UNREACHED

Reaching the Unreached: An Exploration Into the Mission of God with Dr. Todd Ahrend

July 26, 2023 UNREACHED Season 1 Episode 0
UNREACHED
Reaching the Unreached: An Exploration Into the Mission of God with Dr. Todd Ahrend
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome to the UNREACHED Podcast! 
This week, we're setting the stage with an incredible conversation with Dr. Todd Ahrend, founder and director of The Traveling Team. Together, we will explore the monumental task remaining of reaching the 7,000 unreached people groups in the world. We share awe-inspiring stories of God's work and the incredible individuals he has called to this mission. We also discuss the critical issue of misallocation of resources and how university students are becoming some of the most sendable workers to reach these unreached groups.

In our quest to understand the mission of the Church we journey through Biblical history and dissect the FIVE (yes, five) Great Commission texts. Our exploration leads us across the Roman Empire with Paul and into his compelling letters filled with passion for the mission of the Church.

We walk you through the 10-stage "Within Reach Progress Scale", which covers learning languages, translating scripture, and running a business among others. So, tune in and join our enlightening conversation as we share captivating stories of God's work through those called to reach the unreached.

Follow @unreachedpodcast on Instagram for more!

Dustin Elliot:

In Revelation 7, john shares his vision of heaven with members from every tribe, tongue, people and language standing in the throne room before the Lamb. Yet today there are still over 7,000 unreached people groups around the world. For the last six years, my family and friends have been on a journey to find, vet and fund the task remaining. Come journey with us to the ends of the earth as we share the supernatural stories of God at work through the men and women he has called to reach the unreached. Hello friends, dustin Elliott, here, I'm your host of the Unreached podcast, and the first thing I want to do I want to set the table for why we're here Today. There are 17,000 people groups on earth and 7,000 of those are unreached. There's not a church anywhere near you. There maybe isn't a Bible yet in your heart language that you can read and understand. Now, of those 7,000, there are still 700 unengaged people groups, meaning these people have never even met a Christian. They've never yet, not yet had the opportunity to even know about Jesus Christ, about the gospel and about where they can spend eternity. So six years ago, some friends of mine at our church, we started an organization called Bless. This is a nonprofit and what we do with Bless is we mobilize people and resources to reach the unreached and in that six years, by the grace of God alone, we have funded about $10 million of strategic partnerships to 280 unreached people groups speaking 323 languages in 46 countries. So far, through that work, my dislocated heart has been how do we share the stories, how do we report back the good news? Because these stories from the field, across Northern Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Papua New Guinea and all over the world, are incredible. And what we want to do by sharing these stories is two things. I call it a dual mandate. One, we want to encourage the other workers in the field, the co-laborers, those that are out there that are in a different place, in a different time, in a different setting, with different challenges, who are hopefully and prayerfully having different wins for the gospel. We want to be encouraging for you, but also for the rest of us, by sharing these stories. I think what will happen is that you will be encouraged, you will be educated, you'll become more aware of the work that's going on and, prayerfully, you will see that God has a calling on your life and an invitation for you to be a part of His bigger story. You know, everyone says I want to be part of something bigger than myself. Well, here it is, folks, it's right here, it's right here and it's ready for you. And so, through this, tune into the future episodes, share them if they're compelling and helpful for you, as I hope and pray that they are, because there's a task remaining, and the task remaining is that we got to get to the 7,000, we got to get to that 700. And we can do it in our lifetimes.

Dustin Elliot:

Now, in order to address the task remaining, the one thing that I really have to point out that is shocking to me as a businessman is the misappropriation of resources to reach the unreached. Americans spend more money on Halloween costumes for their pets than we send to reaching unreachable groups. So, if we understand that the task remaining, we understand that the call in our lives as Christ followers is to take the gospel to the nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit, to make disciples, to teach them the truths we've been taught right Matthew 28,. If we understand that, how can less than 1% of what's given through Christians be going to fulfill that task? We have to flip this script. We have to flip it on its head. We've got to move this 1% to 2 and 3 and 5 and 10 in order to get the resources where they're not.

Dustin Elliot:

And so a lot of what I just shared with you I learned from our guest today, from launch episode today. It's Dr Todd Arendt. He's the founder and director of the traveling team. He has mobilized thousands. He is an author of several books, including the 10 modules which David Platt actually credits with mobilizing him, including Abrahamic Revolution, which we use and teach in our discipleship groups that we lead here locally. So, todd, thank you so much. I couldn't think of anybody better to set the table for this and lay the foundation and the groundwork for what we're going to do with the Unreach podcast than you. Thank you for being here. Tell us about you and your family and your mission.

Todd Ahrend:

Well, thank you, fantastic, fantastic opener. I live in Fayetteville, arkansas, and we have six kids, and 25 years ago I saw that there was a problem, that we needed more workers. The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. And so I thought, man, who are some of the most mobile, sendable people who could be workers? And I realized it was university students.

Todd Ahrend:

And so 25 years ago, my wife and I we started a ministry called the traveling team and the idea was let's go into secular colleges to Christ, following meetings, the campus crusades, the Baptist student ministries, the chaiathas, and let's challenge them with a biblical mandate to go to pray, to give. And then you know, as you're standing up in front of Montana State, you've got 300 students and you're challenging them and they say, hey, now we have a part two. And so we followed up with a part two that shows in the state of the world at 1040 window, and then we actually pair them with an agency. And so for the last 25 years the traveling team has crisscrossed the country giving kind of the clarion call of God's heart for the world and we're following up with students and then actually launching them to the unreached and we've got about 30 staff. We speak on about 240 campuses a year and there is just. I mean, we love seeing the goers and senders raised up.

Dustin Elliot:

That's beautiful man, the call in your life 25 years ago and to set like a background for launching the traveling team. And we give this talk several times. We've walked through this in discipleship group form together, but let's talk about what is the mission of God. Let's go to the Bible, let's start in Genesis, and would you walk us through the mission of God?

