s heart for all peoples. They are those who are spreading global vision by teaching others how to reach out to internationals, send missionaries, go themselves and pray for the nations. Perhaps they are those who will be going long-term themselves someday, or maybe they remain in the states the rest of their lives. Either way, we believe that every Christian should be a World Christian and every World Christian should be a Mobilizer. Mobilizers are often a misunderstood bunch because much of the results of their ministry is not seen. Yet there is great power in mobilization. Perhaps the best way to see the effects of mobilization is to look at the story of the Karen peoples of Myanmar.
The Karen people of Myanmar are about 80% Christian today. This is rare for a people group in Myanmar. Myanmar has over 135 people groups, and most of them are 6% Christian or less. The Karen people are an interesting case study. I had the privilege of spending some time in Myanmar a few years ago. While there I got to go to a Karen seminary for a weekend conference on prayer walking. Before ever hearing the gospel, the Karen had a prophecy that one day a white man would come with a book that they were to listen to because he would bring them the words of God. As they waited for the fulfillment of this prophecy, on the other side of the world God was pursuing and preparing a young man who would go to them.
In 1792, William Carey set sail for India as a pioneer missionary. He had written a little booklet on how Christians should use means to reach the heathen. Through his influence, the Baptist Missionary Society was formed who eventually sent him to India. This booklet, as well as news of William Carey began to circulate throughout Europe and America. His booklet eventually found its way into the hands of a young man studying at Williams College in America. His name was Samuel Mills. He held a bible study with some guys on campus, and often they would slip away from campus to study together. One particular August day, these guys had gone off to study and on their way back a storm came upon them. They took shelter beneath a haystack. It was under this haystack that these men prayed about their responsibility in missions, and each of them committed themselves to God’s global cause. What happened under the haystack did not remain under the haystack. Rather these men began to spread God’s global vision to others on their campus. Soon they would begin to take missions vision to other campuses, and they formed the Society of the Brethren. This society was a secret society for those who had a heart for the world.
One of the campuses they went to was Andover Seminary. Samuel Mills had actually come to Andover himself with a few others, and they began immediately to work to raise missions awareness. Not long after arriving, they were introduced to a young man who had become a believer while attending Andover. This young man had become interested in missions because of an encounter with God, and he had asked lots of questions of professors and friends at school. His name was Adoniram Judson. He joined the Society of the Brethren and they began to ask the Congregationalist Church to form the first ever mission society. Samuel Mills’ passion for missions had been passed onto Adoniram, and both had become a force to be reckoned with. They would not take no for answer, and finally the Congregationalist Church agreed to form a mission society to send the first American missionaries. Adoniram offered himself to be the first along with Luther Rice, who was one of the men influenced by Samuel Mills under the haystack.
In 1812, Adoniram, his wife Ann and Luther Rice set sail for India to go and work with William Carey. When they arrived they were turned away by the British East India Company. They had only two options: either return home or go to Burma. Carey’s son Felix had worked in Burma, and Carey encouraged them to go there and begin a work. Adoniram and Ann hopped aboard the ship headed for Burma, and in 1819 they arrived in Rangoon, the capital. Judson began to learn the language and the culture. His passion was to plant churches and translate the Bible into Burmese. There were not many converts, in fact, he wouldn’t see his first convert for another five years after arriving. He had translated much of the Bible when he came upon this one particular people group. They were known as the Karen, and they had been waiting for a white man with a book from God!
As I said earlier, today over 80% of the Karen population adheres to Christianity. My hope in sharing about these people and Adoniram is that you would be able to see the power of mobilization. William Carey had newsletters and his booklet circulated through Europe and America, which in turn was used by God to awaken Samuel Mills to His global vision, who then went campus to campus spreading global vision and calling forth students to go to the world. He met and influenced Adoniram Judson, who then set sail as the first American missionary. He ended up in Burma by God’s sovereignty, and was used to reach an entire people group who today are mostly pursuing Christ. As you read this, my wonder and my hope is that maybe the next Samuel Mills is reading this or his female equivalent. If God has opened your eyes to His global agenda, then I encourage you to pass on this vision to those around you, and never give up!