I think the biggest thing is an awakening. There seems to be a real spirit and a real sense that the task isn’t finished, that there is a big world out there, and I think as the world has gone smaller or more global that there’s more of an understanding. You almost see an awakening to the fact that there is a need out there. I think the real challenge, though, is how to meet that need. What is the approach to take?
That’s where it really gets tough, particularly for the American church, the church in the U.S., as they think about what it would require. They tend to look more at programs. They tend to look more at physical resources. They think about providing things for people that would perhaps make life easier, but they really have struggled, and we do struggle with making a connection with the spiritual change and the life change. They struggle with the desire or the willingness to go and to give their life, recognizing that that is what Christ calls us to. For an effective ministry to happen outside of your own culture and your own language, the giving of your life to see that accomplished, that is yet really to take root.
There’s also the challenge of equipping. The church historically has not been focused on sending folks out beyond their own communities. You think about some of the real specific challenges of, say, language learning, living in a foreign culture and country. Also, then you think about the role of the church itself. They have historically, I think, handed that job off to sending agencies, and I believe that’s changing. More and more churches are recognizing that God has called the church to be the sending agency. He’s the one that put the church in the position to reach the world. He’s the one that sends the church into the world. As that is growing, it presents a lot of new challenges, and I’m praying the church is up for it.