“Are we there yet?” is the perennial question that young children like to ask their parents, even if the car has only just pulled out of their driveway for a long family trip.
The ensuing answer from those parents—“Just be patient and we will get there”—can be just as frustrating for children who don’t yet understand what it means to wait.
In Mark 16:15, Jesus called us on a journey too. He said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” As believers, we sometimes want to ask Jesus the same question that children ask their parents: Are we there yet?
The truth is that we aren’t quite there yet, but God’s missionary heart hasn’t changed a bit.
Jesus was on a mission from God the Father, and that’s how He lived His life. It’s also how He died. If that weren’t enough, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” were the last words Jesus spoke to us. We know that anyone’s last words are always important. This is why we call it the Great Commission.
Another verse that sums up God’s missionary heart is of course John 3:16, perhaps the greatest verse in all of Scripture: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”
I remember chatting with a wise man of God in a cafe in Malaysia many years ago. He told me, “Warwick, the Bible can be summed up in one thought: the Father is looking for a bride for His Son.” He then pointed me to the words about marriage found in Ephesians 5:22—“This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
I was floored. It dawned on me that indeed, the Bible begins with a marriage ceremony in the Garden of Eden, and it ends with the marriage supper of the Lamb. This theme of God pursuing a bride for his Son is seen from Genesis all the way to Revelation.
Over the following weeks I prayerfully reflected on this man’s wise words. And I realised that there is one extra thought needed to make the picture complete. The Father is looking for a bride for his Son, but he is also looking for lots of children to complete his family.
Our Father in Heaven is a family God. Here on earth, a bride is needed before children come along. But in the realm of the Spirit, the Father’s children, born from above, must first be brought in for the bride to be complete. The Scripture is right when it says “great is the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16).
The bride is not yet complete. The Great Commission is yet unfulfilled. We are entitled to ask of our Father in Heaven, “Are we there yet?”
But equally, God is entitled to say to us, “Just be patient and we will get there—but you also have to contribute to the journey and put feet on your prayers.” This is why Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that bring good news.” This requires action from us. Sometime God’s children have to get out of their comfort zone and get dust on their feet.
Last December, John Robb, the Chairman of the International Prayer Council, sent an email to Pat Steele and me about GO2020. GO2020 is a month of outreach during May in which every believer prays for and witnesses to five people.
This initiative really struck a chord with us both and it felt like something we should get behind, if only in our role as prayer advocates. The National Day of Prayer and Fasting team was unanimous in their support.
Involvement from the Canberra Declaration, on the other hand, required a lot more prayerful thought and consultation. Our main focus at the Canberra Declaration is to defend life, marriage, family, faith and freedom.
But as they say, the best defence is a strong attack. And in the final analysis, over 96% of the Canberra Declaration community voiced their support for GO2020—and they gave sacrificially to make it happen.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Australian church leaders called the people of God to pray every night and fast on Sundays. The team at the Canberra Declaration responded to this national emergency with nightly Zoom calls at 8pm, beginning on 19th March 2020.
When (or if) we finish, it will have been 75 nights in a row of unbroken nightly prayer and communion. This also will have included prayer and fasting once a week, and three 24-hour prayer events. This kind of concerted praying has never been done in Australia before — it is truly history in the making.
The whole experience has been mind-blowing and heart-expanding in so many different ways. The response by Australian believers has been amazing and all I can say is, “Come Lord Jesus, Come. We so need You!”
In the midst of all the joy of this recent journey, I have been asking the Father, “Are we there yet?” Are we seeing all of the children return home that our Father in Heaven is longing for? Is the Lamb that was slain receiving the full reward for His suffering? Is the church and our nation experiencing the revival and reformation we so desperately need?
The founder of GO2020, Werner Nachtigal, had a stroke of spiritual genius. He saw the need to link the global prayer movement with the call for every believer to be a witness during May 2020. And thank God: this is not stopping at the end of May. Werner and his team have now called for 90 Days of Hope, from 1st June to 29th August this year.
But there was more to the story. John Robb and Dr. Jason Hubbard, the Chairman and CEO of the International Prayer Council — men devoted to the Great Commission — brokered a strategic response to the GO2020 call. How? By organising the world’s largest prayer meeting on Friday 1st May 2020.
