The Decade Of Harvest - Rev. Ndifor Cletus Regional Evangelist, North West Region

The Full Gospel Mission in Cameroon is celebrating its Golden Jubilee under the theme: Celebrating the Impact of the Gospel. The first implication of this theme is that the celebration is a reflection of the church's mission strategies and an assessment of its objectives for the past five decades. The results are breathtaking. The FGMC now has churches in every division of the ten regions of Cameroon and is doing missionary work in Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo
Brazzaville, and Nigeria. This jubilee is therefore, not just a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the existence of the church in Cameroon, but much more, a joyful recognition of the results of its mission for the first five decades.

The second implication of the Jubilee theme is that the FGMC is still focused on its mission, which is, "Reaching the nations through the preaching of the true and full gospel message by the power of the Holy Spirit, planting New Testament churches,leading the Christians to spiritual maturity and preparing them for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ."

An appraisal of the mission in the past years reveals that the achievements are overwhelming but the task is far from being completed. There are more people outside the Church, without Christ, and without hope of eternal life than those who are saved and are in all the churches put together. The mission is not yet accomplished.

God wants the task of the Church to be fully completed. We read that after the conquest of Canaan God told Joshua, "You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over" (Joshua 13:1). The Church needs to hear the Lord Jesus saying afresh to her, "…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest" (John 4:35). This is a clarion call for a greater vision for the end time harvest.

The FGMC at fifty years must look at the ripe fields with greater ambition for future decades. A long-range vision of greater impact of the gospel and a program to achieve it is obligatory.

This piece of writing proposes a vision of a great harvest of souls for the next ten years and the strategies to achieve it. This will be a national program developed under the theme DECADE OF HARVEST. It submits that the program of  Decade of Harvest as a long-term project for the church will ignite a revival in the Church and see more people come into the kingdom of God in the next ten years than in the past five decades. This will be possible through a well-mobilized whole Church taking the full gospel to all in Cameroon and across its borders. This timely strategy to re-emphasize and redirect the church to the primary focus of its mission, the harvest of souls, is also a plan for extraordinary increase in numbers and improvement in quality of members.

Purpose of Decade of Harvest

There are a number of reasons for the program of Decade of Harvest. The list may not be exhaustive but the few points cited below also give a rationale for the urgency to reach people outside the church walls in a greater way in the next ten years, to bring God's salvation to the nations.

To Prevent the Church from Stagnation and Decline

There is a tendency for the church, that has registered success and is established, to rest comfortably on its past record and spend its energy trying to maintain what it has achieved but neglecting its original mission and goals. This stifles growth. The church plateaus or stagnates because it has turned inward focusing on itself and eventually declines. Without a steady flow of converts into a church, it loses its first love and nominality sets in. Proverbs 26: 20 says, "Without wood a fire goes out."

Decade of Harvest aims at preventing spiritual stagnation and numerical decline. C. Peter Wagner, who has done extensive research on church growth, asserts that the most effective way to prevent nominality is tomaintain a high degree of evangelistic fervour. An effective evangelistic life is one of the vital signs of a living church. As the initial step of discipleship, evangelism must always be a priority in the local church.

The vision of Decade of Harvest, which is predominantly evangelistic in nature, will certainly spark and maintain a revival in the lives of Christians. It will also check numerical stagnation and decline while fostering explosive growth by bringing a great number of converts into the church. Furthermore, the program will help to fight against spiritual lukewarmness and backsliding because it demands that the preaching of the gospel should not just be with words but also with power and a Christ-like life style.

The Decade of Harvest will therefore help restore spiritual disciplines like fasting, prayer, meditation, Bible study, and experiences like the transformed life and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in order to equip believers to preach, pull down spiritual strongholds, pray for the sick, cast out devils, and face any other spiritual challenges in the field. There will be no room for spiritual coolness.

To Respond Compassionately to the Plight of Humanity

Our Lord Jesus often responded to peoples' sufferings out of compassion. He taught the helpless (Matt. 9: 36; Mk. 6:34), healed the sick, (Mt.14:14; 20:34; Mk. 1:14), and fed the hungry (15:32) because he had compassion on them.

It was out of a compassionate heart for the afflicted that the Lord asked the disciples to pray for more workers for the harvest (Mathew 9:36). He then empowered and sent them to preach the good news of the kingdom to the people, heal their diseases, and cast out devils from them (Matthew10:2). The empowerment of the Church is also to bring relief to the people in pain. We do not need to look far to see fellow human beings devastated by wars, corruption, HIV/AIDS, occultism, and poverty, to name but these. Like our Master, the Church must arise and take the healing power of the good news to them. Only the Church has the message of hope for people in desperate predicaments.

To Win the Lost for Christ

All people without Christ are lost and totally incapable of saving themselves. This includes people of other faiths, non-faiths, and nominal Christians. These precious souls will be lost forever in hell, if no one helps bring them to salvation in Christ before they die. Salvation is only in Christ (Acts 4:12) and people must hear the gospel before they can come to Him and be saved (Rom. 10:14). Therefore, somebody must present the good news to them (Rom. 10:14). The Decade of Harvest will reduce the number of people going to hell and increase the number of people going to heaven. What an awesome responsibility!

To Fulfil the Mission of the Church

The mission of the Church is to proclaim the gospel of Christ to all nations in order to make converts and establish them as responsible members in the Church for the Kingdom of God. An evaluation of the progress of the work by the whole Church reveals that much is still to be done. Each church must double her effort in order to contribute her quota to the completion of the global mission of the Church.

