UNREACHED

Finding HOPE in a Shoebox: Unboxing the global impact of Operation Christmas Child with Joel Hayslip and David Thompson

November 29, 2023 UNREACHED Season 1 Episode 10
UNREACHED
Finding HOPE in a Shoebox: Unboxing the global impact of Operation Christmas Child with Joel Hayslip and David Thompson
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Could a simple shoebox be the key to bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth? That's what we're exploring in our enlightening conversation with Samaritan's Purse representatives, Joel Hayslip and David Thompson. We celebrate the Advent season with Operation Christmas Child, a worldwide effort that involves over a million people and over 160,000 churches with the goal of reaching 11 million children this year. We light the Candle of Hope, symbolizing our belief in Jesus' coming and our commitment to extending His kingdom to all nations.

Imagine reaching out to about 7,000 "unreached" out of 17,000 global people groups with the Gospel. Our guests, Joel and David, share inspiring stories of how this monumental task is being undertaken. We're especially moved by the story of a pastor in Madagascar who reached out to 15 villages that had never heard the Gospel. We also delve into the transformative power of the Greatest Journey discipleship program and how it's changing lives in places far and near.

The role of the local church can't be overemphasized. We discuss how the church is crucial in accomplishing Jesus' Great Commission and how Samaritan's Purse is investing in equipping national leaders who understand the local language and culture. We also highlight how the Bless Foundation provides additional funding and support to churches and missionaries. To wrap up, we reflect on the power of prayer in the mission field, and pray for the billions who still need to hear the good news of salvation. Join us on this incredible journey of faith, hope, and love.

Follow @unreachedpodcast on Instagram for more!

Dustin Elliott:

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, I want to welcome everyone to the Unreached podcast, our regular listeners. Welcome back and to everyone, if this is your first time tuning in, I couldn't be more excited. I may have said that before, but this time I really mean it again. We have something totally new, totally fun. We're doing a four week Advent series to celebrate Christmas, to celebrate the coming of the King, and we're doing it with one of the largest, most recognizable organizations on the planet, samaritan's Purse, and specifically Operation Christmas Child.

Dustin Elliott:

Clint and I are so excited to introduce two representatives from Samaritan's Purse. But before I do, I want to set the table. I want you to get and grasp the magnitude of this event. Okay so the magnitude of the importance of Jesus coming to earth. How we're celebrating that with Advent this year is a way for Samaritan's Purse to thank an army of global volunteers and folks that help out.

Dustin Elliott:

And just how big is it? Something around the order of 80,000 sending churches who get shoeboxes, pack them full of toys and scripture and things for these kids, and those 87,000 partner churches then, through a distribution network that Samaritan's Purse manages, distribute to about 80,000 going churches and those churches are distributing these goods on the ground to the children in their communities. So you have this 160 plus thousand church network. You've got something around a million total people or more involved in this network and the goal is to reach this year 11 million children. So it's a massive effort. It's so cool to be a part of it. We're glad you're here to celebrate with us. So, clint, first of all, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and about Advent and Week 1, lighting the Candle of Hope?

Clint Hudson:

Yeah, Merry Christmas everybody.

Clint Hudson:

My name's Clint Hudson.

Clint Hudson:

I am the worship pastor at Austin Ridge Bible Church in Austin, Texas, had the opportunity to participate in Operation Christmas Child in a couple different ways that we'll unpack over the next couple weeks.

Clint Hudson:

But the thing that I'm most excited about is this the Advent series is one of the single most unified moments in the body of Christ. This is the time where the global church comes together to focus on the hope of Jesus and Christ coming. This first week, this first episode, we're actually focusing on hope. Hope is the central theme of the entire Advent season, but it's also the foundation for our whole belief that Jesus is coming, not only coming into our hearts, but he's coming to the world and to the ends of the earth. And this first week prepares us to be a people of hope and to believe that darkness will not prevail, but the light of the world, Jesus, the light of the world will overcome it, and so we're so grateful to have an opportunity for you to be able to hear how Operation Christmas Child is going to the ends of the earth and what God is doing through this incredible ministry.

