Before Jesus moved deeper into His divine destiny through His death and Resurrection, He gave His disciples some key commands about spreading the Good News to others. We call the passage in Matthew 18:18-20 "The Great Commission," but Dr. Howard Foltz, founder and former president of AIMS (Accelerating International Mission Strategies), says there are five such missionary commissions in the New Testament. And AIMS is "asking God for power shifts so we could see a move from 30, 60 to a hundredfold and see a great end-time harvest come in," he says. The organization's new emphasis, LIGHT3500, is designed to foster its partnership with others to become more strategic in the overall missionary effort.
Joshua Bold, former missionary and current president of AIMS, adds that all believers must take ownership of this missions mandate. "We really want to take the mysticism out of missions and help every believer understand that they can play a role in reaching the unreached," he says. "It's not for a select few, but it's for every person who has called on the name of Jesus. And so the initiative of LIGHT3500 is birthed in prayer to target and reach 3500 people groups with the gospel in a five-year period, to initiate new missions movement into these 3500 people groups over five years, through developing partnerships, mobilizing, training and then seeing holistic strategies deployed through national indigenous efforts."
Why this push? "We really use Acts 1:8 a lot, because those were the last words of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ," Foltz says. "And He commanded us to go into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the end of the earth. Right now, 'the ends of the earth' is over 7000 unreached people groups totaling 3.2 billion people who live where there's not a church. There's not a missionary; maybe they've never seen the Bible."
Foltz says AIMS uses the database from the Joshua Project, which recently showed him that out of those 100 largest unreached people groups, 22 do not have even one born-again Christian. "We live, draw breath and exist for finishing the Great Commission and helping these people hear the Good News of Jesus Christ," he says. "The people we're targeting are not the low-hanging fruit. They're the highest of the high-hanging fruit. So it takes special strategies and special initiatives to reach them."
Bold says that in his previous missions service to an unreached people group, he saw people come to Christ, but he also noticed that nationals were much more effective in reaching their culture with the gospel than missionaries from the West. "And we went through AIMS training and understood that if we could partner with other people to mobilize indigenous movements, we could see the gospel move and see exponential fruit," he says.
"And so we believe that every missionary who's called needs to obey and go, but we really want to focus on mobilizing the national population, their culture, missionaries who are indigenous to a region," Bold says. "When they come off the field, they're still in the field; their support system is their family. Those people are there. And so it costs much less money to send them, and they tend to have a lot quicker cultural penetration. And we just love being a part of supporting those national movements.
"And so that was my intro to AIMS," he says. "And I'm so excited, now we have hundreds of partner missionaries in over 27 countries that we're able to support them, encourage them, train them, come alongside them with holistic strategies and see indigenous movements that sustain and multiply. And so we're very excited about being a part of that," Bold says.
Foltz shares the urgency behind AIMS' vision. "When it comes to reaching the unreached, we've been going backward," he says. "If the ends of the earth from Acts 1:8 received 25% of church resources, they could be reached, because most of the missionaries who are going out today are going to already evangelized places. And the unreached, who have never heard the gospel, are getting one half of 1% of the new missionary force."
To hear more about why we need to reach people with the gospel of Christ and how you can partner with AIMS and the LIGHT3500 initiative, listen to the entire podcast interview with Dr. Howard Foltz and Josh Bold at this link. Be sure to share it with other believers whom the Holy Spirit may draw into a partnership with AIMS so we can see the number of those unreached people groups go down and more people reached with the life-changing power of the gospel.
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