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FIRST-PERSON: Embracing the unreached

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
LEBANON, Tenn. (BP)--Last month, while in the Middle East, I got a taste of the heavenly scenes of Revelation 5 and 7. I heard Jesus' name being praised in the Arabic tongue. I preached in English, it was translated into Arabic and then heard by American and Arab Christian brothers & sisters alike.

The pastor of the church I preached in is a remarkable man. He planted the church in 1989 in his house. In 1991, they bought a building to worship in, and the security police shut it down.

The pastor went to the officer in charge and the officer told him, "I don't care if the president of this country tells me to open your building. I won't do it." The pastor replied, "If you stand against Jesus then you will see what will happen to you."

The pastor went home. He and his wife fasted and prayed for three days, and within a week the officer lost his job, and the man who took his place now feared the pastor. It took the new officer almost a year to get the building re-opened for the pastor and his church, but he got it done.

During the time the church was prevented from meeting in their building, they planted two churches.

They have faced many persecutions. Being a Christian means it's hard for members to find jobs. If they see the doctor for an illness, the doctor may prescribe them false medicine because they are Christians. But God has protected them. In a six-month period, 13 people who had opposed the pastor suddenly died.

The Muslims think there is something magical in the church, so now they don't touch it.

God is at work. The church has planted seven churches total, currently has new new starts, and the pastor has a vision to plant 100 churches. He wants to train church planters in his church and send them out.

I praise God for this work and am reminded that much more work needs to be done in this city that is home to more than 20 million people.


Will we as Southern Baptist churches engage in the work of God around the world? Will we come alongside our brothers who are pastors in the Middle East by providing training and resources? Will we pray for them and their ministry? Will we send people from our churches to minister in these contexts? Will we as churches embrace the 3,800 unreached and unengaged people groups?

This year's Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix will be challenging churches to do just that. Join the Movement!

The heavenly scenes of Revelation 5 and 7 will become a reality. God will use His church as a means to that end. My prayer is that tens of thousands of SBC churches will join God in His mission for the good of the nations and the glory of King Jesus.

Jonathan Akin is pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, Tenn. This column first appeared at Watch the International Mission Board's Join the Movement video at

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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