Dustin Elliott:

So let me introduce our guest. We have Joel Hayslip and David Thompson, both big time leaders within Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child and, in particular, ministries about getting the gospel where it's, not to the ends of the earth. David, why don't you start? Tell us a little bit about you and your role, and then Joel follow up.

David Thompson:

Absolutely. Thank you, gentlemen, Great to be with you today. We're out here in Boone, North Carolina, in the Appalachian Mountains. If you're a college football fan, you've probably heard of Appalachian State University. Also here is Samaritan's Purse, and Samaritan's Purse has been around for 50 years. Franklin Graham is our CEO and sets the vision and direction for this organization. Our project, Operation Christmas Child, just celebrated its 30th year. We celebrated 200 million children in over 160 countries around the world being impacted by the project. 50 million of those kids discipled through our discipleship program. The Greatest Journey, Many of those coming to faith. That's what wakes us up in the morning and gets us going, and we're laser focused on that and seek to do it in a biblical way Christ honoring, driven by prayer.

Joel Hayslip:

Merry Christmas. I'm Joel Heyslip. I serve on the program's teams. In my specific role, I focus on what we call the unreached people groups and I'm sure we'll talk more about that but the ends of the earth, the communities that have never, ever, ever heard the gospel?

Dustin Elliott:

Of course, let's start here the prophetic vision of reaching the unreached through OCC. Just to give context for someone listening that may be hearing some jargon the unreached what does that mean? So there's 17,000 people groups on earth, according to our friends at the Joshua Project, and they define a reach people group as at least 2% Christian. And so there's about 10,000 reach. So that means that there's about 7,000 that are considered unreached. Now there may be some Christians in some of those 7,000, but it hasn't reached a kind of a critical mass, if you will, of 2%. The goal here is how do we get unreached people groups access to the good news, access to the gospel? How do we plant healthy, disciple making, indigenous led churches in these communities?

Dustin Elliott:

And so this prophetic vision for Operation Christmas Child because of the magnitude of Samaritan's Purse, because of the reach and the favor that God has put on this organization, to get into places, often with humanitarian aid after crisis, but in this case to get in with the Christmas spirit, with the ability to just love on a child and give them something that they've probably never been given before. We get access and there's a way to piggyback that access. And you all have developed a discipleship curriculum. Why don't we talk about that? How does the access then turn into progress?

David Thompson:

Yeah, that is a great way to put it. It really is. The shoebox, is the key, it's the door opener into the community. It enables those 87,000 churches around the world to be able to go to places with intentionality, with prayer. They have a plan and then they go and engage the community and we're always encouraging them to go to the ones that don't have access to the gospel or wherever the poorest of the poor are truly to live out the good Samaritan parable, right To find those that are in the ditches of life and need. Take it to kids in orphanages, take it to kids in hospitals, often at the ends of the earth. Then leverage that into the greatest journey.

David Thompson:

The greatest journey is our discipleship program. It's a 12 course, 12 lesson plan, often done over three months, sometimes done in a more concentrated form. This past year we had over four and a half million this year coming up. We're praying for five million and we really believe that the Lord's going to do that. You think about five million kids being in a discipleship program and they're praying for up to nine kids. You're talking 45 million kids potentially. That there's going to be this cascading ripple effect that happens from every time someone comes alongside of us and resources us with that gift box.

Clint Hudson:

And then also the greatest journey, one of the things we love to do here on the Unreach podcast is tell supernatural stories of God at work, specific stories about how Jesus cares for not just the 99, but also the one. And so we've heard these incredible numbers about people all over the world being impacted by Operation Christmas Child and the program that you guys have and the simplicity of a shoebox. But could you guys tell us a couple stories of how you have seen God at work in reaching the one?