Todd Ahrend:

Yeah. So the mission of God, it really, it begins, I mean, on the first page of the Bible fill the earth, have you know, have dominion over it. Mankind sends, and then chaos erupts. And so I tell people, the first 11 chapters of the Bible is just four words creation, fall flood, nations. You know, that's how you can like summarize the first four words creation, fall flood. And then in chapter 11, you have the nations.

Todd Ahrend:

And really, from from then on, god responding to the chapter 11 with chapter 12, with Abraham, and that chapter 12 is just so important and I think hopefully we'll come back to it a few times. But leave your country, he says to Abraham, leave your country, your people, your father's household, and go to land, I'll show you. Through you, all peoples, all the nations on earth will be blessed. And that really becomes the storyline, the metanarrative of Scripture, where in Genesis 12, the mission of God begins and from there it takes off.

Todd Ahrend:

And obviously you mentioned in your intro the conclusion in Revelation seven, nine, where there's a multicultural worship service of every tribe, tongue and nation. And so if people ask me, hey, what is the mission of God? I just sort of bookend it with Genesis 12 beginning and then the end with Revelation five, nine, and seven, nine, and, succinctly, the mission of God is his glory, praised through Jesus, among the nations. And so there's different ways to say it. Some people say, oh, god blesses his people, to reach all peoples, and I just found that probably one of the most succinct ways to say hey, what is the mission of God? Is God's glory, praised through Jesus, among the nations.

Dustin Elliot:

Okay, so God sets his agenda in Genesis, the agenda of, or the mission of God, but now we have the church. So help me understand how does the church fulfill the mission of God?

Todd Ahrend:

Yes, this is a great question, because what happens is, you know, if you ask someone what is the mission of God, the average Christ follower, unfortunately they don't have clarity on the mission of God. Well, if you don't have clarity on the mission of God, if his glory prays through Jesus among the nations, and it comes to like well, what's the mission of the church, some people are like, oh, isn't it the same as the mission of God? But actually the mission of God? That's the like what we're going for. But the mission of the church is how we get there, like the reason there is a church is because there is a mission to fulfill. And so, to answer the question of what is the mission of the church, again, if the mission of God is his glory prays through Jesus among the nations, what is the mission of the church? And that's when you turn to the Great Commission text, because there's something about those last words of Christ and him commissioning the church and looking at that to get our definition. And so what I like to do is I actually like to look at the Great Commission text in chronological order. So most people, if you're, you know, if you're asking them, what the Great Commission is like the mission of the church. They just don't, they don't really know. But if you actually looked at it from chronological order, it becomes to cut, it becomes not that hard to realize what the mission of the church is.

Todd Ahrend:

So John 2021 would be the first Great Commission text to help us understanding what is the mission of the church. John 2021, it's a short Great Commission passage. It says as the Father sent me, so send I you. Now picture to this dust and imagine if that's like all Jesus gave the first followers. Like you know, he he lived, he died, he rose again. He's standing there and he says as the Father sent me, so send I you. I mean we would be. I mean we would be confused. We'd be like where do we go? What do we say? How do we know we finished? What do we do when we get there? And our and the mission of the church would be sent once. Like if John 2021 was all we had. The mission of the church would be oh, we are sent.

Todd Ahrend:

But luckily, he gives us four more Great Commission texts to help the church understand what we need to be about. And so the the second Great Commission text in chronological order remember they're not given a Matthew, mark, luke and John. They're given in a different chronological order. The second Great Commission to have to be Luke 24, 46 and 47, which he actually goes back and quotes Genesis. He's like this is written like remember what I said? And then he says Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations. Well now, I mean now we that's so different than John 2021, we're just set ones. Now he says, okay, this is written, so this is grounded in the Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament. And then he gives us what's called the gospel he will suffer and rise again on the third day. And then he tells us what to do go and offer repentance. And then he's like they should, they should invite, they should ask for forgiveness of sins. And then he says the scope to all nations. And so Luke adds a lot to what the mission of church should be doing. The mission of the church now is like we're sent ones to go to all nations to preach the gospel, like that's kind of what you have in Luke and John.

Todd Ahrend:

And then the third great commission to actually be marked 1615. Again, similar go and preach the gospel to all creation. So what Luke spelled out, his great commission repentance, forgiveness of sins and all that. And Marge just sums it up and says go and preach the gospel to all creation. So if all you had was Matthew, or if all you had was John, luke and Mark, the great commission would be we are goers sent to to preach the gospel. But then Matthew adds this whole different layer. Matthew's like all authority has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples, baptizing them, teaching them, bringing them in community. And so now what you realize is, when you think about what is the mission of the church, you have to add this idea we have to make disciples.

Todd Ahrend:

Matthew's the only great commission text. It has that phrase. It's so important, though, because it shares with us the evangelization of the world is not our goal. Like Matthew tells us, the evangelization of the world is not our goal. It's the start, but the goal is discipling all nations. Now again, it's it's. It's different. It's. It's a different longevity to birth a baby than it is to raise a baby. And so you know, going and just evangelizing it's a lot easier of a task than actually making disciples and raising these new believers.

Todd Ahrend:

And then Acts one, eight, phenomenal, the last great commission text you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. So this says man, it's not in our strength. And so when you think about what is the mission of the church and you take all five of those great commission passages and you pick out those key words, all of them have going. So in our definition of what is the mission of the church, we have to say go or we're sent. They all have speaking, witnessing, proclaiming. So you have to have one of those words.

