As far as God is concerned, someone is unemployed if the person is not working for Him, said a Latin American mission leader at a global missions conference in Tokyo.
Many people argue that they have a job and have plenty of work, said Obed Alvarez, international director of the New World Mission Association in Peru. However, the landowner (God) is calling those standing idle to work for him, he pointed out as he read from Matthew 20 about the parable of the workers in the vineyard.
"We should understand that all are unemployed if we are not living out God's plan for us," said Alvarez at the Tokyo 2010 Global Missions Consultations this week. "It doesn't matter if you are a doctor, a senator or the president, you will always be idle as far as He is concerned if you don't have a part in missions."
The missiologist and church planter continued, "The president of the republic is just as idle as far as the Lord is concerned, if he is not doing anything to advance the missionary cause. What is his investiture worth if he is still a sinner and his destiny is hell?"
Alvarez – who founded the Latin American School of Missiology, the first school of missions in Latin America – said people can have other jobs but they should have the identity that first and foremost they are a missionary.
During his presentation the missiologist pointed out five periods of missionary movements. The first is the Messianic Missionary Movement that is likened to the biblical account of people hired by the landowner at 6 a.m. The Bible records that Peter and Andrew were busy fishing when Jesus called them. In Jesus' eyes, the brothers were idle. Similarly, Matthew was a busy tax collector, but Jesus considered him idle and hired him too. It was through these Jewish Christians that the early missionary work was done.
Next came the Western Missionary Movement that is likened to those hired at the third hour, 9 a.m. After the Jewish Christians, the Gospel went to the Europeans who carried the Gospel to different continents of the world.
The third period is the British Missionary Movement, which went out at the sixth hour, 12 p.m. For 250 years, Alvarez noted, the English were responsible for spreading the Gospel throughout the world. From this movement came Hudson Taylor, who brought Christianity to China; William Carey, the missionary to India; and John Wesley, who is credited for the Methodism movement of Christianity in a number of denominations.
Period four is the North American Missionary Movement that began at the ninth hour, 3 p.m.
"This new group did one of the greatest missionary works of the last ten decades of the 20th century," remarked Alvarez, who noted that Pentecostal, Assemblies of God and independent charismatic churches came out of this movement.
But since the 1960s the once fervent missionary spirit and enthusiasm for the Gospel in North America has declined because of secularism and liberalism.
And today's period is the New Renewal Missionary Movement that started at the11th hour, 5 p.m.
"At this time He goes out to look for more workers and He sees the Third World, and He choose them and He passes the missionary torch to them," Alvarez said. "Missionaries have traditionally gone out from the North, the East and the West but never have there been missionaries going out from the Southern Hemisphere. And, what a coincidence, that is where we find the countries of the Third World."
The New Missionary Movement began in the 1970s with Asian believers. Then in the 1980s Africans joined, and in the 1990s Latin Americans took part in the movement. Alvarez said in the year 2000, Middle Eastern countries became part of the movement. Already from the Middle East there are 500,000 missionaries working full time in more than 1,000 different languages.
"We are now in the eleventh hour, where no one is concerned who is first or last and we are sure the Lord of the Harvest will pay all of us the same way," said the Latin American missiologist.
The Tokyo 2010 Global Missions Consultations opened on Tuesday and concluded Friday evening. More than 2,000 mission leaders representing 140 countries gathered in Tokyo for the major conference aimed at uniting Protestant mission agencies and leaders in an effort to better fulfill the Great Commission as one body.
Tokyo 2010 coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Edinburgh meeting – the first-ever global missions conference. During the Tokyo conference, mission leaders as well as the public celebrated the advances in missions within the past 100 years and honored Christian martyrs.