Jesus told the disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. If indeed the labourers are few for a task that must be completed, none of them should relent but double his efforts to ensure completion while hoping that others will be recruited. The Decade of Harvest will be a doubling of efforts by the FGMC resulting from renewed emphasis on the imperative of completing the divinely given mission of the Church.

To Respond to the Signs of the Time

The urgency in the Decade of Harvest is fanned by the fulfilment of predicted signs of the end of this age and the Second Coming of Christ. Luke 21 predicts that there shall be false Christs (vs. 8), wars and revolutions (vs. 9), great earthquakes in various places, famines and pestilences, fearful sights (vs.11), cosmic signs, distress of nations and perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring (vs. 25), and men's heart failing from fear of what will be happening on earth (vs. 26).

Today these signs are evident in the sudden rise of occultism even in schools, revolutions and wars in different countries, great earthquakes and tsunamis, and nuclear threats. The fulfilment of these signs convinces the Church that the end is near. She must therefore hasten with her mission in order to finish it because time is running out. Our Lord Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations; then shall the end
come" (Matthew 24:14). There is still much to be done and the warning signs are already up. We must hurry up and make 2011 to 2020 a Decade of Harvest, in urgent responl'oeuvre se to the signs of the end.

To Prepare the Church for the Eminent Return of Christ

The Decade of Harvest will contribute to prepare the Church for Christ who is coming back for her. The task to be accomplished demands that Christians be fully awakened to the moral and spiritual purity required of them in the Bible. It will be an outreach in holiness. With the signs of the return of Christ so eminent, the church will be working with the consciousness that she is reaping a harvest of the end time. Her members will not want to preach to others and be  disqualified for eternal life (1 Corinthians 9:27).

The Vision of Decade of Harvest

The vision for the next ten years is an unprecedented explosive growth of the FGMC by influx of converts from all walks of life and from every tribe in Cameroon and every country of the central African region.

Objectives

  1. Each member of the FGMC knows and owns the vision of the FGMC and that of the Decade of Harvest by December 2012.
  2. One million baptized converts won into the fellowship of the church by the end of 2021.
  3. One thousand new churches planted in Cameroon by December 2021.
  4. Fifty new churches planted in five different countries of Central African Region through missionary endeavour before the end of 2021.

Possibilities

The vision needs many resources, but the church has possibilities. In the course of the fifty years, thousands have joined the few who started the work. Therefore, there are now more resources: human, spiritual, and material for  communicating the gospel; more than before. In other words, at fifty the FGMC has more potential to carry out its mission than she had at any other time during the past fifty years. With these, the church looks at its mission in the next decades with great faith, courage, and assurance.

Strategies

  1. Mobilize the entire FGMC resources to foster active personal and group evangelism and missions.There is need to pass on this vision to
    members of the local congregations to make each believer in the church a soul-winner. Each believer should be zealously committed to winning souls for the kingdom. They must be mobilized to be personally and actively involved in evangelism and missions. The theme of Decade of Harvest shall be the major focus in district and area conventions as well as in national retreats.
  2. Each local assembly to plant at least one new church in two years. To plant churches throughout the nation is
    by default to encourage active participation in evangelism and church planting at local levels. They may begin as prayer cells and develop into churches. Each local assembly should have a church planting program and conduct annual church planting outreaches. The program should include clearly defined missionary and evangelistic goals for the year, resources needed and the activities to be carried out in order to achieve the goals. Church planting methods should be taught in details in conferences and seminars organized for pastors.
  3. All churches within a District in a joint venture should plant at least two new churches each year. Let the District, or churches in a city, target areas where there are no living churches,
    work together, and plant churches there. Each District or city shall plant an average of two churches a year.
  4. Mobilize two thousand intercessors to intercede for the Decade of Harvest vision.
    Besides regular prayer going on in the local churches, these intercessors shall be steadily praying for the whole program of the Decade of Harvest. They shall be organized and be functioning in local churches and in Districts or cities but come together occasionally to pray together.
  5. Train and send missionaries to each target country in the Central African Region. Through the mission's board, missionary fields shall be identified and each church plays a role in training and sponsoring missionaries there.

Conclusion

A Golden Jubilee implies maturity. From a very humble beginning, the church has grown numerically, spiritually and materially. As a vision-driven church, the FGMC must regard the growth as increase in resources to carry out its mission. Hence, there are more resources today than ever to reap the greatest harvest for the kingdom within the shortest time possible.

There are thousands just in our neighbourhoods, who have not been reached. All around us are still people whose lives are in double jeopardy. They are at risk of being destroyed by the plight in this present world and in danger of eternal suffering in the world to come. Yes, there is so much bad news in the world today, but the Church has good news to the people torn by the wars and crises. Their only hope is in the gospel message entrusted to the Church.

Besides, there is not much time left. The warning signs are already on. They tell us that the present age is fast passing away and the Kingdom of our God is near. We must all wake up to the urgency and launch out aggressively in the next decade for an unprecedented harvest of souls. We must double and if necessary, redouble our efforts to expand the Kingdom of our God before time is over. The next decade must see more converts into the church than the five decades have seen. We can do it!

The church throughout the national territory should marshal its strength to carry out the program of the Decade of Harvest. The whole church must be earnestly praying, faithfully sponsoring, and aggressively preaching the gospel everywhere. Local churches make prayer, giving, and evangelism continuous activities in their program, so that we may save more souls before our Lord comes and raptures a great multitude, uncountable from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Congratulations for your Golden Jubilee! Welcome to your Decade of Harvest.

Work Cited

Murray Dempster A., Byron D. Klaus, and Douglas Petersen. eds. Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective. (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 282.