Joel Hayslip:

Absolutely yeah. And just as I was listening to you guys talking, you know this idea of access and seeing millions upon millions of people who have little or no access to the gospel. There's no church for them to walk into, there's not a bookstore for them to go buy a Bible. You know there's just. They will be born, live their life and die and never, ever hear the gospel unless somebody goes. And it can feel really overwhelming. You know, a lot of us were missionaries at one point and to think, oh, how are we going to do it? How are we going to accomplish this when there's so many still, you know, to reach? And it can be scary, you know, in some of these contexts, because not only are the, they're not having access to the gospel, but they're resistant, they may even be against the gospel. How we get in there? How can we share the gospel?

Joel Hayslip:

You know, I think of a particular people group called the Barah, and this is a people out in Madagascar and there was a pastor there. He had already planted a bunch of churches and and, and you know he's kind of nearing the end, I would say, of his ministry. But God spoke to him and said no, there's a community of 15 villages that have never heard the gospel, and God called them to those 15 villages and he'd heard about these villages because these villages were notorious. It's a group of villages that are full of bandits, so even the government won't go there. They have no schools, they have no medical. There was a time there was a drought and so the government was supplying food for everybody. They refused the food and ran the government out. They would want nothing to do with the government. This pastor said okay, I'm willing to go. How am I going to get in there? And it began to just try to build relationships, and one day he was able to meet with the chief and he said chief, what can I do to bless these villages? And the chief said listen, we don't want anything, government, but our kids need schools. If you can start private schools, so he did.

Joel Hayslip:

He started his first school 20, 30, 40 kids. He was able to start two, three schools. But what he quickly learned is that he cannot say the name Jesus and he can't talk about prayer. It was these, these trigger points, and this violent people reacted very violently whenever that was brought up, and so he didn't know what to do.

Joel Hayslip:

He heard about Operation Christmas Child. And so he started calling them up and he said listen, I've got this. These 15 villages, thousands of kids. I don't know how to share the gospel, can you help me? And we said, oh, my goodness, we've got to be a part of this. And so we started working with them, the guy that got them the training that they needed. He brought in his teachers from his school, so 10, 12 people got trained on how to use Operation Christmas Child and we were able to send 2,500 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes up to those 15 villages.

Joel Hayslip:

So Pastor Soja took 2,500 shoeboxes and we've got a picture of him with, in the first village, several hundred kids. He's holding up our gospel posters and smiling ear to ear as he shares the gospel for the very first time with this people that he loves so dearly. And he was able to go village to village and he said in that first village that his team came around and said don't say Jesus. He said, no, no, this is my time. I've been waiting for this opportunity. And he said over 75% of that village raised their hands after the gospel presentation. And he was an amazement. They went to nine of the 15 villages that year to share the gospel and right now they're in the middle of doing the greatest journey discipleship with those kids. That's amazing.

Dustin Elliott:

And you know that's a commitment we've made to our listeners on the podcast is we want to share the stories of God at work through the men and women. He's called to reach the unreached to the men and women. He's called to go to the ends of the earth to finish the task remaining and you're giving us a just a vivid, real world example right there. And man, what a powerful story. Thank you for sharing that. I think in your notes you've got 10 more, but maybe David can piggyback on on there for you.

David Thompson:

One of my favorite stories of all time from Smeron's first Operation Trist Child is this family. They moved out to be with the Barati people in Mongolia. They left the capital, ulaanbaatar. When they came into the village that was this long, dusty road, they had stones thrown at them and they just they didn't know how it was going to go. But with the gifts, the gifts changed so much, just like we heard from the Barati people. And one of those kids came back to the guy who was starting the church there right, came up to his gear, these little tents that Mongolians travel and live in, and he knocked on the gear and he said is Jesus in there? Because I'd like to thank him for my gift and just one simple kid bringing it back to what you shared. Jesus cares about the one and he cares about one more box because there's one more Barati kid in Mongolia who's going to have the opportunity to say thank you to Jesus for that box.

Clint Hudson:

That's amazing. You hit a little bit on some of the evangelism and Joel, I love a second ago what you said, specifically the pastor holding up the sign and go into the different tribes to. That's an opportunity to name Jesus where he has yet to have been named. What an incredible opportunity to be able to communicate the gospel in that way. Give us a little bit more information about what discipleship looks like through OCC.

