A few years ago Dr. Bill Bright founder of Campus Crusade, called me and invited me to a meeting of about 200 pastors and laymen in Atlanta. He then asked if I could come a day early to meet with a smaller group to do some planning. I immediately accepted the invitation.
The smaller group consisted of people representing different denominations and para-church groups. I was the United Methodist that he knew.
He shared his vision of reaching 1 billion new Christians and starting 5 million new churches. That was a big vision, but that was Dr. Bill Bright.
Carrying out that vision has been an exciting endeavor for a lot of people. I have been participating as a part of the teaching team and steering committee to allow God to bring to reality that vision.
Last week in Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center we had a Synergize 2 Conference with pastors and lay people from nearly every world region, more than 40 countries, nearly every U S State and Canadian Provinces.
It was amazing to meet people from other parts of the world who are doing extraordinary things to win people to Jesus Christ. I could share volumes of information. In this blog I want to highlight a couple of people and for the Recap for the month of January I will have a lot of pictures of people participating in that conference.
Pictured here is a man who has a great ministry in Iran. His name is Lazarus Yeghnaz and he and his wife are a part of 222 Ministries in Iran. The 222 refers to 2 Timothy 2:2, which directs their mission to train and release the Timothys of this generation to establish churches in every town and city in Iran and every nation where there are communities of Iranians.
Lazarus has a tremendous ministry. Most people think of Iran as an enemy—he sees it as an opportunity. An enemy is something from which you have to run where an opportunity is something which you want to run towards. That is his spirit.
In his ministry there are 3,000 new converts coming to Christ each month. It is estimated that there are about 10,000 new Christians in Iran each month. Wow!
I understand that more Iranians have come to Christ in the last 25 years than in the previous 1,300 years since Islam came to Iran. Lazarus shares how Iran is open to the gospel and thousands upon thousands of hungry Muslims are turning to the message of Christ each year.
As you might imagine, he serves under tremendous danger and direst. He has people in his movement who have “disappeared.” He and his wife have no fear—they were eager to get back to Iran.
Meeting people like Lazarus makes me feel ashamed of petty little fears that I have serving in our culture. He is contributing tremendously to the 1 Billion Soul vision.
The persons pictured here is Eddie Leo and his wife who serves in Indonesia. It is one of the toughest places in the world for the Christian faith. That doesn’t stop Eddie as he heads a ministry that is planting hundreds of churches in this strong Muslim area. He has been active in starting men’s groups throughout neighboring countries. Again, his life is always in danger but that doesn’t seem to bother him at all. I was told that he had two of the pastors serving with him who had been executed in the past year.
The person pictured here is David Grant who directs a ministry called “Operation Rescue.” Thousands of children have been rescued from horrible situations and redirected towards productive lives and introduced to the Christian faith. Most of his work has been done in India where little girls carry little value except as they are traded for use as servants or prostitutes.
One of the great things David did in India was to start a church about 20 years ago. He had a man named David Mohan who wanted to be a pastor. David Grant rented an apartment for David Mohan. The apartment could hold 16 people for a house church.
It wasn’t long before they had to get a larger place to meet, and then God just blessed and the place exploded.
David Mohan today has started hundreds of churches throughout India. He is in the process of building a sanctuary that will seat 54,000 people. Not bad for a church that is only a few years old!
It also points out the importance of a person like David Grant who had the vision to start a church. Think how many people can have a vision for starting something, then turning it over to someone who can come in and give leadership.
I just wanted to share with you a few of these experiences that I have had because God opened this door of opportunity. The Billion Soul Initiative will make a real difference in the world. My life has been both challenged and inspired by these great leaders, here and abroad. I am grateful that God is allowing me to play a small part on this team.
Financial support given to the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries enables me to participate in this initiative and to help a lot of young pastors attend such training. I expect to go outside the country at least two or three times this year for conferences that will attract thousands of pastors. Thank you for your support in making this possible.
The witness of each of us contributes to the winning of 1 billion people to Christ.