This is a guest blog from Jamus Edwards, Pastor of Pleasant Valley Community Church. Posted on behalf of the International Mission Board. You can read Part 1 of this post here.
. . . . . It then struck us that the goal in reaching our city should actually be, in turn, to reach all cities so that someday the final city will be one filled with skin colors that we have never seen and languages that we have never heard.
A primary text that has served to ignite our hearts has been Isaiah 49 which is one of the “Servant Songs,” whom we believe to be Jesus Himself. In Isaiah 49:5, Isaiah says, “And now the Lord says, He who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him; and that Israel might be gathered to Him—for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength.” We take this to mean that in verse five, God is calling Jesus to save Israel, “to bring back Jacob to Him, that Israel might be gathered to Him.” So in verse five God is sending Christ to save Israel, but the mission of the Messiah doesn’t end with Israel. In the very next verse, Isaiah 49:6, God says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel…”
Other versions render this phrase “it is too small a thing” (NASB) or “it is not enough” (HCS) that Jesus should only go to Israel. Returning to verse six, while God says “it is too light a thing” for Jesus to only go to Israel, He then continues by saying, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
In essence, God is saying, “It’s not enough to take my name just to Israel (that’s too light, that’s too small). I want more glory and more praise; take my name to the NATIONS!” Just a few verses prior in Isaiah 49:3 God said to Jesus, “You are my Servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” The phrase “I will be glorified” literally means, “I will display my beauty.”
Thus, it was as though God was saying to our church, “It’s too light of a thing for Me just to be made beautiful in your city. It’s too small of a thing for me to just be glorified in Owensboro. It’s not enough just for the people in the United States to think that I’m beautiful. Go to the nations, that the entire globe might know that I am beautiful!”
Does this realization in any way negate or diminish our love for our city here in Owensboro? Absolutely not. All we are saying is that we believe that it is not enough to simply see Jesus made famous in Owensboro; we want to see Him made famous in every city – in every tongue, every tribe, and every nation. It was upon this realization that God led us (along with two other churches) to formally partner with the IMB in adopting a UUPG (unengaged/unreached people group) in Thailand – the Thai Nyaw people. There are tens of thousands of people among the Thai Nyaw that are currently not worshipping Jesus Christ, and yet Jesus is worthy of their worship – this is why we are going.
However, in going along with our understanding of Isaiah 49, it’s “not enough” for us to simply reach the Thai Nyaw people. That’s too light; that’s too small. Jesus is worthy of more glory. Thus, our long term goal among these people is not to simply see converts, but to make disciples, to raise up leaders, and to see churches planted in Northeastern Thailand. Then, with the same missiology, these churches will understand that it’s not enough to simply reach all of the Thai Nyaw people. That is way too small. Instead, because some of the Thai Nyaw people live in Laos (which is unreached and cannot be entered by American missionaries), we want to see the Thai Nyaw get the Gospel to their own people in this otherwise unreachable country. Then, we want to see the people of Laos get a vision for reaching other unreached groups, and so on.
Ultimately, we seek to make disciples here in Owensboro, some of which will go make disciples in Thailand, who will then make disciples in other people groups in Thailand and bordering nations like Laos and Burma. The vision isn’t to simply see a convert or two in Thailand, but a church planting movement that spreads not simply across Thailand (that would be too small), but a church planting movement that will spread across all of Southeast Asia.
We love our city because Jesus loves our city, and yet we know that Jesus doesn’t only love our city, but that He loves all cities. We also know that ultimately that city which will bring Him the most glory is that city which is representative of every tongue, tribe, and nation. It is for this reason that the mission of Pleasant Valley Community Church is to reach our city, which will as a result reach all cities, so that someday the final city will be one filled with skin colors that we have never seen and languages that we have never heard. Jesus is worthy of such; anything less would be too small, and not nearly enough.