Joel Hayslip:

Yeah, it's called the greatest journey and it's a 12 lesson discipleship course and we provide everything. So, how many languages? 90. 90 languages. Wow, this material already translated. We've got an audio version for those who are oral learners, and so this discipleship course is designed to be done once a week. So, hey, kids, here's your gift. Oh, isn't this amazing? Well, this is just the beginning. Come back next week and we've got more to share. And so then the teacher. We train thousands of teachers. I think last year, 250,000 teachers were trained on how to use this course with children. And so they do this, week after week. Bring the kids back in and go through this amazing greatest journey material.

Clint Hudson:

Joel, these numbers just like roll off your tongue like they're normal. But you just said that there are a quarter of a million people who have been equipped to disciple people in their heart language. That is remarkable, that's incredible.

Joel Hayslip:

These are men and women who have been called by God. God has come and whispered to them go and reach this community, go and reach these children. And many times, what they come back and tell us is we have that desire and that passion. We just don't know how. Wow, and what we're just honored to do is provide a simple, very, very simple tool. What we've heard in other stories another story that Bakka and Gabon I'm just thinking of this there's these villages out in the middle of the jungle, again never heard the gospel, Nobody had taken the time to go out there, and this pastor had the passion to go out there. They went out. The same kind of story.

Joel Hayslip:

The shoeboxes just opened the door to this village, but what was amazing was they were expecting 130, 150 kids. Well, 150 kids came, and then about 400 adults, and they all sat there and just listened Intently to the gospel message. And when they were done so, many of them raised their hand. I wonder how we want? We'd want more of this.

Joel Hayslip:

And so the team was ready to leave and said hey, we've got more, we're going to start the greatest journey next week. Come back the typical thing. And the village says no, you can't leave, you stay right there. You got to keep going. And they made them go through the first lesson and where they were done the first, like, hey, thanks everybody. The whole village was still sitting there. I said, okay, we'll come back next week. No, no, you can't leave, keep going. And they had to spend the whole weekend in that village sharing the greatest journey lessons. And what was beautiful is when you share the gospel, the child's level. The child understands, the mom understands, the dad understands, the grandma never went to school, sits there and understands. And they come back and they say, even if they'd heard something, now we understand. We want to follow this, jesus Christ.

David Thompson:

And there's an army of prayers in Austin Ridge and every other church that mobilizes this out in 10 countries and then that prayer that goes all along the way of the supply chain getting it to the pastor, like we heard here. You know, with these ends of the earth communities. I've met kids, devon, for instance. He was led to the Lord through a shoebox in Granada. He ultimately became a sender in his parliament. Now he is a pastor and he works with Operation Christmas Child. He still has his box he got 20 years ago. Whoa Still has it, I mean. And I've met.

David Thompson:

I've met kids that had the graduation certificate in Ecuador, that got it like 10 years ago and they never got to graduate high school. But they got to graduate from this and they got a Bible, oftentimes their first, their first book. And you think about this, all the Injak International leaders in Philippines I know I'm trying to just connect a few dots they said most kids in Philippines share books when they go to classroom. They don't have their own book and that's a more well-developed country than a lot of the places that we're talking about, like a Burkina Faso or Joel live for so long I mean. So they're sharing their textbook four to one. Think about what it means when you, as a giver, wherever you're listening to this, when you give that box, you create this chain reaction, the spiritual chain reaction that the final part is a kid who now has their own Bible, has been through a program, is connected to somebody in their community, has the Holy Spirit in their eyes and their heart. I mean, what's better than that?

Clint Hudson:

How could you not want to give your life to that? That's incredible, and thanks for that reminder too. I think, as Dustin and I've been doing this Unreach podcast throughout this first season, we've just been so impacted by the reality that there are so many people that don't have access to the word. They are unreached, they are unengaged, and I think that seems like a foreign concept to most of us, especially in the United States. I got three apps on my phone that have the Bible and I don't even know how many Bibles I have in my office, at the church or even at my home and the fact that it's so important for them to get the word not only is it the word of God, but it's also it's a possession that they get to have. It's theirs. That's such a special story, man. Thank you for sharing that.