Todd Ahrend:

They all have the word gospel or they spell it out. So the the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We have to have the word make disciples, because Matthew says that's key. And then you've got to have this idea of like gathering them in community to baptize and to teach. And so when you think about what is the mission of the church, we want to be very careful that it's just not like our definition, but we take it from the very words of Christ and and and here's probably a really succinct way to say it and that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit we go to every people group or every nation and we make disciples by declaring the gospel and gathering these disciples into healthy communities or churches. So when you think about what is the mission of God, his glory, praise through Jesus among the nations, what is the mission of the church? How do we get that? Well, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we go to all nations and we make disciples by declaring the gospel and gathering them into healthy churches.

Dustin Elliot:

When you, when you put it into chronological order and you spell it out like that, it is just so clear, it's so clear and it's so easy to follow and for me, I see, I see how each one builds on the previous one.

Todd Ahrend:

Yes, it really goes back to again that Genesis 12. In Genesis 12, the mission of God becomes clear and we see the rest of Scripture can easily just be Genesis 12 on repeat. I mean the rest of Scripture is like just going back to remember Genesis 12. And again Genesis 12,. Right after the Tower of Babel, right after the scattering of the nations, god responds by saying to Abraham, or Abram as we knew him, leave your country, your people, your father's household. Through you, all peoples will be blessed. This is so key In Genesis it will be said five times.

Todd Ahrend:

He says it three times to Abraham In Genesis 12, in Genesis 18, 18, he says Abram, you're going to be a great and mighty nation. All nations will be blessed through you. He says it a third time to Abraham in Genesis 22. All nations are going to be blessed. And then he says it to Abraham's son, isaac, in Genesis 26, verse four Isaac, all nations are going to be blessed through you. And then Jacob, Genesis 28,. All peoples.

Todd Ahrend:

I mean you're not even out of Genesis yet and the mission of God has already become clear. There's going to be a nation established, known as Israel, who are going to have a common seed mentality on this one true God and all nations are going to be blessed through this nation of Israel, and that's why God takes him. He's got to create a great nation out of them so that they can be a great nation to reflect them. And so he takes them into Egypt in Exodus. And why does he raise up Pharaoh? Exodus nine gives a great understanding I have raised you up that I might show you my power, that the world might know who I am, that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. And so he brings this nation out of Egypt into the Promised Land. And it is there that Moses wants to see them fulfill, the other nations hearing of Yahweh, this one true God. And so he says to them hey, you've heard on me, obey these laws as a decrease, be a holy nation, be a royal priesthood, be the true representative of God to these nations who are worshiping the Baals, who are worshiping the idols, who are worshiping pagans. And that was like what God wanted. He wanted them to do that, and in Psalms, I mean 175 times. God will mention it, his heart for the world, in Psalms and that famous Psalm 67, one through seven, where, in just seven verses, like 13 times, god reminds Israel I want all peoples to praise me, all peoples. I blessed you, that in you, all peoples would be blessed. It's all over the New Testament. I mean, if people are people bless me, where is? Where is missions in the Bible? And I'm like, where is it? Like every story, is God inviting Israel to represent him? Well, and we know, though. We know that at the end in Ezekiel, the more they were blessed, the more they profane God's name, and we really rejected that mission and ended up worshiping the Baals and the idols as well. God takes them into exile.

Todd Ahrend:

And then you open up to Matthew. So the book of Matthew, where the Messiah is born, the awaited king. The Jews did not recognize him or the world did not want him, and he establishes his church. And in Matthew 16, he says I will build my church and basically, where Israel failed, the church will succeed. He says the word church.

Todd Ahrend:

In Matthew 16, he says that two more times than Matthew 18 acts to the church's birth. And the church now, instead of being the common, see that Israel was the church is the go and tell. He flips the script, does that? He's like go and tell. Go and tell Matthew, mark, luke and John, the five commissioning texts we just looked at, the crystal clear understanding of the mission of the church and what we should be about. We should be about those who are going and telling and, of course, the culmination and revelation where, where Israel fails, the church succeeded and there's a multicultural worship service for every tribe, tongue and nation. So then, the mission of God, beautiful thing, genesis 12, revelation, and it's worth giving your life for, because my little story doesn't end, my little story doesn't end with everybody gathering around my throne, or should be me so between acts and revelation, though God gives us such an unbelievable gift.

Dustin Elliot:

He gives us examples of church plants, he gives us stories of how they're getting started and the struggles they're going through and the false teachers and prophets and influences that are coming in, and he gives us this incredible character, paul and Paul is essentially Paul doesn't have a private jet that he can fly back and forth from one to the other to go correct what's going on right. I mean, paul's travel is a little bit limited at this point if he's not currently being beaten, imprisoned or shipwrecked. So a lot of what he's having to do is he's hearing these stories of what's happening in his baby church plants and then he's sending these letters, these heart felt, just broken hearted laments at times, and sometimes very firm and affirming correction, back to these churches and saying look, that's not right, this is right. I'm sending so and so back. He's going to help you get it right. And God gives us these examples. Tell me how Paul, or where is. What do you see in Paul that inspires how we go about church planting among the nations today?

Todd Ahrend:

Well, I mean, oh, my goodness, you know, peter. The first 10 chapters of Acts is kind of front stage, and you know God told you know, basically, peter, you're going to be my servant of the Jews. Paul's going to go to Gentiles, and right after Acts 10, when Cornelius is saved and sort of the Gentiles begin to come in, peter kind of exits stage left, like you don't hear it from him again. I mean it's you get a brief showing of Peter in Acts 15. But other than that, he exits stage left, and you have this unbelievable new character emerge.

Todd Ahrend:

What's interesting about this new character, though, is he had to be awakened. I mean he had to be awakened. I mean he, this man who you were referring to, Paul or in scripture sometimes he's called Saul, if you want to use his Greek name or his Jewish name, and here he is. He has this radical conversion on the road to Damascus. He's the Hebrew of Hebrews, the scholar of scholars of Jews, studied under the Gamalil, which is like the who's who of that day, and he has this conversion and then goes back to his hometown, tarsus, and is a tent maker processing this conversion, and after 10 years, I mean we failed to realize how long he was in Tarsus, his hometown. I mean, he's probably breaking off an engagement he had with a girl because of his new conversion. He's processing the Old Testament scriptures, what he would see as the Hebrew scriptures, what he would see as the only scriptures through the lens of Christ, and all of a sudden, in Acts 11, this guy knocks on his door. I mean, it's the knock that changed the world.

