“You’re a good, good, Father. It’s who you are, who you are. And I’m loved by you, it’s who I am, who I am…” The words of this song at our opening worship time struck me. The concept of our Good Father is not new to me. I know it. I live it and I count on it, even when I trespass on his goodness and need to ask for forgiveness. It was the next line that popped my eyes open as I sung. “I’m loved by you. It’s who I am.” My fundamental identity is found in this place – in being a loved child of my Heavenly Father. Not in what I do, or what I like, or what I wish and hope for. And, I reflected, that is the case for everyone in the room. We are equal, siblings in the love of Christ and equally dependent on Him to provide what we need to accomplish the task we call the Great Commission. A good place, I think, to begin a conference focused on collaboration.
The 2016 Visual Media Strategy Forum (VMSF)met in Chiang Mai, Thailand during the second week in April. A group of more than 80 like-minded people from over 30 organizations came together, committed to collaborating in order to increase our effective evangelization through contextual media. The conference was built on the framework of the 20/20 Vision: To produce and distribute an indigenous evangelistic audio-visual tool for every one of the Least Evangelized Mega Peoples by the year 2020, so that all can clearly see and understand the gospel message and embrace it as their own. It is a good goal, a powerful initiative that is in line with God’s desire to see some from every tribe and nation saved. And it is a goal impossible to accomplish in our own strength, which made the first item of business – praying on a huge map of the world – the right place to start.
As we gathered on the map, shoes off, heads bowed, the Lord came in power to lead us. One participant noted, “the initial time of waiting on God was where He met me and spoke to me to adopt a people group. I am encouraged that we were lead directly into His presence and I feel the conference moved forward from there in great unity.” I was challenged to increase my focused prayer for several people groups and for the ongoing projects. We know that where God leads, He provides, but we need to seek Him to know where He leads. Beginning the conference with prayer on the map set that tone perfectly.
Since the launch of the 20/20 vision in 2010, there have been 91 new presentations completed or in process for groups who previously have had no indigenous gospel media in their heart language. An amazing accomplishment and more than we could have expected, probably more than we even had faith for! It is a God Thing and He is using this unprecedented unity among ministries and missions agencies to accomplish His goal for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The work continues. At the last VMSF in 2014, Calvin reported: 38 new people groups were adopted by 55 different participants who committed to praying and partnering in order to produce the first indigenous media for these least evangelized people groups. After that meeting there were 79 remaining people groups – all adopted, but no partnerships for production. At the conclusion of this year’s VMSF, 20 new adopters from 15 different organizations partnered to produce media for 34 more least evangelized people groups. As one participant noted, “There are a lot of fantastic, talented and servant-hearted people who have dedicated themselves to make amazing, strategic stories for God’s glory! I’m very encouraged!” And we should be. God is moving. Fulfilling his Great Commission is not in doubt. The Lord’s hand is stretched out, Jim Green from Jesus Film reminded us, who can turn it back? But He is looking for partners. He has given us his Holy Spirit to accomplish this task and as we come together. As one participant from Wycliff/SIL put it, “It’s been pretty amazing. I needed the vision and encouragement and this has given me new life.”
In Exodus 31, Moses talks about how God raised up people with creative gifts in artistic areas to build his tabernacle. As we come together and use our creativity to reach the lost, we are building a modern tabernacle for the glory and honor of of Lord Jesus. Amen.