Dustin Elliott:

Let's remember it's Advent. We're talking about Christmas time here. We're talking about hope. And, man, if you can't see the theme of hope in these stories and what hope has to play in this, each village, each tribe, each child's life. Second Timothy two-two right, you've heard me teach these truths. Right Now, go teach them to other trustworthy people so they can pass them on. That is as Brad Thomas, our pastor, taught me. That is the basketball pick and roll of the church, right, that one can't be stopped.

David Thompson:

That's our whole operating model. It's called High Impact, Volunteerism and Connect is the overarching brand for that. And we have year-round think about this we have year-round 10,000 volunteers in the sending countries and year-round we have over 7,000. So over 17,000 people who are recruited, selected, trained, led, developed, multiplied Through Second Timothy. Two-two is the core, is the coreverse of all that 30 years of Operation Christmas Child.

Dustin Elliott:

You just told a story of a guy 20 years ago, mobilized 20 years ago, came to faith, who's now working as a sender, who's multiplying and making disciples in his way of life. So, with 30 years of history, take me back to 31 and two and three and four and five years ago, because Samaritan's Purse is a little older than Operation Christmas Child. How did we find this need in the first place and how did it come about and get going?

David Thompson:

Kind of the inception point for Samaritan's Purse with Operation Christmas Child was. Franklin was over in Bosnia and he saw the need and the opportunity to bless children with the gospel and with the gift. And he worked with one of his friends, a pastor, ross Rhodes, in a church down in Charlotte and they were one of the first churches to mobilize gift boxes. He asked him if he would try this and Ross called him up, I think the next Monday, and he said Franklin, you gotta get down here because there's so many boxes that we have a wedding chapel and it's chalk full of shoebox gifts that need to get out of here to go, so that the bride isn't very happy. She wants to be able to have her wedding in that chapel. And they were just lining this is a huge church lining the halls, so it was just one of those good ideas, like Ziploc bags, I mean, just whoever invented that.

Clint Hudson:

Sliced bread OCC sliced bread, ziploc bags, ziploc bags, yeah.

David Thompson:

Perfect. It just made sense, and then it just spread wildfire from there. So that really was the start.

Dustin Elliott:

So, david, while we were prepping for the show, we were looking at notes we're talking through. We wanted to look at some scripture. We've talked about Second Timothy 2,2 and how that's important for us, and you all use that as a life verse as well, but there was another place in Ephesians that you wanted to camp out for a little bit. Why don't you share that with us?

David Thompson:

Yeah.

David Thompson:

So as we implement this strategy and we try to focus in on reaching into the ends of the earth, like Acts 1,8 commands us to go, we also think often of Ephesians 4,12 to equip the saints for words of service, to build up the body of Christ.

David Thompson:

We are an equipping ministry, so if you join forces with Samaritan's Purse, you are equipping from your church, from your family, to another church, to another family, and that is why this works, because churches supporting churches, families supporting families in need. That's where the chain reaction we've been describing, and that spiritual chain reaction that is driven by prayer, ends up empowering those churches that are the going, the sent churches in over 120 countries to be able to really activate and have that access. But also they've been equipped. They're not just going with a gift box, they're also going with the gospel, with the gospel presentation, with a standard training, a simple way to be able to articulate the gospel in a child-friendly way and then, as Joel said so wonderfully, early or in a way that also the whole family can hear, if they happen to be at the graduation for the greatest journey or if they happen to see their kid get the gift box at an outreach event.

Dustin Elliott:

If anyone feels compelled to go back to episode zero of launching the podcast, what we did was we looked through the Bible. We went through scripture from Genesis 12, 1 through 3, through the Great Commission texts and all the way to Revelation 5 and 7, with a member of every tribe, tongue and nation in the throne room before the Lamb right. So we play out what is the mission of God and what is the mission of the church? Right To fulfill the mission of God, right, which is to get the gospel where it's not to share the good news. For the last six years, my family and friends have been involved in help start an organization called the Bless Foundation Blessworld, and what we do is we fill the gap.