Todd Ahrend:

And this guy is Barnabas and he knocks on Paul's door and he's like hey, listen, I know you're tent making. I know your knee deep and evangelizing these. You know pagan, non Jews and Tarsus. I know you're trying to understand the scriptures through Christ. I need you in Antioch. You know, come to Antioch. We've got Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians and they're not eating together. They won't even eat together. We have two potlucks. There's two churches emerging and this is a major problem, like if you don't stop this, the history of Christianity is going to be two churches. And Paul's like Okay, he packs up his tent making gear. That's what's great about tent making. You can do it anywhere. He packs up his tent making gear, he comes south to Antioch and he stays there. He stays there for a few years, he stays there. And then it acts, those leaders of Antioch. They lay their hands on Paul and Barnabas and say, hey, we think you need to go and do.

Todd Ahrend:

The power of the Holy Spirit Remember that's the Great Commission text in Acts 18 by the power of the Holy Spirit they were sent out and they go on their first missionary journey. Okay now I mean just think of how the rest of Paul's life looked. I mean he could have been like small town tarcets, working with people passing through. But now Barnabas awakened him. I mean, if you just zoom out on Paul's life, it's like right now he travels 10,000 miles on three mission trips across the Roman Empire. He's persecuted by the Roman non believers who want pagan gods to win. He's persecuted by Jews who want nothing to do with this new Christ Messiah, and he's persecuted by false prophets within the church, all the while supporting himself, writing letters trying to beat off the false prophets, trying to get out of town before they knew so. And if you just zoom out on his life you're like, oh my gosh, that knock, that changed the world, was unbelievable. But then you can kind of zoom in to say, look, he understood that this was his commissioning from the beginning. I mean I love what he writes in Galatians, galatians, galatians three. He's writing this letter to Galatians. He says man, what scripture says this? And they quote Genesis 12. He's like the gospel will be preached to all nations and we know this in advance from Abraham. I mean this is Galatians three, eight. Like Paul, he put his anchor in Genesis 12. Again, galatians three, 14, he redeemed us. Why? Because what began with Abraham might make its way to the nations. And so you've got this.

Todd Ahrend:

Awaken, paul travels the Roman Empire preaching the gospel and then man. Probably my two favorite passages that Paul shares his vision would be both in Romans, and really the first few verses of Romans, and then the end of the verses of Romans, romans, chapter one. He starts off by saying this is his beautiful 16 chapter letter to a church he'd never visited. He says this. He says Paul, an apostle set apart for God that I might be obedient to bring his name to all nations. I mean like that's verses one through five. In a nutshell, he says I'm Paul, I'm a servant of Christ and I was called to take his name among the nations. He knew from the beginning like man. I don't know how I'm going to get there, but this is the calling on my life. And then Dustin that Romans 15, where he says from Jerusalem all the way around to Elykrian, my fully acclaimed gospel of Christ. It's my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ is not known.

Todd Ahrend:

And then in Romans 15, verse 22 and 23, now there's no more place for me to work in these regions. I mean, this is what's crazy about Paul, is he literally, you know, he tells these Roman believers there's no more work for me, really, in the center of the Roman Empire. He says this to them. Now, just to capture this, this is like he's writing Romans from the Corinth and he's writing Romans in about I don't know 50 AD or so and he tells them there's no more work for me in the Roman Empire. Like the Roman Empire is there's 60 million people in the Roman Empire, at most there's 10,000 Christ followers. And he's like there's no more work for me. I mean this is just crazy.

Todd Ahrend:

But he had this idea of man where is the gospel? Never gone. And he's like Spain, that's like the edge of the Roman Empire. And so he really like his whole life is like I want to take trips around Turkey and Europe and then I'm just like my final place is Spain, to get to Spain. And so he loved. Why Spain? Because for Spain he thought it was, it was the modern day ends of the earth for them. And if I can just get to Spain, we will fulfill Matthew 28. And so I mean you can zoom out and look at his life and be like, oh my gosh, shipwrecks beaten 13 books of the Bible. You can zoom in and look at specific passages Galatians 3, romans 1, romans 15.

Dustin Elliot:

He was anchored in Genesis 12 and his mission so I want to pivot, because we've established a lot of our biblical narrative, biblical truth for the mission of God, the mission of the church. What are we called in commission to do? And now let's talk a little bit about how. Okay, how do we go about doing that? And so part of what Todd and I have been a part of for the last six years has been Bless, the Bless Foundation. Blessworld is our website and we've started out by.

Dustin Elliot:

Initially, we were trying to go out and find mission organizations that were working in unreached people, groups that had a really great solution to how they were going to reach a group or how they were going to address a problem, and we were like, okay, let's start out with five categories, right, we're going to protect vulnerable children. We're going to fight human trafficking. We're going to mobilize cross-cultural workers, we're going to advance the gospel and we're going to supply life-sustaining resources and we're going to find an agency to fund in each of those five categories every year and we're going to bring all of our family and friends together. We're going to have a big Christmas party concert and we're going to share, we're going to go and get video footage and images and stories from these projects, from these opportunities, and we're going to share those on stage. We would do it at ACL live in downtown Austin every December we still do, it's incredible. And then we would all come together, just like King David in the assembly, as they were getting their funding and the preparations ready for the temple. And King David said I've got everything gathered right, I got all that we need to build the temple, but I am also going to give all of my own personal treasure and it lists the tonnage of the gold and the silver and everything that he gave. And then he says who will give with me, who will join me? And everyone did. And it says that they rejoiced and with that same biblical model, that's what we do with bless. We come together, we go and find the right opportunities to partner with and to fund and we come together and we give and we fund them. And I gave the stats earlier of what all we've funded so far. We've learned a lot of lessons.

