The sprint to the finish

May 16, 2005

AS DAWN BROKE ACROSS EUROPE LAST FRIDAY, 700 Omega zones still registered as black spots on the YWAM global prayer map (www.50days.net). This meant that on the last weekday of our 50 day prayer season, over 3600 zones had been prayed for and reported by
name on the site. But also that, after 47 days, some 16 per cent had not yet specifically been interceded for.

However, by coffeetime in Holland, only a few dozen zones remained – one or two in Africa, the rest in Asia. And then well before lunch, the whole global map was completely white, as prayers were logged in from Australia, Bulgaria, Germany and the United Kingdom especially.

Every one of the 4,379 zones had been prayed for somewhere in the world in a corporate prayer thrust round the world and round the clock. The effort began slowly. We learned how to interact with the website, identify a zone to pray for, and to log in prayer reports. Technical hitches delayed reporting on some zones which seemed to remain stubbornly black despite repeated prayer ‘assaults’.

But momentum gradually began to pick up. Then as time began to run out, there seemed to be a mass sprint towards the finish as intensive intercession was joined from all continents. The very last zone to light up was Jiaxiang Xian in China.

Perhaps this pattern reflects the age-old global missions story, which also began fairly slowly. A relative handful of messengers had a disproportionate impact on European history in particular, but only in the last two centuries did Europeans in turn take the good news around the globe. Now in this 21st century, mission is breaking loose from all continents to all continents, including back to the needy mission field of Europe.

BLINDSPOTS

These fifty days between Easter and Pentecost have exposed blind spots in our geography and world knowledge. If you wanted to pray for the world’s largest municipality, for example, which city would you choose? Tokyo? Mexico City? Lagos? Beijing? Sao Paolo? New York? Paris? London? Technically speaking, none of the above. To my knowledge, I had never heard of Chongqing, 1000 kilometers inland from Shanghai on the Yangtze River, but this city is a municipality of 32 million people, and represents 26 omega zones on our map! That’s as big as New York, Paris and London combined.

What a powerful exercise these days have been for us as a mission! Nothing like this has ever aroused our awareness of how unfinished the task of world missions is. Recently while attending the YWAM Europe Frontier Missions conference in Amsterdam, I realised that these 50 days were giving the whole of our mission a ‘frontiers’ outlook. We have prayed for so many unheard of and unpronouncable places, places where we as YWAM have not yet been active, and some where no Christians are yet present. How much more there is still to do!

And yet, neither have we ever been so close to finishing the task! With the swelling tide of Christianity from the Two-Thirds World, we are entering perhaps the most promising phase of church history ever. Never has the global mission force been so big and been drawn from such a broad resource pool. Never has there been such broad cooperation as today.

According to Jim Rutz in his newbook Megashift, the dynamic core of global Christianity is growing so fast that at the current rate, there will be more Christians than people by the year 2032! More realistically, he predicts, by the end of this decade non-western evangelicals will outnumber western evangelicals seven to one.

Pentecost Sunday, the last day of YWAM’s ’50 days’, was also proclaimed as Global Day of Prayer, when 200 million believers around the world were expected to unite in repentance and prayer for our world. This movement started in South Africa in 2000, and last year involved 22 million people in all 56 African nations.

Now, tell me, would the Holy Spirit be stirring his people to prayer on such a global scale without a special purpose in mind? Could it be he’s preparing us for a mass sprint… to the finish?

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain

Till next week,


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