Dustin Elliott:

So if there's a church sending missionaries and a sending agent sending folks to a certain people group around the world, we've done a study that suggests that there's a certain additional funding need and other components that come alongside it, and so we invite our family and friends to come together and raise the funds to go support that, and I feel like Samaritan's Purse is establishing presence where we aren't yet. One of the things you told me, if there's 7,000 people groups left to reach, is that you have a goal of getting to 1,000 of the 7,000. So let's talk about what happens next. Where are we going from here?

Joel Hayslip:

Extraordinarily. We just kind of recognize what you shared earlier, david, about Franklin, just kind of realizing oh my goodness, this thing's blowing up, going from that to where we are today, where we are positioned, strategically positioned, to have access to hundreds and thousands of these Enriched People groups. I mean, for many of our ministry partners of these churches that we work with, it's just going across the street, right, right. And so when we came to that recognition, god has strategically placed us where we are today for the Great Commission.

David Thompson:

Cast. The vision that only God could fulfill and that's originally was 5 million that Franklin set for us to disciple 5 million kids a year, and now we're likely going to have reached that with the reports from this previous season and we're looking forward and we're saying Lord, how can we grow to 7.5 million kids? That would be closer to full capacity for us. So we have to build the volunteer teams, we have to do the trainings with the ministry partners, the local churches, and it's right there. But we do need the resources to do that. But, most importantly, we need prayer.

Clint Hudson:

Let's pull on the thread of the Great Commission just for a second. I love how you guys talked about it. That's what we trying to attain is the proclamation of the gospel and to go into all nations and create and to make Disciples and baptizing them in the name of the Father, son, the Holy Spirit. The Great Commission is not something that's just an Aspirational goal. The Great Commission is something to be fulfilled and I believe that you guys, by God's providence, not only through your process and through OCC, but also through the vision that you guys have, with Expanding throughout the next couple years, you guys have an opportunity to truly be able to see the great, the Great Commission, fulfilled.

Clint Hudson:

And Dustin and I talk about this a lot the reason that we do this podcast is because we feel like that the Great Commission can be fulfilled within our lifetime. For the first time ever, we have the technology and the resources and the means and the people that have the manpower that want to go and do this so that all nations and all people can have the opportunity to hear the gospel. So, at as that's something that we're trying to strive towards, to see the Great Commission be fulfilled, what, what does that look like for the future of OCC? How are we gonna see that happening and what is that that? What's that thing that has you guys so fired up about how we're gonna See that come to fruition?

David Thompson:

Yeah, so the local church, local church, local church that is the hope of the world is for the local church to rise up and and share the gospel. Right, that's the strategy. That's what Jesus invested. It didn't go everywhere, didn't preach to everyone, but he invested in building the core that could multiply and become the local church, and we carried that forward today. Right, paul wrote about in Romans 15, 20 he wanted to preach the gospel where it had never been preached before. That's definitely a core verse for us as well in this whole initiative. And then it's also about the national leaders. It is not Samaritan's Purse, it's not our staff, it's not anything that we do. It's all about that.

David Thompson:

Ephesians 4, 12, 2 Timothy 2 to equipping, transferring competency and handing it off to national leaders. National leaders will reach their own. They will be the ones who know where the him bar, 52 hours from the Capitol in Namibia. They will know where the 17 unreached people groups are in. You know South Sudan and you know just in one pocket, over ten different ridges of these mountains, and they all speak completely different languages. They will know, they will go. It's the national leaders that is the beauty of this. It's equipping and empowering and Praying with them and, just like I said before, and having that partnership in the gospel. If you're hearing this today and you have never given a shoebox or never heard of the greatest journey, this is your opportunity to rise up and be part of one of the most amazing gospel partnerships that the Lord has ever created in the history of the world.

David Thompson:

It really is and that is not to give us. Joel and I are just, you know, two guys that write e-fails and go to meetings. I mean it's all about. It's all about the local church, you know, and that's that's where people get discipled, that's where transformation happens. That's long term.