Dustin Elliot:

One of the most eye-opening moments happened last year with Todd in recognizing this concept of biblical ministry versus biblical missions. We had been doing biblical ministry, we had been popping into an unreached people group for a one to three year period. Whether we were digging a water well or we were rescuing folks out of slavery, or we were helping build a church or whatever it was, we were in there for a short time and we were out and we were leaving the sending agency and the missionaries and the folks that were there to continue the work without us. That was our biblical ministry model. And then Todd got this revelation of biblical missions and how do we shift our paradigm? How do we shift the paradigm to solve the task remaining? Todd, would you walk us through that?

Todd Ahrend:

Yes, there was a landmark book that came out a while ago and it was a historian, stephen Neal, in the history of Christian missions 300 pages, walks you through for like acts to what's going on. Well then, it was in the 40s, 1940s, and the first page, page one like the only thing on the page there's a blank page except this, and it basically says if everything is mission, nothing is mission. And what he means by that is we have to define what is it we're trying to do? Are we just trying to do good things in the name of Christ or do we actually have a mission? And if we do, what is that mission? And so today this is something you've seen is like with everything is mission, nothing is mission because it's like just we'll throw it to the wall, see what sticks. So anything done in the name of Christ is what we're going for. That's actually. That's not going to cut it. That's not what we're called to do. We're called to make disciples of all nations going and preaching, saying we get to say something. So what we did is it's very helpful to differentiate between what we consider biblical ministry, which is so needed and helps you engage in what's called biblical missions.

Todd Ahrend:

So let me just try to distinguish the two biblical ministry versus biblical missions. Both are vastly needed and one actually helps aid the other. So biblical ministry would be, simply put good deeds done in the name of Christ. So I'm going to go to Africa and dig a well in the name of Christ. I'm going to start a counseling center in Jordan for refugees in the name of Christ. I'm going to be a nurse in Saudi Arabia and just let my light shine like those are needed things and we need those and those are be considered biblical ministry.

Todd Ahrend:

The goal is, you know, let's dig a well let's, let's counsel, let's do these things. Biblical missions would be so into the spear. I am making disciples, I'm declaring the gospel, I am gathering them into healthy churches and what we've seen is biblical ministry is needed to help fuel biblical missions. What I mean by that is if you try to go to allows, to an unreached people group, and you're like I graduated with a degree in Bible and I want to be a missionary, the lay tuition government's going to be like we'll have fun and see you know, like you ain't coming, you ain't coming here, you know.

Todd Ahrend:

So you need a biblical ministry business to get you in, to be able to do biblical mission. So I need a, I need a business of pine nut farming. Well, I graduated with a, you know, I graduated a degree in economics or whatever let's say you need to, you need to a business platform to get in and it needs to be sustainable and needs to be producing and it needs to be legitimate. And so biblical ministry is the I'm going to go to allows and start a pine nut factory and they get it going. And now, because of that, my biblical ministry, I can do biblical missions, I can share the gospel, I can learn the language, I can play at churches, and so I think, regarding bless simply put like bless was the first five or six years we're like oh like work, we invest heavily in the biblical ministry and I think we also realize, wow, we need to invest biblical ministries and make sure the biblical missions is happening on the back.

Dustin Elliot:

Yeah, Okay, thanks for saying that, and so if you go to, if you want to follow along with this on the blessed out world website and in the portfolio, if you scroll down a little bit, you'll see something that we created called the within reached progress journey, and Todd and leaders of several other sending organizations we all worked on this to try to create this 10 step scale of how do you go about reaching an unreached people group.

Dustin Elliot:

Right, we want to be able to create language that everyone can read and listen to and understand and quickly get so. When I set the profile in future episodes for it for a people group that we're working with or that are we're interviewing someone that's working in and we're and we're funding or whatever, when I set that stage, I want people to quickly be able to understand okay, they're at a level three, they're at a level six, they're at a level eight and understand what that means in terms of where they are in the progress. So we try to take this concept and bring it under an umbrella that are, you know, everyday business people kind of like myself can grasp and understand. So, todd, would you walk us through the within reach progress journey and help everyone kind of understand steps one through 10?. It's not always in this order, but this is a as well as we could put it together to understand kind of where a UPG would be.

Todd Ahrend:

Yes. So reaching these unreached people groups is very, very difficult. It takes a. It's very difficult, it takes time. If you have a little girl and you send her off to kindergarten and you give her a hug and take a picture of what she's wearing when you go to her graduation as a senior in high school and she's in that cap and gown, that's how long it takes to get an unreached people group to within reach. It takes about 12 to 15 years and there's a process.

Todd Ahrend:

Again, just to use the example of Laos, let's say, if there's an, there are unreached people groups. There are hundreds of unreached people groups inside of Laos. And how do you, how do you get them a church? And so we've developed this scale in conjunction with some unbelievable mission agencies. And and you, first you got to get the worker to go, you got to, you've got to get someone to go to that unreached people group. And then, once they decide that they're going to leave their, their comfort and their community and go, the first step is they, they, they, they get there and they unpack. And so, man, all that preparation, work, the training, then they begin.

Todd Ahrend:

The step two would be learning majority language, because they don't know what unreached people group they want to go to. Yet, and you can't go to that unreached people group unless you know the majority language, because the business that you've got to fund and found the paperwork to the majority language. So you've got to first learn the majority language. You got to learn Laosian, and that takes three years. Then after that, after after three years, you're in stage two. So stage two would be learning majority language, and after three years you look up and you're like okay, what unreached people group do I want to go to? Oh, I want to go to the pharma. Okay, the pharma peoples. Okay, well, now I got to learn this pharma, because pharma, they don't speak Laosian. And so I got to spend two more years learning the language of pharma. That would be step three in our 10 stage within reach progress skill. Well then, guess what? The pharma they don't have.

