Pastor Rick Warren challenged the church to work together to complete The Great Commission at a conference held March 18 at Biola University.
“One drop of rain can’t do much,” Warren said. “A million drops of rain can
turn a desert into a garden.”
The influential pastor and author gave the opening address at the “Urbanization: Mission in the Context of the City” conference organized by The Evangelical Missiological Society, which advances the cause of world evangelization through their study of mission strategies.
Warren, the son of missionary parents, was himself a missionary in Japan during the 1970s. But it wasn’t until a trip to South Africa in 2003 that his heart became fully engaged in the cause of missions. When he went to Africa, he was not expecting this result.
“Sometimes God is sneaky,” he said. “You think you’re going on a trip for one reason, and you find out you really went for another.” As a pastor, he thought his primary focus should be training leaders and planting churches.
Problems such as illiteracy, poverty, and disease had not received much of his attention. “I’m sorry, Lord,” he said later. “Widows and orphans have not been on my agenda.”
The Africa trip inspired his vision for Saddleback Church’s PEACE Plan, which is designed to use “the world’s largest existing distribution network” – the church, to tackle the greatest problems faced by the world. Since the plan’s launch, Saddleback Church has sent 14,867 people to 195 countries throughout the world as ambassadors of ‘PEACE.’
With a billion people, the church has the power to make a difference by doing the things that Jesus did and taught, Warren believes.
The way people approach PEACE trips should mirror the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 10 when He sent out the twelve. “Don’t take a purse — that means don’t throw money at problems,” Warren said. “Don’t go as an authority, but go to serve.”
Saddleback’s PEACE Plan seeks to make an impact door-to-door, church-to-church, village-to-village. His teams always look for a person of influence when they enter a new area. “It’s very important to find a ‘man of peace’ in each village,” Warren said. “I’ve found you can find a man of peace in every village,” he said.
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|Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and the founder of
www.Godreports.com. He is available to speak to groups about the plight of the church in restricted countries, to share stories and testimonies from the mission field, and to preach the gospel.