Can the Great Commission be fulfilled in our lifetimes?
That was the big question at the heart of a recent session at the North American Call2All Congress in Dayton, Ohio.
"Absolutely," responded Steve Douglass, president of Campus Crusade for Christ International, reiterating a message he delivered one year earlier.
"From the way God is moving today, even without some terrific eye of faith, I have been persuaded it will be fulfilled in our lifetimes and I personally think in the next decade," he told some 300 attendees during the evening session last week.
Throughout the week, hundreds of Christian leaders gathered for the special four-day congress in Dayton to form a cohesive global network to work in synergy to complete the Great Commission, to help the Body of Christ around the world cross-pollinate and share best methods and practices with each other, and to use a common global map to identify the greatest needs and win the least reached.
Starting with a special pre-Congress on the eve of the U.S. presidential inauguration, hundreds came together to confirm their hope for change – but not through one man. The resounding theme of the evening was that only God can truly change the course of a nation; real change only comes through Him.
"It's no accident that we're meeting together the same week that our new President is inaugurated. We are entering a new phase of world events," said Mark Anderson, president of Call2All and the Global Pastors Network.
"It's not going to be 'business as usual' for the church anymore," he added. "We are experiencing increasing shakings all around the world; this is a prelude to the greatest ingathering into God's Kingdom we have ever seen. The time is now! It is imperative we plan and work together to see the Great Commission completed."
The North American Call2All Congress is one of 38 worldwide congresses that the Call2All movement plans to hold over the course of three years, and one of at least four this year that will bring together mission agencies, educators, entrepreneurs and all others involved in the missions. Organizations that have partnered with the movement include prominent groups such as Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI), Youth With a Mission (YWAM), Mission America, and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).
During Tuesday's evening session, CCCI leader Douglass, who has over 40 years experience across the globe, offered 10 reasons why he believes the Great Commission will be fulfilled within our lifetimes.
The first four concentrated on God, who Douglass said (1) intends to fulfill the Great Commission, (2) has commanded us to fulfill the Great Commission, (3) offers us the power to fulfill the Great Commission, and (4) is moving today.
"I've watched God operate through the years and I've seen him do incredible things and much more incredible things in the last 5-10 years," said Douglass, who spent all of his adult career in ministry.
According to Douglass, the trend right now is "not a little up; it's up a lot."
For example, eight years ago, baptized believers comprised two percent of India's population. In 2005, that percentage moved up to 7 percent, which translates to 50 million more people in a four year period.
Today, according to Douglass, it's probably 10 to 12 percent.
Furthermore, in India, it is difficult for believers to declare themselves as Christian.
"It is estimated for every baptized person there may be another one who has not made it public," Douglass reported. "So it may mean India has way over 100 million who've come to know Christ in recent years."
The ministry leader also pointed to China, a nation of 1.3 billion people, 2 million of which were Christians when communists took over. Today, the latest figures show that there are 130 million Christians in China.
"The Body of Christ is growing," Douglass exclaimed, before noting God's intervention in the Middle East. "So in three of the most unreached sectors in the world, God is moving dramatically. God is moving today! God has chosen this moment in time to find people and ways to get it done."
Moving on, Douglass continued his list of 10 with 3 observations of what God's people are doing.
According to the ministry leader, God's people are (1) praying, (2) planning, and (3) more at one now than they've been in the past six centuries. For his point on planning, Douglass highlighted gatherings such as Amsterdam 2000 as well the Call2All congresses, where believers are planning ways to get the Great Commission done. Later this year, there will be a South American Congress in Curituba, Brazil; an Asia Call2All Global Congress in Hong Kong; and a Eurasia Call2All Congress in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Douglass concluded his list of 10 by pointing out to three big developments that are greatly boosting the effort to reach the world.
Today, he noted, (1) there are new breakthrough methods of reaching people, (2) scripture translation is expanding rapidly, and (3) very fruitful ministry methods have and are being continually developed.
"Internet witnessing is growing massively with over 3 million decisions for Christ through the internet last year, and they're projecting 5 million next year," Douglass reported.
"It didn't even exist 10 years ago," he added.
Douglass also noted how people are being exposed to the gospel through tools such as the Jesus Film, which has been translated into 1,000 languages, and even cell phones.
"Can you believe God uses texting for evangelism?" Douglass asked.
That said, Douglass concluded his part of the session, ending with a prayer before turning over the speaking platform to YWAM founder Loren Cunningham, who shared with congress attendees what it will take to fulfill the Great Commission.
The North American Call2All Congress went on to conclude Friday afternoon.
On the Web:
The Call2All website at www.call2all.org