Todd Ahrend:

Then, with a Bible, like there's never been. Like how they have a Bible? There's no Christians and I'm a Bible in their language. So now while I'm running my pine nut factory in pharma, we'll try and to make sure my kids don't get bit by a rabbit dog Because there's no hospital for 12 hours away. I got to start translating Romans, mark, portions of Ephesians, portions of Galatians, the first 15 chapters of Genesis, the first 10 chapters of Exodus, portions of Joshua, and it's like oh, by the way, you got to run a pine nut factory and keep your supporters back home. What's going on? And don't get kicked out by the Laotian government.

Todd Ahrend:

Then that leads to step five, like, once you get, now you've got a little bit of scripture translate and so now you begin to share the gospel, opening up those powerful words of Christ. So I mean just to get to step five in our 10 step process, remember step one on site. Step two learn Laotian, the majority language. Steps to relearn pharma, the minority language. Step four oh, translate courses of scripture. You're not going to do the whole thing, that would take you 35 years. You're going to do just portions. It'll take you four or five.

Todd Ahrend:

Then you begin to share the gospel. I mean you are like, if you add just that up, you are. You're like eight years in to living among the pharma before you can even see people come to Christ. You can't share the gospel language you don't know. And what gets the gospel if they don't have the Bible to back it up?

Todd Ahrend:

So then, after you begin to share the gospel peripherally.

Todd Ahrend:

You have new believers.

Todd Ahrend:

That's, uh, that's phase six, or step six. We disciple them and then you help these new believers. Hey, let's go reach other pharmas, you and I. And stage seven is new believers making disciples. And you're going to step eight. You start to equip these new believers and training to be leaders. Uh, step nine. And then step 10, you look up and you're like, oh my gosh, after 12 years of being here, I know Laotian, I know pharma, I'm giving them portions of the New Testament. I've got 13 Christ followers who four of them are discipling others. Three of them are incredible leaders and I'm now stepping out, letting them preach. And now you probably just check in once a year with them, as you've seen this people group go from unreached to within reach.

Todd Ahrend:

And again, the reason we say within reach, they're not reached.

Todd Ahrend:

I mean, if the pharma have two million people and then you, you have 13 believers, that's no new or near reach, but that's why we use the phrase within reach.

Todd Ahrend:

They have believers, they have portions of the New Testament, and so, um, oh, by the way, on top of all the lists, um, on top of, like, learning the majority language, the minority language, translating scripture, running a pine nut factory, keeping your supporters back home aware so they don't fall off your team because they don't know where you're at, not getting kicked out by the government. Make sure you don't have a daughter who has high needs in the hospital, otherwise you got to come home. Make sure you know so, even during this 12 year process. I mean, candice Schroeder just wrote a remarkable book called rerouted um caring for missionaries when unexpected trials bring them home. I mean, what happens when you're like seven years in and your son has severe autism and they, you can't function anymore. So so there's a lot that goes on and we celebrate every step. When someone moves, when a people group moves from phase two to phase three, this is incredible. Phase four to phase five incredible. When the missionary doesn't have to come over medical needs incredible. Reaching the extremely unreached is extremely difficult.

Dustin Elliot:

I can feel um, and I'm sure the listeners can feel your, your heart, your dislocated, broken heart for this process. I think of a lot of the folks that we've got to know and and funded either personally or through bless, who labor for year after year after year after year after year and get into, maybe like that fifth, sixth, seventh year, and if you look at the scale, there hasn't been someone except Jesus yet, like there hasn't been like that, maybe that fruit of the harvest moment yet. So I think that it can be so challenging at times, very discouraging, at times, very lonely. And so, man, I just I hope if you're, if you're serving and you're laboring right now and you're hearing this and you, you want to tune into future episodes because, just because you may not be harvesting that fruit right now, someone else is, is, they're at a different place in the journey and God is faithful and he's with utility. End of the age and, by the grace of God, if one of those situations that Todd just mentioned doesn't end up happening and you're able to stay there through, through the plan of a church, it's the most, it's the most beautiful call in our life we could possibly, we could possibly have Um. So I hope that this is encouraging and, and now that we've kind of explained that we've set this up, we couldn't do this without the sending agencies.

Dustin Elliot:

You hit on it early on in terms of what the traveling team does. Your role is to is to mobilize and to connect right Is to get them to the sending agencies that have this experience. I mean, some of the ones we work with have thousands in the field and different nations and languages and people groups. What's the playbook like? They're tied. I mean you can't just you can't just feel the call and go right. What's the steps? How do you? How do you go about that and who do you? Who do you call?

Todd Ahrend:

Yeah, so a Bible and a passionate heart is not enough to reach the unreached. Okay, you need help, you need training, uh, and you need resilience. And the mission agency is there because of that. I mean, think about it, the mission agency. All they do all day is think about the unreached. That's all they do. They all they do is think about where are the unreached, who are the unreached? How many of them are there? What do they believe among this song reached? What's it going to take to reach them?

Todd Ahrend:

And so my home church, no matter how incredible the mission department is of three people in a seven man committee, they have no idea of what they. They just that's outside their scope. They're pulled between home missions and state missions and, uh, world missions and they just have no ability to do that. So even local churches rely heavily on mission agencies and partner with them. Um, I, I just I just told a friend of mine, I said, choosing the right mission agency is one notch below choosing the right spouse, because it just makes so much. It's seriously that important Like they are going to help you and guide you and be there with you. Uh, they deal with. They deal with where to place you. I mean, the world's a big place, the unreached is a big place 65 countries inside the 10, 40 windows, thousands of unreached people, groups you don't need. I don't know where the teams are, I don't know who I fit with. The mission agency says to me hey, you know what you would fit great as a married couple with six kids. It allows among the farmer people. They need you there so they help with placement. They helped me with support raising Uh, they do the positive money, my account, uh financially and getting tax fees to the supporters. They help you in emergency situations. I mentioned the rabid dog. That's a real situation where a family in Laos, their son, was bit by a rabid dog. They immediately get on the phone with the mission agency.

