We can do together what we cannot do alone
Have you heard the story of the 17-camel inequality? It goes like this. When an Islamic man died, he left his camels to be divided among his three sons according to this formula. One son was to get one-ninth; one son was to get one-half; and the other son was to get one-third of the camels. The problem was that the man left 17 camels, and 17 isn’t divisible by three or even two, so the sons argued long and loud about how to divide the camels. Finally, in desperation, they agreed to submit to the mediation of a wise man.
They approached this man who was seated in front of his tent with his own camel staked out back. After hearing their situation, this wise man took his own camel and added it to the other 17 camels, producing an equation that now included 18 camels. Then he gave one-ninth of the 18 – or two camels – to the first son. Next, he gave one-half, or nine camels, to the second son. Finally, he gave one third – or six camels to the third son. Do the math: Two plus nine plus six equals 17. And the wise man was able to still have his own camel.
How did this happen? The three sons overlooked the fact that their point of reference was simply too small – one-eighteenth too small in fact. The wise man was able to see the problem from a broader point of view. He knew that the momentary sacrifice of his own camel provided a solution for the brothers at no cost to himself. Or, to express this truth in a slightly different way: The wise man knew that they could accomplish together what they could not accomplish alone.
GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing) Across Missouri is much bigger than any of us can accomplish alone. GPS Across Missouri is a major evangelistic campaign to deliver the Gospel to 2.3 million households across Missouri in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday 2010. We are participating in the National Evangelism Initiative of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) aimed at fulfilling the Great Commission in the United States and Canada by 2020. Similar campaigns will be taking place in other state conventions as well.
Why GPS Across Missouri? To borrow the words of one of my favorite songs, “People need the Lord.” The sheer size of the lost population in America makes it the 4th largest mission field in the world. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 in America are without a personal relationship with Christ. Applying that ratio to Missouri, it means that four million Missourians are unsaved. ARDA (The Association of Religious Data) tells us that 2.7 million in Missouri are “unclaimed.” That designation means they do not claim any religious affiliation. GPS is designed to be a means whereby Missouri Baptist churches obey our Lord’s command to “Go…to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
GPS Across Missouri has four phases:
The Preparation Phase (January and February, 2010) is the time for each church to determine the areas around their church where they will prayer walk, as well as take steps to improve “first impressions” of church facilities, getting ready for company, Easter Sunday, April 4.
The Prayer Walking Phase (March 6 and 13 are suggested Saturdays) is the time for each church to prayer walk (or, prayer drive in some cases) their community, asking God to bless families and open hearts to the Gospel.
The Distribution Phase (March 20 and 27 are suggested Saturdays) is the time for each church to return to the prayer walked areas and place a plastic bag on each door. It will contain only two items: A presentation of the Gospel, and, a brochure from that church, inviting residents to worship Easter Sunday, April 4. During this phase, a media campaign will be underway that will reinforce the message of the Gospel brochure.
The Follow-Up Phase will be conducted from Easter through Mother’s Day (April 4-May 9), during which time churches will be following up on those who attended Easter Sunday and responded to the Gospel brochure.
Although the primary purpose of GPS Across Missouri is to sow the seed of the Gospel among the lost, it can also be a tremendous benefit to your church. For instance, the campaign is an easy way for all church members to get involved in evangelism. Whether through praying at home, prayer walking, sprucing up church facilities, working as a telephone or Internet encourager, hanging bags on doors, or volunteering to serve in new units to minister to newcomers, there is an important job that fits within every member’s abilities. GPS also gives your church a fresh reason to make personal contact with every family within your church field. As new people are reached and visit your church, your church will experience the joy and excitement of seeing people come to Christ. And as church members disciple these new Christians, they in turn will grow stronger in their own faith.
One hundred and seventy-five years ago, 150 churches banded together to form what we know today is the Missouri Baptist Convention. Almost 2,000 churches later, we are deeply grateful they came together to say, “We can do together what we cannot do alone.” (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)