David Thompson:

If anyone has ever thought, oh, it's just a simple shoebox, well, god uses the simple things of the world. The shame those who think that they're wise right. And he's done that in this instance, 200 million times. And you know what that, I think, is, is part of the beauty of it is just like it shouldn't work, but it does. And it does because of the prayers and it does because of God's people rising up.

David Thompson:

And it's church in Kiev that's been bombed and keeps going with the greatest journey. I mean we've watched these testimonial videos of I think her name was Maria and you know she just church bomb kids or it, you know, just had to flee homes and they're still going through the greatest journey. I mean, come on, don't you want to be part of that? Don't you want to see that growing? At least get the full capacity? I mean, there's, it's, it's right there, it you, you guys, are so right. The fulfillment of the Great Commission is has to be all of our calling that Christians, and what the Lord has raised up through his own local church is right there, let's go.

Clint Hudson:

Let's go. All caps, all caps, let's go.

Joel Hayslip:

I just want to piggyback exclamation mark. It's just that, you know, what we're discovering is, as we go on share the vision of the Great Commission, jesus's vision of expanding his kingdom to all nations right throughout all the earth. What we're discovering is, who? Is that God has already whispered to so many. They've already got the passion, they've got the heart, they've got the desire. They just don't have the means. They don't know how to get in. They don't know how to do it. They know they've got the calling, like this pastor is talking about with the barra.

Joel Hayslip:

You know he had been trying for three years to get into that community by sending us 2,500 shoeboxes. This feels like such a simple thing. It just the gates, the doors just flung open and here he is, she smile on his face, sharing the gospel. Well, today he's already got a pastor installed. They're talking about planting some churches long term. It's unbelievable. God is already whispering For all seven thousands of those remaining hundred people, groups. God has already raised up. He's already calling the missionaries locally. What they need is our prayer and they need some simple tools, some simple resources, some simple encouragement and, by God's grace, we're able to do that.

David Thompson:

Hebrews 6 19. We have this as a sure-and-stead-fast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place. Behind the curtain, where Jesus went is the forerunner. That's it it's all about. Jesus tore the curtain, he sent everyone out and that's what we get to do. We get to do that in our generation, our time, with the resources that we have. And you know the race is. It's time, like he handed that baton on to the local church, and it's time for us to run, not shrink back and go to the last seven thousand. Are they shouldn't be unreached? What if it was your family? What if you woke up and you didn't have access to the gospel? That should make you mad. Like what if you had no way to have eternal life because you didn't know the name of Jesus? Like what if that was your family? When we just got started, kind of impolish woman asked me like think about that every day. What if it was your family in an unreached people group?

Dustin Elliott:

that should, that should break your heart, just like Bob Pierce, the founder of his man, first said that the things that break the heart of God break our hearts to episode one, we we had Jack Crabtree from a Papua New Guinea and he serves in a tribe called the want to Kia people group and one of their first Believers that they got. They've been, they've been on site there for years and he tells this story to Jack and he's like what if you had just been comfortable, you know, driving your cars and eating your good food and hanging out in America with your nice things? Like what if you had just stayed there? He's like if you hadn't come here and got thorns in your feet and spent this time and raised your family here, if you hadn't come, he said we'd be walking with a smile on our face slowly to hell. They can are good works. We're gonna save us.

Joel Hayslip:

And what we're seeing is that, as we're training these 7,000 national volunteers on the Great Commission, on all these verses, on these things that you've been sharing on your podcast, what we're seeing time and time again is that they're saying, oh, we don't need to wait for someone else to come, we're gonna take ownership of the Great Commission for our nation. And they began to look on the map. Okay, where are the people? Oh, the deaf, the deaf burn, unreached people. Oh, we can reach them. And they get this passion. Like how can we reach all these communities?

Dustin Elliott:

Conceptually the largest unreached people group on the planet.

Joel Hayslip:

That's right. The deaf yeah, we've got this year alone. We've got dozens and dozens of teams who have said, oh, we didn't realize that the deaf were an unreached people group. Yeah, we're going this year and we're building resources for them.