Todd Ahrend:

Mission, the agency is doing all the field work and says, hey, 12 hours away, you got to drive through the night but we got a hospital on the very southern tip of house. If you were to get there, man, that's, you know I'm my local church isn't going to be much help there. They don't have those connections. The mission agency will. They do training, uh, ongoing field coaching. I mean I just went to a conference in Asia where they brought in 200 workers from the unreached and just let them sing and worship. They brought a pastor in to preach through Titus and they just had fellowship. The, the mission agency. Bottom line is this if you want to stay longer and go farther, the mission agency is the key to your success.

Dustin Elliot:

Thank you for sharing that, because there is a chance somebody's going to get mobilized, listening, and there's a chance they're going to get excited. But we, we want to just encourage folks that do to. You know, use it, takes a village concept, use the people that are available to you, the resources that are available to you, leverage a team in this scenario. This is not nothing that somebody is singularly able to go out and conquer, but it is something that everyone has a singular role to play in. So, with the unreached scale, with what we've learned through bless, we started the one portfolio where we, where we basically um for lack of a better word adopted 22 unreached people groups.

Dustin Elliot:

I'll say UPG is 22 UPG to start, and each of these is in a different part of the world and they all fall under for, uh, what you would call kind of other world major religions outside of Christianity. Todd, can you hit on those other four real quick and, um, like, what are they? Why are we picking a people group within each one to get going? And and and how is it important to understand? Um, you know the differences, um, and what you're up against in each of these others Well, so the unreached people group there's.

Todd Ahrend:

They're made up of major world religions. You've got the animus animistic ones, which are the tribal ones. Everything from the banana leaf to the banana has a spirit and how to navigate that. Workers among animistic peoples have a completely different uh, they have different problems, and we'll have to how to explain God, then say, another religion that we work with, which would be Islam, a very strict one God concept. And so some of our uh, some of our unreached, are within the animistic, some are within Islam, some are within Buddhism, which again, there's a no God concept, that's a whole nother uh bear to wrestle. And then some are within the Hindu world, which is a multiple God concept.

Todd Ahrend:

And so we've chosen these 2200 people groups. Some are within the animistic or the Hindu or the Buddhist or the Muslim, and then some are at different levels. Some are at a uh level one, just the missionaries have just arrived. Some we've seen get to level fives, and our goal is that we would fully fund all that the workers need for their business, for their ministry, uh, for their, for their mental needs, for their translation needs. Um, I mean it is. It is uh, 140,000 dollars just to translate the new Testament and get them copies, like there's so much that goes into it. So the the idea is that, what would it look like if? If you were to get the idea is that what would it look like if, within these 2200 people groups we were, we were able to lift that financial burden and just let them focus on reaching the unreached language, the translating, the shri antikaasal and the cycle ship.

Dustin Elliot:

Right. So the idea is they're. They're already there, they've already raised their resources, they're sending agencies doing their part, but what you're you've learned and we've learned over the years is there's an additional financial need every year. That's unexpected, um, and it could be building a school, that could be building an air strip in the middle of the jungle, because it's a nine day hike to get where you're going. Without it. They could be whatever these other ancillary needs are.

Dustin Elliot:

And so the idea is, hey, let's come together and bring our resources together and let's heed the call to keep them there, keep them focused, keep them on task, finish the task remaining, if you will, and support them in that way. So we've launched with 22. We announced this in December at light the world downtown, austin, acl. Incredible three and a half million dollar rate dollar raised in one night second largest event in Austin last year. There's 29 more that we've identified that are waiting to be added to the portfolio for 51 total. So that's the next step for BLAS. And then, obviously, where's the next? Where's the next 50 to get to a hundred and so on. So tell us, tell us a little bit about, about what's next in that, in that term.

Todd Ahrend:

Well, we want to bring in more unreached people groups. I mean, right now we've got 29 waiting to be funded. And so, you know, you can imagine being in in phase four of this within reached scale and you're starting translation. You're in Laos, you've got the majority language learning, the minority language learning. Now, all of a sudden, the government says, hey, you know, you've got to. You need 120,000 to start your coffee business. Well, I got to. I got to go back to the state needs after being gone for three years with networks who are already supporting me personally. And I got to. I got to find $13,000. You know, that might take me a year. And so there's just, we want to lift that burden and we've got the next 29. We want to move in to say man, you, you do what you need to do. We'll take care of holding the ropes and funding you from our end.

Dustin Elliot:

Oh, that's such a good segue into my next question. So there there are these different roles, that that everyone can play. And if someone's getting engaged in getting mobilized right now listening to this and they're thinking, okay, I don't know if I'm called to go to Laos right now, maybe I have a different skill set, maybe I have a different role I can play, can you break those down for them?

Todd Ahrend:

Yeah, I mean we love to tell people you can be a goer or you can be a sender, that you can be a goer or you can be a sender. And when we say goer, we mean go there and go here. So go there, man, the the heart can't feel what the eye had seen. Spend a week, spend some time getting vision in another culture. Go there, that's going to just grip your heart. But also, um, you can go here. I mean 80,000 Somalians. And Minneapolis I mean you, you, you go to a coffee shop in Austin. It looks like the United Nations. I mean there's so many different uh, uh, religions and religions and refugees and immigrants and students studying here, uh, from the 1040 window. And so, uh, I mean I remember my wife, uh, three weeks ago. She's like hey, we live down the street from the University of Arkansas. And she's like I called the University of Arkansas, I asked for the international student department, a guy named Sam. I picked up the phone and we got paired. I asked him do you have any international students that need an OCE family? He's like yeah, we have 112. And so he, we got this girl named Bindi from India. Can you go pick her up? We're going to take her to the rodeo. I'm like this, what Like we're going to, what we go?