This foci of both prayer and mission has been the springboard for God’s blessings for all that has come out of the Canberra Declaration’s 75 days of sustained and concerted prayer.
And more is yet to come. The Australian Blessing was birthed in Jessie Skelly’s heart immediately after he ran the second 24-hour prayer event at the beginning of May. This worship video is due for release just before Pentecost Sunday.
Also to be released on Pentecost Sunday is a worship song that Jessie has written along with his church and his friend Luke Manns. It will be broadcast to the global village on a one-hour documentary called ‘Sound from Heaven‘. The documentary will feature several Australians, and its highlight will be the Hope Story Challenge.
Andrew Scarborough, the Ministry Director of Youth for Christ Australia, was one of the minds behind the Hope Story Challenge. I’m sure Andrew would agree with me if I said that the Hope Story Challenge developed from this primal stew of both prayer and evangelism. It is a masterstroke of strategy, inspired by GO2020 amidst the challenge of the pandemic.
The more I pray and think, the more convinced I become that after going viral, the Hope Story Challenge will have a longer burn with a minimum five- to ten-year effect. Think of the Ice Bucket Challenge which started in 2014, but is still alive and well today. The Hope Story Challenge could well go for longer.
At times, I believe, it will explode as is happening right now in Italy. Then it may simmer and explode again. Like the ice bucket challenge, the Hope Story challenge is only for the committed. It takes the courage of truly on-fire Christians to record and publish their testimony online and make it public.
It might only take 60 seconds, but completing the Hope Story Challenge requires resolve, inspiration and the passion of personal renewal and love for Jesus. Sometimes these three things are born in affliction — just like the 30,000+ COVID-19 death toll in Italy. In Italy, the Hope Story Challenge has gone wild.
I believe the Hope Story Challenge will have an enormous impact on our culture for the simple reason that it is every believer sharing about the Gospel and the impact Jesus has had on their life. This is the purpose and the plan of God. As it says in Romans 1:16, “the Gospel is the power of God to salvation.”
In fact, the Hope Story Challenge may even shape our language. I predict that in future years, in Christian parlance your ‘testimony’ will be known as your ‘Hope Story’.
Whilst the Hope Story Challenge is starting to go viral, there is enormous spiritual opposition to it. The Hope Story Challenge needs a massive level of sustained prayer support to see it fully reach the billion souls it is destined to reach.
With the proper prayer support, I believe that Hope Stories will be the God-ordained mechanism to reach over a billion souls with the Gospel. I believe we will see tens of millions of souls come to Christ, if not hundreds of millions. This could happen if we see a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
I have been a Christian since 1969. My wife and I have been in full-time ministry and living by faith for 30 years. And let me say this: the Hope Story Challenge is the single greatest thing I have ever had the privilege of being involved with in all my years of ministry.
It is the greatest because at its core, the Hope Story Challenge releases every believer as evangelists to fulfill the Great Commission — to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”
As believers upload their video testimonies for public viewing on the internet, the greatest effect it well may have is on them personally. If you can share your testimony once, you can do it twice. If you can do it twice, you can do it ten times. It just will not stop — the effect will be parabolic. I already have incidental evidence to prove this.
In the first century AD, the Roman roads inadvertently provided a network for the Gospel to be spread across the entire known world. What the Roman roads were to the Gospel then, the internet is for the Gospel today.
The same can be said of the printing press. In the fifteenth century, Martin Luther was able to spread the Gospel far and wide because of the recent invention of the Gutenberg printing press. What the printing press was for the Gospel then, so social media is for the Gospel today.
Mind you, I think that Andrew, Pat, Dave, Jordan and others had the seeds of the Hope Story idea in their hearts many months before it emerged. And then it took the catapult of prayer and the trigger of GO2020 to really launch the Hope Story Challenge and send it viral.
So, are we there yet? The honest answer is still no. We need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit just as on the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts. We still need revival and transformation for both church and nation. We still need a greater acceleration of united prayer, and we still need a greater release of every believer sharing their faith.
The good news is on this journey of personal renewal and sharing in God’s Missionary Heart, we are closer than we ever have been.
Even better more sons and daughters are being born into Gods Family every day. Maranatha. Soli Del Gloria!