Clint Hudson:

So it's incredible to see it's like a fire just getting lit and just it's just amazing to watch, thinking about the Advent season and this fire being lit and this first candle of Advent that gets lit during this season. We're talking about hope. There's so much hope that's been communicated throughout this episode so far, and this one scripture just keeps echoing in my head as we've been talking about all of this this first Peter 315,. It says always be prepared to give an answer when someone asks you the reason for the hope that you have.

Clint Hudson:

The OCC has created an opportunity to provide a box, a simple shoe box that gives people relational proximity, to communicate the reason for the hope that they have. And so, throughout the course of this Christmas season for anybody that's listening to this, I think I just want to encourage you to remember the reason for the hope that you have For those of us that are in Christ Jesus. May you just be able to sit in the hope that you have because of the work that Christ has done for you, but also the knowledge that you've been given of how to follow Him. And as you think about that throughout this Christmas season, please take a moment to think about the thousands of people, groups, who have yet to experience that hope, and what can you do to get in the game, as Dustin loves to say, to get in the game and make sure that they have an opportunity to name that hope, jesus, the same way that you do.

Dustin Elliott:

Yeah, on that same thread, we heard the hero of the story as the local church, and to the 167,000 or more local churches that are part of this network. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you for making it a priority, thank you for making it part of your planning. I mean you start at the end of the summer figuring out when you're gonna start doing the planning for the shoeboxes. I know this team with us today. You're training and equipping people year round. You're recruiting new volunteers year round. You're building and adding to your staff and the different components of SP that go beyond OCC or opening doors year round. That y'all get to come in behind. It's an incredible network and, clint, just talk to the believer. That's a listener right now, re-engaging in your faith and your hope for the Christmas season.

Dustin Elliott:

But there's a chance. There's a few people listening to this that haven't given their life to Christ yet. There's a chance that you don't totally maybe grasp what we're talking about. And if that's the case and you have a local church, I encourage you to go check it out this Christmas season. Get a grasp on this yourself. Jesus came, he took on flesh, he went to the cross on our behalf. He ransomed his blood to wash away our sins so we could spend eternity in heaven with him. That's the good news, that's the gospel. But for those of you listening, wherever you are in that journey, we got three more weeks ahead of this ahead. Every week we're gonna drop another episode. We're gonna have more content, more stories and more opportunity to share and love on the people of this world as we all gather to celebrate the coming of our King.

Clint Hudson:

As we conclude our time together. I'd love to just have both David and Joel pray over us as we just process how we want to respond to this and what God's doing.

Joel Hayslip:

Absolutely. And let me just say our teams are gonna go and they will go straight to the gates of hell. I mean, they're going to the hardest places. We're gonna pray right now, but I just encourage anyone listening just continue to pray for our teams around the world. But, lord, we are so, so grateful, god, just to think about who we are and the fact that you came to us and you saved us.

Joel Hayslip:

Heaven's not gonna be full of good people. It's gonna be full of people like me who didn't deserve it. But you came anyway. You loved me even while we were sinners. And right now we wanna think about the billions of men, women and children who haven't had the opportunity to know that there is a savior who is extending hope, a free gift of eternal life. But, god, that good news isn't good news unless they hear it in time. And our prayer, god, is that you would whisper, that you would call out, that you would raise up workers to go into your harvest field throughout the world to take the good news of Jesus Christ. God, protect those who are going and call those, father, who are still waiting to go.

David Thompson:

In Jesus' name, Heavenly Father, we come before you and we think about Revelation 7, 9 through 10, and behold the great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all times, peoples and languages standing before the throne before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, pollen branches in their hair and just crying out with a loud voice salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, to the Lamb. And all of this, this whole time, where we just give it to Jesus in all, to his glory, to his honor, to his name. He's our King. We thank you for him and we love you, and we want more and more people to know the love of a Savior who came and died for them. And we have been sent out to take that truth, the only truth that can save the gospel. So let's go. Jesus' name amen.

Dustin Elliott:

Amen, amen. 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 unreachedpodcastcom.

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