Todd Ahrend:

I find her apartment in the international apartment. She walks out. She's got this creche, the tattoo on her arm. I went to Spotify and put top 10 Hindu heads, adam Crankin. She gets in the car, we take her to the rodeo. We spend five hours with her.

Todd Ahrend:

We talk about in G-Dragon, we talk about Jesus, krishna, ganesh Ram. I mean it was a hoot and I'm like what is she going to ever hear the gospel? So for someone listening, we can go there and get vision. But also we can go here. There are refugees, immigrants, international students. So you can go or you can, you can send.

Todd Ahrend:

I mean send by giving and send by praying, and so more money will never make a selfish person generous. It just doesn't happen what you give with how much you have now, you're going to give with how much you have later. So more money won't make a selfish person generous. We need to be generous in giving is, as Dustin mentioned, that Halloween outfit for your pets, and we give more there than mission. But then we can be praying. We can be praying Luke 10 to the harvest is plentiful. The workers are few at my house with my six kids, every iPad, iphone at 10.02. The alarms go off. My daughter she'll go over to our app. She goes into unreached of the day and she types in the unreached of the day app. It's a free app and it tells you a people group you can pray for and we just stop where we're at and for like 10 seconds, 20 seconds, we're just like Lord, we pray for the farm as a blouse, we pray for that pine nut factory, we pray for those missionaries, and that's just to remember.

Dustin Elliot:

So if you're listening and you're like how can I get involved, you can go, go there, go here, and you can send by praying and getting part of the plan for the podcast tide is that we want to share the supernatural stories of God at work through the men and women he's called to reach the unreached. And I know you have enough stories to supply a whole season of this podcast. But if I just ask you, give me one significant, profound God moment story that you've seen in your life, in your work, that really the listeners just wouldn't hardly be able to believe is true?

Todd Ahrend:

I mean I came across one three weeks ago with one of the, with one of the teams we financially support with bless, and the story is they were there, the 10 phase within reach journey skill. They were phase one, they were on site, they got through phase two of learning the majority language and they were ready to pick the people group for phase three, that they were gonna reach and learn the minority language people group and start the church. But this team realized, they looked ahead and they said, man, we do not have anyone on our team that is gifted and Bible translation. Like we don't have anyone on our team who feels like that is their gift. And they were very nervous. They're like man. They knew cause that's coming after you learn the minority language is translation. And they knew we have got to pray. God, give us someone on our team that can be a good translator. But how impossible is that? I mean you're already three years in the majority language. Who's just gonna pop in and say I'm a Bible translator, I'll do all this for you? And they just knew they were just like they were throwing up a. I mean they just had no idea. They're like man, lord, like we have no one who can translate on our team.

Todd Ahrend:

And so they actually went into their people group and they realized something. They realized that from 1987 to 1993, this married couple from Finland had a heart to eradicate Bible poverty. Out of all the people groups in the world, they chose this one people group. They spent six years there learning the language and in 1993, finished the New Testament. At pretty much the exact same time the government kicked them out. They didn't share the gospel, they didn't start a church. Their sole purpose for going there was to translate scripture. And they realized this team, realized this Finnish couple has done this. They connect with them and this couple from Finland they're just in tears, they're like for six years we knew our role was translation, but we had no idea why. And for six years we've just been praying Lord, let someone else come and stand on our shoulders and I just it's. Here's what's crazy. They, this team, had no idea how to get the Bible translated from start to finish. And God used a Finnish husband and wife 30 years ago, 30 years ago 30 years ago.

Dustin Elliot:

Imagine the encouragement going both ways in that scenario. Imagine the ability for them to come back and call that couple and go well, this is what it looks like now. And here's what's going on now. And, by the way, did you meet so and so? And yeah, they've got kids and grandkids now.

Dustin Elliot:

Right, oh, my gosh, todd, that is fantastic, all right, well, hey, to wrap things up, you've heard from the incredible Dr Todd Aaron today. I think I hope and I pray that you've caught our heart for taking the gospel to the nations, that you know that we're here to help. We wanna be a resource for you and yours. We wanna be encouraging, we wanna be inspiring, we wanna mobilize where possible, and we all have a role to play. And so next episode is gonna be our friend Jack Crabtree.

Dustin Elliot:

They're in a tribe in Papua New Guinea, and you think the one to 10 scale is hard just as it is. Well, let me tell you what. This tribe didn't even have a written language. So add another factor in there, where you had to develop an alphabet and then teach them to read and write their own language before you could ever translate the scripture and give it to them in their hard language, so every one of these guests will have on. They all have the same heart, they all have the same purpose. We all have the same passion, but the challenges are unique and different and, prayerfully, those challenges really inspire all of us to get involved.

Dustin Elliot:

So thank you for tuning in. Thank you for joining us, todd. You are one of my favorite people in the world. I've learned so much from you and I am so grateful for you. My man and I have a feeling you may be back in future episodes and future seasons, buddy. Thank you so much. Prayers up, my man. See y'all soon. Thank you for listening to Unreached. Our sincere desire is that what you've heard today will cause you to see the mission of God differently and you're rolling it more clearly. If this adds value for you and we hope it does would you please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. Also, share with your family, your friends, your church, your life group small group, d group wherever you do life, and if you wanna connect with us, find us on Instagram at unreachedpodcast or email us at unreachedpodcastgmailcom.

The Unreached Podcast
Church's Mission and the Great Commission
God's Mission
Power of Holy Spirit and Missions
Reaching Unreached People Groups
Missionary Work Among Unreached People Groups
Bringing Resources to Reach Unreached People